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DIFFERENT KINDS OF CRITICISM.
while the text remains deformed by the corruptions of blundering transcribers, and obscured by the glosses of ignorant grammarians. It is then that the aid of the verbal critic is required; and though his minute labour, in dissecting syllables, and analysing letters, may appear contemptible in its operation, it will be found important in its effect."
The usefulness of verbal criticism, judiciously applied, will not be questioned; but that elegant criticism, which dwells on the beauties and defects of composition, and compares the merits of different authors, works, and passages, is utterly useless, will not so readily be admitted. The criticisms of Addison, Johnson, or Warton, which instruct or please us, cannot be regarded as utterly valueless productions. Nor is verbal criticism to be set above all other criticism simply because of its usefulness; for the performances of mankind do not rise in estimation merely in proportion to their utility; else the labours of the agriculturist would exalt him high above all other human agents.
PORSON'S INTENTIONS REGARDING ÆSCHYLUS.
PROJECTED EDITION BY
THE LONDON PUBLISHERS.
AN EDITION OF ESCHYLUS SURREPTI
SOME time before this period, Porson had projected an edition of Eschylus, to contain the fragments, and to be accompanied with the scholia and notes*; and, says the "Short Account of Porson," "he sent his Eschylus to be printed at Glasgow in octavo." What he sent was a copy of Pauw's Eschylust, in which, according to Dr. Young, he had made more than two hundred corrections. The text of the seven plays thus corrected was printed by Foulis at Glasgow, as early as 1794, in two volumes octavo, for the London booksellers, who expected, apparently on Porson's promise, that he would add notes and the fragments, but, having waited for these accompaniments more than ten years, they at last allowed the volumes, at the instance of Porson's friends, to go forth in 1806 without them. This text, says Kidd §, was the substratum of Porson's projected edition; "it was given to the world with his knowledge, and, after unceasing importunity, with a sort of half-faced consent." After it was published, he
*Monthly Review, Feb. 1796.
† Museum Criticum, vol. i. p. 110. Encyclop. Brit., art. "Porson."
§ Tracts, p. lxix.
SURREPTITIOUS EDITION OF ÆSCHYLUS.
frequently and earnestly, according to the same authority, conversed about his intended preface to it; he had arranged the materials in his mind, and Kidd heard him twice detail the substance of them; and when he was entreated to prepare them for publication, he would promise to try, but added that he hated and abhorred composition.
In the mean time, with the date 1795, there had come forth a folio edition, presenting nearly the same text, at Glasgow, from the same printers, said to have been surreptitiously printed from the corrections for the other edition. According to a note on the Pursuits of Literature*, its origin was as follows: "Mr. Porson, the Greek Professor at Cambridge, lent his manuscript corrections and conjectures on the text of Eschylus to a friend in Scotland; for he once had an intention of publishing that tragedian. His corrected text fell into the hands of the Scotch printer Foulis, and, without the Professor's leave or even knowledge, he published a magnificent edition of Eschylus from it without notes." Dibdin says that it was printed with the same types as the famous Glasgow Homer, and that there were only fifty-two copies struck off in all, and only eleven on the largest paper. He speaks with rapture of a large-paper copy, illustrated with Flaxman's designs, which he saw in the library at Althorp.
The account of the affair given by Hellenophilus, supposed to be Dr. Maltby, in Aikin's Athenæum, is that Porson concluded a treaty with Messrs. Elmsley and Payne, in consequence of which a new, but most improved edition, was to be printed at Glasgow. After * Part II. p. 42.
the proofs of the first five or six plays had been regularly sent to the Professor, they suddenly stopped, and some time after it was discovered that the Scotch printer had used the paper for the folio edition. Nor was it known for a considerable time that the smaller edition was in existence, till at length the English booksellers discovered the fraud." "A method was pursued by Porson in this edition," observes the writer, "which we earnestly recommend to the imitation of every critic. Where the text appeared faulty, and no emendation offered itself with sufficient authority to warrant its admission into the text, he marked the suspected place with an obelus. Of passages thus pointed out, both as a warning to inexperienced readers, and a guide to future critics, there are about one hundred and fifty; so that, unfortunate as this edition has been, the text is still improved in a greater number of instances than those in which it continues to be defective. And in regard to the remaining corruptions, we have little doubt but Mr. Porson's acuteness would have pointed out a probable remedy in most of the cases, had the work gone on to its end, without the occurrence of that calamitous fraud, which cannot be too much reprobated or deplored."
Porson," says a writer in the "Museum Criticum,' "never openly acknowledged this edition, but there were too many marks of the master's hand for it to be mistaken. It is not to be supposed however that the text of this edition is that which the Professor would have given to the public, had he openly undertaken to edit Eschylus."
* Vol. i. p. 111.
PORSON'S INTIMACY WITH PERRY, OF THE MORNING CHRONICLE."
IN MIDDLE LIFE.
PORSON had for some time been intimate with Perry, the well-known editor of the "Morning Chronicle." November 1795, he married Mrs. Lunan, Perry's sister. She survived the marriage about a year and a half, dying of a decline in April 1797.*
Of the way in which the marriage came about, the only account that we have is given in the "Personal Memoirs" of Pryse Lockhart Gordon†, a Scotch soldier of fortune, whose brother George, a mercantile agent, was very intimate with Perry, who was also a Scotchman. It had been expected at one time, that Porson would marry Dr. Raine's sister, but the doctor having shown himself unfavourable to the match, it had not afterwards been thought, by any of Porson's friends, that he was at all likely to marry, for he appeared to be a confirmed convivial bachelor.
But one night, while he was smoking his pipe with
* Sexagenarian, vol. i. p. 207.
† Vol. i. p. 280, seqq.