Page images
PDF
EPUB

"SIR,

"GAIL to the illustrious Mr. PORSON.

"One of your countrymen, the amiable and learned Dr. Jones, is now at my house. He is willing to take charge of some works which I had last year the honour of sending you through the agency of Eisch the bookseller, but which probably never reached you.

"These books are, 1. My 'Greek Poetical Anthology.' The rest of the Greek course is not worth offering you. 2. My Theocritus in duodecimo; I do not offer you the fine edition in quarto, because I am not the proprietor of it. It has been printed at the expense of a banker of this country. 3. My Cynegetics. 4. A Letter to M. Schneider. 5. An extract from La Décade Philosophique.

6

"If I were not afraid, Sir, of trespassing on your time, I would ask you to favour me with your opinion, first, on the extract from La Décade, p. 281, which you will find in the parcel; an extract entitled Short Analysis of the Banquet of Xenophon;' secondly, on my dissertation relating to Anacreon, Hipparchus, &c., p. 39 of my Poetical Anthology;' thirdly, on my exposition regarding Epicharmus, p. 43 of the same work.

(

"This is a great deal to ask of you, Sir; it is perhaps to be extremely troublesome. But I presume upon your indulgence, and set a very high value on your opinion. In these two dissertations, I think a Socratic irony is apparent, and, if I am right, I have made an historical discovery. But I ought to distrust my own way of looking on these matters, as it differs from that of the greatest critics and historians both of our own and of other countries.

[No date.]

"To read and examine these three short pieces will not require more than an hour. I ask this of you, and entreat it as a favour. Do not reply till you have read them, and till you are able to send me your opinion.

"I beg the illustrious Mr. Porson to accept the tribute of my sincere and profound respect.

"GAIL, Professor of Greek Literature in the College of France."

1802.]

THE GRENVILLE HOMER.

THE

PORSON COLLATES A MANUSCRIPT

HIS

FOR THE GRENVILLE HOMER. ASSIDUITY. — LETTERS FROM VILLOISON REQUESTING A COPY OF THE HOMER, AND ACKNOWLEDGING THE RECEIPT OF IT. - PUBLICATION OF THE MEDEA. - PORSON'S OPINIONS ON GREEK ACCENTUATION. WAKEFIELD'S HOSTILITY TO ACCENTS. BRUNCK'S AND ELMSLEY'S NOTIONS RESPECTING THEM. PORSON'S LONG NOTE ON VERSES 139, 140, OF

SEVERE EXPO

MEDEA. HIS CRITICISMS IN IT.
COPY SENT TO VILLOISON..

SURE OF HERMANN.
VILLOISON'S LETTER OF THANKS.

CHAP. XIX.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

-OTHER NOTES.

[ocr errors]

[ocr errors]

225

-

[ocr errors]

WHILE Porson was engaged about Euripides, the splendid edition of Homer, known as the "Grenville Homer," was being printed at the Clarendon Press, as Kidd says, "for the three noble brothers;" and those who had the superintendence of it, being desirous that there should be appended to it a collation of the Harleian manuscript of the Odyssey (which had been previously collated, but very negligently, by Thomas Bentley), made application for that purpose to Porson, who readily undertook the work, and devoted himself to it with more than ordinary diligence. He was then living in Essex Court in the Temple, where he would, on many occasions, shut himself up for two or three days together; but, while he was employed on the Harleian manuscript, he was almost wholly inaccessible even to his most intimate friends. "One morning," says Mr. Maltby, "I went to call upon him there; and, having inquired at his barber's close by if Mr. Porson

Q

39

was at home, was answered, 'Yes; but he has seen no one for two days.' I, however, proceeded to his chamber, and knocked at the door more than once. He would not open it, and I came downstairs. As I was re-crossing the court, Porson, who had perceived that I was the visitor, opened the window, and stopped me.' His remuneration for the collation was fifty pounds, and a large-paper copy. "I thought the payment too small," observes Maltby, "but Burney considered it as sufficient." This collation has been reprinted in the "Classical Journal." A few critical remarks are scattered through it. The passage regarding the final ▾ we have already extracted. He concludes, after making some final corrections, with this paragraph:

"Thus I have at last, I hope, left no important error in this collation; that there are no omissions, I will not assert. If any one, however, shall take upon himself to supply my deficiencies, and to correct, at the same time, such mistakes as I have committed, let him be assured that he will do what is acceptable to the republic of letters as well as to myself. Whether he do it tenderly or harshly, will have no effect on me, if he but do it accurately; but it may possibly have a good effect on himself, if he be anxious to show that he undertook the task rather from a desire to be of service to letters than to depress a rival."

The appearance of the Grenville Homer occasioned Porson to receive the following application from Villoison :

"SIR,

"I beg you to have the goodness to excuse the forwardness of a foreigner who has not the happiness of being known to you, but who has the highest admiration for your rare and

* Rogers's Table Talk, "Porsoniana," p. 311.

1802.]

profound knowledge, your ȧyxívoia and evoтoxía, and who knows that you are the κριτικῆς κοίρανος τέχνης, and the most learned and most justly celebrated Hellenist of the country in which Greek learning is most cultivated.

"I have the honour, Sir, to be a member of your Royal Society of London, and of the Society of Antiquaries of the same city; and I have been all my life employed on Homer, and have published the Lexicon Homericum, composed by Apollonius the Sophist, with my own Latin translation and notes. I have also put forth, at Venice, an edition of the Iliad, with the scholia, never before edited, of the most skilful grammarians of the Alexandrian school, and with the critical marks. Mons. Heyne, my learned friend, and confrère at the University of Gottingen, has done me the honour of acquainting me by letter that he has extracted a portion of these notes, as my friend Mr. Wolff had already done in his edition.

LETTER FROM VILLOISON.

227

"On these grounds, Sir, I should very much wish to be able to obtain a copy of the beautiful edition of Homer which Lord Buckingham and Mr. Grenville are publishing at Cambridge, and which, if our journals may be trusted, is now to be distributed among amateurs.

"I have not the advantage of being known to Lord Buckingham or to Mr. Grenville. May I flatter myself that you, Sir, who certainly have the management of this valuable edition, would have the goodness to do a stranger so important a service as to mention him to these noble Mæcenases, and induce them to put me on the list of those for whom they intend copies of this excellent and superb edition?

"For this kindness, Sir, I should feel so much the moreunder obligation to you, as it would be impossible for me to procure this book, even if it were obtainable in the way of trade; for my fortune has been totally ruined by the Revolution, which has robbed me of a very considerable inheritance, and, what I regret much more, has left me no time to devote myself, as I should wish to do exclusively, to Greek literature, and to the composition of a work on ancient and

modern Greece, the object of nine years' travels in Greece, Italy, and Germany, and of twenty years of research.

"I am waiting, Sir, with the greatest impatience, for the publication of your Eschylus and your Euripides, Phidiaca opera; and I request you, if you do me the honour to reply, and to mention me to my Lord Buckingham and Mr. Grenville, to have the goodness to write to me in Latin, French, or Italian, as I confess, to my shame, that I am unfortunate enough not to understand English.

"Forgive my indiscretion, or rather my temerity, and believe that I shall always think myself too happy in having embraced this opportunity of signifying to a learned critic of your distinguished merit the respect and admiration with which I have the honour to be,

"Sir,

very humble and very
"D'ANSSE DE VILLOISON,

"of the Institute of France, of the Royal and
Antiquarian Societies of London, &c. &c.

"Your

“Paris, Rue de Bièvre, No. 22,
July 9, 1802,"

obedient servant,

Porson was successful in obtaining him a copy of the Homer, which he acknowledged as follows:

"Paris, Rue de Bièvre, No. 22,
Oct. 15, 1802.

"SIR,

"I have received, with the most lively feelings of gratitude, the handsome present which you have made me of your noble and excellent edition of Homer. It is a masterpiece, Sir, of typography and accuracy; and your notes, abounding with proofs of sagacity, give it a value which nothing can equal. In your opinions, concisely expressed, but βεβρεγμένοις ἐν νῷ, on the various readings of your manuscript, we recognise, at every word, ¿§ övvxos Méovtа. I am extremely flattered by owing this superb gift to the recommendation of a gentleman of your rare learning and merit,

« PreviousContinue »