« PreviousContinue »
I have written it, and just as the printed books have it, except that they less elegantly give ȧlavárous. Something too much of this.
ON TRANSPOSITION OF WORDS.
"There is a passage of Sophocles three times quoted by Plutarch, and always in a different order, but so as in the three variations to remain a Senarian. Now the fragment consists of five words, and the sense is this: (The physicians) wash away bitter bile with bitter drugs.' The five words, you know, will admit of one hundred and twenty permutations, and, what is extremely odd, these words will admit twenty transpositions, and still constitute a trimeter iambic.
"Now, as Sophocles certainly wrote these words in one order, and no more, the problem is, so to construct the verse as Sophocles wrote it. I shall first set down the words themselves in the English order, and then the different positions in which the words can be put, still retaining the iambic
Baɛy Plut. 1.
γδαεβ Plut. 2.
"The Scrap annexed you will understand, by comparing Euripides Iph. in Aul. Scen. 1, with Stobæus Serm. 103, in any edition but Grotius's.
"[The Scrap so annexed was a highly finished and exquisite copy of four different MSS. of Iph. Aul. vv. 29-33, illustrating what he calls the fruitful article of transposition,' and his own inimitable calligraphy, at one and the same time.--J. T.]"
In transmitting this letter to the "Museum Criticum," Tate observed that his canon, as Porson called it, respecting the parœmiac anapast, was so far from being "new-fangled," that it had been mentioned as well known by Bentley in his "Emendations on Menander,”* anapastos ubique terminari versu paramiaco, qui posterius colon est hexametri. "Verum Bernardus," he adds, "non vidit omnia." He admits, however, that the canon was "unquestionably wrong, unless he had been content with calling it general instead of universal."
Dalzel, in reply to Porson's epistle, which he calls yuxuπxpos, wrote another of ten pages, in which he addresses Porson with the greatest courtesy, saying that he had intended no innuendo against him, but had, on the contrary, spoken of him with the highest praise in the second edition of the "Analecta ;" that, in noticing that he had not tried to correct the middle example, secundum non moratur, he meant only that he had left it as an easy matter for any ordinary scholar. He then tells a story of Reid, who, when a young man, travelling through Cambridge, sought an introduction to Bentley, who accosted him with "What, has my fame reached even your ultima Thule?" assuring Porson that not only had his fame reached Scotland, but that his name was had in honour by all who had any tincture of Greek literature. Of Wakefield he remarks that he "could never bring himself to think him a critic of any judgment," and that Porson has shown him to be altogether sublestâ fide. In regard to the passage of Sophocles, he very judiciously remarks, that to know the proper † MSS. in the Library of Trin. Coll. Camb.
* No. XCI.
BLUNT'S LETTERS TO SHARP.
collocation of words in Greek and Latin is extremely difficult; that the order of the words in even the best modern writers of Latin, such as More, Erasmus, and Muretus, would not always have pleased an ancient ear; and that the words in the line of Sophocles could hardly be arranged in any order that would appear to be necessarily the order in which Sophocles put them. He then concludes by lamenting that the public inclination is running so much towards chemistry, mineralogy, and such sciences, observing that there is some danger of our philosophers being reduced, when they meet with a piece of Greek, to say, like the monks of old, "Græcum est, non possum legere," but that he who, like Porson, is instrumental in preventing this kind of ignorance, is doing the greatest service to letters.
It was in 1803, also, that "Six More Letters to Granville Sharp, Esq., on his Remarks upon the Uses of the Article in the Greek Testament, by Gregory Blunt, Esq.," appeared; a pamphlet of about two hundred pages, which has been often said to have proceeded from the same hand that produced the Letters to Travis. The writer of the "Short Account of Porson" thought the style so like the Professor's that he felt "constrained to say either Blunt writes like Porson, or Porson like Blunt:Ἢ Λουθηρὸς Ἐρασμίζει, ἢ Ερασμος Λουθηρίζει :”
either Luther Erasmizes or Erasmus Lutherizes. Mr. Maltby had heard them asked for at a bookseller's shop as "Porson's Remarks on Sharp." But the truth is, that he who seeks in these Letters for Porson's vigour, spirit, humour, and learning, as exhibited in the assault on Travis, will assuredly seek in vain; and he had little cause, as Mr. Kidd remarks, to thank such of his friends
as paid him the compliment of pronouncing him the author. That he was not the author he assured Dr. Wordsworth, who mentions the fact in his preface to "Who wrote EIKON BAZIAIKH ?" But "he used to praise the work," according to Mr. Maltby, "and recommend it to his friends."
The chief design of these letters was to expose the fallacy of a proposition maintained by Granville Sharp, that "when, in Greek, the copulative xal connects two nouns of the same case, if the article is prefixed to the first of them, and is not repeated before the second, the second always relates to the same person that is expressed by the first." The writer who assumes the name of Blunt replies that, as the force and usage of the article in Greek are much the same as they are in modern languages, Mr. Sharp's rule might be tried in English as well as in Greek; and that, unless mystery and obscurity had influenced his choice, he might have confined his examples within the pale of his own tongue, and thus have not only enabled every reader to judge of a question to which every person of common sense, though destitute of a knowledge of Greek, is competent, but might also, perhaps, have seen his own way more clearly before him. Thus he might have taken from St. Peter the phrase "the shepherd and bishop of your souls," and might have said that as the second noun has no article before it, it evidently refers to the same person as the first; and might also have observed how different is the expression in Ezekiel, "the fatherless and the widow," where, as both nouns have articles, each denotes a different person. But some malicious questioner, adds Blunt, might ask Mr. Sharp whether
AUTHORSHIP OF BLUNT'S LETTERS.
he had no recollection of ever having seen such expressions as "the king and queen, the master and mistress, the son and daughter," and others of the same kind. Or what would Mr. Sharp say, if one of those carnal spirits who are for "proving all things" should bring against him, from the book of Deuteronomy, the words "the judgment of the fatherless and widow?" His airy castle would be gone for ever, for one such puff would give it at once to the winds.
This will hardly serve for a confutation of Sharp's notions about the use of the article in Greek; for the usage of the Greek article is less lax than that of the English. Indeed the author of the Letters rather attempts to play round the head of the question than to come to the heart of it; rather tries to amuse the reader by banter than to direct decisive attacks upon Sharp's position. When Porson, however, was asked his opinion of Sharp's rule, he intimated distrust of it, and assigned such reasons for his distrust as appeared decisive to those that could judge of them.*
These Letters were called "Six More Letters to Granville Sharp," because "Six Letters" to him, in favour of his theory, had previously been published by Dr. Wordsworth. Porson was perhaps the more ready to countenance the "Six More Letters" against the theory, as Bishop Burgess, whose scholarship he despised, had given it his support.
As to the authorship of these Letters, one of Dr. Disney's daughters has been heard to express her belief that they were written by an intimate friend of her father's, Mr. Thomas Pearne, Fellow and Tutor of St. Kidd, Tracts, p. 301.