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CH. XXVII.] GERMAN AND ENGLISH CRITICISM.

the number, but the excellence of his productions. Ponderanda, non numeranda. A limner may cover many thousand feet of canvas, and a commentator many thousand pages of paper, without proving their superiority over those of far less extensive performance. If we examine what these voluminous annotators have written, we shall find that a large portion of it is illustration; Heyne, for instance, in his Apollodorus, is not content with affixing critical notes to the text, but adds a whole volume of expository observations, three or four times the bulk of Apollodorus's own matter. From this department of the critic Porson generally held aloof; not because he could not have engaged in it with success, for how ably he could have fulfilled its duties he has shown on several occasions, but because, from dislike of labour, he was little inclined to do that which inferior minds, devoted to patient research, could do with ease. A German is far more willing to write about it and about it than an Englishman; a German is profuse of words, of which an Englishman is sparing. In comparing the merit of commentaries we must ascertain where most proofs of sagacity appear.

Had he lived somewhat later, when comparative philology had begun to be more studied, he might have engaged in that branch of research, and, if he had devoted himself heartily to it, would doubtless have pursued it with great success.

As far as his labour, however, extended, he is to be praised for bestowing it on that which he knew that he could do well. Quam quisque nôrit artem, in hac se exerceat. It has been said that he might probably have obtained greater honour, and done more good,

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by directing his talents and industry to law or to statesmanship; but whether he would have attained great success in such pursuits with his habits of life, must be considered as extremely doubtful. If he cannot be ranked among the greatest benefactors of mankind, he must certainly be allowed to have done much good to his country by the promotion of its learning, and especially of that species of it called classical learning. That the advancement and maintenance of this kind of knowledge is a benefit to society, will be admitted by all who can judge how much advantage the man who possesses some acquaintance, however little, with Latin and Greek, has over the man who is destitute of it. So many words in our own language are derived from the languages of antiquity, that he who is utterly ignorant of those tongues cannot be said to understand his own. Nor are classical studies to be stigmatised as the mere study of words, to the disregard of things; for if words are the signs of things, no one can think of words without being led at the same time to think of things. We therefore do wisely in maintaining and encouraging the study of the classics, as much as is practicable, throughout the nation, believing that it is the best possible basis for a sound and liberal education. We are somewhat too negligent, perhaps, as to the nature of some portions of the books that we put into the hands of boys; we think too little of Quintilian's Horatium in quibusdam nolim interpretari; we might certainly be more careful to expurgate, and thus give less ground of objection to such critics as the Abbé Gaume. Perhaps, also, we give rather too much

Cu. XXVII.]

attention to Greek plays, to the scanning of choruses, and the fabrication of Greek iambics, when the perusal of parts of Aristotle and Plato might be attended with more benefit to the mind of youth. But verse and prose composition, in both languages, and especially in Latin, ought to be diligently cultivated, as leading to a better understanding of the languages themselves, and to a nice discrimination of the sense of words in general.

CLASSICAL STUDIES.

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CHAP. XXVIII.

*

PORSON'S INDEPENDENCE OF SPIRIT. HIS DISLIKE TO BE EXHIBITED.
HIS INTOLERANCE OF ADMONITION; CONDUCT TO SIR GEORGE BAKER.
-SOMETIMES WAYWARD AND CAPRICIOUS. NOT EASILY PROVOKED.
PORSON AND MR. ISAAC DISRAELI. — A LETTER DESCRIBING WHAT
PORSON WAS IN THE LATTER PART OF HIS LIFE. CONCLUSION.

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A NATURAL Concomitant of Porson's honesty was a sturdy independence of spirit. He yielded submission to no man. He would accept no favours but such as friend might reasonably receive from friend; and, as he was unwilling to bestow praise, except such as merit demanded, he was reluctant to receive praise to which he did not conceive himself fully entitled.

"Of every thing mean, base, insolent, treacherous, or selfish, whether practised towards others or towards himself," says Dr. Maltby, "he had a quick discernment, and a most rooted abhorrence; and the terms of bitter contempt, or of severe indignation, in which he expressed himself upon such occasions, may have given rise to opinions concerning the real bent of his feelings, which those, who had frequent opportunities of observing him, can safely pronounce to be unfounded.”* "Never did he swerve," adds the same authority, "from his undeviating attachment to truth, nor ever was he known to betray a secret."

Hellenophilus, Aikin's Athenæum, Nov. 1808.

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CH. XXVIII.]

A man of such high spirit had, as might be expected, a great dislike to being invited by his acquaintance merely for show. He was once dining with Mackintosh, who expressed a wish that he should accompany him on the following day to a dinner at Holland House, to meet Fox. Porson made some reply that sounded like consent, and Mackintosh, meeting Mr. Maltby the next morning, told him that Porson was going to Lord Holland's. Maltby coming in contact with Porson shortly after, observed to him, "I hear that you are to dine at Holland House to-day." "Who told you so?" "Mackintosh." "But I certainly shall not go," rejoined Porson; "they invite me merely out of curiosity, and, after they have satisfied it, would like to kick me down stairs." 66 But," said Maltby, "Fox is coming expressly from St. Ann's Hill to be introduced to you." The attraction, however, was ineffective; Porson persisted in staying away; and Lord Holland told Rogers, many years afterwards, that Fox had been greatly disappointed at not meeting Porson on that occasion.*

INDEPENDENCE OF SPIRIT.

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It was this kind of feeling that prompted his extraordinary reception of two visitors at Cambridge. Two gentlemen called upon him one day at his rooms, and said that they had come to see him. Porson made no reply, but rang his bell and ordered a pair of candles. When they were brought, he said, "Now then, gentlemen, you will be able to see me better." It has been stated in a recent version of this anecdote †, that one

* Rogers's Table Talk, "Porsoniana," p. 322. Barker's Lit. Anecd. vol. ii. p. 13.

† Notes and Queries, Feb. 11, 1860.

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