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because it is too bad a word for a decent historian to use. If the history were anonymous, I should guess that these disgraceful obscenities were written by some débauché, who, having from age, or accident, or excess, survived the practice of lust, still indulged himself in the luxury of speculation; and exposed the impotent imbecility, after he had lost the vigour of the passions.*

"But these few faults make no considerable abatement in my general esteem. Notwithstanding all its particular defects, I greatly admire the whole; as I should admire a beautiful face in the author, though it were tarnished with a few freckles; or as I should admire an elegant person and address, though they were blemished with a little affectation."

Notwithstanding the severity of this critique, Gibbon spoke highly of the "Letters." He said, in his usual studied style, that he considered them "as the most acute and accurate piece of criticism since the days of Bentley. Mr. Porson's strictures are founded in argument, enriched with learning, and enlivened with wit; and his adversary neither deserves nor finds any quarter at his hands." With these sentiments, he sought an interview with Porson, which was brought about, according to Beloe, by means of Peter Elmsley. "Porson," says Mr. Maltby, "called upon the great historian, who received him with all kindness and respect. In the course of conversation, Gibbon said,

"Mr. Porson, I feel truly indebted to you for the Letters to Travis, though I must think that occasionally, while praising me, you have mingled a little acid with the sweet. If ever you should take the trouble to read my History over again, I should be much obliged and

*Junius.

† Gibbon's Miscell. vol. i. p. 159.

Rogers's Table-Talk, "Porsoniana," p. 306.

1790.]

PORSON AND GIBBON.

87

honoured by any remarks which might suggest themselves to you.' Porson was highly flattered by Gibbon's having requested this interview, and loved to talk of it. He thought the Decline and Fall beyond all comparison the greatest literary production of the eighteenth century, and was in the habit of repeating long passages from it. Yet I have heard him say that there could not be a better exercise for a school-boy than to turn a page of it into English." No intimacy or correspondence appears to have resulted from the interview. Porson, as Beloe observes, was little disposed to pay court even to the highest: and Gibbon, who then stood high in literary fame, made no further advances to Porson.

Porson complained, too, that Gibbon was not so ready as he ought to have been to take advantage of suggestions that were made for giving correctness to his pages. "A candid acknowledgment of error," says he*, "does not seem to be Mr. Gibbon's shining virtue. He promised, if I understood him rightly, that in a future edition he would expunge the words of Armenia, or make an equivalent alteration. A new edition has appeared; but I have looked in vain to find a correction of the passage. I am almost persuaded that the misrepresentation of Gennadius was not wilful, but that Mr. Gibbon, transcribing the Greek from the margin of Petavius, wrote by mistake αἰδοῦμαι for αἰδοῦνται. This error has now been so long published that it is scarcely possible to suppose him ignorant of the charge.

*Preface to Letters to Travis, p. xxxi.

† Gibbon's Vindication, p. 75. History, chap. xv. near note 178.

He has had an opportunity of confessing and correcting the mistake. Yet still it keeps its place in the octavo edition."

Charles Fox used to remark, that Gibbon had quoted many books as authorities, of which he had read only the preface. One instance of this which he produced was a note in which "Gibbon had quoted a passage as being in the third book of a writer, whose work is divided into two books only. Gibbon was led into this error," he said, " by the translator of the preface of the book quoted, who, in transcribing the passage, had made the same mistake."*

*Kidd's Tracts, p. xlvi.

1790.]

NOTES ON TOUP.

CHAP. VII.

89

PORSON'S NOTES ON TOUP'S EMENDATIONS OF SUIDAS. -HIS PREFACE TO THAT PUBLICATION, SHOWING THE NATURE OF HIS CRITICISM. PORSON WITH PARR AT HATTON.—INSULTED BY MRS. PARR.-PORSON'S RESIGNATION OF HIS FELLOWSHIP.- HIS DIALOGUE WITH POSTLETHWAITE, THE MASTER OF TRINITY COLLEGE. HIS WANT OF MONEY, AND RESOLUTE FRUGALITY. - A SUBSCRIPTION ΤΟ PURCHASE AN ANNUITY FOR HIM.-PARTICULARS RESPECTING IT.-A LIST OF SOME OF THE SUBSCRIBERS.

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IN 1790 appeared from the Oxford press a reprint of Toup's Emendationes in Suidam, a republication which had been commenced or projected in 1787, when Porson had offered to append to it some short annotations of his own. The proposal being accepted, he introduced them with a preface, which tells us his reasons, not only for the purport of these animadversions, but for the nature of his criticism in general. The notes, which first gave the world full demonstration of Porson's perspicacity in the elegant niceties of the Greek language, and his intimate knowledge of the dramatic poets and their metres, would have been included by Kidd among his "Tracts and Criticisms," but that the sale of the Toup would probably thus have been injured. The preface, which throws so much light on Porson's critical character and notions, we subjoin in an English dress.

"Having lately heard that Toup's 'Emendations to Suidas' would shortly issue from the Oxford press, I took the liberty of acquainting the learned gentlemen, who had undertaken the charge of editing them, that I had read that excellent work with some considerable attention, and would make them a present of some annotations, which I had written here and there on the margin, if they should think them worthy of appearing as an appendix to Toup's volumes. These annotations, gentle reader, are in consequence set before you; and, whatever may be thought of them, it is my earnest wish, not to say hope, that the perusal of them may not be altogether unprofitable to you.

"But there are two points on which I much desire to ask your indulgence. The one is, my assumption of the character of a censor, and my practice of blaming Toup oftener than praising him; the other, my frequent reference to books in which Toup's emendations have been anticipated.

"As to the first point, I have but spoken as I thought, and as I felt obliged to speak; for I have not written with juvenile presumption, nor with the view of gaining praise by detracting from greater men than myself; but, to say the truth, I have never admired the practice of those critics who exclaim pulchre, bene, rectè, excellent, just, incontrovertible,' at every second or third word. Had I not, indeed, had the highest respect for Toup's abilities and learning, I should never have offered these observations, such as they are, on his writings. But I consider it to be the part of an editor or commentator to correct the errors and supply the deficiencies of his author. I have hardly ever, therefore, expressed mere assent to Toup's remarks, except when it seemed possible to support them by new arguments, or when they seemed to have been unreasonably assailed by other critics.

"As to the second point, I trust that no one will do me such injustice as to think that whenever I notice Toup's agreement with other writers, I wish to fix on him, even in the slightest degree, a suspicion of plagiarism. When I see that two writers express the same thought, I do not consequently suppose that one must of necessity have borrowed

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