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for the Examiner may be chargeable with this mistake, or how far it goes towards a discovery that Mr. B. himself never looked into Stobæus, I leave for others to determine."



On this charge Porson used frequently to observe :

"Mr. Boyle and his assistants are so often in the wrong, that it is barely doing justice to defend them when they are in the right. Boyle used the Frankfort edition of Stobæus, folio, 1581, in which the collections of Stobaus, Antonius, and Maximus are blended together, so that the title of Stobæus, where the quotation from Phalaris occurs, is in other editions the 84th, but in the Frankfort the 218th. The singular coincidence of the number 218 led Bentley into this mistake." *

Junius was an author that he often read, and of whose letters he carried many portions in his memory. On one passage he proposed an excellent emendation. "Your zeal in the cause of an unfortunate prince was expressed with sincerity of wine, and some of the solemnities of religion." Before the sincerity" Porson supposed that the word all had dropped out, being necessary to complete the antithesis to "some of the solemnities." †

Respecting Dryden, as given in Anderson's edition of the British Poets, he had written, on a blank leaf of a volume of that publication, now in the Library of the London Institution, the following remarks. "The editor has with singular good faith suppressed above seven hundred of Dryden's verses, to wit, the twenty-seventh idyllium of Theocritus, with the translations from the third and fourth books of Lucretius. If the indecency of some passages was the cause of their suppression,

*Kidd, Tracts, p. 314.

+ Ibid. p. 208.

why were not the verses against the love of life, and the fear of death, retained? Dr. Anderson has also omitted near two octavo pages of preface; but, to be consistent, he should have cancelled the paragraph in which mention is made of that part of the third book. However, to make Dryden some amends for depriving him of his own, he has given him two poems that are not his Tarquin and Tullia, and Suum Cuique. Suum Cuique was written by some staunch Jacobite, but I know not whom; Tarquin and Tullia' was written by Arthur Mainwaring, who afterwards turned Whig, and expiated his youthful heresy in The Medley.'-See Malone's Life of Dryden,' p. 546.


"The accuracy of the editor is equal to his good faith. P. 679, Horace de Arte Amandi, for Ovid."*

He liked Milton. In the passage of the second book of "Paradise Lost" describing the opening of the infernal gates he has restored to Milton an expression which had unjustly been taken from him. The phrase on their hinges grate harsh thunder was generally supposed, on the authority of Johnson in his "Miscellaneous Observations on Macbeth," to have been copied from the "Romance of Don Bellianis," where the gates of a castle are mentioned as "grating harsh thunder on their brazen hinges;" but Porson discovered that there were two editions of "Don Bellianis," one published before the "Paradise Lost," and the other after it; that the second contained that phrase, but not the first; and that consequently Milton did not borrow from the author of the romance, but the author of the romance from Milton.

* Kidd, Tracts, p. 326.


He said that if he lived, he would write an essay to show the world how unjustly Milton had been treated by Johnson.*


This referred to Lauder's charge of plagiarism against Milton, to which Johnson is generally thought to have listened with too great willingness, and in which Porson thought that he could prove him guilty of criminal participation. He told Holt White that he intended to publish something on the subject, and that he was only waiting to procure a pamphlet bearing on the controversy. Two of the arguments which he meant to use Holt White thought decisive of the question. First, That, as Johnson was always eager for inquiry on every subject connected with literature, and always ready to find cause for depreciating Milton, it is strange that he should not have desired the satisfaction of seeing with his own eyes the passages which Lauder declared Milton to have copied. Secondly, That Johnson has preserved, throughout his biography of Milton, a deep silence on the story of Lauder and his falsified quotations.†

Numberless portions of Shakspeare's language he had always ready for application, as may be seen in his "Letters on Hawkins's Johnson," and his "Letters to Travis." He did not class himself, doubtless, with those who worship Shakspeare as a god, but he must have been greatly fascinated with much of his phraseology. He was fond of asserting, however, that the fine passage in the "Tempest" about the cloud-capp'd towers, the

* Rogers's Table Talk, "Porsoniana," p. 329.

† Holt White's Review of Johnson's Criticism on Milton's Prose, p. 30.

gorgeous palaces, &c., is excelled by some lines in Sir Alexander (afterwards Lord) Sterling's tragedy of Darius," of which he called Shakspeare's verses an imitation:


"Let greatness of her glassy sceptres vaunt,

Not sceptres, no, but reeds, soon bruised, soon broken;
And let this worldly pomp our wits enchant;—
All fades, and scarcely leaves behind a token.

These golden palaces, these gorgeous halls,
With furniture superficiously fair;

Those stately courts, those sky-encount'ring walls,
Vanish, all; like vapour in the air.”*

"Darius" was first published in 1603; the "Tempest in 1623; and it would appear, from the resemblance in the thought, and in some of the words, that Shakspeare must have seen Lord Sterling's verses. But if Porson thought that Shakspeare falls below Sterling in power and grandeur, few will be found to concur in his notion.

He added one note to the mass of published comment on Shakspeare. In most copies of "Othello"‡ we read,

"Be not you known of 't -"

But the oldest reading is,

"Be not acknown of't,"

that is, Be not acknowledged of it, do not appear informed or aware of it; a reading which is confirmed,

*Moore's Diary, vol. ii.

† Malone's Supplement to Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 367.
Act iii. sc. 3.


as Malone observed, by a passage in "Cornelia," a Tragedy by Thomas Kyd, 1594:


"Our friends' misfortunes doth increase our own,
But ours of others will not be acknown."

That is, acknowledged, felt. Porson added another instance, still more apt, from the "Life of Ariosto" subjoined to Sir John Harrington's translation of "Orlando," p. 418, edit. 1607: "Some say he was married to her privilie, but durst not be acknowne of it." Malone's book was printed in 1780, when Porson was but twentyone years of age.

From a few unpublished notes of his on the same author, preserved in the library of his college, a friend has selected for us the following as worthy of being made known.

"You nimble lightnings, dart your blinding flames
Into her scornful eyes; infect her beauty!

You fen-suck'd fogs, drawn by the powerful sun,
To-fall and blast her pride!"

On the words "To fall and blast her pride," "King Lear," act ii. sc. 4, he observes that the whole passage should be read thus:


"Then let them all encircle him about,
And, fairy-like, to-pinch the unclean knight."

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To-fall being taken as one word; as in the "Merry Wives of Windsor," act iv. sc. 4:

And in "2 Henry VI.," act v. sc. 2:

"Now let the general trumpet blow his blast,-
Particularities and petty sounds


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