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" by Milton." And from a similar cast of reasoning, in his preface to Horace, he says, ' that those emendations of his are for the most part more certain, which are made from conjectures, than those from ancient copies, and manuscripts.
'Twas never my intention to call in question the skill, and abilities of one, whose reputation in learning is so deservedly established: but there was a good piece of advice, (which I cannot so easily pass over, because of universal use to critics,) offered him, when first he made his design known of publishing his Horace; which was, to admit into the context all those better readings, for which he had the authority of ancient manuscripts; but as to meer conjectural corrections, to place them in his notes. His reply to this advice was, as might be expected, “ No, for then who will re“ gard 'em?"
Our great critic was too well guarded by his learning, to have his own reply turned as a sarcasm against himself; which might fo justly
2. Plura igitur in Horatianis his curis ex conjectura exhibemus, quàm ex codicum fubfidio ; et, nisi me omnia fallunt, plerumque certiora.
3. Of this particular circumstance I was informed by the late learned Mr. Wass of Aynoe. I will add here a rule of Graevius, in his preface to Cicero's offices: A priscis libris non recedendum, nisi aut librarii, aut fcioli peccatum fit tam teftatum, ut ab omnibus, qui non caligent in fole, videri polit.
be turned against many dealers in the critical craft, who with little, or no stock in trade, set up for correctors, and successors of Aristarchus. There is one part of their cunning, that I cannot help here mentioning, which is, their intruding their own guesses, and reveries into the context, which first meeting the reader's eye, naturally prepoffess his judgment: mean while the author's words, are either removed entirely out of the way, or permitted a place in some remote note, loaden with * misrepresentations and abuse, according to the
4. Dr. Bentley's foul play in this respect is most notorious ; who, in order to make way for his emendations, will often drop the only, and true construction : the reader is mistaken if he thinks this done through ignorance. I will inftance in a correction of a paffage of Virgil, Aen. IV, 256. which, among many other corrections, I chiefly make choice of, because some have been deceiv'd into an opinion of its superior excellency: and I will give it in his own words, from a note on Horace, Lib. I. od. 34.
Hic primum paribus nitens Cyllenius alis
“ ubi quam multa merito vituperanda sint vides. Volat, et “ mox volabat : deinde in continuatis versibus ingratum
great goodness of the most gracious critic; who
" auribus ojosoríasulov, volabat, fecabat : ad quod evitandum. “ vetustissimi aliquot codices apud Pierium mutato ordine “ fic versus collocant,
Haud aliter terras inter caelumque volabat
Litus arenosum et Libyae ventosque fecabat. « Sed nihil omnino proficiunt, aut locum adjuvant : adhuc " enim relinquitur vitium omniam deterrimum, fecabat littus
ventosque. Quid enim eft littus secare, nifi littus arare " et effodere ? Quid autem hoc ad Mercurium volantem. “ Nullus dubito quin fic fcripserit princeps poëtarum :
Haud aliter, terras inter caelumque, legebat
The first fault he finds is with volabat coming so quick after volat. But this repetition is so far from a fault, that it has a peculiar beauty here ; for 'tis in the application of the fimile ; so Milton IV, 189.
Or as a thief, &c.
More infances might be added from Homer, and Milton, and Virgil. The next fault is the rime volabat, secabat : If there was any stop after volabat and secabat, some answer or apology should be made. But there is actually no more jingle in those verses of Virgil, than in these of
with his dagger of lath on his own stage, like the
II, 220. This horror will grow mild, this darkness light ;
Far worse to bear
Go then, thou mightieft in tby father's might.
For if the reader will turn tò the places cited, he will find, that all this jingling sound of like endings is avoided by the verses running one into the other : and I have cited them here in this unfair manner, as a parallel instance of Dr. Bentley's misrepresentation : for the Dr. knew well enough, if he had given you the poet's verses, (as in his trials to correct them he must himself have turn'd, and varied the pointing several ways) in the following manner,
Haud aliter, terras inter coelumque, volabat
i. e. fled to the coast of Libya ; he could not have made way for his own correction : or if he had told you, that nothing was more common than for the best authors, to apply the verb properly to one substantive, and improperly often to the other : (see the schol. on Sophocl, Elect. ¥. 437. Edit. Steph. p. 101. and Homer Il. 7' 327.) he could not have abus'd that phrase, littus et ventos Secabat, which he misrepresenting cites, littus fecabat ventosque. So that whether you keep the old pointing, or change it, the Dr. cannot get one jot forward towards an emendation : not tho' you allowed him, which I somewhat question, the propriety of legebat littus, apply'd to Mercury flying directly from
old ? Vice, or modern Harlequin, belabours the poor Devil of his own raising,
Whg mount Atlas to the coast of Libya. This whole passage of Virgil, Milton has finely imitated in his 5th book. y. 265. &c. where the Dr. is at his old work, hacking and hewing. Were I to give an instance of Bentley's critical skill, I should not forget that place in the Plutus of Aristophanes, . 1010. which puzzled the Grecian critics, being an old inveterate evil, just glossed over, 'till Bentley probed it to the bottom, and recovered it's pristine beauty. No one did better than the Dr. when he met with a corrupt place; but the mischief was, he would be medling with found places. The emen. dation is printed in a letter to Kufter, inserted at the end of his edition of Aristophanes : to which I rather refer the reader, than lengthen this note, too long already.
5. The Vice was a droll character in our old plays, accoutred with a long coat, a cap with a pair of afs's ears, and a dagger of lath. Shakespeare alludes to his buffoon appearance in Twelfth Night, Ac. IV.
In a trice, like to the old Vice;
In the second part of K. Henry IV. Act. III. Falstaff compares Shallow to Vice's dagger of lath. In Hamlet AII. Hamlet calls his uncle, A Vice of Kings : i.e. a ridiculous representation of majesty. These passages the editors have very rightly expounded. I will now mention some others, which seem to have escaped their notice, the allusions being not quite so obvious.
The INIQUITY was often the Vice in our old Moralicies; and is introduced in Ben Johnson's play callid the