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'NON CHAONIS abfuit arbos
Adfuit huic turbæ metas imitata expressus.' Mel. X. 90. That was when Orpheus played to the woods. Parallel passages are to be found in Seneca and Statius, but the best imitation is Spenser's:
‘THE sailing pine, the cedar proud and tall,
Fairy Queen, Book I. 1. 6. In some respects Spenser has improved on his original fitted off each tree with its appropriate epithet, which Ovid has not done in every case.
But some of Ovid's adjectives are very happy: the 'cone-like cypress, the 'virgin laurel,' (so called from Daphne,) the streamcherishing willows, the 'winding-footed ivy.
Returning from this digression, it remains for us to speak of the poem Phillis and Flora. It is the last in Mr. Wright's collection, and probably the latest in date; at any rate, it is not attributed to Mapes in the
MSS., and seems to belong to a subsequent era. It belongs to a class of poems, which, beginning as early as the tenth century with the Anglo-Saxon versifiers, were first transferred to rhyming Latin by Mapes and his contemporaries, and continued long after them, becoming especially popular in France under the title of Débats. They are indeed debates or discussions between two parties, who are sometimes mere personifications, as wine and water, the body and the soul; sometimes real mortals of different classes or opinions. Two "amorous ladyes,' one admiring a soldier and the other a scholar, hold a contention which one's lover loveth most,' and ultimately refer the matter to Cupid himself, who decides in favor of the scholar; for so we must translate clericus, his position being much like that of an English college Fellow, well supplied with the desirabilities of life, a lover of learning and good cheer, and having little to do with preaching and other peculiar functions of a modern priest or clergyman. The poem, which probably dates nearly as late as 1300, was very popular in the sixteenth century. It is comprised in some continental collections, and we learn from Ritson that George Chapman translated it into English in 1595. His version would be worth having, but Mr. Wright was not able to find a copy, and therefore it is not likely that any of us ever will.
Although the aspect of the poem is perfectly serious, I have sometimes thought there was a latent satire intended in it. The reasons which Flora gives for preferring her scholar love are mostly of a very mercenary character, and his own learning is rather thrown into the background compared with his wealth and luxury. If the vow of celibacy had been strictly observed by the clergy in those days, the very argument of the piece and the final decision, that the scholar is by far the most ardent lover,' would be a bitter satire in itself. But we know that numbers ef the English priests were virtually married: these left-handed marriages were formally condemned in council in 1215, but the papal ordinances on the subject were enforced with difficulty. Several of the poems in this collection, written immediately after Mapes's time, bandle the question with great boldness, and display much good sense and sound protestant doctrine. Feb. 18th.
PROFESSOR LINCOLN'S HORACE.* *
Literary World, April 1851.
WE are somewhat inclined to question the demand or necessity for a new edition of Horace. Our doubt has no reference to foreign labors in this field. With a nationality much to be desiderated in some other matters connected with literature, the college-going and college-teaching part of our community has invariably hesitated to receive into general use the work of a European scholar until it receives the imprimatur of a native editor. The American classical editor, therefore, has only to take into consideration home competitors, and these in the present instance, we think, have already pretty well occupied the ground, and the labors of some of them have acquired a reputation not limited to their section of the country or to the country itself. We are disposed to think that, without going out of the beaten track, any of our professors having leisure and inclination to edit might find something more left to be done in Virgil than in Horace; but how we do wish that some of them would make the attempt to enlarge a little the boundaries of our very limited collegiate Latin course! For instance, how many American students know anything about Lucretius? Yet is he not, whether considered in a literary or a philological point of view, quite as worthy to be read as Ovid? A move of this kind can only be made by our Professors; not merely is it their peculiar business, but they are the only persons by whom it can be done, because first, there are very few men out of their circle qualified for the work; secondly, where such a rara avis as a scholar of leisure exists, the
fact of his not being connected with any institution of learning, prevents him from introducing a book into the standard
The Works of Horace. With English Notes for the use of Schools and Colleges. By B. Lincoln, Professor of the Latin Language and Literature in Brown Universitey. New York: Appleton & Co.
course anywhere. The classical editor here must have some large school or college as a stand-point to begin with.
Since, however, Professor Lincoln has, by reasons best known to himself, been led to the conclusion that another edition of Horace was required, it is but bare justice to him to say that he has executed the task in à very workmanlike manner. The book itself is quite a treat to one's eyes after the usual run of American schoolbooks large and correct print, handsome type, and a liberal allowance of margin; and it is further embellished with occasional vignettes, though of these we must be allowed to say, that neither their beauty, number, nor importance altogether justifies the flourish of trumpets made about them in the preface. The foot-notes of various readings are very convenient, and contribute to give the work a scholarly appearance; we respect an editor who has the courage to give various readings. The critical notes are good so far as they go, good enough to make us wish for more. Unluckily, this question of more or fewer notes has become almost a party one between New York and New England professors, the former, as a general rule, taking the side of more copious, the latter of more scanty illustration; so that it is not easy to approach the subject without being suspected of, perhaps without being imperceptibly biased by, feeling of partisanship.
The obvious argument against the profuse annotation system (a system more favored in Germany than in England: we mention this fact because it has been our fortune to find an opinion to the contrary strangely prevalent in some quarters) is that it makes the learner depend too much on his notes and not enough on his lexicon and himself. There is a subordinate reason arising from considerations of convenience and expense
the addition which many notes make to the bulk and cost of a volume. As regards this latter, we should begin where there is any danger of making too big a book, by throwing out all parallel passages from modern poets and all from ancient poets when introduced to illustrate the sentiment only, such quotations, like pictorial illustrations, seeming to us not strictly in place in a critical edition. We are inclined also to admit that the practice of giving translations in the notes merely to show how a sentence or
phrase may be put into the best English, has been sometimes carried to excess. For the student to understand the meaning of a passage is but half the battle; he should labor to express
in elegant as well as accurate terms, thus bringing into play and improving his knowledge of his own language.* At the same time it must be said that the eastern students who are left to exercise themselves in this way do not appear to profit much by the opportunity. The first thing that strikes a New York trained boy at a New England college is the barbarous style of construing adopted by most of his classmates, which, aiming at bald literalness, errs as much from real accuracy as the elegant but loose paraphrases to which he has been accustomed. A proper style of translation, however, is much better learned from the teacher than from a book; but here again it happens unfortunately that a great many of our teachers are not over qualified for this task. Indeed, the American editor of a school or college text-book must always bear in mind this deficiency of the average teachers. Still, all things considered, we advocate a sparing use of notes which translate merely for the sake of the language, but with notes which explain grammatical difficulties and verbal niceties, the case is different: we never saw too many of them in an American classic. The most common error of a student working by himself and we speak not of mere tyros, but of those who have made considerable progress is to overlook the eristence of difficulties, to get a general idea of the meaning of passage without being able to explain the construction and the force of particular words accurately. Now, as we have already said, many of our students have to work alone, and many with inferior teachers. Moreover, the chances of this error are greatly multiplied by the character of the national mind; where there is one American boy deficient in sharpness and quickness of apprehension, there are fifty deficient in habits of patient investigation and accurate discrimination. Take a subtle Greek author Sophocles for instance; examine a student who has read him alone or under an
Writing out translations is a valuable exercise not sufficiently attended to in any of our academic institutions. It is the best possible preparation for English composition, and would be an advantageous substitute for it in the earlier stages of the College course.