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whose genius is the light of all mankind, will enable us truly to divine their meaning where it is obscure, to restore it where it is corrupt. Criticism, like many a handmaid who has been despised as an humble drudge, will then stand forth in her true office as the torch bearer, without whose light the initiated would sit in darkness.
We have abstained from those details which might have cast upon our pages a repulsive air; but the principles we have maintained may be fortified by some interesting illustrations, at once of the errors that abound in MSS. and of the power of criticism to correct them. Of the manner in which great literary works are corrupted at the very fountain-head, we have in our own tongue the instance of Shakspeare. Far be it from us, however, to rush in upon the dangerous ground of examples borrowed from that battle-field of critics. Enough for our purpose is the one point on which they are all agreed, that there is no such thing as a genuine archetypal Shakspeare. It will be safer to choose illustrations from the old Florentine, whose name has passed into a proverb, but whose works are so little read that we need not fear to come into collision with pet theories about his text. If any one will take the trouble to read that part of the Preface to the edition of Machiavelli published in 1826, in which there is a comparison of the old text, printed from incorrect MSS., with the new as rectified from Machiavelli's autograph, discovered in the Magliabecchian Library, he will be able, even from one or two passages, to estimate the danger to which a book is exposed in the passage from one MS. to another. In the 'Art of War,' the old editions tell us that the 'cavalry, being thrown into disorder by this attack, cannot return into their ranks, which thing the infantry very seldom do.' But for rarissimo (very seldom) the author's autograph has rattissimo (very quickly), which makes all the difference between sense and nonsense. Again, the following weighty and sagacious observation occurs' in the 'Reform of Florence :'—' Where there is a great equality of citizens, a princedom cannot be set up; and in that city where there is a great inequality of citizens, a Republic cannot be established, but with great difficulty.' The reader will perhaps join us in admiring the profoundness of the observation; but we defy the most intelligent to do so if he leaves out the words which we give in italics-; and yet these words appear nowhere, save in the autlior's own handwriting. We offer these as samples chosen from many others, which 'are themselves presented by the editor merely as specimens of a much larger class. We will add from our own contemporary literature but one example, in which the Soukc of the blunder is as
obvious obvious as its absnrdity. In one of Mr. Roebuck's speeches, the reporter represents him as saying 'It will be said that all these reforms were introduced under the inQuence of Prussia. Pray under what other influence had Catholic Emancipation, the Reform Bill, and subsequent liberal measures been passed?' Here one of the old monkish copyists would have been content to leave Prussia its unknown share in English reforms; a conjectural critic might write long notes proposing half a dozen solutions of the difficulty, but common sense, guided by experience, restores the word pressure.
It sometimes happens with the ancient authors that one MS., like the Magliabecchian autograph of Machiavelli, has preserved, though not the sense which the other critics have corrupted, the original blunder which they vainly attempt to amend, and from which a critic restores the true reading. Thus the passage in Cicero pro Murena (c. xv. § 32), 'quern (Mithridatem) L. Sulla, maximo, et fortissimo exercitu, pugna excitatum, non rudis
imperator cum pace dimisit,' is corrupted by the single
word in italics, which is variously given in the books as exaceraret, cxacerbarct, excitaret, exacerbatum, excitatum: but from the nonsense preserved in a single MS., piujna exetacerct, N' iebuhr brought out the true sense by merely restoring the division of the word, 'putjnax et acer et non rudis imperator.' In another passage of the same oration (c. viii. § 17) we read in all the editions— 'quamquam ego jam putabam, judices, multis viris fortibus ne ignobilitas objiccretur generis, moo labore esse pcrfectum: qui non modo Curiis, Catonibus, Pompeiis, antiquis illis, fortissimis viris, novis hominibus, sed his recentibus, Mariis, et Didiis, et Cteliis coihmemorandis jaccbant,'—where the same MS. gives jacebam (1ACEBAM), which, though making neither sense nor grammar by itself, guided Dr. Eadham to the true reading, id axjeham (IDAGERAM). Such examples may serve to show that the least corrected copies are often nearest to being correct.
We may quote a striking example of the blunders made by the copyists through confounding the forms of letters. Athenaeus (xi. p. 500) discoursing upon the word aKvtfios (a cup), states that 'the Lacedaemonians sent out Dercylliijas to deal with the wily Asiatics, as being a man unencumbered with the old Spartan simplicity, and unlikely to be imposed upon: wherefore the Lacedaemonians called him —Kvcbos.' Rut why the nickname of a cup? Was it a symbol of profundity, or was the hard-headed Lacedaemonian expected to perform the feat which an eminent diplomatist is said to have practised on a Russian emissary in the East, and floor the Persians in their cups? A passage of Xcnophon (Hellen. iii. 1, § 8) suggested
to to Porson the solution of the mystery. That historian tells us that Dercyllidas, a man full of stratagems, was nicknamed Sisyphus, the luckless hero who would circumvent Jove himself; and the critic, well knowing how often the copyists confound K and I C by uniting the letters, saw that CKT<tiON in Athcnaeus was a corruption of CICT4'ON. Cobet cites another example from Athenaeus, in which the monkish copyist, having before him wje? Tee (i. e. 25), read the lei as the abbreviation with which he was familiar, for Kvpie. We happen to be able to match this with a modern case of error from preoccupation of mind. An editor of a volume of sermons was astounded by a proof from an eminent printing office in Scotland, in which certain sublime statements of Holy Writ were represented as the peculiar teaching of the Scotch Seccdcrs. In his perplexity he looked at the copy, and found the wellknown abbreviation of SS. for Scriptures. In commenting upon so strange a V.R. he deemed it prudent to explain, that he meant a Various Reading, not a Venerable Reformer.
In confirmation of our previous remarks, we may add that copyists who write what they do not understand, or cannot understand if they would, must commit frequent and enormous blunders. Such persons would have more than enough to do in following accurately the simple text before them; but they never could have had a mere text to follow, for the MS. from which they copied must have had its errors and omissions, and the necessary supplements and corrections would be exhibited in the margin, where they would keep company with notes, comments, and conjectures. These would be so effectually confounded by the transition, that in many instances the copyist would treat as a supplement and admit into the text what was only intended as a scholium; while he would treat as a note what his predecessor had supplied at the side of the page when he found he had omitted it in its proper place. This accounts for the many unnecessary explanations occurring in orators who would have been the laughing-stock of their audience if they had offered any thing so absurdly superfluous, and for the many repetitions which disfigure writers usually concise. Not only do we find numberless pieces of information which serve about as much purpose as if a modern writer or orator should speak of New York in America, or Malta in the Mediterranean, but in some places the information is so placed that we can scarcely conceive how even the dullest transcriber should suppose it was part of the author's sentence. In the oldest and best MS. of ' iEschincs,' we find a passage in the oration agaii Ctesiphon, which may be rendered thus :—'Their most intii
friends made many embassies to Thebes; as first, This was a General, Thrasybulus of Collyta,—Leodamus of Achamae, as good a speaker as Demosthenes, and to my mind more agreeable, this also was a public speaker, Archedemus called Pelex—a demagogue, Aristophon the Azenian, a public speaker, Pyrrhandus the Anaphlystian,' &c. These supplements have, it is true, long ago disappeared from our editions of thisj' speech, but there are many hundreds still remaining which are scarcely less absurd. Take, for instance, the one in Xenophon's 'Anabasis,' iv. 1, 27, with which Cobet has compared the passage cited above ; 'Aptarcowfws M.e0v&pievs ['A/wca?] Kal 'Ayao-icls %rv/ilpd\t,os ['Ap/eas] —KaXXt/ia^o? Happdtrios [ApKas Kal Outo?]. He proves, by a threefold argument, that these are interpolations, first by the resemblance of 'ApKas Kal Ovto? in the one place with pijrcop Kal ouros in the other; secondly by the improbability, not to say incredibility, that Xenophon should need to tell his readers that any of those places were in Arcadia; and thirdly by pointing out that the Greek mode of expression would, in such a case, have been different.
The defenders of such blemishes may persuade unripe scholars that this argument is weak and vague, because we have no right to limit a speaker or critic by our notions of what does or does not require explanation; but what can they say when the information is false, or when the additional words, in place of making the argument clearer, confound or contradict it? Can it be Xenophon, for instance, who takes care to inform bis readers (Hellen. ii. 2, 13) that Sellasia is 'near the Laconian territory,' when he well knew, and was writing for those who well knew, that it was not near it, but far within it, lying, as Cobet has shown, about 200 stadia from the capital? Or, to borrow a few illustrations from Dr. Badham's Euthydemus, and from his letter to Professor Thompson, could Plato have reasoned as follows (Conv. 180 B.) ?' The gods honour this courage in love generally, but they especially approve and admire and reward when the beloved object is constant to the lover than when the lover is so to the beloved, for the lover is a diviner thing than the beloved, for he is inspired, for which reason they honoured Achilles more than Alcestis,' &c. From which it would follow that the gods admire that least which is most like themselves, and that Alcestis is to be considered as a lover. All this confusion arises from some grammarian thinking to make clearer what was as plain and simple as it could be. 'The gods approve most when the ipio/xeyos is constant to the ipaarrj'i because it is more divine, wherefore they honoured Achilles the more.' • I thought,' says Socrates, in the same dialogue, logue, 'that I should make a splendid panegyric upon Love, because I supposed that in praising any subject you must tell the truth about it, and pick out the facts that are most in its favour. So I thought I should make a grand performance of it inasmuch as I knew the truth.' Can anything be simpler? But some annotator thought otherwise, and added his explanation; in consequence of which we now read in all MSS. and all editions this elegant and perspicuous sentence, 'inasmuch as I knew the truth of praising anything.' 'It would be a shame,' says Gorgias, in the dialogue which bears his name,'that I should refuse (to dispute), especially as I myself made the offer—to ask,' adds the text, 'whatever any one pleases.' The explainer no doubt meant to say, to answer whatever any one pleased to ask; and no doubt Plato would have written thus if he had thought it necessary to explain himself further.
Sometimes a corrupt reading occasions an explanation or addition; and on the restoration of the true reading the interpolation is at once detected. Thus in the ' Symposium ' we have in p. 183, A., el yap T; xpijfiara fiovKofievos irapa Tov \a/3elv, rj apyrjv apljat, rj Tiv aXKtjv Bvvafiiv edekot, iroielv olairep ot epaarat, —where the ridiculous addition of Oxktjp Bwafiiv is merely due to the corruption of Bt] riva, which is necessary to ap-fflv, into rj riva. A more striking example occurs in the 'Laws,' Book iv. p. 710 A. The stranger is asked whether the quality to which he is alluding is Temperance. 'Yes,' says he, 'but that vulgar sort which is not necessarily connected with wisdom,' dXV o-rrep eidix; iraial Kal d-npiow rot? fiev UKparcos ej(eiv 7rpo? To? r/Bovas %vficpvrOi, eiravdel, rot? Be iyKparcos. No one will attempt to translate such a passage, but it is pretty evident that the gist of it would be to represent this natural self-restraint as sometimes producing intemperance and sometimes temperance. The reader has only to change To?9 fiev into Tov fir}, and he will at once clearly understand the whole sentence, and perceive to what kind of person we are indebted for the appendage Tot? Be iyKparcos.
Leaving a whole catalogue of other illustrations as inducements for our readers to follow for themselves the line which we recommend, we have now only to indicate the quarters from which the aptest guidance may be obtained.
Charles Gabriel Cobet was bom at Zwolle, on the Zuyder Zee, in the year 1813. His father, who was land agent and steward to several of the Dutch nobility who possess large estates in the northern provinces of Holland, was descended from one of those numerous emigrants whom the revocation of the Edict of Nantes drove out of Fiance into countries where they could breathe the air of religious freedom. The same act of bigotry to which Germany is indebted for the possession of Buttmann
Vol. 120.—No. 240. 2 B (Boutemont),