« PreviousContinue »
as the Halicarnassian tells us, was that of the Greek diphthong ou, which I have no doubt was sounded something like our W.* I am further of opinion that it was used, in the days of Homer, both in the beginning and in the middle of words, in order to thicken the sound, and to prevent vowels from gaping upon one another. I have no doubt but the digamma had the effect of lengthening the preceding vowel, by thickening, and so retarding the pronunciation of the subsequent vowel; and in that way a good deal of Homer's metre is to be explained.
I am, very sincerely,
Your most obedient humble servant,
TO MR. BURGESS.
AFTER my shocking rudeness upon a former occasion, I little expected any further employment from you in the office of censor. But I find I have to do with a young man of parts and learning, who is, yet, really desirous of hearing advice. Where did you acquire this uncommon disposition? Not, surely, from your study of modern critics. However, as long as you condescend to consult me in any matter, I shall esteem it oude φιλιον ουδε οσιον + not to give you my opinion with freedom and sincerity.
* On this question, see the note, p. 14.
+ Neither friendly nor equitable.
I suppose (though you do not expressly say so) that you have thoughts of printing the Latin verses at the head of your edition of Dawes? I believe I threw out, upon a former occasion, my general notion of the hazard attending hors d'œuvres of this kind. In the present case, what strikes me as particularly liable to misapprehension is, that you seem to consider the book as entirely your own. What would Dawes say to that? Exclusive of this point of legal discussion, — how far an editor acquires a property in the works of his author, — I have no objection to make to the plan and sentiments of your address, except, only, to that part in which you speak of yourself; modestly enough, indeed; but even that modesty, and the example of Horace (whose very words, as I recollect, you have almost transcribed), will scarcely, I doubt, completely justify you to that class of readers who are angry with honest Montaigne for having told them that he liked white wine better than red. The manner in which you have marked your æra is more poetical, I think, than Horace's naked appeal to the Fasti; but would you choose, in a calm philosophical discourse, to adopt the language of political invective ? * Would you wish to make the war still more general and destructive, by setting the critics of all the world in arms against us; Brunck, Villoison, &c. &c.? The remainder of
* Referring, probably, to some passage of the above description in the Latin poem alluded to.
your poem deserves a more serious acknowledgment from me. How far you meant to flatter me, you know best; but your compliments are certainly such as I wish to deserve, and such as (from a friend and a poet) I think I might almost venture to receive without too much blushing.
I am always, dear Sir,
Yours very sincerely,
Welbeck Street, 29th March, 1781.
The following letter from Mr. Tyrwhitt is in reply to one in which his young friend had gratefully adverted to the kind method which he had devised to enable him to continue at Oxford:
I AM really happy in being able to assist you in the prosecution of a plan which seems as agreeable to your inclination, as I am persuaded it is well calculated for the improvement of your talents. But do not over-rate your obligations (as you call them) to me, by supposing that I am quite disinterested in this transaction. While your chief residence is at Oxford, I shall hope to have the pleasure of seeing you oftener, or, at least, of corresponding with you more frequently, and with more satisfaction, upon the subject of our common studies, than if you were settled in any other place. These, I assure you, I consider as no small advantages, which I am
likely to derive from the plan which you have thought fit to adopt at my suggestion. But, where both parties are satisfied, it seems unnecessary to discuss minutely which has most reason for being
I am much obliged to you for your information with respect to the translations of Thucydides. It looks as if Sir Isaac's eye had been fascinated by the Latin, so as to prevent him from consulting the Greek.
Do you hear any thing of Mr. Toup's work upon Euripides? I had a letter, not long ago, from Mr. Brunck, in which, without naming Sophocles, he announces an edition of the XI plays and fragments of Aristophanes, of which the text is printed off.
-A long series of verbal criticism on a passage in Homer is omitted, which concludes thus: —
And so, while I only meant to fill two or three pages with innocent prate, I have stept into the abyss of antiquarian criticism. Help me out, me out, if you can; or, at least, treat me with tenderness as a young etymologist, and as
Yours very faithfully,
Welbeck Street, Oct. 30. 1781.
The edition of Dawes, as appears from the following letter, was published in the summer of 1781:
TO MR. BURGESS.
I SINCERELY Congratulate you upon the conclusion of your labours, and (by anticipation) thank for you your intended present to me. It gives me pleasure to find that you reflect without dissatisfaction upon our first correspondence, and that my sincerity has, with you, atoned for my freedom. I am only sorry that you hope, a little doubtingly (with an if), for the continuance of my esteem. I have, certainly, more reason to doubt the permanence of your partial attachment. But I trust that the continuance of our correspondence (which you will allow me to solicit upon the present friendly footing) will convince us both that our mutual regard for each other is more likely to increase than diminish.
I am always, dear Sir,
Your very faithful servant,
DR. VINCENT TO MR. BURGESS.
I AM much obliged to you for your kind remembrance of me in your present of the new edition of