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GOLDWIN SMITH, M.A.
REGIUS PROFESSOR OF MODERN HISTORY IN THE
UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD,
THIS EDITION OF VIRGIL,
ORIGINALLY UNDERTAKEN IN CONJUNCTION WITH HIM,
IN MEMORY OF A FRIENDSHIP OF MANY YEARS.
I am glad to be able at last to publish the first volume of this edition of Virgil. At the time of its commencement, in 1852, I had, as the public are aware, the advantage of being associated with another editor, the distinguished friend to whom I have now the satisfaction of inscribing it. In 1854 he was called to other duties, which removed him from Oxford, while they engrossed his time; and I had to continue the work alone. Those who know him will ke able to feel how much he might have contributed to the illustration of an author one of whose chief characteristics is his subtle delicacy of expression, and who requires in those who would appreciate him, not only the power of an analytical critic, but the sympathy of a practised master of the Latin language. Even as it is, this volume owes not a little to Mr. Goldwin Smith's assistance. The Eclogues, the first two Georgics, and a part of the third we read together. The notes on the latter part of the first Georgic, the whole of the second, and the early part of the third, were, to a considerable extent, prepared by us in concert for publication : those on the first five Eclogues are based on some which he composed by himself: and many passages in both poems have since been discussed between us.
The editorial responsibility is however entirely mine, and I have exercised it freely with reference to the materials which
he allowed me to use, adding, altering, and suppressing, as I deemed best. One important remark, affecting the interpretation of the first Eclogue, I have thought it right to assign distinctly to him,
appears to me both new and valuable. * On the other hand I fear it is not impossible that the notes may betray, here and there, a trace of that inconsistency which is perhaps almost inseparable from a divided editorship, though it is also conceivable that indications of this kind may have arisen from changes in my own opinion, such as it is no less natural to expect in the course of a protracted work.
This very delay, I am well aware, is a circumstance which may be considered to require apology. I can only hope that even a transient glance at the contents of the present volume will show that the production of it must necessarily have been a work of time. It does not profess, indeed, any more than the other editions of the Bibliotheca Classica, to be a work for the learned, the result of elaborate original research. No manuscripts have been consulted in the formation of the text: a very large portion of the notes may be found in the commentaries of others. But it is no light thing to comment on nearly 3000 lines, line by line, even where the materials of the note are taken from other sources. Much too depends on the style in which a commentary is written. I have in general studied brevity of expression, abridging quotations which might have been given in extenso, and indicating a thought which might easily have been pursued. A very few lines of type will often represent the employment of an hour. Before I knew the actual nature of the work, I fancied that an edition of the whole of Virgil, such as I proposed, might be completed in two or three years : I can now only wonder at the inexperience which suggested the thought.
* See p. 11.