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shelters itself. An honest man will, however, look on all these methods as unjustifiable, and will enjoy himself better in a moderate fortune, that is gained with honour and reputation, than in an overgrown estate, that is cankered with the acquisitions of rapine and exaction. Were all our offices discharged with such an inflexible integrity, we should not see men in all ages, who grow up to exhorbitant wealth with the abilities which are to be met with in an ordinary mechanic. I cannot but think that such a corruption proceeds chiefly from mens employing the first that offer themselves, or those who have the character of shrewd worldly men, instead of searching out such as have had a liberal education, and have been trained up in the studies of knowledge and virtue.
It has been observed, that men of learning who take to business, discharge it generally with greater honesty than men of the world. The chief reason for it I take to be as follows. A man that has spent his youth in reading, has been used to find virtue extolled, and vice stigmatized. A man that has past his time in the world, has often seen vice triumphant, and virtue discountenanced. Extortion, rapine, and injustice, which are branded with infamy in books, often give a man a figure in the world; while several qualities which are celebrated in authors, as generosity, ingenuity, and good-nature, impoverish and ruin him. This cannot but have a proportionable effect on men whose tempers and principles are equally good and vicious.
There would be at least this advantage in employing men of learning and parts in business, that their prosperity would sit more gracefully on them, and that we should not see many worthless persons shoot up into the greatest figures of life.
NO. 470. FRIDAY, AUGUST 29.
Turpe est difficiles habere nugas,
very often disappointed of late years, when, upon examining the new edition of a classic author, I have found above half the volume taken up with various readings. When I have expected to meet with a learned note upon a doubtful passage
in a Latin poet, I have been only informed, that such or such ancient manuscripts for an et write an ac, or of some other notable discovery of the like importance. Indeed, when a different reading gives us a different sense, or a new elegance in an author, the editor does very well in taking notice of it; but when he only entertains us with the several ways of spelling the same word, and gathers together the various blunders and mistakes of twenty or thirty different transcribers, they only take up the time of the learned reader, and puzzle the minds of the ignorant. I have often fancied with myself, how enraged an old Latin author would be, should he see the several absurdities in sense and grammar, which are imputed to him by some or other of these various readings. In one he speaks nonsense; in another makes use of a word that was never heard of: and indeed there is scarce a solecism in writing which the best author is not guilty of, if we may be at liberty to read him in the words of some manuscript, which the laborious editor has thought fit to examine in the prosecution of his work.
I question not but the ladies and pretty fellows will be very curious to understand what it is that I have been hitherto talking of. I shall therefore give them a notion of this practice, by endeavouring to write after the manner of several
make an eminent figure in the republic of letters. To this end we will suppose that the following song is an old ode which I present to the public in a new edition, with the several various readings which I find of it in former editions, and in ancient manuscripts. Those who cannot relish the various readings, will, perhaps, find their account in the song, which never before appeared in print.
My love was fickle once and changing,
Nor e'er would settle in my heart;
In ev'ry face I found a dart.
the fatal stroke;
And all my former fetters broke.
For Belvidera l'endure;
Nor hope to find the wonted cure.
After a thousand beauties shown,
And finds variety in one.
VARIOUS READINGS. Stanza the first, verse the first. And changing.) The and in some manuscripts is written thus, &, but that in the Cotton library writes it in three distinct letters.
Verse the second. Nor e'er would.) Aldus reads it ever would; but as this would hurt the metre, we have restored it to its genuine reading, by observing that synæresis which had been neglected by ignorant transcribers.
Ibid. In my heart) Scaliger and others, on my heart.
Verse the fourth, I found a dart.) The Vatican manuscript for I reads it, but this must have been
the hallucination of the transcriber, who probably mistook the dash of the I for a T.
Stanza the second, verse the second. The fatal stroke.) Scioppius, Salmasius, and many others, for the read a, but I have stuck to the usual reading.
Verse the third. Till by her wit.) Some manuscripts have it his wit, others your, others their wit. But as I find Corinna to be the name of a woman in other authors, I cannot doubt but it should be her.
Stanza the third, verse the first. A long and lasting anguish.) The German manuscripts reads a lasting passion, but the rhyme will not admit it.
Verse the second. For Belvidera I endure.) Did not all the manuscripts reclaim, I should change Belvidera into Peloidera; Pelvis being used by several of the ancient comic writers for a lookingglass, by which means the etymology of the word is very visible; and Pelvidera will signify a lady who often looks in her glass, as indeed she had very good reason, if she had all those beauties which our poet here ascribes to her.
Verse the third. Hourly I sigh, and hourly languish.) Some for the word hourly, read daily, and others nightly; the last has great authorities of its side.
Verse the fourth. The wonted cure.) The elder Stevens reads wanted cure.
Stanza the fourth, verse the second. After a thousand beauties.) In several copies we meet with a hundred beauties, by the usual error of the transcribers, who probably omitted a cypher, and had not taste enough to know, that the word thousand was ten times a greater compliment to the poet's mistress than an hundred.
Verse the fourth. And finds variety in one.) Most of the ancient manuscripts have it in two. Indeed, so many of them concur in this last reading, that I am very much in doubt whether it ought not to take place. There are but two reasons which incline
me to the reading, as I have published it: first, because the rhyme, and, secondly, because the sense, is preserved by it. It might likewise proceed from the oscitancy of transcribers, who, to dispatch their work the sooner, used to write all numbers in cyphers, and seeing the figure i followed by a little dash of the pen, as is customary in old manuscripts
, they perhaps mistook the dash for a second figure, and by casting up both together, composed out of them the figure 2. But this I shall leave to the learned, without determining any thing in a matter of so great uncertainty.
No. 471. SATURDAY, AUGUST 30,
'Εν ελπίσιν χρή τες σοφές έχειν βίον.
EURIPID. The time present seldom affords sufficient employment to the mind of man. Objects of pain or pleasure, love or admiration, do not lie thick enough together in life to keep the soul in constant action, and supply an immediate exercise to its faculties. In order, therefore, to remedy this defect, that the mind may not want business, but always have materials for thinking, she is endowed with certain powers, that can recal what is passed, and anticipate what is to come.
That wonderful faculty which we call the memory, is perpetually looking back, when we have nothing present to entertain us. It is like those repositories in several animals, that are filled with stores of the former food, on which they ruminate when their present pasture fails.
As the memory relieves the mind in her vacant moments, and prevents any chasms of thought by ideas of what is past, we have other faculties that