Page images
PDF
EPUB

• Hermann and his school never miss an opportunity of lavishing their censure on Porson, and on those English scholars whom they facetiously enough term Porson's disciples; while, on the other hand, it is a sufficient title to their esteem to flatter the German critics at the expense of the English.'

We by no means blame the zeal of Mr. Barker in behalf of Professor Hermann, who is his friend, and who has actually written him some notes of civility: these obliging billets are all carefully preserved and printed by the Aristarchus; who, it is to be observed, imitates the laudable practice of Dr. Solomon and the proprietors of Velno's vegetable syrup, in giving to the world every tittle of praise or approbation, which they can extract from their correspondents. A civil line sent to Mr. Barker is never lost; he prints it, whatever be its subject, or its date, or however frequently he may have published it before. Instead, however, of defending Hermann, he justifies our assertion by quoting at length several passages from his writings, in which he has spoken most slightingly and most unjustly of the scholars of this country, for the undisguised reason of their attachment to the name and the example of the late Professor Porson. As to the quarrel between Porson and Hermann, (whom Mr. Barker styles

these modern Goliahs',) it is perfectly well known to have originated in the attempt made by the latter, to decry the edition of the Hecuba at the first publication; an attempt, which was as conspicuous for the bad feeling which dictated, as for the utter failure which attended it: but, which must always be regarded by scholars with some satisfaction, as being the means of calling forth from Porson that fund of accurate and clear observation, which distinguishes the second edition of his Hecuba, and has given us more insight into the poetry of the scenic writers of Greece, than all the volumes which ever preceded it. Porson unquestionably resented what he considered a rude, presumptuous, and unprovoked attack from the German; whose errors and whose ignorance he exposes in the happiest and most complete manner, without condescending to name him: but in a note upon a verse of the Medea, he inflicts a severe chastisement, by holding up to derision some of Hermann's blunders in caustic and taunting language; which, however it might have been deserved, we think that he would have better consulted his own dignity by suppressing. Hermann, who was then a young man and had aspired to notice in a controversy with an adversary whose strength he mis-calculated, was deeply chagrined by his failure; and, we are sorry to say, appears never to have been able to lay aside the feelings towards Porson which had their origin twentyfive years ago. Though he has subsequently profited as much,

perhaps,

perhaps, as any one living, by the writings of Porson, though he has established a fame not only incomparably superior to that of which his early productions gave promise, but which is likely to be solid and durable, yet he cannot refrain from incessant attempts to pick faults in the criticisms of Porson, and from almost indiscriminate censure of all who look up to him as a guide. For this conduct he has neither provocation nor excuse: all Mr. Barker's research in reviews and other English publications has not succeeded in establishing the least proof of ill-will towards Hermann. The nature, indeed, of his philology, being too much founded on vague theory, and his habit of dogmatizing on the obscurest topics of ancient metre, naturally occasion the frequent dissent of other scholars and, it may be added, they lead to a perpetual fluctuation in his own judgment: but, far from his being the object of personal dislike or jealousy, we see him every where noticed with the honour and deference due to an ingenious, learned, and most industrious scholar, who has contributed greatly to enlarge our knowledge of Greek literature.

In almost all Professor Hermann's writings, there are proofs of a warm and irritable temper, and of a readiness to take offence at the most trivial expressions: a foible which is the more to be regretted, as he appears to be a man of an honourable mind, and is certainly an object of great attachment and even veneration to the scholars who are his intimates. The feelings entertained by Hermann towards Porson are discovered from the writings of his pupils, particularly of Seidler and of Reisig, even more plainly than from his own. That they study to flatter the prejudices of their master, by the condemnation of Porson, is too palpable in every thing which they have written. The Professor himself has lately made an ingenuous confession, that he is disposed to disap prove the criticisms of our countryman, Mr. Elmsley, (a gentleman who, by the bye, is greatly his superior in every line of scholarship,) because he finds them commended by those who most respect the authority of Porson! This, we think, is quite conclusive and while we repeat our high opinion of Professor Hermann's genius, learning, and industry, we must refuse the least credit to his judgment of contemporary scholars.*

We

It is not merely Hermann and his school, but all other foreign publishers, whom Mr. Barker thinks himself bound to advocate as his clients; particularly if they happen to be blockheads. Thus we find him interested in behalf of one Mr. Timkowsky, whose name appears in a note upon an Essay, with which some of our readers may be acquainted, On the Dramatic Representations of the Greeks,' in the 5th Number of the Museum Criticum,' p. 71. The note respects the origin of the term paucos, and concludes with these words.

"

Mr. Romani de Timkowsky, (we give his name as we find it, and are nowise accountable for its structure,) in a Commentation upon Dithyrambs, published at Moscow

VOL. XXIV. NO. XLVIII.

in

CC

We now return to Aristarchus. Against us he has only one more topic of complaint, which, however, he advances with unusual and mysterious solemnity. Our words were,

"We have been informed that a similar work (a Greek and English Lexicon) has been undertaken by the author of a Greek grammar, which he was pleased to term philosophical, but which undoubtedly was not philological; and unless he has greatly improved in his perception of the genius of the language, and in his acquaintance with its writers, we augur but little good of his enterprize.'-Vol. xxii. p. 348.

Mr. Barker replies,

'Hatred stirreth up strife, but charity covereth a multitude of sins. A Reverend Reviewer with the characteristic benevolence of Christ, and in the pure spirit of the Christian religion, which, as a Minister of the Gospel, he is accustomed to preach, and should practise as well as preach, might have drawn a veil over the faults of Mr. Jones' Greek Grammar, and dwelt on some of its excellencies, if his optics had been large enough to discover them. One most distinguished scholar, in the presence of one of the editors, has repeatedly borne testimony to the general learning, extensive knowledge, and great acuteness of Mr. Jones, and, when it is considered that the wise, the great, and the good Sir S. Romilly confided to him the education of his sons, the public may rest assured that he is a man of no ordinary calibre.'-And again, he cannot help noticing an instance of the reviewer's curious logic in inferring the inability of Mr. Jones to write a good or useful Greek and English Lexi

in 1806, has a pleasant conceit upon the origin of this term, which is also sanctioned by Proclus and the Scholiast on Pindar. Διθύραμβος ὁ Διόνυσος, παρὰ τὸ διὰ δύο θύρας βῆναι, τήν τε τῆς μητρὸς Σεμέλης, καὶ τῶν μηρῶν τοῦ Διός. The same Mr. Timkowsky sats that the word was undoubtedly invented by some man when he was drunk; if this be true, it might have been intended for Διῒ θρίαμβος, οτ Διονύσῳ θρίαμβος, or any other igi außos: for there is no saying to what lengths the inventor might unwittingly have gone in clipping the standard Greek.'

Now, in all this, we see some matter for laughter, but none whatever for anger; and what it has to do with the Thes. is not easy to discover. Mr. Barker, however, regards it in a very serious light, and begs leave to CONTRAST the ungenerous sneer at Mr. Timkowsky's name with that on Mr. Mitscherlisch, the gentleman with ten consonants in his name, in the Review of the Gr. Thes. p. 338.' In the name of common sense,' exclaims he, is this reflection upon the consonants of a name to be tolerated?'-p. 12. This matter seems to disturb him most unaccountably; and he contends repeatedly that this gentleman has no more than nine. However this weighty point may be settled, it is quite clear that Aristarchus considers the verb CONTRAST' to be synonymous with COMPARE'! How lucky it is for our language, that he has not undertaken to compile an English, instead of a Greek Dictionary!

"

·

In the same spirit of knight-errantry in behalf of dunces in distress, does Mr. Barker stretch his protecting shield over Ignatius Liebel, whose Greek verses on the marriage of Buonaparte and Maria Louisa were mentioned in a note to p. 339.; and prove him to be a sycophant, in addition to his other merits. The defence, however, is of such a nature, that Liebel, if he sees it, may well exclaim, Pol! me occidistis, amici.' Mr. Barker first urges in his defence, that he is not the only person who has annexed bad verses to a classical book, and that the sum total of his offending is four pages.' Aristarch. p. 56. And he then contends, that, though his Greek verses display an ignorance of syntax, of prosody, and of accent, yet those are bad logicians who make inferences from them unfavourable to his philology!

con,

con, because he has written a defective or bad Greek Grammar.'— Aristarch. p. 74.

The reader may wish for a little information upon this head. Mr. Bellamy and Mr. Jones, along with Mr. Barker, and one or two other less notorious personages, are the pillars of the Classical Journal. Hence the interest taken in his credit by our Aristarchus. Now while the first of these gentlemen is anxiously labouring to show us that the contents and import of the Jewish Scriptures are totally different from what has hitherto been read and believed, Mr. Jones zealously undertakes to prove in his Ecclesiastical Researches,' that the introductory parts of St. Matthew's and St. Luke's Gospels, to use his own words, are a 'monstrous imposture,' and that Christianity, as the soul of Judaism, does not comprehend the doctrines of the Trinity, the miraculous birth, and the atonement of Christ.' Mr. Barker seems to think, that, in consideration of these important services to the cause of our religion, a Christian reviewer ought to have drawn a veil over the faults of Mr. Jones's Greek Grammar:' if we rightly comprehend his reasoning, we cannot exactly coincide with his conclusion. However, as to the excellences of that work, he may be right in supposing that our optics were not large enough to discover them.' But how the approbation of the late Sir Samuel Romilly can satisfy the public of Mr. Jones's capacity as a Greek lexicographer, we are totally unable to conjecture and in spite of the certainty of being called bad logicians by Mr. Barker, we think that the fact of his having published a grammar which displays a radical ignorance of Greek, leads to a very fair inference, that he is incompetent to produce a good or useful' lexicon of that language.

(

(

We have now communicated to the reader all the specific objections brought by Mr. Barker against our paper on the Thes. which he is pleased to term a 'foul libel against the Editors in the abused shape of the vilest of Reviews.'-Pref. p. xiv. And we beg him particularly to remark, that of the ' and numerous blunders (136 at least) which he undertook in his preface to expose, he has not kept his promise as to a SINGLE ONE, nor has he even made a single attempt.

gross

Now, supposing Mr. Barker to have been right as to the author of our article, we appeal to the reader, whether he has found any justification in it for the least offensive of the charges brought against that gentleman. Let us now see whether any apology for them can be drawn from matters unconnected with that paper.

Mr. Barker asserts that he has proofs, and proofs as strong as Holy Writ, that Dr. Blomfield has been governed in his con

CC 2

duct

duct towards him by the foulest malice.'-Pref. p. ix. But the only fact upon which he relies for his proof, is, that in none of Dr. Blomfield's publications is his name either mentioned or alluded to! and he thinks that several good opportunities of praising him have been neglected. It was precisely the same grievance which led Gilbert Wakefield to publish his Diatribe Extemporalis on Porson's Hecuba; the most angry and unsuccessful effusion which ever proceeded from a scholar's pen, before Aristarchus Anti-Blomfieldianus. Porson's reply was, that only a single opportunity was offered of naming Wakefield in his book, and that even then the notice must have been accompanied with censure. From the specimens which we have seen of Mr. Barker's writings, we are disposed to doubt whether Dr. Blomfield has ever read much of them. But at all events, so long as it is the interest of an author to make his books as useful and as valuable as he can, we may feel assured that he will not neglect communicating information which he believes is desirable for his readers to posMr. Barker's writings, like those of all other persons, must rest upon their own merits: nor has he any right to expect others to join him in trumpeting their praises; an office, indeed, which he performs himself with so much zeal and assiduity, that it might seem officious in any one to tender him assistance.

sess.

His other evidence of Dr. Blomfield's malice' consists in numerous extracts from papers in different periodical works—of which he calls him the author, and that too with as much confidence as if his name were affixed to each. Mr. Barker, imagining himself to have inherited that accurate discrimination of style, that nice perception of internal evidence, for which the name of Aristarchus is proverbially renowned, feels no scruple in quoting 'Blomfield's Review of Monk's Hippolytus in Quart. Rev.' 'Blomfield's Review of Elmsley's Heraclidæ in Mus. Crit.' &c. What will be his astonishment when he is told, that in a great majority of these assumptions, in SIXTEEN instances, at the least, he is utterly mistaken; attributing to that gentleman the productions of different persons, written with the most palpable dissimilarity of styles?* At the same time we cannot help declaring that had his conjectures been as correct as they are laughably erroneous, they would not have assisted him the least in maintaining his accusation.

Mr. Barker admits, and even makes a boast of having committed an aggression upon Dr. Blomfield; he has the credit, to use his own phrase, of stinging him in the Classical Journal.—Pref.

* We must not be understood to imply, that we think Aristarchus right as to the remainder of his quotations; but that he is mistaken as often as we have mentioned, is a fact within our own knowledge, and for which we pledge the credit of our Journal.

p. xiv.

« PreviousContinue »