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gressing the rules of decorum, by this immoderate Tepeavto loyia, which yet, perhaps, is not unseasonable, and certainly wishes to stand exculpated in your sight.” P. 99.*
The only other passage in Wakefield's Corre
*“Mr. Wakefield in the first part of his Silva Critica had recommended all future editors of Greek Tragic, and Epic Poets to omit this letter (vn) when the succeeding word began with a consonant, and in his Tragediarum Delectus had himself regularly omitted it. Professor Porson on the contrary had regularly inserted it in his edition of the Hecuba, without taking the least notice of Mr. Wakefield's observations on the subject, or even making the slightest allusion to his labours on the Greek Tragedians. From this silence Mr. Wakefield inferred that the Professor designed to impress the literary world with an idea that his critical labours were of little value ; he determined, therefore, to scourge Mr. Porson into a juster opinion of his merits, and with this view published his Diatribe. We must confess that to us Mr. Wakefield's resentment appears to have been rather unreasonable. The chief foundation of his complaint is that, although he had always praised Mr. Porson, Mr. Porson, far from returning the compliment, had not even condescended to mention him. But it formed no part of the Professor's plan to swell his notes with those common-place and ridiculous expressions of approbation, which scholars are too much in the habit of applying to each other; his principal object was brevity; and he felt, moreover, that praise is only valuable, when it is bestowed with justice and discrimination. His respect for truth would not allow him to speak in terms of approbation of those parts of Mr. Wakefield's writings, which were more immediately connected with the subjects before him; and, as he could not praise, he determined to be entirely silent. His silence, therefore, which Mr. Wakefield construed into an insult, appears in fact to have originated in feelings of kindness and civility. To Mr. Wakefield's Diatribe Mr. Porson never
spondence with Fox, where Dr. Parr's name oc
curs, is in
“ The principal points of my metrical dissertation seem tolerably well ascertained. Some difficulties will arise of impossible solution, partly from inexplicable corruptions,
replied directly ; he has, however, defended his insertion of the final y in the bitter notes on the Orestes v. 64, quoted by Mr. Fox (p. 91,) and in a note on the Medea v. 76. (See also a note in his Collation of the Harleian MSS. at the end of the GrenvilleHomer, Od. A. 54.) The question was thoroughly examined in the Monthly Review for July 1799, by a scholar of the first eminence, and Mr. Wakefield's notions were by him pronounced
It is unnecessary, therefore, to dwell longer on a point, respecting which we believe that no doubt exists in the minds of competent judges.”
“ The discussion respecting the final v necessarily leads to the frequent introduction of the name of Porson; and we are sorry to observe that Mr. Wakefield's Letters in the present collection betray too many symptoms of that resentful spirit, which pervaded his Diatribe, and drew down upon him the merited censure of the Monthly Reviewer. He has even succeeded in communicating some portion of this spirit to Mr. Fox, whose natural candour and good-humour appear to forsake him the instant that Mr. Porson's name is mentioned. We have already shewn with how little reason Mr. Fox imputed the Professor's insertion of the final v in v. 64, of the Orestes to the mere desire of differing toto colo from Mr. Wakefield ; with as little reason we find him at p. 170, expressing a captious doubt of the accuracy of a remark thrown out incidentally in a note on the Phæn. 1230. (Neque enim diphthongus ante brevem vocalem elidi potest. See Dawes's Miscellanca Critica p. 266. Ed. Ox.) Mr. Wakefield never omits an opportunity of aiming a blow at the Professor; at p. 66, he tells Mr. Fox that Mr. Steevens, the editor of Shakespeare, hall detected 900 errors in Heyne's Virgil, lately published in London,
and partly, perhaps, from the inconsistency and incorrectness of the writers themselves. That hiatus in the middle of the third foot I once mentioned to Dr. Parr, and desired his opinion on it; but, as he revolted at the very mention of it, and condemned it as a peculiarity unheard
and corrected by Porson.” ( Mr. Steevens, editor of Shakespeare, who, though a friend of mine, can scarcely endure one of my opinions,--an excellent classical scholar, and a most severe censor,—who detected, I think, 900 errors in the Heyne's Virgil, lately published at London, and corrected by Porson, pronounced, in my hearing, at a bookseller's last week, my large-paper Lucretius to be the most magnificent and correct work of its kind, that had yet appeared.') “ The intent of this observation is too obvious to be mistaken; but, if we are rightly informed, whatever might be the number of errors, no blame attached to Mr. Porson ; he has been heard to declare that the booksellers, after they had obtained permission to use his name, never paid the slightest attention to his corrections.
“ But it is not only against the Professor's reputation as a critic and a scholar that Mr. Wakefield's attacks are directed ; at p. 99, he draws a picture of the Professor's moral character, and that Mr. Fox may entertain no doubt of the accuracy of the resemblance, he begins by stating that he had been furnished with many opportunities of observing Porson by near inspection. That Mr. Porson was guilty of two of the faults, which Mr. Wakefield lays to his charge, cannot be denied ; ‘he was extremely inatten• tive to times and seasons, and was addicted to immoderate drink‘ing. But when Mr. Wakefield goes on to state that he had 'been debarred of a comprehensive intercourse with Greek and * Roman authors by his excesses,' we begin almost to suspect that the author of the Diatribe had not perused the works, which he undertook to review (p. 177.) Not to mention his other writings, do the notes on the two Plays, which Mr. Porson had then published, bespeak a partial intercourse with Greek and Roman authors? We know indeed that many persons, who appear to estimate the
of, and inadmissible, I made no reply, but concluded it to have been unobserved by all readers but myself.”
In a pamphlet, (about the existence of which some doubt was expressed in the first volume of the Parriana,) entitled Porsoniana, Tepáxn Tôv
merits of an author by the bulk of his works, are disposed to accuse Mr. Porson of indolence, and to complain that the memorials, which he has left of his talents, bear no proportion to the extraordinary reputation, which he enjoyed. But we would beg such persons to consider that the works, which he has left, though few in number, are almost perfect in their kind. We would also
suggest to them that the true mode of estimating a writer's merits is to enquire how far he has contributed to the advancement of that particular science, to which his studies have been directed; and, if the question be regarded in this point of view, we think that no name will occupy a more conspicuous place in the annals of criticism than that of Professor Porson.
“ To two of Mr. Wakefield's assertions we think it our duty to give a peremptory contradiction. It is not true that Mr. Porson
had in his treasury satirical verses for all his most intimate asso'ciates.' It is not true “ that it was impossible to procure his
opinion on any author, or on any passage of an author.' We have ourselves applied to him for his opinion on various passages, and he always communicated it with the utmost readiness and good-humour. But on this point we can adduce better authority than our own declarations. Scarcely a work on subjects connected with Greek criticism has appeared since his death, in which we do not find some observation or conjecture, that had been communicated by him in the course of conversation. That he might not be very willing to enter into critical discussions with Mr. Wakefield we can readily conceive. He certainly did not entertain a very high idea of Mr. Wakefield's qualifications as a scholar ; he knew him to be at once precipitate and dogmatical in his decisions ; he thought too that his critical notions were fundamentally erroneous, and he was aware how much more
Πόρσωνος Μεγάλων Δείπνων, or Scraps from Ponson's Rich Feast, Lond. published by Robert Baldwin, 47 Paternoster-Row, 1814. 8vo. p. 23, lent to me by my amiable and enlightened friend, Dawson Turner, Esq., of Yarmouth, and received
reluctant the generality of mankind are to unlearn than to learn; he was not, therefore, very solicitous to engage in disquisitions, that could lead only to interminable dispute. Mr. Wakefield probably concluded from the reserve, which he had himself remarked in the Professor, that he was equally reserved in his intercourse with others, and thus was induced to give a very inaccurate representation of his character.
“ It is not our intention to compose a panegyric on Mr. Porson; but as the effect of the present publication has been to draw the attention of the world to his failings, common justice requires that some mention should also be made of his virtues. We shall observe, then, that he possessed two qualities, which, though they are not the sole, are yet very essential requisites in the formation of a great character;-an utter contempt for money, and a religious attachment to truth. It is from this latter quality that his writings derive their peculiar excellence. He is one of those few authors, on whom the reader may rely with implicit confidence, who think it no less culpable to advance what they do not know to be true, than what they know to be false. So determined is he to be accurate, that he never relaxes his vigilance for a moment; he withholds no arguments, because they are at variance with his own opinions; he deduces no conclusions, which the facts themselves will not strictly warrant; he makes no assertions, which he has not duly weighed, and of the correctness of which he is not fully convinced. Had he undertaken to describe the moral character of another, the same regard for truth, which prevented him in the case of Mr. Wakefield from bestowing praise against his belief, would also have prevented him from throwing out rash and illgrounded accusations. He would not have pronounced upon Mr. Wakefield's temper and disposition with the same precipitate con