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C.C. Felton, ART. I. - Arundines Cami, sive Musarum Cantabrigien

sium Lusus Canori. Collegit atque edidit Henricus DRURY, A. M. Cantabrigiæ. 1841. 8vo. pp. 261.

This is not only one of the handsomest, but one of the most entertaining volumes that we have lately received from England. Among the contributors to its pages are some of the best scholars of the old University of Cambridge. It consists of Greek and Latin translations, chiefly from the English poets, most of which are executed with much classical elegance. Many of them are humorous trifles, but the whole collection shows the exquisite skill possessed by members of the University in composition in the two principal languages of antiquity. The nicety and curacy of English scholarship have always been famous comprehensiveness less so. A very exact verbal knowledge of Greek and Latin, and especially of the laws of metrical composition, has been considered indispensable to the education of an English gentleman. Hence we have seen eminent professional men filling up the intervals of their daily occupations by writing Latin and Greek verses, or translating into those tongues favorite passages from English authors. Illustrious statesmen console themselves under defeat, or speed the hours of retirement from political life, by constructing hexameters and pentameters. At the schools, boys are most laboriously No. 115.

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VOL. LIV.

trained in this discipline ; prizes and honors are obtained by it at the University; and the high places of the church are brilliant objects in the scholar's perspective, the steps to which are trochees, spondees, and anapæsts. Classical learning is thus preëminently esteemed in England. But it has rarely taken the comprehensive range over all the fields of antiquarian research, for which German scholarship, since the days of Wolf and Heyne, has been distinguished. The philologists of England have been too much inclined to spend their strength on minute points, and the mechanical structure of sentences and verses.

Mr. Porson was a striking example, both of the excellences and defects of his learned countrymen. His knowledge was profound, and ever ready to his hand. He had a memory that grasped every thing within its reach, and let nothing go. But he failed to enter as deeply as his German rivals into the poetical spirit of the great works he criticized, and contented himself with acute investigations of words and feet. He had at his command the mechanical principles of metrical structure, but failed to master the higher laws of rhythm. In his famous preface to Hecuba, he laid down a series of metrical rules, which were drawn from a limited number of examples ; but it frequently happened, that a dogged line of Æschylus or Sophocles contradicted the canon point-blank. Porson and his school got over such difficulties by altering the line, and not the canon ; as if the old poets never wrote without having a complicated system of prosodiacal rules at their fingers' ends, like the candidate hammering out his Sapphics for a college prize. And when Hermann, the greatest philologist and inetrician of modern times, in his preface to Hecuba, pointed out, with many compliments to the learned Englishman, the limited and exclusive character of his system, and demonstrated its errors beyond any reasonable cavil or question, the gruff Professor replied with a doggrel version of a Greek Epigram, by an Etonian. The epigram is an imitation of these lines of Phocylides ;

Και τόδε Φωκυλίδεω" Λέριοι κακοί· ουχ ο μεν, ώς δ' ου

Πάντες, πλην Προκλέους και Προκλέης Λέριος. It runs thus ;

Νηίδες εστέ μέτρων, ώ Τεύτονες' ουχ ο μέν, ος δ' ού:

Πάντες, πλήν Ερμάννος· δ' Eρμαννος σφόδρα Τεύτων.

And is thus elegantly rendered by Porson;

“The Germans in Greek

Are sadly to seek ;
Not five in five score
But ninety-five more;
All, save only Hermann ;
And Hermann 's a German."

Those who know the comparative value of the services rendered to Greek studies by the English and the German scholars, have long smiled at the harmless vanity of the Professor and his metrical disciples. Hermann's investigations have entirely set aside the principles of the English school; and, though many of his refined details have been rejected, still he is to be regarded as the great teacher of the laws of metre and rhythm.

The effecis of this careful classical training on the minds of English scholars and statesmen are sufficiently obvious. Their writings and their spoken eloquence are marked by a degree of simple, manly taste, which is nowhere else to be found, except in the literature of the ancients. The English language is used by them with a neatness, propriety, exactness, and force, to which “ the cheap extemporaneous rant of most American legislators is a perfect stranger. And, above all, they have the art, so utterly unknown to nine tenths of the “ thrilling,” “ irresistible,” “overwhelming” orators in our republic, — of stopping when they have done. They know how to find the point in question, and keep to it; they are clear, vigorous, and logical. We do not mean to say, that they owe all this to their early skill in hexameters and pentameters.

We know well, that a Latin or Greek prize man is not, of necessity, a master of that “harp of thousand strings,” the English language. A man may be able to put together faultlessly Greek and Latin verses, who cannot write a page in his mother tongue, without being laughed at; and a man may, like Franklin, acquire by laborious practice a correct and elegant English style without the smallest assistance from Greek and Latin masters. But single examples prove nothing either way. The habits of mind acquired by studying accurately the elegancies of two such instruments of thought, as the languages of Greece and Rome; that nice discrimination, which is for ever called into exercise ; the constant comparisons and selections, which the mind is compelled to make, especially in composition in those languages, cannot fail to prove eminently favorable to correct thinking and writing when the same powers are wielding another instrument, though so widely different from them as the Englishman's mother tongue.

It is true, on the other hand, that persons of no great intellectual powers have sometimes been remarkable for their skill in writing the dead languages. Men without the smallest spark of poetical genius have figured as brilliant authors of elegies, Sapphics, and so on, and received the applauses of listening senatus academici. And, from the very nature of the case, in such exercises the language must be an object of primary care, as a thing almost independent of the sentiment and thought. It would be difficult to find, probably, in productions of this sort by the most illustrious poets, many evidences of that creative genius which their native writings display. The Africa" of Petrarch and the Latin poems of Milton at once occur as illustrations of this remark. Every original genius is bound, by cords he cannot break, to his mother tongue.

Its words and forms of expression are intertwined with the very fibres of his intellectual being. His most subtile and peculiar associations, every thought that marks him as a distinct and self-dependent mind, is indissolubly interwoven with the tissue of the language he lisped in his infancy. Before he can freely use a foreign and dead language, he must take from his thoughts all that individualizes them; he must reduce his conceptions to their simplest form ; in short, he must attempt to say only what everybody else may say with equal propriety.

Another consideration ought also to be taken into the account. Labor as we may upon the ancient languages, we cannot approach the style of the great masters. We should not like to submit a modern Sapphic to Sappho. We can imagine the smile of ridicule, that would pass over the lovely Lesbian's lips, as she read the faultless lines even of a Valentine Blomfield, with their perfectly adjusted trochees, spondees, and dactyles, and their unimpeachable Æolicisms. The most Ciceronian Latin of modern times would, it is likely, fall harshly on the ears of Cicero. Still the effort to imi. tate those great teachers of thought and style cannot be made without gaining a clearer perception of their beauties, and of

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