Friday, July 30, 2010


Hate at First Sight

Charles Lamb, in his essay on Imperfect Sympathies, quotes these lines from Heywood's Hierarchie of Angels (1635):
—We by proof find there should be
'Twixt man and man such an antipathy,
That though he can show no just reason why
For any former wrong or injury,
Can neither find a blemish in his fame,
Nor aught in face or feature justly blame,
Can challenge or accuse him of no evil,
Yet notwithstanding hates him as a devil.
In seventeenth century Oxford, a wayward student named Tom Brown (1663–1704) was on the verge of being expelled, when John Fell (1625-1686, Dean of Christ Church and Bishop of Oxford) offered him a pardon, on the condition that Tom translate on the spot a Latin epigram by Martial (1.33). Here is Tom's bold, extemporaneous translation:
I do not love thee, Doctor Fell,
The reason why I cannot tell;
But this alone I know full well,
I do not love thee, Doctor Fell.
And here is Martial's original couplet:
Non amo te, Sabidi, nec possum dicere quare;
  Hoc tantum possum dicere, non amo te.

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