Thursday, December 09, 2010


The Valley of Dry Bohns

Before the Loeb Classical Library there was Bohn's Classical Library, with cribs but without Greek or Latin. Other Bohn series included the Historical Library, the Ecclesiastical Library, the English Gentleman's Library, etc. After the publisher Henry George Bohn died, the following versified obituary appeared in Punch (September 6, 1884, p. 110):
Eh? dead at Eighty-nine? A ripe old age.
Dear renderer of many a learned page
Into the—rather dryasdust—vernacular;
True source of many an utterance oracular
From many a pseudo-pundit, who scarce owns
To wandering in that valley of dry Bohns.
Thousands should thank thee who will hardly do so—
In public! From CATULLUS down to CRUSOE,
To GOETHE, SCHLEGEL, SCHILLER we drink pottle-deep
Of Learning's fount from thy translated tap!
And what though o'er it one may nod and nap?
'Tis wholesome, if not sparkling, with sound body,
If not the glint of true Pierian toddy.
Gone from thy roses underneath the daisies,
We echo Emersonian thanks and praises,
And say (Pundits make puns, and sometimes own 'em),
"Vale! De mortuis nil nisi Bo(h)num!"
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