Monday, December 19, 2011


A Very Superficial Scholar

Edward FitzGerald (1809-1883), letter to E.B. Cowell (January 28, 1845):
I was very happy to receive your letter: and also that I was able to construe your French, and your Greek. As I hope, at least: for I am a very superficial scholar: having much neglected to learn when I was at school: and having but in the past ten years dug out of dictionaries and grammars just enough to give me some insight into the great Authors—long dead. This kind of Scholarship lies much on the surface—soon come soon gone: I believe that I have got some of the substance of these great Authors into my head, and am able to estimate what room they fill in the learning of the world—but the languages they wrote in slide and slide away from my head: and I know not if I shall have time or patience in future to keep up a serviceable amount of Latin and Greek. And yet how easy to read Homer every year: and three or four Greek Plays: and some Plato—some Tacitus; all Virgil's Georgics!

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