Wednesday, August 14, 2013


New versus Old Authors

James Howell (1594?–1666), Epistolae Ho-elianae: The Familiar Letters of James Howell, Historiographer Royal to Charles II, ed. Joseph Jacobs, Books II.-IV. (London: David Nutt, 1892), letter IV.31 (February 3, ?), "To Mr. W. Price, at Oxon.", pp. 609-611 (at 609-610):
There could hardly better news be brought to me, than to understand that you are so great a Student, and that having pass'd through the briars of Logic, you fall so close to Philosophy: Yet I do not like your method in one thing, that you are so fond of new Authors, and neglect the old, as I hear you do. It is the ingrateful Genius of this Age, that if any Sciolist can find a hole in an old Author's coat, he will endeavour to make it much more wide, thinking to make himself somebody thereby; I am none of those; but touching the Ancients, I hold this to be a good moral Rule, Laudandum quod bene, ignoscendum quod aliter dixerunt: The older an Author is, commonly the more solid he is, and the greater teller of Truth.
Id., letter IV.43 (August 30, ?), "To the truly honoured the Lady Sibylla Brown, at her House near Sherburn", pp. 629-634 (at 629):
Madam, in these peevish times, which may be call'd the Rust of the Iron Age, there is a race of cross-grain'd People, who are malevolent to all Antiquity. If they read an old Author, it is to quarrel with him, and find some hole in his coat; they slight the Fathers of the primitive Times, and prefer John Calvin, or a Casaubon before them all.

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