Saturday, September 20, 2014


Dull Dogs

Ingram Bywater, letter to George Rolleston (November 21, 1879), in William Walrond Jackson, Ingram Bywater: The Memoir of an Oxford Scholar, 1840-1914 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1917), p. 88:
Those who care for MSS. per se are usually dull dogs like Cramer—men who through lack of ideas and the interest that quickens drudgery do mechanical work and do even that badly. I have in my time read many Greek and some Latin MSS. (probably more than any man in Oxford except Coxe), and I can tell you that it is not good for the intellect to do much of this kind of work, and that the work is tolerable only when there is a distinct literary end in view. In the course of my studies I may perhaps have the chance of working at MSS. again before I have done with these eyes of mine; but as to the notion of my consenting to read MSS. without this motive, simply as a matter of business, during the whole of hours of day-light, that is an idea which I would not harbour for an instant. If not originally μικρόψυχος, the professional student of MSS. rapidly becomes so.
Cramer is John Antony Cramer (1793-1848), author of Anecdota Graeca e Codd. Manuscriptis Bibliothecarum Oxoniensium and Anecdota Graeca e Codd. Manuscriptis Bibliothecae Regiae Parisiensis; μικρόψυχος means mean-spirited, small-minded.

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