Wednesday, July 15, 2015


A Troublesome Vexer of the Dead

John Earle (1601-1665), Microcosmographie: Or, A Piece of the World Discovered in Essays & Characters (London: J.M. Dent, 1899) pp. 72-73:

A critic

Is one that has spelled over a great many books, and his observation is the orthography. He is the surgeon of old authors, and heals the wounds of dust and ignorance. He converses much in fragments and desunt multa's, and if he piece it up with two lines he is more proud of that book than the author. He runs over all sciences to peruse their syntaxis, and thinks all learning comprised in writing Latin. He tastes stiles as some discreeter palates do wine; and tells you which is genuine, which sophisticate and bastard. His own phrase is a miscellany of old words, deceased long before the Caesars, and entombed by Varro, and the modernest man he follows is Plautus. He writes omneis at length, and quicquid, and his gerund is most inconformable. He is a troublesome vexer of the dead, which after so long sparing must rise up to the judgment of his castigations. He is one that makes all books sell dearer, whilst he swells them into folios with his comments.

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