Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Dens and Depths

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), The French Revolution (London: The Colonial Press, 1900), II, 123-125:
From the purpose of crime to the act of crime there is an abyss; wonderful to think of. The finger lies on the pistol; but the man is not yet a murderer: nay his whole nature staggering at such consummation, is there not a confused pause rather,—one last instant of possibility for him? Not yet a murderer; it is at the mercy of light trifles whether the most fixed idea may not yet become unfixed. One slight twitch of a muscle, the death-flash bursts; and he is it, and will for Eternity be it; and Earth has become a penal Tartarus for him; his horizon girdled now not with golden hope, but with red flames of remorse; voices from the depths of Nature sounding, Woe, woe on him!

Of such stuff are we all made; on such powder-mines of bottomless guilt and criminality,—"if God restrained not," as is well said,—does the purest of us walk. There are depths in man that go the length of lowest Hell, as there are heights that reach highest Heaven;—for are not both Heaven and Hell made out of him, made by him, everlasting Miracle and Mystery as he is?


Horrible the hour when man's soul, in its paroxysm, spurns asunder the barriers and rules; and shows what dens and depths are in it!


Aristocracy of the Moneybag

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), The French Revolution (London: The Colonial Press, 1900), II, 366:
Aristocracy of Feudal Parchment has passed away with a mighty rushing; and now, by a natural course, we arrive at Aristocracy of the Moneybag. It is the course through which all European Societies are at this hour travelling. Apparently a still baser sort of Aristocracy? An infinitely baser; the basest yet known!


The Heavens cease not their bounty: they send us generous hearts into every generation. And now what generous heart can pretend to itself, or be hoodwinked into believing, that Loyalty to the Moneybag is a noble Loyalty? Mammon, cries the generous heart out of all ages and countries, is the basest of known Gods, even of known Devils.
Cartoon by William Gropper

Monday, January 30, 2012


The Best Life

Diogenes Laertius 7.1.2 (on Zeno, tr. R.D. Hicks):
It is stated by Hecato and by Apollonius of Tyre in his first book on Zeno that he consulted the oracle to know what he should do to attain the best life, and that the god's response was that he should take on the complexion of the dead. Whereupon, perceiving what this meant, he studied ancient authors.

Ἑκάτων δέ φησι καὶ Ἀπολλώνιος ὁ Τύριος ἐν πρώτῳ Περὶ Ζήνωνος, χρηστηριασαμένου αὐτοῦ τί πράττων ἄριστα βιώσεται, ἀποκρίνασθαι τὸν θέον, εἰ συγχρωτίζοιτο τοῖς νεκροῖς· ὅθεν ξυνέντα τὰ τῶν ἀρχαίων ἀναγινώσκειν.


Over My Dead Body

George A. Kennedy, Afterword: An Essay on Classics in America after the Yale Report, in Meyer Reinhold, Classica Americana: The Greek and Roman Heritage in the United States (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1984), pp. 325-351 (at 342, footnote omitted):
William Howard Taft, a powerful member of the Yale Corporation, declared that Yale would abolish the Latin requirement over his dead body. He died in 1930 and the requirement died in 1931.

Update: Thanks to Robert J. O'Hara, who pointed me to a copy of the 1828 Yale Report on The Collegiate Way web site (link added above).



Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The Critic 1.1.304-306:
The newspapers! Sir, they are the most villanous, licentious, abominable, infernal—Not that I ever read them. No, I make it a rule never to look into a newspaper.
Søren Kierkegaard, The Last Years: Journals 1853-1855, tr. R.G. Smith (New York: Harper & Row, 1965), p. 98:
If I were a father and had a daughter who was seduced, I should by no means give her up; but if I had a son who became a journalist, I should regard him as lost.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Song of the Vineyard Knife

Clément Marot (1496-1544), Chanson XXXII, tr. R.N. Currey:
Song of the Vineyard Knife

Enough of love; let's leave for something new
All that to-do, and sing the vineyard knife;
No grower of vines but has recourse to you,
Makes use of you to prune his vines; O knife,
My vineyard knife, my little vineyard knife,
Renewing life, you make my good vines grow,
From which year after year the rich wines flow!

Vulcan, the high gods' blacksmith, did design
This shape divine, in heaven hammered out
The white-hot steel, and dipped it in old wine
To give the fine edge temper; and the shout
Bacchus gave out proclaimed beyond a doubt
That even devout old Noah could not find
A knife for pruning vines more to his mind.

With vine leaves crowned, young Bacchus brings his slim
Curved blade to trim and bless the fruitful vine;
With flagons old Silenus follows him
And from each rim, in one unbroken line,
Pours down the wine, tries dancing, lies supine;
And for a sign his nose is cherry-red;
Of his great family many men are bred.
Hilaire Belloc, Avril: Being Essays on the Poetry of the French Renaissance (London: Duckworth and Co., 1904), p. 111, commenting on this poem:
Here is Marot's best—even though many of his native critics will not admit it so; but to feel it in full one must be exiled from the vines.

It is a tapestry of the Renaissance; the jolly gods of the Renaissance, the old gods grown Catholic moving across a happier stage. Bacchus in long robes and with solemnity blessing the vine, Silenus and the hobbling smith who smithied the Serpe, the Holy Vineyard Knife in heaven, all these by their diction and their flavour recall the Autumn in Herault and the grapes under a pure sky, pale at the horizon, and labourers and their carts in the vineyard, and these set in the frame of that great time when Saturn did return.

All the poem is wine. It catches its rhymes and weaves them in and in, and moves rapid and careless in a fugue, like the march from Asia when the Panthers went before and drew the car. The internal rhythm and pulse is the clapping of hands in barns at evening and the peasants' feet dancing freely on the beaten earth. It is a very good song; it remembers the treading of the grapes and is refreshed by the mists that rise at evening when the labour is done.
The French:
Changeons propos, c'est trop chanté d'amours:
Ce sont clamours, chantons de la serpette:
Tous vignerons ont à elle recours.
C'est leur secours pour tailler la vignette;
O serpilette, ô la serpillonnette,
La vignolette est par toy mise sus,
Dont les bons vins tous les ans sont yssus.

Le dieu Vulcain, forgeron des haults dieux,
Forgea aux cieulx la serpe bien taillante,
De fin acier trempé en bon vin vieulx,
Pour tailler mieulx et estre plus vaillante.
Bacchus la vante, et dit qu'elle est séante
Et convenante à Noé le bon hom
Pour en tailler la vigne en la saison.

Bacchus alors chappeau de treille avoit,
Et arrivoit pour benistre la vigne;
Avec flascons Silenus le suyvoit,
Lequel beuvoit aussi droict qu'une ligne;
Puis il trepigne, et se faict une bigne;
Comme une guigne estoit rouge son nez;
Beaucoup de gens de sa race sont nez.


The Commandments

Geoffrey Madan's Notebooks: A Selection, edd. J.A. Gere and John Sparrow (1981; rpt. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985) p. 91 (attributed to Elizabeth Bibesco):
American girl on the Commandments: 'They don't tell you what you ought to do: and they only put ideas into your head.'
Id., p. 94 (attributed to a "Country squire, after Mattins"):
Well, anyhow I haven't made a graven image.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Transcendental Ventriloquism

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-1799), Waste Books F.802:
Beware of that transcendental ventriloquism of the zealot, by means of which he makes you believe that something said on earth comes from heaven.

Fürchte dich vor jener transzendenten Ventriloquenz des Schwärmers, womit er dir glauben macht etwas was auf der Erde gesprochen ist käme vom Himmel.


Let Us Be Merry Before We Go

John Philpot Curran (1750–1817), Let Us Be Merry Before We Go:
If sadly thinking, with spirits sinking,
    Could, more than drinking, my cares compose,
A cure for sorrow from sighs I'd borrow,
    And hope to-morrow would end my woes.
But as in wailing there's nought availing,
    And Death unfailing will strike the blow,
Then for that reason, and for a season,
    Let us be merry before we go!

To joy a stranger, a wayworn ranger,
    In every danger my course I've run;
Now hope all ending, and Death befriending,
    His last aid lending, my cares are done:
No more a rover, or hapless lover,
    My griefs are over, my glass runs low;
Then for that reason, and for a season,
    Let us be merry before we go!
By virtue of this song, John Philpot Curran has an apt middle name, which one could fancifully derive from Greek φιλοπότης (philopótēs) = lover of drinking.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Staunch Foes of Timber

William Barnes (1801-1886), "Thoughts on Beauty and Art," Macmillan's Magazine (June 1861), reprinted as Appendix Four in Giles Dugdale, William Barnes of Dorset (London: Cassell & Company, 1953), pp. 276-298 (at 290-291):
I am sorry to find that farmers have become such staunch foes of timber, if not of winding streams. A farmer, at a late meeting, thought that all the timber that may be needful for a farm should be grown together on the poorest land. Whether by poorest soils he meant those that are thinnest of mould, or deepest in corn-starving ground, I do not know; but I should be sorry to lose all elms but the stunted ones that may withstand the blasts on a soil of chalk, under three or four inches of earth. But I do not think the baleful gloom of a tree-head, or the winding of its roots is an unamended evil. It will shield a good space of ground from a slanting hail-storm, or nipping stroke of wind; its leaves are vegetable elements, and its wood is of service, and it screens cattle, and checks the waste of body-heat, which is a waste of good. A man who had seen some cows in a cleared field in a hail-storm, ended his tale to me with the question, "Didden they zet their backs up?" If, however, I were a landowner, and had, in a well-formed landscape before my house, a fine tree, whose body was the very heart of a well-clustered composition, and whose head repeated the breadth of morning light that fell on its hillock; and if, in the evening, it outbore a breadth of shade in the foreground that upfilled a picture with cows or hay-makers beneath it—if it showed boughs of gold or russet in the autumn, or waved its crystal limbs in the snowy winter—I should be unwilling to give it up to the ruthless hand of Pluto for a few pence or shillings a year; for, if a joy from the beautiful is not worth money, why do we buy a ticket for a concert of music, or give money for a landscape scene on canvas or a panel?
Barnes' poems on the subject of arboricide include The Girt Woak Tree That's in the Dell and Vellèn o' the Tree. See also some anecdotes about Barnes' love of trees and distress at their unnecessary destruction in Lucy Baxter, The Life of William Barnes: Poet and Philologist, by his Daughter (London: Macmillan, 1887), pp. 67, 104-105.

Charles Branwhite (1817-1880),
A Hard Day's Work, Winter

Hat tip: Eric Thomson.



Supply and Demand

Lord Stowell (1745–1836), quoted in Geoffrey Madan's Notebooks: A Selection, edd. J.A. Gere and John Sparrow (1981; rpt. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985), p. 129:
If you provide a larger amount of highly cultivated talent than there is a demand for, the surplus is very likely to turn sour.


Did Adam Laugh Before the Fall?

Joseph Addison, The Spectator, no. 249 (Saturday, December 15, 1711):
I have read a Sermon of a Conventual in the Church of Rome, on those Words of the Wise Man, I said of Laughter, it is mad; and of Mirth, what does it? Upon which he laid it down as a Point of Doctrine, that Laughter was the Effect of Original Sin, and that Adam could not laugh before the Fall.
The "Words of the Wise Man" come from Ecclesiastes 2.2.

Manfred Pfister, A History of English Laughter: Laughter from Beowulf to Beckett and Beyond (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2002), p. 52 (discussing Milton):
Having tried to account for God's and the fallen angels' laughter in Paradise Lost, we have to take a closer look at yet another set of protagonists. Do Adam and Eve laugh? They don't, since they live peacefully, fear no enemies and are in a state of utter contentment. There is no place and necessity for laughter in paradise. Prelapsarian mirth finds other ways of expression.
Related posts:

Thursday, January 26, 2012


The Old Man of Verona

Thanks to Karl Maurer for drawing my attention to three more translations of Claudian's Old Man of Verona, one from the 18th century and two from the 19th century.

Samuel Boyse (1708–1749), Translations and Poems Written on Several Subjects (Edinburgh: Thomas and Walter Ruddimans, 1731), pp. 17-18:
Happy the Man who free from Noise and Strife
In his own Grounds has past his peaceful Life;
And in his solitary Cottage blest,
Counts o'er the joyful Days he has possest;
Who ne'er for Fortune's Baits exchang'd Content,
Nor knew what Av'rice or Ambition meant,
Ne'er heard the Clamours of the crowded Town,
Or the Chicane of the litigious Gown;
But freed from War, and ignorant of Trade,
Defies all Storms that may his Rest invade:
And from the World retir’d, serene enjoys
The kindly Influence of his native Skies;
While by the Marks of Nature that appear,
He knows the Seasons of the changing Year;
Who walks and sleeps beneath the neighb'ring Wood,
That with himself coeval, long has stood
The waste of Time, and as the Stripling stray'd,
Receiv'd him oft beneath its friendly Shade:
To whom Verona seems the Indian Coasts
And the Red Sea in Benacus is lost;
While firm in Health, and in his Reason sound
He daily measures his paternal Ground,
And o'er his Body, like a pleasing Sleep,
Feels his old Age with soft Advances creep,
Till blest with all a mortal Wish can crave,
Unknown, unseen, he sinks into the Grave.

Let others boast of Triumphs and of Toils,
The Pride of Riches, and the Pomp of Spoils!
Compar'd with his, how trifling are their Joys?
They only taste that Life which he enjoys.
Anonymous, in The Port Folio, New Series, by Oliver Oldschool, Esq., Vol. VI, No. 1 (Philadelphia, Saturday, July 2, 1808), p. 31:
Happy the man, who, satisfied at home,
From his own dwelling never learnt to roam,
And bending now with age, on the same floor
Of native earth, on which he crawl’d of yore,
Marks with his staff, a calculation rude,
And tells the years his rural cot hath stood.
He with no rage of rambling folly curst,
E’er toil’d at barb’rous streams to slake his thirst,
For love of gain ne’er plough’d the wintry wave,
Nor risk’ed his life among the madly brave.
The bar he ne’er frequented, for he thought
That right by wrangling was too dearly bought.
Heedless of bustling life, e’en the next town,
With all its wealth and vice, to him is still unknown.
Looks he abroad? The scenery of the sky
An unbought pleasure offers to his eye:
By crops alternate, not by calendars,
He measures time, and ascertains the years.
In mellow fruits the fall is manifest,
Gay flow’rs the spring sufficiently attest,
And even the hours he practically knows,
Assign’d to food, to labour, or repose.
To him his fields appear to occupy
Th’extent of day, and meet the bending sky.
Proportion’d to his wish, his little round
He scans with joy, nor craves a larger bound;
Of things remote incurious, and at ease,
Repos’d beneath contemporary trees,
Fondly compares their period with his own,
Together young—together aged grown.
Charles Abraham Elton (1778-1853), Specimens of the Classic Poets, Vol. III (London: Robert Baldwin, 1814), pp. 293-294:
Blest is the man who, in his father's fields,
Has past an age of quiet. The same roof
That screen'd his cradle, yields a shelter now
To his grey hairs. He leans upon a staff,
Where, as a child, he crept along the ground;
And, in one cottage, he has number'd o'er
A length of years. Him Fortune has not drawn
Into her whirl of strange vicissitudes;
Nor has he drunk, with ever-changing home,
From unknown rivers. Never on the deep,
A merchant, has he trembled at the storm;
Nor, as a soldier, started at the blare
Of trumpets; nor endured the noisy strife
Of the hoarse-clamouring bar: of the great world
Simply unconscious. To the neighbouring town
A stranger, he enjoys the free expanse
Of open heaven. The old man marks his year,
Not by the names of Consuls, but computes
Time by his various crops: by apple notes
The autumns; by the blooming flower the spring.
From the same field he sees his daily sun
Go down, and lift again its reddening orb;
And, by his own contracted universe,
The rustic measures the vast light of day.
He well remembers that broad massive oak,
An acorn; and has seen the grove grow old,
Coeval with himself. Verona seems
To him more distant than the swarthy Ind:
He deems the lake Benacus like the shores
Of the red gulph. But his a vigour hale,
And unabated: he has now outlived
Three ages: though a grandsire, green in years,
With firm and sinewy arms. The traveler
May roam to farthest Spain: he more has known
Of earthly space; the old man more of life.
Thanks also to Karl Maurer for sharing his own translation (and note):
About the old man of Verona who has never left his suburb

Happy, who passed his life in his own fields,
        whose same house sees the boy and the old man;
who with his cane on sand whereon he crawled
        counts the long ages of a single hut.
No Fortune tugged him with her varied tumult.
        No mobile guest, he drank no unknown spring;
feared no commercial seas, or soldier’s war-horn,
        nor suffered lawsuits in a raucous Forum.
Free of affairs, not knowing the near city,
        he enjoys a freer sight of stars. By changes
in crops, not consuls, he computes the year;
        knows Fall by apples, Spring by her bright blossoms.
His same field buries, then brings back the sun.
        He measures each day by his clock of tasks; *
recalls the huge oak as a small seed; sees
        that his coeval woods have aged with him;
thinks near Verona farther than black Indians;
        that Lake Benacus is the Red Sea shore.
But strong and fresh he is; in his firm muscles
        three generations see a grandsire still robust.
Let someone else ransack the farthest Spaniards;
        this man has more life; that, a longer road.

*More lit., 'Rustic, he measures each day by his circle'; but this echoes, I suspect, or even alludes to, an enchanting sentence in Vergil, Geo. 2.401 f. labor actus in orbem / atque in se sua per uestigia uoluitur annus, i.e. (the vine-grower's) labor, even when finished, returns again, as the year revolves, stepping in its own footprints. The rustic life is a kind of treadmill, never, ever finished! Yet this brings peace, because our life thus coincides with the very order of the world. It has this in common with 'verse'! Both turn, turn, turn, in the same hard but divine treadmill.

I'm indebted to Ian Jackson for sending me a copy of "Claudian's Old Man of Verona: An Anthology of English Translations with a New Poem by Edwin Morgan," Translation and Literature 2 (1993) 87-97. I won't print Edwin Morgan's Scots version, at least not yet, because it requires some glosses. But here are some more translations included in the article.

John Beaumont, Bosworth-Field, With a Taste of the Variety of Other Poems (London: Printed by Felix Kyngston for Henry Scale, 1629), p. 57:
Thrice happy he, whose age is spent vpon his owne,
The same house sees him old, which him a child hath known,
He leanes vpon his staffe in sand where once he crept,
His mem'ry long descents, of one poore cote hath kept,
He through the various strife of fortune neuer past,
Nor as a wand'ring guest would forraine waters taste,
He neuer fear'd the seas in trade, nor sound of warres,
Nor in hoarse courts of law, hath felt litigious iarres,
Vnskilfull in affaires, he knowes no City neare,
So freely he enioyes the sight of heau'n more cleare,
The yeeres by seu'rall corne, not Consuls he computes,
He notes the Spring by flowres, and Autumne by the fruits,
One space put downe the Sunne, and brings againe the rayes.
Thus by a certaine Orbe he measures out the dayes,
Remembring some great Oke from small beginning spred,
He sees the wood grow old, which with himselfe was bred.
Verona next of Townes as farre as India seemes,
And for the ruddy Sea, Benacus he esteemes:
Yet still his armes are firme, his strength vntam'd and greene;
The full third age hath him a lusty Grandsire seene.
Let others trauaile farre, and hidden coasts display,
This man hath more of life, and those haue more of way.
Elijah Fenton (1683-1730), Oxford and Cambridge Miscellany Poems (London: Printed for Bernard Lintott, 1708), pp. 18-20:
Happy the Man who all his Days does pass
In the paternal Cottage of his Race;
Where first his trembling Infant steps he try'd
Which now supports his Age, and once his Youth employ'd.
This was the Cottage his Forefathers knew,
It saw his Birth, shall see his Burial too;
Unequal Fortunes, and Ambition's Fate
Are things Experience never taught him yet.
Him to strange Lands no rambling Humour bore,
Nor breath'd he ever any Air but of his native Shore.
Free from all anxious Interests of Trade,
No storms at Sea have e'er disturb'd his Head:
He never Battel's wild Confusions saw,
Nor heard the worse Confusions of the Law.
A Stranger to the Town, and Town Employs,
Their dark and crowded Streets, their Stink and Noise;
He a more calm and brighter Sky enjoys.
Nor does the Year by change of Consuls know,
The Year his Fruit's returning Seasons show;
Quarters and Months in Nature's Face he sees,
In Flowers the Spring, and Autumn on his Trees.
The whole Day's Shadows in his Homestead drawn,
Point out the hourly Courses of the Sun.
Grown old with him, a Grove adorns his Field,
Whose tender setts his Infancy beheld.
Of distant India, Erythraean Shores,
Benacus Lake, Verona's neighb'ring Tow'rs,
(Alike unseen) from common Fame has heard,
Alike believes them, and with like Regard.
Yet firm and strong, his Grandchildren admire
The Health and Vigour of their brawny Sire.
The spacious Globe let those that will survey,
This good old Man, content at home to stay,
More happy Years shall know, more Leagues and Countries they.
Francis Fawkes (1721–1777), Original Poems and Translations (London: R. and J. Dodsley, 1761), pp. 137-138:
Blest who, content with what the country yields,
Lives in his own hereditary fields!
Who can with pleasure his past life behold!
Whose roof paternal saw him young and old:
And as he tells his long adventures o'er,
A stick supports him where he crawl'd before.
Who ne'er was tempted from his farm to fly,
And drink new streams beneath a foreign sky:
No merchant, he, solicitous of gain,
Dreads not the storms that lash the sounding main:
Nor soldier fears the summons to the war,
Nor the hoarse clamours of the noisy bar.
Unskill'd in business, to the world unknown,
He ne'er beheld the next contiguous town;
Yet nobler objects to his views are given,
Fair flowery fields, and star-embellish'd heaven.
He marks no change of consuls, but computes
Alternate seasons by alternate fruits;
Maturing autumns store of apples bring,
And flowerets are the luxury of spring.
His farm that catches first the sun's bright ray,
Sees the last lustre of his beams decay:
The passing hours erected columns show,
And are his landmarks and his dials too.
Yon spreading oak a little twig he knew,
And the whole grove in his remembrance grew.
Verona's walls remote as India seem;
Benacus is th' Arabian Gulph to him.
Yet health three ages lengthens out his span,
And grandsons hail the vigorous old man.
Let others vainly sail from shore to shore,
Their joys are fewer, and their labours more.
Helen Waddell (1889-1965):
This man has lived his life in his own fields.
The house that saw him as a little lad
Sees him an old man: leaning on his staff,
On the same earth he crawled on, he will tell you
The centuries that one low roof has seen.
Fate has not dragged him through the brawling crowds,
Nor ever, as a restless traveller,
Has he drunk at unknown springs; no greed of gain
Kept him a-quaking on the perilous seas.
No trumpet sounded for him the attack,
No lawsuit brought him to the raucous courts.
In politics unskilled, knowing naught of the neighbouring town,
His eye takes pleasure in a wider sky.
The years he'll reckon in alternate crops
And not by parliaments: spring has her flowers,
Autumn her apples: so the year goes by.
The same wide field that hides the setting sun
Sees him return again;
His light the measure of this plain man's day.
That massive oak he remembers a sapling once,
Yon grove of trees grew old along with him.
Verona further seems than India,
Lake Garda is as remote as the Red Sea.
Yet, strength indomitable and sinews firm,
The old man stands, a rock among his grandsons.
Let you go gadding, gape at furthest Spain:
You'll have seen life; but this old man has lived.
Still more translations of this splendid poem (some with the Latin text):

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


The People's Praise

John Milton, Paradise Regained 3.47-56:
For what is glory but the blaze of fame,
The people's praise, if always praise unmixed?
And what the people but a herd confused,
A miscellaneous rabble, who extol
Things vulgar, and well weighed, scarce worth the praise?
They praise and they admire they know not what;
And know not whom, but as one leads the other;
And what delight to be by such extolled,
To live upon their tongues, and be their talk,
Of whom to be dispraised were no small praise?


Classical Education

A. B. Goldenveizer, Talks with Tolstoi, tr. S.S. Koteliansky and Virginia Woolf (Richmond: Hogarth Press, 1923), rpt. in Translations from the Russian by Virginia Woolf and S.S. Koteliansky (Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain, 2006), p. 196 (May 11, 1899):
The conversation turned upon ancient languages and classical education. L.N. said:

'When I studied and read a great deal of Greek, I could easily understand almost any Greek book. I used to be at the examinations in the Lyceum, and saw that nearly always the pupil only understood what he had learnt beforehand. He did not understand new passages. And indeed, at school for every fifty words that were learnt at least sixty-five rules were taught. In such a way one can't learn anything.'
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

Related posts:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012



Diogenes Laertius 5.19 (tr. R.D. Hicks, on Aristotle):
Being asked how the educated differ from the uneducated, "As much," he said, "as the living from the dead." He used to declare education to be an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity. Teachers who educated children deserved, he said, more honour than parents who merely gave them birth; for bare life is furnished by the one, the other ensures a good life.

ἐρωτηθεὶς τίνι διαφέρουσιν οἱ πεπαιδευμένοι τῶν ἀπαιδεύτων, "ὅσῳ," εἶπεν, "οἱ ζῶντες τῶν τεθνεώτων." τὴν παιδείαν ἔλεγεν ἐν μὲν ταῖς εὐτυχίαις εἶναι κόσμον, ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἀτυχίαις καταφυγήν. τῶν γονέων τοὺς παιδεύσαντας ἐντιμοτέρους εἶναι τῶν μόνον γεννησάντων· τοὺς μὲν γὰρ τὸ ζῆν, τοὺς δὲ τὸ καλῶς ζῆν παρασχέσθαι.
Jan Steen, A School for Boys and Girls



The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines doryphore (also spelled doriphore) as "One who draws attention to the minor errors made by others, esp. in a pestering manner; a pedantic gadfly," and adds "The English sense was introduced by and particularly associated with Sir Harold Nicolson (1886–1968)." One of the OED citations is the following, from Nicholson in The Spectator (October 17, 1952) 500-501:
The doriphore...is the type of questing prig, who derives intense satisfaction from pointing out the errors of others.
When I read a description like this, I say "ouch" to myself, as it hits a little too close to home.

The OED's etymology is "French doryphore Colorado beetle (also used fig.), < Greek δορυϕόρος spear-carrier." The French apparently do use doryphore figuratively, but not in the sense given to it by Nicholson, for which the French might say, e.g., pinailleur, defined by Le Trésor de la langue française informatisé as "(Personne) qui a le souci exagéré du détail. Synon. chicaneur, chicanier, tatillon."

Eric Thomson drew my attention to the following lithograph by Daumier:

The inscription reads:
UN BOUQUINISTE DANS L'IVRESSE. - Rien n'égale ma joie... je viens de trouver à acheter pour cinquante écus un Horace imprimé à Amsterdam en 1780... cette édition est excessivement précieuse, à chaque page elle est criblée de fautes!...
A BOOKSELLER IN ECSTACY. - Nothing equals my joy... I just found for sale, at 50 écus, a Horace printed in Amsterdam in 1780... This edition is extremely valuable, on each page it's riddled with errors!...
The pedant in me looked for an edition of Horace printed in Amsterdam in 1780, but didn't find one. If such an edition existed, its interest for me would consist not in its monetary value, but in all those errors just waiting to be discovered and corrected.

Monday, January 23, 2012



Everyone knows the definition of Hell in Sartre's No Exit: "L'enfer, c'est les autres" (Hell is other people). Earlier in the same play, another frightening feature of Hell is disclosed:
GARCIN: Il y a des livres, ici?

GARCIN: Are there books here?
Related posts:



Cyprian, On Jealousy and Envy 7-8 (tr. E. Wallis):
[7] But what a gnawing worm of the soul is it, what a plague-spot of our thoughts, what a rust of the heart, to be jealous of another, either in respect of his virtue or of his happiness; that is, to hate in him either his own deservings or the divine benefits—to turn the advantages of others into one's own mischief—to be tormented by the prosperity of illustrious men—to make other people's glory one's own penalty, and, as it were, to apply a sort of executioner to one's own breast, to bring the tormentors to one's own thoughts and feelings, that they may tear us with intestinal pangs, and may smite the secret recesses of the heart with the hoof of malevolence. To such, no food is joyous, no drink can be cheerful. They are ever sighing, and groaning, and grieving; and since envy is never put off by the envious, the possessed heart is rent without intermission day and night. Other ills have their limit; and whatever wrong is done, is bounded by the completion of the crime. In the adulterer the offense ceases when the violation is perpetrated; in the case of the robber, the crime is at rest when the homicide is committed; and the possession of the booty puts an end to the rapacity of the thief; and the completed deception places a limit to the wrong of the cheat. Jealousy has no limit; it is an evil continually enduring, and a sin without end. In proportion as he who is envied has the advantage of a greater success, in that proportion the envious man burns with the fires of jealousy to an increased heat.

[8] Hence the threatening countenance, the lowering aspect, pallor in the face, trembling on the lips, gnashing of the teeth, mad words, unbridled revilings, a hand prompt for the violence of slaughter; even if for the time deprived of a sword, yet armed with the hatred of an infuriate mind.
The Latin:
[7] qualis vero est animae tinea, quae cogitationum tabes, pectoris quanta rubigo zelare in altero vel virtutem eius vel felicitatem, id est odisse in eo vel merita propria vel beneficia divina, in malum proprium bona aliena convertere, inlustrium prosperitate torqueri, aliorum gloriam facere suam poenam, velut quosdam pectori suo admovere carnifices, cogitationibus et sensibus suis adhibere tortores qui se intestinis cruciatibus lacerent, qui cordis secreta malivolentiae ungulis pulsent. non cibus talibus laetus, non potus potest esse iocundus. suspiratur semper et ingemescitur et doletur, dumque ab invidis numquam livor exponitur, diebus ac noctibus pectus obsessum sine intermissione laniatur. mala cetera habent terminum et quodcumque delinquitur delicti consummatione finitur. in adultero cessat facinus perpetrato stupro, in latrone conquiescit scelus homicidio admisso et praedonis rapacitatem statuit possessa praeda et falsario modum ponit impleta fallacia. zelus terminum non habet, permanens iugiter malum et sine fine peccatum, quanto que ille cui invidetur successu meliore profecerit tanto invidus in maius incendium livoris ignibus inardescit.

[8] hinc vultus minax, torvus aspectus, pallor in facie, in labiis tremor, stridor in dentibus, verba rabida, effrenata convicia, manus ad caedis violentiam prompta, etiamsi a gladio interim vacua, odio tamen furiatae mentis armata.
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Great Expectations

Joseph Addison, The Spectator, no. 191 (Tuesday, October 9, 1711):
We live up to our Expectations, not to our Possessions, and make a Figure proportionable to what we may be, not what we are. We out-run our present Income, as not doubting to disburse our selves out of the Profits of some future Place, Project, or Reversion that we have in view. It is through this Temper of Mind, which is so common among us, that we see Tradesmen break, who have met with no Misfortunes in their Business; and Men of Estates reduced to Poverty, who have never suffered from Losses or Repairs, Tenants, Taxes, or Law-suits. In short, it is this foolish sanguine Temper, this depending upon Contingent Futurities, that occasions Romantick Generosity, Chymerical Grandeur, Senseless Ostentation, and generally ends in Beggary and Ruin. The Man who will live above his present Circumstances, is in great Danger of living in a little time much beneath them, or, as the Italian Proverb runs, The Man who lives by Hope will die by Hunger.

It should be an indispensable Rule in Life, to contract our Desires to our present Condition, and whatever ever may be our Expectations, to live within the Compass of what we actually possess. It will be Time enough to enjoy an Estate when it comes into our Hands; but if we anticipate our good Fortune, we shall lose the Pleasure of it when it arrives, and may possibly never possess what we have so foolishly counted upon.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Odium Philologicum

Edmund Gosse, The Life of Algernon Charles Swinburne (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1917), pp. 249-250:
We have already noted that relations between the poet and the official representative of Shakespearean criticism were strained as early as the end of 1875. But the breach between Furnivall and Swinburne was not final until January 1880, when the storm at last broke out in full fury. Furnivall now lost all self-command, and wrote of "Mr. Swinburne's shallow ignorance and infinite self-conceit." He told him "to teach his grandmother to suck eggs"; he told him that his ear was "a poetaster's, hairy, thick and dull." Presently Furnivall took to parodying Swinburne's name, with dismal vulgarity, as "Pigsbrook" (to which injury the poet archly retorted by dubbing Furnivall "Brothelsdyke"); and he assailed the poet's private friends with insolent post-cards to the poet's disadvantage. He brought down upon himself the reproof of Halliwell-Phillipps, and of another of the most eminent of his own supporters, Aldis Wright, who told Furnivall that he was behaving "like an angry monkey." A large number of the influential members of the New Shakspere Society expostulated with Furnivall in a signed protest. He struck all the names of these signatories out of the list of members, and sent them a printed letter (April 25, 1881), telling them — they included the seventh Duke of Devonshire, Jebb, and Creighton — "I am glad to be rid of you."
As others have noted, Old English swin ("a swine") and burn ("a bubbling or running water, a BOURN, brook, stream, river") yield "Pigsbrook", Latin fornix ("a brothel, bagnio, stew") and vallum ("an earthen wall or rampart set with palisades, a palisaded rampart, intrenchment, circumvallation") result in "Brothelsdyke". Definitions are from Bosworth and Toller's Anglo-Saxon Dictionary and Lewis and Short's Latin Dictionary.

I haven't seen Oscar Maurer, "Swinburne vs. Fornivall," University of Texas Studies in English 31 (1952) 86-96.

Related post: Odium and Insults.



John Murray (1879-1964), quoted in Geoffrey Madan's Notebooks: A Selection, edd. J.A. Gere and John Sparrow (1981; rpt. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985), p. 23:
I believe in examinations because I believe in original sin. Boys and girls are full of it, they are lazy, slapdash, etc., and examinations mean doing the best you can with the means at your disposal, all on your own, and against the clock. Examinations are just like life, the only thing almost, that boys and girls do in school that is really like life.
Related post: Examinations (Walter Raleigh).

Friday, January 20, 2012


Greek Accents

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1881), Aurora Leigh, book II, lines 74-77:
Some Greek upon the margin: lady's Greek
Without the accents.
George Eliot (1819-1880), Middlemarch, chapter VII:
But Dorothea herself was a little shocked and discouraged at her own stupidity, and the answers she got to some timid questions about the value of the Greek accents gave her a painful suspicion that here indeed there might be secrets not capable of explanation to a woman's reason.
G.M. Young (1882-1959), quoted in Geoffrey Madan's Notebooks: A Selection, edd. J.A. Gere and John Sparrow (1981; rpt. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985), p. 79:
To accent Greek, as absurd as writing it on papyrus.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson, to whom I'm indebted for the gift of Geoffrey Madan's Notebooks.

Related post: Indictment of the Present Age.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Book Smuggling

I can't resist posting the following, from an email sent by a friend:
I negotiated successfully the Ryanair gauntlet, which consists of the scrupulous and miserly weighing and measurement of luggage and the imposition of swingeing penalties for infractors. My purchases in London, apart from sweets for the children, were 35 books, a Rowlandson aquatint, and a second-hand shirt, so with only 25 kilos legally permitted (including hand-luggage) a mammoth concealment operation was called for – four breast pockets and four side pockets for the paperbacks and 'everymans', then a couple of the heftier volumes stowed fore and aft down the trousers, and one inside the newspaper. Fortunately, a fair proportion of the British population is clinically obese, so my bulk and slightly waddling gait didn't attract undue attention.


A Plaything

Thomas Love Peacock, Crochet Castle (1831), chapter IX:
My quarrel with him is, that his works contain nothing worth quoting; and a book that furnishes no quotations, is me judice, no book,—it is a plaything.


A Greek Botanical Catalogue

Eupolis, fragment 13 (from Nanny-Goats, preserved in Plutarch, Moralia 662d, tr. Ian C. Storey):
We feed off every sort of tree: fir tree, prickly oak, and strawberry tree, munching on their tender shoots and also the foliage: the medick tree and fragrant sage, and leafy bindweed, wild olive, lentisk, ash tree, poplar, holm oak, oak tree, ivy, heather, willow, thornbush, mullein, asphodel, rockrose, deciduous oak, thyme, and savory.
The same, translated by T.R. Glover, "The Greeks and the Forest," The Challenge of the Greek (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1942), pp. 29-50 (at 46):
Every kind of tree must render
Tribute in its shoots so tender;
Oak and fir and arbutus
All are eatable for us;
Spurge, laburnum, fragrant sage
Must our goatish greed assuage;
Smilax, olive, mastich, ash—
All their hopes of growth we dash;
Sea-oak, ivy, heather, pine,
Buckthorn, mullein, asphodel,
Rock-rose, ilex—but why tell
One by one, when twig and prickle,
Leaf and flower, our throats must tickle.
The Greek:
βοσκόμεθ' ὕλης ἀπὸ παντοδαπῆς, ἐλάτης, πρίνου κομάρου τε
πτόρθους ἁπαλοὺς ἀποτρώγουσαι, καὶ πρὸς τούτοισί ἔτ' ἄνθην,
κύτισόν τ' ἠδὲ σφάκον εὐώδη, καὶ σμίλακα τὴν πολύφυλλον,
κότινον, σχῖνον, μελίαν, λεύκην, ἁρίαν, δρῦν, κιττόν, ἐρίκην,
πρόμαλον, ῥάμνον, φλόμον, ἀνθέρικον, φηγόν, κισθόν, θύμα, θύμβραν.
As others have noted, this is a good list of typical species in the Mediterranean maquis.

Related posts:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Holy Hurrahs

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals (April 26, 1838):
As far as I notice what passes in philanthropic meetings and holy hurrahs there is very little depth of interest. The speakers warm each other's skin and lubricate each other's tongue, and the words flow and the superlatives thicken and the lips quiver and the eyes moisten, and an observer new to such scenes would say, Here was true fire; the assembly were all ready to be martyred, and the effect of such a spirit on the community would be irresistible; but they separate and go to the shop, to a dance, to bed, and an hour afterwards they care so little for the matter that on slightest temptation each one would disclaim the meeting. "Yes, he went, but they were for carrying it too far," etc., etc.

The lesson is, to know that men are superficially very inflammable, but that these fervors do not strike down and reach the action and habit of the man.


The New Loeb Plautus, Volume I

I just finished reading Plautus, Amphitryon. The Comedy of Asses. The Pot of Gold. The Two Bacchises. The Captives. Edited and Translated by Wolfgang de Melo (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011), the first volume in the Loeb Classical Library's replacement of Paul Nixon's edition. The new text, translation, introductions, and notes are all excellent, but I did note a few misprints, errors, and inconsistencies.

Misprints in the translation:

Asinaria 216 (p. 165): for "When a fowler prepares a clearing, hejup spreads food there" read "When a fowler prepares a clearing, he spreads food there".

Asinaria 893 (p. 239): for "Yes, much sweater breath than that of my wife" read "Yes, much sweeter breath than that of my wife".

Bacchides 588 (p. 427): for "BACCHIS" read "Bacchis".

Captivi 513-515 (p. 559): "Now follow me (514-15) so you get what you asked for and meet the man" — elsewhere line numbers appear in the margin, not in parentheses, and so "514-15" should appear in the right-hand margin here.

Usually de Melo does not translate edepol, ecastor, hercle and similar words, apparently a matter of choice.

Errors or infelicities in the critical apparatus:

Amphitruo 418 (p. 50): for "418 est datum P, transp. Lindsay" read "418 datum est P, transp. Lindsay".

Amphitruo 726 (p. 82): "726 misero del. Pylades" should perhaps appear on p. 84, where the corresponding text for the end of line 726 is printed. Similarly some of the apparatus for the end of Aulularia 660 should perhaps appear on p. 330, not p. 329, to avoid turning the page.

Asinaria 552 (p. 200): for "552 uersum sed. Bothe" read "552 uersum secl. Bothe" (cf. e.g. critical apparatus for Aulularia 515 on p. 312: "515 uersum secl. Francken").

Finally, a trivial matter. Some editors mark only insertions and deletions of entire words (not of syllables and letters) in a text. But in de Melo's text, there are inconsistencies in how insertions and deletions of syllables and letters are indicated. For example, at Amphitruo 151 (p. 24), de Melo prints "<in>spectantibus", adopting his own supplement for the transmitted text ("spectantibus"). Yet at Amphitruo 998 (p. 112), de Melo prints "inspectantibus" (adopting Pylades' insertion of "in") — here, to be consistent, "<in>spectantibus" should also appear in the text. I see insertion and deletion of letters or syllables marked elsewhere, e.g. at Amphitruo 985 "au<i>dax" (p. 110, Skutsch's insertion), at Captivi 704 "uot[a]uisti" (p. 578, Pareus' deletion), at Captivi 856 "<tu>te" (p. 594, Bentley's insertion), etc. If one were to be consistent in this matter, the following insertions and deletions of syllables and letters would also be marked in the Latin text:

Amphitruo 797 (p. 92): ha<n>c (Spengel's insertion)

Asinaria 348 (p. 178): se[se] (Acidalius' deletion)

Aulularia 120 (p. 270): me<d> (Guyet's insertion)

Aulularia 125 (p. 270): <n>ullam (Lindsay's insertion)

Aulularia 390 (p. 300): potes<t> (Heckmann's insertion)

Aulularia 466 (p. 308): anu[i] (Stockert's deletion)

Aulularia 671 (p. 330): illi<c> (Bothe's insertion)

Bacchides 487 (p. 414): opino[r] (Lindsay's deletion)

Bacchides 592 (p. 426): negat[o] (Acidalius' deletion)

Bacchides 893 (p. 460): Lato[na] (Ussing's deletion)

Captivi 94 (p. 516): illi[c] (Lindsay's deletion)

Captivi 665 (p. 576): seruo<lu>m (Bothe's insertion)

Captivi 1022 (p. 614): <re>cogito (Gruterus' insertion)

Thanks to Charles Collicutt for correcting a typographical error of my own in this post!


Tuesday, January 17, 2012



Richard Steele, The Spectator, no. 148 (Monday, August 20, 1711):
There are another Kind of Impertinents which a Man is perplexed with in mixed Company, and those are your loud Speakers: These treat Mankind as if we were all deaf; they do not express but declare themselves. Many of these are guilty of this Outrage out of Vanity, because they think all they say is well; or that they have their own Persons in such Veneration, that they believe nothing which concerns them can be insignificant to any Body else. For these People's sake, I have often lamented that we cannot close our Ears with as much ease as we can our Eyes: It is very uneasy that we must necessarily be under Persecution.


Ode to Indolence

William Shenstone (1714-1763), Ode to Indolence:
Ah! why for ever on the wing
Persists my wearied soul to roam?
Why, ever cheated, strives to bring
Or pleasure or contentment home?

Thus the poor bird, that draws his name
From Paradise's honour'd groves,
Careless fatigues his little frame,
Nor finds the resting-place he loves.

Lo! on the rural mossy bed
My limbs with careless ease reclined;
Ah, gentle Sloth! indulgent spread
The same soft bandage o'er my mind.

For why should lingering thought invade,
Yet every worldly prospect cloy?
Lend me, soft Sloth! thy friendly aid,
And give me peace, debarr'd of joy.

Lov'st thou yon calm and silent flood,
That never ebbs, that never flows;
Protected by the circling wood
From each tempestuous wind that blows?

An altar on its bank shall rise,
Where oft thy votary shall be found;
What time pale Autumn lulls the skies,
And sickening verdure fades around.

Ye busy Race! ye factious Train!
That haunt ambition's guilty shrine;
No more perplex the world in vain,
But offer here your vows with mine.

And thou, puissant Queen! be kind:
If e'er I shared thy balmy power,
If e'er I sway'd my active mind
To weave for thee the rural bower;

Dissolve in sleep each anxious care;
Each unavailing sigh remove;
And only let me wake to share
The sweets of friendship and of love.
Related posts:

Monday, January 16, 2012


No Aesthetics, Please

Edward FitzGerald, letter to W.A. Wright (July 1878):
Ask some one—and tell me—some good Schoolboy Edition of Virgil—English notes and no Aesthetics.
Cf. FitzGerald's letter to Wright (February 23, 1880, on Wright's editions of Shakespeare):
I saw some stuff in the Academy about the want of Aesthetics in the Clarendon Press notes: a pretty mess the Aesthetics make of it: and I hope you will stick to the Incontrovertible.
and his letter to Fanny Kemble (March 1, 1880):
This Wright edits certain Shakespeare Plays for Macmillan: very well, I fancy, so far as Notes go; simply explaining what needs explanation for young Readers, and eschewing all aesthetic (now, don't say you don't know what "aesthetic" means, etc.) aesthetic (detestable word) observation. With this the Swinburnes, Furnivalls, Athenaeums, etc., find fault: and a pretty hand they make of it when they try that tack. It is safest surely to give people all the Data you can for forming a Judgment, and then leave them to form it by themselves.


Fixed in Place

Mildmay Fane (1602-1666), Of an Old Man (a translation of Claudian, Carmina Minora 20, better known as The Old Man of Verona, from Fane's Otia Sacra):
Happy is He who on his own fields stage,
And no where else, hath acted ore his Age;
He, whom his own house, (had it eyes and tongue)
Might say it sees Him old, and saw him young.
Now trusting to a staff, he treads those sands
He formerly had crept on with his hands:
So reckons up the long descent and (dotage
Through decays) of that his homely Cottage.
He ne'r was drawn with fortunes Train to haste,
Nor did He flatter Forain springs with taste;
He was no Merchant-man might fear the Straits,
Nor Souldier fancying Military baits;
He never Pleaded, neither strife nor force,
Of brabling Law-suits ever made him hoarse:
But (as uncapable of business) free
Cannot resolve what the next town should be,
Yet doth enjoy a prospect (may controule
All others) of the free Aire, and Pole.
Nor casts He up the year by Consuls now,
But as the Fruit-trees to their seasons bow;
By Apples Autumn, Spring by Flowers befalls him.
One field hides Phoebus-face, the same recalls him:
And thus This Countrey-swains observing way
Measures within his Orb the Course of Day.
He did remember yon great Oak, when 't stood
But for a sapling, so's grown old with's wood:
And judging that same Ile (with less wits blest
More Barbarism) to be th' Indies East:
He doth conclude the Red-sea to be neer,
Beholding Stranground, Farcet, and the Meer:
And yet through strength unconquer'd he may gather
Comfort, the third Age sees him Grandfather.
Let others wander to the farth'st of Spain,
The way is onely Theirs, but life His gain.
The old man of Verona may never have wandered far from his "homely Cottage," but in this translation Fane places him in what is now Cambridgeshire (Stranground, i.e. Stanground, and Farcet).

I haven't read "Claudian's Old Man of Verona: An Anthology of English Translations with a New Poem by Edwin Morgan," Translation and Literature 2 (1993) 87-97, but for some other translations and the original Latin see:

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Lupus Est Homo Homini

Joseph Addison, The Spectator, no. 169 (Tuesday, September 13, 1711):
Man is subject to innumerable Pains and Sorrows by the very Condition of Humanity, and yet, as if Nature had not sown Evils enough in Life, we are continually adding Grief to Grief, and aggravating the common Calamity by our cruel Treatment of one another. Every Man's natural Weight of Afflictions is still made more heavy by the Envy, Malice, Treachery, or Injustice of his Neighbour. At the same time that the Storm beats upon the whole Species, we are falling foul upon one another.



Joseph Addison, The Spectator, no. 162 (Tuesday, September 5, 1711):
Nothing that is not a real Crime makes a Man appear so contemptible and little in the Eyes of the World as Inconstancy, especially when it regards Religion or Party. In either of these Cases, tho' a Man perhaps does but his Duty in changing his Side, he not only makes himself hated by those he left, but is seldom heartily esteemed by those he comes over to.

In these great Articles of Life, therefore, a Man's Conviction ought to be very strong, and if possible so well timed that worldly Advantages may seem to have no Share in it, or Mankind will be ill natured enough to think he does not change Sides out of Principle, but either out of Levity of Temper or Prospects of Interest.


Best Never To Be Born: Supplement

The Rubā'īyāt of Omar Khayyām, edited from a newly discovered manuscript ... by A.J. Arberry (London: Emery Walker Limited, 1949), p. 87:
The heavens, that increase naught but grief, set not one thing down until they snatch away another: if they that have not (yet) come knew what we suffer at the hands of fate, they would not come at all.
Related post: Best Never To Be Born.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


My Good Woman!

Virginia Woolf, "Miss Janet Case: Classical Scholar and Teacher," The Times (July 22, 1937), rpt. in The Essays of Virginia Woolf, Vol. VI, ed. Stuart N. Clarke (London: The Hogarth Press, 2011), pp. 111-112 (footnotes omitted):
When she left Cambridge she settled in London and for many years earned her living by teaching, in schools and private houses, a great variety of pupils, some seriously to pass examinations, others less seriously to read Greek for their own amusement.

Undoubtedly if the pupil were in earnest Janet Case was a highly competent tutor. She was no dilettante; she could edit a Greek play and win praise from the great Verrall himself. But if the pupil were destined to remain an amateur, Janet Case accepted the fact without concealing the drawbacks and made the best of it. The grammar was shut and the play opened. Somehow the masterpieces of Greek drama were stormed, without grammar, without accents, but somehow, under her compulsion, so sane and yet so stimulating, out they shone, if inaccessible still supremely desirable.


In a pencilled note written a few days before her death she recalled how Lady D. 'used to come to her lesson like a nymph scarcely dry from her bath in a gauze wrap...and used to say "My good woman" in an expostulatory tone when I objected to an adjective not agreeing with its noun or some such trifle.'
The editor (p. 113, n. 6) identifies Lady D. as Lady Diana Cooper (1892-1986).

See Henry M. Alley, "A Rediscovered Eulogy: Virginia Woolf's 'Miss Janet Case: Classical Scholar and Teacher'," Twentieth Century Literature 28.3 (Autumn 1982) 290-301, and Kate Perry, "Case, Janet Elizabeth (1863–1937)," in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Hat tip: Ian Jackson.


The Duty of Cheerfulness

Richard Steele, The Spectator, no. 100 (Monday, June 25, 1711):
A man advanced in Years that thinks fit to look back upon his former Life, and calls that only Life which was passed with Satisfaction and Enjoyment, excluding all Parts which were not pleasant to him, will find himself very young, if not in his Infancy. Sickness, Ill-humour, and Idleness, will have robbed him of a great Share of that Space we ordinarily call our Life. It is therefore the Duty of every Man that would be true to himself, to obtain, if possible, a Disposition to be pleased, and place himself in a constant Aptitude for the Satisfactions of his Being.


It is a wonderful thing that so many, and they not reckoned absurd, shall entertain those with whom they converse by giving them the History of their Pains and Aches; and imagine such Narrations their Quota of the Conversation. This is of all other the meanest Help to Discourse, and a Man must not think at all, or think himself very insignificant, when he finds an Account of his Head-ach answer'd by another's asking what News in the last Mail? Mutual good Humour is a Dress we ought to appear in whenever we meet, and we should make no mention of what concerns our selves, without it be of Matters wherein our Friends ought to rejoyce...
Similarly Steele in The Spectator, no. 143 (Tuesday, August 14, 1711):
That Part of Life which we ordinarily understand by the Word Conversation, is an Indulgence to the Sociable Part of our Make; and should incline us to bring our Proportion of good Will or good Humour among the Friends we meet with, and not to trouble them with Relations which must of necessity oblige them to a real or feign'd Affliction. Cares, Distresses, Diseases, Uneasinesses, and Dislikes of our own, are by no means to be obtruded upon our Friends.


Whatever we do we should keep up the Chearfulness of our Spirits, and never let them sink below an Inclination at least to be well-pleased: The Way to this, is to keep our Bodies in Exercise, our Minds at Ease.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Back to Books

Ralph Waldo Emerson, May-Day, lines 35-57:
When late I walked, in earlier days,
All was stiff and stark;
Knee-deep snows choked all the ways,
In the sky no spark;
Firm-braced I sought my ancient woods,
Struggling through the drifted roads;
The whited desert knew me not,
Snow-ridges masked each darling spot;
The summer dells, by genius haunted,
One arctic moon had disenchanted.
All the sweet secrets therein hid
By Fancy, ghastly spells undid.
Eldest mason, Frost, had piled,
With wicked ingenuity,
Swift cathedrals in the wild;
The piny hosts were sheeted ghosts
In the star-lit minster aisled.
I found no joy: the icy wind
Might rule the forest to his mind.
Who would freeze in frozen brakes?
Back to books and sheltered home,
And wood-fire flickering on the walls,
To hear, when, 'mid our talk and games,
Without the baffled north-wind calls.
Willard Leroy Metcalf, Hush of Winter


Better Be Merry

From Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, tr. Edward Fitzgerald:

Ah, fill the Cup:—what boots it to repeat
How Time is slipping underneath our Feet:
    Unborn TO-MORROW, and dead YESTERDAY,
Why fret about them if TO-DAY be sweet!


One Moment in Annihilation's Waste,
One Moment, of the Well of Life to taste—
    The Stars are setting and the Caravan
Starts for the Dawn of Nothing—Oh, make haste!


How long, how long, in infinite Pursuit
Of This and That endeavour and dispute?
    Better be merry with the fruitful Grape
Than sadden after none, or bitter, Fruit.

Thursday, January 12, 2012



Albert Henrichs, "Mani and the Babylonian Baptists: A Historical Confrontation," Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 77 (1973) 23-59 (at 59):
Written records are the raw material of past history, especially for the modern historian who would be at a loss without them. But in the field of ancient religious beliefs and movements, perhaps more than anywhere else, the very lack of sufficient documentation tends to call forth a rather disproportionate amount of scholarly activity, doubtless nourished by the tacit conviction that when we deal with Geistesgeschichte, certain invariable features of the human condition entitle us to substitute assumptions for recorded facts. What usually comes up in the rear of such forced advances into unknown territory is a large array of conflicting theories, from which scholars choose or to which they add, according to their likes and dislikes. Unmapped areas in the history of the human mind thus become the training ground for our imagination, and rightly so, as long as there are neither reliable roads nor signs to follow. With every piece of new evidence, however, an increasing sense of direction develops. Thus many a long vagary has come to an unexpected end after the discovery of major documents which opened new vistas. But it would be impossible to think of any written text which has come down to us, however well preserved and rich in information, that has solved all our problems. The triumphant feeling which great finds inspire, more often than not, gives way to a more disenchanted attitude when we come to realize that ignorance is the toll of historical truth and that behind each foothold in newly gained terrain, looms an abyss of nowhere. After we have pitched our camp in the new location, we are once more left with conjecture and imagination as our only guides.


The One Percent

Thomas More (1478-1535), Utopia 2.9 (tr. Ralph Robinson):
And yet besides this the rich men not only by private fraud, but also by common laws, do every day pluck and snatch away from the poor some part of their daily living....Therefore, when I consider and weigh in my mind all these commonwealths which nowadays anywhere do flourish, so God help me, I can perceive nothing but a certain conspiracy of rich men procuring their own commodities under the name and title of the commonwealth. They invent and devise all means and crafts, first how to keep safely without fear of losing that they have unjustly gathered together, and next how to hire and abuse the work and labour of the poor for as little money as may be.

Quid quod ex diurno pauperum demenso divites cotidie aliquid, non modo privata fraude sed publicis etiam legibus abradunt....Itaque omnes has quae hodie usquam florent Respublicas animo intuenti ac versanti mihi, nihil, sic me amet deus, occurrit aliud quam quaedam conspiratio divitum, de suis commodis Reipublicae nomine tituloque tractantium. Comminiscunturque et excogitant omnes modos atque artes quibus, quae malis artibus ipsi congresserunt, ea primum ut absque perdendi metu retineant, post hoc ut pauperum omnium opera ac laboribus quam minimo sibi redimant, eisque abutantur.
Hat tip: Jim K.



William Shenstone (1714-1763), Written at an Inn at Henley:
To thee, fair freedom! I retire
    From flattery, cards, and dice, and din;
Nor art thou found in mansions higher
    Than the low cot, or humble inn.

'Tis here with boundless power I reign;
    And every health which I begin,
Converts dull port to bright champagne;
    Such freedom crowns it, at an inn.

I fly from pomp, I fly from plate!
    I fly from falsehood's specious grin!
Freedom I love, and form I hate,
    And chuse my lodgings at an inn.

Here, waiter! take my sordid ore,
    Which lacqueys else might hope to win;
It buys, what courts have not in store;
    It buys me freedom at an inn.

Whoe'er has travell'd life's dull round,
    Where'er his stages may have been,
May sigh to think he still has found
    The warmest welcome, at an inn.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Asyndetic, Privative Adjectives in Fragments of Old Comedy

While reading Fragments of Old Comedy, edited and translated by Ian C. Storey, 3 vols. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011), I noticed some examples of asyndetic, privative adjectives.

Nicochares, fragment 21 (vol. II, pp. 392-393):
ἀλλ' εἰλήμμεθα / λαβὴν ἄφυκτον, ἀδιάγλυπτον

But we are caught in an unbreakable hold, inescapable.
Phrynicus, fragment 20 (vol. III, pp. 58-59):
τηλικουτοσὶ γέρων / ἄπαις ἀγύναικος

An old man of my generation, childless, wifeless.
Phrynicus, fragment 57 (vol. III, pp. 72-73):
ἄσιτος, ἄποτος, ἀναπόνιπτος

Without food, without drink, with hands unwashed.
Theopompus, fragment 72 (vol. III, pp. 350-351):
ἄπνους, ἄνευρος, ἀσθενής, ἀνέντατος

Without breath, without nerve, without strength, without exertion.
In volume II of this Loeb Classical Library edition, the passage at the top of p. 289 (continued from the bottom of p. 287) should be printed in italics.



Porson and the Devil

Yesterday, Porson or the Devil. Today, Porson and the Devil, from E.H. Barker, Literary Anecdotes and Contemporary Reminiscences, of Professor Porson and Others (London: J.R. Smith, 1852), vol. II, p. 22:
Porson used to go to the Cyder-cellar: he said that a stranger, whom he met there, used to discourse most learnedly about the οἶνος κρίθινος, or whiskey of the ancients, as this stranger asserted it to be; he surprised Porson with the accuracy, variety, and extent of his information. He was never found out, notwithstanding all Porson’s enquiries. A fortnight afterwards Porson was asked about the existence of the Devil: "Sir," said he, "I doubted his existence till I saw him seated in that chair a fortnight ago."
Thanks to Andrew Rickard for introducing me to Barker's book, where I also find (vol. II, p. 23) this:
The following anecdote is from Mr. Cogan. Poison called on a friend, who was reading Thucydides, and wished to consult him on the meaning of a word. Porson, hearing the word, repeated the passage. His friend asked how he knew it was that passage. "Because," said P., "the word occurs only twice in Thucydides, once on the right hand, and once on the left. I observed on which side you looked, and therefore knew the passage to which you referred."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Nothing Grander

Menander, fragment 373 (from Ὑποβολιμαῖος), lines 1-7, tr. F.H. Sandbach:
I count that man happiest of all, Parmenon, who has gazed untroubled upon these majestic sights, the sun in whom we all have our share, the stars, rain, clouds and lightning, and who then has quickly left for the place whence he came. Even if you live for a hundred years, it is these sights that will always be there for you to see, just as much as if you lived for only a very few years. You will never see anything grander than these.

τοῦτον εὐτυχέστατον λέγω,
ὅστις θεωρήσας ἀλύπως, Παρμένων,
τὰ σεμνὰ ταῦτ᾽ ἀπῆλθεν, ὅθεν ἦλθεν, ταχύ·
τὸν ἥλιον τὸν κοινόν, ἄστρ᾽, ὕδωρ, νέφη,
πῦρ. ταῦτα, κἂν ἑκατὸν ἔτη βιῷς, ἀεὶ
ὄψει παρόντα, κἂν ἐνιαυτοὺς σφόδρ᾿ ὀλίγους·
σεμνότερα τούτων ἕτερα δ᾿ οὐκ ὄψει ποτέ.
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.


Porson or the Devil

[Richard Gooch], Facetiae Cantabrigienses (London: William Cole, 1825), pp. 133-134:
Porson was once travelling in a stage-coach, when a young Oxonian, fresh from college, was amusing the ladies with a variety of small talk, to which he added a quotation, as he said, from Sophocles. A Greek quotation, and in a stage-coach too, roused our professor, who, in a dog-sleep, was slumbering in one corner of the vehicle. Rubbing his eyes, "I think, young gentleman," said Porson, "you just now favoured us with a quotation from Sophocles; I don't happen to recollect it there." "Oh? Sir," replied the Oxonian, "the quotation is word for word as I repeated it, and in Sophocles too; but I suspect, Sir, it is some time since you were at college." Porson, applying his hand to his great coat, took out a small pocket edition of Sophocles, and handed it to our tyro, saying he should be much obliged if he would show him the passage in that little book. Having rummaged the pages for some time, "Upon second thoughts," said the Oxonian, "I now recollect 'tis in Euripides."—"Then," said the professor, putting his hand into his pocket, and handing him a similar edition of that author, "perhaps you will be so good as to find it for me in that little book."—He returned again to his task, but with no better success, muttering to himself—"Curse me if ever I quote Greek again in a coach." The ladies tittered: at last, "Bless me, Sir," said he, "how dull I am! I recollect now,—yes, yes, I perfectly remember, the passage is in Aeschylus." This inexorable professor applied again to his inexhaustable pocket, and was in the act of handing an Aeschylus to the astonished freshman, when he vociferated—"Stop the coach,—hollo,—coachman let me out, I say,—instantly let me out; there's a fellow here has got the whole Bodleian Library in his pocket; let me out, I say—let me out, he must be Porson or the Devil!"

Monday, January 09, 2012


A Huge Delight

Robert Browning (1812-1889), Development:
My Father was a scholar and knew Greek.
When I was five years old, I asked him once
'What do you read about?' 'The siege of Troy.'
'What is a siege, and what is Troy?' Whereat
He piled up chairs and tables for a town,
Set me a-top for Priam, called our cat
—Helen, enticed away from home (he said)
By wicked Paris, who couched somewhere close
Under the footstool, being cowardly,
But whom—since she was worth the pains, poor puss—
Towzer and Tray,—our dogs, the Atreidai,—sought
By taking Troy to get possession of
—Always when great Achilles ceased to sulk,
(My pony in the stable)—forth would prance
And put to flight Hector—our page-boy’s self.
This taught me who was who and what was what:
So far I rightly understood the case
At five years old; a huge delight it proved
And still proves—thanks to that instructor sage
My Father, who knew better than turn straight
Learning's full flare on weak-eyed ignorance,
Or, worse yet, leave weak eyes to grow sand-blind,
Content with darkness and vacuity.

It happened, two or three years afterward
That—I and playmates playing at Troy's Siege—
My Father came upon our make-believe.
'How would you like to read yourself the tale
Properly told, of which I gave you first
Merely such notion as a boy could bear?
Pope, now, would give you the precise account
Of what, some day, by dint of scholarship
You'll hear—who knows?—from Homer's very mouth.
Learn Greek by all means, read the “Blind Old Man,
Sweetest of Singers"—tuphlos which means "blind,"
Hedistos which means "sweetest," Time enough!
Try, anyhow, to master him some day;
Until when, take what serves for substitute,
Read Pope, by all means!' So I ran through Pope,
Enjoyed the tale—what history so true?
Also attacked my Primer, duly drudged,
Grew fitter thus for what was promised next—
The very thing itself, the actual words,
When I could turn—say, Buttmann to account.

Time passed, I ripened somewhat: one fine day,
'Quite ready for the Iliad, nothing less?
There's Heine, where the big books block the shelf:
Don't skip a word, thumb well the Lexicon!'

I thumbed well and skipped nowise till I learned
Who was who, what was what, from Homer's tongue,
And there an end of learning. Had you asked
The all-accomplished scholar, twelve years old,
'Who was it wrote the Iliad?'—what a laugh!
'Why, Homer, all the world knows: of his life
Doubtless some facts exist: it's everywhere:
We have not settled, though, his place of birth:
He begged, for certain, and was blind beside:
Seven cities claimed him—Scio, with best right,
Thinks Byron. What he wrote? Those Hymns we have.
Then there’s the "Battle of the Frogs and Mice,"
That's all—unless they dig "Margites" up
(I’d like that) nothing more remains to know.'

Thus did youth spend a comfortable time;
Until—'What’s this the Germans say in fact
That Wolf found out first? It's unpleasant work
Their chop and change, unsettling one’s belief:
All the same, where we live, we learn, that's sure.'
So, I bent brow o’er Prolegomena.
And after Wolf, a dozen of his like
Proved there was never any Troy at all,
Neither Besiegers nor Besieged—nay, worse,—
No actual Homer, no authentic text,
No warrant for the fiction I, as fact,
Had treasured in my heart and soul so long—
Ay, mark you! and as fact held still, still hold,
Spite of new knowledge, in my heart of hearts
And soul of souls, fact's essence freed and fixed
From accidental fancy's guardian sheath.
Assuredly thenceforward—thank my stars!—
However it got there, deprive who could—
Wring from the shrine my precious tenantry,
Helen, Ulysses, Hector and his Spouse,
Achilles and his Friend?—though Wolf—ah, Wolf!
Why must he needs come doubting, spoil a dream?

But then, 'No dream's worth waking'—Browning says:
And here's the reason why I tell thus much.
I, now mature man, you anticipate,
May blame my Father justifiably
For letting me dream out my nonage thus,
And only by such slow and sure degrees
Permitting me to sift the grain from chaff,
Get truth and falsehood known and named as such.
Why did he ever let me dream at all,
Not bid me taste the story in its strength?
Suppose my childhood was scarce qualified
To rightly understand mythology,
Silence at least was in his power to keep:
I might have—somehow—correspondingly—
Well, who knows by what method, gained my gains,
Been taught, by forthrights not meanderings,
My aim should be to loathe, like Peleus' son,
A lie as Hell's Gate, love my wedded wife,
Like Hector, and so on with all the rest.
Could not I have excogitated this
Without believing such man really were?
That is—he might have put into my hand
The 'Ethics'? In translation, if you please,
Exact, no pretty lying that improves,
To suit the modern taste: no more, no less—
The 'Ethics': 'tis a treatise I find hard
To read aright now that my hair is gray,
And I can manage the original.
At five years old—How ill had fared its leaves!
Now, growing double o'er the Stagirite,
At least I soil no page with bread and milk,
Nor crumple, dogs-ear and deface—boys' way.
I won't spoil the poem with "fool notes," but Heine is better known as Heyne to classical scholars.

Sunday, January 08, 2012


Life in a Box

Mary Midgley, Beast and Man: The Roots of Human Nature (London: Routledge, 2002), p. 349:
Man is not adapted to live in a mirror-lined box generating his own electric light and sending for selected images from outside when he happens to need them. Darkness and a bad smell are all that can come of that. We need the vast world, and it must be a world that does not need us; a world constantly capable of surprising us, a world we did not program, since only such a world is the proper object of wonder.
Related post: Indoors.


The Case of the Missing Dictionary

T.R. Glover, Cambridge Retrospect (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1943), pp. 85-86 (on John E.B. Mayor):
'Impudent fellows,' he called Lewis and Short; 'when they say a word is rare, I write not in the margin; why, they dare to say that adjutorium is rare; from Theodore Priscian alone I have gleaned 740 instances.'


At one stage a terrible misfortune befel him. The copy of Lewis and Short, in which he was registering his reading and his corrections of their 'impudence', disappeared, and could not be found. It seemed only too likely that it had been stolen—what a thesaurus of learning it would afford to a rival scholar, who might wish to supersede Lewis and Short—a German, perhaps. That Mayor would concentrate long enough to supersede them himself with a work of his own, nobody who knew him would have believed; but making notes toward a project was another thing, an enjoyable task that gave the sensation of valuable work. But the book was gone—stolen! Mayor notified the learned journals and all who read them, scholars and booksellers, that if they were offered this lost dictionary, they must know it was stolen from him. But it was not stolen, nor indeed very far away. His bedmaker, innocent soul, had used it—not to produce a rival lexicon, but to support a chest of drawers which had lost a foot. Notumque fovens quid femina possit.
Hat tip: Alan Crease.

Saturday, January 07, 2012


Man Is But Man

George Crabbe (1754-1832), Tales of the Hall XXII.98-99:
Man is but man; the thing he most desires
Pleases awhile—then pleases not—then tires.


Prayer for Clean Air?

Philyllius, fragment 19 Kassel and Austin, tr. Ian C. Storey in Fragments of Old Comedy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011), vol. III, p. 35:
I pray that I may draw a lifesaving breath. This is the most important element of health, to breathe clean and unpolluted air.

ἕλκειν τὸ βέδυ σωτήριον προσεύχομαι,
ὅπερ μέγιστόν ἐστιν ὑγιείας μέρος,
τὸ τὸν ἀέρ' ἕλκειν καθαρόν, οὐ τεθολωμένον.
βέδυ is a rare word, occurring in Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 5.46-48 (tr. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson):
...it is said that the Phrygians call water Bedu, as also Orpheus says:—
"And bright water is poured down, the Bedu of the nymphs."
Dion Thytes also seems to write similarly:—
"And taking Bedu, pour it on your hands, and turn to divination."
On the other hand, the comic poet, Philydeus [sic, corrected by Casaubon to Philyllius], understands by Bedu the air, as being (Biodoros) life-giver, in the following lines:—
"I pray that I may inhale the salutary Bedu,
Which is the most essential part of health;
Inhale the pure, the unsullied air."
In the same opinion also concurs Neanthes of Cyzicum, who writes that the Macedonian priests invoke Bedu, which they interpret to mean the air, to be propitious to them and to their children.


And Apollodorus of Corcyra says that these lines were recited by Branchus the seer, when purifying the Milesians from plague; for he, sprinkling the multitude with branches of laurel, led off the hymn somehow as follows:—
"Sing Boys Hecaergus and Hecaerga."
And the people accompanied him, saying, "Bedu, Zaps, Chthon, Plectron, Sphinx, Cnaxzbi, Chthyptes, Phlegmos, Drops."
See D. Detschew, "Béδu als makedonischer Gott," Glotta 16 (1928) 280-285, who (at 283) conjectured τὸ ναερὸν (a supposedly uncontracted form of the adjective ναρός = flowing) for τὸ τὸν ἀέρ'.

Friday, January 06, 2012


Vanity Fair

Excerpts from William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair (1848).

Chapter II:
Nay, with some persons those awes and terrors of youth last for ever and ever. I know, for instance, an old gentleman of sixty-eight, who said to me one morning at breakfast, with a very agitated countenance, "I dreamed last night that I was flogged by Dr. Raine." Fancy had carried him back five-and-fifty years in the course of that evening. Dr. Raine and his rod were just as awful to him in his heart, then, at sixty-eight, as they had been at thirteen. If the Doctor, with a large birch, had appeared bodily to him, even at the age of threescore and eight, and had said in awful voice, "Boy, take down your pant—"?
The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it will in turn look sourly upon you; laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly kind companion; and so let all young persons take their choice.
Chapter III:
What causes young people to "come out," but the noble ambition of matrimony? What sends them trooping to watering-places? What keeps them dancing till five o’clock in the morning through a whole mortal season? What causes them to labour at pianoforte sonatas, and to learn four songs from a fashionable master at a guinea a lesson, and to play the harp if they have handsome arms and neat elbows, and to wear Lincoln Green toxophilite hats and feathers, but that they may bring down some "desirable" young man with those killing bows and arrows of theirs? What causes respectable parents to take up their carpets, set their houses topsy-turvy, and spend a fifth of their year’s income in ball suppers and iced champagne? Is it sheer love of their species, and an unadulterated wish to see young people happy and dancing? Psha! they want to marry their daughters...
We have talked of Joseph Sedley being as vain as a girl. Heaven help us! the girls have only to turn the tables, and say of one of their own sex, "She is as vain as a man," and they will have perfect reason. The bearded creatures are quite as eager for praise, quite as finikin over their toilettes, quite as proud of their personal advantages, quite as conscious of their powers of fascination, as any coquette in the world.
Chapter V:
If people would but leave children to themselves; if teachers would cease to bully them; if parents would not insist upon directing their thoughts, and dominating their feelings—those feelings and thoughts which are a mystery to all (for how much do you and I know of each other, of our children, of our fathers, of our neighbour, and how far more beautiful and sacred are the thoughts of the poor lad or girl whom you govern likely to be, than those of the dull and world-corrupted person who rules him?)—if, I say, parents and masters would leave their children alone a little more, small harm would accrue, although a less quantity of as in praesenti might be acquired.
Chapter IX:
...it is with grief and pain, that, as admirers of the British aristocracy, we find ourselves obliged to admit the existence of so many ill qualities in a person whose name is in Debrett.
Vanity Fair—Vanity Fair! Here was a man, who could not spell, and did not care to read—who had the habits and the cunning of a boor: whose aim in life was pettifogging: who never had a taste, or emotion, or enjoyment, but what was sordid and foul; and yet he had rank, and honours, and power, somehow: and was a dignitary of the land, and a pillar of the state. He was high sheriff, and rode in a golden coach. Great ministers and statesmen courted him; and in Vanity Fair he had a higher place than the most brilliant genius or spotless virtue.
Chapter X:
All old women were beauties once, we very well know.
He was always thinking of his brother’s soul, or of the souls of those who differed with him in opinion: it is a sort of comfort which many of the serious give themselves.
Chapter XIII:
The old gentleman pronounced these aristocratic names with the greatest gusto. Whenever he met a great man he grovelled before him, and my-lorded him as only a free-born Briton can do.
Chapter XIV:
Her heart was dead long before her body. She had sold it to become Sir Pitt Crawley's wife. Mothers and daughters are making the same bargain every day in Vanity Fair.
Chapter XVI:
If people only made prudent marriages, what a stop to population there would be!
Chapter XVIII:
One of the great conditions of anger and hatred is, that you must tell and believe lies against the hated object, in order, as we said, to be consistent.
Chapter XIX:
But, without preaching, the truth may surely be borne in mind, that the bustle, and triumph, and laughter, and gaiety which Vanity Fair exhibits in public, do not always pursue the performer into private life, and that the most dreary depression of spirits and dismal repentances sometimes overcome him. Recollection of the best ordained banquets will scarcely cheer sick epicures. Reminiscences of the most becoming dresses and brilliant ball triumphs will go very little way to console faded beauties. Perhaps statesmen, at a particular period of existence, are not much gratified at thinking over the most triumphant divisions; and the success or the pleasure of yesterday becomes of very small account when a certain (albeit uncertain) morrow is in view, about which all of us must some day or other be speculating. O brother wearers of motley! Are there not moments when one grows sick of grinning and tumbling, and the jingling of cap and bells? This, dear friends and companions, is my amiable object—to walk with you through the Fair, to examine the shops and the shows there; and that we should all come home after the flare, and the noise, and the gaiety, and be perfectly miserable in private.
Chapter XXIX:
...a wonderful thing it is to think that the human heart is capable of generating such produce, and can throw out, as occasion demands, such a supply of lust and fury, rage and hatred.
Chapter XXXI:
Did we know what our intimates and dear relations thought of us, we should live in a world that we should be glad to quit, and in a frame of mind and a constant terror, that would be perfectly unbearable.
Chapter XXXV:
He firmly believed that everything he did was right, that he ought on all occasions to have his own way—and like the sting of a wasp or serpent his hatred rushed out armed and poisonous against anything like opposition. He was proud of his hatred as of everything else. Always to be right, always to trample forward, and never to doubt, are not these the great qualities with which dullness takes the lead in the world?
Chapter XLI:
And for my part I believe that remorse is the least active of all a man's moral senses—the very easiest to be deadened when wakened, and in some never wakened at all. We grieve at being found out and at the idea of shame or punishment, but the mere sense of wrong makes very few people unhappy in Vanity Fair.
Chapter XLIX:
"My wife says you have been singing like an angel," he said to Becky. Now there are angels of two kinds, and both sorts, it is said, are charming in their way.
Chapter LII:
Rawdon Crawley, though the only book which he studied was the Racing Calendar, and though his chief recollections of polite learning were connected with the floggings which he received at Eton in his early youth, had that decent and honest reverence for classical learning which all English gentlemen feel, and was glad to think that his son was to have a provision for life, perhaps, and a certain opportunity of becoming a scholar.
He tried to look knowing over the Latin grammar when little Rawdon showed him what part of that work he was "in." "Stick to it, my boy," he said to him with much gravity, "there's nothing like a good classical education! Nothing!"
Chapter LVI:
A few years before, he used to be savage, and inveigh against all parsons, scholars, and the like declaring that they were a pack of humbugs, and quacks that weren’t fit to get their living but by grinding Latin and Greek, and a set of supercilious dogs that pretended to look down upon British merchants and gentlemen, who could buy up half a hundred of 'em. He would mourn now, in a very solemn manner, that his own education had been neglected, and repeatedly point out, in pompous orations to Georgy, the necessity and excellence of classical acquirements.
And whenever he spoke (which he did almost always), he took care to produce the very finest and longest words of which the vocabulary gave him the use, rightly judging that it was as cheap to employ a handsome, large, and sonorous epithet, as to use a little stingy one.
Chapter LVIII:
If I had time and dared to enter into digressions, I would write a chapter about that first pint of porter drunk upon English ground. Ah, how good it is! It is worth-while to leave home for a year, just to enjoy that one draught.
Chapter LXI:
Which, I wonder, brother reader, is the better lot, to die prosperous and famous, or poor and disappointed? To have, and to be forced to yield; or to sink out of life, having played and lost the game? That must be a strange feeling, when a day of our life comes and we say, "To-morrow, success or failure won’t matter much, and the sun will rise, and all the myriads of mankind go to their work or their pleasure as usual, but I shall be out of the turmoil."
Chapter LXIV:
Those who know the English Colonies abroad know that we carry with us our pride, pills, prejudices, Harvey-sauces, cayenne-peppers, and other Lares, making a little Britain wherever we settle down.

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