Friday, May 31, 2013


Only Fields and Woods

Richard Jefferies (1848-1887), "Walks in the Wheat Fields," Field and Hedgerow, 2nd ed. (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1889), pp. 121-156 (at 125):
I wish the trees, the elms, would grow tall enough and thick enough to hide the steeples and towers which stand up so stiff and stark, and bare and cold, some of them blunted and squab, some of them sharp enough to impale, with no more shape than a walking-stick, ferrule upwards—every one of them out of proportion and jarring to the eye. If by good fortune you can find a spot where you cannot see a steeple or a church tower, where you can see only fields and woods, you will find it so much more beautiful, for nature has made it of its kind perfect. The dim sea is always so beautiful a view because it is not disfigured by these buildings.


A Society Inebriated by Technology

Leon Wieseltier, Commencement Address, Brandeis University (May 19, 2013):
Has there ever been a moment in American life when the humanities were cherished less, and has there ever been a moment in American life when the humanities were needed more?....[I]n recent years I have come to regard a commitment to the humanities as nothing less than an act of intellectual defiance, of cultural dissidence.

For decades now in America we have been witnessing a steady and sickening denigration of humanistic understanding and humanistic method. We live in a society inebriated by technology, and happily, even giddily governed by the values of utility, speed, efficiency, and convenience....

The machines to which we have become enslaved, all of them quite astonishing, represent the greatest assault on human attention ever devised: they are engines of mental and spiritual dispersal, which make us wider only by making us less deep. There are thinkers, reputable ones if you can believe it, who proclaim that the exponential growth in computational ability will soon take us beyond the finitude of our bodies and our minds so that, as one of them puts it, there will no longer be any difference between human and machine. La Mettrie lives in Silicon Valley. This, of course, is not an apotheosis of the human but an abolition of the human; but Google is very excited by it....

Knowledge can be acquired only over time and only by method. And the devices that we carry like addicts in our hands are disfiguring our mental lives also in other ways: for example, they generate a hitherto unimaginable number of numbers, numbers about everything under the sun, and so they are transforming us into a culture of data, into a cult of data, in which no human activity and no human expression is immune to quantification, in which happiness is a fit subject for economists, in which the ordeals of the human heart are inappropriately translated into mathematical expressions, leaving us with new illusions of clarity and new illusions of control....

So there is no task more urgent in American intellectual life at this hour than to offer some resistance to the twin imperialisms of science and technology....

In upholding the humanities, you uphold the honor of a civilization that was founded upon the quest for the true and the good and the beautiful. For as long as we are thinking and feeling creatures, creatures who love and imagine and suffer and die, the humanities will never be dispensable....
Hat tip: Maverick Philosopher.


Away With This Thinking

Charles Cotton (1630-1687), "Chanson a Boire," in his Poems on Several Occasions (London: Printed for Tho. Bassett..., 1689), pp. 74-75:
Come let's mind our drinking,
Away with this thinking;
    It ne'er, that I heard of, did anyone good;
Prevents not disaster,
But brings it on faster,
    Mischance is by mirth and by courage withstood.

He ne'er can recover
The day that is over,
    The present is with us and does threaten no ill;
He's a Fool that will sorrow
For the thing call'd to morrow,
    But the hour we've in hand we may weild as we will.

There's nothing but Bacchus
Right merry can make us,
    That vertue particular is to the Vine;
It fires ev'ry creature
With wit and good nature,
    Whose thoughts can be dark when their noses doe shine?

A night of good drinking
Is worth a year's thinking,
    There's nothing that kills us so surely as sorrow;
Then to drown our cares Boys,
Let's drink up the stars Boys,
    Each face of the gang will a Sun be to morrow.


No Swallower nor Devourer of Volumes

John Donne (1572-1631), letter to Henry Wotton? (c. 1600?), as printed in The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Donne, ed. Charles M. Coffin (New York: The Modern Library, 2001), pp. 378-379:
I am no great voyager in other mens works: no swallower nor devourer of volumes nor pursuant of authors. Perchaunce it is because I find borne in my self knowledge or apprehension enough, for (without forfeiture or impeachment of modesty) I think I am bond to God thankfully to acknowledge it) to consyder him and my self: as when I have at home a convenient garden I covet not to walk in others broad medows or woods, especially because it falls not within that short reach which my foresight embraceth, to see how I should employ that which I already know; to travayle for inquiry of more were to labor to gett a stomach and then find no meat at home. To know how to live by the booke is a pedantery, and to do it is a bondage. For both hearers and players are more delighted with voluntary than with sett musike. And he that will live by precept shall be long without the habite of honesty: as he that would every day gather one or two feathers might become brawne with hard lying before he make a feather bed of his gettings. That Erle of Arundell that last dyed (that tennis ball whome fortune after tossing and banding brikwald into the hazard) in his imprisonment used more than much reading, and to him that asked him why he did so he answered he read so much lest he should remember something. I am as far from following his counsell as hee was from Petruccios: but I find it true that after long reading I can only tell you how many leaves I have read. I do therfore more willingly blow and keep awake that smale coale which God hath pleased to kindle in mee than farr off to gather a faggott of greene sticks which consume without flame or heat in a black smoother: yet I read something. But indeed not so much to avoyd as to enjoy idlenes.
bond: bound
acknowledge it): the unopened parenthesis is also in Evelyn M. Simpson, A Study of the Prose Works of John Donne, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1948), p. 313.
stomach: appetite
with voluntary than with sett musike: "voluntary" is apparently an adjective here, meaning ad lib or improvised — all of the definitions in the Oxford English Dictionary related to music fall under the category of noun (sense C.I.2).
brawne: brawny
Erle of Arundell: Philip Howard (1557-1595)
banding: bandying
brikwald: brickwalled, i.e. rebounded
Petruccios: Edward Le Comte, Grace to a Witty Sinner (New York: Walker & Co., 1965), p. 255: "What we have here is Donne's only reference to Shakespeare. He had seen The Taming of the Shrew (not printed until the 1623 Folio). It was notorious that Arundel was dominated by his wife." I haven't seen Le Comte's book; the quotation is at second hand, from Graham Roebuck, "Donne and 'All the World'," Renaissance Papers 2002 (2003) 77-89 (at 82, with n. 9).
smoother: smother, i.e. dense smoke


Always on the Look-Out for Slights

James Payn (1830-1898), "On Taking Offence," The Backwater of Life; or, Essays of a Literary Veteran (London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1899), pp. 101-110 (at 103-104):
To the grievance-monger there is nothing so objectionable as an explanation. It is putting out the fire beside which he nurses his wrath and keeps it warm. In the atmosphere of his discontent, his wrong has assumed gigantic proportions, and it is very disagreeable to see it melt away in the wholesome air of commonsense. When we see a play on the stage built up on some misunderstanding which three words would dissipate, we exclaim 'How absurd! How unnatural!' but these people weave a life-drama for themselves out of these very materials, and take their pleasure in a maze of feelings warranted of their own manufacture. They are always on the look-out for slights; a depreciatory observation, a glance which can be construed to imply contempt, is at once furnished with a personal application, and provides them with their desideratum; even silence has been known to furnish it. The 'Hurt' family, to which they belong, has many branches, but the type is the same throughout. If fortune, so far from being 'outrageous,' has neither strings nor arrows, there are at least nettles to be found, and they proceed to divest themselves of their last garment and roll in them.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


By None Offended, and Offending None

Charles Cotton (1630-1687), "The Retirement. Stanzes Irreguliers. To Mr. Isaak Walton," in his Poems on Several Occasions (London: Printed for Tho. Bassett..., 1689), pp. 133-139:
  Farewell thou busie World, and may
            We never meet again:
  Here I can eat, and sleep, and pray,
  And doe more good in one short day,
  Than he who his whole Age out-wears
Upon the most conspicuous Theatres,
Where nought but Vice and Vanity do reign.

Good God! how sweet are all things here!
How beautifull the Fields appear!
  How cleanly do we feed and lie!
  Lord! what good hours do we keep!
            How quietly we sleep!
  What Peace! what Unanimity!
  How innocent from the leud Fashion,
Is all our bus'ness, all our Conversation!

    Oh how happy here's our leisure!
    Oh how innocent our pleasure!
    Oh ye Vallies, oh ye Mountains,
    Oh ye Groves and Chrystall Fountains,
      How I love at liberty
    By turn to come and visit ye!

    O Solitude, the Soul's best Friend,
  That Man acquainted with himself dost make,
  And all his Maker's Wonders to intend;
    With thee I here converse at will,
    And would be glad to do so still;
For it is thou alone that keep'st the Soul awake.

    How calm and quiet a delight
            It is alone
    To read, and meditate, and write,
  By none offended, and offending none;
  To walk, ride, sit, or sleep at one's own ease,
And, pleasing a man's self, none other to displease!

  Oh my beloved Nymph! fair Dove,
  Princess of rivers, how I love
    Upon thy flow'ry Banks to lie,
      And view thy Silver stream,
  When gilded by a Summer's Beam,
  And in it all thy wanton Fry
            Playing at liberty,
  And with my Angle upon them,
            The All of Treachery
I ever learn'd to practise and to try!

Such streams Rome's yellow Tiber cannot show,
Th' Iberian Tagus, nor Ligurian Po;
  The Meuse, the Danube, and the Rhine,
Are puddle-water all compar'd with thine;
And Loire's pure streams yet too polluted are
  With thine much purer to compare:
The rapid Garonne, and the winding Seine
            Are both too mean,
          Beloved Dove, with thee
          To vie Priority:
Nay, Tame and Isis, when conjoyn'd, submit,
And lay their Trophies at thy Silver Feet.

  Oh my beloved Rocks! that rise
  To awe the Earth, and brave the Skies,
  From some aspiring Mountain's crown,
            How dearly do I love,
  Giddy with pleasure, to look down,
And from the Vales to view the noble heights above!

Oh my beloved Caves! from Dog-star heats,
And hotter Persecution safe Retreats,
What safety, privacy, what true delight,
            In the artificial Night
            Your gloomy entrails make,
            Have I taken, do I take!
    How oft, when grief has made me fly
    To hide me from Society,
    Even of my dearest Friends, have I
      In your recesses friendly shade
      All my sorrows open laid,
And my most secret woes entrusted to your privacy!

  Lord! would men let me alone,
  What an over-happy one
  Should I think my self to be,
  Might I in this desart place,
Which most men by their voice disgrace,
  Live but undisturb'd and free!
    Here in this despis'd recess
      Would I maugre Winter's cold,
    And the summer's worst excess,
Try to live out to sixty full years old,
            And all the while
          Without an envious eye
On any thriving under Fortune's smile,
Contented live, and then contented die.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Greedy for Growing Things

David Grayson, pseudonym of Ray Stannard Baker (1870-1946), Adventures in Contentment (1906; rpt. Garden City: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1922), pp. 6-7:
One morning I wakened with a strange, new joy in my soul. It came to me at that moment with indescribable poignancy, the thought of walking barefoot in cool, fresh plow furrows as I had once done when a boy. So vividly the memory came to me—the high airy world as it was at that moment, and the boy I was walking free in the furrows—that the weak tears filled my eyes, the first I had shed in many years. Then I thought of sitting in quiet thickets in old fence corners, the wood behind me rising still, cool, mysterious, and the fields in front stretching away in illimitable pleasantness. I thought of the good smell of cows at milking—you do not know, if you do not know!—I thought of the sights and sounds, the heat and sweat of the hay fields. I thought of a certain brook I knew when a boy that flowed among alders and wild parsnips, where I waded with a three-foot rod for trout. I thought of all these things as a man thinks of his first love. Oh, I craved the soil. I hungered and thirsted for the earth. I was greedy for growing things.


Guest House

Sophocles, fragment 274 (tr. Hugh Lloyd-Jones):
...the guesthouse that receives all...

πάνδοκος ξενόστασις
A.C. Pearson, The Fragments of Sophocles, Vol. I (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1917), p. 204, explains, "These words are simply the tragic periphrasis for an inn..." But they are sometimes understood to refer to Hades. With ξενόστασις in this sense compare Latin hospitium, and see Richmond Lattimore, Themes in Greek and Latin Epitaphs (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1962), p. 168, on "the notion that death or the tomb is an inn which receives all comers." Lattimore doesn't cite this fragment of Sophocles, but among his Latin examples is Carmina Epigraphica 1276 Buecheler, lines 7-8 (my translation):
Why are you in a hurry, stranger [or guest]? A familiar resting place has been prepared for you. This guest house is open to people everywhere at all times.

quid properas, [h]ospes? requies tibi nota parat[as]t,
  hospitium hoc populo semper ubique patet.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Earth and Soil

David Grayson, pseudonym of Ray Stannard Baker (1870-1946), Adventures in Contentment (1906; rpt. Garden City: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1922), pp. 81-82:
It comes to me as the wonder of wonders, these spring days, how surely everything, spiritual as well as material, proceeds out of the earth. I have times of sheer Paganism when I could bow and touch my face to the warm bare soil. We are so often ashamed of the Earth—the soil of it, the sweat of it, the good common coarseness of it. To us in our fine raiment and soft manners, it seems indelicate. Instead of seeking that association with the earth which is the renewal of life, we devise ourselves distant palaces and seek strange pleasures. How often and sadly we repeat the life story of the yellow dodder of the moist lanes of my lower farm. It springs up fresh and clean from the earth itself, and spreads its clinging viny stems over the hospitable wild balsam and golden rod. In a week's time, having reached the warm sunshine of the upper air, it forgets its humble beginnings. Its roots wither swiftly and die out, but the sickly yellow stems continue to flourish and spread, drawing their nourishment not from the soil itself, but by strangling and sucking the life juices of the hosts on which it feeds. I have seen whole byways covered thus with yellow dodder—rootless, leafless, parasitic—reaching up to the sunlight, quite cutting off and smothering the plants which gave it life. A week or two it flourishes and then most of it perishes miserably. So many of us come to be like that: so much of our civilization is like that. Men and women there are—the pity of it—who, eating plentifully, have never themselves taken a mouthful from the earth. They have never known a moment's real life of their own. Lying up to the sun in warmth and comfort—but leafless—they do not think of the hosts under them, smothered, strangled, starved. They take nothing at first hand. They experience described emotion, and think prepared thoughts. They live not in life, but in printed reports of life. They gather the odour of odours, not the odour itself: they do not hear, they overhear. A poor, sad, second-rate existence!

Bring out your social remedies! They will fail, they will fail, every one, until each man has his feet somewhere upon the soil!


In This World Every Man Is His Own King

David Grayson, pseudonym of Ray Stannard Baker (1870-1946), Adventures in Contentment (1906; rpt. Garden City: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1922), pp. 201-203:
What a convenient and delightful world is this world of books!—if you bring to it not the obligations of the student, or look upon it as an opiate for idleness, but enter it rather with the enthusiasm of the adventurer! It has vast advantages over the ordinary world of daylight, of barter and trade, of work and worry. In this world every man is his own King—the sort of King one loves to imagine, not concerned in such petty matters as wars and parliaments and taxes, but a mellow and moderate despot who is a true patron of genius—a mild old chap who has in his court the greatest men and women in the world—and all of them vying to please the most vagrant of his moods! Invite any one of them to talk, and if your highness is not pleased with him you have only to put him back in his corner—and bring some jester to sharpen the laughter of your highness, or some poet to set your faintest emotion to music!

I have marked a certain servility in books. They entreat you for a hearing: they cry out from their cases—like men, in an eternal struggle for survival, for immortality.

"Take me," pleads this one, "I am responsive to every mood. You will find in me love and hate, virtue and vice. I don't preach: I give you life as it is. You will find here adventures cunningly linked with romance and seasoned to suit the most fastidious taste. Try me."

"Hear such talk!" cries his neighbour. "He's fiction. What he says never happened at all. He tries hard to make you believe it, but it isn't true, not a word of it. Now, I'm fact. Everything you find in me can be depended upon."

"Yes," responds the other, "but who cares! Nobody wants to read you, you're dull."

"You're false!"

As their voices grow shriller with argument your highness listens with the indulgent smile of royalty when its courtiers contend for its favour, knowing that their very life depends upon a wrinkle in your august brow.


On Bread Alone

David Grayson, pseudonym of Ray Stannard Baker (1870-1946), Adventures in Contentment (1906; rpt. Garden City: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1922), p. 93:
How rarely we taste the real taste of bread! We disguise it with butter, we toast it, we eat it with milk or fruit. We even soak it with gravy (here in the country where we aren't at all polite—but very comfortable), so that we never get the downright delicious taste of the bread itself.

Anne Vallayer-Coster (1744-1818), Still Life with Bread

Monday, May 27, 2013


Long Life and Success to the Farmer

"The Farmer," in Mirth and Song: Consisting of A Lecture on Heads, Written by George Alexander Stevens, Esq., and The Courtship, with a Collection of Approved Songs (Boston: Printed by E. Lincoln for John Whiting of Lancaster, 1804), pp. 124-125:
Come each jovial fellow who loves to be mellow,
    Attend unto me and sit easy;
One jorum and quiet, we quickly will try it,
    Dull thinking will make a man crazy:
For here I am king, we'll drink, laugh and sing,
    Let no one appear as a stranger;
But show me the ass, that refuses his glass,
    And I'll order him hay in the manger.

By ploughing and sowing, by reaping and mowing
    Kind nature supplies me with plenty;
I've a cellar well stor'd, and a plentiful board,
    And my cupboard affords every dainty:
I have all things in season, both woodcock and pheasant,
    I'm here as a justice of quorum;
At my cabin's far end I've a bed for a friend,
    A clean fireside and a jorum.

Were it not for my seeding you'd have but poor feeding,
    You'd surely be starving without me;
I'm always content when I've paid all my rent,
    And I'm happy when friends are about me:
Draw close to my table, my friends, while you're able,
    Let's not have a word of complaining:
For the jingling of glasses all music surpasses—
    I love to see bottles a draining.

Let the mighty and great, loll in splendour and state;
    I envy them not, I declare it;
I eat my own lamb, my chicken and ham,
    I shear my own fleece, and I wear it:
I've lands and I've bowers, I've fields and I've flowers,
    The lark is my daily alarmer;
So, my jolly boys, now here's God speed the plough,
    Long life and success to the farmer.


Liddell and Scott Don't Help Me a Jot

Edward FitzGerald (1809-1883), letter to W.B. Donne (November 28, 1862), seeking enlightenment on a matter of Greek geography:
        Is no-where;
        Liddell and Scott
        Don't help me a jot:
        When I'm off, Donnegan
        Don't help me on again.——
So I'm obliged to resort to old Donne again!
References are to John Lemprière, A Classical Dictionary; Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon; and James Donnegan, A New Greek and English Lexicon.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


Genitive or Dative?

On the case (genitive or dative) of "Eloquentiae" in the University of Salamanca inscription, Eric Thomson writes:
It would be well to take into consideration the more or less contemporaneous inscriptions to be found over the entrances to the University's other lecture theatres, all of which open unambiguously in the dative:

Aula Francisco de Vitoria:
Aula Miguel de Unamuno:

Aula Fray Luis de León:
Present-day Publications Department:
Sala de la Columna:
Aula Francisco de Salinas:
See José Oroz Reta, "El latín en las Universidades de Salamanca: En torno a unas inscripciones," Helmantica 43 (1983) 485-496. Also Fernando Araujo, La Reina del Tórmes: Guia Histórico-Descriptiva de la Ciudad de Salamanca (Salamanca, 1884), p. 159, who cites the author of a number of these inscriptions as the Cordoban humanist Fernán Pérez de Oliva (1492?–1530 or 1531). The Oroz Reda article, which claims to correct the texts of the inscriptions offered by Araujo, is itself plagued with misprints, one or two of which I've corrected. Attempts to find photographs of all of the plaques have met with only partial success (one attached), but in any case I should have mentioned that they are all to be found on the ground floor of the same cloister and so presumably intended to form a coherent series exhibiting a degree of 'variatio'. I think 'hunc' must be understood with 'ludum' in 'senatus ludum aperuit' just as it is also implicit in 'publicum ludum statuit' in the 'Linguis Hebraicae ...etc' inscription.

More of Pérez de Oliva's neo(n)-Latin shop-signs can be found in Las Obras del maestro Fernán Pérez de Oliva, tomo 1 (Madrid, 1787). One in particular deserves attention as it sheds light on the stand-alone dative of THEOLOGIAE SACRAE above:
Theologiae Sacrae
quod mortalium animos sancte
instituat, deo impleat, et futurae
immortalitatis foveat spe, locus dicatus.


Antiquities Speak

G. Seyffarth (1796-1885), Summary of Recent Discoveries in Biblical Chronology, Universal History, and Egyptian Archaeology, 2nd ed. (New York: Henry Ludwig, 1859), pp. 7-8:
The interest taken by the human mind in the monuments of antiquity is a remarkable phenomenon. Who does not regard with reverence an aged tree, which a thousand years ago, beheld generations long since passed from the earth, sitting in its shade? Who would willingly part with the clumsy, tarnished ring, which his aged mother or grandmother had worn upon her finger? Who is not gratified by the sight of a few lines traced by a pen, guided by the hand of the Father of his country? Who does not examine with curiosity an old skin, upon which Mexican priests painted their gods and hieroglyphics 500 years ago? Who can pass without emotion through the silent streets of Pompeii, which once resounded with the bustle of the forum and the song of sailors? Who does not take delight in treasuring up in his casket, among other gems, some old coins of the age in which Pericles sent forth his fleets against envious Sparta? Who is not happy to exhibit to a friend a fragment of a brick, dried when Cyrus commanded that Jerusalem should be rebuilt? It cannot be denied, that every man regards whatever is ancient, with a certain interest and reverence. And why does he do so? These ancient things, be they beautiful or ugly, complete or fragmentary, lustrous or encrusted with filth, speak to every one that beholds them.—Ay, antiquities speak. We hear their language distinctly, not with the outward ear, but with an inner sense, with which the Creator has endowed us.—Not men only, but even "stones can speak." And what is it, that these monuments of antiquity have to say to us? Their language is: Consider, how young you are compared with those by-gone generations, whose contemporaries we have been! Bethink you, how soon you will disappear from the series of living things, without leaving behind you any such monuments of your existence! A different world has been on earth before you! Ask of me, and I will tell you what was the condition of things in the world at that time; I will inform you, how the men of that age thought, what they believed, what they did, how they clothed and adorned themselves, how they ate and drank. And thus there are many other things, which, if you be so minded, you may learn of me. If you had no other profit but to learn what you did not know, this would, in itself alone, be something; for knowledge is power. And who would not rather be powerful than feeble?


Manure Thyself

John Donne (1572-1631), "To Mr. Rowland Woodward," lines 19-36:
Seeke wee then our selves in our selves; for as
Men force the Sunne with much more force to passe,        20
By gathering his beames with a christall glasse;

So wee, If wee into our selves will turne,
Blowing our sparkes of vertue, may outburne
The straw, which doth about our hearts sojourne.

You know, Physitians, when they would infuse        25
Into an oyle, the Soules of Simples, use
Places, where they may lie still warme, to chuse.

So workes retirednesse in us; To rome
Giddily, and be every where, but at home,
Such freedome doth a banishment become.        30

Wee are but farmers of our selves, yet may,
If we can stocke our selves and thrive, uplay
Much, much deare treasure for the great rent day.

Manure thy selfe then, to thy selfe be approv'd,
And with vaine outward things be no more mov'd,        35
But to know, that I love thee and would be lov'd.
21 christall glasse: magnifying glass
24 Physitians: alchemists
26 Simples: "A single uncompounded or unmixed thing; a substance free from foreign elements, esp. one serving as an ingredient in a composition or mixture" (OED)
32: uplay: lay up
33 the great rent day: Judgment Day

Saturday, May 25, 2013


Trees of Good and Bad Omen

Macrobius, Saturnalia 3.20.2-3 (tr. Robert A. Kaster):
1. You should realize that white figs are produced by trees of good omen, black figs, by contrast, by ill-omened trees. The two types are distinguished for us by the pontiffs: thus Veranius says, concerning the words of the pontiffs (fr. 3 GRF 1:431 = fr. 1 IAH 2.1:6 = fr. 5 IAR6), "Among trees of good omen are reckoned the oak, durmast, holm oak, cork oak, beech, hazel, service tree, white fig, pear, apple, vine, plum, cornel, and nettle." 3. Tarquitius Priscus, however, in his Portents Derived from Trees, says (fr. 6),
They call "ill-omened" the trees that are under the protection of the gods of the underworld and apotropaic powers: buckthorn, red cornel, fern, black fig, those that bear a black berry and black fruit, similarly holly, woodland pear, butcher's-broom, briar, and the brambles with which one should order evil portents and prodigies to be burnt.
The Latin:
2. sciendum quod ficus alba ex felicibus sit arboribus, contra nigra ex infelicibus. docent nos utrumque pontifices. ait enim Veranius de verbis pontificalibus: "felices arbores putantur esse quercus, aesculus, ilex, suberies, fagus, corylus, sorbus, ficus alba, pirus, malus, vitis, prunus, cornus, lotus. 3. Tarquitius autem Priscus in Ostentario arborario sic ait:
arbores quae inferum deorum avertentiumque in tutela sunt, eas infelices nominant: alaternum, virgam sanguineam, filicem, ficum atram quaeque bacam nigram nigrosque fructus ferunt, itemque aquifolium, pirum silvaticum, ruscum, rubum sentesque quibus portenta prodigiaque mala comburi iubere oportet.


Pocket Money

George Cowell, Life & Letters of Edward Byles Cowell...Professor of Sanskrit, Cambridge, 1867-1903 (London: Macmillan and Co., 1904), p. 4:
His pocket money was always saved and accumulated for the purchase of some book outside his school studies. In this way he bought not only a huge book, Walker's Corpus Poetarum Latinorum, but also an edition of Livy, whose many volumes in the bookseller's window had long tempted his hungry eyes. His next brother, who in due time had joined him at school, tells the story that he was often remonstrated with by Cowell for wasting his pocket money in the usual schoolboy purchases, instead of saving it up to buy some classic, which he thought every boy must regard with the same appreciation as himself.
I corrected Walker's Corpus Poetorum Latinorum to Walker's Corpus Poetarum Latinorum in the quotation above.


FitzGerald Reads Thucydides

Edward FitzGerald (1809-1883), Letters and Literary Remains, vol. I (London: Macmillan and Co., 1889), p. 84 (letter to Frederic Tennyson, February 6, 1842):
I mean to take down a Thucydides, to feed on: like a whole Parmesan.
p. 144 (letter to Frederic Tennyson, December 8, 1844, ellipses in original):
I am meditating to begin Thucydides one day, perhaps this winter....
p. 169 (letter to Thomas Carlyle, February 1847):
I have begun to read Thucydides, which I never read before, and which does very well to hammer at for an hour in a day: though I can't say I care much for the Greeks and their peddling quarrels; one must go to Rome for wars.
p. 181 (letter to Edward Byles Cowell, 1847):
I am only got half way in the third book of Thucydides: but I go on with pleasure; with as much pleasure as I used to read a novel.
pp. 184-185 (letter to Edward Byles Cowell, January 25, 1848):
I have just finished, all but the last three chapters, the fourth Book of Thucydides, and it is now no task to me to go on. This fourth book is the most interesting I have read; containing all that blockade of Pylos; that first great thumping of the Athenians at Oropus, after which they for ever dreaded the Theban troops. And it came upon me 'come stella in ciel,' when, in the account of the taking of Amphipolis, Thucydides, ὃς τάδε ξυνέγραψεν, comes with seven ships to the rescue! Fancy old Hallam sticking to his gun at a Martello tower! This was the way to write well; and this was the way to make literature respectable.

Friday, May 24, 2013



Here are some notes to myself on the history of some melon varieties I'm trying to grow this year.

Pineapple Melon

Thomas Jefferson's Garden Book, 1766-1824, ed. Edwin Morris Betts (Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, Inc., 1999), p. 208, lists pineapple melons planted in 1794.

MM. Vilmorin-Andrieux, The Vegetable Garden: Illustrations, Descriptions, and Culture of the Garden Vegetables of Cold and Temperate Climates (London: John Murray, 1885), p. 328:
Red-fleshed Pine-apple Melon (Melon Ananas d'Amérique à Chair Rouge).—A vigorous-growing, branching plant, with medium-sized or small, entire, roundish leaves of a slightly glaucous green colour. Fruit very long stalked, with slightly marked ribs, and of a delicate green colour, very plentifully dotted with blackish green; the furrows between the ribs are very shallow and of a clear-green colour, and the ribs themselves are slightly netted when the fruit is quite ripe; rind thin. The fruit is from about 3 to 4 inches in diameter, and from about ten ounces and a half to over one pound. The flesh is red, rather firm, sweet, juicy, and highly perfumed. In this variety the central cavity seldom exceeds the size of a walnut.

Green-fleshed Pine-apple, or Jersey Green Citron, Melon (Melon Ananas d'Amérique à Chair Verte).—The principal difference between this and the preceding variety is in the colour of the flesh, which is of a pale green, with a yellowish tinge in the vicinity of the seeds; the leaves also are somewhat larger and lighter coloured. The plant continues growing for a longer time, and the skin of the fruit is rather more netted when ripe. Both this and the preceding kind will readily carry and ripen from six to eight fruit on each plant.
Pl. XXVII of [Pierre Joseph] Jacquin, Monographie complète du melon (Paris: Roussellon, 1832), see no. 3 (Melon Ananas d'Amérique):

Early Hanover Melon

William Tapley et al., The Vegetables of New York, Volume I, Part IV = The Cucurbits (Albany: J.B. Lyon Company, 1937), p. 63 (under muskmelons):
Extra Early Hanover. Ref. 133.

Extra Early Hanover was introduced in 1895 by T.W. Woods & Sons of Richmond, Virginia. The variety originated in the vicinity of Richmond and its listing as an early sort has continued to the present. It is reported to have attained "immense popularity" and in the region of its origin, is noted for the sweet and sugary flavor of the flesh which can be eaten to the very thin skin.
Ref. 133 on p. 92 is "Tracy, W.W. U.S.D.A. Bul. 21: 226-241. 1903," i.e. W.W. Tracy, Jr., List of American Varieties of Vegetables for the Years 1901 and 1902 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1903 = U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Plant Industry, Bulletin No. 21), where Extra Early Hanover is on p. 231 with the notation "Wd WS," which according to p. 15 (in "List of Abbreviations of Names of Seedsmen") refers to "T.W. Wood & Sons, Richmond, Va." and "Wood, Stubbs & Co., Louisville, Ky."

Georgia Rattlesnake Watermelon

Mentioned in Publications of the Georgia State Department of Agriculture 13 (1887) 60, from Circular No. 91 (Crop Report for the Month of June, 1887):
COLUMBIA.—On the line of the railroad some have found watermelons quite profitable....Some raise the Georgia rattlesnake watermelon seed for sale and sell to dealers in Augusta, concluding they can use an average melon and then get ten cents for the seed. J.J. WALTON.



Heinrich F. Plett, Rhetoric and Renaissance Culture (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2004), p. 10:
An inscription on a plaque (Figure 1) fixed above the lintel of the entrance to the School of Rhetoric in the time-honoured University of Salamanca (Spain) can be regarded as a kind of motto to the following study. It reads in English translation:
For the purpose of providing ornate and lucid speech for expressing the mind's secret thoughts and tempering them with gracefulness and eloquence, the (academic) senate has opened this School of Eloquence.
Here is Figure 1 from Plett's book (click to enlarge):

A transcription of the Latin:
From Plett's translation one would assume that "arcana sensa" is the subject of both "queant" and "temperentur," but the subject of "temperentur" is actually "severiores Musae" (untranslated by Plett). A more literal translation:
So that the mind's secret thoughts can be expressed elegantly and clearly with the aid of eloquence, and so that the sterner Muses can be tempered with a more pleasant aspect, the (academic) senate has opened a school of rhetoric.
For "severiores Musae," cf. the Spanish poet Martial 9.11.16-17 (tr. D.R. Shackleton Bailey):
We, who cultivate more austere Muses, cannot be so clever.

nobis non licet esse tam disertis,
qui Musas colimus severiores.
I've tentatively followed Plett in taking "eloquentiae" as genitive with "ludum," but there is a great distance between the two words, and perhaps "eloquentiae" should be construed as dative standing alone ("to rhetoric") — there seems to be a full stop after ELOQUENTIAE in the inscription, unless my eyes deceive me.

I had a second thought, that "Eloquentiae" might be understood as a genitive of possession with "aedes" understood (cf. the standard example "ad Castoris [aedes]" in the grammar books). But Karl Maurer writes convincingly in an email:
Michael, regarding your charming Salamanca inscription — I think 'Eloquentiae' very certainly genitive with 'ludum'. For 'ludum' really needs to be qualified; and readers were habituated to uniting the beginning and end of a period. The full stop after 'Eloquentiae' is standard renaissance practise; e.g. in Jacob Balde's poem titles there are two hundred examples; e.g. (Lyr. 2.39) "Enthusiasmus. / In coemeterio considerantis mortem ac functorum ossa. / Anno M.DC.XL." = "(The Author's) Rapture in a Cemetery as he contemplates Death in the year" etc.

Regarding your gloss that quotes Martial — "We who cultivate" probably does mean "We stern Spaniards", as your gloss implies. (So "amoeniore cultu" = something like "with a bit more grace".) But you might add that what Martial himself meant was, "We Romans, whose metrical rules are stricter than those of the Greeks". His preceding line has an example of Greek metrical liberty: the word 'Ares' given two different quantities.
For more discussion of the case of "Eloquentiae" see Genitive or Dative?

Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


The Puppet Master

Charles Churchill (1732-1764), "Night: An Epistle to Robert Lloyd," lines 255-262:
Peace to such triflers; be our happier plan
To pass through life as easy as we can.
Who's in or out, who moves this grand machine,
Nor stirs my curiosity nor spleen.
Secrets of state no more I wish to know
Than secret movements of a puppet-show:
Let but the puppets move, I've my desire,
Unseen the hand which guides the master-wire.


Value of Greek to a Military Man

Nigel Wilson, "Peter Hugh Jefferd Lloyd-Jones, 1922-2009," Biographical Memoirs of Fellows 10 = Proceedings of the British Academy 172 (2011) 215-229 (at 217-218):
At Westminster Hugh was much influenced by the headmaster J.T. Christie, with whose family he enjoyed a lifelong frienship. One day Christie introduced the class to Sophocles' Philoctetes by telling them that a war was likely to break out soon, in which they would be officers and would have to face the kind of dilemma illustrated in the play. Hugh learned as much Greek as he could and his memory was so good that if he read a page twice he remembered the text; Christie had never come across anyone like him. He learned the texts by heart so as to be able to recite them to himself if he were unfortunate enough to be taken prisoner of war, as had happened to an uncle.
Related post: Ach So!

Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Libera Nos, Domine

"A Letany," from Merry Drollery Compleat: or, A Collection of Jovial Poems, Merry Songs, Witty Drolleries, Intermixed with Pleasant Catches. The First Part. Collected by W.N. CB. R.S. J.G. Lovers of Wit (London: William Miller, 1691), pp. 174-176 (line numbers added):
From Mahomet, and Paganisme,
From Hereticks, and Sects and Schisme,
From high-way Rascals, and Cutpurses;
From carted Bawds, Scolds, and dry Nurses,
From Glister-Pipes, and Doctors Whistles,    5
From begging Schollars stale Epistles,
From Turn-stile Boots, and Long lane Beavers,
From Agues, and from drunken Feavers,
        Libera nos Domine.

From all several kind of Itches,    10
From Pantaloons, and Cloak-bag Breeches,
From Carbinadoed Sutes on Serges,
From a Bastard that is the Clergies,
From thredden points, and Cap of Cruel,
From the danger of a Duel,    15
From a Tally full of Notches,
And from privy Seals of Botches,
        Libera nos Domine.

From a Whore that's never pleasant,
But in lusty Wine or Pheasant,    20
From the Watch at twelve a clock,
And from Bess Broughtons button'd Smock,
From Hackney Coaches, and from Panders,
That do boast themselves Commanders,
From a Taylors tedious Bill,    25
And Pilgrimage up Holborn Hill,
        Libera nos Domine.

From damages and restitutions,
From accursed Executions,
From all new-found waies of sinning,    30
From the scurf, and sables Linnen,
From the Pox, and the Physitian,
And from the Spanish Inquisition,
From a Wife that's wan and meager,
And from Lice and Winters Leaguer,    35
        Libera nos Domine.

From a griping slavish Cullion,
From the Gout, and the Strangullion,
From a Mountibanks Potion,
From his scarrings and his Lotion,    40
From the Buttocks of Prisilla,
That diers so with Sarsapherilla,
From a Lecture to the Zealous,
And from the Tub of old Cornelius,
        Libera nos Domine.    45

From bawdy Courts, and Civil Doctors,
From drunken Sumners and their Proctors,
From occasions for to revel
With a Lawyer at the Divel,
From Serjeants, Yeomen, and their Maces    50
And from false friends with double faces,
From an enemy More mighty
Than Usquebaugh or Aqua vitae,
        Libera nos Domine.
5 Glister-Pipes: clyster-pipes, i.e. pipes or syringes used to administer an enema
7 Turn-stile Boots: ? There seems to be an echo of this line in "An Excellent Medley," in Broadside Black-letter Ballads, Printed in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries; Chiefly in the Possession of J. Payne Collier ([London:] Thomas Richards, 1868), p. 123: "From Long-lane cloath and Turn-stile boots, / O, fie vpon these scabbed coots!" But J. Payne Collier was a forger.
Long lane: Henry B. Wheatley, London Past and Present: Its History, Associations, and Traditions (London: John Murray, 1891), II, 439: "Long Lane, a place of note for the sale of apparel, linen, and upholsterers' goods, both second hand and new, but chiefly for old, for which it is of note.—R.B., in Strype, B. iii. p. 122."
Beavers: beaver hats
9 etc. Libera nos Domine: Deliver us, Lord
12 Carbinadoed: cut, slashed, hacked
14 thredden points: thread lace
cruel: crewel, thin worsted yarn
22 Bess Broughton: a whore (see the account of her in John Aubrey's Brief Lives)
26 Pilgrimage up Holborn Hill: Wheatley, II, 220, s.v. Holborn: "This was the old road from Newgate and the Tower to the gallows at Tyburn."
35 Leaguer: cf. OED, s.v. leaguer, compounds: "leaguer-lady n. = leaguer-laundress n.," "leaguer-lass n. = leaguer-laundress n.," and "leaguer-laundress n. Obs. euphemistic name for a woman attached to a camp."
37 Cullion: testicle, hence term of abuse = rascal
38 Strangullion: strangury, i.e. slow and painful urination
42 diers: ?
Sarsapherilla: sarsaparilla, i.e. medicinal preparation of Smilax, used to treat syphilis
44 Tub of old Cornelius: Robert Fletcher, Medical Lore in the Older English Dramatists and Poets (Baltimore: The Friedenwald Co., 1895), p. 20: "There are many and even copious allusions in the dramatists and poets to the treatment of syphilis by two methods: the one by sweating in the tub, and the other by guaiacum administered in decoction, the two methods being combined, or the latter following the former." Id., p. 23: "Many of my quotations speak of a 'Cornelius tub,' or 'Cornelius’s tub.' How the name came to be applied, or who Cornelius was, I have been unable to discover."
49 Divel: Devil's Tavern, on which see Wheatley, I, 497-501
53 Usquebaugh: whiskey
Aqua vitae: "A term of the alchemists applied to ardent spirits or unrectified alcohol; sometimes applied, in commerce, to ardent spirits of the first distillation" (OED)


The Steam Tyrant

From Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), "The Dorsetshire Labourer," Longman's Magazine 2 (July 1883) 252-269:
On the other hand, true poverty—that is, the actual want of necessaries—is constantly trying to be decent, and one of the clearest signs of deserving poverty is the effort it makes to appear otherwise by scrupulous neatness.
Not a woman in the county but hates the threshing machine. The dust, the din, the sustained exertion demanded to keep up with the steam tyrant, are distasteful to all women but the coarsest. I am not sure whether, at the present time, women are employed to feed the machine, but some years ago a woman had frequently to stand just above the whizzing wire drum, and feed from morning to night—a performance for which she was quite unfitted, and many were the manoeuvres to escape that responsible position. A thin saucer-eyed woman of fifty-five, who had been feeding the machine all day, declared on one occasion that in crossing a field on her way home in the fog after dusk, she was so dizzy from the work as to be unable to find the opposite gate, and there she walked round and round the field, bewildered and terrified, till three o'clock in the morning, before she could get out. The farmer said that the ale had got into her head, but she maintained that it was the spinning of the machine. The point was never clearly settled between them; and the poor woman is now dead and buried.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Scholarly Symposia

John L. Flood, "Arthur Thomas Hatto," Biographical Memoirs of Fellows 10 = Proceedings of the British Academy 172 (2011) 192 (expansion of abbreviation added):
In 1964 the London Seminar on Epic was formed, a joint venture between Queen Mary College and SOAS [i.e. the School of Oriental and African Studies], bringing together a hand-picked elite of some two dozen leading specialists. Whereas the dawn-song project had been conducted through correspondence between the contributors and the editor, the members of the Seminar on Epic, their numbers sometimes fortified by visits from distinguished guests from afar such as Viktor Zhirmunsky, met regularly about six times a year until 1972 and gave papers on their field, followed by mild conviviality (at Hatto's suggestion, the reader of the paper rewarding his listeners with liquor as near as feasible to that drunk by the audiences of the epic tradition in question) and intensely focused discussion.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.


The Aim of Democracy

Joan Mascaró, letter to Irwin Bullock (February 18, 1946), in Correspondència de Joan Mascaró (1930-1986), ed. Gregori Mir, Vol. II (Mallorca: Editorial Moll, 1998), pp. 260-261 (at 261; capitalization of original retained):
An aristocracy of intellect should be the aim of democracy: not less Greek and less Latin for the few, but more greek and more Latin for all.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

Monday, May 20, 2013



Alcman, fragment 58 (tr. C.M. Bowra):
The peaks and the gullies of the mountains are asleep, the headlands and the torrents, the forest and all four-footed creatures that the black earth nourishes, the wild beasts of the mountains and the race of bees and the monsters in the depth of the dark-blue sea, and the tribe of the long-winged birds are asleep.

εὕδουσιν δ' ὀρέων
    κορυφαί τε καὶ φάραγγες,
    πρώονές τε καὶ χαράδραι
ὕλά θ' ἑρπέτά θ' ὅσσα
    τρέφει μέλαινα γαῖα,
θῆρές τ' ὀρεσκῷοι
    καὶ γένος μελισσᾶν
καὶ κνώδαλ' ἐν βένθεσσι πορφυρέας ἁλός,
εὕδουσιν δ' οἰωνῶν
    φῦλα τανυπτερύγων.
Text and translation are as printed in C.M. Bowra, Greek Lyric Poetry (1961; rpt. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 70-71. Bowra adopts the text of R. Pfeiffer, "Vom Schlaf der Erde und der Tiere (Alkman, fr. 58 D.)," Hermes 87 (1959) 1–6 (at 4). Bowra's comments on the fragment (p. 71):
We do not know what the context of this was, but there is not the slightest need to assume that it is the first known example of a famous poetical theme in which the sleep of nature is contrasted with the busy doings of men and which makes its first appearance in the opening scene of Euripides' Iphigenia in Aulis and has a long and distinguished history thenceforward.2 Alcman presents a natural scene, and it is entirely satisfying in itself. It may of course be a prelude to some nocturnal rite, and it would be perfectly appropriate as such, but we cannot say that it is.

The notion that nature sleeps is as old as Homer who uses it in a restricted form for the north wind, ὄφρ᾽ εὕδῃσι μένος Βορέαο,3 and it reappears in Simonides' εὑδέτω δὲ πόντος.4 But Alcman goes much farther than either of these and his conception is different. While Homer and Simonides speak of the slumber of wild elements like wind and sea, Alcman is concerned with the whole of nature, animate and inanimate, fierce and friendly. Though here Alcman relies on Homer for his language more than he usually does,5 the effect is not in the least Homeric. Even the conventional epithets come to life, and play their part in the whole picture.

2 A rich collection of passages may be found in A.S. Pease, Vergil: Aeneid IV, pp. 434 ff.
3 Il. 5.524.
4 Fr. 13.18 D.
5 Page, Alc. Parth, p. 161.
Another translation of this fragment, by E.R. Eddison in A Fish Dinner in Memison (New York: Dutton, 1941), p. 339 (hat tip: Phil Edgren):
Sleep folds mountain and precipic'd ridge and steep abysm;
Wave-worn headland and deep chasm;
Creeping creatures as many as dark earth doth harbour;
Beasts too that live in the hills, and all the bee-folk;
And monsters in gulfs of the purple ocean;
Sleep folds all: folds
The tribes of the wide-wing'd birds.


No Right to Bliss

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), "Empedocles on Etna," I.ii.127-166:
        And we feel, day and night,
        The burden of ourselves—
        Well, then, the wiser wight
        In his own bosom delves,    130
And asks what ails him so, and gets what cure he can.

        The sophist sneers: Fool, take
        Thy pleasure, right or wrong.
        The pious wail: Forsake
        A world these sophists throng.
Be neither saint nor sophist-led, but be a man!

        These hundred doctors try
        To preach thee to their school.
        We have the truth! they cry;
        And yet their oracle,    140
Trumpet it as they will, is but the same as thine.

        Once read thy own breast right,
        And thou hast done with fears;
        Man gets no other light,
        Search he a thousand years.
Sink in thyself! there ask what ails thee, at that shrine!

        What makes thee struggle and rave?
        Why are men ill at ease?—
        'Tis that the lot they have
        Fails their own will to please;    150
For man would make no murmuring, were his will obey'd.

        And why is it, that still
        Man with his lot thus fights?—
        'Tis that he makes this will
        The measure of his rights,
And believes Nature outraged if his will's gainsaid.

        Couldst thou, Pausanias, learn
        How deep a fault is this;
        Couldst thou but once discern
        Thou hast no right to bliss,    160
No title from the Gods to welfare and repose;

        Then thou wouldst look less mazed
        Whene'er of bliss debarr'd,
        Nor think the Gods were crazed
        When thy own lot went hard.
But we are all the same—the fools of our own woes!

Saturday, May 18, 2013


He is His Own Companion

Anonymous, The Prayse of Private Life, I.4, in The Letters and Epigrams of Sir John Harington, together with The Prayse of Private Life, ed. Norman Egbert McClure (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1930), pp. 330-331:
The Solytarie Man contented with fewe meates (and fewer Servantes) haveinge the day before eaten moderately at his owne table and there meanly, yet cleanely furnished, ornefieth his Howse with no greater pompe then his owne presence. In steede of tumulte, he hath a small compaine, in steede of noyes, he useth silence, for want of familiers he is accompanied with himselfe. He is his owne companion: with himselfe he enterteyneth himself, and so he and himselfe doe eate together. His house is made of claye, the walles cleane, and poorely cladd. His buildinge not framed of stone, but of wood, covered with noe coste. There are noe roofes of silver or goulde, neyther be the Flores covered with carpetts or silke, yet maye he from thence behould the Heaven, which prospecte excelleth all others. Hee treadeth upon the Earth, not on purple silke: his Musike noe more then sweete Psalmes, with giving thanks to God, his purveyor noe other then a poore Baker, his Cooke a sillie woman. What they offer him thereof he eateth moderately, accomptinge yt pretious. All other Cates caught in woodes or farr fetched from fieldes and Rivers he doth not desire. Such is his fare, thankfull to God and Man: contented he is with common foode, not bought with money nor provided with muche payne: esteeminge his fare, not by the cost, but his owne appetite. He envieth noe man, nor hateth any bodie, but contente with his fortune, holdeth himselfe secure. He feareth nothinge, nor desireth any thinge. His cuppes are of earth and free from poyson. He knoweth true riches is to desire nothinge, and the most mightie commaunde to obay noe bodie. His life is pleasant and peaceable.
Id., I.13 (p. 339):
For everie Man ignorant of letters and wantinge a companion to conferr with, knoweth not what to saie unto himselfe. But the learned Man, at all tymes, and in all places, can intertayne himselfe with readinge, or rumynatinge upon somewhat he had formerly founde in bookes. Therefore Solitude without learning is to those men not lesse displeasinge then exile, imprisonment and torture. But to him that is learned, everie place is as his owne countrie, libertie and delight.



The earliest citation for "Quellenforschung" in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is Bernadotte Perrin, "Lucan as Historical Source for Appian," American Journal of Philology 5.3 (1884) 325-330 (at 325):
It does not increase our confidence in the conclusions of the recent "Quellenforschung" among the Germans to find each of no less than five authors claimed as the main or even the sole source of Dio Cassius in his history of the second Punic war.
But there is a slightly earlier example—James Bryce, "John Richard Green. In Memoriam," Macmillan's Magazine 48 (May 1883) 59-74 (at 70-71):
No one could be more keen and penetrating in what the Germans call Quellenforschung—the collection, and investigation, and testing of the sources of history—nor could any one be more painstaking.
The OED, discussing the etymology of the word, says "< German Quellenforschung (1834 or earlier)..." It's possible to go further back here as well. The word appears in the Jenaische allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, no. 284 (December 12, 1811), col. 482.


Friday, May 17, 2013


Of Books and Cheese

John Heywood (1497-1580), "Of Books and Cheese," in The Proverbs, Epigrams, and Miscellanies of John Heywood, ed. John S. Farmer (London: Early English Drama Society, 1906), pp. 149-150:
No two things in all things can seem only one;
Because two things so must be one thing alone.
Howbeit, reading of books and eating of cheese,
No two things, for some things, more like one than these.
The talent of one cheese in mouths of ten men
Hath ten different tastes in judgment—most times when
He saith “’tis too salt”; he saith “’tis too fresh”;
He saith “’tis too hard ”; he saith “’tis too nesh.”
“It is too strong of the rennet,” saith he;
“It is,” saith he, “not strong enough for me.”
“It is,” saith another, “well as can be.”
No two of any ten in one can agree;
And, as they judge of cheese, so judge they of books.
Onlookers on which, who that narrowly looks,
May look for this: Saith he, “that book is too long.”
“Tis too short,” saith he. “Nay,” saith he, “ye say wrong,
’Tis of meet length; and, so fine phrase, or fair style,
The like that book was not made a good while;
And, in touching the truth, invincibly wrought.”
“Tis all lies,” saith another, “the book is nought.”
No book, no cheese, be it good, be it bad,
But praise and dispraise it hath, and hath had.
In line 8, "nesh" means "soft".

John Harington (1561-1612), Epigrams IV.72 ("A comparison of a Booke, with Cheese"), in The Letters and Epigrams of Sir John Harington, together with The Prayse of Private Life, ed. Norman Egbert McClure (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1930), pp. 276-277:
Old Haywood writes, & proues in some degrees,
That one may wel compare a book with cheese;
At euery market some buy cheese to feed on,
At euery mart some men buy bookes to read on.
All sorts eate cheese; but how? there is the question,
The poore for food, the rich for good disgestion.
All sorts read bookes, but why? will you discerne?
The foole to laugh, the wiser sort to learne.
The sight, taste, sent of cheese to some is hateful,
The sight, taste, sense of bookes to some's vngratefull,
No cheese there was, that euer pleas'd all feeders,
No booke there is, that euer lik't all Readers.
In line 9, "sent" is "scent," in modern spelling.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Brideshead Revisited

Excerpts from Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966), Brideshead Revisited:

I.iv (conversation between Sebastian Flyte and Charles Ryder):
'I wish I liked Catholics more.'
'They seem just like other people.'
'My dear Charles, that's exactly what they're not — particularly in this country, where they're so few. It's not just that they're a clique — as a matter of fact, they're at least four cliques all blackguarding each other half the time — but they've got an entirely different outlook on life; everything they think important is different from other people. They try and hide it as much as they can, but it comes out all the time.'
II.i (conversation between Cordelia Flyte and Charles Ryder):
'Charles,' said Cordelia, 'Modern Art is all bosh, isn't it?'
'Great bosh.'
II.ii (Father Mowbray speaking):
'The trouble with modern education is you never know how ignorant people are. With anyone over fifty you can be fairly confident what's been taught and what's been left out. But these young people have such an intelligent, knowledgeable surface, and then the crust suddenly breaks and you look down into depths of confusion you didn't know existed.'

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Book Club

Girolamo Fracastoro (1478-1553), "Winter: To Giovanni Battista della Torre," tr. James Gardner:
But if the frigid north wind roars or if winter storms descend in rain filled clouds, then let us remain at home and may the hearth shine forth with a great fire. Let the shepherd prepare logs of the huge beech or oak, easily split. Then let him place you in the fire, junipers, who are wont to spread sweet odors all around, and you too, olive trees of Athena. In front of the fire you will have young Giulio to play with, as he charms you and speaks words as yet incoherent. For my part, I will join you in reading the remains of great Vergil. How lucky we should be if fate allowed us to pass what is left of this life in one another's company.
The Latin:
Frigidus at silvis Aquilo si increverit, aut si
hiberni pluviis descendent e nubibus imbres,
nos habeat domus, et multo lar luceat igne.
Upilio ingentem aut fagum vel scissile robur
sufficiat, tum vos, claro quando igne soletis,
iuniperi suaves, circum diffundere odores,
et vos Palladiae flammis imponat olivae.
Ante focum tibi parvus erit, qui ludat, Iulus,
blanditias ferat, et nondum constantia verba.
Ipse legam magni tecum monumenta Maronis.
O fortunatos nimium, si fata, quod aevi
nos manet, hanc una dederint producere vitam!
Text and translation are as printed in Girolamo Fracastoro, Latin Poetry. Translated by James Gardner (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013), pp. 258-259. One trivial comment: in the sixth line Gardner regards "suaves" as modifying "odores," and so the comma in the Latin should perhaps go after the vocative "iuniperi," not after the accusative "suaves."

Update from Karl Maurer:
Michael, in the little poem by Fracastoro, in line 2 the prep. "e" is crudely unmetrical. An editor desperate to keep it could put it after "hiberni" (to elide with that) — but it isn't needed, and I suspect should just be excised.

In line 8 "Iulus" should get a mark of diaeresis to show that "I-" is there a vowel (is metrically a whole syllable).

In line 1 Gardner's "roars" seems a terribly free way to render "silvis... increverit".
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.


The Fragility of Civilization

Pat Frank (1908-1964), Alas, Babylon (1959; rpt. New York: Harper Perennial, 2005), p. 199 (in the fictional aftermath of nuclear war):
"In four months," Randy said, "we've regressed four thousand years. More, maybe. Four thousand years ago the Egyptians and Chinese were more civilized than Pistolville is right now."


Withered and Wizened and Stiff and Old

Thomas MacDonagh (1878-1916), "The Fever," in Songs of Myself (Dublin: Hodges, Figgis & Co., Ltd., 1910), p. 16:
I am withered and wizened and stiff and old,
Sick and hot, and I sigh for the cold,
For the days when all of the world was fresh
And all of me, my soul and my flesh,—
When my lips and my mouth were cool as the dew,
And my eyes, now worn, as clear, as new.
I wish I were lying out in the rain
In the wood at home, that the waters might strain
And stream through me— But here I lie
In a clammy room, and my soul is dry,
And shall never be fresh again till I die.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Where Are the Cities of Old Time?

Edmund Gosse (1849-1928), "The Ballade of Dead Cities:"
                    To A.L.

Where are the cities of the plain?
  And where the shrines of rapt Bethel?
And Calah built of Tubal-Cain?
  And Shinar whence King Amraphel
  Came out in arms and fought, and fell,
Decoyed into the pits of slime
  By Siddim, and sent sheer to hell;
Where are the cities of old time?

Where now is Karnak, that great fane,
  With granite built, a miracle?
And Luxor smooth without a stain,
  Whose graven scripture still we spell?
  The jackal and the owl may tell;
Dark snakes around their ruins climb,
  They fade like echo in a shell;
Where are the cities of old time?

And where is white Shushan, again,
  Where Vashti's beauty bore the bell,
And all the Jewish oil and grain
  Were brought to Mithridath to sell,
  Where Nehemiah would not dwell,
Because another town sublime
  Decoyed him with her oracle?
Where are the cities of old time?

Prince, with a dolorous, ceaseless knell,
  Above their wasted toil and crime
The waters of oblivion swell:
  Where are the cities of old time?
"A.L." is Andrew Lang (1844-1912), who addressed a poem with the same title to Gosse:
The dust of Carthage and the dust
Of Babel on the desert wold,
The loves of Corinth, and the lust,
Orchomenos increased with gold;
The town of Jason, over-bold,
And Cherson, smitten in her prime—
What are they but a dream half-told?
Where are the cities of old time?

In towns that were a kingdom's trust,
In dim Atlantic forests' fold,
The marble wasteth to a crust,
The granite crumbles into mould;
O'er these—left nameless from of old—
As over Shinar's brick and slime,
One vast forgetfulness is roll'd—
Where are the cities of old time?

The lapse of ages, and the rust,
The fire, the frost, the waters cold,
Efface the evil and the just;
From Thebes, that Eriphyle sold,
To drown'd Caer-Is, whose sweet bells toll'd
Beneath the wave a dreamy chime
That echo'd from the mountain-hold,—
"Where are the cities of old time?"

Prince, all thy towns and cities must
Decay as these, till all their crime,
And mirth, and wealth, and toil are thrust
Where are the cities of old time.


A Nut, a World, a Squirrel, and a King

Charles Churchill (1732-1764), "Night: An Epistle to Robert Lloyd," lines 199-206:
Perplex'd with trifles through the vale of life,
Man strives 'gainst man, without a cause for strife;
Armies embattled meet, and thousands bleed
For some vile spot, where fifty cannot feed.
Squirrels for nuts contend, and, wrong or right,
For the world's empire kings ambitious fight.
What odds?—to us 'tis all the selfsame thing,
A nut, a world, a squirrel, and a king.


Tagore on Translation

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), letter to Joan Mascaró (December 22, 1938), in Correspondència de Joan Mascaró (1930-1986), ed. Gregori Mir, Vol. II (Mallorca: Editorial Moll, 1998), pp. 318-319:
I have too often seen Upanishads rendered into English by scholars who are philologists and who miss the delight of the immediate realisation of truth expresssed in the original texts. On the other hand, in our own country there appeared in the later sophisticated age interpreters who in their scholarly insensibility had no compunction in torturing the utterances of our ancient poet-prophets into a conformity to the metaphysical models of their own logic. They robbed the living words of their voice, the luminous visions of their light. Our rishis' minds were simple, childlike in the sublimity of their wisdom, but those who trapped their thoughts into a cage and clipped from them all natural self-contradictions that bore testimony to their living worth, were grown old,— the delicacy of their spiritual touch hardened into traditional callosities.

And these are the reasons why I feel grateful to you for your translation which fortunately is not strictly literal and therefore nearer to truth, and which is done in a right spirit and in a sensitive language that has caught from those great words the inner voice that goes beyond the boundaries of words.

What greatly pleases me in your book is the way that you have dealt with those parts of the text which are non-rational and dreamlike, the babbling of an infant prodigy, mingled with the most amazing heights of spiritual intuition ever reached by human mind. They give the appearance of an upheaval of the original geology of the earth through which has emerged a great group of islands from the depth of a primitive sea. What you have omitted to translate also shows your discrimination, for there are large tracts of writings, specially in great Upanishads like Chandogya which are symbolical and which would yield their mystic meaning only when read in context with the contemporary life and usages. But as that is not possible today they should be left aside with a sigh.
"Your book" is Himalayas of the Soul: Translations from the Sanskrit of the Principal Upanishads (London: John Murray, 1938).

Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

Monday, May 13, 2013


The World

Charles Churchill (1732-1764), "Night: An Epistle to Robert Lloyd," lines 351-358:
"Too hard the task 'gainst multitudes to fight:
You must be wrong—the World is in the right."
What is this World? a term which men have got
To signify, not one in ten knows what;
A term which with no more precision passes
To point out herds of men than herds of asses;
In common use no more it means, we find,
Than many fools in same opinions join'd.


Iphigenia among the Taurians

Some notes on Euripides' Iphigenia among the Taurians, from Maurice Platnauer's commentary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1938; rpt. Bristol: Bristol Classical Press, 1999).

Line 502 (ἀνώνυμοι θανόντες οὐ γελῴμεθ᾽ ἄν, note on p. 103):
To any Greek, and above all to tristis Orestes, the thought of an enemy's exultation in his death would be bitterer than the thought of death itself. But no personal exultation is possible where the name of the dead is not known. Euripides is therefore psychologically as well as dramatically justified in making Or. here and at l. 504 refuse to give his name.
Line 697 (note on p. 120):
The importance to a Greek of having his family continue is a matter of religion: for naturally where there are no descendants there can be no ancestor-worship.
Line 1119 (note on p. 154):
κάμνεις; the 'ideal' second person is here very clumsy. The poet Milton emended to κάμνει and he was almost certainly right.
For more on Milton's emendations in Euripides, see here.

Line 1447 (note on p. 177):
For divine telephony unaccompanied by television cf. E. Hipp. 85, 6 σοὶ καὶ ξύνειμι καὶ λόγοις ἀμείβομαι, | κλύων μὲν αὐδῆς, ὄμμα δ' οὐχ ὁρῶν τὸ σόν; cf. also S. Aj. 14, 5.
For more on epiphanies see:


Questa Puttana di Memoria

Giovanni Giudici (1924-2011), "Il nome gli sfuggiva," tr. Ian Jackson:
The name escaped the elderly professor.
He kept using his fingertips,
going tip-tap on his forehead.
Co co co cò ... it must be Cocarelli
or Cocarello that's the name of that professor.

He's the key to every gate.
                      every date.
                       every fate.
He's the bottleneck I must pass through.

The name escaped the old professor.
Too passé — time out of mind.
Or Coccardella. But he's no help at all.
See how much fun you're having with me, said that slut
of a memory.
The Italian, first published in Autobiologia (Milan: Arnoldo Mondadori, 1969), p. 114; text here from Giudici’s collected verse, I Versi della Vita ed. Rodolfo Zucco (Milan; Arnoldo Mondadori, 2000), p. 209:
Il nome gli sfuggiva al vieux-maître.
Seguitava a fare tip-tap
con le punte delle dita sulla fronte.
Cocococò — dev'essere Cocarelli
o Coccarello il nome di quel professore.

Lui è la chiave di tutte le porte.
                             della corte.
                            della morte.
Lui il collo di bottiglia che devi passare.

Il nome gli sfuggiva al vieux-maître.
Troppo vieux-jeu — fuoristoria.
O Coccardella. Ma certo non mi poteva aiutare.
Vedi che scherzi mi fa diceva questa puttana
di memoria.
Thanks very much to Ian Jackson for allowing the editio princeps of his translation to appear here.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Would'st Thou Be Safe?

Charles Churchill (1732-1764), "The Times," lines 495-498:
Would'st Thou be safe? Society forswear,
Fly to the desart, and seek shelter there,
Herd with the Brutes—they follow Nature's plan—
There's not one Brute so dangerous as Man.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


A Refuge and a Retreat

Anne C.E. Allinson (1871-1932), "Enlarge the Place of Thy Tent," in her Selected Essays (1933; rpt. Freeport: Books for Libraries Press, 1968), pp. 268-286 (at 272-273):
From this confusion there is a refuge. It is a bright city by the Aegean Sea, where once men created an harmonious state, and where still the very ruins of the public buildings of that state feed the soul with an impression of harmony. Here, on a height above the plain, one may sit and lean against a Doric column, golden with age, fresh with deathless beauty. The landscape before the eyes is very noble. The moving sea, the buoyant air, give life and vigor to the statuesque austerity of the encircling mountains. On plain and hill and shore perfect color glows upon perfect form.

Within this area there came into being a people who created "the fairest halting-place in the secular march of man." Their primal passion for freedom resolved itself tripartitely into free institutions, art, and intellectual inquiry. And these again coalesced into a brief unity, unknown among men before or since. Reason, beauty, and liberty were welded together in their laws, their religion, their society, their statues and buildings, their manners, even their clothes and the utensils for their food and drink. On their ageless Acropolis, laden with broken fragments of the past, harmony still dwells, no pensive ghost but a living and ennobling presence. Here is a retreat from the unmoulded, the unperfected.
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.


Unfit for Greatness

Charles Churchill (1732-1764), "Night: An Epistle to Robert Lloyd," lines 179-194:
Foe to restraint, unpractis'd in deceit,
Too resolute from Nature's active heat
To brook affronts and tamely pass them by,
Too proud to flatter, too sincere to lie,
Too plain to please, too honest to be great,
Give me, kind Heav'n! an humbler, happier, state,
Far from the place where men with pride deceive,
Where rascals promise and where fools believe,
Far from the walk of Folly, Vice, and Strife,
Calm, independent, let me steal thro' life,
Nor one vain wish may steady thoughts beguile
To fear his Lordship's frown or court his smile.
Unfit for Greatness, I her snares defy,
And look on riches with untainted eye:
To others let the glitt'ring bawbles fall.
Content shall place us far above them all.


A Sonnet to Sleep, by Pontus de Tyard

A sonnet to Sleep, by Pontus de Tyard (1521-1605), tr. Henry Carrington:
Source of soft rest and happy dreams, O sleep,
Now that the night, dark with its spreading cloud,
Wraps o'er the placid air its misty shroud,
Come, thou much longed-for, o'er my eyelids creep.

Thine absence doth in lengthening anguish keep,
And make the ills I feel more thickly crowd.
Come, lift the weight 'neath which my soul is bowed;
Come, cheat my woes and in sweet falsehood steep.

Already doth mute silence, 'neath blind night,
Show whirling phantoms to my inward sight:
Me only dost thou scorn who most revere.

Come, sleep much longed-for, and surround my brow,
And I to greet thee with a garland vow,
Of cherished nightshade and thy poppies dear.
The French:
Pere du doux repos, Sommeil pere du songe,
Maintenant que la nuit, d'vne grande ombre obscure,
Faict à cet air serain humide couverture,
Viens, Sommeil desiré & dans mes yeux te plonge.

Ton absence, Sommeil, languissamment alonge,
Et me fait plus sentir la peine que i'endure.
Viens, Sommeil, l'assoupir & la rendre moins dure,
Viens abuser mon mal de quelque doux mensonge.

Ia le muet Silence un esquadron conduit,
De fantosmes ballans dessous l'aveugle nuict,
Tu me dedaignes seul qui te suis tant deuot!

Viens, Sommeil desiré, m'enuironner la teste,
Car, d'vn voeu non menteur, vn bouquet ie t'appreste
De ta chere morelle, & de ton cher pavot.
The same, tr. John Payne:
Sleep, father thou of dreams and sire of sweet repose,
Now that the Night, with its vast cloak of sable shade,
Hath o'er the air serene a humid covert laid,
Come, long-desired Sleep, and these mine eyelids close.

Thine absence still prolongs, for languishment, my throes,
Making me feel yet more my sufferance unallayed.
Come, soothe it; let it be of thee less poignant made;
With some delusion sweet come mystify my woes.

Already Silence mute leads on a squadron light
Of ghosts, that dancing fare beneath the blank blind Night.
Thou only me disdain'st, thy devotee sincere.

Come, longed-for Sleep, and with thy wings my head surround;
And of my faithful hands for thee a wreath shall wound
Of thy loved nightshade be and of thy poppies dear.
The same, tr. Wilfred Thorley:
Sleepe, sire of rest and eke of dreams the sire,
Nowe that the night's wide girth of darknesse dread
O'er the still aire her mystie shroude hath spread,
Come, fill myne eyes, O Sleepe whom I desire.

For thy long absence doth my spirit tire,
And sharper feels its hardship endured;
Come, Sleepe and drowse it. Like a dupe, misled
Bye thy sweet falsehood, it maye seeme less dire.

Already Silence with her phantom horde
Broods o'er the darknesse of blynde nighte abhorr'd;
Me only, faithful, dost thou leave forlorn.

Come, Sleepe desired, and my browes doe bynde,
For I to thee an offerynge have sworn
Of nighte-shade with thy poppy-head entwyn'd.
Related posts:

Friday, May 10, 2013


The Center of the Universe

Charles Dickens (1812-1870), Dombey and Son, Chapter I:
The earth was made for Dombey and Son to trade in, and the sun and moon were made to give them light. Rivers and seas were formed to float their ships; rainbows gave them promise of fair weather; winds blew for or against their enterprises; stars and planets circled in their orbits, to preserve inviolate a system of which they were the centre. Common abbreviations took new meanings in his eyes, and had sole reference to them. A.D. had no concern with Anno Domini, but stood for anno Dombei—and Son.


The Celestial Manna of Sound Learning

François Rabelais (1483?-1553), Gargantua and Pantagruel II.8 (letter of Gargantua to Pantagruel; tr. J.M. Cohen):
Now every method of teaching has been restored, and the study of languages has been revived: of Greek, without which it is disgraceful for a man to call himself a scholar, and of Hebrew, Chaldean, and Latin. The elegant and accurate art of printing, which is now in use, was invented in my time, by divine inspiration; as, by contrast, artillery was inspired by diabolical suggestion. The whole world is full of learned men, of very erudite tutors, and of most extensive libraries, and it is my opinion that neither in the time of Plato, of Cicero, nor of Papinian were there such faculties for study as one finds today. No one, in future, will risk appearing in public or in any company, who is not well polished in Minerva's workshop. I find robbers, hangmen, freebooters, and grooms nowadays more learned than the doctors and preachers were in my time.

Why, the very women and girls aspire to the glory and reach out for the celestial manna of sound learning. So much so that at my present age I have been compelled to learn Greek, which I had not despised like Cato, but which I had not the leisure to learn in my youth. Indeed I find great delight in reading the Morals of Plutarch, Plato's magnificent Dialogues, the Monuments of Pausanias, and the Antiquities of Athenaeus, while I wait for the hour when it will please God, my Creator, to call me and bid me leave this earth.

Therefore, my son, I beg you to devote your youth to the firm pursuit of your studies and to the attainment of virtue.
In French:
Maintenant toutes disciplines sont restituées, les langues instaurées, Grecque, sans laquelle c'est honte qu'une personne se die savant, Hebraicque, Caldaicque, Latine. Les impressions tant elegantes et correctes en usance, qui ont esté inventées de mon aage par inspiration divine, comme, à contrefil, l'artillerie par suggestion diabolique. Tout le monde est plein de gens savans, de precepteurs tres doctes, de librairies tres amples, et m'est advis que, ny au temps de Platon, ny de Ciceron, ny de Papinian, n'estoit telle commodité d'estude qu'on y voit maintenant. Et ne se fauldra plus doresenavant trouver en place ny en compagnie, qui ne sera bien expoly en l'officine de Minerve. Je voy les brigans, les bourreaux, les aventuriers, les palfreniers de maintenant plus doctes que les docteurs et prescheurs de mon temps.

Que diray je? Les femmes et les filles ont aspiré à ceste louange et manne celeste de bonne doctrine. Tant y a qu'en l'aage où je suis, j'ay esté contrainct d'apprendre les lettres Grecques, lesquelles je n'avois contemné comme Caton, mais je n'avois eu le loisir de comprendre en mon jeune aage. Et voluntiers me delecte à lire les Moraulx de Plutarche, les beaux Dialogues de Platon, les Monumens de Pausanias, et Antiquités de Atheneus, attendant l'heure qu'il plaira à Dieu mon créateur m'appeler, et commander issir de ceste terre.

Parquoy, mon filz, je t'admoneste qu'employe ta jeunesse à bien profiter en estude et en vertus.

Gerbrand van den Eeckhout (1621-1674),
Scholar with his Books

Hat tip: Jane Seeber.

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