Sunday, April 26, 2015


Self-Imposed Rules

James Henry (1798-1876), preface to Aeneidea:
On the contrary, the less the control from without, the stronger has always been the impulse from within, (a) never to speak until I had examined all that had been already said on the subject, nor even then unless I had, or thought I had, something new to say; (b) never to leave my meaning liable to be misunderstood so long as I saw a possibility of making it clear by further explanation, but always to prefer laborious, old-fashioned, and even, as I fear it may sometimes be found, tedious prolixity, to the safe and easy brevity of the modern professorial cortina; (c) never either to take or quote my authorities at second hand, but always directly ex ipso fonte, always from the best editions available to me, always at full, and never putting-off the reader or student hungry for the living bread of the author's own words, with the indigestible stone of signs and ciphers sometimes wholly unintelligible except to the party employing them, sometimes rewarding the pains of the decipherer with cold and dry, too often careless and incorrect, references to works, or editions of works, which, in order to be consulted, must either be brought from distant countries at a great expense of time, trouble, and money, or visited in those countries at a still greater.

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