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: BRITISH CRITIC,
For MAY, 1801.
" Miror equidem doleoque, eo decidiffe rem Literariam, ut à mula fis libri è chartis et typis magis quam ex argumento æftimantur.”
REISKE Pref. in Abilfedam. We fee with grief and astonishment the state of Letters fo fallen, that, by multitudes, books are valued rather for the type and paper than for the value of the contents.
Art. İ. T. Lucretii Cari de Rerum Natura Libros Sex, ad
Exemplarium MSS. fidem recenfitos, longè emendatiores reddidit, commentariis perpetuis illustravit, indicibus inftruxit, et cum animadversionibus Ricardi Bentleii non ante vulgatis, aliorum fubinde miscuit Gilbertus Wakefield, A. B. Collegii Telu apud Cantabrigienses olim Socius. Tomis tribus, in 410,
sl. gs. Charta majore 211. Apud Bibliopolas Lond. 1797IT will readily be granted, by men of sense and judgment,
that an edition of a classical author is by no means to be es timated from the beauty of the type, the fineness of the paper, or the elegant proportions and arrangement of the page. If these marters could afford foundation for a reasonable judge ment, there could be no possible doubt about the praises due to the present work. In its exrečnal form, the book speaks abundanıly for itself, nor can many editions of the classics vie with it in that respect : futh only excepted, as exhibit merely a beautiful text, without any apparatus of notes. With regard to the existence of the work, Mr. Wakefield has sufficient Kk
celebrity BRIT, CRIT. VOL. XVII. MAY, 1801,
celebrity to announce it amply to the world ; and all per fons who would be inclined to purchase it, either for the sake of its elegance, or for the fake of is editor, would know, without our interference, that such an opportunity was offered. For these, and similar reasons, thouglı we privately encouraged the work, we long ago decided that it would be superfluous for us to expatiate at all on this new edition of a classic author, unless time and opportunity Thould enable us to examine with accuracy the particular qualifications which are held forth as distinguishing it from all its predecessors. Respecting a work of this kind, two things are principally. to be wished ; first, that the editor should receive from the public a due remuneration for the care, labour, time, and expence bestowed on the undertaking; secordly, that the public, on the other hand, should be accurately informed of the real merits of the book presented to it. The first of these objects, we trust, has been in a tolerable degree obtained, in the course of more than three years, wherein the new Lucretius has been in circulation : on the second, it is our buliness to speak, it we speak at all, without bias os prejudice on either side of the question.
Lucreciuis, according to this editor, has been worse handled than any other poet, by the licence of conjectural critics, and by the accumulation of errors. Havercamp confeffedly performed but little towards the emendation of the text; and the edition of Creech, which is best known in this country, is
chiefly valued for its interpretation of the author, without pre· tensions to ihe labour usually called critical.
The present editor profelles to have revised the text, and rendered it much more accurate, by the aid of MSS. ; to have il
lustrated it by continued notes, and to have added other aids. * Some noies and conjectures he obtained from a copy of Faber's • Lucietius, in which the critical remarks of Bentley had been 'writen. He conjeclures also, that more notes, and of more
importarce, by shat great critic, must be in the hands of bis grandson, Mr. Cumberland ;, of whom, however, he heavily complains, as refusing to communicate any thing. The notes of Mr. W. are indeed very numerous and various ; philologia cal, critical, illustrative, political; such as he always pours forth, with a facility which judgment sometimes limps after in vain. A reader, however, must be more than usually morose, who is not pleased with the strong and lively relish which this annotator exhibits, for the poetical beauties of his author, and thofe of all the ancient classics ; though, it is true, that he sometimes rather over whelms than illustrates Lucretius by these excursions.
y Oficult task has been of the presented there
But very distinct from the talent-or feeling last mentioned, is the power of reading with precision, and collating with accuracy, a variety of ancient MSS. and on the degree of success with which this difficult task has been performed, must ultimately depend the characteristic value of the present edition above others: the correction of the author's text, by these means, being particularly promised in the title-page and Pre-, face. Now as this is in itself a work of care and labour, lo is also much time required, and not a liule patience, to follow an editor through this part of his business, and examine how far he is entitled to thai faith which the public ought to be able to repose in a collator, if it is to derive a real benefit from his exertions. This talk, difficult as it is, we have, after some time, been enabled to perform, with respect to three of the MSS. employed by Mr. W. and we are now prepared to lay before the public the result of our enquiries; by which it will appear that, with every allowance made for a labour in which the acuteft eye will sometimes be deceived, and the most determined sagacity will sometimes remit its attention, Mr. W. cannot receive the palm of a skilful, or scrupulously accurate collator. Of the MSS, which this editor had actually seen, the number amounts only to five, which are these : 1. A MS. belonging to the public Library at Cambridge,
designated in this edition by the Greek letter . :; . 2. A MŠ. belonging to Edward Poore, Esq. of no great
value or antiquity, referred to by o. 3, 4, 5. Three Harleian MSS. preserved in the British Museum,
respectively called, in this edition, A. II. E. The two first of these have not been within our reach ; but the three latter, being in a place accessible to London students, have been diligently examined by us, for the express purpose of ascertaining how far this elegant edition is worthy of faith in its report of the authorities on which it refts. It will not cere , tainly be expected that, for the sake of this critical experiment, we Tould have gone through the complete task of an editor, and collated the three MSS. throughout. We have contented ourselves with examining, by way of specimen, the 250 first lines of the work, and afterwards, to obviate any cavil, an. other paflage, taken at hazard from the third book. This kind of examination, though not very amusing to the general reader, is the only fair method of appreciating the most important merits of the edition,
The three MSS. in the British Museum, which Mr. Wakefield has distinguished by the Greek letters a. 11.' and 2, are in the Harleian Catalogue numbered 2694. 8612. 2554.
Lib. I. v. 16. 17. The first of these verses Mr. W. has it'
closed in brackets, as spurious ; in the second, he has pub
lished quo quamque, after other editors, and added this note : 17. P. B. et 8. pro quo quamque dant quocunque : frustra. But
the same reading, without any variation, is found in A. II. E.
which he does not notice. 39. corpore : £. pectore, says Mr. W., True; but in the mar
gin is written, in the same hand, vel pectore*. 43. neqúe: L. M. II. nec: el ordinem exbibenı verborum A. I. meis saltem auribus jucundiorem :
Possumus æquo animo ; Memmii neque clara propago, A. reads Memmi nec, and 11. memini nec. . nec Memmi. 67. Graius: V. ed. B. A. II. I. gnarus : fruftra.
£. has vel graius in the margin, - 69. Tertium nec omiitit 11.
So does z. in the text, but adds it in the margin. 41. Mr. W. has published,
Inritât animi virtutem, effringere ut arta ; and adds this note : Hanc constirutionem verlûs, quam ex auctoritate librorum dederim, propriuır acumen ingenii prius expediverat. Verborum ordinem præbent G. B. L. M. A. N. E. folus E. conje&turam firmat, effringere scribens pro confringere; quam tamen necessariam reddidit codicum modo memoratorum ratio. In P. V. ed. a'. II. £. ordo est verborum, Irritát virtutem animi : 2. irritant.
The third sentence of this note forgets the second. If A. N. S. and other MSS. give the order of words which Mr. W. has preferred, that is to say, Irritât animi virtutem, how can the same A. 1. E. give this other order, Irritât virtutem animi? Our collation furnishes the followiög account of the MSS, and we can fully affert iis correctness, if the printer dves but well and duly perform his part.'
a. Irrilāt animi virtutē: effrigere et arda
2. Irritat ai viriulē ëffiige ut arca The two points over the è, in effringere, refer the reader to the margin, in which is writien cöfrige'.
In the sequel of the note, and in three sets of Addenda, Mr. W. pours forth an army of examples, to prove the frequent use of the word effringere. Nonius, in the word cupiret,
X. 16. quotes the passage with perfringere, which, though · much rarer than effringere, is good Latin. According there- ,
fore to the critical canon, which directs the more recondite
* Observe, that vl, with a liule dash across the I, or at [for aliter or t for either vel or aliter, are the general forerunners of various readings. Sometimes vel, alii, alitet, are prefixed at full length.
reading to be preferred, perfringere would stand a good chance
Here is an error, either of she editor or printer, for neither
MS. adds in the margin, vel mænia."
ought to have added n, and in v. 78, to his authorities for
quantum, . V.85. ad is inserted aifo io . but marked with points, 10
signify that is ough, to be cancelled. In the next verse a. has lphianaflien, Ii. Iphianaso, so that Mr. W. is not quite
accurate. Priscian has Iphianassai. V. 104. for quæres A. gives as a various reading quires. For
descifcere n. has difcillere..
condemned by a point.
easily secin an o. V. 156. 5. Versus 156. 157. 158. desunt in 17." says Mr. W.
V. 156 is not omitted in n. but only 157. 158. The
not quite exac.