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And Walter look'd up too, and begg’d to propose
Thus in wit and in singing they sat till eleven,
For poets, he said, who would cherish their powers,
are the pices of extremes : the school set out with one extreme, and there. fore had a natural tendency to the opposite, like all other complexional enthusiasts. Nothing remains the same, but their vanity.
'* Mr. William Stewart Rose, a son of the Right Honourable George Rose, ‘and author of some common-place rhymings, which Mr. Scott has declared to be good English writing, --stories “ well told in English verse Mr. Scott has a pleasant knack of differing with his Southern neighbours in many points, both poetical and political, and it is perhaps hard to speak ill of one who is so ready to flatter some of the worst parts about us, who, ikinks our rhymers good poets, and our tyrants good kings.
TOL. II. NO, IV
Art. XI.--Classical Antiquity of the English Language:
MR. REFLECTOR, The classical tone, which your Publication has assumed, will, I am sure, lead you to patronize an attempt, the object of which is to shew, that so far from our being indebted to the Greeks and Romans for the whole of our learning, it is not improba. ble, that those ingenious people derived much of their phrases ology, and many of their customs, from us : at any rate I have traced so close a resemblance between their and our own express șions, that it seems difficult to decide who were the inyentors and who the borrowers. It is well known, that the Greeks derived most of their mythology and astronomy from Egypt and India : þut by the same arts by which the modern French have gained to themselves the credit of all the new improvements in Chemistry and Natural Philosophy, that subtile nation so blended what they stole with their own original inventions, that it is almost impos. sible to draw the line between them, and say which part belongs to their ingenuity in inventing, and which to their judgment in selecting. I cannot pretend to say, that this attempt on my part is wholly original. The witty Dean of St. Patrick was the first who pointed out the close analogy which subsisted between the two languages; and few men of reading, I believe, are now igno. rænt, that the Greek appellative Bellerophon means nothing more than our English term “ Billy Ruffian :" that a vow of perpetual virginity brought upon the son of Tydeus the name of Die-a-maid or Diomed; and that the monarch of Macedon is indebted for his more sonorous title to an antipathy for eggs, which obliged all his servants, who did not share in their master's aversion, to throw those glutinary eatables under the grate immediately upon his ap. pearance, and the signal for such discharge was “ All eggs under the grate,” which gradually melted into the name of Alexander the Great. The specimens, which I shall produce as indicative of a close alliance between our own language and that of the classics (and from which I would deduce one of these conclu. sions,-either that we may safely contest the claim of antiquity with any nation now subsisting, or claim a superiority in classical attainment over all nations,—the substantịation of either of which claims will be no small honour to my native country, and no trifling compliment to my own patriotic affections) will be drawn principally from the same standard as that from which Dean Swift has derived his conclusions; viz. from those, who are generally called the low and vulgar. The terms of fashionable life are fluc.
tuating and precarious : for a time, and from occasional caprice, Dr. Johnson and the upper circles will vary in their distinctions between a tart and a pie,-between riding in a coach and riding on horseback : it is not among them, therefore, that we are to look for the local habitation of our language : its core and essence is to be found in that large and stable part of the populace, who too often, as it will appear, are called the vulgar and illiterate, To begin then :- When I hear some old housekeeper, in the full. ness of her heart, wishing the son of her employer “ well to do,"! I recognize immediately, in the sentiment and literal construction of the phrase, the continually-recurring expression of the first of orators, “ EV TEXTEN.” When some confounded apothecary, after drenching me with drugs, tells me I shall be easier soon, I call to mind the powe stolt of Euripides in his tragedy of Ion; and when the attendant nurse, who witnesses my agonies, tells me, I should have gone through pain if Į had been afflicted with the gout like herself, I cannot but remember the si' oduras ax Bas, of the same, or his rival dramatist. The term “jacky,” the name by which gin is familiarized among the lower classes, is evidently a corruption of the word Jacchus : Cybele from her connection with Triptolemus, the inventor of barley, is admirably charac, terised by the title of the Beerecynthia mater : and the poets in their epithets of Bacchus, who was the liquor-merchant of hea ven, have not forgotten the terms celeber (sel-e beer) rime, cele (sel-e) brandy. The use of two substantiyes, instead of an ad, jectiye and substantive, is a very common practice among the Greek writers; and many a scholar, who would read without any dissatisfaction the ugis amg of that emphatic language, would feet a perfect revolution in his frame at hearing the “ insolence man' of his own native Slipslops. The natural parabolic projection, which we every day exhibit, is described exactly in Greek as in English by the term Toled vowe (vid. the metonymy by which Ju, piter is said to rain, Aristophanis Vespæ, line 260.); and the creative power, by which we effect this particular secretion, is I believe, peculiar to the two languages. It is probable, that the ịnfant swearers in our streets are not aware, that their inceptive pathby goles,” is an indirect mode of swearing by that potent divinity Hercules. I cannot say that I was aware of it myself, till I read the yery entertaining travels of Mr. Semple. It would not be imagined, that classical phraseology had crept much into the navy; yet when we see the word hands used for a ship’s crew, and recollect the expression Xtig« Tingwoas of Sophocles in his Philoctetes; and when we hear sailors talk of a ship riding at anchor, and recollect that the Greek word as signifies both a ship and a horse, it is impossible not to be struck with the coincidence. The fayourite expression, so much used ou þoard
ship, of 66
my lads,” is very classical. Virgil even puts it into the mouth of Augustus :
Pascite, ut ante, boves, pueri, submittite tauros. And again, when Anchises would dissuade the shades of Cæsar and Pompey from indulging in those passions which must ultimately tend to the destruction of their country, he addresses them with this friendly appellative
Ne puéri, ve tanta animis assuescite bella. The reader's impatience, if he is a punster, will probably suggest another example :
Claudite jam rivos, pueri, sat prater. I have found a fund, the most vulgar of all’exprsssions in English, becomes an elegance in Greek, when used by Herodotus in that highly argumentative and eloquent speech, which Artabanus ad. dresses to Xerxes on the subject of his intended expedition into Greece. It must almost reconcile us to the language of the Stock Exchange, when we read in the Memorabilia of the elegant Xenophon that he did not make money of those who were desirous of receiving instruction from him, (eds τες εαυτο επιθυμώντας επραττετο xented to); and many persons, no doubt, who heard of the flood of tears' in which it is said the Petronius of his day indulged upon hearing of the levity with which the gods and goddesses of the Pantheon had been treated, drew a classical parallel between him and the satirist Lucian, δακρυων τας οφθαλμες υποπλεως-literally crying his eyes full, as he records of himself upon being con. demned to the trade of making gods and goddesses. When the Misses Fellmonger and the Misses Drysalter, of the city, talk of taking the pleasure of a walk to Highgate, it is clear that they must have the λαβων τερψιν χαρμoναν of the Greek dramatist in their eye: and when the same description of ladies exclaim, What a charming thing of jewels! What pretty things of necklaces ! it is evident they are indulging in a Grecism, as the following passage in Aristophanes will demonstrate, though I leave it to men of warmer complexion than myself to translate the passage:
Uυς δη καλον το χεημα των τιτθιων εχεις. Lysistrata, 52. Though I have hitherto derived my examples chiefly from the lower classes of society, it is far from any wish of mine to insinuate, that the upper orders of life are deficient in exhibiting a taste for classical customs or phraseology. I was much surprised, a few days back, at hearing a lady of rank by an elegayt metonymý call the lowest of our extremities foot-fingers; but looking into a commentator upon Aristophanes, I found the word dæuTuio
translated digiti pedum, which solved the mystery presently. I should conceive Mr. Perceval's propensity for the “ good things” of the world, must be partly ascribed to ideas excited by the corresponding bona riegotia in Latin, and acidi in Greek. Lord Grenville's passion for Greek, may probably be in some measure derived from the delicacy with which that language, in exact con. formity to the English, calls a very prominent part of the body, « Οε σεατ.” *
Υπο την εδραν αυτην υπηλθε γαργαλυς, says an author whom I have quoted before. My Lord Chatham, I am convinced, must be fond of the classics to distraction, by the very exact manner in which, during his memorable expedition to Walcheren, he exemplified a passage in Ηerodotus, πολλές τε και αγαθες αποBarwy, literally throwing away many brave men. Our present ministers too (who by the bye call themselves “ men in office,' merely because it appears from a passage in the Philoctetes of Sophocles, that the higher powers, in ancient days, were spoken of by the title of 785 sv teisi, i. e. the men in office),—the mi. nisters, I say, have evinced a minuteness of deference for classical authority, which is not easily to be paralleled. I allude to their conduct towards Ireland, or Erin. The name of Erin, as every scholar knows, is derived to Ireland from the Greek word Egervus; because, as the author of the Orphic Argonauts assures us, the avenging fury of Absyrtus here made his appearance, and pur. sued the ship Argo all the way home. Now can any thing evince a more decided taste for the classics, than the conduct which ministers have hitherto pursued towards that unfortunate country, and by which they seem resolved that the avenging fury shall be again obliged to resume his old habitation and name. fear is, that this same Fury may be inclined to change his quarters, and visit those, who by a different course of conduct might have pared his nails, and kept him quiet at home. I could not forbear this tribute of applause to Mr. Perceval and his colleagues ; as in all other respects, whatever you, Mr. Reflector, may think to the contrary, their conduct has been merely that of true Englishmen, anxiously attentive to the interests of their country.“ To seduce others, and be corrupt yourself,” says Tacitus, " is called life;"'corrumpere et corrumpi sæculum vocatur : would not any one swear that a late ducal establishment, the pernicious effects of which are still felt, had been formed upon this model ; and when Virgil talks of infelix victus, or sorry food, does not every person see the standard by which a classical and learned Law Officer would regulate the economy of his table, if he could
* Μαθεσιν αυδω κ' και μαθασιν σιγω. . Æschylus.
+ The very learned Mr. Faber, who sees the word Noah in every name be meets with, would of course derive this from 778 0773, Noah's Ark.