Mn. HUGH PLATT in this diverting and learned little book,
with modest irony, warns the reader, in the words of Seneca, that he brings for wares " alia, quae erant dediscenda, si scires." The truth really is that these cilia are some of the crumbs which have fallen from the feast of scholarship that so few sit down to to-day. The classics to Mr. Platt are evidently and primarily a source of personal enjoyment. Let others, he says in effect, wear out their lives at botching texts or abusing fellow-labourers in the same field. The classics were written for our enjoyment, and to enjoy them is at any rate my pleasant duty. "Does nobody read the classics as literature now ? " be asks in astonishment as he smiles Mr. Duff for not having added to his charming Juvenal a complete text of that author.
• Alta. By Hugh E. P. Platt, M.A., Fellow of Lincoln College. Oxford Oxford 3 B. H. Blackwell. London ; Sizapkin, Marshall, and Co. [Is. net.] Mr. Platt in his missionary zeal for the great lost tongues forgets many things ; forgets that those scholars who are not editing texts for posterity are doing the same for schools, or are compiling lists of predicative datives, or are possibly eking out a precarious existence by translating the classics for the uses of the new learning. People are too busy to enjoy literature to-day,—at any rate, classical literature. Those who ought to be reading for pleasure are writing for profit, and no doubt devote their scanty leisure to the alia of the island—the inhumanities of letters—dally distributed by the ton.
From the charming collection of proverbial and colloquial phrases with which the book opens a definite purpose emerges. It is clearly shown that large numbers of proverbs which are believed to be of native growth are in reality the traces that scholarship, scattered by lonely country schoolmasters and clergy through many generations in every parish of the land, has impressed upon the language of the people. The scholar in the pulpit and in the school has given the English of time- worn Greek and Latin proverbs to the people, and has thus grafted on to a new tongue the wisdom of ancient races. Some instances of this process deserve quotation. "There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip" (" Saepe audivi inter os atque offam multa intervenire posse," M. Cato in Genius, XIII., 1, 7) ; "Of two evils choose the least" (" Minima de malls," Cic. Off., 1II., 102) ; "Second thoughts are best" (" Posteriores enim cogitationes, ut aiunt, sapentiores solent ease," Cic. Phil., XII., 5); "Out of sight, out of mind" (1-10xxci‘ (pa(a; its-poenyopla BtiAvets, • Anon. in Ar. Eth. N., VIII., 5, 1) ; "A fish out of water" ('Ey riga?, Fci;‘, Herodaa, II., 63; " Mus in matella," Petr., 58) ; "Ill-gotten gains never prosper" (" Male partum male disperit," Pktut. Poen., IV., 2, 22) ; "While there's life there's hope" (" Ut aegroto, dum anima est, apes ease dicitur," Cic. ad Att., IX., 10, 3) ; "Birds of a feather flock together" (" Pares autem vetere proverbio cum paribus facillime congregantur," Cic. de Sen., 3, 7). Innumerable other instances might be quoted from this long and cleverly constructed list,—itself a monu- ment of vast reading. Five passages from Shakespeare that have become proverbial are shown to be direct from the classics. The best instance is, perhaps, Seneca's " Ipsae voluptates in tormenta vertuntur " (Epist., 24, and see King Lear, V., 3). But on the whole it seems clear that in most cases, while the classical idea has been adopted, the metaphor most frequently has not. Something local and peculiar encases the ancient proverb. " Maiorum similis " (Cic. Acad., IL, 80) means the same as "A chip of the old block," but the metaphor is provincial. Sometimes, however, the metaphors run close, "My heart was in my mouth "is very near " Mihi anima in naso ease" (Petr., 62). When Mr. Platt extends his theory to the slang of the Old Kent Road—it is rather shocking that "a scholar of the good old school" should be acquainted with such a patois—the result is more humorous than convincing. The equivalent of "He took the knock" is "Sane plagam odiosam acceperat " (Cic. ad Att., V., 20, 4) ; of "They took a pull," Ebotov[ttiev] (Ear. Ion., 1,200) ; of "Wet your whistle," Tiyyg Trytiqtoytt; (Petr., 34) ; of "Moisten your clay," " Madidus vino" (Pl. Aul., III., 6, 36) ; of "That's the boy for me," " Noster est° " (Plaut. Bacch., 443). Mr. Platt has missed the slang equivalent of madidus. "Soak," rather than "moisten," is the concept conveyed by this pleasant word. He has not translated for us "fairly takes the cake," though the phrase is used with an apology. Is its origin the Quaker story, or has it, too, a classical parent ? It is a thought not without consolation that the very respectable letters of Cicero to Atticus should have inspired in "took the knock" one of the more popular utterances of South London. This fact is a variant on the well-known truth that classical English—Elizabethan English—is now only spoken by the "submerged tenth." However, whether we agree with Mr. Platt's theory or not, a very happy hour may be spent with his proverbs.
The proverbial philosophy is followed by "Some Mottoes," culled to fit real or imaginary personages and things. The compiler, belonging, as he does, to the Oxford of unregenerate and enchanted days, clearly dislikes modern educational methods. He suggests as a motto for "A course of one year," "Nee cultura placet longior annua " (Hor. C., III., 24, 14); and "for a lecturer at Girton" (Hon Sat., I., 10, 91.)
Yet the unregenerate days were not, it seems, wholly happy to all. Who, for instance, was the "late Head of a College" to whom this motto is applied ?— " Hominem malignum forsan esse tu credas; Ego esse miserum credo, cui placet nemo."
(Mart., V., 28, 8.)
It certainly applies to no present don, for self-satisfaction reigns supreme in our ancient seats of learning. But with the late "Head" has vanished also nearly every "scholar of the good old school" :— " Qui ntuntur vino vetere, sapientes puto,
Et qui libenter veteres evolvunt libros."
(Plaut. Cas., 5.)
One more " motto " must be quoted, as its wit is undeniable. It is a motto "For a Smoking Party" :— " Intervenerunt quidam amici propter quos maior fumus fieret."
(Seneca. Epist., 64.)
From these frivolities, which no Common Room should miss, Mr. Platt passes to more serious but (if we may believe his own opinion, " improbe facit, qui in alieno libro ingeniosus eat") less important matters in his "Passages Emended or Dis- cussed." Some forty-one passages are dealt with, and the conjectural readings are all, or nearly all, new, though, as is pointed out, some of them may have been anticipated. Most of these are too long and technical for quotation, but one or two may be given. "Cicero, de Fato, XIV., 32. An etiam sine a3ternitate naturali is nonsense. Read : an etiam sine colligatione naturali. The scribe's eye caught the wrong word." " Varro, Eumenides, 32 (Wordsworth's Specimens).
Nix v-ulgus confluit, non furiarum, sed puerorum atque
ancillarum, qui omnes me bilem atram agitare clamitantes opinionem mihi insaniae meae confirmant. Read : guom omnes (it had been written guomnes) as in Aen., II., 323,
cited by Nonius, Vii ea fates eram, gemitu cum talia
reddit." Roman lawyers may be glad to note the suggestion that in the passage from Justinian—" Sed et filiae suae mortuae filius vel filia opponitur ex constitutionibus matri
defunctae, id est, aviae suae "—opponitur should read prae- pontitur. "The contraction p for prae would easily cause the mistake."
Some of the "Sundry Notes" that follow the emendations make good reading. The suggestion that Johnson in his Life of Pope intentionally gives an hexameter rendering of a line of Homer is interesting. Mr. Platt suggests that the passage should run as follows :—" That the quarrel of those two wits (Pope and Addison) should be minutely deduced is not to be expected from a writer to whom, as Homer says, 'Nothing but rumour has reached, and who has no personal knowledge.'" But surely the hexameter is accidental. Masters of style such as Cicero and Ruskin were guilty of such accidents, while there is a familiar, though rather halting, Biblical instance :— " Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them."
(Cobs., iii., 19.) Mr. Platt discusses learnedly the correct use of "and which," —a much-vexed question. He says truly that it can be used to connect an adjectival clause to an adjective, and gives as'
an example the following sentence from Johnson's Life of Dryden: "A kind of learning then almost new in the English language, and which he was able to distribute copiously as occasions arose." Cobbett, apparently, in his specimens of false grammar, entirely misapprehends the correct usage. Despite the weight of authority, both Latin and English, behind the usage, it is certainly very inelegant even when correct, since it involves an elliptical slovenliness that is generally unforgiveable.
We must conclude this review with an interesting historical note on Lucretius which makes the reader regret that Mr. Platt is so infrequent an author. Something more substantial than has yet appeared is due from so ripe a scholar as the author of this charming miscellany,—a "Table-Talk" which is worthy
of a humble place beside that of the great Selden. The note runs as follows:— " All agree that Lucretius wrote his poem through an earnest desire to free men from the cruelties produced by religion in this life, and from the terrors it inspired about the future. Yet it would seem that there never was a time when such a work was less needed; that in the days of Lucretius religion produced no cruelties in this life, and inspired no terrors about the future. For the first he has to go back to the story of Iphigenia ; and as to the terrors of the world to come, Cicero asserts that at that time the silliest old woman did not fear them (Tusc., I., 48; and cf. N.D., I., 86; II., 5). Addressing a jury Cicero calls such stories ineptae fabulae (pro Cluent., 171) ; and in the Senate the Pontifex Maximus openly denied a future life (Sall. Cat., LI., 20). Was then Lucretius assailing an enemy that, as the litera- ture of the time shows, did not exist ? I think modern experience supplies an explanation. Fifty years ago the prevalent teaching was that the majority would be doomed to eternal torments. That was the doctrine commonly heard from pulpits, and set forth in books for children. Yet a student, two thousand years hence, of English literature of that period will hardly find any traces of such teaching. I infer, then, that literature is here an insufficient guide; and that, in spite of Cicero and Caesar, the doctrine of future torments was taught in the time of Lucretius, and revolted him, as the like doctrine has revolted some people in our own days."
Mr. Platt in this interesting passage seems to forget that at the very date of which he writes the doctrine of a future life was widely held both in Alexandria and Rome, grounded upon a Neo-Platonic theology permeated by Hebrew thought. The prevalence of this faith rendered the rapid spread of Christianity possible, and it also involved that doctrine of future torments the existence of which Mr. Platt infers only from the writings of Lucretius. There is one erroneous reference that readers will correct. The authority for " Quis ant scit aut cm-at" is Cie. Phil., XIII., 33 (not XI., 26); and the further reference to Plin. Er., III., 51, is a lapsus calami. For " auribus teneo luputn " we may give Suet. Tib., 25, in addition to Ter. Phorm., 506.
A SHEAF OF RECOLLECTIONS.*