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I will detain you no longer with transcripts, but leave you and the reader to consult the
passage at leisure.
Yours, &c. 1758, June.
XXIX. Critique on a Passage in Horace.
MR. URBAN, A VERY elegant author, in his treatise de Arte Poetica, lays down amongst his other rules, the following maxim.
Cui lecta potenter erit res,
HOR. A. P. 40.
He says, that if the future poet would always chuse a subject, that should be within his compass, he would never either be deficient in method or diction. It is evidently the author's intention to say this, for the maxim immediately follows this precept,
Sumite materiam vestris, qui scribitis, aquam
Quid valeant humeri. and the old commentator accordingly explains potenter legere, by secundum quod potest. But, Sir, this expression can never signify to chuse inodestly, within one's compass, or, in proportion to our abilities, but rather the contrary, to wit secundum quod non potest, for the abverbs formed from the participles sapiens, potens, prudens, &c. do not express proportion, as when we say, in proportion to, but quality. Thus sapienter means wisely, or in a wise manner; potenter, powerfully, or in a powerful manner; and prudenter, prudently, or in a prudent manner; consequently potenter legere will signify to chuse boldly, rather than modestly, which is directly opposite . to the author's intention. Now it appears from the old commentator above cited, that the reading here, notwithstanding this inconsistency, is ancient, but still I would submit it to the critics, to judge, whether Horace did not write,
Cui lecta pudenter erit res,
This certainly agrees best with the foregoing precept, is an
Yours, &c. 1758, Sept.
XXX. Observations on an obsolete Latin Word. Mr. URBAN, I SHOULD hardly have troubled you with the following observations concerning an obsolete and barbarous word, did they not concern a person of great distinction as an anthor, namely, the late Bishop Kennet, whose Parochial Antiquities are so generally, and indeed so justly, admired.
The ordinations of the vicarages of Godmersham in Com. Cant. and Dronfield, Com. Derb. the account of the Bedell of Boughton-Aluph, Com. Cant. Anno 9 Hen. V. Mr. Hearne, in his Curious Discourses, p. 77. William Thorne; in his Chronicle, inter decem scriptores, col. 2010, 2088, 2089, et alibi ; Glossaria Labbæi v v. Auca et xon; and, lastly, Bede, in his history, p. 255, do all present us with the word Auca, agreeing to write it with the fifth vowel. But Bishop Kennet, in the Parochial Antiquities, p. 455, misreading, as I presume, his original, has printed it Anca *, several times; and in the Glossary to that work he has reported it accordingly, and has deduced it from Anserina, which to me seems very unnatural, and highly improbable; n and u in the MSS. of the later ages are so much alike, that they are very easily mistaken one for another.
You will please to observe, Sir, that the bishop consents so far as to allow that the word signifies a goose, but then he errs again in saying, that it is generally female in distinction from the gander,” for there is no foundation in the world for such a distinction, the word in most cases meaning both sexes, to wit, the entire species.
You see, Sir, that in this one article of his Glossary, there are no less than three errors concerning this word; ist. As to the orthography; 2dly. The etymology; and 3dly. The
Bishop Gibson also in the Append, to the Codex, p. 35, writes ancis, misled probably by Dr. Kennet.
interpretation. There are more in the sequel, as to the English words hank, and to hanker after, which I perhaps may notice by and by.
It seems to me that Auca, a term of the base Latinity, is a mere technical word, formed from the sound which the bird makes, when it cries; not so much when it cackles, as when it calls for its companions; and quære, whether the English word aukward be not more rationally deduced from anca, (this animal being both perverse and aukward) than from the Saxon Æwerd, from whence the Glossographers generally derive it. And possibly the local northern word, to squawk, may have no other original but this, the initial letters squ being nothing but addition, by that figure, which the rhetoricians call Prosthesis. Let the reader judge.
Now, as to the words hank, and to hanker after, which I promised to touch upon, Bishop Kennet writes thus, “anca, ancus, was the thigh or hind leg, -affer quatuor panes, affer ancum porci, i. e. a leg of pork. Hence a haunch of venison; up to the haunches in dirt; and hence, with some allusion, to have a hank upor, to hanker after." No doubt but the word hanch comes from the Latin and Italian anca, but mediately perhaps from the French hanche. Ança is probably from the Latin, ancus, which, as Festus says, signifies, qui aduncum brachium habet, ut exporrigi non possit, and M. Dacier upon Festus observes, that Ancus Martius, the third king of Rome, obtained his name from this circumstance. The Greek word 'Ayxas, signifies cubitus, and Junius inclines to think anca, or hanch, may come from thence “ ab áyrar, quod non molo cubitum, sed quemlibet membrorum flexum, Budæo authore, significat.” The reader may take which etymology he pleases; but who can discern any allusion between the words hank, and to hanker after, and a leg of pork or a haunch of venison, as mentioned by the bishop? This surely is fetching things very far, when it is so obvious to dieduce the substantive hank, in the phrase to have a hank upon a person, from a hank of thread, which Dr. Lye very plausibly deduces from the Islandic hank, vinculum; as if you should say, “ ita vinculis obstrictum aliquem habere, ut præ metu ad oniniu, quæ volueris, præsto sit.” And so as to a hank of thread, he tells us, that hank and haunk in the Islandic language, is, "funiculus in forma circuli colligatus.” To hanker after a thing, seems to have a quite different original; this means inhiare, ancie rem appetere, and therefore the same learned author derives it from the Dutch hunkeren, which, I suppose, signifies to hinger; insomuch, that to hanker after any thing, means, to hunger after it; a manner of speaking of the
same import with that other metaphorical one, of thirsting after a thing.
XXXI. A Passage in Virgil explained. MR. URBAN, VIRGIL being the prince of the Latin poets; it tvould be desirable to have every single passage in him rightly understood. There is one, however, in the first book, which the interpreters, those at least which I have an opportunity of consulting, do in general; methinks, mistake: The words are these :
Hæc ubi dicta; cavum, conversa cuspide; montem
n. i. 85. He is speaking of Æolus, the king of the winds, who, with his sceptre, say
the interpreters, qitod celsa arre sedenis munit tenebat; v. 60. pierced the side of the mountain, and from the aperture therein made, the brother winds hastily and impetuously, and as it were in a crowd, rushed out. Thus Servius. « Cavum] ordo est; conversa cuspide cavum mone tem in latus impulit. Et alibi :
In latus inque feri curvam compagibus altum,
Contorsit : “Quasi in rem, quæ facile cedit ictui." The verse here quoted occurs, Æneid ii. 51, where the poet is writing of the Trojan horse, whose side was perforated by the lance of Laocoon. 'And, in the same manner, Mons. de la Rue, in his verbal interpretation, “ Concussit cavernosum niontem ad latus intorta cuspide;" as likewise Mr. Dryden, in his translation,
He said, and hürld against the mountain's side
In short these expositor's wanted only a hole of opening før the winds to rush out at; and having found one so readily
in the side of the mountain, they were content. But the author, in my opinion, meant to tell us, that Æolus
tenet ille immania saxa Vestras, Eure, domos :: -) v. 143. pushed the mountain on its side, overturning it so with a blow of his spear, that from the aperture at the root, the struggling winds were enabled to get out. Certainly this interpretation, which the words will perfectly well bear, expresses the power of the god in a much more grand and sublime manner, than the other does, which only represents him as making a hole in the mountain's side. The overturning of a lofty and ponderous mountain creates in us the most magnificent idea imaginable; I would therefore give the passsge thus :
No sooner said, but with his trident couch'd,
He turn’d the hollow mountain on its side, And, if I mistake not, our Milton understood the place in this manner, when he says,
--- As if on earth
Milton vi. 195. The words, had pushed a mountain from its seat, are a clear imitation of those in the Roman poet, montem impulit in latus. But how nobly has the English poet improved upon the Roman one, by that addition, half-sunk with all its pines. This is making the thought in a manner his own; and thus it generally fares, whenever any passages of the ancients come into the hands of true geniuses; the jewels are always then set to the best advantage.
Yours, &c. 1758, Dec.
XXXII. A brief account of the various Translations of the Bible
I CANNOT learn that any part of the Holy Scriptures, translated into the ancient British tongue, is now remaining. It is not indeed certain, that they were ever translated into