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this occasion, I have met with foris passages whicls an inattentive reader right think much to his purpose; which, bureti, in my judgment, do not come up to the point.
« Suspecta natris tamiliæ persona.” lib. viii. c. 1. Here the word signifies character.--"Neque haustun sui cuin aliquo personarum discrimine largun malignumve præbet, &c."lib. ui. cap. 3, ad fin. Here it means rank or condition.--"Ne ego slr tuain personam et accusatoris, et testis, et judicis partes egisse videar” lib. iv. c. i. Here also it seems to signify wenk or condition." Ac ne quid in persona sua novaretur, ibid. And here it may very properly be translated, one of his rank and quality.
Alusworth has given two instances in which he thought persona was used for person ; and yet it may be questioned wherner either of them tilly answers his purpose.“ Prospi
cias, ecquiz pacifica persona desideretur, an in bellatore sint omnia.” (Cic. ad Attic. viii. 12.) “ Heroicæ personę Medea et Atreus.” (Cic. de Nat. Heor. lib. iii. 29.) } see na reason why the word may not be interpreted character in both places.
At first sight one is struck with the following passage as a esceptionable proof of this word in Salmasius’s sense:
Qui illaru Persan, atque omnes Persas, atque omnes per
Male dii omnes perdant.
PLAUTI Pers. And yet it is possible, after all, that the author meant na more than the dramatis persona.
Seneca will, however, furnish us with a passage that will undeniably prove that Milton was mistaken if lie meant to insinuate that persona was never applied as we apply the word person. “In mea tamen persona non pro te dolet." Consol. ad Helviam, c. xvii.
It is clear that Milton has not said that persona signifies guly a musk. His wor is are,"Quid enim, quæso, est parricidiuin in persona regis admittere, quid in persona regis? gla unquam Latinitas sic locata est ? nisi aliquem nobis forte Pseudophilippum narras, qui personain regis indutus nescio quid parricidii apud Anglos pátraverit; quod verbum verius pinione tua ex ore tibi excidisse putų. Tyrannus enim quasi histrionalis quidam rex, larva tantum et persona regis, non verus rex est.” (Præf.) In persanta regis does not nesessarily signify in the king's person. Salmasius might have funded himself by saying, he only meant in one of roya! I. Ani Milton may possibly have intended no more than
his doubts whether parricidium adinittere; in p. r. was good Latin for 10 commit a purricide on one of royal rank. “Ne quid turpe in se admittere,” is the language of Terence; but, “Ne quid turpe in alio admittere," if such a passage could be found, would, I suppose, be generally understood to signify conniving at a crimne, not committing it, or indeca suffering under it. Pænas reponit Nemesis.
CATUL 1786, July
XCIV. Strictures on the promiscucus use of the Articles a and ar.
March 1. As your Miscellany will probably. survive as long as the English language itself shail exist, you will not, I presume, receive with indifference any communication which may conduce to its propriety, or tend to its improvement.
There is an inconsistency, frequently practised by our best writers, which deforins our language, and greatly embarrasses foreigners who wish to learn it; and this is the promiscuous use of the particles a and an, before words which begin with the letter h. The confusion arising from this inaccuracy is the greater, because it is not occasioned solely by different authors varying from each other, but by the same author not unfrequently differing from himself in this matter.
I will beg, leave to state a list of examples in proof of what I have just advanced; and will request your permission to subjoin to that list some remarks and reflections
the subject at large.
Estimation of a hair
Bib. Tr. Judges.
However strict a hand
Locke. To liave an hand in
A hundred leagues Robertson. An hundred manors Johnson.
From an hundred Pope.
An hundred things Pope. A hundred friends Pope. An hundred sons Pope. Peruse a hundred Swift. Above an hundred Swift. In a hundred places Swift. That an hund. mortals Swift. A hundred times Swift. An hundred tricks Swift. A hundred noisy curs Swift. An hund, tradesmen Swift.
This list of examples might be extended to an enormous length. Many of them are contradictions of the same author to himself. Those, which I will venture to subjoin, shall be wholly such.
Sixteen feet and a half
Into an heap
An hearty fit
Your readers, Mr. Urban, will wish to see the question determined as to the comparative propriety of the two preceding and opposite columns. They cannot both be right: unless it be right that the English nation should use a coufused and incongruous jargon, rather than a regular language defined by known and precise rules.
In order to lead to this determination, let it be remarked, that the letter H is in the English, as in other languages, note of aspiration, sounded only by a strong emission of the breath, without any conformation of the organs of speech." If this definition be just (and I see no reason to distrust its correctness), it seems that the usage of the particle « (and Rotan), immediately before words beginning with the letter h, ought universally to prevail in our language. I will beg leave to state two cases, in which it seems absolutely necessary to observe this regulation, viz. (1st) of those who are to read aloud in public, and (2dly) of all public speakers whomsoever.
For first, as to him who is to read aloud in public, in order that he may produce this strong emission of the breath, it seems necessary that he should make a short pause before he pronounces such words as require this aspiration. Now the words which require this aspiration are, according to the definition just stated, those which begin with the letter h. But if the experiment shall be made, it will, I believe, be found much more difficult to afford this strong
emission of the breath in reading loud, and of course much less practicable to give due force to this ite of aspiration, in cases where an author has placed the particle an immediately before the words in question, than it would be were the other particle a' made the prefix to them. In the former case, the
reader slides on to the succeeding word without effort, and without impression. In the latter, he finds himself, in some degree, compelled to pause in his enunciation, and the very hiatus, caused by the utterance of the particle, assists the succeeding aspiration.
If, therefore, the quality or characteristic of the letter H be such, as to require the person who reads aloud to aspirate the words to which it is prefixed, and to “sound them with a strong emission of the breath,” it seems requisite that every author should prefix to those words the particle a only. The indiscriminate use of these particles by our authors might perhaps be tolerated, were their works never to be read*, save in silence, and in the closet. But he alone can be said to write for the public with correctness, who may be read aloud to the public with propriety:
But if it be thus requisite for an author to adopt this rule, for the sake of his reader, it seems absolutely necessary for the public speaker to confine himself to it for the sake of his hearer. The indiscriminate use, by him, of the particles in question, immediately before such words as begin with the letter H, will render it almost impossible for him to make that momentary pause in speaking, which is requisite for this " note of aspiration.” Habituated to slide onwards, in speaking, without aspiration, in the words an airy; an art; an edge, an arm, &c. he will be in the utmost danger, if he shall use the same prefix, of making no distinction in his enunciation between those and such other phrases as a hairy; a hari, a hedge, a harm, &c. which require a marked discrimination from the others, In which case his heaters will have no means of ascertaining the scope of that part of his argument, but by retaining in their memory the whole sentence in which those phrases stood, and comparing it with the context of his speech, as he proceeds to unravel it. But this is a drudgery
to which few hearers will submit for any length of time.
Rather than bear a frequent imposition of this task, they will suffer their thoughts to expatiate some other way, and will lose the speaker, and his subject, in equal inattention.
None of the authors, from whom I have selected the foregoing examples, are clear from this error, one alone excepteil
. It was, indeed, the perusal of this treatise,
* Were this supposition possible in fact (which it is not) yet the confusion, the want of uniformity, the inconsistency, and the embarrassmeat, of ioreigners, arising from this prouuiscuous use, would still remain.