Page images
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small]


[blocks in formation]

BÜт, since tyrants will not be confined by laws, let us suppose, if you will, that our Phalaris might make use of the Attic, for no reason at all but his own arbitrary humour and pleasure; yet we have still another indictment against the credit of the Epistles. For even the Attic of the true Phalaris's age is not there represented, but a more recent idiom and style, that by the whole thread and colour of it betrays itself to be many centuries younger than he. Every living language, like the perspiring bodies of living creatures, is in perpetual motion and alteration; some words go off, and become obsolete; others are taken in, and by degrees grow into common use; or the same word is inverted to a new sense and notion, which in tract of time makes as observable a change in the air and features of a language, as age makes in the lines and mien of a face. All are sensible of this in their own native tongues, where continual use

[blocks in formation]

makes every man a critic. For what Englishman does not think himself able, from the very turn and fashion of the style, to distinguish a fresh English composition from another a hundred years old? Now, there ares real and sensible differences in the several ages of Greek, were there as many that could discern them. But very few are so versed and practised in that language, as ever to arrive at that subtilty of taste. And yet as few will be content to relish or dislike a thing, not by their own sense, but by another man's palate. So that should I affirm that I know the novity of these Epistles from the whole body and form of the work, none, perhaps, would be convinced by it, but those that, without my indication, could discover it by themselves. I shall let that alone then, and point only at a few particular marks and moles in the Letters, which every one that pleases may know them by. In the very first Epistle, v μoì πgorgéπeis, which you accuse me of, is an innovation in language; for which the ancients used #gopéges. In the CXLII., among other presents προφέρεις. to a bride he sends θυγατέρας τέτταρας ὁμήλικας, which would anciently have signified daughters; but he here means it of virgins or maidens; as fille and figlia signify in French and Italian; which is a most manifest token of a later Greek. Even Tzetzes,* when he tells the story out of this Epistle, interprets it maids, θεραπαίνας. In the Lxxvi. πολλοὶ παίδων ὄντες ἐρασταὶ, many that are fond of their children, for that is his sense of the words; which of old would have been taken for a flagitious love of boys; as if he had said

Chiliad. p. 196. [=V. 915. p. 192. ed. Kiess.-D.]

« PreviousContinue »