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IN the Dissertation here prefixed to this Book of Horatius Restitutus, I am duly sensible, that the idea may arise of something irregular and desultory in the composition of it. Let me candidly own, that I should have been very happy to meet the expectation of my readers with a performance of greater system and regularity, if the peculiarity of the subject had more readily allowed me so to do.
According to my own impressions, first of all, that subject itself was so extensive at once and full of variety, that with a little elegant diffusion (which in its occasional use I am far from disparaging), the materials of this Dissertation might be expanded easily into a separate volume: and in the second place, from the very quality of some of the disquisitions, necessarily dry, however to the purpose essential, certain breaks of a pleasanter kind seemed desirable, to relieve the formality of argument, if that might be without the discursive itself becoming tedious.
The straight forward plainness, however, of the great points to be proved, may serve, amidst so much detail, to excuse the want of methodical regularity in
the process. That Horace published his collected writings from time to time in such an order of succession and in no other, and that his principal residences, after he became a professed Poet, were three determinate places of abode, neither more, nor less; these surely are questions, which (when aided by the Chronological Table here subjoined) will hardly strike the mind of an intelligent reader with any alarm of perplexity.
In the case of Horace, indeed, most remarkably so, "the Poet is always identified with the man,"
even just as he tells us it was in the person of Lucilius, whom he avowedly followed (sequor hunc) in his lucubrations as a Satirist.
And in the very same degree, after the attention is fairly awakened to trace the incidents of his life and the stages of his locality, the personal history of the man adds perspicuity at once and interest to many passages in the Poet, which might otherwise remain neither interesting nor intelligible.
Now therefore that his works are recovered from their long state of disjointed existence, now that the disjecti membra Poëtæ once more compose a figure of fair proportions, and Horace-ad unguem Factus homo —becomes himself again; I have no doubt but he will
in many important and curious respects be more easily studied and more clearly understood. The investigation of other scholars which my example perhaps may serve to excite, will be rewarded with a rich return of discovery, from comparing many parts of Horace together, hitherto seen awkwardly if at all in connection, but hereafter visible at once in their natural perspective.
Two or three specimens of this nature have recently occurred to my own mind as well worthy of notice.
For instance, the political conduct of Horace (a conduct of the most delicate integrity) after the battle of Philippi, it will be impossible hereafter to distort into any semblance of the renegade; if his words and his deeds be only traced ever so severely in the actual succession of years. Then again, his laughing in the Satires, when a young man, at "those budge Doctors of the Stoic fur," Stertinius, Damasippus and Co. will be found perfectly compatible with the calm allusion in his later Odes (e. g. 3 C. II. 17-20. 4 C. IX. 39-44, &c.) to those moral energies of that high doctrine, which Roman virtue alone might realize or approach.
From the same correctness of view, the topic of that literature now lost, De Personis Horatianis, will yet derive considerable illustration, especially as to some of his most valuable friends. Thus, Septimius (2 C. vI.) who with an honest cordiality invites Horace to live and die with him at his adored Tarentum, is still recognised as the same worthy man and equally
beloved; when after a few years, weary of retirement, he turns adventurer, and gains that exquisite letter of introduction (1 E. Ix.) to the young Prince Tiberius then in Asia.
Again, Iccius whose hankering after philsophy did not conceal from Horace his stronger love of fortune, sustains a sharp but delicate chastisement (1 C. xxix.) at an early period: some ten years afterwards (1 E. XII.) he receives an Epistle introductory of Grosphus, in which the sweet is very ingeniously made to predominate over the bitter, to all appearance too quite consistently with honesty and truth.
It is to Horace's moral treatment of Iccius, and to other cases like it perhaps, such as that of Quintius Hirpinus (2 C. XI. 1 E. XVI. 17, &c.) and it may be to that of Virgil also (4 C. XII. 15. 21, &c.); that his most devoted admirer, Persius, seems to bear this happy and characteristic testimony.
Omne vafer vitium ridenti Flaccus amico
Tangit, et admissus circum præcordia ludit. Sat. i. 116, 7.
And yet-arch Horace, while he strove to mend,
Probed all the foibles of his smiling friend;
Played lightly round and round the peccant part,
ALL this, however, it may be said, here at least is premature and out of place. Let me proceed therefore to state the few particulars remaining, of which