Imagens das páginas

staand most o It is easy lost, may hal

may possibly be recovered, are Four in number; and it will be most satisfactory and convenient to examine each in its order. The First, and most obvious source, is unpublished manuscripts of the ordinary kind. It is easy to imagine, at least, that many works which we now lament as lost, may yet be found by men of good fortune and great diligence, who shall examine the contents of the various well-stored libraries in existence with more care than their predecessors, or who shall explore obscure collections which have not hitherto been deemed worthy of the attention of the learned ; that an editio princeps, presenting a faithful transcript of the manuscript, will thus be bestowed on the public, and that be followed in due course by other editions, adorned with the ordinary apparatus of notes, prefaces, emendations, and illustrations, tending to bring the text into the ligbt, or to throw it into deep shadow, 'according as the editors shall prefer the style of Claude or of Rembrandt.

To fancy that fortune will be thus prodigal of her favours, is no doubt sufficiently easy ; but what reason have we to believe that the bright vision will ever be realized ? It is true, on the one hand, that the remains of antiquity that still exist, were printed from manuscripts thus sought for and discovered; some of them, and of the most important, from one manuscript only, and this not seldom discovered in an extraordinary manner, or preserved from destruction almost by a miracle. On the other hand, it cannot be denied, and we are bound to acknowledge it with gratitude, that the zeal of those meritorious persons, who exerted themselves at the revival of letters, to obtain copies of the Classics, was so great; they ransacked libraries with such unwearied industry; employed so many active assistants; offered such liberal rewards, and paid such large prices, many of them being men of great wealth and influence, that it is difficult to conceive that many manuscripts of importance would escape their eager pursuit. The opinion that their investigations reached to the most remote regions, and that they searched wherever there was a chance of success, is greatly confirmed by the fact, that more recent attempts in places which seemed very likely to have escaped their scrutiny, have commonly ended in disappointment, and in the conviction, that the agents of those great benefactors of their species bad formerly been busy there. It is but too evident, therefore, that we must not hope for great accessions from this obvious source. There are, however, some circumstances that induce us to believe, that several works of small magnitude may have been overlooked, and may still be unpublished ; these are, chiefly, the mode in which manuscripts were frequently written, and in which they were bound. The most heterogeneous works have often been copied into the same volume, either because the space that remained corresponded with the length of the piece that was to be added, or because an opportunity offered of taking a copy, when no other materials for writing were at hand. That such motives frequently operated is most certain ; for there are many instances of strange bed-fellows being thus brought together; nor is it unusual for the latter work to be written in another and more modern hand. The library of the lawyer might come into the possession of a physician, who would inscribe on some of the blank pages, that had been designed for additions to the institutions of Civil Law, a choice treatise of Galen ; and in the next century the mixed volume might become the property of a general reader, who valued it principally, because it had afforded him a place to insert some favourite little poem. Manuscripts on distinct subjects have usually been bound together with even less discrimination than has been shown in copying them. Through the indolence of librarians, and the ignorance of binders, authors treating of matters in their natures various, or repugnant, have been brought into close contact, because they were of the same size, and were enough to make a volume of the thickness required ; in the same manner nearly as auctioneers form lots of very incongruous articles, or as pamphlets are sometimes bound up in order to preserve them, political, medical, and theological, the name of the thickest being alone inserted in the catalogue, and impressed on the back of the volume.

It is highly probable, therefore, that short works may have escaped the vigilance of very sedulous inquirers. An editor, who collates manuscripts, that he may have as pure a text, or as many various readings, as possible, for the most part attends only to the work upon which he is engaged; and is as little likely to be diverted from it, by prying into the other contents of the volume, as a surgeon, who starts a case of aneurism in such a miscellany, would be to diverge to either of the learned and angry sermons between which it might happen to be placed. The visitor who enters a library, for the express purpose of ascertaining exactly what it contains, will alone, by turning over each manuscript, page by page, detect the hollow professions of catalogues. Manuscripts have sometimes also been brought to public libraries, and afterwards forgotten, because the zeal through which they had been procured, had unfortunately cooled; we are aware, moreover, that several works of inferior importance, which are known to be in existence, have never been printed. Even of the first masters, it is at least possible, that a few works of small magnitude, a drama, an oration, a short treatise, have been shut

up, and still repose, in some bulky volume, an accident that occasionally befalls papers of less value. Nay, it is possible, that some production of the best ages, of considerable size, and of the highest merit, may have been hidden in strange concealment, and may thus have escaped a search, which we are compelled to believe was nearly universal.

We have stated fairly, and perhaps somewhat favourably, our hopes of farther acquisitions from the first source. The second is so very extraordinary, has excited so much interest, and occasioned such magnificent expectations, that it will be proper to enter a little more at large into the subject; we allude to the discovery of the celebrated Papyri at Herculaneum. We will consider, first, the value of the works that have already been discovered ; and, secondly, the probability of finding others. To judge of the actual amount of the benefit that has already been received, and to see how very far it has fallen short of the splendid anticipations that were entertained by sanguine archæologists, as well as to estimate the advantages that may be expected from unrolling the remainder of the manuscripts that have been disinterred, it will be convenient to sum up the contents of those that have been made public. The catalogue is not new; but since it must be collected from several works, it is not sufficiently fresh in the recollection of readers in general, to enable them to form a clear idea of the total amount. The first book that appeared was entitled, Philodemus de Musica :' it was published at Naples in the year 1793, with ample prefaces and copious notes by the Academici Herculanenses,' which illustrate the subject; and although they have the ordinary fault of commentaries, being too abundant and too long, they do not treat of the text alone, or consist merely of that verbal trifling, in which German annotators are apt to waste their ink and oil. The note of an Italian critic is always explanatory of something, although that something is often insignificant; the note of a German is too often about nothing, and that nothing is announced with infinite pomp. Philodemus was a contemporary of Cicero, who speaks favourably of his talents and dispositions, but asserts that he was corrupted by his pupil Piso.—Some of his epigrams are still extant in the Greek Anthology. The work on Music is a fragment, commencing abruptly thus, uén na aanguor Tès MBPIXES TE'— and ending Dirodnus Tepi usoixñs A.' It seems, therefore, that it is the latter part of the treatise only; the last of four books. It consists of twentyeight columns, and a fac-simile of each is given in copperplate; but the text is printed also on the opposite page in ordinary Greek characters, the lacunæ being filled up in red letters, and a Latin translation is annexed. It is written in neat little capitals; and indeed the Herculanean manuscripts are useful in ascertaining the forms of letters with absolute certainty, as there can be no doubt of the antiquity of all that occur in them. He discourses of music plaosópws, not texVixã ,—as, whether it deserves praise or blame, whether it ought to be discouraged, and altogether rejected, or adopted and cultivated ?- which, we are told, was a great question in the ancient world. Some say that Epicurus disapproved of this science; Philodemus was an Epicurean, and he certainly disputes against it warmly. It appears from column 9, that he argues against some Stoic; and, like all other disputants, he is very unfair. As wonderful perils and hairbreadth escapes raise the most insignificant individuals into notice, so the most unimportant matter, if it has thus been marvellously snatched from the fires of a volcano, acquires a degree of attraction. A short sample of the manner of this Philodemus, translated, as far as the slang of any sect is capable of translation, may therefore be interesting. The Epicurean writes thus

· Archestratus and his followers, who assert that philosophy is allied to music, meaning thereby, I presume, such things as the nature of the voice, of sound, and of intervals, and other similar matters, are not to be endured; not only because they intruded upon speculations that were altogether foreign to the purpose, and introduced them, as it respects themselves, most childishly, and as it respects the science, most irregularly, but because they affirmed that music alone speculated of these matters. What Diogenes says (we are acquainted with all that was written by Heraclides concerning becoming and unbecoming melody, and manly and effeminate manners, and acts suitable and unsuitable to different persons) that music is not far removed from perfect philosophy, in as much as, because it is most useful and most conducive to all the duties of life, and, by the very labour of learning it, it disposes men favourably for the acquisition of many, or rather of all, the virtues; we have expounded this in the third book of our Commentaries, and others also of their assertions of the like na. ture, and we have shown how full of absurd folly they are. Truly ridiculous indeed must be the opinion wbich some inen entertain of justice, for it is not conceivable that sounds, which excite only an irrational sense, the hearing, can in any way conduce to dispose the mind to speculate concerning the profitable and the unprofitable in our common civil polity, and to induce it to adopt the one and to reject the other, according to those speculations, whereof we are used to treat. But with them arguments have all the force of demonstrations. For if indeed Plato had said, that music was conducive to justice, we should perhaps have had a proof of it from him ; but he says, on the contrary, that justice is analogous to music, not that a musician is a just man ; in like manner, also, he never said that a just man was a musician, or tha either of them co-operated with the other towards the attainment of their respective excellences: might he not have said, that to a shoe

maker, and to a painter, and to a man skilful in any art whatever, justice was equally analogous ?'

The reasoning of this polemic, it will be seen, is not very exquisite. But yet, how fresh is his indignation, how delightfully unimpaired his acerbity! The Utilitarian acidity is indeed surprisingly sharp, for a writer, who had been buried by one miracle, and, after lying two thousand years many fathoms under ground, was disinterred by another, completely charred, carbonated, and reduced literally to cinders, -and whose manuscript was unrolled by a seventieth generation, with a dexterity, patience, and art, that are truly wonderful, and the letters that expressed his ire made out, one by one, as they were seen black and shining on the black but unshining paper; the pages appearing as a letter sometimes appears to us after we have burnt it, the traces of writing being still visible on the black film, whilst it flickers about in the smoke at the back of the grate, before it takes its final flight up the chimney! This work of Philodemus is not a treatise on the science of music, as some writers seem to suppose, and which might be useful in explaining the ancient system more fully than the authors whose works are still extant, and perhaps therefore in improving the modern practice; but it is a disputation, as has been already observed, whether music be a good ? Now, the consent of ages having decided the question, and determined, that music, like many other things, is good for those who are pleased with it, we must be allowed to think that such a controversy is perhaps the least valuable of the productions of the pen.

There was a long interval between the publication of the Treatise on Music and the subsequent fragments. The troubles which interrupted the ancient course of government at Naples, interrupted also the unrolling of the Papyri; and lest they should be unfolded at Paris by French hands, they were removed to Sicily. When they were brought back again, many were partially unrolled; they were entitled on rhetoric, on poetry, on virtues and vices, and so forth, and were the compositions of the same Philodemus, and digested apparently on the same meagre plan: And, as there was nothing very inviting in the old question, whether these several things were good or bad, the tedious process was not completed, and we must remain ignorant, for some time at least, of the language in which he inflicted castigation on tbe Stoics for presuming to differ from his pugnacious Epicureanism. A volume inscribed Ernspy Tepi púoews ÍA. at last presented itself; and five other books of the same work were afterwards found. Books B and IA were printed; but unluckily book the 2d of · Epicurus . de Naturâ' has only eleven very short and very imperfect pa

« AnteriorContinuar »