Imagens das páginas

ges or columns, and of the Ilth book there are only thirteen smaller columns, containing nothing that, either for rhetoric or doctrine, was worth the deciphering. They long sought anxiously for Latin works, and at last they found some; but there had been so much glue in the composition of the paper, that most unhappily they were unable to open them, except a part of one roll, which contains a poem, in hexameter verses, treating of the affairs of Cæsar in Egypt. It is attributed by some to Varius; but, as it appears to be unworthy of his reputation, it is given rather to one Rabirius. It is printed in the preface to the second of the · Herculanensium Voluminum,' and consists only of eight scraps, comprehending in the whole 57 verses; the last line is—

· Consiliis nox apta ducum, lux aptior armis.' Lithographic engraving appears to have been expressly invented to facilitate and cheapen the publication of Oriental writings, the characters of which can scarcely be imitated by ordinary types, to give a faithful copy of inscriptions, and to supply at an easy price a fac-simile of a manuscript; and to the Papyri this new and useful art was admirably adapted. Herculanensium Voluminum pars prima' was accordingly printed, with this aid, at the Clarendon press, by the University of Oxford, and published, in 8vo, in the year 1824. It consists of 133 pages, or rather plates, being merely a fac-simile on stone of some of the Papyri, which had been unrolled by the command of his present Majesty-without notes, translation, or commentary, without even a copy in cursive Greek characters of the text, which is written, as in the rest of the rolls, in capitals. The marvellous indolence and indifference of our university in getting up this work, afford a striking contrast to the diligence of the Neapolitan literati, and to the copious and even excessive illustration which their zeal and activity have poured forth. This part contains portions of two philosophical treatises of the same fortunate Philodemus; of one on anger by an anonymous writer; and of another regi aromátwy, which is very imperfect, by one Demetrius.

The second part appeared in 1825. It comprehends, in 155 pages, fragments of three treatises by the same eternal Philodemus. The last is entitled nepi touátwy. Some passages are nearly entire. It appears to be, as usual, a Philosophical discourse about the utility of poetry, or some such thing-not a technical work on metre. This second publication is as bald, and as free from critical assistance, as the former; and has no other merit than that of presenting the text in a cheap and accessible form. The two great English Universities are certainly more wealthy than any other Universities in Europe; but they have done less for

learning of late years than the poorest and most insignificant : the sole employment of the persons who permanently reside there seeming to be, to wait patiently for the death of one another, and meanwhile, in compliment, perhaps, to their common occupation, to resemble the dead as nearly as possible ! especially in the grand characteristic of death,-a deep and unbroken rest.

The reports that have been made by the learned men who have examined the Papyri that have hitherto been found, and the specimens of the contents which they have given, have reduced our hopes of any benefit that is to be derived from them to a very small amount. But though these particular rolls have been so unprofitable, may we not expect that others will be found in a better state of preservation, and will repay the trouble of copying them, by supplying more valuable matter ?

The Papyri that were discovered were all found in Herculaneum; and there are various reasons that forbid us to look for further accessions from the ruins of that city. It was overwhelmed by torrents of burning lava, of which the intense heat would necessarily reduce to charcoal any manuscripts that might be there; consequently we cannot venture to hope that any exist in that city, which are not in as imperfect a condition as those which have been already extracted, and as the lava forms a stone of extreme hardness, and is of a great thickness, so that the ruins are at a considerable depth beneath the surface, successive eruptions having constantly added to the mass, the process of making excavations is necessarily slow, laborious, and expensive. For these and some other reasons, all operations are now discontinued, and we can expect nothing more from Herculaneum.

We turn our attention, therefore, to the neighbouring city of Pompeii, and there our prospects brighten : and we may hope with some confidence, that literature will ultimately receive important accessions from that source. This unfortunate city was buried under torrents of mud, which were followed by showers of stones and ashes. The labour of removing such substances is comparatively light, and the depth of the stratum very inconsiderable. It is plain that books enclosed in a receptacle of stone or of metal, or in any place that was water-tight, would receive no injury from the mud; and we may reasonably expect that some remain uninjured in those interesting ruins, and await the hands of the fortunate individual whose destiny it is to bring them again to light. It is true, that no books have as yet been found there; but it is also true, that a very small portion of the space within the walls has as yet been explored; and that portion consists chiefly of temples, of theatres, of baths, of the Forum, and of buildings where we could not well suppose that any books would exist. It is true, also, that the city was smaller and less important than Herculaneum, and that the articles that have been found in it were less valuable than those which the latter city has furnished; but can we believe that a city, four miles in circuit, situated in a highly-civilized part of the world, would be without books, in an age when they were abundant ?

There is reason to believe, that, as it was easy to dig through the thin and light covering in which the ruins were embedded, much of the more precious property was extracted soon after its interment; but it is also plain, from what has been found, that many articles were left behind, and books were hardly so valuable as to tempt the proprietors to make expensive excavations. If a public library, or the collection of a great bookseller, was thought to be of sufficient importance, the small, but possibly well-chosen, selection of classics, worn by use, and blotted by scholia, inestimable to us and to their owner, but unsaleable, and, as articles of commerce, worthless, would hardly justify the philosopher, the rhetorician, or the schoolmaster, to whom they had belonged, in adding to his other losses the cost of recovering them. Perhaps in the wreck of his fortunes he was without the means; perhaps, like Archimedes, he was at his studies when his city was captured, and died at his post, and was buried with his favourite volumes ! It is said that the difficulty and expense of making excavations at Pompeii chiefly arise from the value of the superincumbent soil. This, accordingly, has been another obstacle to the search after books; and as, in seeking for any thing, we rarely go to the right place first, in clearing the whole city, the library may be the very last edifice that is examined. Herculaneum was in some degree explored by sinking shafts or pits in different places; we do not understand distinctly whether they were the wells of the inhabitants of Portici, or were formed for the purpose. It does not appear that Pompeii has ever been probed in this way; but the practice is worthy of imitation. It would be extremely easy and very advantageous to operate, as it were, by boring in every part; and it might be desirable to run galleries from one pit to the other; and thus to gain a general idea of the topography. By these means, the explorers might learn, at a small expense, what was buried in each place, and where it would be most worth wbile to complete the excavation. Nor would it be amiss to probe in the same manner Stabiæ and the other buried cities. It ought never to be forgotten that books are the grand objects of search ; but unhappily we are compelled to remember that they are the most difficult to be found. We should

be surprised if a complete copy of the History of Livy, or of Polybius, were found in any library, even in the most remote district; but no one could be surprised, although he might greatly rejoice, if, in some secure nook, in a marble chest, in a private dwelling-house in Pompeii, such a discovery were made. But although we should not be surprised at finding such a treasure, as we have unfortunately no reason to suppose that the persons who slowly investigate these interesting ruins will stumble upon it in this age rather than in the next, we have no right to be astonished if the discovery be postponed until we have concluded our earthly pilgrimage, and terminated our sublunary studies. It cannot be denied that this is a fair statement of the condition of our hopes of benefit from the second source.

The third, if it be less marvellous and astounding than the last, is not without a considerable degree of singularity; and as it has received but little attention elsewhere, and has scarcely been at all noticed in Great Britain, it deserves a fuller consideration. We believe it is not generally known, that there are many manuscripts in existence, of great antiquity, which are written in Short-handand it is from deciphering these, that we hope to recover works that are not to be found at present in any other shape.

A general notion of the nature and importance of this source will be derived from the remarks of the learned Benedictines, who introduced their analysis of the Tironian notes, with preliminary observations, of so much clearness and brevity, that before we enter more at large into the history of this kind of writing, and the extent of our expectations from it, we will transcribe their words from the Nouveau Traité de Diploma'tique.'

• Depuis un demi-siècle les savans ont fait des efforts prodigieux pour resusciter la langue, l'écriture, et la littérature des anciens Etrusques : et l'on peut dire que ces efforts n'ont pas été sans succès. Presque personne n'a travaillé à déchiffrer les Notes de Tiron ; quoique leur connoissance puisse produire des avantages bien plus grands à la république des lettres, qu'on n'a sujet d'en attendre de la langue étrusque.

Nous avons des livres entiers écrits en notes ;-des diplomes, où à peine trouve t'on quelques mots, qui ne soient point en cette écriture ; des manuscrits dont un nombre de pages excitent notre curiosité et s'y refusent à la fois ; parcequ'il ne s'est presque point encore trouvé de savans, qui n'aient été plus épouvantés du travail qu'il falloit entre. prendre pour les déchiffrer, qu' animés par l'espoir d'y réussir. Combien d'autres manuscrits où des Notes Tironiennes, soit en marge, soit interlinéaires, nous annoncent peut être des secrets, que personne ne tente d'approfondir ? Combien de lettres, où la crainte de se rendre trop intelligible à ceux qui pouvoient les intercepter, a fait employer des Notes, dans les endroits les plus critiques et les plus délicats, et même dans quelques-uns assez indifférens, pour mieux cacher le mys. tere ? Enfin, presque tous les anciens diplomes de nos Rois et des Empereurs renferment au milieu des parafes des notes de Tiron, qui ont fait la croix, pour ne pas dire la honte des plus grands hommes, qui se sont vus hors d'état de les déchiffrer. Les uns les ont regardées comme des traits de caprice, qui ne signifioient rien ; d'autres ont fait semblant de ne les point voir ; les plus éclairés les ont reconnues pour notes de Tiron, et les ont en même tems regardées comme du fruit défendu, auquel il n'étoit pas permis de toucher ... Il semble que cette portion de littérature ne devroit pas être si négligée ... Un siècle où l'algèbre la plus sublime est cultivée, doit avoir produit bien des têtes capables d'épuiser cette algèbre d'érudition.'

The history of the art is curious; but the historians are contradictory, and to explain and endeavour to reconcile them would · be long and tedious. The story ordinarily received is, that they were introduced into Rome by Tiro, the freedman, correspondent and favourite of Cicero, and that the art was first practised in public in the time of Cicero, and by his desire. Plutarch tells us, in his life of Cato, that being anxious to have a correct report of the speech of that distinguished statesman on some important occasion, M. Tullius placed several persons in the senate-house, in order that, each taking down a part according to the plan that was arranged amongst them, they might thus catch the whole oration, and put it together afterwards. From several hands being employed, it should seem that the art was then in its infancy; indeed, Plutarch asserts that Cicero taught them the characters himself for that particular occasion. The art must have been greatly improved in the days of Ausonius; for his celebrated epigram will apply to the rapidity of modern reporting, by which the beginning of a speech of no unusual length is very often printed before the orator has concluded his discourse :

«Quis, quæso, quis me prodidit ?
Quis ista jam dixit tibi,
Quæ cogitabam dicere ?
Quæ furta corde in intimo
Exercet ales dextera ?
Quis ordo rerum tam novus,
Veniat in aures ut tuas

Quod lingua nondum absolverit ?' The velocity of the very ingenious persons who publish the most popular and the most melancholy of all orations, the last dying speeches and confessions, is still more wonderful; for by a certain miraculous and prophetic alacrity, they commonly

« AnteriorContinuar »