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to alter Sallust's priusquam to antequam, or to write Uhr where Schiller wrote Stunde; but in reality the change is not unimportant. Besides the blot of inaccuracy, the passage suffers in a literary and artistic aspect, and when it is restored to its real shape it is seen how the right words fit into their right places like the pieces of a mosaic.
Of other and more deliberate misrepresentations of classic authors it is hard to speak with patience. When a well-known line of Juvenal, or a beautiful passage in the Georgics, is “slightly altered” to suit the taste of the compiler, one is inclined to feel something more than amusement. Nothing is gained by the change, neither in the way of beauty, and, still less, in truth, and this, it must be felt, is the principle that should guide any one attempting a compilation of the kind—exactness, accuracy, truth. He is not called upon for any originality, save the original words of the author he quotes. He must give his author's own words, and give them in their proper order. He must be observant of number and gender, mood and tense. If the quotation be in the form of a dependent sentence in the original, so must he leave it, and not think to exchange infinitive for indicative, or third person for first, in order to suit the exigencies of his readers, or put the saying into more quotable and epigrammatic shape. The quotation may not look so sprightly, perhaps, but it has the unique and priceless quality of being correct.
Besides this, it is desirable that the quotation be accompanied by its context where it does not run to undue length, and that if any
intermediate portion of it be omitted—a perfectly legitimate proceeding—the omission be indicated in the usual way. It may seem unnecessary to add that the author should be quoted in his own tongue; but, from the unfamiliarity of the Greek language, it is not uncommon to have a passage from a Greek writer given in a Latin rendering, which seems hardly permissible in a book of original quotation. If Cicero has Latinised some lines of Euripides, or Ausonius translated the sayings of the Seven Sages, I conceive it allowable to make use of their versions ; but it is impossible to represent Lucian, Plutarch, or Aristotle as Latin writers, for the simple reason that they wrote in Greek,
1 In point of fact, accurate quotation is by no means a common attainment even in the case of the most familiar passages. And the more familiar the passage, the more commonly is it, in many cases, misquoted. Inaccuracies of this kind are repeated and become stereotyped. The hackneyed sic volo, sic jubeo does not, for all its frequency, exist in any known Latin author; nor does the celebrated Haud ignara mali, which even Cardinal Newman would substitute for the original words of Virgil. Ask any one to go on with the well-known Facilis descensus, etc., and it is ten chances to one (and perhaps much longer odds) that the remainder of the passage will not be correctly repeated.
Only second to the duty of accurate quotation is the task of selecting passages fit for insertion in the collection. The first compilers proceeded, not unnaturally, in the way of accumulation rather than selection, the object being to make a decent-sized volume : anything, provided it was not English, being caught up and admitted with quasi-classical status into the volume, as though its mere insertion would in some vague way either betoken or promote learning. Hence, one was presented not only with long paragraphs in French and Latin, but with pointless scraps of Greek and Italian, Welsh, and even native Irish, which could hardly be conceived of as either likely or even possible to be quoted.
A quotation, then, to deserve the rank of such, should, first of all, be quotable. It should contain a sentiment of some acumen, well expressed, and not too long. This seems to be, more or less, the idea of the quotation proper.
There are of course many loci classici which do not fall precisely under this definition, but which, for their grandeur, pathos, or truth, could not be well excluded from any collection. But the rule of “quotability” is that which I have endeavoured to keep generally in view, and, as far as regards quotations properly so called, to admit none that could not be thus employed either in literary or oratorical composition. Of these, the poetical will be seen to preponderate largely over
1 As an illustration of these and the foregoing remarks I append some instances of faulty quotation taken from various collections of the kind :-1. Simple inver. sion of proper order, Adolescentem verecundum esse decet for the Decet verecundum esse adolescentem of Plautus (As. 5, 1, 6). 2. Inversion of order and alteration of text, Dem Glücklichen schlägt keine Stunde for the Die Uhr schlägt keinem Glücklichen of Schiller (Piccol. 3, 3). 3. Wrong author, “ La critique est aisée et l'art est difficile, Boileau," for Destouches (Glorieux, 2, 5). 4. Change of dependent to independent form of sentence, Mens peccat, non corpus, et unde consilium abfuit, culpa abest for the Mentem peccare non corpus; et, unde consilium abfuerit, cúlpam abesse of Livy (1, 58, 7). 5. Falsification of text, order, form of sentence, and author, “Voluptas est malorum esca ; quod ea non minus homines quam hamo capiuntur pisces. Plautus,” for the " Plato escam malorum appellat voluptatem quod ea videlicet homines capiantur, ut hamo pisces” of Cicero (Sen. 13, 44). This is a very bad instance, but the following is, if possible, even worse :
6. “Cujus conatibus obstat
Res angusta domi. Hor." First, alteration of text, cujus conatibus for the quorum virtutibus of the original ; secondly, omission of preceding words, Haud facile emergunt, upon which the rest depends; and, lastly, the reference to Horace when the line is Juvenal's. 7. Omission of part of a quotation without any note of such omission, as, e.g.,
“ Facilis descensus Averni, At revocare gradum superasque evadere ad auras,
Hic labor, hoc opus est. Virg." where a whole line is omitted between the first and second of the quotation, and the last line misquoted, not to speak of other inaccuracies. See the original, No. 1599.
the prose citations, as being found, in practice, much more available for ordinary use. “ The former generally give a finer turn to a thought than the latter, and, by couching it in few words and harmonious numbers, make it more portable to the memory.”
The book, as will be seen by reference to the title-page, is somewhat of an encyclopædic nature, and includes many items that are not, in any sense, citations from authors, but which have been added with the object of making the volume more complete as a work of general reference. In addition, however, to these special instances there remain two classes of passages to wbich reasonable exception may be taken. Of the former are well-known stories and allusions, such as Cato's story of the Augurs, or the Philip drunk and Philip sober incident-passages which are never repeated, of course, in any other tongue than one's own, and are not quotations in any sense of the term, but which seem nevertheless worth preserving in the words of the author who has transmitted them, more as historical references than for any other
The mention of the Passion of Christ by Tacitus might be added as a further case in point.
The other exceptionable passages belong to that class of famous though, perhaps, fabulous sayings—the menus mensonges de l'antiquité that M. Fournier has expended his wrathful indignation upon—of which “The Guard dies but never surrenders," or "You carry Cæsar and his fortunes," may serve as specimens. But while acknowledging their doubtful or, even, positively mythical origin, it seemed to be as futile as it was censorious to exclude such famous mots, which, whether we like it or not, have passed for good and all into the world's repertory of historical sayings.
With regard to the usefulness of such a work as the present it is not unfrequently urged that classical or foreign quotations are falling into disuse and English taking their place. I doubt, however, whether the desire to form even a slight acquaintance with foreign literature and foreign authors was ever more decidedly pronounced than it is now. Of the classic tongues of Greece and Rome, the latter still maintains its old pre-eminence as the most frequently quoted of all languages, ancient and modern. With Greek it is somewhat different. Yet, when as recently as November 9, 1883, the Lord Mayor of London could bring into an after-dinner speech not only his Horace and his Virgil, but even quoted a passage from the “Iliad,” it hardly seems as if Greek quotations had fallen altogether into abeyance.2
1 Addison, Spectator 221. 2 The passages quoted were Horace, Ep. 2, 1, 15-17 ; Virgil, A. 1, 574 ; Homer, Il. 16, 550.
It is hardly too much to say that a fine classical quotation will give to a speech of even moderate excellence, a tone and a dignity that goes
far to lift it to the level of the great speeches of a former generation. It has the old ring about it. Nor is this all. The quotation not only adorns but supports the speaker's words. He wants authority for his arguments, and he finds it in a passage from some writer of acknowledged standing. He will shelter himself behind this great name. The sentiment itself and its expression, the name and rank of the author who evolved both the one and the other in days gone by—these and other considerations come crowding in, in the way of precedent and confirmation. It is nothing to the point that the cases are not precisely analogous. Who can stop at such a moment to examine their strict bearing or connection, since it is the application of the passage which is everything, an art which, from the eternal du Perron with his line of Virgil downwards, has ever been considered to be a mark of genius?
But it is not only the public speaker that I have in view in compiling these pages. There are many other needs, of varying importance, that have to be considered and catered for. There is the lady who meets with a foreign phrase in the newspaper, there is the curious hunter-up of rare quotations, there is the young and struggling scribbler who wishes to pass for possessing a more than Macaulayan acquaintanceship with the whole range of European literature. I should desire to supply the critic with an apposite quotation from Horace ;1 the journalist with a suggestive phrase, concise as Horace himself, from the French ; the essayist with some powerful line from a German poet; the reviewer with some felicitous parallel that shall make the fortune of his article. In these pages the novelist should be able to find a striking verse to head his chapter, the raconteur add to his bons mots, the man of the world enrich his stock of maxims, the divine obtain some deep thought drawn from the wells of ancient learning.
Of course there are quotations and quotations, as there are ways of applying them.2 Some seem meant for declamation,
1" Les citations d'Horace sont les grains de raisin de Corinthe dans le baba.”M. Decazes (Fournier, L'Esprit des autres, p. 386).
2 Quotations may be applied, and often very effectively applied, by giving them an inflexion quite the reverse of that intended in the original. Thus the sarcastic o qualis facies et quali digna tabella / of Juvenal has a fine and pathetic sound when repeated alone, and may be seriously said of any noble countenance as much worthy of admiration as Hannibal's appearance seemed worthy of ridicule. As an instance of the contrary effect, take the C'est ainsi qu'en partant je vous fais mes adieux of Quinault and Lulli (Thesée 5, 6), the tragic conclusion of Medea's speech announcing the coming catastrophe on the house of Peleus, but which is generally said with a bow and a simper on taking leave of a friend.
It is a
some for colloquial use ; some for the newspaper, others for private correspondence. While certain lines, again, and those not the least pointed, seem never so solemnly impressive as when they are not recited aloud, so much as murmured half inaudibly to one's self, and the taste of the finely-worded truth rolled upon the tongue as its thought is revolved in the mind.
Indeed a good quotation hardly ever comes amiss. pleasing break in the thread of a speech or writing, allowing the speaker or writer to retire for an instant while another and a greater makes himself heard. And this calling-up of the deathless dead implies also a community of mind with them, which the reader will not grudge the author lest he should seem to deny it to himself.1
In literary composition a well-chosen quotation lights up the page like a fine engraving; and, in the phrase of Addison,2 «adds à supernumerary beauty to a paper, the reader often finding his imagination entertained by a hint that awakens in his memory some beautiful passage of a Classick author."
And this, among other benefits, is the advantage of references. A line is met with. Whose is it? Where is it? The reference supplies the information. The volume of the author is taken down, the place found, and the line and context studied together. A man renews his youth in this way as he lingers, not perhaps without emotion, over the once familiar lines with all their varied associations in the past, and, having once dipped into the book, may be tempted to do so again.
Having noted what appear to be the chief faults in previous collections, I should like to point out what seem to be the main defects of the present volume. In the first place it has too much Latin, while, on the other hand, modern languages are not sufficiently represented. Of Portuguese, for instance, there is, as analysts would say, a trace;" of Spanish hardly more. The Italian quotations are meagre, and the same might be said of those in Greek. The German examples might with advantage be extended, and more space devoted to terms and phrases in use amongst us from the French. It should, however, be said in justice to the book, that the relative proportions of the various languages represented are pretty much in the ratio of their actual frequency as quotations occurring in English literature. In practice, Latin is quoted nearly twice as often as French ; French
1 Wilkes censuring quotation as pedantry, Johnson replied, “No, sir, it is a good thing: there is a community of mind in it. Classical quotation is the parole of literary men all over the world.”—Croker's Boswell, 687.
2 Spectator 221.