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Q. HORATII FLACCI OPERA,
Cum variis Lectionibus, notis Variorum, et Indice locupletissimo.
WHEN this splendid edition of Horace was first presented to our view, we exclaimed, in the words of Catullus,
"Chartæ regiæ, novi libri,
Novi umbilici, lora rubra, membrana
Directa plumbo, et pumice omnia æquata."
The brightness of the paper, the amplitude of the margin, and the elegance of the type displayed in this work, are nearly unrivalled. They do honour to the taste and liberality of the editors. They show that, by encouragement and exertion, the art of printing is in a high and progressive state of improvement, and we are confident that many of our readers will be eager to purchase an edition which has so many recommendations from novelty and magnificence.
A variorum edition of Horace has been long among the desiderata of literature, and therefore great commendation is due to the enterprizing spirit which produced the work now under our considera
tion. It is well known that scholars of the first eminence have often been employed in preparing editions of this kind. Among other instances, we are indebted to J. G. Grævius for the variorum editions of Justin and Suetonius; to J. F. Gronovius for those of Plautus and Livy; to Peter Burman for those of Quintilian and Ovid. But similar publications have often been undertaken with zeal, and executed with success, by persons of less intellectual prowess, and less literary celebrity, than the critics whom we have just now enumerated. If an editor unites a large share of accuracy even with a moderate portion of erudition; if he collects materials with industry, and uses them with judgment; if he distinguishes between ingenuity and refinement, and separates useful information from ostentatious pedantry, he will have a claim to public favour, though he should not possess the exquisite taste of a Heyne, the profound erudition of a Hemsterhuis, or the keen penetration of a Porson.
The writings of Horace are familiar to us from our earliest boyhood. They carry with them attractions which are felt in every period of life, and almost every rank of society. They charm alike by the harmony of the numbers, and the purity of the diction. They exhilarate the gay and interest the serious, according to the different kinds of subjects upon which the poet is employed. Professing neither the precision of analysis, nor the copiousness of system, they have advantages, which, among the ordinary classes of writers, analysis and system rarely attain. They exhibit human imperfections
as they really are, and human excellence as it practically ought to be. They develope every principle of the virtuous in morals, and describe modification of the decorous in manners. They please without the glare of ornament, and they instruct without the formality of precept. They are the produce of a mind enlightened by study, invigorated by observation; comprehensive, but not visionary; delicate, but not fastidious; too sagacious to be warped by prejudice, and too generous to be cramped by suspicion. They are distinguished by language adapted to the sentiment, and by effort proportioned to the occasion. They contain elegance without affectation, grandeur * without bombast, satire without buffoonery, and philosophy without jargon.
Hence it is that the writings of Horace are more extensively read, and more clearly understood, than those of almost any other classical author. The explanation of obscure passages, and the discussion of conjectural readings, form a part of the education which is given in our public schools. The merits of commentators, as well as of the poet himself, are the subjects of our conversation; and Horace, like our own countryman Shakspeare, has conferred celebrity upon many a scholar, who has been able to adjust his text, or to unfold his allusions.
The works of some Roman, and more Greek writers, are involved in such obscurity, that no lite
* We use the word Grandeur, because we think that Horace is seldom sublime. Under the article Grandeur, in the British Encyclopædia, our readers will find the distinction between grandeur and sublimity stated with great perspicuity and precision.
rary adventurer should presume to publish a variorum edition of them, unless he has explored the deepest recesses of criticism. But in respect to Horace, every man of letters knows where information is to be had, and every man of judgment will feel little difficulty in applying it to useful and even ornamental purposes.
Of such a writer as Horace, such an edition as that which has lately appeared may be well supposed to have excited a considerable share of public curiosity. We mean, therefore, to bestow more than a common degree of attention upon the contents of the present work, and we shall endeavour to conduct our enquiry in such a manner as will not expose us to the imputation of undistinguishing praise, or acrimonious censure.
The edition now offered to the public bears at first view the name of Dr. Combe only. The Dr. however, informs us that his late friend Mr. Homer had some * concern in the beginning of his task; but we could wish that the Dr. had been pleased to favour us with a more particular account of the share which really belonged to Mr. Homer; and this wish is suggested to us by motives, not of idle curiosity, but of substantial justice. We mean not to depreciate the abilities, or to arraign the sincerity of Dr. Combe. But we have weighty reasons for supposing, and no contemptible authority even for asserting, that the work was chiefly planned by Mr. Homer, that he had procured and arranged ma
* The Doctor's brief expression is, Mecum hancce operam inceperat.