« PreviousContinue »
ceeded to mention a few facts in confirmation of our opinion. Before, however, entering upon this part of the subject, we must say a few words respecting a general complaint which Mr. Scott makes as to our remarks. He evidently regards them as hypercritical, and seems to consider that attention to such minor points as we noticed, savours of pedantry rather than of learning. But we beg to assure Mr. Scott, that these points, however insignificant they may appear to him, are not so in reality; and that it is the neglect of such matters, rather than the commission of serious mistakes, which betrays want of scholarship. We do not complain that Mr. Scott has made mistakes; the most accomplished scholar is liable to do that ; but we complain, and we think with justice, that Mr. Scott has on all points connected with Greek and Roman history and antiquities displayed an ignorance of the writings of modern scholars, of which a boy in the upper forms of a public school would be ashamed. The number of positive blunders in the work is probably not very great; but every page in the lecture, which treats of the subject of ancient oracles, clearly shows, not simply that the information is derived from secondary sources, but that these sources are antiquated works, which have long ceased to be of any authority, and that the author is far behind the scholarship of the day, and ignorant of the labours and researches of modern philologists and antiquarians. This judgment, though severe and painful for us to record, will be confirmed, we are sure, by every competent scholar who will take the trouble to read the latter half of Mr. Scott's fourth lecture.
As some of our readers may probably not have by them the July number of our Review for the year 1844, we subjoin the proofs we adduced, in confirmation of the truth of our statements :
'l. In Appendix I., Mr. Scott says,— It does not come within the plan of these lectures to give a history of oracles. A brief view of some of the chief of them, abridged from Rollin, must suffice.' One would hardly have imagined that Rollin would be referred to as an authority in one of the learned works of the congregational body. He was a worthy, excellent man, but in the present day is of no value whatever as a historian. The abridgment, too, is meagre, occupying but one page. Only four oracles are mentioned, and the general impression left on the learned reader is most unsatisfactory, whether regard be had to the complete exhibition of the subject, or to the literary reputation of the dissenting body.
• 2. In the chapter on ancient oracles, Mr. Scott speaks of the oracle of Delphos, instead of Delphi, an inaccuracy which we should have attributed to mere oversight, had it not been uniformly committed.
3. He maintains, in our opinion justly, that the ancient oracles were not given by Satanic agency, but remarks, page 312, “The famous story which occurs in the history of Croesus, presents, it must be owned, considerable difficulties, and then proceeds, like the rationalists of Germany, to account for it by supposing that the priests had some of the king's servants in their pay, &c. A modern writer should have asked himself the prior question, What is the authority for the truth of the story? The fact of the case is, that it was first told by Herodotus, who wrote about a hundred years after the alleged event. It was clearly a floating story which Herodotus heard in the course of his travels, which may have been originally based on some fact, but which certainly should not be regarded as an historical event.'
In reply to our first observation, Mr. Scott remarks, that we have misrepresented him. The Abridgment,' he alleges, 'occupies one page of small print, in the appendix; and the account of the oracle at Delphos fills more than another page in the text; and nearly two pages more are appropriated to a detail of the way in which the oracle of Trophonius was consulted ; so that there are four pages, instead of but one; and at least five oracles are briefly described.' He then proceeds to use some very hard language, and makes merry at 'the great mistake, the gross blunder,' of the accurate investigator of ancient facts, the accurate reviewer,' &c. If we had misrepresented Mr. Scott, it would certainly have been contrary to our intention, and we should unhesitatingly have apologised for our mistake; but we have not done so; and Mr. Scott's reply is nothing to the point. We were speaking of the Appendix I., and of that only; and we stated that the Abridgment of Rollin in that Appendix occupied but one page; and such is the fact, as any one may see, by referring to the book. Surely none of our readers will think that we ought to have added that it occupied one page of small print, but this omission seems to Mr. Scott to have been a very grave one. We readily admit that the oracle at Delphi, and that of Trophonius, are mentioned in the text of the work; but we were dealing at that time with the Appendix, which was expressly intended to give a brief view of the most important of the ancient oracles; and we complained that this Abridgment occupied only a page. But this matter is of no particular consequence. Mr. Scott, aware, we suppose, of the meagreness of his account, declares that it was no part of his object to give a history of oracles, and that he was repeatedly urged by the committee of the Congregational Library to confine his work within a specified number of pages. Granting this, though five or six pages would not have materially increased the size of the book, we ask why did he give an account at all of ancient oracles, if it
formed no part of his object? It would certainly have been infinitely better to have omitted the subject altogether, than to have given such a meagre and superficial account, which is a perfect disgrace to the Congregational Lecture and to the literary reputation of the dissenting body. And why was Rollin referred to as an authority? As an authority, Rollin — as we have already remarked—is of no value whatever, and that Mr. Scott considers him to be one, and justifies his appeal to him, is only another proof that he is far behind the scholarship of the day. We can assure Mr. Scott, that the opinion we have pronounced upon Rollin is something more than the mere dictum of the reviewer:' it is now the universal judgment of every scholar, and it would therefore be really a waste of time and an insult to our readers to dwell longer upon this part of the subject. If Mr. Scott wishes to see the different manner in which the subject of oracles is treated of by Rollin and by modern scholars, we would refer him to the article Orakel,' by Klausen, in Ersch and Gruber's 'Encyclopädie;' to Wachsmuth's 'Hellenische Alterthumskunde ;' Limburg Brouwer's 'Histoire de la Civilisation Morale et Religieuse des Grecs;' and to the works of Hüllmann and Götte on the Delphic Oracle; and after reading these, we do not think that he will have any occasion to ask us, point out any substantial, important difference between Rollin and the most critical historians.'
In reply to our second charge-the use of Delphos instead of Delphi-Mr. Scott pleads, first, usage; secondly, the modern name of the town; and thirdly, adduces a very curious philological argument. First, as to usage, he quotes Milton and Prideaux as authorities for the use of Delphos; but if Mr. Scott relies upon usage, he should recollect that it is not the usage of writers of one or two hundred years ago that determines the mode in which a word should be written, but the usage of the best writers of our own time. There was, in the age of Milton, a tendency to Anglicise all Greek and Roman names, and a considerable laxity and carelessness in the various ways in which it was done. The fact that Mr. Scott appeals to these writers is--we are sorry to have to repeat it--a still further proof of his ignorance of the writings of modern scholars. The practise of writing Delphi has long since been adopted by all scholars, and we defy Mr. Scott to point out a single instance in which the form Delphos occurs in any modern writer, who ranks as a scholar among scholars. In vain will he search for it in the works of Arnold, Clinton, and Thirlwall, in the English translations of Niebuhr, Müller, and Böckh, or in any of our standard classical works. In fact, so universal is the use of the form Delphi, that in some of our public schools a boy VOL. XVII.
Ꭰ Ꭰ Ꭰ .
would run the risk of a flogging who wrote Delphos in an English theme.
As to the second plea, that Delphos is one of the modern names of the town, we can find no authority for the statement. Kastri is the modern name of the town; and even if the form Delphos were used, it would not much improve Mr. Scott's cause.
The third argument which Mr. Scott brings forward in favour of Delphos, is such a curious specimen of philological reasoning, that we must give our readers the benefit of it in the lecturer's own words :
"In addition to all this, it may just be mentioned, that whenever the Greeks and Latins (Romans) used the name of the town after a prepo. sition governing the accusative, the former always wrote AcAçove, and the latter Delphos. Now, in the lectures, it always follows a preposition which governs the accusative, as far as we have any accusative in English; and this is almost always the case when the word occurs in our language. So far, then, Delphos seems better than Delphi. The Latins (Romans]-and the word is derived from the Greek through the medium of Latin-would always write Delphos in a similar construction. It is granted that the general usage is to write the nominative of Greek and Latin names even when, in English, they come after prepositions which govern the accusative
of pronouns. Thus we should say, of, or to Trophonius, and not Trophonion or Trophonium. Still if the contrary usage had prevailed, it may be questioned whether it would not have been more accurate. This is merely mentioned, without much importance being attached to it. For all these reasons the lecturer decidedly prefers Delphos, and, therefore, retains it in this edition.'
It is true Mr. Scott remarks that he does not attach much importance to this argument, but of course the mere fact of his mentioning it, proves that he considers it as some justification of the use of the form Delphos. We are really sorry that he should have committed himself in such a manner. To answer
To answer the argument would be almost absurd. On this principle Scipio conquered Hannibal at Zama,' would be written, Scipio conquered Hannibalem at Zamam,' (the Persians burnt Athens in Attica,' would be transmogrified into the Persians burnt Athenas in Atticam ;' and 'Tarquin was expelled from Rome by Brutus,' would come out under the extraordinary form of "Tarquin was expelled from Romam by Brutum ;' if, at least, we are to construct all these prepositions with the accusative case, according to Mr. Scott's extraordinary theory. Absurdity could not well be carried to a greater pitch.
Mr. Scott's answer to our third objection is singularly weak, and proves his ignorance of the principles of historical criticism. He argues that Herodotus had as good an opportunity, a hun. dred years after the alleged event, of ascertaining its truth, as we can have after the lapse of more than two thousand years,' and he therefore supposes that the story was substantially true.' This argument is exactly the same as was brought against Niebuhr, and those who impugned the credibility of early Roman history : Livy had as good opportunities for ascertaining the truth of the history he records, as you who live eighteen hundred years later, and why are we to believe you rather than him ? The answer is obvious; both Herodotus and Livy had the means, but they never exercised it; the principles of historical criticism were, in general, little known in antiquity; and, Herodotus, in particular, contented himself with faithfully recording what he was told, without investigating the truth or falsehood of the story. In the early period of the history of the world in which Herodotus lived, when there were few means for recording events, and books were almost unknown to the great mass of the Hellenic world, marvellous tales would easily acquire credence and currency among a people of an excitable and imaginative temperament. If any one wishes to see the way in which history may be perverted into fable, almost before the generation which witnessed the events has died away, he has a striking example in the manner in which Napoleon's expedition into Egypt is narrated by the Arabs of the present day. What we complained of, and do still complain of is, that Mr. Scott should have made such a tale in Herodotus the basis of a grave historical argument.
It would not be difficult to bring forward many other instances of Mr. Scott's incompetency for that part of his subject which requires an acquaintance with the labours of modern scholars. We might also point out many instances of inaccuracy; but we forbear. We have wished rather to vindicate our own criticisms, than to attack Mr. Scott; and we have said enough for the former purpose. A writer, who gravely refers to Rollin as an authority, deliberately writes Delphos instead of Delphi, reasons gravely upon one of the marvellous tales of Herodotus; and, when these errors are pointed out to him, fiercely assails his critic and accuses him of being actuated by base and unworthy motives, has already passed judgment upon himself. We could add nothing to injure him, so much as he has injured himself.
One word in conclusion upon another point. As we found fault with Mr. Scott's classical scholarship, he has in retaliation attacked our English. He remarks upon our observation :‘his information was unsatisfactory and meagre;' that 'rigidly accurate English scholarship would have led the reviewer to write 'meagre and unsatisfactory. Information is unsatisfactory because it is meagre,—the cause should precede the effect.'