396.  EBB to Hugh Stuart Boyd

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 2, 277–279.

[Hope End]

Friday Morning. [21 January 1831] [1]

My dear Mr Boyd,

Mrs Boyd told me of my Greek proving illegible, & of your wish that I would write it over again. But in order to do so, I must recollect what I wrote: and there is the difficulty. Payne Knight writes ζ ξ & ψ at full length, thus δσ κσ & πσ. Did I send you any more Greek? If I did, I cannot recollect it.

Of course your corrections of my verses shall be adopted. How I wish the whole poem had the same advantage.

No! you did not send back the Edinburgh Review; but give yourself no more trouble about it, than if you had. You will lend me Phalaris [2] (will you not?) at some future time––I have read it once thro’,—yet, as there are many things in the book which I should like to read oftener than once, I do not feel quite satisfied, & would bespeak a second loan, when you have so completely done with it, as to be thinking of consigning it to your boxes. It is certainly a wonderful work,—& less wonderful in the extent & depth of its learning, than in the felicity & aptitude & vivacity of that learning’s application. Bentley’s learning is not a stiff heavy scholastic thing,—but (with deference to you) “plays a tune” instead of “waking” one. His style is manly unaffected & clear. It has no grace or harmony—and is not inviolate always as to grammar.

Knight gives no complete list of the digammated words, & no good reasons for his omissions. A few shadows of reasons,—less tolerable to me than the shadow of the crocodile to one of Heliodorus’s heroes, [3] —are to be found in the notes. Would you like me to transcribe what is written in the first page, in his own handwriting? Perhaps you would.


Viro eruditissimo et amicissimo,

Uvedali Price,

bonarum artium omnium, naturæque amœnitatum,

contemplatori elegantissimo, judici acutissimo, æstimatori doctissimo;

carminumque Homericorum,

earum fontium uberrimorum, exemplariumque absolutissimorum

lectori assiduo, cultori studioso,

dono dat amicus editor. [4]

You see how highly Mr Knight estimated Sir Uvedale Price!—and indeed the only word which can indicate an over-estimate, is the second word. I heard a short time ago, of the Bishop of Gloucester, Monk, [5] commending him highly, but denying, as Sir Uvedale used himself to deny, what that word conveys.

I am dreaming, dear Mr Boyd, about having a favorable answer to the petition which I sent you the other day [6] —a dream very unlike one which I had lately, about reading Vitruvius, [7] —& which seemed to have been dream’t from a consideration rather of your inclinations than mine.

I had a note from Mr Curzon a fortnight ago, to say that Papa wished him to see & talk to me. So I did see him,—and, since then, he has very kindly come of his own accord, for Papa’s sake more than mine, & for Christ’s sake more than Papa’s. He told me that he wished very much to know you, & would walk from Ledbury to Malvern to see you, willingly & at any time, if I would introduce him & you would receive him. Therefore the making of this new acquaintance depends upon yourself; and in spite of the want of congeniality on subjects of taste & literature, his piety & keenness of mind may render it a valuable one, & better worth having in every way, I should think, than Mr Wood’s. [8]

Arabel, another new acquaintance of yours, says that you will think her extremely ‘impudent’ in being persuaded by me to go to see you, without any invitation from yourself. So, if you do put on the black cap, condemn the guilty person—who is guilty of a little Envy just now, besides the other offence.

Yours affectionately

E B Barrett.

Do you observe (page 217) that Bentley writes the first verse of the Iliad as he imagines it to have been written anciently,—and yet without the digamma.?

Arabel will take the Phalaris with her on Monday, as it is too wet for her to go today. I hope you will not want it tonight.

Address, on integral page: Hugh Stuart Boyd Esqr / Great Malvern.

Docket, in unidentified hand: Janry 22nd—1831.

Publication: EBB-HSB, pp. 115–116 (in part).

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date indicated by docket, a Saturday. EBB’s “Friday Morning” would have been the 21st.

2. A Dissertation upon the Epistles of Phalaris (1698), disputing the genuineness of the letters of Phalaris, Tyrant of Agrigentum, supposedly written in the 6th century B.C. Richard Bentley’s feud with Charles Boyle on this subject gave rise to Swift’s Battle of the Books.

3. Cnemon, in the Æthiopica (Bk. VI, cap. 1).

4. “To a most learned and most amiable man, Uvedale Price, possessed of all the best arts, and a pleasant nature, the finest contemplator, keenest judge, most learned thinker; and of the Homeric songs, those most abundant fountains, and most complete examples to an assiduous reader, a zealous supporter, the author gives this gift.”

5. James Henry Monk (1784–1856), classical scholar, who followed Porson as Regius professor of Greek at Cambridge.

6. That he would pay a visit to Hope End.

7. Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (fl. ca. 40 B.C.), Roman architect and military engineer, author of De Architectura.

8. Probably the Rev. John Wood, minister of the Chapel in the Connexion of the Countess of Huntingdon, Malvern.


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