Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

Now it must be obvious to every reader, that the only question in dispute upor this subject is a mere question of opinion between Dr. Randolph and ourselves : and that Miss Smith, who, unhappily for the world, died while her work was in an unfinished state, is totally out of the record. We have admired her talents, approved the path which it seemed to us she had pursued : and have conceived, from the frankness and sincerity of her character, she would, had she lived to have completed her undertaking, have pointed out the path she had actually pursued, and the various aids she had derived. Dr. Randolph, however, thinks differently ; and has, in what to us appears a most unaccountable manner, extorted a charge of plagiarism advanced by us against Miss Smith in the above passages; the very idea of which (we mean the use of another's thoughts with a wilful suppression of the sources from which they were derived) never entered into our heads, and we believe never can enter, from any thing we have written, into those of any of our readers.

We cannot, however, suffer the burden to be thus thrown off the shoulders of Dr. Randolph upon those of a person, who is in no respect immediately implicated in the question of opinion before us, and who is no longer in existence to settle it by her own personal interference, We return to the only point in dispute between the only parties disputing; and are compelled to observe, that the whole of the defence of Miss Smith's truth and sincerity, thus warmly brought forward, is a work of superfluity ; since we have uniformly been just as far from impeaching, or even suspect-. ing, them as her very zealous friend and advocate himself. , In support of his own opinion, that Miss Smith never saw or consulted the versions we have conceived she did, Dr. Randolph first refers us to an extract from a letter of her's, inserted in the preface, p. xii. and dated 1805, two years after the period in which it now appears that she wrote her translation of Job : in which she says; I never read Peters on Job ; nor any thing about the Hebrew language, except the book of Dr. Kennicott, which you gave me, and Lowth's Prælections. Parkhurst has been ny only guide, but I fancy he is a very good one." And it is upon the strength of this extract that Dr. Randolph chiefly charges us with doubting Miss Smith's sincerity,

Now, in the first place, we did not know, and had not the means of knowing till Dr. Randolph's letter reached us, that this extract was written after the composition of her translation; and therefore could not possibly have any view of impeaching her veracity. Next, if we had known it, we should have regarded it as nothing to the question of opinion between the reverend scholar and ourselves; because the only work she excepts as having read on the Book of Job, is Peters, and we have never accused or suspected her of having read him ; for the rest of the extract refers, not to translations of the Book of Job, but to works on the principles of the Hebrero language, with which neither Scott's, nor Gray's, nor Stock's version have any thing more to do than the common English translation, which it is admitted she had read. And, thirdly, notwithstanding this general assertion, and which was certainly never meant to be otherwise than general, we had evidence (and evidence to which Dr. Randolph himself must defer) that she had read other books even “ about the He

brew language than those here quoted : for the Doctor himself tells us, in the very passage of his preface preceding this of the extract, that “Mr. Claxton gave her a little book which contained maxims and opinions of the rabbis, and sundry roots of Hebrero words: and his library furnished also a collection of prayers used in the Jewish synagogue, She had also Bayley's Hebrew Grammar, and when she began to study that language, she had an opportunity of consulting Leigh's Dictionary. These appear to have been all her helps till the year 1801, when she was put in possession of Parkhurst's Lexicon.” This is an important passage, for it involves her defendant in the very same accusation in which he has endeavoured to involve us.

Dr. Randolph next grounds his opinion, so far as relates to any assistance derived from Dr. Stock's version, on Miss Smith's version having been gone through and fairly copied in 1803, being two years before the publication of Dr. Stock's; from which fair copy, “containing only a single correction” and marked “in her own hand 1803” the posthumous work, he tells us, was published : and (concludes this part of his reasoning with a hint that the incredulous critic (a singularly misapplied term) ought to “ reverse his argument, and contend, that, this being the case, the Bishop must have seen the manuscript of Miss Smith.”

It hence follows, then, even in the opinion of Dr. Randolph, that the identity of image and of terms in the passage referred to in these two versions is extraordinary, and requires some explanation. Now this is precisely what has struck us from the first. We have admitted it to be possible that both translators may have fallen upon the same singularity of idea and of language ; but bave thought it more probable that the one had borrowed it from the other. Dr. Randolph seems more disposed to think that, of the two, the Bishop has borrowed it from Miss Smith; and could he put us in any way of tracing that his lordship had had an opportunity of consulting Miss Smith's MSS., we should have no hesitation in acceding to such an opinion. But as this does not seem to be the case, and as bishop Stock's version, though written last, was published many years first, it is most candid, we think, to conjecture, that, unless both are originals, the fact of copying should rest with Miss Smith. The date of 1803 upon the fair transcript, in her own handwriting, and the general assertion of her friends in no respect militate against such an opinion; since, in consequence of its being a fair transcript, she may have chosen to continue it so, by recopying the entire page with the approved alteration, We say this appears to us more probable, than that the same thought and words should have been copied by Bishop Stock from Miss Smith's manuscript ; but we still admit, as we have done from the first, that both may have been originals, though it is against the common rules of evidence that they should be so.

With respect to the aids supposed by us to have been derived from Scott and Grey, the question is reduced to a mere shadow of dispute, if it have not altogether van nished by the admission of Dr. Randolph himself. “ I cannot,” says he, “rebut this charge with the same evidence that I have done the foregoing, because it certainly was possible for Miss Smith to reap the fruits of their labours." Now this is all we have attempted to point out; for the mode in which she reaped these fruits, whether by memory, or from a perusal of such works at the time, is of no consequence : but what then becomes of Dr. Randolph's previous declaration, which alone laid the foundation for this controversy: “ through the whole course of her remarks and alterations she never alludes to, and I am confident never saw any other version but that of our bible.".We appeal to his own candour, and will abide by that integrily which we kuow governs his heart, and that jadgement which we have felt guides his Pen, to declare whether we had not some reason for affirming that, “ this observation appears to have been hazarded too hastily," and to have been somewhat " incau tious." .

*** The Select Literary Information and List of Works recently pube lished, are deferred for want of room.

[ocr errors][merged small]

THE

ECLECTIC REVIEW,

For DECEMBER, 1811.

Art. 1. A Vindication of Mr. Fox's History of the Early Part of the

Reign of James the Second. By Samuel Heywood, Serjeant at Law. 4to. pp. about 500. Price 11. 16s. Johnson and Co. 1811. SUPPOSING this work to be effectually what the title pro

fesses, there are several good reasons why it should be published. In the first place, it is necessary to the intellectual good order of the community that minds of pre-eminent supe. riority should be, by a general and established law, the objects of a respect, partaking in a certain degree of homage, and shewn in a somewhat ceremonious deference. They are the natural nobility and magistracy in what may be called the economy of sense ; and it is easy to foresee what will be the consequence, if they are to be subjected to such a levelling system, as that all sorts of people inay venture on whatever impertinent freedoms they please,---as that every smatterer in knowledge and pretender to ability may beard them, rudely question them, contradict them, and proclaim them as ignorant or incapable, Mind itself, the noblest thing we have among us, would be insulted, and be liable to become degraded, by this indecorous treatment of its higher specimens and exhibitions : the just rules of thinking, which can be kept in force only by a deference for the dictates and exemplifications of these superior minds, would be swept aside, the self-importance of little spirits would grow arrogant, and a general anarchy of intellect would lead to its general prostration. The prescriptive rights, therefore, of this privileged order, ought to be carefully maintained.

Doubtless this reverence for superior mind may, in some circumstances, degenerate into servility and superstition. It will be recollected, what a despotic empire over the thinking world was acquired by Aristotle. Other powerful spirits have, in different ages, established upon this veneration tyrannies, less extended and durable indeed than his, yet greatly obstructive VOL. VII.

4 Q.

of the free exercise and the progress of the human understanding ;-though it may, at the same time, be doubted whether it was not, in many instances, better to entertain those systems of notions, admitted through submission to these ascendent minds, than to be in that state of utter mental stagnation which, but for their ascendency, would have been the condition of many of their believing devotees. But this superstitious deference to high mental powers, has so far declined, from whatever causes, that nothing is now more common than to see persons of very ordinary endowments assuming, with all possible assurance and self-complacency, to put themselves forward in even a contemptuous hostility to the strongest minds of the present or past times. It will be salutary, therefore, as tending to repress this arrogance, and enforce due subordination, to have now and then a signal example made of one of the offenders. And it is peculiarly equitable that the instance selected for this purpose, should be that in which the great person assailed and exulted over is recently dead, and the comparatively small one assailing, enjoys immense benefits , connected with his capacity of partizan.

Another good reason for the publication, if the work justifies the title, is, that it must necessarily form, by its proofs and illustrations, a valuable historical supplement to Mr. Fox's work. It must be, in effect, partly the same thing as if Mr. Fox himself had investigated each question to its utmost minutiæ, had produced more authorities, and trebly fortified: every assertion. The Vindicator may have fortified the statements, even more completely than the Historian himself could,—havivg had the advantage of being directed, by the attempts of an earnest enemy, where to accumulate the means of defence. The evidence which effectually defends a work against a long laborious attack in detail, must be of an extremely specific nature ; and the corroboration thus obtained is therefore of very great value. If, then, Mr. Heywood is successful, Mr. Fox's work both acquires a more decisive au. thority than it could be held to possess before it had sustained the attack, and annihilated the assailant, and is made, by Mr. Heywood's defensive accessions, a much ampler history of the events to which it relates. And as Mr. Fox's book is sure to be among the very first of those that will be consulted in future times, by such as shall in those times carry their retrospect so far as to the events in question, much of Mr. Heywood's auxi. liary assemblage of evidence will justly claim to go down with the principal work, to confirm and to amplify its representations. Thus the work, in point of value, takes a higher and more general ground than that of being merely a defence of a particular book against the exceptions of a Mr. Rose.

« ElőzőTovább »