Full Title: The Epistles of Phalaris. Translated from the Greek. To which are added, Some Select Epistles of the most eminent Greek Writers. By Thomas Francklin. London: Printed for R. Francklin, in Russel-Street, Covent-Garden, MDCCXLIX.
(See previous post of August 22, 2007 for the earlier section of the “Preface” to The Epistles of Phalaris).
[…] As Greece was in those ages an utter stranger to tyranny and arbitrary power, (for according to Pliny he was the first tyrant that ever reign’d) it is no wonder that the Agrigentines, even tho’ Phalaris had been a much milder master, should endeavor to shake off the yoke; or that they should, as Plutarch informs us, immediately after his death send forth strict orders forbidding any man to wear a blue garment; which it seems was the colour worn by Phalaris‘s guards; that so not the least trace or footstep might remain of a form of government, which they held in the greatest detestation.
It will naturally be expected that I should say here something of the celebrated dispute between the late lord Orrery and doctor Bentley concerning these Epistles. It will, I think, be sufficient to inform the unlearned reader (which all besides are already acquainted with) that in the year 1695, the late lord Orrery, by the desire of doctor Aldrich, then dean of Christ-Church, put out a new and correct edition of the Epistles with a Latin translation. A reflection on doctor Bentley in the preface occasion’d a small quarrel between them, which produced a book, publish’d about two years and a half after by the doctor, call’d, A dissertation on the Epistles of Phalaris. The dissertation was answer’d by mr. Boyle, and replied to by doctor Bentley. The controversy was on both sides carried on with great learning and spirit, and convinced the world that no subject was so inconsiderable, but, if in the hands of able men, might produce something worthy of their attention.
I never heard my lord Orrery‘s abilities as a scholar call’d into question, and doctor Bentley was always look’d on as a man of wits and parts, and yet I have been assured that, whilst the dispute was in its height, the partizans of each side behaved with a partiality, usual in such cases. The friends of Phalaris and mr. Boyle would not allow their adversary any wit, whilst the doctor’s advocates on the other hand made it their business to represent mr. Boyle as void of learning; and attributed all the merit of his book to the assistance of some men of distinguish’d merit in the college and university, of which he was member, and so far did this malicious assertion prevail, that doctor Swift alludes to it as a fact in his battle of the books, where he says, that Boyle had a suit of armour given him by all the gods. Many indeed, who gave into this foolish opinion, did at the same time allow, in justice to the late lord Orrery, that if the weapons were put into his hand he had at least to manage them to the best advantage.
Item of the Day: Miscellany, for The Port Folio (9 July 1803)
Found In: The Port folio. Enlarged. By Oliver Oldschool. Vol. III., No. 28. Philadelphia, Saturday, July 9, 1803. [p. 219]
FOR THE PORT FOLIO.
ADVICE TO THE EDITOR OF THE AURORA.
As you have, for some time, assumed the office, and rather imperiously exercised the functions of perpetual dictator to the good people of Pennsylvania, it may be proper to indicate to an attention so heedless as yours, that there are certain elements, in which you should be tolerably skilled, before you establish yourself over us, as our political schoolmaster.
As from a long and assiduous survey of your works, I have frequently found you not a little imperfect in orthography, a total stranger to grammar, and wholly averse to all purity of diction and elegance of stile. I strongly recommend to you the perusal of certain little volumes, written for the benefit of children and other Tyros, by Mr. Thomas Dilworth, a philosopher of the sixteenth century.
The next science, in the order of the circle, to which I would direct your blundering steps, is rhetoric, which, you must know, is the art of speaking eloquently, and of investing your thoughts in colours, bright and clear. As I know that you flounder in the muddiness of your mind, and are extremely unhappy, both in the choice and perspicuity of your phrases, I would advise you to borrow a few hours from those which you dedicate to the silencing of Mr. Burr, or the solacing of your wife, and commit to memory, Farnaby’s little system. Moreover, as I am told, you sometimes make an effort to speak in the primary assemblies, vulgarly called town meetings, and that your voice and periods are equally tuneless, perhaps some discipline of this kind may lash you into something, like a similitude of eloquence.
In Logic, you are so lame, that I am positive you are not equal to the management of a syllogism in Bocardo. Consult some of your Low German friends and borrow Burgersdyck, and Professor Schiltenbruch de Quidditate. From the leaden pages of laborious stupidity, your own cannot be encreased, and possibly you may learn in the art of reasoning, that some pains are necessary to establish the verity of your premises, before you suffer your zeal to hurry you to the conclusion. An important truth of which I am sorry to say, you are utterly regardless in all your speeches and writings.
With Metaphysics, I will not disturb a brain, so confused as yours; and in charity to your ignorance and incompetence, I will not lead them into a thorny thicket, where they would be miserably scratched, and instantly lose their way. I therefore pass on to Ethics; and here I am constrained to say that you will enter this region of science, as an utter stranger. You are not more an alien to America, than to your duties, as a man and a citizen; and such is my diffidence of your capacity, I know you must be frequently and severely flogged, before you will get by heart, the first lesson in this branch of your education.
Having thus suggested to you a course of studies, comprehending some of the initial sciences, I will reserve what I have to say to you upon mathematics, natural philosophy and theology, to another occasion. Of my didactics, I give you only a dose at a time, presuming that this is as much as so weak a creature can bear; and having thus prescribed what you will think sufficiently drastic, you have my permission to go “to breakfast with what appetite you may.”
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Filed under 1800's, Culture, Early Republic, Federalists, Magazine, Newspapers, Political Commentary, Posted by Caroline Fuchs