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EXPURGATED EDITIONS OF THE CLASSICS.

MR. URBAN-An article in the Gentleman's Magazine for September, 1842-" A Plea for Expurgated Editions," would afford ample scope for further illustration; but my remarks, comparatively with the capability of the subject, shall be very limited. In the Colleges of the Jesuits, the classic poets were uniformly purged for their students' use, as may be seen in those published by Jouvency and his predecessors; though sometimes, I have observed, to the detriment of the metre, where an objectionable word was to be replaced by another, not always to be found, of corresponding sense and quantity. But the editors "in usum Delphini," in their plan of suppression, defeated, I can say, their professed object; for the marginal asterisks, which supply the uninterpreted passages, were sure to attract the prurient eye of youth with irritated curiosity. A very near relative of mine, anxious, I recollect, to separate the lessons of politeness inculcated in Lord Chesterfield's Letters from the immorality of his principles, in the education of her sons, carefully covered or pasted over the obnoxious pages, which, however, only inflamed the prying searches of the boys, confirming Ovid's dissua

sion, expressed, indeed, much too indiscriminately, and addressed to a friend, whom he accused of overstrictness towards his wife.

"Desine, crede mihi, vitia irritare, vetando.”

(Amor. lib. iii., Eleg. iv.)

A passage of Seneca (Quæst. Natur. i., cap. 16,) and another of Lucian, (Peregrinus,) though defended by his editor Grævius, contained in the early editions, have been generally cancelled in the subsequent ones; but Dr. Dibdin, in his "Introduction to the Classics," is not justified in limiting the integrity of the text of Apuleius to the "Editio Princeps," of 1469; for other impressions are not less entire, which, of course, could not be the case with the Delphin one. Morally or politically required, however, as these retrenchments may often appear, the process, known by no seemly term, (as in its application to Holinshed,) in the trade, renders to book-collectors, the volume of little relative value-emasculated, not purified. Many, very many books, owe principally their demand to their unmutilated condition, or prohibited possession, as may be seen in M. Gabriel Peignot's curious " "Dictionnaire des Livres condamnés au feu, ou supprimés," &c. (1806, 2 tom. 8vo.) "Conquisiti (libri) donec cum periculo parabantur; mox licentia habendi oblivionem attulit," (Tacit. Ann. lib. xiv. 50,) may well be said of the innumerable anti-religious publications of the last century, as well as of those previously directed against the then ascendant power of the Jesuits. Thus, the "Ratio atque Institutio Studiorum Societatis Jesu," Romæ, 1586, octavo, published by Claudius Aquaviva, General of that order, but soon suppressed,

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538 DEPRECIATION OF BOOKS RELIEVED FROM PROHIBITION.

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produced, says Brunet, 660 livres, or £26 8s., at Gaignat's sale in 1769, " Editio Originalis incastrata," as designated by Debure, (tome i., p. 65,) who devotes seven pages to its analysis. And the "Teatro Jesuitico escribiale el Dotor Fr. de la Piedad." Cuimbra, 1654, 4to., a bitter libel, aspersive in every view, of the celebrated society, cost my friend, Count M'Carthy, at the same sale, 800 livres, or £32.; while, at his own auction in 1817, the former was bought in, at 150 francs, or £6., and the latter was sold for 61 francs, or £2 9s., and neither would now probably fetch half these prices. Similar instances of depreciation, arising from the same cause, could be easily accumulated. I have perfectly fresh in recollection the triumphant exhibition of these volumes by the amiable and accomplished Count, quite parallel to the Duke of Roxburg's ravishment, as painted by Dr. Dibdin, on possession of the Shakspere of 1623, or to Mirabeau's extacy as described by Debure in the preface to his catalogue. What bookseller or collector would purchase Bayle, stripped of the article David, ordered to be cancelled by the Synod of Rotterdam, on the complaint of Jurieu?

In fact, to attempt the complete expurgation of the ancient authors, with many of the moderns, would be very laborious, and, commercially at least, unprofitable. Several of the Fathers present various passages of glaring impurity, justified, we may presume, by the subject, as the works of St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. John Chrysostom, will prove; and many clergymen, of different persuasions, are open to the same observation. Nor can it be denied, that, as Dr. Olinthus Gregory, in his Life of Mason Good, page 128,

remarks, various expressions of the authorised English Bible, allowable, perhaps, on its first publication, have become gross and vulgar, little suited, truly, to female ears, or young imaginations.

A marked error of this Magazine, in direct connexion with our subject, may here challenge special animadversion. At page 605, for December 1841, a German historian of the Reformation, Christopher Meiners, is quoted as asserting, that, as soon as Beza had embraced the reformed creed, he purged his writings of all licentious parts. The words are, apparently, from a French translation-" Dès qu'il eût embrassé la réforme, il purgea ses écrits de tous les endroits licentieux, qui auraient pu corrompre la jeunesse, et les publia sous le titre de Poemata Varia."" (Apud H. Stephan: 1597.) Now Beza, born in 1519, first published his licentious poems in 1548, as the extant copies, with his portrait, and expressed age of 29, place beyond doubt; so that, consonantly with the historian's statement, instead of an immediate expurgation, on making open profession of Calvinism, which he did on arriving at Geneva for that purpose, the 26th October of the same year, 1548, directly after his poems had issued from the press, the poison was suffered to circulate uncounteracted for forty-nine years (1548-1597.) The evil perpetrated in youth, (though not so very young at nine-and-twenty, when the greater sin, that of publication, was committed,) he would thus have left unrepaired until extreme old age, which is confirmed by the editor of Barbou's edition in 1757, (Du Querlon,) who calls Beza "capillaris senex," at the period of this retarded act of duty. Your correspondent observes that his authority is in

correct in point of time; but in what the error consists he does not explain, nor does he apparently refer it to the long interval elapsed between the early emission of these poems and their first cited correction in 1597. I shall, however, be more explicit, and less unfavorable to Beza than his German advocate unconsciously would be; for an amended edition did appear in 1569, the first, be it remembered, still leaving above twenty years for the unarrested diffusion of the seductive corruption: and we know, unhappily, how prurient the desire for such productions is. We may infer, that M. Meiners was unacquainted with the date of this original impression, which was dedicated to Melchoir Wolmar, Beza's preceptor in reform, and printed by Badius Ascencius and his son, Conrad, (author of "L'Alcoran des Cordeliers,") for Robert Stephensall most zealous reformers, and, as such, strangely associated, it must be admitted, with their neophyte, in the circulation of his work, executed on the eve, and as the harbinger, of his declared conversion. Long before, however, since the age of sixteen, according to his statement to Wolmar, the reformed doctrine had been impressed on his conscience, though it did not prevent his engaging in the preparatory orders, and accepting the benefices-" scelerata ista pecunia," as he, using a stronger expression of disgust with its source than we are told of Vespasian, calls it, of the relinquished church; nor did it improve his habits of life during these thirteen years of silent conviction, for, "luto hærens," he continued his licentious course. He could not, therefore, warrantably assert Martial's distinction of act and pen in his favor,―

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