The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XII. The Romantic Revival.

XV. Scholars, Antiquaries and Bibliographers

§ 2. Latin Scholars

Among Latin scholars, mention may be made of Thomas Hewitt Key, of St. John’s and Trinity, Cambridge, professor of Latin at University college, London, from 1828 to 1842, and of comparative grammar from 1842 to 1875. His Latin Grammar was completed in 1846, while his Latin Dictionary was posthumously published from his unfinished manuscript in 1888. As professor of Latin, he was succeeded by George Long, who edited Cicero’s Orations in 1851–8, and produced translations of thirteen of Plutarch’s Roman Lives, and of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, and the Manual of Epictetus. His latest work was his History of the Decline of the Roman Republic. Meanwhile, he had contributed numerous articles on Roman law and other subjects to the great series of dictionaries planned by William Smith, who was knighted in 1892, and who deserves to be remembered as a great organiser of learned literary labour. The dictionaries of Greek and Roman antiquities (1842, etc.), biography and mythology (1843, etc.) and geography (1857) were followed by dictionaries of the Bible and of Christian antiquities and Christian biography. The Latin and English dictionary of 1855, founded on Forcellini and Freund, has its counterpart in the English and Latin dictionary of 1870, compiled with the aid of Theophilus D. Hall and other scholars.

Among the Latinists of England, the foremost place is due to Hugh Andrew Johnstone Munro, of Shrewsbury and Trinity, whose masterly edition of Lucretius, with critical notes and a complete commentary, and a vigorous rendering in English prose, was first published in 1864. Five years later he contributed a revised text, and a critical introduction, to the edition of Horace, with illustrations from ancient gems selected by the learned archaeologist, Charles William King. His other works include an edition of the Aetna of an unknown poet, and Criticisms and Elucidations of Catullus. His Translations into Latin and Greek Verse are justly held in high esteem. A masculine vigour is the main characteristic of all his work—of his Latin verse compositions, not less than of his Criticisms of Catullus, and his translation of Lucretius.

The professorship of Latin vacated by Munro’s resignation in 1872 was filled for the next twenty-eight years by John Eyton Bickersteth Mayor, of Shrewsbury and St. John’s, university librarian from 1864 to 1867. His Juvenal was first published in 1853. Not a few of the comprehensive notes in this work (especially in its later editions) are recognised as signally complete summaries of the literature of the subject concerned. The stamp of his profound learning is also impressed upon all his other works. Among those directly connected with classical scholarship may be mentioned his First Greek Reader, and his editions of Cicero’s Second Philippic, and of the third book of Pliny’s Letters. In 1863–9 he contributed to the Rolls series the two volumes of his learned edition of Richard of Cirencester. Nearly one hundred and fifty pages of the preface to the second volume are devoted to the examination of a work ascribed to Richard under the title De Situ Britanniae, proving it to be the work of “a forger alike contemptible as penman, Latinist, historian, geographer, critic”; it was never mentioned until 1747, and its author was Charles Bertram, of Copenhagen. Mayor’s activity, as editor and biographer, continued to the last, and extended into many paths of historical and antiquarian research; while whatever he published was annotated with a minute and exhaustive erudition which is generally reserved for the leading representatives of classical literature.

Five years younger than Mayor was the scholar, educational reformer and legal writer, Henry John Roby, senior classic of 1853, fellow and ultimately honorary fellow of St. John’s, where he began his career as a college lecturer and a private tutor for the seven years between 1854 and 1861, making his first public appearance in 1858 as the author of a pamphlet on college reform. His brief experience as a master at Dulwich convinced him of the need for improvements in the Latin grammar then in vogue, and led to his producing in 1862 his Elementary Latin Grammar, which profoundly modified Kennedy’s revised version of the authorised text-book. This was followed, ten years later, by the first of the five editions of his Latin Grammar from Plautus to Suetonius, in which the principles of phonetics and physiology were for the first time applied to the life and growth of the Latin language. Meanwhile, at the end of 1864, he had been appointed secretary to the Endowed Schools commission, and wrote two of the chief parts of its report. His experience in 1866–8 as professor of jurisprudence at University college, London, ultimately bore fruit in 1884 in the two volumes of his Introduction to Justinian’s Digest, and, again, in 1902, in the two volumes entitled Roman Private Law in the Times of Cicero and the Antonines, and in his Essays on the Law of Cicero’s Private Orations. He was member for the Eccles division of Lancashire from 1890 to 1895, when he left Manchester and settled at Grasmere for the last twenty years of his life. A standard edition of Cicero, De Oratore, was prepared for the Oxford press by Augustus Samuel Wilkins, of St. John’s college, Cambridge, for many years professor of Latin and comparative philology in Manchester. He also edited Cicero’s Speeches against Catiline, and Horace’s Epistles, besides taking part in the translation of George Curtius’s Principles of Greek Etymology, and of his work entitled The Greek Verb.

The first professor of Latin at Oxford was John Conington, who was elected in 1854 and held the professorship for the last fifteen of the forty-four years of his life. He is widely known as the editor and translator of Virgil and Persius. His translation of Horace into English verse was regarded by Munro as “on the whole perhaps the best and most successful translation of a Classic that exists in the English language.” Edwin Palmer filled the Latin chair from 1870 to 1878. Palmer’s successor, Henry Nettleship, planned a great Latin dictionary, and published a tenth part of the proposed work under the title Contributions to Latin Lexicography. He was an able critic of the ancient Latin poets and grammarians, and many of his best papers have been collected in the two volumes of his Essays. In 1893 he was succeeded by Robinson Ellis, best known as the learned editor of Catullus. His metrical version of that author has many touches of true poetry. He was also known as the editor of Velleius Paterculus, Avianus and Orientius, of the Ibis and the Aetna and of the Appendix Vergiliana. An unswerving and unselfish love of Latin learning, for its own sake, was the leading characteristic of his work from first to last.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, the professorship of humanity in Edinburgh was held by Conington’s contemporary, a fellow of Oriel, William Young Sellar. Immediately before his appointment in 1863, he produced, in his Roman Poets of the Republic, a masterpiece of literary criticism, which was followed in due time by similar works on Virgil, and on Horace and the elegiac poets.

Among Latin scholars in Ireland, mention should be made of Henry Ellis Allen, who, between 1836 and 1856, produced able critical editions of Cicero’s philosophical works; and of James Henry, whose Aeneidea, of 1873 to 1889, includes many important contributions to the interpretation of the poet’s text. In the next generation, textual criticism was the forte of Arthur Palmer, professor of Latin at Trinity college, Dublin, who was specially interested in the criticism of the elegiac poets and of Plautus. His contemporary, Robert Yelverton Tyrrell, who may fitly be described as doctus sermones utriusque linguae, edited the Bacchae of Euripides during his tenure of the professorship of Latin, and the Miles Gloriosus of Plautus on his promotion to the professorship of Greek. In 1879, he undertook an extensive commentary on the correspondence of Cicero, which, with the learned aid of Louis Claude Purser, he brought to a successful conclusion in 1900. He also published a critical text of Sophocles. His devotion to ancient and modern drama was combined with a keen wit and a felicitous style; and his appreciation of great writers was enhanced by his own delight in literary form.