The Spectator, Volume 2. eBook

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found so much Benefit from any as from a Ring, in which my Mistresss Hair is platted together very artificially in a kind of True-Lovers Knot.  As I have received great Benefit from this Secret, I think myself obliged to communicate it to the Publick, for the Good of my Fellow-Subjects.  I desire you will add this Letter as an Appendix to your Consolations upon Absence, and am, Your very humble Servant, T. B.

I shall conclude this Paper with a Letter from an University Gentleman, occasioned by my last Tuesdays Paper, wherein I gave some Account of the great Feuds which happened formerly in those learned Bodies, between the modern Greeks and Trojans.


This will give you to understand, that there is at present in the Society, whereof I am a Member, a very considerable Body of Trojans, who, upon a proper Occasion, would not fail to declare ourselves.  In the mean while we do all we can to annoy our Enemies by Stratagem, and are resolved by the first Opportunity to attack Mr. Joshua Barnes [1], whom we look upon as the Achilles of the opposite Party.  As for myself, I have had the Reputation ever since I came from School, of being a trusty Trojan, and am resolved never to give Quarter to the smallest Particle of Greek, where-ever I chance to meet it.  It is for this Reason I take it very ill of you, that you sometimes hang out Greek Colours at the Head of your Paper, and sometimes give a Word of the Enemy even in the Body of it.  When I meet with any thing of this nature, I throw down your Speculations upon the Table, with that Form of Words which we make use of when we declare War upon an Author.

    Graecum est, non potest legi. [2]

  I give you this Hint, that you may for the future abstain from any
  such Hostilities at your Peril.



[Footnote 1:  Professor of Greek at Cambridge, who edited Homer, Euripides, Anacreon, &c., and wrote in Greek verse a History of Esther.  He died in 1714.]

[Footnote 2: 

  It is Greek.  It cannot be read.

This passed into a proverb from Franciscus Accursius, a famous Jurisconsult and son of another Accursius, who was called the Idol of the Jurisconsults.  Franciscus Accursius was a learned man of the 13th century, who, in expounding Justinian, whenever he came to one of Justinian’s quotations from Homer, said Graecum est, nec potest legi.  Afterwards, in the first days of the revival of Greek studies in Europe, it was often said, as reported by Claude d’Espence, for example, that to know anything of Greek made a man suspected, to know anything of Hebrew almost made him a heretic.]

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No. 246.  Wednesday, December 12, 1711.  Steele

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The Spectator, Volume 2. from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.