A story is told of an eccentric Essex rector. He was reading in church the fourth chapter of Judges, and after ’Now D[)e]borah, a prophetess’, suddenly stopped, not much to the astonishment of the rustics, for they knew his ways. Then he went on ’Deb[)o]rah? Deb[)o]rah? Deb[=o]rah! Now Deb[=o]rah, a prophetess’, and so on. Probably a freak of memory had reminded him that the letter was omega in the Septuagint. It will be remembered that Miss Jenkyns in Cranford liked her sister to call her Deb[=o]rah, ’her father having once said that the Hebrew name ought to be so pronounced’, and it will not be forgotten that the good rector was too sound a scholar to read ‘Deb[=o]rah’ at the lettern.
An anecdote of Burgon’s is to the point. He had preached in St. Mary’s what he regarded as an epoch-making sermon, and afterwards he walked home to Oriel with Hawkins, the famous Provost. He looked for comment and hoped for praise, but the Provost’s only remark was, ’Why do you say Emm[=a]us?’ ‘I don’t know; isn’t it Emm[=a]us?’ ’No, no; Emm[)a]us, Emm[)a]us.’ When Hawkins was young, in the days of George III, every one said Emmaus, and in such matters he would say, ’I will have no innovations in my time.’ On the King’s lips the phrase, as referring to politics, was foolish, but Hawkins used it with sense.
PS.—I had meant to cite an anecdote of Johnson. As he walked in the Strand, a man with a napkin in his hand and no hat stept out of a tavern and said, ’Pray, Sir, is it irr[’e]parable or irrep[’a]irable that one should say?’—’The last, I think, Sir, for the adjective ought to follow the verb; but you had better consult my dictionary than me, for that was the result of more thought than you will now give me time for.’ The dictionary rightly gives irr[’e]parable, and both the rule and example of the Doctor’s obiter dicta (literally obiter) are wrong.
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ADDENDA TO HOMOPHONES IN TRACT II
Several correspondents complain of the incompleteness of the list of Homophones in Tract II. The object of that list was to convince readers of the magnitude of the mischief, and the consequent necessity for preserving niceties of pronunciation: evidence of its incompleteness must strengthen its plea. The following words may be added; they are set here in the order of the literary alphabet.