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AUTHOR OF THE MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT GREECE AND ITALY, ETC.
I HAVE written this commentary on the rural poetry of Virgil, because, however inferior in other respects, I conceive myself to possess two important advantages over the preceding commentators on these poems: I have resided in Italy, where none of them appear ever to have been, and thence am tolerably familiar with the physical features and other properties of that country; and further, having spent the first twenty years
my life almost entirely in the country, where I witnessed all the operations of agriculture as then practised, and being similarly situated at present, I may claim a practical acquaintance with the various branches of rural economy and husbandry. They, on the contrary, have passed their days in schools and universities, and appear to have seen no agriculture, and hardly to know one implement from another.
Some may think I should except Martyn; but I do not. He knew botany, as it was then known, and nothing more: he was ignorant of agriculture and of natural history. I will however except Mr. Hoblyn, who published in 1825 a translation of the first book of the Georgics, with notes, in which he exhibited a practical acquaintance with agriculture and a competent knowledge of natural history.
Beside the commentators, I have made use of T Husbandry of the Ancients of the Rev. Adam Dickso a minister of the Church of Scotland, who certainly u derstood Pliny and the Scriptores Rei Rusticae bett than any writer I have met with, and to whom cons quently I am under much obligation. I have also h the Saggio di Nuove Illustrazioni filologico-rustic sulle Egloghe e Georgiche di Virgilio, of Carlo Fea, t celebrated Roman antiquary and topographer, and sor modern Italian works on agriculture.
Though not a professed botanist, yet not totally stranger in that region, I have ventured to add a Flor for I think it is a real advantage to the reader of Vi gil to be enabled to form a definite idea of the plan which the poet mentions. My authorities here ha been, beside Martyn, the Flore de Virgile, Flore Théocrite, and Commentaires sur la Botanique et Matière Médicale de Pline of Dr. A. L. A. Fée, ti professor of botany at Strasbourg, from whom, on m passage through that city, I received both attentio and information. The Cav. M. Tenore, director of t] Botanic Garden at Naples, though not personally a quainted with me, very kindly presented me, through common friend, with his Osservazioni on the two Flor of Dr. Fée. I may therefore hope that my Flora w
. be found tolerably correct.
I have added what I denominate Terms of Hu bandry, because it was necessary to describe the in plements and operations of husbandry at some lengt and I did not wish to make the notes disproportionat With respect to the implements, little information ca
be derived from dictionaries, except the excellent one of Forcellini, as the compilers of them knew nothing of such matters.
In the Excursus I have tried to develope two or three rather remarkable peculiarities of the Latin language, which did not appear to have been sufficiently noticed by grammarians. The Biographical Notices prefixed to the Notes seemed to me to be requisite for the perfect understanding of the Bucolics: it will be seen at once that they are only intended to be sketches, not complete biographies. It was my intention to have prefixed also Views of Bucolic and Didactic Poetry; but I after
' wards thought that it would be only increasing the size of the book needlessly, as few of its readers would probably much care about the political bucolics of Petrarca and Boccaccio, for instance, or the pastoral drama and romance of Italy and Spain. The View of Bucolic Poetry has been referred to in the Observations on the fifth eclogue, as I had not altered my plan when that part of the work was printed.
The Notes are written in English, as it is only in a modern language that the Georgics could be fully explained. There is no text, for every one may be supposed to possess a Virgil, and I have always found it more convenient to have the text in one and the commentary in another, than one at the beginning and the other at the end of the same volume, or the text and notes bearing the same proportion and relation to one another as the cornice and wall in architecture.
In illustrating the meaning of particular words and phrases, the plan which I have adopted is, to quote the