Etc. | Preface to the First Edition »

Dedication

TO FRANCIS DOUCE, ESQ. THESE VOLUMES OF SOME LITERARY RESEARCHES ARE INSCRIBED; AS A GRATEFUL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO A LOVER OF LITERATURE BY HIS FRIEND I. D’ISRAELI.

Epigraphs

On the title pages of the first (1791) and second (1792) editions:

INDOCTI DISCANT, AMENT MEMINISSE PENITI
                                                                       HORACE
CONTENT, IF HERE, TH’UNLEARN’D THEIR WANTS MAY VIEW;
THE LEARN’D REFLECT ON WHAT BEFORE THEY KNEW.

                                                                                                          POPE

On the title page of ‘Volume the Second’ (1792):

Parnassian BUTTERFLY! with ardent wing,
To the fair bosom of each flower I spring;
Slight tho’ my toil, and transient be my flight,
I wave my colours in the eye of light;
Tho’ small the glory of the sportive race,
Pleasure, the hues of beauty, still may trace.

In volume 3 of the 1817 (sixth) edition:

The struggling for knowledge has a pleasure in it like that of wrestling with a fine woman.
                                                                                                                                           Lord Halifax.

In volume 1 of the 1824 ‘new’ (eighth) edition:

C’est par l’Etude que nous sommes,
Contemporains de tous les hommes
Et Citoyens de tous les lieux.
                                         De La Mothe.

In volume 2 of the 1824 edition:

Non possum vivere nisi in literis viverem.
                                  Cicero, Lib. ix. Ep. 178.

Editor’s Notes

Francis Douce (1757-1834), was an author and antiquary. D’Israeli dedicated the fifth (1807) and all subsequent editions of the Curiosities to him.


Bartlett, in his ‘Familiar Quotations,’ translates the Latin hexameter attributed here to Horace as ‘Let the unlearned learn, and the learned delight in remembering.’ He goes on to explain that this phrase’s origin is not classical, but rather that it first appeared as an epigraph to the Abrégé Chronologique of Charles-Jean-François Hénault, and moreover, that Hénault, in the third edition of the same work, acknowledged that this epigraph was an attempt to latinise the couplet from Pope’s ‘Essay on Criticism’ also given above, a clarification that, presumably, D’Israeli was unaware of.


George Savile, 1st Marquess of Halifax (1633-1695) included this maxim in his Miscellaneous Thoughts and Reflections (under the heading of ‘Experience’).


The lines of French verse are inexactly quoted from the Ode à Messieurs de l’Académie Françoise by the poet & dramatist Antoine Houdar de La Motte (1672-1731). The first of the three lines doesn’t actually appear in the ode as D’Israeli has it:

Les uns à qui Clio révelle
Les faits obscurs & reculés,
Nous tracent l’image fidelle
De tous les Siécles écoulés.
Des Etats la sombre origine,
Les progrès, l’éclat, la ruïne,
Repassent encor sous nos yeux;
Et présens à tout, nous y sommes
Contemporains de tous les hommes,
Et citoyens de tous les lieux.

The quote from Cicero seems as though slightly misremembered from ‘…aut posse vivere, nisi in litteris viverem?’ which translates as ‘…could I have kept alive, had I not lived with my books?’