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Choose an author as you would a friend

Wentworth Dillon Wentworth Dillon, Earl of Roscommon (c1633 -1685) was an Irish poet and translator. This particular quote comes from his Essay on Translated Verse.

Examine how your Humour is inclin'd,
And which the Ruling Paƒƒion of your Mind;
Then, ƒeek a Poet who your way do's bend,
and chuƒe an Author as you chuƒe a Friend.

For those whose medieval English might be a bit rusty, ƒ is a variation on the letter s known as long s. The rules of use were complicated but in general it was used at the beginning or middle of a word, but not at the end.

Long s was used in countries whose languages derived from Latin up until the late 18th century. Britain and the USA were among the last to abandon it - The London Times switched in September 1803, and Acts of Congress in the USA stopped being published with a long s from 1804.

The long s lives on in calculus where it is used as the integral symbol (whatever that maybe). It also survived into my childhood, and perhaps yours, adding a certain frisson to the reading of the lessons in church when someone unfamiliar with the text of a traditional version of the King James Bible was called on to read. A memory recalled most wonderfully in a 1994 episode of The Vicar of Dibley (starting at about 11 minutes)

Davina - BookBrowse editor

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