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Title: Curiosities of Literature, Vol. 1 (of 3)
Author: Disraeli, Isaac, 1766-1848
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Curiosities of Literature, Vol. 1 (of 3)" ***

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A New Edition,











|Transcriber's Note: In this text the macron is represented as |
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This is the first collected edition of a series of works which have
separately attained to a great popularity: volumes that have been always
delightful to the young and ardent inquirer after knowledge. They offer
as a whole a diversified miscellany of literary, artistic, and political
history, of critical disquisition and biographic anecdote, such as it is
believed cannot be elsewhere found gathered together in a form so
agreeable and so attainable. To this edition is appended a Life of the
Author by his son, also original notes, which serve to illustrate or to
correct the text, where more recent discoveries have brought to light
facts unknown when these volumes were originally published.

                                                    LONDON, 1881.

       *       *       *       *       *




The traditionary notion that the life of a man of letters is necessarily
deficient in incident, appears to have originated in a misconception of
the essential nature of human action. The life of every man is full of
incidents, but the incidents are insignificant, because they do not
affect his species; and in general the importance of every occurrence is
to be measured by the degree with which it is recognised by mankind. An
author may influence the fortunes of the world to as great an extent as
a statesman or a warrior; and the deeds and performances by which this
influence is created and exercised, may rank in their interest and
importance with the decisions of great Congresses, or the skilful valour
of a memorable field. M. de Voltaire was certainly a greater Frenchman
than Cardinal Fleury, the Prime Minister of France in his time. His
actions were more important; and it is certainly not too much to
maintain that the exploits of Homer, Aristotle, Dante, or my Lord Bacon,
were as considerable events as anything that occurred at Actium,
Lepanto, or Blenheim. A Book may be as great a thing as a battle, and
there are systems of philosophy that have produced as great revolutions
as any that have disturbed even the social and political existence of
our centuries.

The life of the author, whose character and career we are venturing to
review, extended far beyond the allotted term of man: and, perhaps, no
existence of equal duration ever exhibited an uniformity more sustained.
The strong bent of his infancy was pursued through youth, matured in
manhood, and maintained without decay to an advanced old age. In the
biographic spell, no ingredient is more magical than predisposition. How
pure, and native, and indigenous it was in the character of this writer,
can only be properly appreciated by an acquaintance with the
circumstances amid which he was born, and by being able to estimate how
far they could have directed or developed his earliest inclinations.

My grandfather, who became an English Denizen in 1748, was an Italian
descendant from one of those Hebrew families whom the Inquisition forced
to emigrate from the Spanish Peninsula at the end of the fifteenth
century, and who found a refuge in the more tolerant territories of the
Venetian Republic. His ancestors had dropped their Gothic surname on
their settlement in the Terra Firma, and grateful to the God of Jacob
who had sustained them through unprecedented trials and guarded them
through unheard-of perils, they assumed the name of DISRAELI, a name
never borne before or since by any other family, in order that their
race might be for ever recognised. Undisturbed and unmolested, they
flourished as merchants for more than two centuries under the protection
of the lion of St. Mark, which was but just, as the patron saint of the
Republic was himself a child of Israel. But towards the middle of the
eighteenth century, the altered circumstances of England, favourable, as
it was then supposed, to commerce and religious liberty, attracted the
attention of my great-grandfather to this island, and he resolved that
the youngest of his two sons, Benjamin, the "son of his right hand,"
should settle in a country where the dynasty seemed at length
established, through the recent failure of Prince Charles Edward, and
where public opinion appeared definitively adverse to persecution on
matters of creed and conscience.

The Jewish families who were then settled in England were few, though,
from their wealth and other circumstances, they were far from
unimportant. They were all of them Sephardim, that is to say, children
of Israel, who had never quitted the shores of the Midland Ocean, until
Torquamada had driven them from their pleasant residences and rich
estates in Arragon, and Andalusia, and Portugal, to seek greater
blessings, even than a clear atmosphere and a glowing sun, amid the
marshes of Holland and the fogs of Britain. Most of these families, who
held themselves aloof from the Hebrews of Northern Europe, then only
occasionally stealing into England, as from an inferior caste, and whose
synagogue was reserved only for Sephardim, are now extinct; while the
branch of the great family, which, notwithstanding their own sufferings
from prejudice, they had the hardihood to look down upon, have achieved
an amount of wealth and consideration which the Sephardim, even with the
patronage of Mr. Pelham, never could have contemplated. Nevertheless, at
the time when my grandfather settled in England, and when Mr. Pelham,
who was very favourable to the Jews, was Prime Minister, there might be
found, among other Jewish families flourishing in this country, the
Villa Reals, who brought wealth to these shores almost as great as their
name, though that is the second in Portugal, and who have twice allied
themselves with the English aristocracy, the Medinas--the Laras, who
were our kinsmen--and the Mendez da Costas, who, I believe, still exist.

Whether it were that my grandfather, on his arrival, was not encouraged
by those to whom he had a right to look up,--which is often our hard
case in the outset of life,--or whether he was alarmed at the unexpected
consequences of Mr. Pelham's favourable disposition to his countrymen
in the disgraceful repeal of the Jew Bill, which occurred a very few
years after his arrival in this country, I know not; but certainly he
appears never to have cordially or intimately mixed with his community.
This tendency to alienation was, no doubt, subsequently encouraged by
his marriage, which took place in 1765. My grandmother, the beautiful
daughter of a family who had suffered much from persecution, had imbibed
that dislike for her race which the vain are too apt to adopt when they
find that they are born to public contempt. The indignant feeling that
should be reserved for the persecutor, in the mortification of their
disturbed sensibility, is too often visited on the victim; and the cause
of annoyance is recognised not in the ignorant malevolence of the
powerful, but in the conscientious conviction of the innocent sufferer.
Seventeen years, however, elapsed before my grandfather entered into
this union, and during that interval he had not been idle. He was only
eighteen when he commenced his career, and when a great responsibility
devolved upon him. He was not unequal to it. He was a man of ardent
character; sanguine, courageous, speculative, and fortunate; with a
temper which no disappointment could disturb, and a brain, amid
reverses, full of resource. He made his fortune in the midway of life,
and settled near Enfield, where he formed an Italian garden, entertained
his friends, played whist with Sir Horace Mann, who was his great
acquaintance, and who had known his brother at Venice as a banker, eat
macaroni which was dressed by the Venetian Consul, sang canzonettas, and
notwithstanding a wife who never pardoned him for his name, and a son
who disappointed all his plans, and who to the last hour of his life was
an enigma to him, lived till he was nearly ninety, and then died in
1817, in the full enjoyment of prolonged existence.

My grandfather retired from active business on the eve of that great
financial epoch, to grapple with which his talents were well adapted;
and when the wars and loans of the Revolution were about to create those
families of millionaires, in which he might probably have enrolled his
own. That, however, was not our destiny. My grandfather had only one
child, and nature had disqualified him, from his cradle, for the busy
pursuits of men.

A pale, pensive child, with large dark brown eyes, and flowing hair,
such as may be beheld in one of the portraits annexed to these volumes,
had grown up beneath this roof of worldly energy and enjoyment,
indicating even in his infancy, by the whole carriage of his life, that
he was of a different order from those among whom he lived. Timid,
susceptible, lost in reverie, fond of solitude, or seeking no better
company than a book, the years had stolen on, till he had arrived at
that mournful period of boyhood when eccentricities excite attention and
command no sympathy. In the chapter on Predisposition, in the most
delightful of his works,[1] my father has drawn from his own, though his
unacknowledged feelings, immortal truths. Then commenced the age of
domestic criticism. His mother, not incapable of deep affections, but so
mortified by her social position that she lived until eighty without
indulging in a tender expression, did not recognise in her only
offspring a being qualified to control or vanquish his impending fate.
His existence only served to swell the aggregate of many humiliating
particulars. It was not to her a source of joy, or sympathy, or solace.
She foresaw for her child only a future of degradation. Having a strong,
clear mind, without any imagination, she believed that she beheld an
inevitable doom. The tart remark and the contemptuous comment on her
part, elicited, on the other, all the irritability of the poetic
idiosyncrasy. After frantic ebullitions, for which, when the
circumstances were analysed by an ordinary mind, there seemed no
sufficient cause, my grandfather always interfered to soothe with
good-tempered commonplaces, and promote peace. He was a man who thought
that the only way to make people happy was to make them a present. He
took it for granted that a boy in a passion wanted a toy or a guinea. At
a later date, when my father ran away from home, and after some
wanderings was brought back, found lying on a tombstone in Hackney
churchyard, he embraced him, and gave him a pony.

In this state of affairs, being sent to school in the neighbourhood, was
a rather agreeable incident. The school was kept by a Scotchman, one
Morison, a good man, and not untinctured with scholarship, and it is
possible that my father might have reaped some advantage from this
change; but the school was too near home, and his mother, though she
tormented his existence, was never content if he were out of her sight.
His delicate health was an excuse for converting him, after a short
interval, into a day scholar; then many days of attendance were omitted;
finally, the solitary walk home through Mr. Mellish's park was dangerous
to the sensibilities that too often exploded when they encountered on
the arrival at the domestic hearth a scene which did not harmonise with
the fairy-land of reverie.

The crisis arrived, when, after months of unusual abstraction and
irritability, my father produced a poem. For the first time, my
grandfather was seriously alarmed. The loss of one of his argosies,
uninsured, could not have filled him with more blank dismay. His idea of
a poet was formed from one of the prints of Hogarth hanging in his room,
where an unfortunate wight in a garret was inditing an ode to riches,
while dunned for his milk-score. Decisive measures were required to
eradicate this evil, and to prevent future disgrace--so, as seems the
custom when a person is in a scrape, it was resolved that my father
should be sent abroad, where a new scene and a new language might divert
his mind from the ignominious pursuit which so fatally attracted him.
The unhappy poet was consigned like a bale of goods to my grandfather's
correspondent at Amsterdam, who had instructions to place him at some
collegium of repute in that city. Here were passed some years not
without profit, though his tutor was a great impostor, very neglectful
of his pupils, and both unable and disinclined to guide them in severe
studies. This preceptor was a man of letters, though a wretched writer,
with a good library, and a spirit inflamed with all the philosophy of
the eighteenth century, then (1780-1) about to bring forth and bear its
long-matured fruits. The intelligence and disposition of my father
attracted his attention, and rather interested him. He taught his charge
little, for he was himself generally occupied in writing bad odes, but
he gave him free warren in his library, and before his pupil was
fifteen, he had read the works of Voltaire and had dipped into Bayle.
Strange that the characteristics of a writer so born and brought up
should have been so essentially English; not merely from his mastery
over our language, but from his keen and profound sympathy with all that
concerned the literary and political history of our country at its most
important epoch.

When he was eighteen, he returned to England a disciple of Rousseau. He
had exercised his imagination during the voyage in idealizing the
interview with his mother, which was to be conducted on both sides with
sublime pathos. His other parent had frequently visited him during his
absence. He was prepared to throw himself on his mother's bosom, to
bedew her hands with his tears, and to stop her own with his lips; but,
when he entered, his strange appearance, his gaunt figure, his excited
manners, his long hair, and his unfashionable costume, only filled her
with a sentiment of tender aversion; she broke into derisive laughter,
and noticing his intolerable garments, she reluctantly lent him her
cheek. Whereupon Emile, of course, went into heroics, wept, sobbed, and
finally, shut up in his chamber, composed an impassioned epistle. My
grandfather, to soothe him, dwelt on the united solicitude of his
parents for his welfare, and broke to him their intention, if it were
agreeable to him, to place him in the establishment of a great merchant
at Bordeaux. My father replied that he had written a poem of
considerable length, which he wished to publish, against Commerce, which
was the corrupter of man. In eight-and-forty hours confusion again
reigned in this household, and all from a want of psychological
perception in its master and mistress.

My father, who had lost the timidity of his childhood, who, by nature,
was very impulsive, and indeed endowed with a degree of volatility which
is only witnessed in the south of France, and which never deserted him
to his last hour, was no longer to be controlled. His conduct was
decisive. He enclosed his poem to Dr. Johnson, with an impassioned
statement of his case, complaining, which he ever did, that he had never
found a counsellor or literary friend. He left his packet himself at
Bolt Court, where he was received by Mr. Francis Barber, the doctor's
well-known black servant, and told to call again in a week. Be sure that
he was very punctual; but the packet was returned to him unopened, with
a message that the illustrious doctor was too ill to read anything. The
unhappy and obscure aspirant, who received this disheartening message,
accepted it, in his utter despondency, as a mechanical excuse. But,
alas! the cause was too true; and, a few weeks after, on that bed,
beside which the voice of Mr. Burke faltered, and the tender spirit of
Benett Langton was ever vigilant, the great soul of Johnson quitted

But the spirit of self-confidence, the resolution to struggle against
his fate, the paramount desire to find some sympathising sage--some
guide, philosopher, and friend--was so strong and rooted in my father,
that I observed, a few weeks ago, in a magazine, an original letter,
written by him about this time to Dr. Vicesimus Knox, full of high-flown
sentiments, reading indeed like a romance of Scudery, and entreating
the learned critic to receive him in his family, and give him the
advantage of his wisdom, his taste, and his erudition.

With a home that ought to have been happy, surrounded with more than
comfort, with the most good-natured father in the world, and an
agreeable man; and with a mother whose strong intellect, under ordinary
circumstances, might have been of great importance to him; my father,
though himself of a very sweet disposition, was most unhappy. His
parents looked upon him as moonstruck, while he himself, whatever his
aspirations, was conscious that he had done nothing to justify the
eccentricity of his course, or the violation of all prudential
considerations in which he daily indulged. In these perplexities, the
usual alternative was again had recourse to--absence; he was sent
abroad, to travel in France, which the peace then permitted, visit some
friends, see Paris, and then proceed to Bordeaux if he felt inclined. My
father travelled in France, and then proceeded to Paris, where he
remained till the eve of great events in that capital. This was a visit
recollected with satisfaction. He lived with learned men and moved in
vast libraries, and returned in the earlier part of 1788, with some
little knowledge of life, and with a considerable quantity of books.

At this time Peter Pindar flourished in all the wantonness of literary
riot. He was at the height of his flagrant notoriety. The novelty and
the boldness of his style carried the million with him. The most exalted
station was not exempt from his audacious criticism, and learned
institutions trembled at the sallies whose ribaldry often cloaked taste,
intelligence, and good sense. His "Odes to the Academicians," which
first secured him the ear of the town, were written by one who could
himself guide the pencil with skill and feeling, and who, in the form of
a mechanic's son, had even the felicity to discover the vigorous genius
of Opie. The mock-heroic which invaded with success the sacred recesses
of the palace, and which was fruitlessly menaced by Secretaries of
State, proved a reckless intrepidity, which is apt to be popular with
"the general." The powerful and the learned quailed beneath the lash
with an affected contempt which scarcely veiled their tremor. In the
meantime, as in the latter days of the Empire, the barbarian ravaged the
country, while the pale-faced patricians were inactive within the walls.
No one offered resistance.

There appeared about this time a satire "On the Abuse of Satire." The
verses were polished and pointed; a happy echo of that style of Mr. Pope
which still lingered in the spell-bound ear of the public. Peculiarly
they offered a contrast to the irregular effusions of the popular
assailant whom they in turn assailed, for the object of their indignant
invective was the bard of the "Lousiad." The poem was anonymous, and was
addressed to Dr. Warton in lines of even classic grace. Its publication
was appropriate. There are moments when every one is inclined to praise,
especially when the praise of a new pen may at the same time revenge the
insults of an old one.

But if there could be any doubt of the success of this new hand, it was
quickly removed by the conduct of Peter Pindar himself. As is not
unusual with persons of his habits, Wolcot was extremely sensitive, and,
brandishing a tomahawk, always himself shrank from a scratch. This was
shown some years afterwards by his violent assault on Mr. Gifford, with
a bludgeon, in a bookseller's shop, because the author of the "Baviad
and Mæviad" had presumed to castigate the great lampooner of the age. In
the present instance, the furious Wolcot leapt to the rash conclusion,
that the author of the satire was no less a personage than Mr. Hayley,
and he assailed the elegant author of the "Triumphs of Temper" in a
virulent pasquinade. This ill-considered movement of his adversary of
course achieved the complete success of the anonymous writer.

My father, who came up to town to read the newspapers at the St. James's
Coffee-house, found their columns filled with extracts from the
fortunate effusion of the hour, conjectures as to its writer, and much
gossip respecting Wolcot and Hayley. He returned to Enfield laden with
the journals, and, presenting them to his parents, broke to them the
intelligence, that at length he was not only an author, but a successful

He was indebted to this slight effort for something almost as agreeable
as the public recognition of his ability, and that was the acquaintance,
and almost immediately the warm personal friendship, of Mr. Pye. Mr. Pye
was the head of an ancient English family that figured in the
Parliaments and struggles of the Stuarts; he was member for the County
of Berkshire, where his ancestral seat of Faringdon was situate, and at
a later period (1790) became Poet Laureat. In those days, when literary
clubs did not exist, and when even political ones were extremely limited
and exclusive in their character, the booksellers' shops were social
rendezvous. Debrett's was the chief haunt of the Whigs; Hatchard's, I
believe, of the Tories. It was at the latter house that my father made
the acquaintance of Mr. Pye, then publishing his translation of
Aristotle's Poetics, and so strong was party feeling at that period,
that one day, walking together down Piccadilly, Mr. Pye, stopping at the
door of Debrett, requested his companion to go in and purchase a
particular pamphlet for him, adding that if he had the audacity to
enter, more than one person would tread upon his toes.

My father at last had a friend. Mr. Pye, though double his age, was
still a young man, and the literary sympathy between them was complete.
Unfortunately, the member for Berkshire was a man rather of an elegant
turn of mind, than one of that energy and vigour which a youth required
for a companion at that moment. Their tastes and pursuits were perhaps a
little too similar. They addressed poetical epistles to each other, and
were, reciprocally, too gentle critics. But Mr. Pye was a most amiable
and accomplished man, a fine classical scholar, and a master of correct
versification. He paid a visit to Enfield, and by his influence hastened
a conclusion at which my grandfather was just arriving, to wit, that he
would no longer persist in the fruitless effort of converting a poet
into a merchant, and that content with the independence he had realised,
he would abandon his dreams of founding a dynasty of financiers. From
this moment all disquietude ceased beneath this always well-meaning,
though often perplexed, roof, while my father, enabled amply to gratify
his darling passion of book-collecting, passed his days in tranquil
study, and in the society of congenial spirits.

His new friend introduced him almost immediately to Mr. James Pettit
Andrews, a Berkshire gentleman of literary pursuits, and whose
hospitable table at Brompton was the resort of the best literary society
of the day. Here my father was a frequent guest, and walking home one
night together from this house, where they had both dined, he made the
acquaintance of a young poet, which soon ripened into intimacy, and
which throughout sixty years, notwithstanding many changes of life,
never died away. This youthful poet had already gained laurels, though
he was only three or four years older than my father, but I am not at
this moment quite aware whether his brow was yet encircled with the
amaranthine wreath of the "Pleasures of Memory."

Some years after this, great vicissitudes unhappily occurred in the
family of Mr. Pye. He was obliged to retire from Parliament, and to sell
his family estate of Faringdon. His Majesty had already, on the death of
Thomas Warton, nominated him Poet Laureat, and after his retirement from
Parliament, the government which he had supported, appointed him a
Commissioner of Police. It was in these days that his friend, Mr. Penn,
of Stoke Park, in Buckinghamshire, presented him with a cottage worthy
of a poet on his beautiful estate; and it was thus my father became
acquainted with the amiable descendant of the most successful of
colonisers, and with that classic domain which the genius of Gray, as it
were, now haunts, and has for ever hallowed, and from which he beheld
with fond and musing eye, those

    Distant spires and antique towers,

that no one can now look upon without remembering him. It was amid these
rambles in Stoke Park, amid the scenes of Gray's genius, the elegiac
churchyard, and the picturesque fragments of the Long Story, talking
over the deeds of "Great Rebellion" with the descendants of Cavaliers
and Parliament-men, that my father first imbibed that feeling for the
county of Buckingham, which induced him occasionally to be a dweller in
its limits, and ultimately, more than a quarter of a century afterwards,
to establish his household gods in its heart. And here, perhaps, I may
be permitted to mention a circumstance, which is indeed trifling, and
yet, as a coincidence, not, I think, without interest. Mr. Pye was the
great-grandson of Sir Robert Pye, of Bradenham, who married Anne, the
eldest daughter of Mr. Hampden. How little could my father dream, sixty
years ago, that he would pass the last quarter of his life in the
mansion-house of Bradenham; that his name would become intimately
connected with the county of Buckingham; and that his own remains would
be interred in the vault of the chancel of Bradenham Church, among the
coffins of the descendants of the Hampdens and the Pyes. All which
should teach us that whatever may be our natural bent, there is a power
in the disposal of events greater than human will.

It was about two years after his first acquaintance with Mr. Pye, that
my father, being then in his twenty-fifth year, influenced by the circle
in which he then lived, gave an anonymous volume to the press, the fate
of which he could little have foreseen. The taste for literary history
was then of recent date in England. It was developed by Dr. Johnson and
the Wartons, who were the true founders of that elegant literature in
which France had so richly preceded us. The fashion for literary
anecdote prevailed at the end of the last century. Mr. Pettit Andrews,
assisted by Mr. Pye and Captain Grose, and shortly afterwards, his
friend, Mr. Seward, in his "Anecdotes of Distinguished Persons," had
both of them produced ingenious works, which had experienced public
favour. But these volumes were rather entertaining than substantial, and
their interest in many instances was necessarily fleeting; all which
made Mr. Rogers observe, that the world was far gone in its anecdotage.

While Mr. Andrews and his friend were hunting for personal details in
the recollections of their contemporaries, my father maintained one day,
that the most interesting of miscellanies might be drawn up by a
well-read man from the library in which he lived. It was objected, on
the other hand, that such a work would be a mere compilation, and could
not succeed with its dead matter in interesting the public. To test the
truth of this assertion, my father occupied himself in the preparation
of an octavo volume, the principal materials of which were found in the
diversified collections of the French Ana; but he enriched his subjects
with as much of our own literature as his reading afforded, and he
conveyed the result in that lively and entertaining style which he from
the first commanded. This collection of "Anecdotes, Characters,
Sketches, and Observations; Literary, Critical, and Historical," as the
title-page of the first edition figures, he invested with the happy
baptism of "Curiosities of Literature."

He sought by this publication neither reputation nor a coarser reward,
for he published his work anonymously, and avowedly as a compilation;
and he not only published the work at his own expense, but in his
heedlessness made a present of the copyright to the bookseller, which
three or four years afterwards he was fortunate enough to purchase at a
public sale. The volume was an experiment whether a taste for literature
could not be infused into the multitude. Its success was so decided,
that its projector was tempted to add a second volume two years
afterward, with a slight attempt at more original research; I observe
that there was a second edition of both volumes in 1794. For twenty
years the brother volumes remained favourites of the public; when after
that long interval their writer, taking advantage of a popular title,
poured forth all the riches of his matured intellect, his refined taste,
and accumulated knowledge into their pages, and produced what may be
fairly described as the most celebrated Miscellany of Modern Literature.

The moment that the name of the youthful author of the "Abuse of Satire"
had transpired, Peter Pindar, faithful to the instinct of his nature,
wrote a letter of congratulation and compliment to his assailant, and
desired to make his acquaintance. The invitation was responded to, and
until the death of Wolcot, they were intimate. My father always
described Wolcot as a warm-hearted man; coarse in his manners, and
rather rough, but eager to serve those whom he liked, of which, indeed,
I might appropriately mention an instance.

It so happened, that about the year 1795, when he was in his 29th year
there came over my father that mysterious illness to which the youth of
men of sensibility, and especially literary men, is frequently
subject--a failing of nervous energy, occasioned by study and too
sedentary habits, early and habitual reverie, restless and indefinite
purpose. The symptoms, physical and moral, are most distressing:
lassitude and despondency. And it usually happens, as in the present
instance, that the cause of suffering is not recognised; and that
medical men, misled by the superficial symptoms, and not seeking to
acquaint themselves with the psychology of their patients, arrive at
erroneous, often fatal, conclusions. In this case, the most eminent of
the faculty gave it as their opinion, that the disease was consumption.
Dr. Turton, if I recollect right, was then the most considered physician
of the day. An immediate visit to a warmer climate was his specific; and
as the Continent was then disturbed and foreign residence out of the
question, Dr. Turton recommended that his patient should establish
himself without delay in Devonshire.

When my father communicated this impending change in his life to Wolcot,
the modern Skelton shook his head. He did not believe that his friend
was in a consumption, but being a Devonshire man, and loving very much
his native province, he highly approved of the remedy. He gave my father
several letters of introduction to persons of consideration at Exeter;
among others, one whom he justly described as a poet and a physician,
and the best of men, the late Dr. Hugh Downman. Provincial cities very
often enjoy a transient term of intellectual distinction. An eminent man
often collects around him congenial spirits, and the power of
association sometimes produces distant effects which even an individual,
however gifted, could scarcely have anticipated. A combination of
circumstances had made at this time Exeter a literary metropolis. A
number of distinguished men flourished there at the same moment: some of
their names are even now remembered. Jackson of Exeter still survives as
a native composer of original genius. He was also an author of high
æsthetical speculation. The heroic poems of Hole are forgotten, but his
essay on the Arabian Nights is still a cherished volume of elegant and
learned criticism. Hayter was the classic antiquary who first discovered
the art of unrolling the MSS. of Herculaneum. There were many others,
noisier and more bustling, who are now forgotten, though they in some
degree influenced the literary opinion of their time. It was said, and I
believe truly, that the two principal, if not sole, organs of periodical
criticism at that time, I think the "Critical Review" and the "Monthly
Review," were principally supported by Exeter contributions. No doubt
this circumstance may account for a great deal of mutual praise and
sympathetic opinion on literary subjects, which, by a convenient
arrangement, appeared in the pages of publications otherwise professing
contrary opinions on all others. Exeter had then even a learned society
which published its Transactions.

With such companions, by whom he was received with a kindness and
hospitality which to the last he often dwelt on, it may easily be
supposed that the banishment of my father from the delights of literary
London was not as productive a source of gloom as the exile of Ovid to
the savage Pontus, even if it had not been his happy fortune to have
been received on terms of intimate friendship by the accomplished family
of Mr. Baring, who was then member for Exeter, and beneath whose roof he
passed a great portion of the period of nearly three years during which
he remained in Devonshire.

The illness of my father was relieved, but not removed, by this change
of life. Dr. Downman was his physician, whose only remedies were port
wine, horse-exercise, rowing on the neighbouring river, and the
distraction of agreeable society. This wise physician recognised the
temperament of his patient, and perceived that his physical derangement
was an effect instead of a cause. My father instead of being in a
consumption, was endowed with a frame of almost super-human strength,
and which was destined for half a century of continuous labour and
sedentary life. The vital principle in him, indeed, was so strong that
when he left us at eighty-two, it was only as the victim of a violent
epidemic, against whose virulence he struggled with so much power, that
it was clear, but for this casualty, he might have been spared to this
world even for several years.

I should think that this illness of his youth, and which, though of a
fitful character, was of many years' duration, arose from his inability
to direct to a satisfactory end the intellectual power which he was
conscious of possessing. He would mention the ten years of his life,
from twenty-five to thirty-five years of age, as a period very deficient
in self-contentedness. The fact is, with a poetic temperament, he had
been born in an age when the poetic faith of which he was a votary had
fallen into decrepitude, and had become only a form with the public, not
yet gifted with sufficient fervour to discover a new creed. He was a
pupil of Pope and Boileau, yet both from his native impulse and from the
glowing influence of Rousseau, he felt the necessity and desire of
infusing into the verse of the day more passion than might resound from
the frigid lyre of Mr. Hayley. My father had fancy, sensibility, and an
exquisite taste, but he had not that rare creative power, which the
blended and simultaneous influence of the individual organisation and
the spirit of the age, reciprocally acting upon each other, can alone,
perhaps, perfectly develope; the absence of which, at periods of
transition, is so universally recognised and deplored, and yet which
always, when it does arrive, captivates us, as it were, by surprise. How
much there was of freshness, and fancy, and natural pathos in his mind,
may be discerned in his Persian romance of "The Loves of Mejnoon and
Leila." We who have been accustomed to the great poets of the nineteenth
century seeking their best inspiration in the climate and manners of the
East; who are familiar with the land of the Sun from the isles of Ionia
to the vales of Cashmere; can scarcely appreciate the literary
originality of a writer who, fifty years ago, dared to devise a real
Eastern story, and seeking inspiration in the pages of Oriental
literature, compose it with reference to the Eastern mind, and customs,
and landscape. One must have been familiar with the Almorans and Hamets,
the Visions of Mirza and the kings of Ethiopia, and the other dull and
monstrous masquerades of Orientalism then prevalent, to estimate such an
enterprise, in which, however, one should not forget the author had the
advantage of the guiding friendship of that distinguished Orientalist,
Sir William Ouseley. The reception of this work by the public, and of
other works of fiction which its author gave to them anonymously, was in
every respect encouraging, and their success may impartially be
registered as fairly proportionate to their merits; but it was not a
success, or a proof of power, which, in my father's opinion, compensated
for that life of literary research and study which their composition
disturbed and enfeebled. It was at the ripe age of five-and-thirty that
he renounced his dreams of being an author, and resolved to devote
himself for the rest of his life to the acquisition of knowledge.

When my father, many years afterwards, made the acquaintance of Sir
Walter Scott, the great poet saluted him by reciting a poem of
half-a-dozen stanzas which my father had written in his early youth. Not
altogether without agitation, surprise was expressed that these lines
should have been known, still more that they should have been
remembered. "Ah!" said Sir Walter, "if the writer of these lines had
gone on, he would have been an English poet."[2]

It is possible; it is even probable that, if my father had devoted
himself to the art, he might have become the author of some elegant and
popular didactic poem, on some ordinary subject, which his fancy would
have adorned with grace and his sensibility invested with sentiment;
some small volume which might have reposed with a classic title upon our
library shelves, and served as a prize volume at Ladies' Schools. This
celebrity was not reserved for him: instead of this he was destined to
give to his country a series of works illustrative of its literary and
political history, full of new information and new views, which time
and opinion has ratified as just. But the poetical temperament was not
thrown away upon him; it never is on any one; it was this great gift
which prevented his being a mere literary antiquary; it was this which
animated his page with picture and his narrative with interesting
vivacity; above all, it was this temperament, which invested him with
that sympathy with his subject, which made him the most delightful
biographer in our language. In a word, it was because he was a poet,
that he was a popular writer, and made belles-lettres charming to the

It was during the ten years that now occurred that he mainly acquired
that store of facts which were the foundation of his future
speculations. His pen was never idle, but it was to note and to
register, not to compose. His researches were prosecuted every morning
among the MSS. of the British Museum, while his own ample collections
permitted him to pursue his investigation in his own library into the
night. The materials which he accumulated during this period are only
partially exhausted. At the end of ten years, during which, with the
exception of one anonymous work, he never indulged in composition, the
irresistible desire of communicating his conclusions to the world came
over him, and after all his almost childish aspirations, his youth of
reverie and hesitating and imperfect effort, he arrived at the mature
age of forty-five before his career as a great author, influencing
opinion, really commenced.

The next ten years passed entirely in production: from 1812 to 1822 the
press abounded with his works. His "Calamities of Authors," his "Memoirs
of Literary Controversy," in the manner of Bayle; his "Essay on the
Literary Character," the most perfect of his compositions; were all
chapters in that History of English Literature which he then commenced
to meditate, and which it was fated should never be completed.

It was during this period also that he published his "Inquiry into the
Literary and Political Character of James the First," in which he first
opened those views respecting the times and the conduct of the Stuarts,
which were opposed to the long prevalent opinions of this country, but
which with him were at least the result of unprejudiced research, and
their promulgation, as he himself expressed it, "an affair of literary

But what retarded his project of a History of our Literature at this
time was the almost embarrassing success of his juvenile production,
"The Curiosities of Literature." These two volumes had already reached
five editions, and their author found himself, by the public demand,
again called upon to sanction their re-appearance. Recognising in this
circumstance some proof of their utility, he resolved to make the work
more worthy of the favour which it enjoyed, and more calculated to
produce the benefit which he desired. Without attempting materially to
alter the character of the first two volumes, he revised and enriched
them, while at the same time he added a third volume of a vein far more
critical, and conveying the results of much original research. The
success of this publication was so great, that its author, after much
hesitation, resolved, as he was wont to say, to take advantage of a
popular title, and pour forth the treasures of his mind in three
additional volumes, which, unlike continuations in general, were at once
greeted with the highest degree of popular delight and esteem. And,
indeed, whether we consider the choice variety of the subjects, the
critical and philosophical speculation which pervades them, the amount
of new and interesting information brought to bear, and the animated
style in which all is conveyed, it is difficult to conceive
miscellaneous literature in a garb more stimulating and attractive.
These six volumes, after many editions, are now condensed into the form
at present given to the public, and in which the development of the
writer's mind for a quarter of a century may be completely traced.

Although my father had on the whole little cause to complain of unfair
criticism, especially considering how isolated he always remained, it is
not to be supposed that a success so eminent should have been exempt in
so long a course from some captious comments. It has been alleged of
late years by some critics, that he was in the habit of exaggerating the
importance of his researches; that he was too fond of styling every
accession to our knowledge, however slight, as a discovery; that there
were some inaccuracies in his early volumes (not very wonderful in so
multifarious a work), and that the foundation of his "secret history"
was often only a single letter, or a passage in a solitary diary.

The sources of secret history at the present day are so rich and
various; there is such an eagerness among their possessors to publish
family papers, even sometimes in shapes, and at dates so recent, as
scarcely to justify their appearance; that modern critics, in their
embarrassment of manuscript wealth, are apt to view with too
depreciating an eye the more limited resources of men of letters at the
commencement of the century. Not five-and-twenty years ago, when
preparing his work on King Charles the First, the application of my
father to make some researches in the State Paper Office was refused by
the Secretary of State of the day. Now, foreign potentates and ministers
of State, and public corporations and the heads of great houses, feel
honoured by such appeals, and respond to them with cordiality. It is not
only the State Paper Office of England, but the Archives of France,
that are open to the historical investigator. But what has produced this
general and expanding taste for literary research in the world, and
especially in England? The labours of our elder authors, whose taste and
acuteness taught us the value of the materials which we in our ignorance
neglected. When my father first frequented the reading-room of the
British Museum at the end of the last century, his companions never
numbered half-a-dozen; among them, if I remember rightly, were Mr.
Pinkerton and Mr. Douce. Now these daily pilgrims of research may be
counted by as many hundreds. Few writers have more contributed to form
and diffuse this delightful and profitable taste for research than the
author of the "Curiosities of Literature;" few writers have been more
successful in inducing us to pause before we accepted without a scruple
the traditionary opinion that has distorted a fact or calumniated a
character; and independently of every other claim which he possesses to
public respect, his literary discoveries, viewed in relation to the age
and the means, were considerable. But he had other claims: a vital
spirit in his page, kindred with the souls of a Bayle and a Montaigne.
His innumerable imitators and their inevitable failure for half a
century alone prove this, and might have made them suspect that there
were some ingredients in the spell besides the accumulation of facts and
a happy title. Many of their publications, perpetually appearing and
constantly forgotten, were drawn up by persons of considerable
acquirements, and were ludicrously mimetic of their prototype, even as
to the size of the volume and the form of the page. What has become of
these "Varieties of Literature," and "Delights of Literature," and
"Delicacies of Literature," and "Relics of Literature,"--and the other
Protean forms of uninspired compilation? Dead as they deserve to be:
while the work, the idea of which occurred to its writer in his early
youth, and which he lived virtually to execute in all the ripeness of
his studious manhood, remains as fresh and popular as ever,--the
Literary Miscellany of the English People.

I have ventured to enter into some details as to the earlier and
obscurer years of my father's life, because I thought that they threw
light upon human character, and that without them, indeed, a just
appreciation of his career could hardly be formed. I am mistaken, if we
do not recognise in his instance two very interesting qualities of life:
predisposition and self-formation. There was a third, which I think is
to be honoured, and that was his sympathy with his order. No one has
written so much about authors, and so well. Indeed, before his time, the
Literary Character had never been fairly placed before the world. He
comprehended its idiosyncrasy: all its strength and all its weakness. He
could soften, because he could explain, its infirmities; in the analysis
and record of its power, he vindicated the right position of authors in
the social scale. They stand between the governors and the governed, he
impresses on us in the closing pages of his greatest work.[4] Though he
shared none of the calamities, and scarcely any of the controversies, of
literature, no one has sympathised so intimately with the sorrows, or so
zealously and impartially registered the instructive disputes, of
literary men. He loved to celebrate the exploits of great writers, and
to show that, in these ages, the pen is a weapon as puissant as the
sword. He was also the first writer who vindicated the position of the
great artist in the history of genius. His pages are studded with
pregnant instances and graceful details, borrowed from the life of Art
and its votaries, and which his intimate and curious acquaintance with
Italian letters readily and happily supplied. Above all writers, he has
maintained the greatness of intellect, and the immortality of thought.

He was himself a complete literary character, a man who really passed
his life in his library. Even marriage produced no change in these
habits; he rose to enter the chamber where he lived alone with his
books, and at night his lamp was ever lit within the same walls.
Nothing, indeed, was more remarkable than the isolation of this
prolonged existence; and it could only be accounted for by the united
influence of three causes: his birth, which brought him no relations or
family acquaintance; the bent of his disposition; and the circumstance
of his inheriting an independent fortune, which rendered unnecessary
those exertions that would have broken up his self-reliance. He disliked
business, and he never required relaxation; he was absorbed in his
pursuits. In London his only amusement was to ramble among booksellers;
if he entered a club, it was only to go into the library. In the
country, he scarcely ever left his room but to saunter in abstraction
upon a terrace; muse over a chapter, or coin a sentence. He had not a
single passion or prejudice: all his convictions were the result of his
own studies, and were often opposed to the impressions which he had
early imbibed. He not only never entered into the politics of the day,
but he could never understand them. He never was connected with any
particular body or set of men; comrades of school or college, or
confederates in that public life which, in England, is, perhaps, the
only foundation of real friendship. In the consideration of a question,
his mind was quite undisturbed by traditionary preconceptions; and it
was this exemption from passion and prejudice which, although his
intelligence was naturally somewhat too ingenious and fanciful for the
conduct of close argument, enabled him, in investigation, often to show
many of the highest attributes of the judicial mind, and particularly to
sum up evidence with singular happiness and ability.

Although in private life he was of a timid nature, his moral courage as
a writer was unimpeachable. Most certainly, throughout his long career,
he never wrote a sentence which he did not believe was true. He will
generally be found to be the advocate of the discomfited and the
oppressed. So his conclusions are often opposed to popular impressions.
This was from no love of paradox, to which he was quite superior; but
because in the conduct of his researches, he too often found that the
unfortunate are calumniated. His vindication of King James the First, he
has himself described as "an affair of literary conscience:" his greater
work on the Life and Times of the son of the first Stuart arose from the
same impulse. He had deeply studied our history during the first moiety
of the seventeenth century; he looked upon it as a famous age; he was
familiar with the works of its great writers, and there was scarcely one
of its almost innumerable pamphlets with which he was not acquainted.
During the thoughtful investigations of many years, he had arrived at
results which were not adapted to please the passing multitude, but
which, because he held them to be authentic, he was uneasy lest he
should die without recording. Yet strong as were his convictions,
although, notwithstanding his education in the revolutionary philosophy
of the eighteenth century, his nature and his studies had made him a
votary of loyalty and reverence, his pen was always prompt to do justice
to those who might be looked upon as the adversaries of his own cause:
and this was because his cause was really truth. If he has upheld Laud
under unjust aspersions, the last labour of his literary life was to
vindicate the character of Hugh Peters. If, from the recollection of the
sufferings of his race, and from profound reflection on the principles
of the Institution, he was hostile to the Papacy, no writer in our
literature has done more complete justice to the conduct of the English
Romanists. Who can read his history of Chidiock Titchbourne unmoved? or
can refuse to sympathise with his account of the painful difficulties of
the English Monarchs with their loyal subjects of the old faith? If in
a parliamentary country he has dared to criticise the conduct of
Parliaments, it was only because an impartial judgment had taught him,
as he himself expresses it, that "Parliaments have their passions as
well as individuals."

He was five years in the composition of his work on the "Life and Reign
of Charles the First," and the five volumes appeared at intervals
between 1828 and 1831. It was feared by his publisher, that the
distracted epoch at which this work was issued, and the tendency of the
times, apparently so adverse to his own views, might prove very
injurious to its reception. But the effect of these circumstances was
the reverse. The minds of men were inclined to the grave and national
considerations that were involved in these investigations. The
principles of political institutions, the rival claims of the two Houses
of Parliament, the authority of the Established Church, the demands of
religious sects, were, after a long lapse of years, anew the theme of
public discussion. Men were attracted to a writer who traced the origin
of the anti-monarchical principle in modern Europe; treated of the arts
of insurgency; gave them, at the same time, a critical history of the
Puritans, and a treatise on the genius of the Papacy; scrutinised the
conduct of triumphant patriots, and vindicated a decapitated monarch.
The success of this work was eminent; and its author appeared for the
first and only time of his life in public, when amidst the cheers of
under-graduates, and the applause of graver men, the solitary student
received an honorary degree from the University of Oxford, a fitting
homage, in the language of the great University, "OPTIMI REGIS OPTIMO

I cannot but recall a trait that happened on this occasion. After my
father returned to his hotel from the theatre, a stranger requested an
interview with him. A Swiss gentleman, travelling in England at the
time, who had witnessed the scene just closed, begged to express the
reason why he presumed thus personally and cordially to congratulate
the new Doctor of Civil Law. He was the son of my grandfather's chief
clerk, and remembered his parent's employer; whom he regretted did not
survive to be aware of this honourable day. Thus, amid all the strange
vicissitudes of life, we are ever, as it were, moving in a circle.

Notwithstanding he was now approaching his seventieth year, his health
being unbroken and his constitution very robust, my father resolved
vigorously to devote himself to the composition of the history of our
vernacular Literature. He hesitated for a moment, whether he should at
once address himself to this greater task, or whether he should first
complete a Life of Pope, for which he had made great preparations, and
which had long occupied his thoughts. His review of "Spence's Anecdotes"
in the Quarterly, so far back as 1820, which gave rise to the celebrated
Pope Controversy, in which Mr. Campbell, Lord Byron, Mr. Bowles, Mr.
Roscoe, and others less eminent broke lances, would prove how well
qualified, even at that distant date, the critic was to become the
biographer of the great writer, whose literary excellency and moral
conduct he, on that occasion, alike vindicated. But, unfortunately as it
turned out, my father was persuaded to address himself to the weightier
task. Hitherto, in his publications, he had always felt an extreme
reluctance to travel over ground which others had previously visited. He
liked to give new matter, and devote himself to detached points, on
which he entertained different opinions from those prevalent. Thus his
works are generally of a supplementary character, and assume in their
readers a certain degree of preliminary knowledge. In the present
instance he was induced to frame his undertaking on a different scale,
and to prepare a history which should be complete in itself, and supply
the reader with a perfect view of the gradual formation of our language
and literature. He proposed to effect this in six volumes; though, I
apprehend, he would not have succeeded in fulfilling his intentions
within that limit. His treatment of the period of Queen Anne would have
been very ample, and he would also have accomplished in this general
work a purpose which he had also long contemplated, and for which he had
made curious and extensive collections, namely, a History of the English

But all these great plans were destined to a terrible defeat. Towards
the end of the year 1839, still in the full vigour of his health and
intellect, he suffered a paralysis of the optic nerve; and that eye,
which for so long a term had kindled with critical interest over the
volumes of so many literatures and so many languages, was doomed to
pursue its animated course no more. Considering the bitterness of such a
calamity to one whose powers were otherwise not in the least impaired,
he bore on the whole his fate with magnanimity, even with cheerfulness.
Unhappily, his previous habits of study and composition rendered the
habit of dictation intolerable, even impossible to him. But with the
assistance of his daughter, whose intelligent solicitude he has
commemorated in more than one grateful passage, he selected from his
manuscripts three volumes, which he wished to have published under the
becoming title of "A Fragment of a History of English Literature," but
which were eventually given to the public under that of "Amenities of

He was also enabled during these last years of physical, though not of
moral, gloom, to prepare a new edition of his work on the Life and Times
of Charles the First, which had been for some time out of print. He
contrived, though slowly, and with great labour, very carefully to
revise, and improve, and enrich these volumes. He was wont to say that
the best monument to an author was a good edition of his works: it is my
purpose that he should possess this memorial. He has been described by a
great authority as a writer sui generis; and indeed had he never
written, it appears to me, that there would have been a gap in our
libraries, which it would have been difficult to supply. Of him it might
be added that, for an author, his end was an euthanasia, for on the day
before he was seized by that fatal epidemic, of the danger of which, to
the last moment, he was unconscious, he was apprised by his publishers,
that all his works were out of print, and that their re-publication
could no longer be delayed.

In this notice of the career of my father, I have ventured to draw
attention to three circumstances which I thought would be esteemed
interesting; namely, predisposition, self-formation, and sympathy with
his order. There is yet another which completes and crowns the
character,--constancy of purpose; and it is only in considering his
course as a whole, that we see how harmonious and consistent have been
that life and its labours, which, in a partial and brief view, might be
supposed to have been somewhat desultory and fragmentary.

On his moral character I shall scarcely presume to dwell. The
philosophic sweetness of his disposition, the serenity of his lot, and
the elevating nature of his pursuits, combined to enable him to pass
through life without an evil act, almost without an evil thought. As the
world has always been fond of personal details respecting men who have
been celebrated, I will mention that he was fair, with a Bourbon nose,
and brown eyes of extraordinary beauty and lustre. He wore a small black
velvet cap, but his white hair latterly touched his shoulders in curls
almost as flowing as in his boyhood. His extremities were delicate and
well-formed, and his leg, at his last hour, as shapely as in his youth,
which showed the vigour of his frame. Latterly he had become corpulent.
He did not excel in conversation, though in his domestic circle he was
garrulous. Everything interested him; and blind, and eighty-two, he was
still as susceptible as a child. One of his last acts was to compose
some verses of gay gratitude to his daughter-in-law, who was his London
correspondent, and to whose lively pen his last years were indebted for
constant amusement. He had by nature a singular volatility which never
deserted him. His feelings, though always amiable, were not painfully
deep, and amid joy or sorrow, the philosophic vein was ever evident. He
more resembled Goldsmith than any man that I can compare him to: in his
conversation, his apparent confusion of ideas ending with some
felicitous phrase of genius, his naïveté, his simplicity not untouched
with a dash of sarcasm affecting innocence--one was often reminded of
the gifted and interesting friend of Burke and Johnson. There was,
however, one trait in which my father did not resemble Goldsmith: he had
no vanity. Indeed, one of his few infirmities was rather a deficiency of

On the whole, I hope--nay I believe--that taking all into
consideration--the integrity and completeness of his existence, the fact
that, for sixty years, he largely contributed to form the taste, charm
the leisure, and direct the studious dispositions, of the great body of
the public, and that his works have extensively and curiously
illustrated the literary and political history of our country, it will
be conceded, that in his life and labours, he repaid England for the
protection and the hospitality which this country accorded to his father
a century ago.

  _Christmas_, 1848.


[Footnote 1: "Essay on the Literary Character," Vol. I. chap. v.]

[Footnote 2: Sir Walter was sincere, for he inserted the poem in the
"English Minstrelsy." It may now be found in these volumes, Vol. I. p.
230, where, in consequence of the recollection of Sir Walter, and as
illustrative of manners now obsolete, it was subsequently inserted.]

[Footnote 3: "The present inquiry originates in an affair of literary
conscience. Many years ago I set off with the popular notions of the
character of James the First; but in the course of study, and with a
more enlarged comprehension of the age, I was frequently struck by the
contrast between his real and his apparent character. * * * * It would
be a cowardly silence to shrink from encountering all that popular
prejudice and party feeling may oppose; this would be incompatible with
that constant search after truth, which at least may be expected from
the retired student."--_Preface to the Inquiry._]

[Footnote 4: "Essay on the Literary Character," Vol. II. chap. XXV.]

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Of a work which long has been placed on that shelf which Voltaire has
discriminated as _la Bibliothèque du Monde_, it is never mistimed for
the author to offer the many, who are familiar with its pages, a settled
conception of its design.

The "Curiosities of Literature," commenced fifty years since, have been
composed at various periods, and necessarily partake of those successive
characters which mark the eras of the intellectual habits of the writer.

In my youth, the taste for modern literary history was only of recent
date. The first elegant scholar who opened a richer vein in the mine of
MODERN LITERATURE was JOSEPH WARTON;--he had a fragmentary mind, and he
was a rambler in discursive criticism. Dr. JOHNSON was a famished man
for anecdotical literature, and sorely complained of the penury of our
literary history.

THOMAS WARTON must have found, in the taste of his brother and the
energy of Johnson, his happiest prototypes; but he had too frequently to
wrestle with barren antiquarianism, and was lost to us at the gates of
that paradise which had hardly opened on him. These were the true
founders of that more elegant literature in which France had preceded
us. These works created a more pleasing species of erudition:--the age
of taste and genius had come; but the age of philosophical thinking was
yet but in its dawn.

Among my earliest literary friends, two distinguished themselves by
their anecdotical literature: JAMES PETIT ANDREWS, by his "Anecdotes,
Ancient and Modern," and WILLIAM SEWARD, by his "Anecdotes of
Distinguished Persons." These volumes were favourably received, and to
such a degree, that a wit of that day, and who is still a wit as well as
a poet, considered that we were far gone in our "Anecdotage."

I was a guest at the banquet, but it seemed to me to consist wholly of
confectionery. I conceived the idea of a collection of a different
complexion. I was then seeking for instruction in modern literature; and
our language afforded no collection of the _res litterariæ_. In the
diversified volumes of the French _Ana_, I found, among the best,
materials to work on. I improved my subjects with as much of our own
literature as my limited studies afforded. The volume, without a name,
was left to its own unprotected condition. I had not miscalculated the
wants of others by my own.

This first volume had reminded the learned of much which it is grateful
to remember, and those who were restricted by their classical studies,
or lounged only in perishable novelties, were in modern literature but
dry wells, for which I had opened clear waters from a fresh spring. The
work had effected its design in stimulating the literary curiosity of
those, who, with a taste for its tranquil pursuits, are impeded in their
acquirement. Imitations were numerous. My reading became more various,
and the second volume of "Curiosities of Literature" appeared, with a
slight effort at more original investigation. The two brother volumes
remained favourites during an interval of twenty years.

It was as late as 1817 that I sent forth the third volume; without a
word of preface. I had no longer anxieties to conceal or promises to
perform. The subjects chosen were novel, and investigated with more
original composition. The motto prefixed to this third volume from the
Marquis of Halifax is lost in the republications, but expresses the
peculiar delight of all literary researches for those who love them:
"The struggling for knowledge hath a pleasure in it like that of
wrestling with a fine woman."

The notice which the third volume obtained, returned me to the dream of
my youth. I considered that essay writing, from Addison to the
successors of Johnson, which had formed one of the most original
features of our national literature, would now fail in its attraction,
even if some of those elegant writers themselves had appeared in a form
which their own excellence had rendered familiar and deprived of all
novelty. I was struck by an observation which Johnson has thrown out.
That sage, himself an essayist and who had lived among our essayists,
fancied that "mankind may come in time to write all aphoristically;" and
so athirst was that first of our great moral biographers for the details
of human life and the incidental characteristics of individuals, that he
was desirous of obtaining anecdotes without preparation or connexion.
"If a man," said this lover of literary anecdotes, "is to wait till he
weaves anecdotes, we may be long in getting them, and get but few in
comparison to what we might get." Another observation, of Lord
Bolingbroke, had long dwelt in my mind, that "when examples are pointed
out to us, there is a kind of appeal with which we are flattered made to
our senses as well as our understandings." An induction from a variety
of particulars seemed to me to combine that delight, which Johnson
derived from anecdotes, with that philosophy which Bolingbroke founded
on examples; and on this principle the last three volumes of the
"Curiosities of Literature" were constructed, freed from the formality
of dissertation, and the vagueness of the lighter essay.

These "Curiosities of Literature" have passed through a remarkable
ordeal of time; they have survived a generation of rivals; they are
found wherever books are bought, and they have been repeatedly reprinted
at foreign presses, as well as translated. These volumes have imbued our
youth with their first tastes for modern literature, have diffused a
delight in critical and philosophical speculation among circles of
readers who were not accustomed to literary topics; and finally, they
have been honoured by eminent contemporaries, who have long consulted
them and set their stamp on the metal.

A voluminous miscellany, composed at various periods, cannot be exempt
from slight inadvertencies. Such a circuit of multifarious knowledge
could not be traced were we to measure and count each step by some
critical pedometer; life would be too short to effect any reasonable
progress. Every work must be judged by its design, and is to be valued
by its result.


  _March_, 1839.


    LIBRARIES                                                          1

    THE BIBLIOMANIA                                                    9

    LITERARY JOURNALS                                                 12

    RECOVERY OF MANUSCRIPTS                                           17

    SKETCHES OF CRITICISM                                             24

    THE PERSECUTED LEARNED                                            27

    POVERTY OF THE LEARNED                                            29

    IMPRISONMENT OF THE LEARNED                                       35

    AMUSEMENTS OF THE LEARNED                                         38

    PORTRAITS OF AUTHORS                                              42

    DESTRUCTION OF BOOKS                                              47

    SOME NOTIONS OF LOST WORKS                                        58

    QUODLIBETS, OR SCHOLASTIC DISQUISITIONS                           60

    FAME CONTEMNED                                                    66

    THE SIX FOLLIES OF SCIENCE                                        66

    IMITATORS                                                         67

    CICERO'S PUNS                                                     69

    PREFACES                                                          71

    EARLY PRINTING                                                    73

    ERRATA                                                            78

    PATRONS                                                           82


    INEQUALITIES OF GENIUS                                            88

    GEOGRAPHICAL STYLE                                                88

    LEGENDS                                                           89

    THE PORT-ROYAL SOCIETY                                            94

    THE PROGRESS OF OLD AGE IN NEW STUDIES                            98

    SPANISH POETRY                                                   100

    SAINT EVREMOND                                                   102

    MEN OF GENIUS DEFICIENT IN CONVERSATION                          103

    VIDA                                                             105

    THE SCUDERIES                                                    105

    DE LA ROCHEFOUCAULT                                              110

    PRIOR'S HANS CARVEL                                              111

    THE STUDENT IN THE METROPOLIS                                    112

    THE TALMUD                                                       113

    RABBINICAL STORIES                                               120

    ON THE CUSTOM OF SALUTING AFTER SNEEZING                         126

    BONAVENTURE DE PERIERS                                           128

    GROTIUS                                                          129

    NOBLEMEN TURNED CRITICS                                          131

    LITERARY IMPOSTURES                                              132

    CARDINAL RICHELIEU                                               139

    ARISTOTLE AND PLATO                                              142

    ABELARD AND ELOISA                                               145

    PHYSIOGNOMY                                                      148

    CHARACTERS DESCRIBED BY MUSICAL NOTES                            150

    MILTON                                                           152

    ORIGIN OF NEWSPAPERS                                             155


    INQUISITION                                                      166


    MONARCHS                                                         173


    TITLES OF SOVEREIGNS                                             178

    ROYAL DIVINITIES                                                 179

    DETHRONED MONARCHS                                               181

    FEUDAL CUSTOMS                                                   183

    GAMING                                                           187

    THE ARABIC CHRONICLE                                             191

    METEMPSYCHOSIS                                                   192

    SPANISH ETIQUETTE                                                194

    THE GOTHS AND HUNS                                               196

    VICARS OF BRAY                                                   196

    DOUGLAS                                                          197

    CRITICAL HISTORY OF POVERTY                                      198

    SOLOMON AND SHEBA                                                202

    HELL                                                             203

    THE ABSENT MAN                                                   206

    WAX-WORK                                                         206

    PASQUIN AND MARFORIO                                             208

    FEMALE BEAUTY AND ORNAMENTS                                      211

    MODERN PLATONISM                                                 213

    ANECDOTES OF FASHION                                             216

    A SENATE OF JESUITS                                              231

    THE LOVER'S HEART                                                233

    THE HISTORY OF GLOVES                                            235

    RELICS OF SAINTS                                                 239

    PERPETUAL LAMPS OF THE ANCIENTS                                  243


    THE POETICAL GARLAND OF JULIA                                    247

    TRAGIC ACTORS                                                    248

    JOCULAR PREACHERS                                                251

    MASTERLY IMITATORS                                               258

    EDWARD THE FOURTH                                                261

    ELIZABETH                                                        264

    THE CHINESE LANGUAGE                                             267

    MEDICAL MUSIC                                                    269

    MINUTE WRITING                                                   275

    NUMERICAL FIGURES                                                276

    ENGLISH ASTROLOGERS                                              278

    ALCHYMY                                                          283

    TITLES OF BOOKS                                                  288

    LITERARY FOLLIES                                                 293

    LITERARY CONTROVERSY                                             308

    LITERARY BLUNDERS                                                320

    A LITERARY WIFE                                                  327

    DEDICATIONS                                                      337

    PHILOSOPHIC DESCRIPTIVE POEMS                                    341

    PAMPHLETS                                                        343

    LITTLE BOOKS                                                     347

    A CATHOLIC'S REFUTATION                                          349

    THE GOOD ADVICE OF AN OLD LITERARY SINNER                        350

    MYSTERIES, MORALITIES, FARCES, AND SOTTIES                       352

    LOVE AND FOLLY, AN ANCIENT MORALITY                              362

    RELIGIOUS NOUVELLETTES                                           363

        MILTON                                                       370

    A JANSENIST DICTIONARY                                           373

    MANUSCRIPTS AND BOOKS                                            375

    THE TURKISH SPY                                                  377

    SPENSER, JONSON, AND SHAKSPEARE                                  379

    BEN JONSON, FELTHAM, AND RANDOLPH                                381

    ARIOSTO AND TASSO                                                386

    BAYLE                                                            391

    CERVANTES                                                        394

    MAGLIABECHI                                                      394

    ABRIDGERS                                                        397

    PROFESSORS OF PLAGIARISM AND OBSCURITY                           400

    LITERARY DUTCH                                                   403


    CRITICS                                                          406

    ANECDOTES OF CENSURED AUTHORS                                    408

    VIRGINITY                                                        412

    A GLANCE INTO THE FRENCH ACADEMY                                 413

    POETICAL AND GRAMMATICAL DEATHS                                  417

    SCARRON                                                          421

    PETER CORNEILLE                                                  428

    POETS                                                            432

    ROMANCES                                                         442

    THE ASTREA                                                       451

    POETS LAUREAT                                                    454

    ANGELO POLITIAN                                                  456

    ORIGINAL LETTER OF QUEEN ELIZABETH                               460

    ANNE BULLEN                                                      461

    JAMES THE FIRST                                                  462

    GENERAL MONK AND HIS WIFE                                        468

    PHILIP AND MARY                                                  469



The passion for forming vast collections of books has necessarily
existed in all periods of human curiosity; but long it required regal
munificence to found a national library. It is only since the art of
multiplying the productions of the mind has been discovered, that men of
letters themselves have been enabled to rival this imperial and
patriotic honour. The taste for books, so rare before the fifteenth
century, has gradually become general only within these four hundred
years: in that small space of time the public mind of Europe has been

Of LIBRARIES, the following anecdotes seem most interesting, as they
mark either the affection, or the veneration, which civilised men have
ever felt for these perennial repositories of their minds. The first
national library founded in Egypt seemed to have been placed under the
protection of the divinities, for their statues magnificently adorned
this temple, dedicated at once to religion and to literature. It was
still further embellished by a well-known inscription, for ever grateful
to the votary of literature; on the front was engraven,--"The
nourishment of the soul;" or, according to Diodorus, "The medicine of
the mind."

The Egyptian Ptolemies founded the vast library of Alexandria, which was
afterwards the emulative labour of rival monarchs; the founder infused a
soul into the vast body he was creating, by his choice of the librarian,
Demetrius Phalereus, whose skilful industry amassed from all nations
their choicest productions. Without such a librarian, a national library
would be little more than a literary chaos; his well exercised memory
and critical judgment are its best catalogue. One of the Ptolemies
refused supplying the famished Athenians with wheat, until they
presented him with the original manuscripts of Æschylus, Sophocles, and
Euripides; and in returning copies of these autographs, he allowed them
to retain the fifteen talents which he had pledged with them as a
princely security.

When tyrants, or usurpers, have possessed sense as well as courage, they
have proved the most ardent patrons of literature; they know it is their
interest to turn aside the public mind from political speculations, and
to afford their subjects the inexhaustible occupations of curiosity, and
the consoling pleasures of the imagination. Thus Pisistratus is said to
have been among the earliest of the Greeks, who projected an immense
collection of the works of the learned, and is supposed to have been the
collector of the scattered works, which passed under the name of Homer.

The Romans, after six centuries of gradual dominion, must have possessed
the vast and diversified collections of the writings of the nations they
conquered: among the most valued spoils of their victories, we know that
manuscripts were considered as more precious than vases of gold. Paulus
Emilius, after the defeat of Perseus, king of Macedon, brought to Rome a
great number which he had amassed in Greece, and which he now
distributed among his sons, or presented to the Roman people. Sylla
followed his example. Alter the siege of Athens, he discovered an entire
library in the temple of Apollo, which having carried to Rome, he
appears to have been the founder of the first Roman public library.
After the taking of Carthage, the Roman senate rewarded the family of
Regulus with the books found in that city. A library was a national
gift, and the most honourable they could bestow. From the intercourse of
the Romans with the Greeks, the passion for forming libraries rapidly
increased, and individuals began to pride themselves on their private

Of many illustrious Romans, their magnificent taste in their _libraries_
has been recorded. Asinius Pollio, Crassus, Cæsar, and Cicero, have,
among others, been celebrated for their literary splendor. Lucullus,
whose incredible opulence exhausted itself on more than imperial
luxuries, more honourably distinguished himself by his vast collections
of books, and the happy use he made of them by the liberal access he
allowed the learned. "It was a library," says Plutarch, "whose walks,
galleries, and cabinets, were open to all visitors; and the ingenious
Greeks, when at leisure, resorted to this abode of the Muses to hold
literary conversations, in which Lucullus himself loved to join." This
library enlarged by others, Julius Cæsar once proposed to open for the
public, having chosen the erudite Varro for its librarian; but the
daggers of Brutus and his party prevented the meditated projects of
Cæsar. In this museum, Cicero frequently pursued his studies, during the
time his friend Faustus had the charge of it; which he describes to
Atticus in his 4th Book, Epist. 9. Amidst his public occupations and his
private studies, either of them sufficient to have immortalised one man,
we are astonished at the minute attention Cicero paid to the formation
of his libraries and his cabinets of antiquities.

The emperors were ambitious, at length, to give _their names_ to the
_libraries_ they founded; they did not consider the purple as their
chief ornament. Augustus was himself an author; and to one of those
sumptuous buildings, called _Thermæ_, ornamented with porticos,
galleries, and statues, with shady walks, and refreshing baths,
testified his love of literature by adding a magnificent library. One of
these libraries he fondly called by the name of his sister Octavia; and
the other, the temple of Apollo, became the haunt of the poets, as
Horace, Juvenal, and Persius have commemorated. The successors of
Augustus imitated his example, and even Tiberius had an imperial
library, chiefly consisting of works concerning the empire and the acts
of its sovereigns. These Trajan augmented by the Ulpian library,
denominated from his family name. In a word, we have accounts of the
rich ornaments the ancients bestowed on their libraries; of their floors
paved with marble, their walls covered with glass and ivory, and their
shelves and desks of ebony and cedar.

The first _public library_ in Italy was founded by a person of no
considerable fortune: his credit, his frugality, and fortitude, were
indeed equal to a treasury. Nicholas Niccoli, the son of a merchant,
after the death of his father relinquished the beaten roads of gain, and
devoted his soul to study, and his fortune to assist students. At his
death, he left his library to the public, but his debts exceeding his
effects, the princely generosity of Cosmo de' Medici realised the
intention of its former possessor, and afterwards enriched it by the
addition of an apartment, in which he placed the Greek, Hebrew, Arabic,
Chaldaic, and Indian MSS. The intrepid spirit of Nicholas V. laid the
foundations of the Vatican; the affection of Cardinal Bessarion for his
country first gave Venice the rudiments of a public library; and to Sir
T. Bodley we owe the invaluable one of Oxford. Sir Robert Cotton, Sir
Hans Sloane, Dr. Birch, Mr. Cracherode, Mr. Douce, and others of this
race of lovers of books, have all contributed to form these literary
treasures, which our nation owe to the enthusiasm of individuals, who
have consecrated their fortunes and their days to this great public
object; or, which in the result produces the same public good, the
collections of such men have been frequently purchased on their deaths,
by government, and thus have been preserved entire in our national

LITERATURE, like virtue, is often its own reward, and the enthusiasm
some experience in the permanent enjoyments of a vast library has far
outweighed the neglect or the calumny of the world, which some of its
votaries have received. From the time that Cicero poured forth his
feelings in his oration for the poet Archias, innumerable are the
testimonies of men of letters of the pleasurable delirium of their
researches. Richard de Bury, Bishop of Durham, and Chancellor of England
so early as 1341, perhaps raised the first private library in our
country. He purchased thirty or forty volumes of the Abbot of St. Albans
for fifty pounds' weight of silver. He was so enamoured of his large
collection, that he expressly composed a treatise on his love of books,
under the title of _Philobiblion_; and which has been recently

He who passes much of his time amid such vast resources, and does not
aspire to make some small addition to his library, were it only by a
critical catalogue, must indeed be not more animated than a leaden
Mercury. He must be as indolent as that animal called the Sloth, who
perishes on the tree he climbs, after he has eaten all its leaves.

Rantzau, the founder of the great library at Copenhagen, whose days were
dissolved in the pleasures of reading, discovers his taste and ardour in
the following elegant effusion:--

    Salvete aureoli mei libelli,
    Meæ deliciæ, mei lepores!
    Quam vos sæpe oculis juvat videre,
    Et tritos manibus tenere nostris!
    Tot vos eximii, tot eruditi,
    Prisci lumina sæculi et recentis,
    Confecere viri, suasque vobis
    Ausi credere lucubrationes:
    Et sperare decus perenne scriptis;
    Neque hæc irrita spes fefellit illos.


    Golden volumes! richest treasures!
    Objects of delicious pleasures!
    You my eyes rejoicing please,
    You my hands in rapture seize!
    Brilliant wits, and musing sages,
    Lights who beamed through many ages,
    Left to your conscious leaves their story,
    And dared to trust you with their glory;
    And now their hope of fame achieved,
    Dear volumes! you have not deceived!

This passion for the enjoyment of _books_ has occasioned their lovers
embellishing their outsides with costly ornaments;[7] a fancy which
ostentation may have abused; but when these volumes belong to the real
man of letters, the most fanciful bindings are often the emblems of his
taste and feelings. The great Thuanus procured the finest copies for his
library, and his volumes are still eagerly purchased, bearing his
autograph on the last page. A celebrated amateur was Grollier; the Muses
themselves could not more ingeniously have ornamented their favourite
works. I have seen several in the libraries of curious collectors. They
are gilded and stamped with peculiar neatness; the compartments on the
binding are drawn, and painted, with subjects analogous to the works
themselves; and they are further adorned by that amiable inscription,
_Jo. Grollierii et amicorum!_--purporting that these literary treasures
were collected for himself and for his friends.

The family of the Fuggers had long felt an hereditary passion for the
accumulation of literary treasures: and their portraits, with others in
their picture gallery, form a curious quarto volume of 127 portraits,
rare even in Germany, entitled "Fuggerorum Pinacotheca."[8] Wolfius, who
daily haunted their celebrated library, pours out his gratitude in some
Greek verses, and describes this bibliothèque as a literary heaven,
furnished with as many books as there were stars in the firmament; or as
a literary garden, in which he passed entire days in gathering fruit and
flowers, delighting and instructing himself by perpetual occupation.

In 1364, the royal library of France did not exceed twenty volumes.
Shortly after, Charles V. increased it to 900, which, by the fate of
war, as much at least as by that of money, the Duke of Bedford
afterwards purchased and transported to London, where libraries were
smaller than on the continent, about 1440. It is a circumstance worthy
observation, that the French sovereign, Charles V. surnamed the Wise,
ordered that thirty portable lights, with a silver lamp suspended from
the centre, should be illuminated at night, that students might not find
their pursuits interrupted at any hour. Many among us, at this moment,
whose professional avocations admit not of morning studies, find that
the resources of a public library are not accessible to them, from the
omission of the regulation of the zealous Charles V. of France. An
objection to night-studies in public libraries is the danger of fire,
and in our own British Museum not a light is permitted to be carried
about on any pretence whatever. The history of the "Bibliothèque du Roi"
is a curious incident in literature; and the progress of the human mind
and public opinion might be traced by its gradual accessions, noting the
changeable qualities of its literary stores chiefly from theology, law,
and medicine, to philosophy and elegant literature. It was first under
Louis XIV. that the productions of the art of engraving were there
collected and arranged; the great minister Colbert purchased the
extensive collections of the Abbé de Marolles, who may be ranked among
the fathers of our print-collectors. Two hundred and sixty-four ample
portfolios laid the foundations, and the very catalogues of his
collections, printed by Marolles himself, are rare and high-priced. Our
own national print gallery is growing from its infant establishment.

Mr. Hallam has observed, that in 1440, England had made comparatively
but little progress in learning--and Germany was probably still less
advanced. However, in Germany, Trithemius, the celebrated abbot of
Spanheim, who died in 1516, had amassed about two thousand manuscripts;
a literary treasure which excited such general attention, that princes
and eminent men travelled to visit Trithemius and his library. About
this time, six or eight hundred volumes formed a royal collection, and
their cost could only be furnished by a prince. This was indeed a great
advancement in libraries, for at the beginning of the fourteenth century
the library of Louis IX. contained only four classical authors; and that
of Oxford, in 1300, consisted of "a few tracts kept in chests."

The pleasures of study are classed by Burton among those exercises or
recreations of the mind which pass _within doors_. Looking about this
"world of books," he exclaims, "I could even live and die with such
meditations, and take more delight and true content of mind in them than
in all thy wealth and sport! There is a sweetness, which, as Circe's
cup, bewitcheth a student: he cannot leave off, as well may witness
those many laborious hours, days, and nights, spent in their voluminous
treatises. So sweet is the delight of study. The last day is _prioris
discipulus_. Heinsius was mewed up in the library of Leyden all the year
long, and that which, to my thinking, should have bred a loathing,
caused in him a greater liking. 'I no sooner,' saith he, 'come into the
library, but I bolt the door to me, excluding Lust, Ambition, Avarice,
and all such vices, whose nurse is Idleness, the mother of Ignorance and
Melancholy. In the very lap of eternity, amongst so many divine souls, I
take my seat with so lofty a spirit, and sweet content, that I pity all
our great ones and rich men, that know not this happiness.'" Such is the
incense of a votary who scatters it on the altar less for the ceremony
than from the devotion.[9]

There is, however, an intemperance in study, incompatible often with our
social or more active duties. The illustrious Grotius exposed himself to
the reproaches of some of his contemporaries for having too warmly
pursued his studies, to the detriment of his public station. It was the
boast of Cicero that his philosophical studies had never interfered with
the services he owed the republic, and that he had only dedicated to
them the hours which others give to their walks, their repasts, and
their pleasures. Looking on his voluminous labours, we are surprised at
this observation;--how honourable is it to him, that his various
philosophical works bear the titles of the different villas he
possessed, which indicates that they were composed in these respective
retirements! Cicero must have been an early riser; and practised that
magic art in the employment of time, which multiplies our days.


[Footnote 5: The Cottonian collection is the richest English historic
library we possess, and is now located in the British Museum, having
been purchased for the use of the nation by Parliament in 1707, at a
cost of 4500_l._ The collection of Sir Hans Sloane was added thereto in
1753, for the sum of 20,000_l._ Dr. Birch and Mr. Cracherode bequeathed
their most valuable collections to the British Museum. Mr. Douce is the
only collector in the list above who bequeathed his curious gatherings
elsewhere. He was an officer of the Museum for many years, but preferred
to leave his treasures to the Bodleian Library, where they are preserved
intact, according to his earnest wish, a wish he feared might not be
gratified in the national building. It is to this scholar and friend,
the author of these volumes has dedicated them, as a lasting memorial of
an esteem which endured during the life of each.]

[Footnote 6: By Mr. Inglis, in 1832. This famous bishop is said to have
possessed more books than all the others in England put together. Like
Magliabechi, he lived among them, and those who visited him had to
dispense with ceremony and step over the volumes that always strewed his

[Footnote 7: The earliest decorated books were the Consular Diptycha,
ivory bookcovers richly sculptured in relief, and destined to contain
upon their tablets the Fasti Consulares, the list ending with the name
of the new consul, whose property they happened to be. Such as have
descended to our own times appear to be works of the lower empire. They
were generally decorated with full length figures of the consul and
attendants, superintending the sports of the circus, or conjoined with
portraits of the reigning prince and emblematic figures. The Greek
Church adopted the style for the covers of the sacred volume, and
ancient clerical libraries formerly possessed many such specimens of
early bookbinding; the covers being richly sculptured in ivory, with
bas-reliefs designed from Scripture history. Such ivories were sometimes
placed in the centre of the covers, and framed in an ornamental
metal-work studded with precious stones and engraved cameos. The
barbaric magnificence of these volumes has never been surpassed; the era
of Charlemagne was the culmination of their glory. One such volume,
presented by that sovereign to the Cathedral at Treves, is enriched with
Roman ivories and decorative gems. The value of manuscripts in the
middle ages, suggested costly bindings for books that consumed the
labour of lives to copy, and decorate with ornamental letters, or
illustrative paintings. In the fifteenth century covers of leather
embossed with storied ornament were in use; ladies also frequently
employed their needles to construct, with threads of gold and silver, on
grounds of coloured silk, the cover of a favourite volume. In the
British Museum one is preserved of a later date--the work of our Queen
Elizabeth. In the sixteenth century small ornaments, capable of being
conjoined into a variety of elaborate patterns, were first used for
stamping the covers with gilding; the leather was stained of various
tints, and a beauty imparted to volumes which has not been surpassed by
the most skilful modern workmen.]

[Footnote 8: The Fuggers were a rich family of merchants, residing at
Augsburg, carrying on trade with both the Indies, and from thence over
Europe. They were ennobled by the Emperor Maximilian I. Their wealth
often maintained the armies of Charles V.; and when Anthony Fugger
received that sovereign at his house at Augsburg he is said, as a part
of the entertainment, to have consumed in a fire of fragrant woods the
bond of the emperor who condescended to become his guest.]

[Footnote 9: A living poet thus enthusiastically describes the charms of
a student's life among his books--"he has his Rome, his Florence, his
whole glowing Italy, within the four walls of his library. He has in his
books the ruins of an antique world, and the glories of a modern
one."--Longfellow's _Hyperion_.]


The preceding article is honourable to literature, yet even a passion
for collecting books is not always a passion for literature.

The BIBLIOMANIA, or the collecting an enormous heap of books without
intelligent curiosity, has, since libraries have existed, infected weak
minds, who imagine that they themselves acquire knowledge when they keep
it on their shelves. Their motley libraries have been called the
_madhouses of the Human mind_; and again, _the tomb of books_, when the
possessor will not communicate them, and coffins them up in the cases of
his library. It was facetiously observed, these collections are riot
without a _Lock on the Human Understanding_.[10]

The BIBLIOMANIA never raged more violently than in our own times. It is
fortunate that literature is in no ways injured by the follies of
collectors, since though they preserve the worthless, they necessarily
protect the good.[11]

Some collectors place all their fame on the _view_ of a splendid
library, where volumes, arrayed in all the pomp of lettering, silk
linings, triple gold bands, and tinted leather, are locked up in wire
cases, and secured from the vulgar hands of the _mere reader_, dazzling
our eyes like eastern beauties peering through their jalousies!

LA BRUYERE has touched on this mania with humour:--"Of such a collector,
as soon as I enter his house, I am ready to faint on the staircase, from
a strong smell of Morocco leather. In vain he shows me fine editions,
gold leaves, Etruscan bindings, and naming them one after another, as if
he were showing a gallery of pictures! a gallery, by-the-bye, which he
seldom traverses when _alone_, for he rarely reads; but me he offers to
conduct through it! I thank him for his politeness, and as little as
himself care to visit the tan-house, which he calls his library."

LUCIAN has composed a biting invective against an ignorant possessor of
a vast library, like him, who in the present day, after turning over the
pages of an old book, chiefly admires the _date_. LUCIAN compares him to
a pilot, who was never taught the science of navigation; to a rider who
cannot keep his seat on a spirited horse; to a man who, not having the
use of his feet, would conceal the defect by wearing embroidered shoes;
but, alas! he cannot stand in them! He ludicrously compares him to
Thersites wearing the armour of Achilles, tottering at every step;
leering with his little eyes under his enormous helmet, and his
hunchback raising the cuirass above his shoulders. Why do you buy so
many books? You have no hair, and you purchase a comb; you are blind,
and you will have a grand mirror; you are deaf, and you will have fine
musical instruments! Your costly bindings are only a source of vexation,
and you are continually discharging your librarians for not preserving
them from the silent invasion of the worms, and the nibbling triumphs of
the rats!

Such _collectors_ will contemptuously smile at the _collection_ of the
amiable Melancthon. He possessed in his library only four
authors,--Plato, Pliny, Plutarch, and Ptolemy the geographer.

Ancillon was a great collector of curious books, and dexterously
defended himself when accused of the _Bibliomania_. He gave a good
reason for buying the most elegant editions; which he did not consider
merely as a literary luxury.[12] The less the eyes are fatigued in
reading a work, the more liberty the mind feels to judge of it: and as
we perceive more clearly the excellences and defects of a printed book
than when in MS.; so we see them more plainly in good paper and clear
type, than when the impression and paper are both bad. He always
purchased _first editions_, and never waited for second ones; though it
is the opinion of some that a first edition is only to be considered as
an imperfect essay, which the author proposes to finish after he has
tried the sentiments of the literary world. Bayle approves of Ancillon's
plan. Those who wait for a book till it is reprinted, show plainly that
they prefer the saving of a pistole to the acquisition of knowledge.
With one of these persons, who waited for a second edition, which never
appeared, a literary man argued, that it was better to have two editions
of a book rather than to deprive himself of the advantage which the
reading of the first might procure him. It has frequently happened,
besides, that in second editions, the author omits, as well as adds, or
makes alterations from prudential reasons; the displeasing truths which
he _corrects_, as he might call them, are so many losses incurred by
Truth itself. There is an advantage in comparing the first and
subsequent editions; among other things, we feel great satisfaction in
tracing the variations of a work after its revision. There are also
other secrets, well known to the intelligent curious, who are versed in
affairs relating to books. Many first editions are not to be purchased
for the treble value of later ones. The collector we have noticed
frequently said, as is related of Virgil, "I collect gold from Ennius's
dung." I find, in some neglected authors, particular things, not
elsewhere to be found. He read many of these, but not with equal
attention--"_Sicut canis ad Nilum, bibens et fugiens_;" like a dog at
the Nile, drinking and running.

Fortunate are those who only consider a book for the utility and
pleasure they may derive from its possession. Students, who know much,
and still thirst to know more, may require this vast sea of books; yet
in that sea they may suffer many shipwrecks.

Great collections of books are subject to certain accidents besides the
damp, the worms, and the rats; one not less common is that of the
_borrowers_, not to say a word of the _purloiners_!


[Footnote 10: An allusion and pun which occasioned the French
translator of the present work an unlucky blunder: puzzled, no
doubt, by my _facetiously_, he translates "mettant, comme on l'a
_trés-judicieusement_ fait observer, l'entendement humain sous la clef."
The great work and the great author alluded to, having quite escaped

[Footnote 11: The earliest satire on the mere book-collector is to be
found in Barclay's translation of Brandt's "Ship of Fools," first
printed by Wynkyn de Worde, in 1508. He thus announces his true

    I am the first fool of the whole navie
    To keepe the poupe, the helme, and eke the sayle:
    For this is my minde, this one pleasure have I,
    Of bookes to have greate plentie and apparayle.
    Still I am busy bookes assembling,
    For to have plenty it is a pleasaunt thing
    In my conceyt, and to have them aye in hande:
    But what they meane do I not understande.
    But yet I have them in great reverence
    And honoure, saving them from filth and ordare,
    By often brushing and much diligence;
    Full goodly bound in pleasaunt coverture,
    Of damas, satten, or else of velvet pure:
    I keepe them sure, fearing least they should be lost,
    For in them is the cunning wherein I me boast.]

[Footnote 12: David Ancillon was born at Metz in 1617. From his earliest
years his devotion to study was so great as to call for the
interposition of his father, to prevent his health being seriously
affected by it; he was described as "intemperately studious." The
Jesuits of Metz gave him the free range of their college library; but
his studies led him to Protestantism, and in 1633 he removed to Geneva,
and devoted himself to the duties of the Reformed Church. Throughout an
honourable life he retained unabated his love of books; and having a
fortune by marriage, he gratified himself in constantly collecting them,
so that he ultimately possessed one of the finest private libraries in
France. For very many years his life passed peaceably and happily amid
his books and his duties, when the revocation of the Edict of Nantes
drove him from his country. His noble library was scattered at
waste-paper prices, "thus in a single day was destroyed the labour,
care, and expense of forty-four years." He died seven years afterwards
at Brandenburg.]


When writers were not numerous, and readers rare, the unsuccessful
author fell insensibly into oblivion; he dissolved away in his own
weakness. If he committed the private folly of printing what no one
would purchase, he was not arraigned at the public tribunal--and the
awful terrors of his day of judgment consisted only in the retributions
of his publisher's final accounts. At length, a taste for literature
spread through the body of the people; vanity induced the inexperienced
and the ignorant to aspire to literary honours. To oppose these forcible
entries into the haunts of the Muses, periodical criticism brandished
its formidable weapon; and the fall of many, taught some of our greatest
geniuses to rise. Multifarious writings produced multifarious
strictures; and public criticism reached to such perfection, that taste
was generally diffused, enlightening those whose occupations had
otherwise never permitted them to judge of literary compositions.

The invention of REVIEWS, in the form which they have at length
gradually assumed, could not have existed but in the most polished ages
of literature: for without a constant supply of authors, and a refined
spirit of criticism, they could not excite a perpetual interest among
the lovers of literature. These publications were long the chronicles of
taste and science, presenting the existing state of the public mind,
while they formed a ready resource for those idle hours, which men of
letters would not pass idly.

Their multiplicity has undoubtedly produced much evil; puerile critics
and venal drudges manufacture reviews; hence that shameful discordance
of opinion, which is the scorn and scandal of criticism. Passions
hostile to the peaceful truths of literature have likewise made
tremendous inroads in the republic, and every literary virtue has been
lost! In "Calamities of Authors" I have given the history of a literary
conspiracy, conducted by a solitary critic, GILBERT STUART, against the
historian HENRY.

These works may disgust by vapid panegyric, or gross invective; weary
by uniform dulness, or tantalise by superficial knowledge. Sometimes
merely written to catch the public attention, a malignity is indulged
against authors, to season the caustic leaves. A reviewer has admired
those works in private, which he has condemned in his official capacity.
But good sense, good temper, and good taste, will ever form an estimable
journalist, who will inspire confidence, and give stability to his

To the lovers of literature these volumes, when they have outlived their
year, are not unimportant. They constitute a great portion of literary
history, and are indeed the annals of the republic.

To our own reviews, we must add the old foreign journals, which are
perhaps even more valuable to the man of letters. Of these the variety
is considerable; and many of their writers are now known. They delight
our curiosity by opening new views, and light up in observing minds many
projects of works, wanted in our own literature. GIBBON feasted on them;
and while he turned them over with constant pleasure, derived accurate
notions of works, which no student could himself have verified; of many
works a notion is sufficient.

The origin of literary journals was the happy project of DENIS DE SALLO,
a counsellor in the parliament of Paris. In 1665 appeared his _Journal
des Sçavans_. He published his essay in the name of the Sieur de
Hedouville, his footman! Was this a mere stroke of humour, or designed
to insinuate that the freedom of criticism could only be allowed to his
lacquey? The work, however, met with so favourable a reception, that
SALLO had the satisfaction of seeing it, the following year, imitated
throughout Europe, and his Journal, at the same time, translated into
various languages. But as most authors lay themselves open to an acute
critic, the animadversions of SALLO were given with such asperity of
criticism, and such malignity of wit, that this new journal excited loud
murmurs, and the most heart-moving complaints. The learned had their
plagiarisms detected, and the wit had his claims disputed. Sarasin
called the gazettes of this new Aristarchus, Hebdomadary Flams!
_Billevesées hebdomadaires!_ and Menage having published a law book,
which Sallo had treated with severe raillery, he entered into a long
argument to prove, according to Justinian, that a lawyer is not allowed
to defame another lawyer, &c.: _Senatori maledicere non licet,
remaledicere jus fasque est_. Others loudly declaimed against this new
species of imperial tyranny, and this attempt to regulate the public
opinion by that of an individual. Sallo, after having published only his
third volume, felt the irritated wasps of literature thronging so thick
about him, that he very gladly abdicated the throne of criticism. The
journal is said to have suffered a short interruption by a remonstrance
from the nuncio of the pope, for the energy with which Sallo had
defended the liberties of the Gallican church.

Intimidated by the fate of SALLO, his successor, the Abbé GALLOIS,
flourished in a milder reign. He contented himself with giving the
titles of books, accompanied with extracts; and he was more useful than
interesting. The public, who had been so much amused by the raillery and
severity of the founder of this dynasty of new critics, now murmured at
the want of that salt and acidity by which they had relished the
fugitive collation. They were not satisfied with having the most
beautiful, or the most curious parts of a new work brought together;
they wished for the unreasonable entertainment of railing and raillery.
At length another objection was conjured up against the review;
mathematicians complained that they were neglected to make room for
experiments in natural philosophy; the historian sickened over works of
natural history; the antiquaries would have nothing but discoveries of
MSS. or fragments of antiquity. Medical works were called for by one
party, and reprobated by another. In a word, each reader wished only to
have accounts of books, which were interesting to his profession or his
taste. But a review is a work presented to the public at large, and
written for more than one country. In spite of all these difficulties,
this work was carried to a vast extent. An _index_ to the _Journal des
Sçavans_ has been arranged on a critical plan, occupying ten volumes in
quarto, which may be considered as a most useful instrument to obtain
the science and literature of the entire century.

The next celebrated reviewer is BAYLE, who undertook, in 1684, his
_Nouvelles de la République des Lettres_. He possessed the art, acquired
by habit, of reading a book by his fingers, as it has been happily
expressed; and of comprising, in concise extracts, a just notion of a
book, without the addition of irrelevant matter. Lively, neat, and full
of that attic salt which gives a relish to the driest disquisitions,
for the first time the ladies and all the _beau-monde_ took an interest
in the labours of the critic. He wreathed the rod of criticism with
roses. Yet even BAYLE, who declared himself to be a reporter, and not a
judge, BAYLE, the discreet sceptic, could not long satisfy his readers.
His panegyric was thought somewhat prodigal; his fluency of style
somewhat too familiar; and others affected not to relish his gaiety. In
his latter volumes, to still the clamour, he assumed the cold sobriety
of an historian: and has bequeathed no mean legacy to the literary
world, in thirty-six small volumes of criticism, closed in 1687. These
were continued by Bernard, with inferior skill; and by Basnage more
successfully, in his _Histoire des Ouvrages des Sçavans_.

The contemporary and the antagonist of BAYLE was LE CLERC. His firm
industry has produced three _Bibliothèques_--_Universelle et
Historique_, _Choisie_, and _Ancienne et Moderne_; forming in all
eighty-two volumes, which, complete, bear a high price. Inferior to
BAYLE in the more pleasing talents, he is perhaps superior in erudition,
and shows great skill in analysis: but his hand drops no flowers! GIBBON
resorted to Le Clerc's volumes at his leisure, "as an inexhaustible
source of amusement and instruction." Apostolo Zeno's _Giornale del
Litterati d'Italia_, from 1710 to 1733, is valuable.

BEAUSOBRE and L'ENFANT, two learned Protestants, wrote a _Bibliothèque
Germanique_, from 1720 to 1740, in 50 volumes. Our own literature is
interested by the "_Bibliothèque Britannique_," written by some literary
Frenchmen, noticed by La Croze, in his "Voyage Littéraire," who
designates the writers in this most tantalising manner: "Les auteurs
sont gens de mérite, et qui entendent tous parfaitement l'Anglois;
Messrs. S.B., le M.D., et le savant Mr. D." Posterity has been partially
let into the secret: De Missy was one of the contributors, and Warburton
communicated his project of an edition of Velleius Patereulus. This
useful account of English books begins in 1733, and closes in 1747,
Hague, 23 vols.: to this we must add the _Journal Britannique_, in 18
vols., by Dr. MATY, a foreign physician residing in London; this Journal
exhibits a view of the state of English literature from 1750 to 1755.
GIBBON bestows a high character on the journalist, who sometimes
"aspires to the character of a poet and a philosopher; one of the last
disciples of the school of Fontenelle."

MATY'S son produced here a review known to the curious, his style and
decisions often discover haste and heat, with some striking
observations: alluding to his father, in his motto, Maty applies
Virgil's description of the young Ascanius, "Sequitur _patrem_ non
passibus æquis." He says he only holds a _monthly conversation_ with the
public. His obstinate resolution of carrying on this review without an
associate, has shown its folly and its danger; for a fatal illness
produced a cessation, at once, of his periodical labours and his life.

Other reviews, are the _Mémoires de Trevoux_, written by the Jesuits.
Their caustic censure and vivacity of style made them redoubtable in
their day; they did not even spare their brothers. The _Journal
Littéraire_, printed at the Hague, was chiefly composed by Prosper
Marchand, Sallengre, and Van Effen, who were then young writers. This
list may be augmented by other journals, which sometimes merit
preservation in the history of modern literature.

Our early English journals notice only a few publications, with little
acumen. Of these, the "Memoirs of Literature," and the "Present State of
the Republic of Letters," are the best. The Monthly Review, the
venerable (now the deceased) mother of our journals, commenced in 1749.

It is impossible to form a literary journal in a manner such as might be
wished; it must be the work of many, of different tempers and talents.
An individual, however versatile and extensive his genius, would soon be
exhausted. Such a regular labour occasioned Bayle a dangerous illness,
and Maty fell a victim to his Review. A prospect always extending as we
proceed, the frequent novelty of the matter, the pride of considering
one's self as the arbiter of literature, animate a journalist at the
commencement of his career; but the literary Hercules becomes fatigued;
and to supply his craving pages he gives copious extracts, till the
journal becomes tedious, or fails in variety. The Abbé Gallois was
frequently diverted from continuing his journal, and Fontenelle remarks,
that this occupation was too restrictive for a mind so extensive as his;
the Abbé could not resist the charms of revelling in a new work, and
gratifying any sudden curiosity which seized him; this interrupted
perpetually the regularity which the public expects from a journalist.

The character of a perfect journalist would be only an ideal portrait;
there are, however, some acquirements which are indispensable. He must
be tolerably acquainted with the subjects he treats on; no _common_
acquirement! He must possess the _literary history of his own times_; a
science which, Fontenelle observes, is almost distinct from any other.
It is the result of an active curiosity, which takes a lively interest
in the tastes and pursuits of the age, while it saves the journalist
from some ridiculous blunders. We often see the mind of a reviewer half
a century remote from the work reviewed. A fine feeling of the various
manners of writers, with a style adapted to fix the attention of the
indolent, and to win the untractable, should be his study; but candour
is the brightest gem of criticism! He ought not to throw everything into
the crucible, nor should he suffer the whole to pass as if he trembled
to touch it. Lampoons and satires in time will lose their effect, as
well as panegyrics. He must learn to resist the seductions of his own
pen: the pretension of composing a treatise on the _subject_, rather
than on the _book_ he criticises--proud of insinuating that he gives, in
a dozen pages, what the author himself has not been able to perform in
his volumes. Should he gain confidence by a popular delusion, and by
unworthy conduct, he may chance to be mortified by the pardon or by the
chastisement of insulted genius. The most noble criticism is that in
which the critic is not the antagonist so much as the rival of the


Our ancient classics had a very narrow escape from total annihilation.
Many have perished: many are but fragments; and chance, blind arbiter of
the works of genius, has left us some, not of the highest value; which,
however, have proved very useful, as a test to show the pedantry of
those who adore antiquity not from true feeling, but from traditional

We lost a great number of ancient authors by the conquest of Egypt by
the Saracens, which deprived Europe of the use of the _papyrus_. They
could find no substitute, and knew no other expedient but writing on
parchment, which became every day more scarce and costly. Ignorance and
barbarism unfortunately seized on Roman manuscripts, and industriously
defaced pages once imagined to have been immortal! The most elegant
compositions of classic Rome were converted into the psalms of a
breviary, or the prayers of a missal. Livy and Tacitus "hide their
diminished heads" to preserve the legend of a saint, and immortal truths
were converted into clumsy fictions. It happened that the most
voluminous authors were the greatest sufferers; these were preferred,
because their volume being the greatest, most profitably repaid their
destroying industry, and furnished ampler scope for future
transcription. A Livy or a Diodorus was preferred to the smaller works
of Cicero or Horace; and it is to this circumstance that Juvenal,
Persius, and Martial have come down to us entire, rather probably than
to these pious personages preferring their obscenities, as some have
accused them. At Rome, a part of a book of Livy was found, between the
lines of a parchment but half effaced, on which they had substituted a
book of the Bible; and a recent discovery of Cicero _De Republicâ_,
which lay concealed under some monkish writing, shows the fate of
ancient manuscripts.[13]

That the Monks had not in high veneration the _profane_ authors, appears
by a facetious anecdote. To read the classics was considered as a very
idle recreation, and some held them in great horror. To distinguish them
from other books, they invented a disgraceful sign: when a monk asked
for a pagan author, after making the general sign they used in their
manual and silent language when they wanted a book, he added a
particular one, which consisted in scratching under his ear, as a dog,
which feels an itching, scratches himself in that place with his
paw--because, said they, an unbeliever is compared to a dog! In this
manner they expressed an _itching_ for those _dogs_ Virgil or

There have been ages when, for the possession of a manuscript, some
would transfer an estate, or leave in pawn for its loan hundreds of
golden crowns; and when even the sale or loan of a manuscript was
considered of such importance as to have been solemnly registered by
public acts. Absolute as was Louis XI. he could not obtain the MS. of
Rasis, an Arabian writer, from the library of the Faculty of Paris, to
have a copy made, without pledging a hundred golden crowns; and the
president of his treasury, charged with this commission, sold part of
his plate to make the deposit. For the loan of a volume of Avicenna, a
Baron offered a pledge of ten marks of silver, which was refused:
because it was not considered equal to the risk incurred of losing a
volume of Avicenna! These events occurred in 1471. One cannot but smile,
at an anterior period, when a Countess of Anjou bought a favourite book
of homilies for two hundred sheep, some skins of martins, and bushels of
wheat and rye.

In those times, manuscripts were important articles of commerce; they
were excessively scarce, and preserved with the utmost care. Usurers
themselves considered them as precious objects for pawn. A student of
Pavia, who was reduced, raised a new fortune by leaving in pawn a
manuscript of a body of law; and a grammarian, who was ruined by a fire,
rebuilt his house with two small volumes of Cicero.

At the restoration of letters, the researches of literary men were
chiefly directed to this point; every part of Europe and Greece was
ransacked; and, the glorious end considered, there was something sublime
in this humble industry, which often recovered a lost author of
antiquity, and gave one more classic to the world. This occupation was
carried on with enthusiasm, and a kind of mania possessed many, who
exhausted their fortunes in distant voyages and profuse prices. In
reading the correspondence of the learned Italians of these times, their
adventures of manuscript-hunting are very amusing; and their raptures,
their congratulations, or at times their condolence, and even their
censures, are all immoderate. The acquisition of a province would not
have given so much satisfaction as the discovery or an author little
known, or not known at all. "Oh, great gain! Oh, unexpected felicity! I
intreat you, my Poggio, send me the manuscript as soon as possible, that
I may see it before I die!" exclaims Aretino, in a letter overflowing
with enthusiasm, on Poggio's discovery of a copy of Quintilian. Some of
the half-witted, who joined in this great hunt, were often thrown out,
and some paid high for manuscripts not authentic; the knave played on
the bungling amateur of manuscripts, whose credulity exceeded his purse.
But even among the learned, much ill-blood was inflamed; he who had
been most successful in acquiring manuscripts was envied by the less
fortunate, and the glory of possessing a manuscript of Cicero seemed to
approximate to that of being its author. It is curious to observe that
in these vast importations into Italy of manuscripts from Asia, John
Aurispa, who brought many hundreds of Greek manuscripts, laments that he
had chosen more profane than sacred writers; which circumstance he tells
us was owing to the Greeks, who would not so easily part with
theological works, but did not highly value profane writers!

These manuscripts were discovered in the obscurest recesses of
monasteries; they were not always imprisoned in libraries, but rotting
in dark unfrequented corners with rubbish. It required not less
ingenuity to find out places where to grope in, than to understand the
value of the acquisition. An universal ignorance then prevailed in the
knowledge of ancient writers. A scholar of those times gave the first
rank among the Latin writers to one Valerius, whether he meant Martial
or Maximus is uncertain; he placed Plato and Tully among the poets, and
imagined that Ennius and Statius were contemporaries. A library of six
hundred volumes was then considered as an extraordinary collection.

Among those whose lives were devoted to this purpose, Poggio the
Florentine stands distinguished; but he complains that his zeal was not
assisted by the great. He found under a heap of rubbish in a decayed
coffer, in a tower belonging to the monastery of St. Gallo, the work of
Quintilian. He is indignant at its forlorn situation; at least, he
cries, it should have been preserved in the library of the monks; but I
found it _in teterrimo quodam et obscuro carcere_--and to his great joy
drew it out of its grave! The monks have been complimented as the
preservers of literature, but by facts, like the present, their real
affection may be doubted.

The most valuable copy of Tacitus, of whom so much is wanting, was
likewise discovered in a monastery of Westphalia. It is a curious
circumstance in literary history, that we should owe Tacitus to this
single copy; for the Roman emperor of that name had copies of the works
of his illustrious ancestor placed in all the libraries of the empire,
and every year had ten copies transcribed; but the Roman libraries seem
to have been all destroyed, and the imperial protection availed nothing
against the teeth of time.

The original manuscript of Justinian's Pandects was discovered by the
Pisans, when they took a city in Calabria; that vast code of laws had
been in a manner unknown from the time of that emperor. This curious
book was brought to Pisa; and when Pisa was taken by the Florentines,
was transferred to Florence, where it is still preserved.

It sometimes happened that manuscripts were discovered in the last
agonies of existence. Papirius Masson found, in the house of a
bookbinder of Lyons, the works of Agobard; the mechanic was on the point
of using the manuscripts to line the covers of his books.[15] A page of
the second decade of Livy, it is said, was found by a man of letters in
the parchment of his battledore, while he was amusing himself in the
country. He hastened to the maker of the battledore--but arrived too
late! The man had finished the last page of Livy--about a week before.

Many works have undoubtedly perished in this manuscript state. By a
petition of Dr. Dee to Queen Mary, in the Cotton library, it appears
that Cicero's treatise _De Republicâ_ was once extant in this country.
Huet observes that Petronius was probably entire in the days of John of
Salisbury, who quotes fragments, not now to be found in the remains of
the Roman bard. Raimond Soranzo, a lawyer in the papal court, possessed
two books of Cicero "on Glory," which he presented to Petrarch, who lent
them to a poor aged man of letters, formerly his preceptor. Urged by
extreme want, the old man pawned them, and returning home died suddenly
without having revealed where he had left them. They have never been
recovered. Petrarch speaks of them with ecstasy, and tells us that he
had studied them perpetually. Two centuries afterwards, this treatise on
Glory by Cicero was mentioned in a catalogue of books bequeathed to a
monastery of nuns, but when inquired after was missing. It was supposed
that Petrus Alcyonius, physician to that household, purloined it, and
after transcribing as much of it as he could into his own writings, had
destroyed the original. Alcyonius, in his book _De Exilio_, the critics
observed, had many splendid passages which stood isolated in his work,
and were quite above his genius. The beggar, or in this case the thief,
was detected by mending his rags with patches of purple and gold.

In this age of manuscript, there is reason to believe, that when a man
of letters accidentally obtained an unknown work, he did not make the
fairest use of it, but cautiously concealed it from his contemporaries.
Leonard Aretino, a distinguished scholar at the dawn of modern
literature, having found a Greek manuscript of Procopius _De Bello
Gothico_, translated it into Latin, and published the work; but
concealing the author's name, it passed as his own, till another
manuscript of the same work being dug out of its grave, the fraud of
Aretino was apparent. Barbosa, a bishop of Ugento, in 1649, has printed
among his works a treatise, obtained by one of his domestics bringing in
a fish rolled in a leaf of written paper, which his curiosity led him to
examine. He was sufficiently interested to run out and search the fish
market, till he found the manuscript out of which it had been torn. He
published it, under the title _De Officio Episcopi_. Machiavelli acted
more adroitly in a similar case; a manuscript of the Apophthegms of the
Ancients by Plutarch having fallen into his hands, he selected those
which pleased him, and put them into the mouth of his hero Castrucio

In more recent times, we might collect many curious anecdotes concerning
manuscripts. Sir Robert Cotton one day at his tailor's discovered that
the man was holding in his hand, ready to cut up for measures--an
original Magna Charta, with all its appendages of seals and signatures.
This anecdote is told by Colomiés, who long resided in this country; and
an original Magna Charta is preserved in the Cottonian library
exhibiting marks of dilapidation.

Cardinal Granvelle[16] left behind him several chests filled with a
prodigious quantity of letters written in different languages,
commented, noted, and underlined by his own hand. These curious
manuscripts, after his death, were left in a garret to the mercy of the
rain and the rats. Five or six of these chests the steward sold to the
grocers. It was then that a discovery was made of this treasure. Several
learned men occupied themselves in collecting sufficient of these
literary relics to form eighty thick folios, consisting of original
letters by all the crowned heads in Europe, with instructions for
ambassadors, and other state-papers.

A valuable secret history by Sir George Mackenzie, the king's advocate
in Scotland, was rescued from a mass of waste paper sold to a grocer,
who had the good sense to discriminate it, and communicated this curious
memorial to Dr. M'Crie. The original, in the handwriting of its author,
has been deposited in the Advocate's Library. There is an hiatus, which
contained the history of six years. This work excited inquiry after the
rest of the MSS., which were found to be nothing more than the sweepings
of an attorney's office.

Montaigne's Journal of his Travels into Italy has been but recently
published. A prebendary of Perigord, travelling through this province to
make researches relative to its history, arrived at the ancient
_château_ of Montaigne, in possession of a descendant of this great man.
He inquired for the archives, if there had been any. He was shown an old
worm-eaten coffer, which had long held papers untouched by the incurious
generations of Montaigne. Stifled in clouds of dust, he drew out the
original manuscript of the travels of Montaigne. Two-thirds of the work
are in the handwriting of Montaigne, and the rest is written by a
servant, who always speaks of his master in the third person. But he
must have written what Montaigne dictated, as the expressions and the
egotisms are all Montaigne's. The bad writing and orthography made it
almost unintelligible. They confirmed Montaigne's own observation, that
he was very negligent in the correction of his works.

Our ancestors were great hiders of manuscripts: Dr. Dee's singular MSS.
were found in the secret drawer of a chest, which had passed through
many hands undiscovered; and that vast collection of state-papers of
Thurloe's, the secretary of Cromwell, which formed about seventy volumes
in the original manuscripts, accidentally fell out of the false ceiling
of some chambers in Lincoln's-Inn.

A considerable portion of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's Letters I
discovered in the hands of an attorney: family-papers are often
consigned to offices of lawyers, where many valuable manuscripts are
buried. Posthumous publications of this kind are too frequently made
from sordid motives: discernment and taste would only be detrimental to
the views of bulky publishers.[17]


[Footnote 13: This important political treatise was discovered in the
year 1823, by Angelo Maii, in the library of the Vatican. A treatise on
the Psalms covered it. This second treatise was written in the clear,
minute character of the middle ages, but beneath it Maii saw distinct
traces of the larger letters of the work of Cicero; and to the infinite
joy of the learned succeeded in restoring to the world one of the most
important works of the great orator.]

[Footnote 14: "Many bishops and abbots began to consider learning as
pernicious to true piety, and confounded illiberal ignorance with
Christian simplicity," says Warton. The study of Pagan authors was
declared to inculcate Paganism; the same sort of reasoning led others to
say that the reading of the Scriptures would infallibly change the
readers to Jews; it is amusing to look back on these vain efforts to
stop the effect of the printing-press.]

[Footnote 15: Agobard was Archbishop of Lyons, and one of the most
learned men of the ninth century. He was born in 779; raised to the
prelacy in 816, from which he was expelled by Louis le Debonnaire for
espousing the cause of his son Lothaire; he fled to Italy, but was
restored to his see in 838, dying in 840, when the Church canonized him.
He was a strenuous Churchman, but with enlightened views; and his style
as an author is remarkable alike for its clearness and perfect
simplicity. His works were unknown until discovered in the manner
narrated above, and were published by the discoverer at Paris in 1603,
the originals being bequeathed to the Royal Library at his death. On
examination, several errors were found in this edition, and a new one
was published in 1662, to which another treatise by Agobard was added.]

[Footnote 16: The celebrated minister of Philip II.]

[Footnote 17: One of the most curious modern discoveries was that of the
Fairfax papers and correspondence by the late J. N. Hughes, of
Winchester, who purchased at a sale at Leeds Castle, Kent, a box
apparently filled with old coloured paving-tiles; on removing the upper
layers he found a large mass of manuscripts of the time of the Civil
wars, evidently thus packed for concealment; they have since been
published, and add most valuable information to this interesting period
of English history.]


It may, perhaps, be some satisfaction to show the young writer, that the
most celebrated ancients have been as rudely subjected to the tyranny of
criticism as the moderns. Detraction has ever poured the "waters of

It was given out, that Homer had stolen from anterior poets whatever was
most remarkable in the Iliad and Odyssey. Naucrates even points out the
source in the library at Memphis in a temple of Vulcan, which according
to him the blind bard completely pillaged. Undoubtedly there were good
poets before Homer; how absurd to conceive that an elaborate poem could
be the first! We have indeed accounts of anterior poets, and apparently
of epics, before Homer; Ælian notices Syagrus, who composed a poem on
the Siege of Troy; and Suidas the poem of Corinnus, from which it is
said Homer greatly borrowed. Why did Plato so severely condemn the great
bard, and imitate him?

Sophocles was brought to trial by his children as a lunatic; and some,
who censured the inequalities of this poet, have also condemned the
vanity of Pindar; the rough verses of Æschylus; and Euripides, for the
conduct of his plots.

Socrates, considered as the wisest and the most moral of men, Cicero
treated as an usurer, and the pedant Athenæus as illiterate; the latter
points out as a Socratic folly our philosopher disserting on the nature
of justice before his judges, who were so many thieves. The malignant
buffoonery of Aristophanes treats him much worse; but he, as Jortin
says, was a great wit, but a great rascal.

Plato--who has been called, by Clement of Alexandria, the Moses of
Athens; the philosopher of the Christians, by Arnobius; and the god of
philosophers, by Cicero--Athenæus accuses of envy; Theopompus of lying;
Suidas of avarice; Aulus Gellius, of robbery; Porphyry, of incontinence;
and Aristophanes, of impiety.

Aristotle, whose industry composed more than four hundred volumes, has
not been less spared by the critics; Diogenes Laertius, Cicero, and
Plutarch, have forgotten nothing that can tend to show his ignorance,
his ambition, and his vanity.

It has been said, that Plato was so envious of the celebrity of
Democritus, that he proposed burning all his works; but that Amydis and
Clinias prevented it, by remonstrating that there were copies of them
everywhere; and Aristotle was agitated by the same passion against all
the philosophers his predecessors.

Virgil is destitute of invention, if we are to give credit to Pliny,
Carbilius, and Seneca. Caligula has absolutely denied him even
mediocrity; Herennus has marked his faults; and Perilius Faustinus has
furnished a thick volume with his plagiarisms. Even the author of his
apology has confessed, that he has stolen from Homer his greatest
beauties; from Apollonius Rhodius, many of his pathetic passages; from
Nicander, hints for his Georgies; and this does not terminate the

Horace censures the coarse humour of Plautus; and Horace, in his turn,
has been blamed for the free use he made of the Greek minor poets.

The majority of the critics regard Pliny's Natural History only as a
heap of fables; and Pliny cannot bear with Diodorus and Vopiscus; and in
one comprehensive criticism, treats all the historians as narrators of

Livy has been reproached for his aversion to the Gauls; Dion, for his
hatred of the republic; Velleius Paterculus, for speaking too kindly of
the vices of Tiberius; and Herodotus and Plutarch, for their excessive
partiality to their own country: while the latter has written an entire
treatise on the malignity of Herodotus. Xenophon and Quintus Curtius
have been considered rather as novelists than historians; and Tacitus
has been censured for his audacity in pretending to discover the
political springs and secret causes of events. Dionysius of
Harlicarnassus has made an elaborate attack on Thucydides for the
unskilful choice of his subject, and his manner of treating it.
Dionysius would have nothing written but what tended to the glory of his
country and the pleasure of the reader--as if history were a song! adds
Hobbes, who also shows a personal motive in this attack. The same
Dionysius severely criticises the style of Xenophon, who, he says, in
attempting to elevate his style, shows himself incapable of supporting
it. Polybius has been blamed for his frequent introduction of
reflections which interrupt the thread of his narrative; and Sallust has
been blamed by Cato for indulging his own private passions, and
studiously concealing many of the glorious actions of Cicero. The Jewish
historian, Josephus, is accused of not having designed his history for
his own people so much as for the Greeks and Romans, whom he takes the
utmost care never to offend. Josephus assumes a Roman name, Flavius; and
considering his nation as entirely subjugated, to make them appear
dignified to their conquerors, alters what he himself calls the _Holy
books_. It is well known how widely he differs from the scriptural
accounts. Some have said of Cicero, that there is no connexion, and to
adopt their own figures, no _blood_ and _nerves_, in what his admirers
so warmly extol. Cold in his extemporaneous effusions, artificial in his
exordiums, trifling in his strained raillery, and tiresome in his
digressions. This is saying a good deal about Cicero.

Quintilian does not spare Seneca; and Demosthenes, called by Cicero the
prince of orators, has, according to Hermippus, more of art than of
nature. To Demades, his orations appear too much laboured; others have
thought him too dry; and, if we may trust Æschines, his language is by
no means pure.

The Attic Nights of Aulus Gellius, and the Deipnosophists of Athenæus,
while they have been extolled by one party, have been degraded by
another. They have been considered as botchers of rags and remnants;
their diligence has not been accompanied by judgment; and their taste
inclined more to the frivolous than to the useful. Compilers, indeed,
are liable to a hard fate, for little distinction is made in their
ranks; a disagreeable situation, in which honest Burton seems to have
been placed; for he says of his work, that some will cry out, "This is a
thinge of meere industrie; a _collection_ without wit or invention; a
very toy! So men are valued; their labours vilified by fellowes of no
worth themselves, as things of nought: Who could not have done as much?
Some understande too little, and some too much."

Should we proceed with this list to our own country, and to our own
times, it might be curiously augmented, and show the world what men the
Critics are! but, perhaps, enough has been said to soothe irritated
genius, and to shame fastidious criticism. "I would beg the critics to
remember," the Earl of Roscommon writes, in his preface to Horace's Art
of Poetry, "that Horace owed his favour and his fortune to the character
given of him by Virgil and Varus; that Fundanius and Pollio are still
valued by what Horace says of them; and that, in their golden age, there
was a good understanding among the ingenious; and those who were the
most esteemed, were the best natured."


Those who have laboured most zealously to instruct mankind have been
those who have suffered most from ignorance; and the discoverers of new
arts and sciences have hardly ever lived to see them accepted by the
world. With a noble perception of his own genius, Lord Bacon, in his
prophetic Will, thus expresses himself: "For my name and memory, I leave
it to men's charitable speeches, and to foreign nations, and the next
ages." Before the times of Galileo and Harvey the world believed in the
stagnation of the blood, and the diurnal immovability of the earth; and
for denying these the one was persecuted and the other ridiculed.

The intelligence and the virtue of Socrates were punished with death.
Anaxagoras, when he attempted to propagate a just notion of the Supreme
Being, was dragged to prison. Aristotle, after a long series of
persecution, swallowed poison. Heraclitus, tormented by his countrymen,
broke off all intercourse with men. The great geometricians and
chemists, as Gerbert, Roger Bacon, and Cornelius Agrippa, were abhorred
as magicians. Pope Gerbert, as Bishop Otho gravely relates, obtained the
pontificate by having given himself up entirely to the devil: others
suspected him, too, of holding an intercourse with demons; but this was
indeed a devilish age!

Virgilius, Bishop of Saltzburg, having asserted that there existed
antipodes, the Archbishop of Mentz declared him a heretic; and the Abbot
Trithemius, who was fond of improving steganography or the art of secret
writing, having published several curious works on this subject, they
were condemned, as works full of diabolical mysteries; and Frederic
II., Elector Palatine, ordered Trithemius's original work, which was in
his library, to be publicly burnt.

Galileo was condemned at Rome publicly to disavow sentiments, the truth
of which must have been to him abundantly manifest. "Are these then my
judges?" he exclaimed, in retiring from the inquisitors, whose ignorance
astonished him. He was imprisoned, and visited by Milton, who tells us,
he was then _poor_ and _old_. The confessor of his widow, taking
advantage of her piety, perused the MSS. of this great philosopher, and
destroyed such as in his _judgment_ were not fit to be known to the

Gabriel Naudé, in his apology for those great men who have been accused
of magic, has recorded a melancholy number of the most eminent scholars,
who have found, that to have been successful in their studies, was a
success which harassed them with continual persecution--a prison or a

Cornelius Agrippa was compelled to fly his country, and the enjoyment of
a large income, merely for having displayed a few philosophical
experiments, which now every school-boy can perform; but more
particularly having attacked the then prevailing opinion, that St. Anne
had three husbands, he was obliged to fly from place to place. The
people beheld him as an object of horror; and when he walked, he found
the streets empty at his approach.

In those times, it was a common opinion to suspect every great man of an
intercourse with some familiar spirit. The favourite black dog of
Agrippa was supposed to be a demon. When Urban Grandier, another victim
to the age, was led to the stake, a large fly settled on his head: a
monk, who had heard that Beelzebub signifies in Hebrew the God of Flies,
reported that he saw this spirit come to take possession of him. M. de
Langier, a French minister, who employed many spies, was frequently
accused of diabolical communication. Sixtus the Fifth, Marechal Faber,
Roger Bacon, Cæsar Borgia, his son Alexander VI., and others, like
Socrates, had their diabolical attendant.

Cardan was believed to be a magician. An able naturalist, who happened
to know something of the arcana of nature, was immediately suspected of
magic. Even the learned themselves, who had not applied to natural
philosophy, seem to have acted with the same feelings as the most
ignorant; for when Albert, usually called the Great, an epithet it has
been said that he derived from his name _De Groot_, constructed a
curious piece of mechanism, which sent forth distinct vocal sounds,
Thomas Aquinas was so much terrified at it, that he struck it with his
staff, and, to the mortification of Albert, annihilated the curious
labour of thirty years!

Petrarch was less desirous of the laurel for the honour, than for the
hope of being sheltered by it from the thunder of the priests, by whom
both he and his brother poets were continually threatened. They could
not imagine a poet, without supposing him to hold an intercourse with
some demon. This was, as Abbé Resnel observes, having a most exalted
idea of poetry, though a very bad one of poets. An anti-poetic Dominican
was notorious for persecuting all verse-makers; whose power he
attributed to the effects of _heresy_ and _magic_. The lights of
philosophy have dispersed all these accusations of magic, and have shown
a dreadful chain of perjuries and conspiracies.

Descartes was horribly persecuted in Holland, when he first published
his opinions. Voetius, a bigot of great influence at Utrecht, accused
him of atheism, and had even projected in his mind to have this
philosopher burnt at Utrecht in an extraordinary fire, which, kindled on
an eminence, might be observed by the seven provinces. Mr. Hallam has
observed, that "the ordeal of fire was the great purifier of books and
men." This persecution of science and genius lasted till the close of
the seventeenth century.

"If the metaphysician stood a chance of being burnt as a heretic, the
natural philosopher was not in less jeopardy as a magician," is an
observation of the same writer, which sums up the whole.


Fortune has rarely condescended to be the companion of genius: others
find a hundred by-roads to her palace; there is but one open, and that a
very indifferent one, for men of letters. Were we to erect an asylum for
venerable genius, as we do for the brave and the helpless part of our
citizens, it might be inscribed, "An Hospital for Incurables!" When even
Fame will not protect the man of genius from Famine, Charity ought. Nor
should such an act be considered as a debt incurred by the helpless
member, but a just tribute we pay in his person to Genius itself. Even
in these enlightened times, many have lived in obscurity, while their
reputation was widely spread, and have perished in poverty, while their
works were enriching the booksellers.

Of the heroes of modern literature the accounts are as copious as they
are sorrowful.

Xylander sold his notes on Dion Cassius for a dinner. He tells us that
at the age of eighteen he studied to acquire glory, but at twenty-five
he studied to get bread.

Cervantes, the immortal genius of Spain, is supposed to have wanted
food; Camöens, the solitary pride of Portugal, deprived of the
necessaries of life, perished in an hospital at Lisbon. This fact has
been accidentally preserved in an entry in a copy of the first edition
of the Lusiad, in the possession of Lord Holland. It is a note, written
by a friar who must have been a witness of the dying scene of the poet,
and probably received the volume which now preserves the sad memorial,
and which recalled it to his mind, from the hands of the unhappy
poet:--"What a lamentable thing to see so great a genius so ill
rewarded! I saw him die in an hospital in Lisbon, without having a sheet
or shroud, _una sauana_, to cover him, after having triumphed in the
East Indies, and sailed 5500 leagues! What good advice for those who
weary themselves night and day in study without profit!" Camöens, when
some fidalgo complained that he had not performed his promise in writing
some verses for him, replied, "When I wrote verses I was young, had
sufficient food, was a lover, and beloved by many friends and by the
ladies; then I felt poetical ardour: now I have no spirits, no peace of
mind. See there my Javanese, who asks me for two pieces to purchase
firing, and I have them not to give him." The Portuguese, after his
death, bestowed on the man of genius they had starved, the appellation
of Great![18] Vondel, the Dutch Shakspeare, after composing a number of
popular tragedies, lived in great poverty, and died at ninety years of
age; then he had his coffin carried by fourteen poets, who without his
genius probably partook of his wretchedness.

The great Tasso was reduced to such a dilemma that he was obliged to
borrow a crown for a week's subsistence. He alludes to his distress
when, entreating his cat to assist him, during the night, with the
lustre of her eyes--"_Non avendo candele per iscrivere i suoi versi_!"
having no candle to see to write his verses.

When the liberality of Alphonso enabled Ariosto to build a small house,
it seems that it was but ill furnished. When told that such a building
was not fit for one who had raised so many fine palaces in his writings,
he answered, that the structure of _words_ and that of _stones_ was not
the same thing. _"Che pervi le pietre, e porvi le parole, non è il
medesimo!"_ At Ferrari this house is still shown, "Parva sed apta" he
calls it, but exults that it was paid for with his own money. This was
in a moment of good humour, which he did not always enjoy; for in his
Satires he bitterly complains of the bondage of dependence and poverty.
Little thought the poet that the _commune_ would order this small house
to be purchased with their own funds, that it might be dedicated to his
immortal memory.

Cardinal Bentivoglio, the ornament of Italy and of literature,
languished, in his old age, in the most distressful poverty; and having
sold his palace to satisfy his creditors, left nothing behind him but
his reputation. The learned Pomponius Lætus lived in such a state of
poverty, that his friend Platina, who wrote the lives of the popes, and
also a book of cookery, introduces him into the cookery book by a
facetious observation, that "If Pomponius Lætus should be robbed of a
couple of eggs, he would not have wherewithal to purchase two other
eggs." The history of Aldrovandus is noble and pathetic; having expended
a large fortune in forming his collections of natural history, and
employing the first artists in Europe, he was suffered to die in the
hospital of that city, to whose fame he had eminently contributed.

Du Ryer, a celebrated French poet, was constrained to write with
rapidity, and to live in the cottage of an obscure village. His
bookseller bought his heroic verses for one hundred sols the hundred
lines, and the smaller ones for fifty sols. What an interesting picture
has a contemporary given of a visit to this poor and ingenious author!
"On a fine summer day we went to him, at some distance from town. He
received us with joy, talked to us of his numerous projects, and showed
us several of his works. But what more interested us was, that, though
dreading to expose to us his poverty, he contrived to offer some
refreshments. We seated ourselves under a wide oak, the table-cloth was
spread on the grass, his wife brought us some milk, with fresh water and
brown bread, and he picked a basket of cherries. He welcomed us with
gaiety, but we could not take leave of this amiable man, now grown old,
without tears, to see him so ill treated by fortune, and to have nothing
left but literary honour!"

Vaugelas, the most polished writer of the French language, who devoted
thirty years to his translation of Quintus Curtius, (a circumstance
which modern translators can have no conception of), died possessed of
nothing valuable but his precious manuscripts. This ingenious scholar
left his corpse to the surgeons, for the benefit of his creditors!

Louis the Fourteenth honoured Racine and Boileau with a private monthly
audience. One day the king asked what there was new in the literary
world. Racine answered, that he had seen a melancholy spectacle in the
house of Corneille, whom he found dying, deprived even of a little
broth! The king preserved a profound silence; and sent the dying poet a
sum of money.

Dryden, for less than three hundred pounds, sold Tonson ten thousand
verses, as may be seen by the agreement.

Purchas, who in the reign of our first James, had spent his life in
compiling his _Relation of the World_, when he gave it to the public,
for the reward of his labours was thrown into prison, at the suit of his
printer. Yet this was the book which, he informs Charles I. in his
dedication, his father read every night with great profit and

The Marquis of Worcester, in a petition to parliament, in the reign of
Charles II., offered to publish the hundred processes and machines,
enumerated in his very curious "Centenary of Inventions," on condition
that money should be granted to extricate him from the _difficulties in
which he had involved himself by the prosecution of useful discoveries_.
The petition does not appear to have been attended to! Many of these
admirable inventions were lost. The _steam-engine_ and the _telegraph_,
may be traced among them.

It appears by the Harleian MS. 7524, that Rushworth, the author of the
"Historical Collections," passed the last years of his life in gaol,
where indeed he died. After the Restoration, when he presented to the
king several of the privy council's books, which he had preserved from
ruin, he received for his only reward the _thanks of his majesty_.

Rymer, the collector of the Foedera, must have been sadly reduced, by
the following letter, I found addressed by Peter le Neve, Norroy, to the
Earl of Oxford.

"I am desired by Mr. Rymer, historiographer, to lay before your lordship
the circumstances of his affairs. He was forced some years back to part
with all his choice printed books to subsist himself: and now, he says,
he must be forced, for subsistence, to sell all his MS. collections to
the best bidder, without your lordship will be pleased to buy them for
the queen's library. They are fifty volumes in folio, of public affairs,
which he hath collected, but not printed. The price he asks is five
hundred pounds."

Simon Ockley, a learned student in Oriental literature, addresses a
letter to the same earl, in which he paints his distresses in glowing
colours. After having devoted his life to Asiatic researches, then very
uncommon, he had the mortification of dating his preface to his great
work from Cambridge Castle, where he was confined for debt; and, with an
air of triumph, feels a martyr's enthusiasm in the cause for which he

He published his first volume of the History of the Saracens in 1708;
and, ardently pursuing his oriental studies, published his second, ten
years afterwards, without any patronage. Alluding to the encouragement
necessary to bestow on youth, to remove the obstacles to such studies,
he observes, that "young men will hardly come in on the prospect of
finding leisure, in a prison, to transcribe those papers for the press,
which they have collected with indefatigable labour, and oftentimes at
the expense of their rest, and all the other conveniences of life, for
the service of the public. No! though I were to assure them, from my own
experience, that _I have enjoyed more true liberty, more happy leisure,
and more solid repose, in six months_ HERE, than in thrice the same
number of years before. _Evil is the condition of that historian who
undertakes to write the lives of others, before he knows how to live
himself._--Not that I speak thus as if I thought I had any just cause to
be angry with the world--I did always in my judgment give the
possession of _wisdom_ the preference to that of _riches_!"

Spenser, the child of Fancy, languished out his life in misery, "Lord
Burleigh," says Granger, "who it is said prevented the queen giving him
a hundred pounds, seems to have thought the lowest clerk in his office a
more deserving person." Mr. Malone attempts to show that Spenser had a
small pension, but the poet's querulous verses must not be forgotten--

    "Full little knowest thou, that hast not try'd,
    What Hell it is, in suing long to bide."

To lose good days--to waste long nights--and, as he feelingly exclaims,

    "To fawn, to crouch, to wait, to ride, to run,
    To speed, to give, to want, to be undone!"

How affecting is the death of Sydenham, who had devoted his life to a
laborious version of Plato! He died in a sponging-house, and it was his
death which appears to have given rise to the Literary Fund "for the
relief of distressed authors."[19]

Who will pursue important labours when they read these anecdotes? Dr.
Edmund Castell spent a great part of his life in compiling his _Lexicon
Heptaglotton_, on which he bestowed incredible pains, and expended on it
no less than 12,000_l._, broke his constitution, and exhausted his
fortune. At length it was printed, but the copies remained _unsold_ on
his hands. He exhibits a curious picture of literary labour in his
preface. "As for myself, I have been unceasingly occupied for such a
number of years in this mass," _Molendino_ he calls them, "that that
day seemed, as it were, a holiday in which I have not laboured so much
as sixteen or eighteen hours in these enlarging lexicons and Polyglot

Le Sage resided in a little cottage while he supplied the world with
their most agreeable novels, and appears to have derived the sources of
his existence in his old age from the filial exertions of an excellent
son, who was an actor of some genius. I wish, however, that every man of
letters could apply to himself the epitaph of this delightful writer:--

_"Sous ce tombeau git LE SAGE, abattu Par le ciseau de la Parque
importune; S'il ne fut pas ami de la fortune, Il fut toujours ami de la

Many years after this article had been written, I published "Calamities
of Authors," confining myself to those of our own country; the catalogue
is incomplete, but far too numerous.


[Footnote 18: For some time previous to his death he was in so abject a
state of poverty as to be dependent for subsistence upon the exertions
of his faithful servant Antonio, a native of Java, whom he had brought
with him from India, and who was accustomed to beg by night for the
bread which was to save his unhappy master from perishing by want the
next day. Camöens, when death at last put an end to a life which
misfortune and neglect had rendered insupportable, was denied the solace
of having his faithful Antonio to close his eyes. He was aged only
fifty-five when he breathed his last in the hospital. This event
occurred in 1579, but so little regard was paid to the memory of this
great man that the day or month on which he expired remains
unknown.--Adamson's _Memoirs of Camöens_, 1820.]

[Footnote 19: This melancholy event happened in 1788, fifteen years
after the original projector of the Literary Fund, Mr. David Williams,
had endeavoured to establish it. It appears that Mr. Floyer Sydenham was
arrested "for a small debt; he never spoke after being arrested, and
sunk under the pressure of his calamity." This is the published record
of the event by the officers of the present fund; and these simple words
are sufficiently indicative of the harrowing nature of the catastrophe;
it was strongly felt that Mr. Williams' hopeful plan of preventing a
second act so fatal should be encouraged. A small literary club took the
initiative, and subscribed a few guineas to pay for such advertisements
as were necessary to keep the intended objects of the founder before the
public, and solicit its aid. Two years afterwards a committee was
formed; another two years saw it take position among the established
institutions of the country. In 1818 it obtained a royal charter. In its
career it has relieved upwards of 1300 applicants, and devoted to that
purpose 47,725_l._]


Imprisonment has not always disturbed the man of letters in the progress
of his studies, but has unquestionably greatly promoted them.

In prison Boethius composed his work on the Consolations of Philosophy;
and Grotius wrote his Commentary on Saint Matthew, with other works: the
detail of his allotment of time to different studies, during his
confinement, is very instructive.

Buchanan, in the dungeon of a monastery in Portugal, composed his
excellent Paraphrases of the Psalms of David.

Cervantes composed the most agreeable book in the Spanish language
during his captivity in Barbary.

Fleta, a well-known law production, was written by a person confined in
the Fleet for debt; the name of the _place_, though not that of the
_author_, has thus been preserved; and another work, "Fleta Minor, or
the Laws of Art and Nature in, knowing the bodies of Metals, &c. by Sir
John Pettus, 1683;" received its title from the circumstance of his
having translated it from the German during his confinement in this

Louis the Twelfth, when Duke of Orleans, was long imprisoned in the
Tower of Bourges: applying himself to his studies, which he had
hitherto neglected, he became, in consequence, an enlightened monarch.

Margaret, queen of Henry the Fourth, King of France, confined in the
Louvre, pursued very warmly the studies of elegant literature, and
composed a very skilful apology for the irregularities of her conduct.

Sir Walter Raleigh's unfinished History of the World, which leaves us to
regret that later ages had not been celebrated by his eloquence, was the
fruits of eleven years of imprisonment. It was written for the use of
Prince Henry, as he and Dallington, who also wrote "Aphorisms" for the
same prince, have told us; the prince looked over the manuscript. Of
Raleigh it is observed, to employ the language of Hume, "They were
struck with the extensive genius of the man, who, being educated amidst
naval and military enterprises, had surpassed, in the pursuits of
literature, even those of the most recluse and sedentary lives; and they
admired his unbroken magnanimity, which, at his age, and under his
circumstances, could engage him to undertake and execute so great a
work, as his History of the World." He was assisted in this great work
by the learning of several eminent persons, a circumstance which has not
been usually noticed.

The plan of the "_Henriade_" was sketched, and the greater part
composed, by Voltaire during his imprisonment in the Bastile; and "the
Pilgrim's Progress" of Bunyan was performed in the circuit of a prison's

Howell, the author of "Familiar Letters," wrote the chief part of them,
and almost all his other works, during his long confinement in the Fleet
prison: he employed his fertile pen for subsistence; and in all his
books we find much entertainment.

Lydiat, while confined in the King's Bench for debt, wrote his
Annotations on the Parian Chronicle, which were first published by
Prideaux. He was the learned scholar alluded to by Johnson; an allusion
not known to Boswell and others.

The learned Selden, committed to prison for his attacks on the divine
right of tithes and the king's prerogative, prepared during his
confinement his "History of Eadmer," enriched by his notes.

Cardinal Polignac formed the design of refuting the arguments of the
sceptics which Bayle had been renewing in his dictionary; but his public
occupations hindered him. Two exiles at length fortunately gave him the
leisure; and the Anti-Lucretius is the fruit of the court disgraces of
its author.

Freret, when imprisoned in the Bastile, was permitted only to have Bayle
for his companion. His dictionary was always before him, and his
principles were got by heart. To this circumstance we owe his works,
animated by all the powers of scepticism.

Sir William Davenant finished his poem of Gondibert during his
confinement by the rebels in Carisbrook Castle. George Withers dedicates
his "Shepherds Hunting," "To his friends, my visitants in the
Marshalsea:" these "eclogues" having been printed in his

De Foe, confined in Newgate for a political pamphlet, began his
"Review;" a periodical paper, which was extended to nine thick volumes
in quarto, and it has been supposed served as the model of the
celebrated papers of Steele.

Wicquefort's curious work "on Ambassadors" is dated from his prison,
where he had been confined for state affairs. He softened the rigour of
those heavy hours by several historical works.

One of the most interesting facts of this kind is the fate of an Italian
scholar, of the name of Maggi. Early addicted to the study of the
sciences, and particularly to the mathematics, and military
architecture, he successfully defended Famagusta, besieged by the
Turks, by inventing machines which destroyed their works. When that city
was taken in 1571, they pillaged his library and carried him away in
chains. Now a slave, after his daily labours he amused a great part of
his nights by literary compositions; _De Tintinnabulis_, on Bells, a
treatise still read by the curious, was actually composed by him when a
slave in Turkey, without any other resource than the erudition of his
own memory, and the genius of which adversity could not deprive him.


[Footnote 20: Withers, throughout these unique eclogues, which are
supposed to narrate the discourses of "friendly shepherds" who visit

    Within the jaws of strict imprisonment;
    A forlorn shepherd void of all the means,
    Whereon man's common hope in danger leads"

--is still upheld by the same consciousness of rectitude which inspired
Sir Richard Lovelace in his better-known address "To Althea from
Prison." Withers' poem was published before Lovelace was born. A few
lines from Withers will display this similarity. Speaking of his
enemies, he says:--

    "They may do much, but when they have done all,
    Only my body they may bring in thrall.
    And 'tis not that, my Willy; 'tis my mind,
    My mind's more precious freedom I so weigh,
    A thousand ways they may my body bind,
    In thousand thralls, but ne'er my mind betray:
    And hence it is that I contentment find,
    And bear with patience this my load away:
    I'm still myself, and that I'd rather be.
    Than to be lord of all these downs in fee."]


Among the Jesuits it was a standing rule of the order, that after an
application to study for two hours, the mind of the student should be
unbent by some relaxation, however trifling. When Petavius was employed
in his _Dogmata Theologica_, a work of the most profound and extensive
erudition, the great recreation of the learned father was, at the end of
every second hour, to twirl his chair for five minutes. After protracted
studies Spinosa would mix with the family-party where he lodged, and
join in the most trivial conversations, or unbend his mind by setting
spiders to fight each other; he observed their combats with so much
interest, that he was often seized with immoderate fits of laughter. A
continuity of labour deadens the soul, observes Seneca, in closing his
treatise on "The Tranquillity of the Soul," and the mind must unbend
itself by certain amusements. Socrates did not blush to play with
children; Cato, over his bottle, found an alleviation from the fatigues
of government; a circumstance, Seneca says in his manner, which rather
gives honour to this defect, than the defect dishonours Cato. Some men
of letters portioned out their day between repose and labour. Asinius
Pollio would not suffer any business to occupy him beyond a stated hour;
after that time he would not allow any letter to be opened, that his
hours of recreation might not be interrupted by unforeseen labours. In
the senate, after the tenth hour, it was not allowed to make any new

Tycho Brahe diverted himself with polishing glasses for all kinds of
spectacles, and making mathematical instruments; an employment too
closely connected with his studies to be deemed an amusement.

D'Andilly, the translator of Josephus, after seven or eight hours of
study every day, amused himself in cultivating trees; Barclay, the
author of the Argenis, in his leisure hours was a florist; Balzac amused
himself with a collection of crayon portraits; Peirese found his
amusement amongst his medals and antiquarian curiosities; the Abbé de
Marolles with his prints; and Politian in singing airs to his lute.
Descartes passed his afternoons in the conversation of a few friends,
and in cultivating a little garden; in the morning, occupied by the
system of the world, he relaxed his profound speculations by rearing
delicate flowers.

Conrad ab Uffenbach, a learned German, recreated his mind, after severe
studies, with a collection of prints of eminent persons, methodically
arranged; he retained this ardour of the _Grangerite_ to his last days.

Rohault wandered from shop to shop to observe the mechanics labour;
Count Caylus passed his mornings in the _studios_ of artists, and his
evenings in writing his numerous works on art. This was the true life of
an amateur.

Granville Sharp, amidst the severity of his studies, found a social
relaxation in the amusement of a barge on the Thames, which was well
known to the circle of his friends; there, was festive hospitality with
musical delight. It was resorted to by men of the most eminent talents
and rank. His little voyages to Putney, to Kew, and to Richmond, and the
literary intercourse they produced, were singularly happy ones. "The
history of his amusements cannot be told without adding to the dignity
of his character," observes Prince Hoare, in the life of this great

Some have found amusement in composing treatises on odd subjects. Seneca
wrote a burlesque narrative of Claudian's death. Pierius Valerianus has
written an eulogium on beards; and we have had a learned one recently,
with due gravity and pleasantry, entitled "Eloge de Perruques."

Holstein has written an eulogium on the North Wind; Heinsius, on "the
Ass;" Menage, "the Transmigration of the Parasitical Pedant to a
Parrot;" and also the "Petition of the Dictionaries."

Erasmus composed, to amuse himself when travelling, his panegyric on
_Moria_, or folly; which, authorised by the pun, he dedicated to Sir
Thomas More.

Sallengre, who would amuse himself like Erasmus, wrote, in imitation of
his work, a panegyric on _Ebriety_. He says, that he is willing to be
thought as drunken a man as Erasmus was a foolish one. Synesius composed
a Greek panegyric on _Baldness_. These burlesques were brought into
great vogue by Erasmus's _Moriæ Encomium_.

It seems, Johnson observes in his life of Sir Thomas Browne, to have
been in all ages the pride of art to show how it could exalt the low and
amplify the little. To this ambition, perhaps, we owe the Frogs of
Homer; the Gnat and the Bees of Virgil; the Butterfly of Spenser; the
Shadow of Wowerus; and the Quincunx of Browne.

Cardinal de Richelieu, amongst all his great occupations, found a
recreation in violent exercises; and he was once discovered jumping with
his servant, to try who could reach the highest side of a wall. De
Grammont, observing the cardinal to be jealous of his powers, offered to
jump with him; and, in the true spirit of a courtier, having made some
efforts which nearly reached the cardinal's, confessed the cardinal
surpassed him. This was jumping like a politician; and by this means he
is said to have ingratiated himself with the minister.

The great Samuel Clarke was fond of robust exercise; and this profound
logician has been found leaping over tables and chairs. Once perceiving
a pedantic fellow, he said, "Now we must desist, for a fool is coming

An eminent French lawyer, confined by his business to a Parisian life,
amused himself with collecting from the classics all the passages which
relate to a country life. The collection was published after his death.

Contemplative men seem to be fond of amusements which accord with their
habits. The thoughtful game of chess, and the tranquil delight of
angling, have been favourite recreations with the studious. Paley had
himself painted with a rod and line in his hand; a strange
characteristic for the author of "Natural Theology." Sir Henry Wotton
called angling "idle time not idly spent:" we may suppose that his
meditations and his amusements were carried on at the same moment.

The amusements of the great d'Aguesseau, chancellor of France, consisted
in an interchange of studies; his relaxations were all the varieties of
literature. "Le changement de l'étude est mon seul délassement," said
this great man; and "in the age of the passions, his only passion was

Seneca has observed on amusements proper for literary men, that, in
regard to robust exercises, it is not decent to see a man of letters
exult in the strength of his arm, or the breadth of his back! Such
amusements diminish the activity of the mind. Too much fatigue exhausts
the animal spirits, as too much food blunts the finer faculties: but
elsewhere he allows his philosopher an occasional slight inebriation; an
amusement which was very prevalent among our poets formerly, when they

    "Fetch me Ben Jonson's scull, and fill't with sack,
    Rich as the same he drank, when the whole pack
    Of jolly sisters pledged, and did agree
    It was no sin to be as drunk as he!"

Seneca concludes admirably, "whatever be the amusements you choose,
return not slowly from those of the body to the mind; exercise the
latter night and day. The mind is nourished at a cheap rate; neither
cold nor heat, nor age itself, can interrupt this exercise; give
therefore all your cares to a possession which ameliorates even in its
old age!"

An ingenious writer has observed, that "a garden just accommodates
itself to the perambulations of a scholar, who would perhaps rather wish
his walks abridged than extended." There is a good characteristic
account of the mode in which the Literati may take exercise, in Pope's
Letters. "I, like a poor squirrel, am continually in motion indeed, but
it is but a cage of three foot! my little excursions are like those of a
shopkeeper, who walks every day a mile or two before his own door, but
minds his business all the while." A turn or two in a garden will often
very happily close a fine period, mature an unripened thought, and raise
up fresh associations, whenever the mind, like the body, becomes rigid
by preserving the same posture. Buffon often quitted the old tower he
studied in, which was placed in the midst of his garden, for a walk in
it. Evelyn loved "books and a garden."


[Footnote 21: The same anecdote is related of Dr. Johnson, who once
being at a club where other literary men were indulging in jests, upon
the entry of a new visitor exclaimed, "Let us be grave--here is a fool


With the ancients, it was undoubtedly a custom to place the portraits of
authors before their works. Martial's 186th epigram of his fourteenth
book is a mere play on words, concerning a little volume containing the
works of Virgil, and which had his portrait prefixed to it. The volume
and the characters must have been very diminutive.

    _Quam brevis immensum cepit membrana Maronem!
    Ipsius Vultus prima tabella gerit._

Martial is not the only writer who takes notice of the ancients
prefixing portraits to the works of authors. Seneca, in his ninth
chapter on the Tranquillity of the Soul, complains of many of the
luxurious great, who, like so many of our own collectors, possessed
libraries as they did their estates and equipages. "It is melancholy to
observe how the portraits of men of genius, and the works of their
divine intelligence, are used only as the luxury and the ornaments of

Pliny has nearly the same observation, _lib._ xxxv. _cap._ 2. He
remarks, that the custom was rather modern in his time; and attributes
to Asinius Pollio the honour of having introduced it into Rome. "In
consecrating a library with the portraits of our illustrious authors, he
has formed, if I may so express myself, a republic of the intellectual
powers of men." To the richness of book-treasures, Asinius Pollio had
associated a new source of pleasure, by placing the statues of their
authors amidst them, inspiring the minds of the spectators, even by
their eyes.

A taste for collecting portraits, or busts, was warmly pursued in the
happier periods of Rome; for the celebrated Atticus, in a work he
published of illustrious Romans, made it more delightful, by ornamenting
it with the portraits of those great men; and the learned Varro, in his
biography of Seven Hundred celebrated Men, by giving the world their
true features and their physiognomy _in some manner, aliquo modo
imaginibus_ is Pliny's expression, showed that even their persons should
not entirely be annihilated; they indeed, adds Pliny, form a spectacle
which the gods themselves might contemplate; for if the gods sent those
heroes to the earth, it is Varro who secured their immortality, and has
so multiplied and distributed them in all places, that we may carry
them about us, place them wherever we choose, and fix our eyes on them
with perpetual admiration. A spectacle that every day becomes more
varied and interesting, as new heroes appear, and as works of this kind
are spread abroad.

But as printing was unknown, to the ancients (though _stamping an
impression_ was daily practised, and, in fact, they possessed the art of
printing without being aware of it[22]), how were these portraits of
Varro so easily propagated? If copied with a pen, their correctness was
in some danger, and their diffusion must have been very confined and
slow; perhaps they were outlines. This passage of Pliny excites
curiosity difficult to satisfy; I have in vain inquired of several
scholars, particularly of the late Grecian, Dr. Burney.

A collection of the portraits of illustrious characters affords not only
a source of entertainment and curiosity, but displays the different
modes or habits of the time; and in settling our floating ideas upon the
true features of famous persons, they also fix the chronological
particulars of their birth, age, death, sometimes with short characters
of them, besides the names of painter and engraver. It is thus a single
print, by the hand of a skilful artist, may become a varied banquet. To
this Granger adds, that in a collection of engraved portraits, the
contents of many galleries are reduced into the narrow compass of a few
volumes; and the portraits of eminent persons, who distinguished
themselves through a long succession of ages, may be turned over in a
few hours.

"Another advantage," Granger continues, "attending such an assemblage
is, that the methodical arrangement has a surprising effect upon the
memory. We see the celebrated contemporaries of every age almost at one
view; and the mind is insensibly led to the history of that period. I
may add to these, an important circumstance, which is, the power that
such a collection will have in _awakening genius_. A skilful preceptor
will presently perceive the true bent of the temper of his pupil, by his
being struck with a Blake or a Boyle, a Hyde or a Milton."

A circumstance in the life of Cicero confirms this observation. Atticus
had a gallery adorned with the images or portraits of the great men of
Rome, under each of which he had severally described their principal
acts and honours, in a few concise verses of his own composition. It was
by the contemplation of two of these portraits (the ancient Brutus and a
venerable relative in one picture) that Cicero seems to have incited
Brutus, by the example of these his great ancestors, to dissolve the
tyranny of Cæsar. General Fairfax made a collection of engraved
portraits of warriors. A story much in favour of portrait-collectors is
that of the Athenian courtesan, who, in the midst of a riotous banquet
with her lovers, accidentally casting her eyes on the _portrait_ of a
philosopher that hung opposite to her seat, the happy character of
temperance and virtue struck her with so lively an image of her own
unworthiness, that she suddenly retreated for ever from the scene of
debauchery. The Orientalists have felt the same charm in their pictured
memorials; for "the imperial Akber," says Mr. Forbes, in his Oriental
Memoirs, "employed artists to make portraits of all the principal omrahs
and officers in his court;" they were bound together in a thick volume,
wherein, as the Ayeen Akbery, or the Institutes of Akber, expresses it,
"The PAST are kept in lively remembrance; and the PRESENT are insured

Leonard Aretin, when young and in prison, found a portrait of Petrarch,
on which his eyes were perpetually fixed; and this sort of contemplation
inflamed the desire of imitating this great man. Buffon hung the
portrait of Newton before his writing-table.

On this subject, Tacitus sublimely expresses himself at the close of his
admired biography of Agricola: "I do not mean to censure the custom of
preserving in brass or marble the shape and stature of eminent men; but
busts and statues, like their originals, are frail and perishable. The
soul is formed of finer elements, its inward form is not to be expressed
by the hand of an artist with unconscious matter; our manners and our
morals may in some degree trace the resemblance. All of Agricola that
gained our love and raised our admiration still subsists, and ever will
subsist, preserved in the minds of men, the register of ages and the
records of fame."

What is more agreeable to the curiosity of the mind and the eye than the
portraits of great characters? An old philosopher, whom Marville invited
to see a collection of landscapes by a celebrated artist, replied,
"Landscapes I prefer seeing in the country itself, but I am fond of
contemplating the pictures of illustrious men." This opinion has some
truth; Lord Orford preferred an interesting portrait to either landscape
or historical painting. "A landscape, however excellent in its
distributions of wood, and water, and buildings, leaves not one trace in
the memory; historical painting is perpetually false in a variety of
ways, in the costume, the grouping, the portraits, and is nothing more
than fabulous painting; but a real portrait is truth itself, and calls
up so many collateral ideas as to fill an intelligent mind more than any
other species."

Marville justly reprehends the fastidious feelings of those ingenious
men who have resisted the solicitations of the artist, to sit for their
portraits. In them it is sometimes as much pride as it is vanity in
those who are less difficult in this respect. Of Gray, Fielding, and
Akenside, we have no heads for which they sat; a circumstance regretted
by their admirers, and by physiognomists.

To an arranged collection of PORTRAITS, we owe several interesting
works. Granger's justly esteemed volumes originated in such a
collection. Perrault's _Eloges_ of "the illustrious men of the
seventeenth century" were drawn up to accompany the engraved portraits
of the most celebrated characters of the age, which a fervent love of
the fine arts and literature had had engraved as an elegant tribute to
the fame of those great men. They are confined to his nation, as
Granger's to ours. The parent of this race of books may perhaps be the
Eulogiums of Paulus Jovius, which originated in a beautiful CABINET,
whose situation he has described with all its amenity.

Paulus Jovius had a country house, in an insular situation, of a most
romantic aspect. Built on the ruins of the villa of Pliny, in his time
the foundations were still to be traced. When the surrounding lake was
calm, in its lucid bosom were still viewed sculptured marbles, the
trunks of columns, and the fragments of those pyramids which had once
adorned the residence of the friend of Trajan. Jovius was an enthusiast
of literary leisure: an historian, with the imagination of a poet; a
Christian prelate nourished on the sweet fictions of pagan mythology.
His pen colours like a pencil. He paints rapturously his gardens bathed
by the waters of the lake, the shade and freshness of his woods, his
green hills, his sparkling fountains, the deep silence, and the calm of
solitude. He describes a statue raised in his gardens to NATURE; in his
hall an Apollo presided with his lyre, and the Muses with their
attributes; his library was guarded by Mercury, and an apartment devoted
to the three Graces was embellished by Doric columns, and paintings of
the most pleasing kind. Such was the interior! Without, the pure and
transparent lake spread its broad mirror, or rolled its voluminous
windings, by banks richly covered with olives and laurels; and in the
distance, towns, promontories, hills rising in an amphitheatre blushing
with vines, and the elevations of the Alps covered with woods and
pasturage, and sprinkled with herds and flocks.

In the centre of this enchanting habitation stood the CABINET, where
Paulus Jovius had collected, at great cost, the PORTRAITS of celebrated
men of the fourteenth and two succeeding centuries. The daily view of
them animated his mind to compose their eulogiums. These are still
curious, both for the facts they preserve, and the happy conciseness
with which Jovius delineates a character. He had collected these
portraits as others form a collection of natural history; and he pursued
in their characters what others do in their experiments.

One caution in collecting portraits must not be forgotten; it respects
their authenticity. We have too many supposititious heads, and ideal
personages. Conrad ab Uffenbach, who seems to have been the first
collector who projected a methodical arrangement, condemned those
spurious portraits which were fit only for the amusement of children.
The painter does not always give a correct likeness, or the engraver
misses it in his copy. Goldsmith was a short thick man, with wan
features and a vulgar appearance, but looks tall and fashionable in a
bag-wig. Bayle's portrait does not resemble him, as one of his friends
writes. Rousseau, in his Montero cap, is in the same predicament.
Winkelmann's portrait does not preserve the striking physiognomy of the
man, and in the last edition a new one is substituted. The faithful
Vertue refused to engrave for Houbraken's set, because they did not
authenticate their originals; and some of these are spurious, as that of
Ben Jonson, Sir Edward Coke, and others. Busts are not so liable to
these accidents. It is to be regretted that men of genius have not been
careful to transmit their own portraits to their admirers: it forms a
part of their character; a false delicacy has interfered. Erasmus did
not like to have his own diminutive person sent down to posterity, but
Holbein was always affectionately painting his friend. Montesquieu once
sat to Dassier the medallist, after repeated denials, won over by the
ingenious argument of the artist; "Do you not think," said Dassier,
"that there is as much pride in refusing my offer as in accepting it?"


[Footnote 22: Impressions have been taken from plates engraved by the
ancient Egyptians; and one of these, printed by the ordinary
rolling-press, was exhibited at the Great Manchester Exhibition, 1857;
it being for all practical purposes similar to those executed in the
present day.]


The literary treasures of antiquity have suffered from the malice of Men
as well as that of Time. It is remarkable that conquerors, in the moment
of victory, or in the unsparing devastation of their rage, have not been
satisfied with destroying _men_, but have even carried their vengeance
to _books_.

The Persians, from hatred of the religion of the Phoenicians and the
Egyptians, destroyed their books, of which Eusebius notices a great
number. A Grecian library at Gnidus was burnt by the sect of
Hippocrates, because the Gnidians refused to follow the doctrines of
their master. If the followers of Hippocrates formed the majority, was
it not very unorthodox in the Gnidians to prefer taking physic their own
way? But Faction has often annihilated books.

The Romans burnt the books of the Jews, of the Christians, and the
Philosophers; the Jews burnt the books of the Christians and the Pagans;
and the Christians burnt the books of the Pagans and the Jews. The
greater part of the books of Origen and other heretics were continually
burnt by the orthodox party. Gibbon pathetically describes the empty
library of Alexandria, after the Christians had destroyed it. "The
valuable library of Alexandria was pillaged or destroyed; and near
twenty years afterwards the appearance of the _empty shelves_ excited
the regret and indignation of every spectator, whose mind was not
totally darkened by religious prejudice. The compositions of ancient
genius, so many of which have irretrievably perished, might surely have
been excepted from the wreck of idolatry, for the amusement and
instruction of succeeding ages; and either the zeal or avarice of the
archbishop might have been satiated with the richest spoils which were
the rewards of his victory."

The pathetic narrative of Nicetas Choniates, of the ravages committed by
the Christians of the thirteenth century in Constantinople, was
fraudulently suppressed in the printed editions. It has been preserved
by Dr. Clarke; who observes, that the Turks have committed fewer
injuries to the works of art than the barbarous Christians of that age.

The reading of the Jewish Talmud has been forbidden by various edicts,
of the Emperor Justinian, of many of the French and Spanish kings, and
numbers of Popes. All the copies were ordered to be burnt: the intrepid
perseverance of the Jews themselves preserved that work from
annihilation. In 1569 twelve thousand copies were thrown into the flames
at Cremona. John Reuchlin interfered to stop this universal destruction
of Talmuds; for which he became hated by the monks, and condemned by the
Elector of Mentz, but appealing to Rome, the prosecution was stopped;
and the traditions of the Jews were considered as not necessary to be

Conquerors at first destroy with the rashest zeal the national records
of the conquered people; hence it is that the Irish people deplore the
irreparable losses of their most ancient national memorials, which their
invaders have been too successful in annihilating. The same event
occurred in the conquest of Mexico; and the interesting history of the
New World must ever remain imperfect, in consequence of the unfortunate
success of the first missionaries. Clavigero, the most authentic
historian of Mexico, continually laments this affecting loss. Everything
in that country had been painted, and painters abounded there as scribes
in Europe. The first missionaries, suspicious that superstition was
mixed with all their paintings, attacked the chief school of these
artists, and collecting, in the market-place, a little mountain of these
precious records, they set fire to it, and buried in the ashes the
memory of many interesting events. Afterwards, sensible of their error,
they tried to collect information from the mouths of the Indians; but
the Indians were indignantly silent: when they attempted to collect the
remains of these painted histories, the patriotic Mexican usually buried
in concealment the fragmentary records of his country.

The story of the Caliph Omar proclaiming throughout the kingdom, at the
taking of Alexandria, that the Koran contained everything which was
useful to believe and to know, and therefore he commanded that all the
books in the Alexandrian library should be distributed to the masters of
the baths, amounting to 4000, to be used in heating their stoves during
a period of six months, modern paradox would attempt to deny. But the
tale would not be singular even were it true: it perfectly suits the
character of a bigot, a barbarian, and a blockhead. A similar event
happened in Persia. When Abdoolah, who in the third century of the
Mohammedan æra governed Khorassan, was presented at Nishapoor with a MS.
which was shown as a literary curiosity, he asked the title of it--it
was the tale of Wamick and Oozra, composed by the great poet Noshirwan.
On this Abdoolah observed, that those of his country and faith had
nothing to do with any other book than the Koran; and all Persian MSS.
found within the circle of his government, as the works of idolaters,
were to be burnt. Much of the most ancient poetry of the Persians
perished by this fanatical edict.

When Buda was taken by the Turks, a Cardinal offered a vast sum to
redeem the great library founded by Matthew Corvini, a literary monarch
of Hungary: it was rich in Greek and Hebrew lore, and the classics of
antiquity. Thirty amanuenses had been employed in copying MSS. and
illuminating them by the finest art. The barbarians destroyed most of
the books in tearing away their splendid covers and their silver bosses;
an Hungarian soldier picked up a book as a prize: it proved to be the
Ethiopics of Heliodorus, from which the first edition was printed in

Cardinal Ximenes seems to have retaliated a little on the Saracens; for
at the taking of Granada, he condemned to the flames five thousand

The following anecdote respecting a Spanish missal, called St.
Isidore's, is not incurious; hard fighting saved it from destruction. In
the Moorish wars, all these missals had been destroyed, excepting those
in the city of Toledo. There, in six churches, the Christians were
allowed the free exercise of their religion. When the Moors were
expelled several centuries afterwards from Toledo, Alphonsus the Sixth
ordered the Roman missal to be used in those churches; but the people of
Toledo insisted on having their own, as revised by St. Isidore. It
seemed to them that Alphonsus was more tyrannical than the Turks. The
contest between the Roman and the Toletan missals came to that height,
that at length it was determined to decide their fate by single combat;
the champion of the Toletan missal felled by one blow the knight of the
Roman missal. Alphonsus still considered this battle as merely the
effect of the heavy arm of the doughty Toletan, and ordered a fast to be
proclaimed, and a great fire to be prepared, into which, after his
majesty and the people had joined in prayer for heavenly assistance in
this ordeal, both the rivals (not the men, but the missals) were thrown
into the flames--again St. Isidore's missal triumphed, and this iron
book was then allowed to be orthodox by Alphonsus, and the good people
of Toledo were allowed to say their prayers as they had long been used
to do. However, the copies of this missal at length became very scarce;
for now, when no one opposed the reading of St. Isidore's missal, none
cared to use it. Cardinal Ximenes found it so difficult to obtain a
copy, that he printed a large impression, and built a chapel,
consecrated to St. Isidore, that this service might be daily chaunted as
it had been by the ancient Christians.

The works of the ancients were frequently destroyed at the instigation
of the monks. They appear sometimes to have mutilated them, for passages
have not come down to us, which once evidently existed; and occasionally
their interpolations and other forgeries formed a destruction in a new
shape, by additions to the originals. They were indefatigable in erasing
the best works of the most eminent Greek and Latin authors, in order to
transcribe their ridiculous lives of saints on the obliterated vellum.
One of the books of Livy is in the Vatican most painfully defaced by
some pious father for the purpose of writing on it some missal or
psalter, and there have been recently others discovered in the same
state. Inflamed with the blindest zeal against everything pagan, Pope
Gregory VII. ordered that the library of the Palatine Apollo, a treasury
of literature formed by successive emperors, should be committed to the
flames! He issued this order under the notion of confining the attention
of the clergy to the holy scriptures! From that time all ancient
learning which was not sanctioned by the authority of the church, has
been emphatically distinguished as _profane_ in opposition to _sacred_.
This pope is said to have burnt the works of Varro, the learned Roman,
that Saint Austin should escape from the charge of plagiarism, being
deeply indebted to Varro for much of his great work "the City of God."

The Jesuits, sent by the emperor Ferdinand to proscribe Lutheranism from
Bohemia, converted that flourishing kingdom comparatively into a desert.
Convinced that an enlightened people could never be long subservient to
a tyrant, they struck one fatal blow at the national literature: every
book they condemned was destroyed, even those of antiquity; the annals
of the nation were forbidden to be read, and writers were not permitted
even to compose on subjects of Bohemian literature. The mother-tongue
was held out as a mark of vulgar obscurity, and domiciliary visits were
made for the purpose of inspecting the libraries of the Bohemians. With
their books and their language they lost their national character and
their independence.

The destruction of libraries in the reign of Henry VIII. at the
dissolution of the monasteries, is wept over by John Bale. Those who
purchased the religious houses took the libraries as part of the booty,
with which they scoured their furniture, or sold the books as waste
paper, or sent them abroad in ship-loads to foreign bookbinders.[23]

The fear of destruction induced many to hide manuscripts under ground,
and in old walls. At the Reformation popular rage exhausted itself on
illuminated books, or MSS. that had red letters in the title page: any
work that was decorated was sure to be thrown into the flames as a
superstitious one. Red letters and embellished figures were sure marks
of being papistical and diabolical. We still find such volumes mutilated
of their gilt letters and elegant initials. Many have been found
underground, having been forgotten; what escaped the flames were
obliterated by the damp: such is the deplorable fate of books during a

The puritans burned everything they found which bore the vestige of
popish origin. We have on record many curious accounts of their pious
depredations, of their maiming images and erasing pictures. The heroic
expeditions of one Dowsing are journalised by himself: a fanatical
Quixote, to whose intrepid arm many of our noseless saints, sculptured
on our Cathedrals, owe their misfortunes.

The following are some details from the diary of this redoubtable Goth,
during his rage for reformation. His entries are expressed with a
laconic conciseness, and it would seem with a little dry humour. "At
_Sunbury_, we brake down ten mighty great angels in glass. At _Barham_,
brake down the twelve apostles in the chancel, and six superstitious
pictures more there; and eight in the church, one a lamb with a cross
(+) on the back; and digged down the steps and took up four
superstitious inscriptions in brass," &c. "_Lady Bruce's house_, the
chapel, a picture of God the Father, of the Trinity, of Christ, the Holy
Ghost, and the cloven tongues, which we gave orders to take down, and
the lady promised to do it." At another place they "brake six hundred
superstitious pictures, eight Holy Ghosts, and three of the Son." And in
this manner he and his deputies scoured one hundred and fifty parishes!
It has been humorously conjectured, that from this ruthless devastator
originated the phrase to _give a Dowsing_. Bishop Hall saved the windows
of his chapel at Norwich from destruction, by taking out the heads of
the figures; and this accounts for the many faces in church windows
which we see supplied by white glass.

In the various civil wars in our country, numerous libraries have
suffered both in MSS. and printed books. "I dare maintain," says Fuller,
"that the wars betwixt York and Lancaster, which lasted sixty years,
were not so destructive as our modern wars in six years." He alludes to
the parliamentary feuds in the reign of Charles I. "For during the
former their differences agreed in the _same religion_, impressing them
with reverence to all allowed muniments! whilst our _civil wars_,
founded in _faction_ and _variety_ of pretended _religions_, exposed all
naked church records a prey to armed violence; a sad vacuum, which will
be sensible in our _English historie_."

When it was proposed to the great Gustavus of Sweden to destroy the
palace of the Dukes of Bavaria, that hero nobly refused; observing, "Let
us not copy the example of our unlettered ancestors, who, by waging war
against every production of genius, have rendered the name of GOTH
universally proverbial of the rudest state of barbarity."

Even the civilisation of the eighteenth century could not preserve from
the destructive fury of an infuriated mob, in the most polished city of
Europe, the valuable MSS. of the great Earl of Mansfield, which were
madly consigned to the flames during the riots of 1780; as those of Dr.
Priestley were consumed by the mob at Birmingham.

In the year 1599, the Hall of the Stationers underwent as great a
purgation as was carried on in Don Quixote's library. Warton gives a
list of the best writers who were ordered for immediate conflagration by
the prelates Whitgift and Bancroft, urged by the Puritanical and
Calvinistic factions. Like thieves and outlaws, they were ordered _to be
taken wheresoever they may be found_.--"It was also decreed that no
satires or epigrams should be printed for the future. No plays were to
be printed without the inspection and permission of the archbishop of
Canterbury and the bishop of London; nor any _English historyes_, I
suppose novels and romances, without the sanction of the privy council.
Any pieces of this nature, unlicensed, or now at large and wandering
abroad, were to be diligently sought, recalled, and delivered over to
the ecclesiastical arm at London-house."

At a later period, and by an opposite party, among other extravagant
motions made in parliament, one was to destroy the Records in the Tower,
and to settle the nation on a new foundation! The very same principle
was attempted to be acted on in the French Revolution by the "true
sans-culottes." With us Sir Matthew Hale showed the weakness of the
project, and while he drew on his side "all sober persons, stopped even
the mouths of the frantic people themselves."

To descend to the losses incurred by individuals, whose names ought to
have served as an amulet to charm away the demons of literary
destruction. One of the most interesting is the fate of Aristotle's
library; he who by a Greek term was first saluted as a collector of
books! His works have come down to us accidentally, but not without
irreparable injuries, and with no slight suspicion respecting their
authenticity. The story is told by Strabo, in his thirteenth book. The
books of Aristotle came from his scholar Theophrastus to Neleus, whose
posterity, an illiterate race, kept them locked up without using them,
buried in the earth! Apellion, a curious collector, purchased them, but
finding the MSS. injured by age and moisture, conjecturally supplied
their deficiencies. It is impossible to know how far Apellion has
corrupted and obscured the text. But the mischief did not end here; when
Sylla at the taking of Athens brought them to Rome, he consigned them
to the care of Tyrannio, a grammarian, who employed scribes to copy
them; he suffered them to pass through his hands without correction, and
took great freedoms with them; the words of Strabo are strong: "Ibique
Tyrannionem grammaticum iis usum atque (ut fama est) _intercidisse_, aut
_invertisse_." He gives it indeed as a report; but the fact seems
confirmed by the state in which we find these works: Averroes declared
that he read Aristotle forty times over before he succeeded in perfectly
understanding him; he pretends he did at the one-and-fortieth time! And
to prove this, has published five folios of commentary!

We have lost much valuable literature by the illiberal or malignant
descendants of learned and ingenious persons. Many of Lady Mary Wortley
Montague's letters have been destroyed, I am informed, by her daughter,
who imagined that the family honours were lowered by the addition of
those of literature: some of her best letters, recently published, were
found buried in an old trunk. It would have mortified her ladyship's
daughter to have heard, that her mother was the Sévigné of Britain.

At the death of the learned Peiresc, a chamber in his house filled with
letters from the most eminent scholars of the age was discovered: the
learned in Europe had addressed Peiresc in their difficulties, who was
hence called "the attorney-general of the republic of letters." The
niggardly niece, although repeatedly entreated to permit them to be
published, preferred to use these learned epistles occasionally to light
her fires![24]

The MSS. of Leonardo da Vinci have equally suffered from his relatives.
When a curious collector discovered some, he generously brought them to
a descendant of the great painter, who coldly observed, that "he had a
great deal more in the garret, which had lain there for many years, if
the rats had not destroyed them!" Nothing which this great artist wrote
but showed an inventive genius.

Menage observes on a friend having had his library destroyed by fire, in
which several valuable MSS. had perished, that such a loss is one of the
greatest misfortunes that can happen to a man of letters. This gentleman
afterwards consoled himself by composing a little treatise _De
Bibliothecæ incendio_. It must have been sufficiently curious. Even in
the present day men of letters are subject to similar misfortunes; for
though the fire-offices will insure books, they will not allow _authors
to value their own manuscripts_.

A fire in the Cottonian library shrivelled and destroyed many
Anglo-Saxon MSS.--a loss now irreparable. The antiquary is doomed to
spell hard and hardly at the baked fragments that crumble in his

Meninsky's famous Persian dictionary met with a sad fate. Its excessive
rarity is owing to the siege of Vienna by the Turks: a bomb fell on the
author's house, and consumed the principal part of his indefatigable
labours. There are few sets of this high-priced work which do not bear
evident proofs of the bomb; while many parts are stained with the water
sent to quench the flames.

The sufferings of an author for the loss of his manuscripts strongly
appear in the case of Anthony Urceus, a great scholar of the fifteenth
century. The loss of his papers seems immediately to have been followed
by madness. At Forli, he had an apartment in the palace, and had
prepared an important work for publication. His room was dark, and he
generally wrote by lamp-light. Having gone out, he left the lamp
burning; the papers soon kindled, and his library was reduced to ashes.
As soon as he heard the news, he ran furiously to the palace, and
knocking his head violently against the gate, uttered this blasphemous
language: "Jesus Christ, what great crime have I done! who of those who
believed in you have I ever treated so cruelly? Hear what I am saying,
for I am in earnest, and am resolved. If by chance I should be so weak
as to address myself to you at the point of death, don't hear me, for I
will not be with you, but prefer hell and its eternity of torments." To
which, by the by, he gave little credit. Those who heard these ravings,
vainly tried to console him. He quitted the town, and lived franticly,
wandering about the woods!

Ben Jonson's _Execration on Vulcan_ was composed on a like occasion; the
fruits of twenty years' study were consumed in one short hour; our
literature suffered, for among some works of imagination there were many
philosophical collections, a commentary on the poetics, a complete
critical grammar, a life of Henry V., his journey into Scotland, with
all his adventures in that poetical pilgrimage, and a poem on the ladies
of Great Britain. What a catalogue of losses!

Castelvetro, the Italian commentator on Aristotle, having heard that his
house was on fire, ran through the streets exclaiming to the people,
_alla Poetica! alla Poetica! To the Poetic! To the Poetic_! He was then
writing his commentary on the Poetics of Aristotle.

Several men of letters have been known to have risen from their
death-bed to destroy their MSS. So solicitous have they been not to
venture their posthumous reputation in the hands of undiscerning
friends. Colardeau, the elegant versifier of Pope's epistle of Eliosa to
Abelard, had not yet destroyed what he had written of a translation of
Tasso. At the approach of death, he recollected his unfinished labour;
he knew that his friends would not have the courage to annihilate one of
his works; this was reserved for him. Dying, he raised himself, and as
if animated by an honourable action, he dragged himself along, and with
trembling hands seized his papers, and consumed them in one
sacrifice.--I recollect another instance of a man of letters, of our own
country, who acted the same part. He had passed his life in constant
study, and it was observed that he had written several folio volumes,
which his modest fears would not permit him to expose to the eye even of
his critical friends. He promised to leave his labours to posterity; and
he seemed sometimes, with a glow on his countenance, to exult that they
would not be unworthy of their acceptance. At his death his sensibility
took the alarm; he had the folios brought to his bed; no one could open
them, for they were closely locked. At the sight of his favourite and
mysterious labours, he paused; he seemed disturbed in his mind, while he
felt at every moment his strength decaying; suddenly he raised his
feeble hands by an effort of firm resolve, burnt his papers, and smiled
as the greedy Vulcan licked up every page. The task exhausted his
remaining strength, and he soon afterwards expired. The late Mrs.
Inchbald had written her life in several volumes; on her death-bed, from
a motive perhaps of too much delicacy to admit of any argument, she
requested a friend to cut them into pieces before her eyes--not having
sufficient strength left herself to perform this funereal office. These
are instances of what may be called the heroism of authors.

The republic of letters has suffered irreparable losses by shipwrecks.
Guarino Veronese, one of those learned Italians who travelled through
Greece for the recovery of MSS., had his perseverance repaid by the
acquisition of many valuable works. On his return to Italy he was
shipwrecked, and lost his treasures! So poignant was his grief on this
occasion that, according to the relation of one of his countrymen, his
hair turned suddenly white.

About the year 1700, Hudde, an opulent burgomaster of Middleburgh,
animated solely by literary curiosity, went to China to instruct himself
in the language, and in whatever was remarkable in this singular people.
He acquired the skill of a mandarine in that difficult language; nor did
the form of his Dutch face undeceive the physiognomists of China. He
succeeded to the dignity of a mandarine; he travelled through the
provinces under this character, and returned to Europe with a collection
of observations, the cherished labour of thirty years, and all these
were sunk in the bottomless sea.

The great Pinellian library, after the death of its illustrious
possessor, filled three vessels to be conveyed to Naples. Pursued by
corsairs, one of the vessels was taken; but the pirates finding nothing
on board but books, they threw them all into the sea: such was the fate
of a great portion of this famous library.[26] National libraries have
often perished at sea, from the circumstance of conquerors transporting
them into their own kingdoms.


[Footnote 23: Henry gave a commission to the famous antiquary, John
Leland, to examine the libraries of the suppressed religious houses, and
preserve such as concerned history. Though Leland, after his search,
told the king he had "conserved many good authors, the which otherwyse
had bene lyke to have peryshed, to the no smal incommodite of good
letters," he owns to the ruthless destruction of all such as were
connected with the "doctryne of a rowt of Romayne bysshopps." Strype
consequently notes with great sorrow that many "ancient manuscripts and
writings of learned British and Saxon authors were lost. Libraries were
sold by mercenary men for anything they could get, in that confusion and
devastation of religious houses. Bale, the antiquary, makes mention of a
merchant that bought two noble libraries about these times for forty
shillings; the books whereof served him for no other use but for waste
paper; and that he had been ten years consuming them, and yet there
remained still store enough for as many years more. Vast quantities and
numbers of these books vanished with the monks and friars from their
monasteries, were conveyed away and carried beyond seas to booksellers
there, by whole ship ladings; and a great many more were used in shops
and kitchens."]

[Footnote 24: One of the most disastrous of these losses to the admirers
of the old drama occurred through the neglect of a collector--John
Warburton, Somerset herald-at-arms (who died 1759), and who had many of
these early plays in manuscript. They were left carelessly in a corner,
and during his absence his cook used them for culinary purposes as waste
paper. The list published of his losses is, however, not quite accurate,
as one or more escaped, or were mislaid by this careless man; for
Massinger's tragedy, _The Tyrant_, stated to have been so destroyed, was
found among his books, and sold at his sale in 1759; another play by the
same author, _Believe as You List_, was discovered among some papers
from Garrick's library in 1844, and was printed by the Percy Society,
1849. It appears to be the very manuscript copy seen and described by
Cibber and Chetwood.]

[Footnote 25: One of these shrivelled volumes is preserved in a case in
our British Museum. The leaves have been twisted and drawn almost into a
solid ball by the action of fire. Some few of the charred manuscripts
have been admirably restored of late years by judicious pressure, and
inlaying the damaged leaves in solid margins. The fire occurred while
the collection was temporarily placed in Ashburnham House, Little Dean's
Yard, Westminster, in October, 1731. From the Report published by a
Committee of the House of Commons soon after, it appears that the
original number of volumes was 958--"of which are lost, burnt, or
entirely spoiled, 114; and damaged so as to be defective, 98."]

[Footnote 26: Gianvincenzo Pinelli was descended from a noble Genoese
family, and born at Naples in 1535. At the age of twenty-three he
removed to Padua, then noted for its learning, and here he devoted his
time and fortune to literary and scientific pursuits. There was scarcely
a branch of knowledge that he did not cultivate; and at his death, in
1601, he left a noble library behind him. But the Senate of Venice, ever
fearful that an undue knowledge of its proceedings should be made
public, set their seal upon his collection of manuscripts, and took away
more than two hundred volumes which related in some degree to its
affairs. The rest of the books were packed to go to Naples, where his
heirs resided. The printed books are stated to have filled one hundred
and sixteen chests, and the manuscripts were contained in fourteen
others. Three ships were freighted with them. One fell into the hands of
corsairs, and the contents were destroyed, as stated in the text; some
of the books, scattered on the beach at Fermo, were purchased by the
Bishop there. The other ship-loads were ultimately obtained by Cardinal
Borromeo, and added to his library.]


Although it is the opinion of some critics that our literary losses do
not amount to the extent which others imagine, they are however much
greater than they allow. Our severest losses are felt in the historical
province, and particularly in the earliest records, which might not have
been the least interesting to philosophical curiosity.

The history of Phoenicia by Sanchoniathon, supposed to be a contemporary
with Solomon, now consists of only a few valuable fragments preserved by
Eusebius. The same ill fortune attends Manetho's history of Egypt, and
Berosu's history of Chaldea. The histories of these most ancient
nations, however veiled in fables, would have presented to the
philosopher singular objects of contemplation.

Of the history of Polybios, which once contained forty books, we have
now only five; of the historical library of Diodorus Siculus fifteen
books only remain out of forty; and half of the Roman antiquities of
Dionysius Helicarnassensis has perished. Of the eighty books of the
history of Dion Cassius, twenty-five only remain. The present opening
book of Ammianus Marcellinus is entitled the fourteenth. Livy's history
consisted of one hundred and forty books, and we only possess
thirty-five of that pleasing historian. What a treasure has been lost in
the thirty books of Tacitus! little more than four remain. Murphy
elegantly observes, that "the reign of Titus, the delight of human kind,
is totally lost, and Domitian has escaped the vengeance of the
historian's pen." Yet Tacitus in fragments is still the colossal torso
of history. Velleius Paterculas, of whom a fragment only has reached
us, we owe to a single copy: no other having ever been discovered, and
which has occasioned the text of this historian to remain incurably
corrupt. Taste and criticism have certainly incurred an irreparable loss
in that _Treatise on the Causes of the Corruption of Eloquence_, by
Quintilian; which he has himself noticed with so much satisfaction in
his "Institutes." Petrarch declares, that in his youth he had seen the
works of Varro, and the second Decad of Livy; but all his endeavours to
recover them were fruitless.

These are only some of the most known losses; but in reading
contemporary writers we are perpetually discovering many important ones.
We have lost two precious works in ancient biography: Varro wrote the
lives of seven hundred illustrious Romans; and Atticus, the friend of
Cicero, composed another, on the acts of the great men among the Romans.
When we consider that these writers lived familiarly with the finest
geniuses of their times, and were opulent, hospitable, and lovers of the
fine arts, their biography and their portraits, which are said to have
accompanied them, are felt as an irreparable loss to literature. I
suspect likewise we have had great losses of which we are not always
aware; for in that curious letter in which the younger Pliny describes
in so interesting a manner the sublime industry, for it seems sublime by
its magnitude, of his Uncle,[27] it appears that his Natural History,
that vast register of the wisdom and the credulity of the ancients, was
not his only great labour; for among his other works was a history in
twenty books, which has entirely perished. We discover also the works of
writers, which, by the accounts of them, appear to have equalled in
genius those which have descended to us. Pliny has feelingly described a
poet of whom he tells us, "his works are never out of my hands; and
whether I sit down to write anything myself, or to revise what I have
already wrote, or am in a disposition to amuse myself, I constantly take
up this agreeable author; and as often as I do so, he is still new."[28]
He had before compared this poet to Catullus; and in a critic of so fine
a taste as Pliny, to have cherished so constant an intercourse with the
writings of this author, indicates high powers. Instances of this kind
frequently occur. Who does not regret the loss of the Anticato of

The losses which the poetical world has sustained are sufficiently known
by those who are conversant with the few invaluable fragments of
Menander, who might have interested us perhaps more than Homer: for he
was evidently the domestic poet, and the lyre he touched was formed of
the strings of the human heart. He was the painter of passions, and the
historian of the manners. The opinion of Quintilian is confirmed by the
golden fragments preserved for the English reader in the elegant
versions of Cumberland. Even of Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, who
each wrote about one hundred dramas, seven only have been preserved of
Æschylus and of Sophocles, and nineteen of Euripides. Of the one hundred
and thirty comedies of Plautus, we only inherit twenty imperfect ones.
The remainder of Ovid's Fasti has never been recovered.

I believe that a philosopher would consent to lose any poet to regain an
historian; nor is this unjust, for some future poet may arise to supply
the vacant place of a lost poet, but it is not so with the historian.
Fancy may be supplied; but Truth once lost in the annals of mankind
leaves a chasm never to be filled.


[Footnote 27: Book III. Letter V. Melmoth's translation.]

[Footnote 28: Book I. Letter XVI.]


The scholastic questions were called _Questiones Quodlibeticæ_; and they
were generally so ridiculous that we have retained the word _Quodlibet_
in our vernacular style, to express anything ridiculously subtile;
something which comes at length to be distinguished into nothingness,

    "With all the rash dexterity of wit."

The history of the scholastic philosophy furnishes an instructive theme;
it enters into the history of the human mind, and fills a niche in our
literary annals. The works of the scholastics, with the debates of these
_Quodlibetarians_, at once show the greatness and the littleness of the
human intellect; for though they often degenerate into incredible
absurdities, those who have examined the works of Thomas Aquinas and
Duns Scotus have confessed their admiration of the Herculean texture of
brain which they exhausted in demolishing their aërial fabrics.

The following is a slight sketch of the school divinity.

The christian doctrines in the primitive ages of the gospel were adapted
to the simple comprehension of the multitude; metaphysical subtilties
were not even employed by the Fathers, of whom several are eloquent. The
Homilies explained, by an obvious interpretation, some scriptural point,
or inferred, by artless illustration, some moral doctrine. When the
Arabians became the only learned people, and their empire extended over
the greater part of the known world, they impressed their own genius on
those nations with whom they were allied as friends, or reverenced as
masters. The Arabian genius was fond of abstruse studies; it was highly
metaphysical and mathematical, for the fine arts their religion did not
permit them to cultivate; and the first knowledge which modern Europe
obtained of Euclid and Aristotle was through the medium of Latin
translations of Arabic versions. The Christians in the west received
their first lessons from the Arabians in the east; and Aristotle, with
his Arabic commentaries, was enthroned in the schools of Christendom.

Then burst into birth, from the dark cave of metaphysics, a numerous and
ugly spawn of monstrous sects; unnatural children of the same foul
mother, who never met but for mutual destruction. Religion became what
is called the study of Theology; and they all attempted to reduce the
worship of God into a system! and the creed into a thesis! Every point
relating to religion was debated through an endless chain of infinite
questions, incomprehensible distinctions, with differences mediate and
immediate, the concrete and the abstract, a perpetual civil war carried
on against common sense in all the Aristotelian severity. There existed
a rage for Aristotle; and Melancthon complains that in sacred assemblies
the ethics of Aristotle were read to the people instead of the gospel.
Aristotle was placed a-head of St. Paul; and St. Thomas Aquinas in his
works distinguishes him by the title of "The Philosopher;" inferring,
doubtless, that no other man could possibly be a philosopher who
disagreed with Aristotle. Of the blind rites paid to Aristotle, the
anecdotes of the Nominalists and Realists are noticed in the article
"Literary Controversy" in this work.

Had their subtile questions and perpetual wranglings only been addressed
to the metaphysician in his closet, and had nothing but strokes of the
pen occurred, the scholastic divinity would only have formed an episode
in the calm narrative of literary history; but it has claims to be
registered in political annals, from the numerous persecutions and
tragical events with which they too long perplexed their followers, and
disturbed the repose of Europe. The Thomists, and the Scotists, the
Occamites, and many others, soared into the regions of mysticism.

Peter Lombard had laboriously compiled, after the celebrated Abelard's
"Introduction to Divinity," his four books of "Sentences," from the
writings of the Fathers; and for this he is called "The Master of
Sentences." These Sentences, on which we have so many commentaries, are
a collection of passages from the Fathers, the real or apparent
contradictions of whom he endeavours to reconcile. But his successors
were not satisfied to be mere commentators on these "sentences," which
they now only made use of as a row of pegs to hang on their fine-spun
metaphysical cobwebs. They at length collected all these quodlibetical
questions into enormous volumes, under the terrifying form, for those
who have seen them, of _Summaries of Divinity_! They contrived, by their
chimerical speculations, to question the plainest truths; to wrest the
simple meaning of the Holy Scriptures, and give some appearance of truth
to the most ridiculous and monstrous opinions.

One of the subtile questions which agitated the world in the tenth
century, relating to dialectics, was concerning _universals_ (as for
example, man, horse, dog, &c.) signifying not _this_ or _that_ in
particular, but _all_ in general. They distinguished _universals_, or
what we call abstract terms, by the _genera_ and _species rerum_; and
they never could decide whether these were _substances_--or _names_!
That is, whether the abstract idea we form of a horse was not really a
_being_ as much as the horse we ride! All this, and some congenial
points respecting the origin of our ideas, and what ideas were, and
whether we really had an idea of a thing before we discovered the thing
itself--in a word, what they called universals, and the essence of
universals; of all this nonsense, on which they at length proceeded to
accusations of heresy, and for which many learned men were
excommunicated, stoned, and what not, the whole was derived from the
reveries of Plato, Aristotle, and Zeno, about the nature of ideas, than
which subject to the present day no discussion ever degenerated into
such insanity. A modern metaphysician infers that we have no ideas at

Of the scholastic divines, the most illustrious was Saint THOMAS
AQUINAS, styled the Angelical Doctor. Seventeen folio volumes not only
testify his industry but even his genius. He was a great man, busied all
his life with making the charades of metaphysics.

My learned friend Sharon Turner has favoured me with a notice of his
greatest work--his "Sum of all Theology," _Summa totius Theologiæ_,
Paris, 1615. It is a metaphysicological treatise, or the most abstruse
metaphysics of theology. It occupies above 1250 folio pages, of very
small close print in double columns. It may be worth noticing that to
this work are appended 19 folio pages of double columns of errata, and
about 200 of additional index!

The whole is thrown into an Aristotelian form; the difficulties or
questions are proposed first, and the answers are then appended. There
are 168 articles on Love--358 on Angels--200 on the Soul--85 on
Demons--151 on the Intellect--134 on Law--3 on the Catamenia--237 on
Sins--17 on Virginity, and others on a variety of topics.

The scholastic tree is covered with prodigal foliage, but is barren of
fruit; and when the scholastics employed themselves in solving the
deepest mysteries, their philosophy became nothing more than an
instrument in the hands of the Roman Pontiff. Aquinas has composed 358
articles on angels, of which a few of the heads have been culled for the

He treats of angels, their substance, orders, offices, natures, habits,
&c., as if he himself had been an old experienced angel!

Angels were not before the world!

Angels might have been before the world!

Angels were created by God--They were created immediately by Him--They
were created in the Empyrean sky--They were created in grace--They were
created in imperfect beatitude. After a severe chain of reasoning, he
shows that angels are incorporeal compared to us, but corporeal compared
to God.

An angel is composed of action and potentiality; the more superior he
is, he has the less potentiality. They have not matter properly. Every
angel differs from another angel in species. An angel is of the same
species as a soul. Angels have not naturally a body united to them. They
may assume bodies; but they do not want to assume bodies for themselves,
but for us.

The bodies assumed by angels are of thick air.

The bodies they assume have not the natural virtues which they show, nor
the operations of life, but those which are common to inanimate things.

An angel may be the same with a body.

In the same body there are, the soul formally giving being, and
operating natural operations; and the angel operating supernatural

Angels administer and govern every corporeal creature.

God, an angel, and the soul, are not contained in space, but contain it.

Many angels cannot be in the same space.

The motion of an angel in space is nothing else than different contacts
of different successive places.

The motion of an angel is a succession of his different operations.

His motion may be continuous and discontinuous as he will.

The continuous motion of an angel is necessary through every medium, but
may be discontinuous without a medium.

The velocity of the motion of an angel is not according to the quantity
of his strength, but according to his will.

The motion of the illumination of an angel is threefold, or circular,
straight, and oblique.

In this account of the motion of an angel we are reminded of the
beautiful description of Milton, who marks it by a continuous motion,

    "Smooth-sliding without step."

The reader desirous of being _merry_ with Aquinas's angels may find them
in Martinus Scriblerus, in Ch. VII. who inquires if angels pass from one
extreme to another without going through the _middle_? And if angels
know things more clearly in a morning? How many angels can dance on the
point of a very fine needle, without jostling one another?

All the questions in Aquinas are answered with a subtlety of distinction
more difficult to comprehend and remember than many problems in Euclid;
and perhaps a few of the best might still be selected for youth as
curious exercises of the understanding. However, a great part of these
peculiar productions are loaded with the most trifling, irreverent, and
even scandalous discussions. Even Aquinas could gravely debate, Whether
Christ was not an hermaphrodite? Whether there are excrements in
Paradise? Whether the pious at the resurrection will rise with their
bowels? Others again debated--Whether the angel Gabriel appeared to the
Virgin Mary in the shape of a serpent, of a dove, of a man, or of a
woman? Did he seem to be young or old? In what dress was he? Was his
garment white or of two colours? Was his linen clean or foul? Did he
appear in the morning, noon, or evening? What was the colour of the
Virgin Mary's hair? Was she acquainted with the mechanic and liberal
arts? Had she a thorough knowledge of the Book of Sentences, and all it
contains? that is, Peter Lombard's compilation from the works of the
Fathers, written 1200 years after her death.--But these are only
trifling matters: they also agitated, Whether when during her conception
the Virgin was seated, Christ too was seated; and whether when she lay
down, Christ also lay down? The following question was a favourite topic
for discussion, and the acutest logicians never resolved it: "When a hog
is carried to market with a rope tied about his neck, which is held at
the other end by a man, whether is the _hog_ carried to market by the
_rope_ or the _man_?"

In the tenth century[29], after long and ineffectual controversy about
the real presence of Christ in the Sacrament, they at length universally
agreed to sign a peace. This mutual forbearance must not, however, be
ascribed to the prudence and virtue of those times. It was mere
ignorance and incapacity of reasoning which kept the peace, and deterred
them from entering into debates to which they at length found themselves

Lord Lyttleton, in his Life of Henry II., laments the unhappy effects of
the scholastic philosophy on the progress of the human mind. The minds
of men were turned from classical studies to the subtilties of school
divinity, which Rome encouraged, as more profitable for the maintenance
of her doctrines. It was a great misfortune to religion and to learning,
that men of such acute understandings as Abelard and Lombard, who might
have done much to reform the errors of the church, and to restore
science in Europe, should have depraved both, by applying their
admirable parts to weave those cobwebs of sophistry, and to confound the
clear simplicity of evangelical truths, by a false philosophy and a
captious logic.


[Footnote 29: Jortin's _Remarks on Ecclesiastical History_, vol. v. p.


All men are fond of glory, and even those philosophers who write against
that noble passion prefix their _names_ to their own works. It is worthy
of observation that the authors of two _religious books_, universally
received, have concealed their names from the world. The "Imitation of
Christ" is attributed, without any authority, to Thomas A'Kempis; and
the author of the "Whole Duty of Man" still remains undiscovered.
Millions of their books have been dispersed in the Christian world.

To have revealed their _names_ would have given them as much worldly
fame as any moralist has obtained--but they contemned it! Their religion
was raised above all worldly passions! Some profane writers, indeed,
have also concealed their names to great works, but their _motives_ were
of a very different cast.


Nothing is so capable of disordering the intellects as an intense
application to any one of these six things: the Quadrature of the
Circle; the Multiplication of the Cube; the Perpetual Motion; the
Philosophical Stone; Magic; and Judicial Astrology. "It is proper,
however," Fontenelle remarks, "to apply one's self to these inquiries;
because we find, as we proceed, many valuable discoveries of which we
were before ignorant." The same thought Cowley has applied, in an
address to his mistress, thus--

    "Although I think thou never wilt be found,
      Yet I'm resolved to search for thee:
        The search itself rewards the pains.
          So though the chymist his great secret miss,
    (For neither it in art nor nature is)
      Yet things well worth his toil he gains;
    And does his charge and labour pay
    With good unsought experiments by the way."

The same thought is in Donne; perhaps Cowley did not suspect that he was
an imitator; Fontenelle could not have read either; he struck out the
thought by his own reflection, Glauber searched long and deeply for the
philosopher's stone, which though he did not find, yet in his researches
he discovered a very useful purging salt, which bears his name.

Maupertuis observes on the _Philosophical Stone_, that we cannot prove
the impossibility of obtaining it, but we can easily see the folly of
those who employ their time and money in seeking for it. This price is
too great to counterbalance the little probability of succeeding in it.
However, it is still a bantling of modern chemistry, who has nodded very
affectionately on it!--Of the _Perpetual Motion_, he shows the
impossibility, in the sense in which it is generally received. On the
_Quadrature of the Circle_, he says he cannot decide if this problem be
resolvable or not: but he observes, that it is very useless to search
for it any more; since we have arrived by approximation to such a point
of accuracy, that on a large circle, such as the orbit which the earth
describes round the sun, the geometrician will not mistake by the
thickness of a hair. The quadrature of the circle is still, however, a
favourite game with some visionaries, and several are still imagining
that they have discovered the perpetual motion; the Italians nickname
them _matto perpetuo_: and Bekker tells us of the fate of one Hartmann,
of Leipsic, who was in such despair at having passed his life so vainly,
in studying the perpetual motion, that at length he hanged himself!


Some writers, usually pedants, imagine that they can supply, by the
labours of industry, the deficiencies of nature. Paulus Manutius
frequently spent a month in writing a single letter. He affected to
imitate Cicero. But although he painfully attained to something of the
elegance of his style, destitute of the native graces of unaffected
composition, he was one of those whom Erasmus bantered in his
_Ciceronianus_, as so slavishly devoted to Cicero's style, that they
ridiculously employed the utmost precautions when they were seized by a
Ciceronian fit. The _Nosoponus_ of Erasmus tells of his devotion to
Cicero; of his three indexes to all his words, and his never writing but
in the dead of night, employing months upon a few lines; and his
religious veneration for _words_, with his total indifference about the

Le Brun, a Jesuit, was a singular instance of such unhappy imitation. He
was a Latin poet, and his themes were religious. He formed the
extravagant project of substituting a _religious Virgil_ and _Ovid_
merely by adapting his works to their titles. His _Christian Virgil_
consists, like the Pagan Virgil, of _Eclogues_, _Georgics_, and of an
_Epic_ of twelve books; with this difference, that devotional subjects
are substituted for fabulous ones. His epic is the _Ignaciad_, or the
pilgrimage of Saint Ignatius. His _Christian Ovid_, is in the same
taste; everything wears a new face. His _Epistles_ are pious ones; the
_Fasti_ are the six days of the Creation; the _Elegies_ are the six
Lamentations of Jeremiah; a poem on _the Love of God_ is substituted for
the _Art of Love_; and the history of some _Conversions_ supplies the
place of the _Metamorphoses_! This Jesuit would, no doubt, have approved
of a _family Shakspeare_!

A poet of a far different character, the elegant Sannazarius, has done
much the same thing in his poem _De Partu Virginis_. The same servile
imitation of ancient taste appears. It professes to celebrate the birth
of _Christ_, yet his name is not once mentioned in it! The _Virgin_
herself is styled _spes deorum_! "The hope of the gods!" The
_Incarnation_ is predicted by _Proteus_! The Virgin, instead of
consulting the _sacred writings_, reads the _Sibylline oracles_! Her
attendants are _dryads_, _nereids_, &c. This monstrous mixture of
polytheism with the mysteries of Christianity, appears in everything he
had about him. In a chapel at one of his country seats he had two
statues placed at his tomb, _Apollo_ and _Minerva_; catholic piety found
no difficulty in the present case, as well as in innumerable others of
the same kind, to inscribe the statue of _Apollo_ with the name of
_David_, and that of _Minerva_ with the female one of _Judith_!

Seneca, in his 114th Epistle, gives a curious literary anecdote of the
sort of imitation by which an inferior mind becomes the monkey of an
original writer. At Rome, when Sallust was the fashionable writer, short
sentences, uncommon words, and an obscure brevity, were affected as so
many elegances. Arruntius, who wrote the history of the Punic Wars,
painfully laboured to imitate Sallust. Expressions which are rare in
Sallust are frequent in Arruntius, and, of course, without the motive
that induced Sallust to adopt them. What rose naturally under the pen of
the great historian, the minor one must have run after with ridiculous
anxiety. Seneca adds several instances of the servile affectation of
Arruntius, which seem much like those we once had of Johnson, by the
undiscerning herd of his apes.

One cannot but smile at these imitators; we have abounded with them. In
the days of Churchill, every month produced an effusion which tolerably
imitated his slovenly versification, his coarse invective, and his
careless mediocrity,--but the genius remained with the English Juvenal.
Sterne had his countless multitude; and in Fielding's time, Tom Jones
produced more bastards in wit than the author could ever suspect. To
such literary echoes, the reply of Philip of Macedon to one who prided
himself on imitating the notes of the nightingale may be applied: "I
prefer the nightingale herself!" Even the most successful of this
imitating tribe must be doomed to share the fate of Silius Italicus, in
his cold imitation of Virgil, and Cawthorne in his empty harmony of

To all these imitators I must apply an Arabian anecdote. Ebn Saad, one
of Mahomet's amanuenses, when writing what the prophet dictated, cried
out by way of admiration--"Blessed be God, the best Creator!" Mahomet
approved of the expression, and desired him to write those words down as
part of the inspired passage.--The consequence was, that Ebn Saad began
to think himself as great a prophet as his master, and took upon himself
to imitate the Koran according to his fancy; but the imitator got
himself into trouble, and only escaped with life by falling on his
knees, and solemnly swearing he would never again imitate the Koran, for
which he was sensible God had never created him.


"I should," says Menage, "have received great pleasure to have conversed
with Cicero, had I lived in his time. He must have been a man very
agreeable in conversation, since even Cæsar carefully collected his
_bons mots_. Cicero has boasted of the great actions he has done for his
country, because there is no vanity in exulting in the performance of
our duties; but he has not boasted that he was the most eloquent orator
of his age, though he certainly was; because nothing is more disgusting
than to exult in our intellectual powers."

Whatever were the _bons mots_ of Cicero, of which few have come down to
us, it is certain that Cicero was an inveterate punster; and he seems to
have been more ready with them than with repartees. He said to a
senator, who was the son of a tailor, "_Rem acu tetigisti_." You have
touched it sharply; _acu_ means sharpness as well as the point of a
needle. To the son of a cook, "_ego quoque tibi jure favebo_." The
ancients pronounced _coce_ and _quoque_ like _co-ke_, which alludes to
the Latin _cocus_, cook, besides the ambiguity of _jure_, which applies
to _broth_ or _law--jus_. A Sicilian suspected of being a Jew, attempted
to get the cause of Verres into his own hands; Cicero, who knew that he
was a creature of the great culprit, opposed him, observing "What has a
Jew to do with swine's flesh?" The Romans called a boar pig Verres. I
regret to afford a respectable authority for forensic puns; however, to
have degraded his adversaries by such petty personalities, only proves
that Cicero's taste was not exquisite.

There is something very original in Montaigne's censure of Cicero.
Cotton's translation is admirable.

"Boldly to confess the truth, his way of writing, and that of all other
long-winded authors, appears to me very tedious; for his preface,
definitions, divisions, and etymologies, take up the greatest part of
his work; whatever there is of life and marrow, is smothered and lost in
the preparation. When I have spent an hour in reading him, which is a
great deal for me, and recollect what I have thence extracted of juice
and substance, for the most part I find nothing but wind: for he is not
yet come to the arguments that serve to his purpose, and the reasons
that should properly help to loose the knot I would untie. For me, who
only desired to become more wise, not more learned or eloquent, these
logical or Aristotelian disquisitions of poets are of no use. I look for
good and solid reasons at the first dash. I am for discourses that give
the first charge into the heart of the doubt; his languish about the
subject, and delay our expectation. Those are proper for the schools,
for the bar, and for the pulpit, where we have leisure to nod, and may
awake a quarter of an hour after, time enough to find again the thread
of the discourse. It is necessary to speak after this manner to judges,
whom a man has a design, right or wrong, to incline to favour his cause;
to children and common people, to whom a man must say all he can. I
would not have an author make it his business to render me attentive; or
that he should cry out fifty times _O yes_! as the clerks and heralds

"As to Cicero, I am of the common opinion that, learning excepted, he
had no great natural parts. He was a good citizen, of an affable
nature, as all fat heavy men--(_gras et gausseurs_ are the words in the
original, meaning perhaps broad jokers, for Cicero was not fat)--such as
he was, usually are; but given to ease, and had a mighty share of vanity
and ambition. Neither do I know how to excuse him for thinking his
poetry fit to be published. 'Tis no great imperfection to write ill
verses; but it is an imperfection not to be able to judge how unworthy
bad verses were of the glory of his name. For what concerns his
eloquence, that is totally out of comparison, and I believe will never
be equalled."


A preface, being the entrance to a book, should invite by its beauty. An
elegant porch announces the splendour of the interior. I have observed
that ordinary readers skip over these little elaborate compositions. The
ladies consider them as so many pages lost, which might better be
employed in the addition of a picturesque scene, or a tender letter to
their novels. For my part I always gather amusement from a preface, be
it awkwardly or skilfully written; for dulness, or impertinence, may
raise a laugh for a page or two. A preface is frequently a superior
composition to the work itself: for, long before the days of Johnson, it
had been a custom for many authors to solicit for this department of
their work the ornamental contribution of a man of genius. Cicero tells
his friend Atticus, that he had a volume of prefaces or introductions
always ready by him to be used as circumstances required. These must
have been like our periodical essays. A good preface is as essential to
put the reader into good humour, as a good prologue is to a play, or a
fine symphony to an opera, containing something analogous to the work
itself; so that we may feel its want as a desire not elsewhere to be
gratified. The Italians call the preface _La salsa del libra_, the sauce
of the book, and if well seasoned it creates an appetite in the reader
to devour the book itself. A preface badly composed prejudices the
reader against the work. Authors are not equally fortunate in these
little introductions; some can compose volumes more skilfully than
prefaces, and others can finish a preface who could never be capable of
finishing a book.

On a very elegant preface prefixed to an ill-written book, it was
observed that they ought never to have _come together_; but a sarcastic
wit remarked that he considered such _marriages_ were allowable, for
they were _not of kin_.

In prefaces an affected haughtiness or an affected humility are alike
despicable. There is a deficient dignity in Robertson's; but the
haughtiness is now to our purpose. This is called by the French, "_la
morgue littéraire_," the surly pomposity of literature. It is sometimes
used by writers who have succeeded in their first work, while the
failure of their subsequent productions appears to have given them a
literary hypochondriasm. Dr. Armstrong, after his classical poem, never
shook hands cordially with the public for not relishing his barren
labours. In the _preface_ to his lively "Sketches" he tells us, "he
could give them much bolder strokes as well as more delicate touches,
but that he _dreads the danger of writing too well_, and feels the value
of his own labour too sensibly to bestow it upon the _mobility_." This
is pure milk compared to the gall in the _preface_ to his poems. There
he tells us, "that at last he has taken the _trouble to collect them_!
What he has destroyed would, probably enough, have been better received
by the _great majority of readers_. But he has always _most heartily
despised their opinion_." These prefaces remind one of the _prologi
galeati_, prefaces with a helmet! as St. Jerome entitles the one to his
Version of the Scriptures. These _armed prefaces_ were formerly very
common in the age of literary controversy; for half the business of an
author consisted then, either in replying, or anticipating a reply, to
the attacks of his opponent.

Prefaces ought to be dated; as these become, after a series of editions,
leading and useful circumstances in literary history.

Fuller with quaint humour observes on INDEXES--"An INDEX is a necessary
implement, and no impediment of a book, except in the same sense wherein
the carriages of an army are termed _Impedimenta_. Without this, a large
author is but a labyrinth without a clue to direct the reader therein. I
confess there is a lazy kind of learning which is _only Indical_; when
scholars (like adders which only bite the horse's heels) nibble but at
the tables, which are _calces librorum_, neglecting the body of the
book. But though the idle deserve no crutches (let not a staff be used
by them, but on them), pity it is the weary should be denied the benefit
thereof, and industrious scholars prohibited the accommodation of an
index, most used by those who most pretend to contemn it."


There is some probability that this art originated in China, where it
was practised long before it was known in Europe. Some European
traveller might have imported the hint.[30] That the Romans did not
practise the art of printing cannot but excite our astonishment, since
they actually used it, unconscious of their rich possession. I have seen
Roman stereotypes, or immoveable printing types, with which they stamped
their pottery.[31] How in daily practising the art, though confined to
this object, it did not occur to so ingenious a people to print their
literary works, is not easily to be accounted for. Did the wise and
grave senate dread those inconveniences which attend its indiscriminate
use? Or perhaps they did not care to deprive so large a body of scribes
of their business. Not a hint of the art itself appears in their

When first the art of printing was discovered, they only made use of one
side of a leaf; they had not yet found out the expedient of impressing
the other. Afterwards they thought of pasting the blank sides, which
made them appear like one leaf. Their blocks were made of soft woods,
and their letters were carved; but frequently breaking, the expense and
trouble of carving and gluing new letters suggested our moveable types
which, have produced an almost miraculous celerity in this art. The
modern stereotype, consisting of entire pages in solid blocks of metal,
and, not being liable to break like the soft wood at first used, has
been profitably employed for works which require to be frequently
reprinted. Printing in carved blocks of wood must have greatly retarded
the progress of universal knowledge: for one set of types could only
have produced one work, whereas it now serves for hundreds.

When their editions were intended to be curious, they omitted to print
the initial letter of a chapter: they left that blank space to be
painted or illuminated, to the fancy of the purchaser. Several ancient
volumes of these early times have been found where these letters are
wanting, as they neglected to have them painted.

The initial carved letter, which is generally a fine wood-cut, among our
printed books, is evidently a remains or imitation of these
ornaments.[32] Among the very earliest books printed, which were
religious, the Poor Man's Bible has wooden cuts in a coarse style,
without the least shadowing or crossing of strokes, and these they
inelegantly daubed over with broad colours, which they termed
illuminating, and sold at a cheap rate to those who could not afford to
purchase costly missals elegantly written and painted on vellum.
Specimens of these rude efforts of illuminated prints may be seen in
Strutt's Dictionary of Engravers. The Bodleian library possesses the

In the productions of early printing may be distinguished the various
splendid editions of _Primers_, or _Prayer-books_. These were
embellished with cuts finished in a most elegant taste: many of them
were grotesque or obscene. In one of them an angel is represented
crowning the Virgin Mary, and God the Father himself assisting at the
ceremony. Sometimes St. Michael is overcoming Satan; and sometimes St.
Anthony is attacked by various devils of most clumsy forms--not of the
grotesque and limber family of Callot!

Printing was gradually practised throughout Europe from the year 1440 to
1500. Caxton and his successor Wynkyn de Worde were our own earliest
printers. Caxton was a wealthy merchant, who, in 1464, being sent by
Edward IV. to negotiate a commercial treaty with the Duke of Burgundy,
returned to his country with this invaluable art. Notwithstanding his
mercantile habits, he possessed a literary taste, and his first work was
a translation from a French historical miscellany.[34]

The tradition of the Devil and Dr. Faustus was said to have been derived
from the odd circumstance in which the Bibles of the first printer,
Fust, appeared to the world; but if Dr. Faustus and Faustus the printer
are two different persons, the tradition becomes suspicious, though, in
some respects, it has a foundation in truth. When Fust had discovered
this new art, and printed off a considerable number of copies of the
Bible to imitate those which were commonly sold as MSS., he undertook
the sale of them at Paris. It was his interest to conceal this
discovery, and to pass off his printed copies for MSS. But, enabled to
sell his Bibles at sixty crowns, while the other scribes demanded five
hundred, this raised universal astonishment; and still more when he
produced copies as fast as they were wanted, and even lowered his price.
The uniformity of the copies increased the wonder. Informations were
given in to the magistrates against him as a magician; and in searching
his lodgings a great number of copies were found. The red ink, and
Fust's red ink is peculiarly brilliant, which embellished his copies,
was said to be his blood; and it was solemnly adjudged that he was in
league with the Infernals. Fust at length was obliged, to save himself
from a bonfire, to reveal his art to the Parliament of Paris, who
discharged him from all prosecution in consideration of the wonderful

When the art of printing was established, it became the glory of the
learned to be correctors of the press to eminent printers. Physicians,
lawyers, and bishops themselves occupied this department. The printers
then added frequently to their names those of the correctors of the
press; and editions were then valued according to the abilities of the

The _prices_ of books in these times were considered as an object worthy
of the animadversions of the highest powers. This anxiety in favour of
the studious appears from a privilege of Pope Leo X. to Aldus Manutius
for printing Varro, dated 1553, signed Cardinal Bembo. Aldus is exhorted
to put a moderate price on the work, lest the Pope should withdraw his
privilege, and accord it to others.

Robert Stephens, one of the early printers, surpassed in correctness
those who exercised the same profession.[35]

To render his editions immaculate, he hung up the proofs in public
places, and generously recompensed those who were so fortunate as to
detect any errata.

Plantin, though a learned man, is more famous as a printer. His
printing-office was one of the wonders of Europe. This grand building
was the chief ornament of the city of Antwerp. Magnificent in its
structure, it presented to the spectator a countless number of presses,
characters of all figures and all sizes, matrixes to cast letters, and
all other printing materials; which Baillet assures us amounted to
immense sums.[36]

In Italy, the three Manutii were more solicitous of correctness and
illustrations than of the beauty of their printing. They were ambitious
of the character of the scholar, not of the printer.

It is much to be regretted that our publishers are not literary men,
able to form their own critical decisions. Among the learned printers
formerly, a book was valued because it came from the presses of an Aldus
or a Stephens; and even in our own time the names of Bowyer and Dodsley
sanctioned a work. Pelisson, in his history of the French Academy,
mentions that Camusat was selected as their bookseller, from his
reputation for publishing only valuable works. "He was a man of some
literature and good sense, and rarely printed an indifferent work; and
when we were young I recollect that we always made it a rule to purchase
his publications. His name was a test of the goodness of the work." A
publisher of this character would be of the greatest utility to the
literary world: at home he would induce a number of ingenious men to
become authors, for it would be honourable to be inscribed in his
catalogue; and it would be a direction for the continental reader.

So valuable a union of learning and printing did not, unfortunately,
last. The printers of the seventeenth century became less charmed with
glory than with gain. Their correctors and their letters evinced as
little delicacy of choice.

The invention of what is now called the _Italic_ letter in printing was
made by Aldus Manutius, to whom learning owes much. He observed the
many inconveniences resulting from the vast number of _abbreviations_,
which were then so frequent among the printers, that a book was
difficult to understand; a treatise was actually written on the art of
reading a printed book, and this addressed to the learned! He contrived
an expedient, by which these abbreviations might be entirely got rid of,
and yet books suffer little increase in bulk. This he effected by
introducing what is now called the _Italic_ letter, though it formerly
was distinguished by the name of the inventor, and called the _Aldine_.


[Footnote 30: China is the stronghold where antiquarian controversy
rests. Beaten in affixing the origin of any art elsewhere, the
controversialist enshrines himself within the Great Wall, and is allowed
to repose in peace. Opponents, like Arabs, give up the chase when these
gates close, though possibly with as little reason as the children of
the desert evince when they quietly succumb to any slight defence.]

[Footnote 31: They are small square blocks of metal, with the name in
raised letters within a border, precisely similar to those used by the
modern printer. Sometimes the stamp was round, or in the shape of a foot
or hand, with the potter's name in the centre. They were in constant use
for impressing the clay-works which supplied the wants of a Roman
household. The list of potters' marks found upon fragments discovered in
London alone amounts to several hundreds.]

[Footnote 32: Another reason for the omission of a great initial is
given. There was difficulty in obtaining such enriched letters by
engraving as were used in manuscripts; and there was at this time a
large number of professional scribes, whose interests were in some
degree considered by the printer. Hence we find in early books a large
space left to be filled in by the hand of the scribe with the proper
letter indicated by a small type letter placed in the midst. The famous
_Psalter_ printed by Faust and Scheffer, at Mentz, in 1497, is the first
book having large initial letters printed in red and blue inks, in
imitation of the handwork of the old caligraphers.]

[Footnote 33: The British Museum now possesses a remarkably fine series
of these early works. They originated in the large sheet woodcuts, or
"broadsides," representing saints, or scenes from saintly legends, used
by the clergy as presents to the peasantry or pilgrims to certain
shrines--a custom retained upon the Continent to the present time; such
cuts exhibiting little advance in art since the days of their origin,
being almost as rude, and daubed in a similar way with coarse colour.
One ancient cut of this kind in the British Museum, representing the
Saviour brought before Pilate, resembles in style the pen-drawings in
manuscripts of the fourteenth century. Another exhibits the seven stages
of human life, with the wheel of fortune in the centre. Another is an
emblematic representation of the Tower of Sapience, each stone formed of
some mental qualification. When books were formed, a large series of
such cuts included pictures and type in each page, and in one piece. The
so-called Poor Man's Bible (an evidently erroneous term for it, the
invention of a bibliographer of the last century) was one of these, and
consists of a series of pictures from Scripture history, with brief
explanations. It was most probably preceded by the block books known as
the _Apocalypse of St. John_, the _Cantico Canticorum_, and the _Ars

[Footnote 34: This was Raoul le Fevre's _Recueil des Histoires de
Troye_, a fanciful compilation of adventures, in which the heroes of
antiquity perform the parts of the _preux chevaliers_ of the middle
ages. It was "ended in the Holy City of Colen," in September, 1471. The
first book printed by him in England was _The Game and Playe of the
Chesse_, in March, 1474. It is a fanciful moralization of the game,
abounding with quaint old legends and stories.]

[Footnote 35: Robert Stephens was the most celebrated of a family
renowned through several generations in the history of printing. The
first of the dynasty, Henry Estienne, who, in the spirit of the age,
latinized his name, was born in Paris, in 1470, and commenced printing
there at the beginning of the sixteenth century. His three
sons--Francis, Robert, and Charles--were all renowned printers and
scholars; Robert the most celebrated for the correctness and beauty of
his work. His Latin Bible of 1532 made for him a great reputation; and
he was appointed printer to Francis I. A new edition of his Bible, in
1545, brought him into trouble with the formidable doctors of the
Sorbonne, and he ultimately left Paris for Geneva, where he set up a
printing-office, which soon became famous. He died in 1559. He was the
author of some learned works, and a printer whose labours in the "noble
art" have never been excelled. He left two sons--Henry and Robert--also
remarkable as learned printers; and they both had sons who followed the
same pursuits. There is not one of this large family without honourable
recognition for labour and knowledge, and in their wives and daughters
they found learned assistants. Chalmers says--"They were at once the
ornament and reproach of the age in which they lived. They were all men
of great learning, all extensive benefactors to literature, and all
persecuted or unfortunate."]

[Footnote 36: Plantin's office is still existing in Antwerp, and is one
of the most interesting places in that interesting city. It is so
carefully preserved, that its quadrangle was assigned to the soldiery in
the last great revolution, to prevent any hostile incursion and damage.
It is a lonely building, in which the old office, with its presses and
printing material, still remains as when deserted by the last workman.
The sheets of the last books printed there are still lying on the
tables; and in the presses and drawers are hundreds of the woodcuts and
copperplates used by Plantin for the books that made his office renowned
throughout Europe. In the quadrangle are busts of himself and his
successors, the Morels, and the scholars who were connected with them.
Plantin's own room seems to want only his presence to perfect the scene.
The furniture and fittings, the quaint decoration, leads the imagination
insensibly back to the days of Charles V.]


Besides the ordinary _errata_, which happen in printing a work, others
have been purposely committed, that the _errata_ may contain what is not
permitted to appear in the body of the work. Wherever the Inquisition
had any power, particularly at Rome, it was not allowed to employ the
word _fatum_, or _fata_, in any book. An author, desirous of using the
latter word, adroitly invented this scheme; he had printed in his book
_facta_, and, in the _errata_, he put, "For _facta_, read _fata_."

Scarron has done the same thing on another occasion. He had composed
some verses, at the head of which he placed this dedication--_A
Guillemette, Chienne de ma Soeur_; but having a quarrel with his sister,
he maliciously put into the _errata_, "Instead of _Chienne de ma Soeur_,
read _ma Chienne de Soeur_."

Lully, at the close of a bad prologue said, the word _fin du prologue_
was an _erratum_, it should have been _fi du prologue_!

In a book, there was printed, _le docte Morel_. A wag put into the
_errata_, "For _le docte Morel_, read _le Docteur Morel_." This _Morel_
was not the first _docteur_ not _docte_.

When a fanatic published a mystical work full of unintelligible
raptures, and which he entitled _Les Délices de l'Esprit_, it was
proposed to print in his errata, "For _Délices_ read _Délires_."

The author of an idle and imperfect book ended with the usual phrase of
_cetera desiderantur_, one altered it, _Non desiderantur sed desunt_;
"The rest is _wanting_, but not _wanted_."

At the close of a silly book, the author as usual printed the word
FINIS.--A wit put this among the errata, with this pointed couplet:--

    FINIS!--an error, or a lie, my friend!
    In writing foolish books--there is _no End_!

In the year 1561 was printed a work, entitled "the Anatomy of the Mass."
It is a thin octavo, of 172 pages, and it is accompanied by an _Errata_
of 15 pages! The editor, a pious monk, informs us that a very serious
reason induced him to undertake this task: for it is, says he, to
forestal the _artifices of Satan_. He supposes that the Devil, to ruin
the fruit of this work, employed two very malicious frauds: the first
before it was printed, by drenching the MS. in a kennel, and having
reduced it to a most pitiable state, rendered several parts illegible:
the second, in obliging the printers to commit such numerous blunders,
never yet equalled in so small a work. To combat this double machination
of Satan he was obliged carefully to re-peruse the work, and to form
this singular list of the blunders of printers under the influence of
Satan. All this he relates in an advertisement prefixed to the _Errata_.

A furious controversy raged between two famous scholars from a very
laughable but accidental _Erratum_, and threatened serious consequences
to one of the parties. Flavigny wrote two letters, criticising rather
freely a polyglot Bible edited by Abraham Ecchellensis. As this learned
editor had sometimes censured the labours of a friend of Flavigny, this
latter applied to him the third and fifth verses of the seventh chapter
of St. Matthew, which he printed in Latin. Ver 3. _Quid vides festucam
in_ OCULO _fratris tui, et trabem in_ OCULO _tuo non vides_? Ver. 5.
_Ejice primùm trabem de_ OCULO _tuo, et tunc videbis ejicere festucam
de_ OCULO _fratris tui_. Ecchellensis opens his reply by accusing
Flavigny of an _enormous crime_ committed in this passage; attempting to
correct the sacred text of the Evangelist, and daring to reject a word,
while he supplied its place by another as _impious_ as _obscene_! This
crime, exaggerated with all the virulence of an angry declaimer, closes
with a dreadful accusation. Flavigny's morals are attacked, and his
reputation overturned by a horrid imputation. Yet all this terrible
reproach is only founded on an _Erratum_! The whole arose from the
printer having negligently suffered the _first letter_ of the word
_Oculo_ to have dropped from the form, when he happened to touch a line
with his finger, which did not stand straight! He published another
letter to do away the imputation of Ecchellensis; but thirty years
afterwards his rage against the negligent printer was not extinguished;
the wits were always reminding him of it.

Of all literary blunders none equalled that of the edition of the
Vulgate, by Sixtus V. His Holiness carefully superintended every sheet
as it passed through the press; and, to the amazement of the world, the
work remained without a rival--it swarmed with errata! A multitude of
scraps were printed to paste over the erroneous passages, in order to
give the true text. The book makes a whimsical appearance with these
patches; and the heretics exulted in this demonstration of papal
infallibility! The copies were called in, and violent attempts made to
suppress it; a few still remain for the raptures of the biblical
collectors; not long ago the bible of Sixtus V. fetched above sixty
guineas--not too much for a mere book of blunders! The world was highly
amused at the bull of the editorial Pope prefixed to the first volume,
which excommunicates all printers who in reprinting the work should make
any _alteration_ in the text!

In the version of the Epistles of St. Paul into the Ethiopic language,
which proved to be full of errors, the editors allege a good-humoured
reason--"They who printed the work could not read, and we could not
print; they helped us, and we helped them, as the blind helps the

A printer's widow in Germany, while a new edition of the Bible was
printing at her house, one night took an opportunity of stealing into
the office, to alter that sentence of subjection to her husband,
pronounced upon Eve in Genesis, chap. 3, v. 16. She took out the two
first letters of the word HERR, and substituted NA in their place, thus
altering the sentence from "and he shall be thy LORD" (_Herr_), to "and
he shall be thy FOOL" (_Narr_). It is said her life paid for this
intentional erratum; and that some secreted copies of this edition have
been bought up at enormous prices.

We have an edition of the Bible, known by the name of _The Vinegar
Bible_; from the erratum in the title to the 20th chap. of St. Luke, in
which "Parable of the _Vineyard_," is printed, "Parable of the
_Vinegar_." It was printed in 1717, at the Clarendon press.

We have had another, where "Thou shalt commit adultery" was printed,
omitting the negation; which occasioned the archbishop to lay one of the
heaviest penalties on the Company of Stationers that was ever recorded
in the annals of literary history.[37]

Herbert Croft used to complain of the incorrectness of our English
classics, as reprinted by the booksellers. It is evident some stupid
printer often changes a whole text intentionally. The fine description
by Akenside of the Pantheon, "SEVERELY great," not being understood by
the blockhead, was printed _serenely great_. Swift's own edition of "The
City Shower," has "old ACHES throb." _Aches_ is two syllables, but
modern printers, who had lost the right pronunciation, have _aches_ as
one syllable; and then, to complete the metre, have foisted in "aches
_will_ throb." Thus what the poet and the linguist wish to preserve is
altered, and finally lost.[38]

It appears by a calculation made by the printer of Steevens's edition of
Shakspeare, that every octavo page of that work, text and notes,
contains 2680 distinct pieces of metal; which in a sheet amount to
42,880--the misplacing of any one of which would inevitably cause a
blunder! With this curious fact before us, the accurate state of our
printing, in general, is to be admired, and errata ought more freely to
be pardoned than the fastidious minuteness of the insect eye of certain
critics has allowed.

Whether such a miracle as an immaculate edition of a classical author
does exist, I have never learnt; but an attempt has been made to obtain
this glorious singularity--and was as nearly realised as is perhaps
possible in the magnificent edition of _Os Lusiadas_ of Camoens, by Dom
Joze Souza, in 1817. This amateur spared no prodigality of cost and
labour, and flattered himself, that by the assistance of Didot, not a
single typographical error should be found in that splendid volume. But
an error was afterwards discovered in some of the copies, occasioned by
one of the letters in the word _Lusitano_ having got misplaced during
the working of one of the sheets. It must be confessed that this was an
_accident_ or _misfortune_--rather than an _Erratum!_

One of the most remarkable complaints on ERRATA is that of Edw. Leigh,
appended to his curious treatise on "Religion and Learning." It consists
of two folio pages, in a very minute character, and exhibits an
incalculable number of printers' blunders. "We have not," he says,
"Plantin nor Stephens amongst us; and it is no easy task to specify the
chiefest errata; false interpunctions there are too many; here a letter
wanting, there a letter too much; a syllable too much, one letter for
another; words parted where they should be joined; words joined which
should be severed; words misplaced; chronological mistakes," &c. This
unfortunate folio was printed in 1656. Are we to infer, by such frequent
complaints of the authors of that day, that either they did not receive
proofs from the printers, or that the printers never attended to the
corrected proofs? Each single erratum seems to have been felt as a stab
to the literary feelings of the poor author!


[Footnote 37: It abounded with other errors, and was so rigidly
suppressed, that a well-known collector was thirty years endeavouring
ineffectually to obtain a copy. One has recently been added to the
British Museum collection.]

[Footnote 38: A good example occurs in _Hudibras_ (Part iii. canto 2,
line 407), where persons are mentioned who

    "Can by their pangs and _aches_ find
    All turns and changes of the wind."

The rhythm here demands the dissyllable _a-ches_, as used by the older
writers, Shakspeare particularly, who, in his _Tempest_, makes Prospero
threaten Caliban--

    "If thou neglect'st, or dost unwillingly
    What I command, I'll rack thee with old cramps;
    Fill all thy bones with _aches_; make thee roar
    That beasts shall tremble at thy din."

John Kemble was aware of the necessity of using this word in this
instance as a dissyllable, but it was so unusual to his audiences that
it excited ridicule; and during the O.P. row, a medal was struck,
representing him as manager, enduring the din of cat-calls, trumpets,
and rattles, and exclaiming, "Oh! my head _aitches_!"]


Authors have too frequently received ill treatment even from those to
whom they dedicated their works.

Some who felt hurt at the shameless treatment of such mock Mæcenases
have observed that no writer should dedicate his works but to his
FRIENDS, as was practised by the ancients, who usually addressed those
who had solicited their labours, or animated their progress. Theodosius
Gaza had no other recompense for having inscribed to Sixtus IV. his
translation of the book of Aristotle on the Nature of Animals, than the
price of the binding, which this charitable father of the church
munificently bestowed upon him.

Theocritus fills his Idylliums with loud complaints of the neglect of
his patrons; and Tasso was as little successful in his dedications.

Ariosto, in presenting his Orlando Furioso to the Cardinal d'Este, was
gratified with the bitter sarcasm of--"_Dove diavolo avete pigliato
tante coglionerie?_" Where the devil have you found all this nonsense?

When the French historian Dupleix, whose pen was indeed fertile,
presented his book to the Duke d'Epernon, this Mæcenas, turning to the
Pope's Nuncio, who was present, very coarsely exclaimed--"Cadedids! ce
monsieur a un flux enragé, il chie un livre toutes les lunes!"

Thomson, the ardent author of the Seasons, having extravagantly praised
a person of rank, who afterwards appeared to be undeserving of
eulogiums, properly employed his pen in a solemn recantation of his
error. A very different conduct from that of Dupleix, who always spoke
highly of Queen Margaret of France for a little place he held in her
household: but after her death, when the place became extinct, spoke of
her with all the freedom of satire. Such is too often the character of
some of the literati, who only dare to reveal the truth, when they have
no interest to conceal it.

Poor Mickle, to whom we are indebted for so beautiful a version of
Camoens' Lusiad, having dedicated this work, the continued labour of
five years, to the Duke of Buccleugh, had the mortification to find, by
the discovery of a friend, that he had kept it in his possession three
weeks before he could collect sufficient intellectual desire to cut open
the pages! The neglect of this nobleman reduced the poet to a state of
despondency. This patron was a political economist, the pupil of Adam
Smith! It is pleasing to add, in contrast with this frigid Scotch
patron, that when Mickle went to Lisbon, where his translation had long
preceded his visit, he found the Prince of Portugal waiting on the quay
to be the first to receive the translator of his great national poem;
and during a residence of six months, Mickle was warmly regarded by
every Portuguese nobleman.

"Every man believes," writes Dr. Johnson to Baretti, "that mistresses
are unfaithful, and patrons are capricious. But he excepts his own
mistress, and his own patron."

A patron is sometimes oddly obtained. Benserade attached himself to
Cardinal Mazarin; but his friendship produced nothing but civility. The
poet every day indulged his easy and charming vein of amatory and
panegyrical poetry, while all the world read and admired his verses.
One evening the cardinal, in conversation with the king, described his
mode of life when at the papal court. He loved the sciences; but his
chief occupation was the belles lettres, composing little pieces of
poetry; he said that he was then in the court of Rome what Benserade was
now in that of France. Some hours afterwards, the friends of the poet
related to him the conversation of the cardinal. He quitted them
abruptly, and ran to the apartment of his eminence, knocking with all
his force, that he might be certain of being heard. The cardinal had
just gone to bed; but he incessantly clamoured, demanding entrance; they
were compelled to open the door. He ran to his eminence, fell upon his
knees, almost pulled off the sheets of the bed in rapture, imploring a
thousand pardons for thus disturbing him; but such was his joy in what
he had just heard, which he repeated, that he could not refrain from
immediately giving vent to his gratitude and his pride, to have been
compared with his eminence for his poetical talents! Had the door not
been immediately opened, he should have expired; he was not rich, it was
true, but he should now die contented! The cardinal was pleased with his
_ardour_, and probably never suspected his _flattery_; and the next week
our new actor was pensioned.

On Cardinal Richelieu, another of his patrons, he gratefully made this

    Cy gist, ouy gist, par la mort bleu,
    Le Cardinal de Richelieu,
    Et ce qui cause mon ennuy
    Ma PENSION avec lui.

    Here lies, egad, 'tis very true,
    The illustrious Cardinal Richelieu:
    My grief is genuine--void of whim!
    Alas! my _pension_ lies with him!

Le Brun, the great French artist, painted himself holding in his hand
the portrait of his earliest patron. In this accompaniment the Artist
may be said to have portrayed the features of his soul. If genius has
too often complained of its patrons, has it not also often over-valued
their protection?


Accident has frequently occasioned the most eminent geniuses to display
their powers. "It was at Rome," says Gibbon, "on the 15th of October,
1764, as I sat musing amidst the ruins of the Capitol, while the
bare-footed friars were singing vespers in the Temple of Jupiter, that
the idea of writing the Decline and Fall of the City first started to my

Father Malebranche having completed his studies in philosophy and
theology without any other intention than devoting himself to some
religious order, little expected the celebrity his works acquired for
him. Loitering in an idle hour in the shop of a bookseller, and turning
over a parcel of books, _L'Homme de Descartes_ fell into his hands.
Having dipt into parts, he read with such delight that the palpitations
of his heart compelled him to lay the volume down. It was this
circumstance that produced those profound contemplations which made him
the Plato of his age.

Cowley became a poet by accident. In his mother's apartment he found,
when very young, Spenser's Fairy Queen; and, by a continual study of
poetry, he became so enchanted by the Muse, that he grew irrecoverably a

Sir Joshua Reynolds had the first fondness for his art excited by the
perusal of Richardson's Treatise.

Vaucanson displayed an uncommon genius for mechanics. His taste was
first determined by an accident: when young, he frequently attended his
mother to the residence of her confessor; and while she wept with
repentance, he wept with weariness! In this state of disagreeable
vacation, says Helvetius, he was struck with the uniform motion of the
pendulum of the clock in the hall. His curiosity was roused; he
approached the clock-case, and studied its mechanism; what he could not
discover he guessed at. He then projected a similar machine; and
gradually his genius produced a clock. Encouraged by this first success,
he proceeded in his various attempts; and the genius, which thus could
form a clock, in time formed a fluting automaton.

Accident determined the taste of Molière for the stage. His grandfather
loved the theatre, and frequently carried him there. The young man lived
in dissipation; the father observing it asked in anger, if his son was
to be made an actor. "Would to God," replied the grandfather, "he were
as good an actor as Monrose." The words struck young Molière, he took a
disgust to his tapestry trade, and it is to this circumstance France
owes her greatest comic writer.

Corneille loved; he made verses for his mistress, became a poet,
composed _Mélite_ and afterwards his other celebrated works. The
discreet Corneille had else remained a lawyer.

We owe the great discovery of Newton to a very trivial accident. When a
student at Cambridge, he had retired during the time of the plague into
the country. As he was reading under an apple-tree, one of the fruit
fell, and struck him a smart blow on the head. When he observed the
smallness of the apple, he was surprised at the force of the stroke.
This led him to consider the accelerating motion of falling bodies; from
whence he deduced the principle of gravity, and laid the foundation of
his philosophy.

Ignatius Loyola was a Spanish gentleman, who was dangerously wounded at
the siege of Pampeluna. Having heated his imagination by reading the
Lives of the Saints during his illness, instead of a romance, he
conceived a strong ambition to be the founder of a religious order;
whence originated the celebrated society of the Jesuits.

Rousseau found his eccentric powers first awakened by the advertisement
of the singular annual subject which the Academy of Dijon proposed for
that year, in which he wrote his celebrated declamation against the arts
and sciences. A circumstance which decided his future literary efforts.

La Fontaine, at the age of twenty-two, had not taken any profession, or
devoted himself to any pursuit. Having accidentally heard some verses of
Malherbe, he felt a sudden impulse, which directed his future life. He
immediately bought a Malherbe, and was so exquisitely delighted with
this poet that, after passing the nights in treasuring his verses in his
memory, he would run in the day-time to the woods, where, concealing
himself, he would recite his verses to the surrounding dryads.

Flamsteed was an astronomer by accident. He was taken from school on
account of his illness, when Sacrobosco's book De Sphæra having been
lent to him, he was so pleased with it that he immediately began a
course of astronomic studies. Pennant's first propensity to natural
history was the pleasure he received from an accidental perusal of
Willoughby's work on birds. The same accident of finding, on the table
of his professor, Reaumur's History of Insects, which he read more than
he attended to the lecture, and, having been refused the loan, gave such
an instant turn to the mind of Bonnet, that he hastened to obtain a
copy; after many difficulties in procuring this costly work, its
possession gave an unalterable direction to his future life. This
naturalist indeed lost the use of his sight by his devotion to the

Dr. Franklin attributes the cast of his genius to a similar accident. "I
found a work of De Foe's, entitled an 'Essay on Projects,' from which
perhaps I derived impressions that have since influenced some of the
principal events of my life."

I shall add the incident which occasioned Roger Ascham to write his
_Schoolmaster_, one of the few works among our elder writers, which we
still read with pleasure.

At a dinner given by Sir William Cecil, at his apartments at Windsor, a
number of ingenious men were invited. Secretary Cecil communicated the
news of the morning, that several scholars at Eton had run away on
account of their master's severity, which he condemned as a great error
in the education of youth. Sir William Petre maintained the contrary;
severe in his own temper, he pleaded warmly in defence of hard flogging.
Dr. Wootton, in softer tones, sided with the secretary. Sir John Mason,
adopting no side, bantered both. Mr. Haddon seconded the hard-hearted
Sir William Petre, and adduced, as an evidence, that the best
schoolmaster then in England was the hardest flogger. Then was it that
Roger Ascham indignantly exclaimed, that if such a master had an able
scholar it was owing to the boy's genius, and not the preceptor's rod.
Secretary Cecil and others were pleased with Ascham's notions. Sir
Richard Sackville was silent, but when Ascham after dinner went to the
queen to read one of the orations of Demosthenes, he took him aside, and
frankly told him that, though he had taken no part in the debate, he
would not have been absent from that conversation for a great deal; that
he knew to his cost the truth that Ascham had supported; for it was the
perpetual flogging of such a schoolmaster that had given him an
unconquerable aversion to study. And as he wished to remedy this defect
in his own children, he earnestly exhorted Ascham to write his
observations on so interesting a topic. Such was the circumstance which
produced the admirable treatise of Roger Ascham.


Singular inequalities are observable in the labours of genius; and
particularly in those which admit great enthusiasm, as in poetry, in
painting, and in music. Faultless mediocrity industry can preserve in
one continued degree; but excellence, the daring and the happy, can only
be attained, by human faculties, by starts.

Our poets who possess the greatest genius, with perhaps the least
industry, have at the same time the most splendid and the worst passages
of poetry. Shakspeare and Dryden are at once the greatest and the least
of our poets. With some, their great fault consists in having none.

Carraccio sarcastically said of Tintoret--_Ho veduto il Tintoretto hora
eguale a Titiano, hora minore del Tintoretto_--"I have seen Tintoret now
equal to Titian, and now less than Tintoret."

Trublet justly observes--The more there are _beauties_ and _great
beauties_ in a work, I am the less surprised to find _faults_ and _great
faults_. When you say of a work that it has many faults, that decides
nothing: and I do not know by this, whether it is execrable or
excellent. You tell me of another, that it is without any faults: if
your account be just, it is certain the work cannot be excellent.

It was observed of one pleader, that he _knew_ more than he _said_; and
of another, that he _said_ more than he _knew_.

Lucian happily describes the works of those who abound with the most
luxuriant language, void of ideas. He calls their unmeaning verbosity
"anemone-words;" for anemonies are flowers, which, however brilliant,
only please the eye, leaving no fragrance. Pratt, who was a writer of
flowing but nugatory verses, was compared to the _daisy_; a flower
indeed common enough, and without odour.


There are many sciences, says Menage, on which we cannot indeed compose
in a florid or elegant diction, such as geography, music, algebra,
geometry, &c. When Atticus requested Cicero to write on geography, the
latter excused himself, observing that its scenes were more adapted to
please the eye, than susceptible of the embellishments of style.
However, in these kind of sciences, we may lend an ornament to their
dryness by introducing occasionally some elegant allusion, or noticing
some incident suggested by the object.

Thus when we notice some inconsiderable place, for instance _Woodstock_,
we may recall attention to the residence of _Chaucer_, the parent of our
poetry, or the romantic labyrinth of Rosamond; or as in "an Autumn on
the Rhine," at Ingelheim, at the view of an old palace built by
Charlemagne, the traveller adds, with "a hundred columns brought from
Rome," and further it was "the scene of the romantic amours of that
monarch's fair daughter, Ibertha, with Eginhard, his secretary:" and
viewing the Gothic ruins on the banks of the Rhine, he noticed them as
having been the haunts of those illustrious _chevaliers voleurs_ whose
chivalry consisted in pillaging the merchants and towns, till, in the
thirteenth century, a citizen of Mayence persuaded the merchants of more
than a hundred towns to form a league against these little princes and
counts; the origin of the famous Rhenish league, which contributed so
much to the commerce of Europe. This kind of erudition gives an interest
to topography, by associating in our memory great events and personages
with the localities.

The same principle of composition may be carried with the happiest
effect into some dry investigations, though the profound antiquary may
not approve of these sports of wit or fancy. Dr. Arbuthnot, in his
Tables of Ancient Coins, Weights, and Measures, a topic extremely barren
of amusement, takes every opportunity of enlivening the dulness of his
task; even in these mathematical calculations he betrays his wit; and
observes that "the polite Augustus, the emperor of the world, had
neither any glass in his windows, nor a shirt to his back!" Those uses
of glass and linen indeed were not known in his time. Our physician is
not less curious and facetious in the account of the _fees_ which the
Roman physicians received.


Those ecclesiastical histories entitled Legends are said to have
originated in the following circumstance.

Before colleges were established in the monasteries where the schools
were held, the professors in rhetoric frequently gave their pupils the
life of some saint for a trial of their talent at _amplification_. The
students, at a loss to furnish out their pages, invented most of these
wonderful adventures. Jortin observes, that the Christians used to
collect out of Ovid, Livy, and other pagan poets and historians, the
miracles and portents to be found there, and accommodated them to their
own monks and saints. The good fathers of that age, whose simplicity was
not inferior to their devotion, were so delighted with these flowers of
rhetoric, that they were induced to make a collection of these
miraculous compositions; not imagining that, at some distant period,
they would become matters of faith. Yet, when James de Voragine, Peter
Nadal, and Peter Ribadeneira, wrote the Lives of the Saints, they sought
for their materials in the libraries of the monasteries; and, awakening
from the dust these manuscripts of amplification, imagined they made an
invaluable present to the world, by laying before them these voluminous
absurdities. The people received these pious fictions with all
imaginable simplicity, and as these are adorned by a number of cuts, the
miracles were perfectly intelligible to their eyes. Tillemont, Fleury,
Baillet, Launoi, and Bollandus, cleared away much of the rubbish; the
enviable title of _Golden Legend_, by which James de Voragine called his
work, has been disputed; iron or lead might more aptly describe its

When the world began to be more critical in their reading, the monks
gave a graver turn to their narratives; and became penurious of their
absurdities. The faithful Catholic contends, that the line of tradition
has been preserved unbroken; notwithstanding that the originals were
lost in the general wreck of literature from the barbarians, or came
down in a most imperfect state.

Baronius has given the lives of many apocryphal saints; for instance, of
a Saint _Xinoris_, whom he calls a martyr of Antioch; but it appears
that Baronius having read in Chrysostom this _word_, which signifies a
_couple_ or _pair_, he mistook it for the name of a saint, and contrived
to give the most authentic biography of a saint who never existed![39]
The Catholics confess this sort of blunder is not uncommon, but then it
is only fools who laugh! As a specimen of the happier inventions, one
is given, embellished by the diction of Gibbon--

"Among the insipid legends of ecclesiastical history, I am tempted to
distinguish the memorable fable of the _Seven Sleepers_; whose imaginary
date corresponds with the reign of the younger Theodosius, and the
conquest of Africa by the Vandals. When the Emperor Decius persecuted
the Christians, seven noble youths of Ephesus concealed themselves in a
spacious cavern on the side of an adjacent mountain; where they were
doomed to perish by the tyrant, who gave orders that the entrance should
be firmly secured with a pile of stones. They immediately fell into a
deep slumber, which was miraculously prolonged, without injuring the
powers of life, during a period of one hundred and eighty-seven years.
At the end of that time the slaves of Adolius, to whom the inheritance
of the mountain had descended, removed the stones to supply materials
for some rustic edifice. The light of the sun darted into the cavern,
and the Seven Sleepers were permitted to awake. After a slumber as they
thought of a few hours, they were pressed by the calls of hunger; and
resolved that Jamblichus, one of their number, should secretly return to
the city to purchase bread for the use of his companions. The youth, if
we may still employ that appellation, could no longer recognise the once
familiar aspect of his native country; and his surprise was increased by
the appearance of a large cross, triumphantly erected over the principal
gate of Ephesus. His singular dress and obsolete language confounded the
baker, to whom he offered an ancient medal of Decius as the current coin
of the empire; and Jamblichus, on the suspicion of a secret treasure,
was dragged before the judge. Their mutual inquiries produced the
amazing discovery, that two centuries were almost elapsed since
Jamblichus and his friends had escaped from the rage of a Pagan tyrant.
The Bishop of Ephesus, the clergy, the magistrates, the people, and, it
is said, the Emperor Theodosius himself, hastened to visit the cavern of
the Seven Sleepers; who bestowed their benediction, related their story,
and at the same instant peaceably expired.

"This popular tale Mahomet learned when he drove his camels to the fairs
of Syria; and he has introduced it, as a _divine revelation_, into the
Koran."--The same story has been adopted and adorned by the nations,
from Bengal to Africa, who profess the Mahometan religion.

The too curious reader may perhaps require other specimens of the more
unlucky inventions of this "Golden Legend;" as characteristic of a
certain class of minds, the philosopher will contemn these grotesque

These monks imagined that holiness was often proportioned to a saint's
filthiness. St. Ignatius, say they, delighted to appear abroad with old
dirty shoes; he never used a comb, but let his hair clot; and
religiously abstained from paring his nails. One saint attained to such
piety as to have near three hundred patches on his breeches; which,
after his death, were hung up in public as an _incentive to imitation_.
St. Francis discovered, by certain experience, that the devils were
frightened away by such kinds of breeches, but were animated by clean
clothing to tempt and seduce the wearers; and one of their heroes
declares that the purest souls are in the dirtiest bodies. On this they
tell a story which may not be very agreeable to fastidious delicacy.
Brother Juniper was a gentleman perfectly pious, on this principle;
indeed so great was his merit in this species of mortification, that a
brother declared he could always nose Brother Juniper when within a mile
of the monastery, provided the wind was at the due point. Once, when the
blessed Juniper, for he was no saint, was a guest, his host, proud of
the honour of entertaining so pious a personage, the intimate friend of
St. Francis, provided an excellent bed, and the finest sheets. Brother
Juniper abhorred such luxury. And this too evidently appeared after his
sudden departure in the morning, unknown to his kind host. The great
Juniper did this, says his biographer, having told us what he did, not
so much from his habitual inclinations, for which he was so justly
celebrated, as from his excessive piety, and as much as he could to
mortify worldly pride, and to show how a true saint despised clean

In the life of St. Francis we find, among other grotesque miracles, that
he preached a sermon in a desert, but he soon collected an immense
audience. The birds shrilly warbled to every sentence, and stretched out
their necks, opened their beaks, and when he finished, dispersed with a
holy rapture into four companies, to report his sermon to all the birds
in the universe. A grasshopper remained a week with St. Francis during
the absence of the Virgin Mary, and pittered on his head. He grew so
companionable with a nightingale, that when a nest of swallows began to
babble, he hushed them by desiring them not to tittle-tattle of their
sister, the nightingale. Attacked by a wolf, with only the sign-manual
of the cross, he held a long dialogue with his rabid assailant, till the
wolf, meek as a lap-dog, stretched his paws in the hands of the saint,
followed him through towns, and became half a Christian.

This same St. Francis had such a detestation of the good things of this
world, that he would never suffer his followers to touch money. A friar
having placed in a window some money collected at the altar, he desired
him to take it in his mouth, and throw it on the dung of an ass! St.
Philip Nerius was such a _lover of poverty_, that he frequently prayed
that God would bring him to that state as to stand in need of a penny,
and find nobody that would give him one!

But St. Macaire was so shocked at having _killed a louse_, that he
endured seven years of penitence among the thorns and briars of a
forest. A circumstance which seems to have reached Molière, who gives
this stroke to the character of his Tartuffe:--

    Il s'impute à péché la moindre bagatelle;
    Jusques-là qu'il se vint, l'autre jour, s'accuser
    D'avoir pris une puce en faisant sa prière,
    Et de l'avoir tuée avec trop de colère!

I give a miraculous incident respecting two pious maidens. The night of
the Nativity of Christ, after the first mass, they both retired into a
solitary spot of their nunnery till the second mass was rung. One asked
the other, "Why do you want two cushions, when I have only one?" The
other replied, "I would place it between us, for the child Jesus; as the
Evangelist says, where there are two or three persons assembled I am in
the midst of them."--This being done, they sat down, feeling a most
lively pleasure at their fancy; and there they remained, from the
Nativity of Christ to that of John the Baptist; but this great interval
of time passed with these saintly maidens as two hours would appear to
others. The abbess and nuns were alarmed at their absence, for no one
could give any account of them. In the eve of St. John, a cowherd,
passing by them, beheld a beautiful child seated on a cushion between
this pair of runaway nuns. He hastened to the abbess with news of these
stray sheep; she came and beheld this lovely child playfully seated
between these nymphs; they, with blushing countenances, inquired if the
second bell had already rung? Both parties were equally astonished to
find our young devotees had been there from the Nativity of Jesus to
that of St. John. The abbess inquired about the child who sat between
them; they solemnly declared they saw no child between them! and
persisted in their story!

Such is one of these miracles of "the Golden Legend," which a wicked wit
might comment on, and see nothing extraordinary in the whole story. The
two nuns might be missing between the Nativities, and be found at last
with a child seated between them.--They might not choose to account
either for their absence or their child--the only touch of miracle is
that, they asseverated, they _saw no child_--that I confess is a _little
(child) too much_.

The lives of the saints by Alban Butler is the most sensible history of
these legends; Ribadeneira's lives of the saints exhibit more of the
legendary spirit, for wanting judgment and not faith, he is more
voluminous in his details. The antiquary may collect much curious
philosophical information, concerning the manners of the times, from
these singular narratives.


[Footnote 39: See the article on "Literary Blunders," in this volume,
for the history of similar inventions, particularly the legend of St.
Ursuala and the eleven thousand virgins, and the discovery of a certain
St. Viar]


Every lover of letters has heard of this learned society, which
contributed so greatly to establish in France a taste for just
reasoning, simplicity of style, and philosophical method. Their "Logic,
or the Art of Thinking," for its lucid, accurate, and diversified
matter, is still an admirable work; notwithstanding the writers had to
emancipate themselves from the barbarism of the scholastic logic. It was
the conjoint labour of Arnauld and Nicolle. Europe has benefited by the
labours of these learned men: but not many have attended to the origin
and dissolution of this literary society.

In the year 1637, Le Maitre, a celebrated advocate, resigned the bar,
and the honour of being _Conseiller d'Etat_, which his uncommon merit
had obtained him, though then only twenty-eight years of age. His
brother, De Sericourt, who had followed the military profession, quitted
it at the same time. Consecrating themselves to the service of religion,
they retired into a small house near _the Port-Royal_ of Paris, where
they were joined by their brothers De Sacy, De St. Elme, and De Valmont.
Arnauld, one of their most illustrious associates, was induced to enter
into the Jansenist controversy, and then it was that they encountered
the powerful persecution of the Jesuits. Constrained to remove from that
spot, they fixed their residence at a few leagues from Paris, and called
it _Port-Royal des Champs_.[40]

These illustrious recluses were joined by many distinguished persons who
gave up their parks and houses to be appropriated to their schools; and
this community was called the _Society of Port-Royal_.

Here were no rules, no vows, no constitution, and no cells formed.
Prayer and study, and manual labour, were their only occupations. They
applied themselves to the education of youth, and raised up little
academies in the neighbourhood, where the members of Port-Royal, the
most illustrious names of literary France, presided. None considered his
birth entitled him to any exemption from their public offices, relieving
the poor and attending on the sick, and employing themselves in their
farms and gardens; they were carpenters, ploughmen, gardeners, and
vine-dressers, as if they had practised nothing else; they studied
physic, and surgery, and law; in truth, it seems that, from religious
motives, these learned men attempted to form a community of primitive

The Duchess of Longueville, once a political chief, sacrificed her
ambition on the altar of Port-Royal, enlarged the monastic inclosure
with spacious gardens and orchards, built a noble house, and often
retreated to its seclusion. The learned D'Andilly, the translator of
Josephus, after his studious hours, resorted to the cultivation of
fruit-trees; and the fruit of Port-Royal became celebrated for its size
and flavour. Presents were sent to the Queen-Mother of France, Anne of
Austria, and Cardinal Mazarin, who used to call it "fruit béni." It
appears that "families of rank, affluence, and piety, who did not wish
entirely to give up their avocations in the world, built themselves
country-houses in the valley of Port-Royal, in order to enjoy the
society of its religious and literary inhabitants."

In the solitudes of Port-Royal _Racine_ received his education; and, on
his death-bed, desired to be buried in its cemetery, at the feet of his
master Hamon. Arnauld, persecuted, and dying in a foreign country, still
cast his lingering looks on this beloved retreat, and left the society
his heart, which was there inurned.

The Duchess of Longueville, a princess of the blood-royal, was, during
her life, the powerful patroness of these solitary and religious men:
but her death, in 1679, was the fatal stroke which dispersed them for

The envy and the fears of the Jesuits, and their rancour against
Arnauld, who with such ability had exposed their designs, occasioned the
destruction of the Port-Royal Society. _Exinanite, exinanite usque ad
fundamentum in ea!_--"Annihilate it, annihilate it, to its very
foundations!" Such are the terms of the Jesuitic decree. The Jesuits had
long called the little schools of Port-Royal the hot-beds of heresy. The
Jesuits obtained by their intrigues an order from government to dissolve
that virtuous society. They razed the buildings, and ploughed up the
very foundation; they exhausted their hatred even on the stones, and
profaned even the sanctuary of the dead; the corpses were torn out of
their graves, and dogs were suffered to contend for the rags of their
shrouds. The memory of that asylum of innocence and learning was still
kept alive by those who collected the engravings representing the place
by Mademoiselle Hortemels. The police, under Jesuitic influence, at
length seized on the plates in the cabinet of the fair artist.--Caustic
was the retort courteous which Arnauld gave the Jesuits--"I do not fear
your _pen_, but its _knife_."

These were men whom the love of retirement had united to cultivate
literature, in the midst of solitude, of peace, and of piety. Alike
occupied on sacred, as on profane writers, their writings fixed the
French language. The example of these solitaries shows how retirement is
favourable to penetrate into the sanctuary of the Muses.

An interesting anecdote is related of Arnauld on the occasion of the
dissolution of this society. The dispersion of these great men, and
their young scholars, was lamented by every one but their enemies. Many
persons of the highest rank participated in their sorrows. The excellent
Arnauld, in that moment, was as closely pursued as if he had been a

It was then the Duchess of Longueville concealed Arnauld in an obscure
lodging, who assumed the dress of a layman, wearing a sword and
full-bottomed wig. Arnauld was attacked by a fever, and in the course of
conversation with his physician, he inquired after news. "They talk of a
new book of the Port-Royal," replied the doctor, "ascribed to Arnauld or
to Sacy; but I do not believe it comes from Sacy; he does not write so
well."--"How, sir!" exclaimed the philosopher, forgetting his sword and
wig; "believe me, my nephew writes better than I do."--The physician
eyed his patient with amazement--he hastened to the duchess, and told
her, "The malady of the gentleman you sent me to is not very serious,
provided you do not suffer him to see any one, and insist on his holding
his tongue." The duchess, alarmed, immediately had Arnauld conveyed to
her palace. She concealed him in an apartment, and persisted to attend
him herself.--"Ask," she said, "what you want of the servant, but it
shall be myself who shall bring it to you."

How honourable is it to the female character, that, in many similar
occurrences, their fortitude has proved to be equal to their
sensibility! But the Duchess of Longueville contemplated in Arnauld a
model of human fortitude which martyrs never excelled. His remarkable
reply to Nicolle, when they were hunted from place to place, should
never be forgotten: Arnauld wished Nicolle to assist him in a new work,
when the latter observed, "We are now old, is it not time to rest?"
"Rest!" returned Arnauld, "have we not all Eternity to rest in?" The
whole of the Arnauld family were the most extraordinary instance of that
hereditary character, which is continued through certain families: here
it was a sublime, and, perhaps, singular union of learning with
religion. The Arnaulds, Sacy, Pascal, Tillemont, with other illustrious
names, to whom literary Europe will owe perpetual obligations, combined
the life of the monastery with that of the library.


[Footnote 40: The early history of the house is not given quite clearly
and correctly in the text. The old foundation of Cistercians, named
_Port-Royal des Champs_, was situated in the valley of Chevreuse, near
Versailles, and founded in 1204 by Bishop Eudes, of Paris. It was in the
reign of Louis XIII. that Madame Arnauld, the mother of the then Abbess,
hearing that the sisterhood suffered from the damp situation of their
convent and its confined space, purchased a house as an infirmary for
its sick members in the Fauxbourg St. Jacques, and called it the
_Port-Royal de Paris_, to distinguish it from the older foundation.]


Of the pleasures derivable from the cultivation of the arts, sciences,
and literature, time will not abate the growing passion; for old men
still cherish an affection and feel a youthful enthusiasm in those
pursuits, when all others have ceased to interest. Dr. Reid, to his last
day, retained a most active curiosity in his various studies, and
particularly in the revolutions of modern chemistry. In advanced life we
may resume our former studies with a new pleasure, and in old age we may
enjoy them with the same relish with which more youthful students
commence. Adam Smith observed to Dugald Stewart, that "of all the
amusements of old age, the most grateful and soothing is a renewal of
acquaintance with the favourite studies and favourite authors of
youth--a remark, adds Stewart, which, in his own case, seemed to be more
particularly exemplified while he was reperusing, with the enthusiasm of
a student, the tragic poets of ancient Greece. I have heard him repeat
the observation more than once, while Sophocles and Euripides lay open
on his table."

Socrates learnt to play on musical instruments in his old age; Cato, at
eighty, thought proper to learn Greek; and Plutarch, almost as late in
his life, Latin.

Theophrastus began his admirable work on the Characters of Men at the
extreme age of ninety. He only terminated his literary labours by his

Ronsard, one of the fathers of French poetry, applied himself late to
study. His acute genius, and ardent application, rivalled those poetic
models which he admired; and Boccaccio was thirty-five years of age when
he commenced his studies in polite literature.

The great Arnauld retained the vigour of his genius, and the command of
his pen, to the age of eighty-two, and was still the great Arnauld.

Sir Henry Spelman neglected the sciences in his youth, but cultivated
them at fifty years of age. His early years were chiefly passed in
farming, which greatly diverted him from his studies; but a remarkable
disappointment respecting a contested estate disgusted him with these
rustic occupations: resolved to attach himself to regular studies, and
literary society, he sold his farms, and became the most learned
antiquary and lawyer.

Colbert, the famous French minister, almost at sixty, returned to his
Latin and law studies.

Dr. Johnson applied himself to the Dutch language but a few years before
his death. The Marquis de Saint Aulaire, at the age of seventy, began to
court the Muses, and they crowned him with their freshest flowers. The
verses of this French Anacreon are full of fire, delicacy, and

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales were the composition of his latest years:
they were begun in his fifty-fourth year, and finished in his

Ludovico Monaldesco, at the extraordinary age of 115, wrote the memoirs
of his times. A singular exertion, noticed by Voltaire; who himself is
one of the most remarkable instances of the progress of age in new

The most delightful of autobiographies for artists is that of Benvenuto
Cellini; a work of great originality, which was not begun till "the
clock of his age had struck fifty-eight."

Koornhert began at forty to learn the Latin and Greek languages, of
which he became a master; several students, who afterwards distinguished
themselves, have commenced as late in life their literary pursuits.
Ogilby, the translator of Homer and Virgil, knew little of Latin or
Greek till he was past fifty; and Franklin's philosophical pursuits
began when he had nearly reached his fiftieth year.

Accorso, a great lawyer, being asked why he began the study of the law
so late, answered, beginning it late, he should master it the sooner.

Dryden's complete works form the largest body of poetry from the pen of
a single writer in the English language; yet he gave no public testimony
of poetic abilities till his twenty-seventh year. In his sixty-eighth
year he proposed to translate the whole Iliad: and his most pleasing
productions were written in his old age.

Michael Angelo preserved his creative genius even in extreme old age:
there is a device said to be invented by him, of an old man represented
in a _go-cart_, with an hour-glass upon it; the inscription _Ancora
imparo!_--YET I AM LEARNING!

We have a literary curiosity in a favourite treatise with Erasmus and
men of letters of that period, _De Ratione Studii_, by Joachim Sterck,
otherwise Fortius de Ringelberg. The enthusiasm of the writer often
carries him to the verge of ridicule; but something must be conceded to
his peculiar situation and feelings; for Baillet tells us that this
method of studying had been formed entirely from his own practical
knowledge and hard experience: at a late period of life he had commenced
his studies, and at length he imagined that he had discovered a more
perpendicular mode of ascending the hill of science than by its usual
circuitous windings. His work has been compared to the sounding of a

Menage, in his Anti-Baillet, has a very curious apology for writing
verses in his old age, by showing how many poets amused themselves
notwithstanding their grey hairs, and wrote sonnets or epigrams at

La Casa, in one of his letters, humorously said, _Io credo ch'io farò
Sonnetti venti cinque anni, o trenta, pio che io sarò morto_.--"I think
I may make sonnets twenty-five, or perhaps thirty years, after I shall
be dead!" Petau tells us that he wrote verses to solace the evils of old

    ---- Petavius æger
    Cantabat veteris quærens solatia morbi.

Malherbe declares the honours of genius were his, yet young--

    Je les posseday jeune, et les possède encore
        A la fin de mes jours!


Pere Bouhours observes, that the Spanish poets display an extravagant
imagination, which is by no means destitute of _esprit_--shall we say
_wit_? but which evinces little taste or judgment.

Their verses are much in the style of our Cowley--trivial points,
monstrous metaphors, and quaint conceits. It is evident that the Spanish
poets imported this taste from the time of Marino in Italy; but the
warmth of the Spanish climate appears to have redoubled it, and to have
blown the kindled sparks of chimerical fancy to the heat of a Vulcanian

Lopez de Vega, in describing an afflicted shepherdess, in one of his
pastorals, who is represented weeping near the sea-side, says, "That the
sea joyfully advances to gather her tears; and that, having enclosed
them in shells, it converts them into pearls."

        "Y el mar como imbidioso
        A tierra por las lagrimas salia,
        Y alegre de cogerlas
    Las guarda en conchas, y convierte en perlas."

Villegas addresses a stream--"Thou who runnest over sands of gold, with
feet of silver," more elegant than our Shakspeare's--"Thy silver skin
laced with thy golden blood," which possibly he may not have written.
Villegas monstrously exclaims, "Touch my breast, if you doubt the power
of Lydia's eyes--you will find it turned to ashes." Again--"Thou art so
great that thou canst only imitate thyself with thy own greatness;" much
like our "None but himself can be his parallel."

Gongora, whom the Spaniards once greatly admired, and distinguished by
the epithet of _The Wonderful_, abounds with these conceits.

He imagines that a nightingale, who enchantingly varied her notes, and
sang in different manners, had a hundred thousand other nightingales in
her breast, which alternately sang through her throat--

    "Con diferancia tal, con gracia tanta,
    A quel ruysenor llora, que sospecho
    Que tiene otros cien mil dentro del pecho,
    Que alterno su dolor por su garganta."

Of a young and beautiful lady he says, that she has but a few _years_ of
life, but many _ages_ of beauty.

    "Muchos siglos de hermosura
    En pocos anos de edad."

Many ages of beauty is a false thought, for beauty becomes not more
beautiful from its age; it would be only a superannuated beauty. A face
of two or three ages old could have but few charms.

In one of his odes he addresses the River of Madrid by the title of the
_Duke of Streams_, and the _Viscount of Rivers_--

    "Mançanares, Mançanares,
    Os que en todo el aguatismo,
    Estois _Duque_ de Arroyos,
    Y _Visconde_ de los Rios."

He did not venture to call it a _Spanish Grandee_, for, in fact, it is
but a shallow and dirty stream; and as Quevedo wittily informs us,
"_Mançanares_ is reduced, during the summer season, to the melancholy
condition of the wicked rich man, who asks for water in the depths of
hell." Though so small, this stream in the time of a flood spreads
itself over the neighbouring fields; for this reason Philip the Second
built a bridge eleven hundred feet long!--A Spaniard passing it one day,
when it was perfectly dry, observing this superb bridge, archly
remarked, "That it would be proper that the bridge should be sold to
purchase water."--_Es menester, vender la puente, par comprar agua._

The following elegant translation of a Spanish madrigal of the kind here
criticised I found in a newspaper, but it is evidently by a master-hand.

    On the green margin of the land,
      Where Guadalhorce winds his way,
      My lady lay:
    With golden key Sleep's gentle hand
      Had closed her eyes so bright--
      Her eyes, two suns of light--
      And bade his balmy dews
      Her rosy cheeks suffuse.
    The River God in slumber saw her laid:
      He raised his dripping head,
      With weeds o'erspread,
    Clad in his wat'ry robes approach'd the maid,
    And with cold kiss, like death,
      Drank the rich perfume of the maiden's breath.
    The maiden felt that icy kiss:
      _Her suns unclosed, their flame_
      Full and unclouded on th' intruder came.
      Amazed th' intruder felt
      _His frothy body melt
    And heard the radiance on his bosom hiss_;
      And, forced in blind confusion to retire,
      _Leapt in the water to escape the fire_.


The portrait of St. Evremond is delineated by his own hand.

In his day it was a literary fashion for writers to give their own
portraits; a fashion that seems to have passed over into our country,
for Farquhar has drawn his own character in a letter to a lady. Others
of our writers have given these self-miniatures. Such painters are, no
doubt, great flatterers, and it is rather their ingenuity, than their
truth, which we admire in these cabinet-pictures.

"I am a philosopher, as far removed from superstition as from impiety; a
voluptuary, who has not less abhorrence of debauchery than inclination
for pleasure; a man who has never known want nor abundance. I occupy
that station of life which is contemned by those who possess everything;
envied by those who have nothing; and only relished by those who make
their felicity consist in the exercise of their reason. Young, I hated
dissipation; convinced that man must possess wealth to provide for the
comforts of a long life. Old, I disliked economy; as I believe that we
need not greatly dread want, when we have but a short time to be
miserable. I am satisfied with what nature has done for me, nor do I
repine at fortune. I do not seek in men what they have of evil, that I
may censure; I only discover what they have ridiculous, that I may be
amused. I feel a pleasure in detecting their follies; I should feel a
greater in communicating my discoveries, did not my prudence restrain
me. Life is too short, according to my ideas, to read all kinds of
books, and to load our memories with an endless number of things at the
cost of our judgment. I do not attach myself to the observations of
scientific men to acquire science; but to the most rational, that I may
strengthen my reason. Sometimes I seek for more delicate minds, that my
taste may imbibe their delicacy; sometimes for the gayer, that I may
enrich my genius with their gaiety; and, although I constantly read, I
make it less my occupation than my pleasure. In religion, and in
friendship, I have only to paint myself such as I am--in friendship more
tender than a philosopher; and in religion, as constant and as sincere
as a youth who has more simplicity than experience. My piety is composed
more of justice and charity than of penitence. I rest my confidence on
God, and hope everything from His benevolence. In the bosom of
Providence I find my repose, and my felicity."


The student or the artist who may shine a luminary of learning and of
genius, in his works, is found, not rarely, to lie obscured beneath a
heavy cloud in colloquial discourse.

If you love the man of letters, seek him in the privacies of his study.
It is in the hour of confidence and tranquillity that his genius shall
elicit a ray of intelligence more fervid than the labours of polished

The great Peter Corneille, whose genius resembled that of our
Shakspeare, and who has so forcibly expressed the sublime sentiments of
the hero, had nothing in his exterior that indicated his genius; his
conversation was so insipid that it never failed of wearying. Nature,
who had lavished on him the gifts of genius, had forgotten to blend with
them her more ordinary ones. He did not even _speak_ correctly that
language of which he was such a master. When his friends represented to
him how much more he might please by not disdaining to correct these
trivial errors, he would smile, and say--"_I am not the less Peter

Descartes, whose habits were formed in solitude and meditation, was
silent in mixed company; it was said that he had received his
intellectual wealth from nature in solid bars, but not in current coin;
or as Addison expressed the same idea, by comparing himself to a banker
who possessed the wealth of his friends at home, though he carried none
of it in his pocket; or as that judicious moralist Nicolle, of the
Port-Royal Society, said of a scintillant wit--"He conquers me in the
drawing-room, but he surrenders to me at discretion on the staircase."
Such may say with Themistocles, when asked to play on a lute--"I cannot
fiddle, but I can make a little village a great city."

The deficiencies of Addison in conversation are well known. He preserved
a rigid silence amongst strangers; but if he was silent, it was the
silence of meditation. How often, at that moment, he laboured at some
future Spectator!

Mediocrity can _talk_; but it is for genius to _observe_.

The cynical Mandeville compared Addison, after having passed an evening
in his company, to "a silent parson in a tie-wig."

Virgil was heavy in conversation, and resembled more an ordinary man
than an enchanting poet.

La Fontaine, says La Bruyère, appeared coarse, heavy, and stupid; he
could not speak or describe what he had just seen; but when he wrote he
was a model of poetry.

It is very easy, said a humorous observer on La Fontaine, to be a man of
wit, or a fool; but to be both, and that too in the extreme degree, is
indeed admirable, and only to be found in him. This observation applies
to that fine natural genius Goldsmith. Chaucer was more facetious in his
tales than in his conversation, and the Countess of Pembroke used to
rally him by saying, that his silence was more agreeable to her than his

Isocrates, celebrated for his beautiful oratorical compositions, was of
so timid a disposition, that he never ventured to speak in public. He
compared himself to the whetstone which will not cut, but enables other
things to do so; for his productions served as models to other orators.
Vaucanson was said to be as much a machine as any he had made.

Dryden says of himself--"My conversation is slow and dull, my humour
saturnine and reserved. In short, I am none of those who endeavour to
break jests in company, or make repartees."[41]


What a consolation for an aged parent to see his child, by the efforts
of his own merits, attain from the humblest obscurity to distinguished
eminence! What a transport for the man of sensibility to return to the
obscure dwelling of his parent, and to embrace him, adorned with public
honours! Poor _Vida_ was deprived of this satisfaction; but he is placed
higher in our esteem by the present anecdote, than even by that classic
composition, which rivals the Art of Poetry of his great master.

_Jerome Vida_, after having long served two Popes, at length attained to
the episcopacy. Arrayed in the robes of his new dignity, he prepared to
visit his aged parents, and felicitated himself with the raptures which
the old couple would feel in embracing their son as their bishop. When
he arrived at their village, he learnt that it was but a few days since
they were no more. His sensibilities were exquisitely pained. The muse
dictated some elegiac verse, and in the solemn pathos deplored the death
and the disappointment of his parents.


    Bien heureux SCUDERY, dont la fertile plume
    Peut tous les mois sans peine enfanter un volume.

Boileau has written this couplet on the Scuderies, the brother and
sister, both famous in their day for composing romances, which they
sometimes extended to ten or twelve volumes. It was the favourite
literature of that period, as novels are now. Our nobility not
unfrequently condescended to translate these voluminous compositions.

The diminutive size of our modern novels is undoubtedly an improvement:
but, in resembling the size of primers, it were to be wished that their
contents had also resembled their inoffensive pages. Our
great-grandmothers were incommoded with overgrown folios; and, instead
of finishing the eventful history of two lovers at one or two sittings,
it was sometimes six months, _including Sundays_, before they could get
quit of their Clelias, their Cyrus's, and Parthenissas.

Mademoiselle Scudery had composed _ninety volumes_! She had even
finished another romance, which she would not give the public, whose
taste, she perceived, no more relished this kind of works. She was one
of those unfortunate authors who, living to more than ninety years of
age, survive their own celebrity.

She had her panegyrists in her day: Menage observes--"What a pleasing
description has Mademoiselle Scudery made, in her Cyrus, of the little
court at Rambouillet! A thousand things in the romances of this learned
lady render them inestimable. She has drawn from the ancients their
happiest passages, and has even improved upon them; like the prince in
the fable, whatever she touches becomes gold. We may read her works with
great profit, if we possess a correct taste, and love instruction. Those
who censure their _length_ only show the littleness of their judgment;
as if Homer and Virgil were to be despised, because many of their books
were filled with episodes and incidents that necessarily retard the
conclusion. It does not require much penetration to observe that _Cyrus_
and _Clelia_ are a species of the _epic_ poem. The epic must embrace a
number of events to suspend the course of the narrative; which, only
taking in a part of the life of the hero, would terminate too soon to
display the skill of the poet. Without this artifice, the charm of
uniting the greater part of the episodes to the principal subject of the
romance would be lost. Mademoiselle de Scudery has so well treated them,
and so aptly introduced a variety of beautiful passages, that nothing in
this kind is comparable to her productions. Some expressions, and
certain turns, have become somewhat obsolete; all the rest will last
for ever, and outlive the criticisms they have undergone."

Menage has here certainly uttered a false prophecy. The curious only
look over her romances. They contain doubtless many beautiful
inventions; the misfortune is, that _time_ and _patience_ are rare
requisites for the enjoyment of these Iliads in prose.

"The misfortune of her having written too abundantly has occasioned an
unjust contempt," says a French critic. "We confess there are many heavy
and tedious passages in her voluminous romances; but if we consider that
in the Clelia and the Artamene are to be found inimitable delicate
touches, and many splendid parts, which would do honour to some of our
living writers, we must acknowledge that the great defects of all her
works arise from her not writing in an age when taste had reached the
_acmé_ of cultivation. Such is her erudition, that the French place her
next to the celebrated Madame Dacier. Her works, containing many secret
intrigues of the court and city, her readers must have keenly relished
on their early publication."

Her Artamene, or the Great Cyrus, and principally her Clelia, are
representations of what then passed at the court of France. The _Map_ of
the _Kingdom of Tenderness_, in Clelia, appeared, at the time, as one of
the happiest inventions. This once celebrated _map_ is an allegory which
distinguishes the different kinds of TENDERNESS, which are reduced to
_Esteem_, _Gratitude_, and _Inclination_. The map represents three
rivers, which have these three names, and on which are situated three
towns called Tenderness: Tenderness on _Inclination_; Tenderness on
_Esteem_; and Tenderness on _Gratitude_. _Pleasing Attentions_, or,
_Petits Soins_, is a _village_ very beautifully situated. Mademoiselle
de Scudery was extremely proud of this little allegorical map; and had a
terrible controversy with another writer about its originality.

GEORGE SCUDERY, her brother, and inferior in genius, had a striking
singularity of character:--he was one of the most complete votaries to
the universal divinity, Vanity. With a heated imagination, entirely
destitute of judgment, his military character was continually exhibiting
itself by that peaceful instrument the pen, so that he exhibits a most
amusing contrast of ardent feelings in a cool situation; not liberally
endowed with genius, but abounding with its semblance in the fire of
eccentric gasconade; no man has portrayed his own character with a
bolder colouring than himself, in his numerous prefaces and addresses;
surrounded by a thousand self-illusions of the most sublime class,
everything that related to himself had an Homeric grandeur of

In an epistle to the Duke of Montmorency, Scudery says, "I will learn to
write with my left hand, that my right hand may more nobly be devoted to
your service;" and alluding to his pen (_plume_), declares "he comes
from a family who never used one, but to stick in their hats." When he
solicits small favours from the great, he assures them "that princes
must not think him importunate, and that his writings are merely
inspired by his own individual interest; no! (he exclaims) I am studious
only of your glory, while I am careless of my own fortune." And indeed,
to do him justice, he acted up to these romantic feelings. After he had
published his epic of Alaric, Christina of Sweden proposed to honour him
with a chain of gold of the value of five hundred pounds, provided he
would expunge from his epic the eulogiums he bestowed on the Count of
Gardie, whom she had disgraced. The epical soul of Scudery magnanimously
scorned the bribe, and replied, that "If the chain of gold should be as
weighty as that chain mentioned in the history of the Incas, I will
never destroy any altar on which I have sacrificed!"

Proud of his boasted nobility and erratic life, he thus addresses the
reader: "You will lightly pass over any faults in my work, if you
reflect that I have employed the greater part of my life in seeing the
finest parts of Europe, and that I have passed more days in the camp
than in the library. I have used more matches to light my musket than to
light my candles; I know better to arrange columns in the field than
those on paper; and to square battalions better than to round periods."
In his first publication, he began his literary career perfectly in
character, by a challenge to his critics!

He is the author of sixteen plays, chiefly heroic tragedies; children
who all bear the features of their father. He first introduced, in his
"L'Amour Tyrannique," a strict observance of the Aristotelian unities of
time and place; and the necessity and advantages of this regulation are
insisted on, which only shows that Aristotle's art goes but little to
the composition of a pathetic tragedy. In his last drama, "Arminius,"
he extravagantly scatters his panegyrics on its fifteen predecessors;
but of the present one he has the most exalted notion: it is the
quintessence of Scudery! An ingenious critic calls it "The downfall of
mediocrity!" It is amusing to listen to this blazing preface:--"At
length, reader, nothing remains for me but to mention the great Arminius
which I now present to you, and by which I have resolved to close my
long and laborious course. It is indeed my masterpiece! and the most
finished work that ever came from my pen; for whether we examine the
fable, the manners, the sentiments, or the versification, it is certain
that I never performed anything so just, so great, nor more beautiful;
and if my labours could ever deserve a crown, I would claim it for this

The actions of this singular personage were in unison with his writings:
he gives a pompous description of a most unimportant government which he
obtained near Marseilles, but all the grandeur existed only in our
author's heated imagination. Bachaumont and De la Chapelle describe it,
in their playful "Voyage:"

    Mais il faut vous parler du fort,
    Qui sans doute est une merveille;
    C'est notre dame de la garde!
    Gouvernement commode et beau,
    A qui suffit pour tout garde,
    Un Suisse avec sa hallebarde
    Peint sur la porte du château!

A fort very commodiously guarded; only requiring one sentinel with his
halbert--painted on the door!

In a poem on his disgust with the world, he tells us how intimate he has
been with princes: Europe has known him through all her provinces; he
ventured everything in a thousand combats:

    L'on me vit obeïr, l'on me vit commander,
    Et mon poil tout poudreux a blanchi sons les armes;
    Il est peu de beaux arts où je ne sois instruit;
    En prose et en vers, mon nom fit quelque bruit;
    Et par plus d'un chemin je parvins à la gloire.


    Princes were proud my friendship to proclaim,
    And Europe gazed, where'er her hero came!
    I grasp'd the laurels of heroic strife,
    The thousand perils of a soldier's life;
    Obedient in the ranks each toilful day!
    Though heroes soon command, they first obey.

    'Twas not for me, too long a time to yield!
    Born for a chieftain in the tented field!
    Around my plumed helm, my silvery hair
    Hung like an honour'd wreath of age and care!
    The finer arts have charm'd my studious hours,
    Versed in their mysteries, skilful in their powers;
    In verse and prose my equal genius glow'd,
    Pursuing glory by no single road!

Such was the vain George Scudery! whose heart, however, was warm:
poverty could never degrade him; adversity never broke down his
magnanimous spirit!


[Footnote 41: The same is reported of Butler; and it is said that
Charles II. declared he could not believe him to be the author of
_Hudibras_; that witty poem being such a contradiction to his heavy


The maxims of this noble author are in the hands of every one. To those
who choose to derive every motive and every action from the solitary
principle of _self-love_, they are inestimable. They form one continued
satire on human nature; but they are not reconcilable to the feelings of
the man of better sympathies, or to him who passes through life with the
firm integrity of virtue. Even at court we find a Sully, a Malesherbes,
and a Clarendon, as well as a Rouchefoucault and a Chesterfield.

The Duke de la Rochefoucault, says Segrais, had not studied; but he was
endowed with a wonderful degree of discernment, and knew the world
perfectly well. This afforded him opportunities of making reflections,
and reducing into maxims those discoveries which he had made in the
heart of man, of which he displayed an admirable knowledge.

It is perhaps worthy of observation, that this celebrated French duke
could never summon resolution, at his election, to address the Academy.
Although chosen a member, he never entered, for such was his timidity,
that he could not face an audience and deliver the usual compliment on
his introduction; he whose courage, whose birth, and whose genius were
alike distinguished. The fact is, as appears by Mad. de Sévigné, that
Rochefoucault lived a close domestic life; there must be at least as
much _theoretical_ as _practical_ knowledge in the opinions of such a
retired philosopher.

Chesterfield, our English Rochefoucault, we are also informed, possessed
an admirable knowledge of the heart of man; and he, too, has drawn a
similar picture of human nature. These are two _noble authors_ whose
chief studies seem to have been made in _courts_. May it not be
possible, allowing these authors not to have written a sentence of
apocrypha, that the fault lies not so much in _human nature_ as in the
satellites of Power breathing their corrupt atmosphere?


Were we to investigate the genealogy of our best modern stories, we
should often discover the illegitimacy of our favourites; and retrace
them frequently to the East. My well-read friend Douce had collected
materials for such a work. The genealogies of tales would have gratified
the curious in literature.

The story of the ring of Hans Carvel is of very ancient standing, as are
most of the tales of this kind.

Menage says that Poggius, who died in 1459, has the merit of its
invention; but I suspect he only related a very popular story.

Rabelais, who has given it in his peculiar manner, changed its original
name of Philelphus to that of Hans Carvel.

This title is likewise in the eleventh of _Les Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles_
collected in 1461, for the amusement of Louis XI. when Dauphin, and
living in solitude.

Ariosto has borrowed it, at the end of his fifth Satire; but has fairly
appropriated it by his pleasant manner.

In a collection of novels at Lyons, in 1555, it is introduced into the
eleventh novel.

Celio Malespini has it again in page 288 of the second part of his Two
Hundred Novels, printed at Venice in 1609.

Fontaine has prettily set it off, and an anonymous writer has composed
it in Latin Anacreontic verses; and at length our Prior has given it
with equal gaiety and freedom. After Ariosto, La Fontaine, and Prior,
let us hear of it no more; yet this has been done, in a manner, however,
which here cannot be told.

Voltaire has a curious essay to show that most of our best modern
stories and plots originally belonged to the eastern nations, a fact
which has been made more evident by recent researches. The Amphitryon of
Molière was an imitation of Plautus, who borrowed it from the Greeks,
and they took it from the Indians! It is given by Dow in his History of
Hindostan. In Captain Scott's Tales and Anecdotes from Arabian writers,
we are surprised at finding so many of our favourites very ancient
orientalists.--The Ephesian Matron, versified by La Fontaine, was
borrowed from the Italians; it is to be found in Petronius, and
Petronius had it from the Greeks. But where did the Greeks find it? In
the Arabian Tales! And from whence did the Arabian fabulists borrow it?
From the Chinese! It is found in Du Halde, who collected it from the
Versions of the Jesuits.


A man of letters, more intent on the acquisitions of literature than on
the intrigues of politics, or the speculations of commerce, may find a
deeper solitude in a populous metropolis than in the seclusion of the

The student, who is no flatterer of the little passions of men, will not
be much incommoded by their presence. Gibbon paints his own situation in
the heart of the fashionable world:--"I had not been endowed by art or
nature with those happy gifts of confidence and address which unlock
every door and every bosom. While coaches were rattling through
Bond-street, I have passed many a solitary evening in my lodging with my
books. I withdrew without reluctance from the noisy and extensive scene
of crowds without company, and dissipation without pleasure." And even
after he had published the first volume of his History, he observes that
in London his confinement was solitary and sad; "the many forgot my
existence when they saw me no longer at Brookes's, and the few who
sometimes had a thought on their friend were detained by business or
pleasure, and I was proud and happy if I could prevail on my bookseller,
Elmsly, to enliven the dulness of the evening."

A situation, very elegantly described in the beautifully polished verses
of Mr. Rogers, in his "Epistle to a Friend:"

    When from his classic dreams the student steals
    Amid the buzz of crowds, the whirl of wheels,
    To muse unnoticed, while around him press
    The meteor-forms of equipage and dress;
    Alone in wonder lost, he seems to stand
    A very stranger in his native land.

He compares the student to one of the seven sleepers in the ancient

Descartes residing in the commercial city of Amsterdam, writing to
Balzac, illustrates these descriptions with great force and vivacity.

"You wish to retire; and your intention is to seek the solitude of the
Chartreux, or, possibly, some of the most beautiful provinces of France
and Italy. I would rather advise you, if you wish to observe mankind,
and at the same time to lose yourself in the deepest solitude, to join
me in Amsterdam. I prefer this situation to that even of your delicious
villa, where I spent so great a part of the last year; for, however
agreeable a country-house may be, a thousand little conveniences are
wanted, which can only be found in a city. One is not alone so
frequently in the country as one could wish: a number of impertinent
visitors are continually besieging you. Here, as all the world, except
myself, is occupied in commerce, it depends merely on myself to live
unknown to the world. I walk every day amongst immense ranks of people,
with as much tranquillity as you do in your green alleys. The men I meet
with make the same impression on my mind as would the trees of your
forests, or the flocks of sheep grazing on your common. The busy hum too
of these merchants does not disturb one more than the purling of your
brooks. If sometimes I amuse myself in contemplating their anxious
motions, I receive the same pleasure which you do in observing those men
who cultivate your land; for I reflect that the end of all their labours
is to embellish the city which I inhabit, and to anticipate all my
wants. If you contemplate with delight the fruits of your orchards, with
all the rich promises of abundance, do you think I feel less in
observing so many fleets that convey to me the productions of either
India? What spot on earth could you find, which, like this, can so
interest your vanity and gratify your taste?"


The JEWS have their TALMUD; the CATHOLICS their LEGENDS of Saints; and
the TURKS their SONNAH. The PROTESTANT has nothing but his BIBLE. The
former are three kindred works. Men have imagined that the more there is
to be believed, the more are the merits of the believer. Hence all
_traditionists_ formed the orthodox and the strongest party. The word
of God is lost amidst those heaps of human inventions, sanctioned by an
order of men connected with religious duties; they ought now, however,
to be regarded rather as CURIOSITIES OF LITERATURE. I give a
sufficiently ample account of the TALMUD and the LEGENDS; but of the
SONNAH I only know that it is a collection of the traditional opinions
of the Turkish prophets, directing the observance of petty superstitions
not mentioned in the Koran.

The TALMUD is a collection of Jewish traditions which have been _orally_
preserved. It comprises the MISHNA, which is the text; and the GEMARA,
its commentary. The whole forms a complete system of the learning,
ceremonies, civil and canon laws of the Jews; treating indeed on all
subjects; even gardening, manual arts, &c. The rigid Jews persuaded
themselves that these traditional explications are of divine origin. The
Pentateuch, say they, was written out by their legislator before his
death in thirteen copies, distributed among the twelve tribes, and the
remaining one deposited in the ark. The oral law Moses continually
taught in the Sanhedrim, to the elders and the rest of the people. The
law was repeated four times; but the interpretation was delivered only
by _word of mouth_ from generation to generation. In the fortieth year
of the flight from Egypt, the memory of the people became treacherous,
and Moses was constrained to repeat this oral law, which had been
conveyed by successive traditionists. Such is the account of honest
David Levi; it is the creed of every rabbin.--David believed in
everything but in Jesus.

This history of the Talmud some inclined to suppose apocryphal, even
among a few of the Jews themselves. When these traditions first
appeared, the keenest controversy has never been able to determine. It
cannot be denied that there existed traditions among the Jews in the
time of Jesus Christ. About the second century, they were industriously
collected by Rabbi Juda the Holy, the prince of the rabbins, who enjoyed
the favour of Antoninus Pius. He has the merit of giving some order to
this multifarious collection.

It appears that the Talmud was compiled by certain Jewish doctors, who
were solicited for this purpose by their nation, that they might have
something to oppose to their Christian adversaries.

The learned W. Wotton, in his curious "Discourses" on the traditions of
the Scribes and Pharisees, supplies an analysis of this vast collection;
he has translated entire two divisions of this code of traditional laws,
with the original text and the notes.

There are two Talmuds: the Jerusalem and the Babylonian. The last is the
most esteemed, because it is the most bulky.

R. Juda, the prince of the rabbins, committed to writing all these
traditions, and arranged them under six general heads, called orders or
classes. The subjects are indeed curious for philosophical inquirers,
and multifarious as the events of civil life. Every _order_ is formed of
_treatises_; every _treatise_ is divided into chapters, every _chapter_
into _mishnas_, which word means mixtures or miscellanies, in the form
of _aphorisms_. In the first part is discussed what relates to _seeds_,
_fruits_, and _trees_; in the second, _feasts_; in the third, _women_,
their duties, their _disorders_, _marriages_, _divorces_, _contracts_,
and _nuptials_; in the fourth, are treated the damages or losses
sustained by beasts or men; of _things found_; _deposits_; _usuries_;
_rents_; _farms_; _partnerships_ in commerce; _inheritance_; _sales_ and
_purchases_; _oaths_; _witnesses_; _arrests_; _idolatry_; and here are
named those by whom the oral law was received and preserved. In the
fifth part are noticed _sacrifices_ and _holy things_; and the sixth
treats of _purifications_; _vessels_; _furniture_; _clothes_; _houses_;
_leprosy_; _baths_; and numerous other articles. All this forms the

The GEMARA, that is, the _complement_ or _perfection_, contains the
DISPUTES and the OPINIONS of the RABBINS on the oral traditions. Their
last decisions. It must be confessed that absurdities are sometimes
elucidated by other absurdities; but there are many admirable things in
this vast repository. The Jews have such veneration for this
compilation, that they compare the holy writings to _water_, and the
Talmud to _wine_; the text of Moses to _pepper_, but the Talmud to
_aromatics_. Of the twelve hours of which the day is composed, they tell
us that _God_ employs nine to study the Talmud, and only three to read
the written law!

St. Jerome appears evidently to allude to this work, and notices its
"Old Wives' Tales," and the filthiness of some of its matters. The truth
is, that the rabbins resembled the Jesuits and Casuists; and Sanchez's
work on "_Matrimonio_" is well known to agitate matters with such
_scrupulous niceties_ as to become the most offensive thing possible.
But as among the schoolmen and casuists there have been great men, the
same happened to these Gemaraists. Maimonides was a pillar of light
among their darkness. The antiquity of this work is of itself sufficient
to make it very curious.

A specimen of the topics may be shown from the table and contents of
"Mishnic Titles." In the order of seeds, we find the following heads,
which present no uninteresting picture of the pastoral and pious
ceremonies of the ancient Jews.

The Mishna, entitled the _Corner_, i.e. of the field. The laws of
gleaning are commanded according to Leviticus; xix. 9, 10. Of the corner
to be left in a corn-field. When the corner is due and when not. Of the
forgotten sheaf. Of the ears of corn left in gathering. Of grapes left
upon the vine. Of olives left upon the trees. When and where the poor
may lawfully glean. What sheaf, or olives, or grapes, may be looked upon
to be forgotten, and what not. Who are the proper witnesses concerning
the poor's due, to exempt it from tithing, &c. They distinguished
uncircumcised fruit:--it is unlawful to eat of the fruit of any tree
till the fifth year of its growth: the first three years of its bearing,
it is called uncircumcised; the fourth is offered to God; and the fifth
may be eaten.

The Mishna, entitled _Heterogeneous Mixtures_, contains several curious
horticultural particulars. Of divisions between garden-beds and fields,
that the produce of the several sorts of grains or seeds may appear
distinct. Of the distance between every species. Distances between vines
planted in corn-fields from one another and from the corn; between vines
planted against hedges, walls, or espaliers, and anything sowed near
them. Various cases relating to vineyards planted near any forbidden

In their seventh, or sabbatical year, in which the produce of all
estates was given up to the poor, one of these regulations is on the
different work which must not be omitted in the sixth year, lest
(because the seventh being devoted to the poor) the produce should be
unfairly diminished, and the public benefit arising from this law be
frustrated. Of whatever is not perennial, and produced that year by the
earth, no money may be made; but what is perennial may be sold.

On priests' tithes, we have a regulation concerning eating the fruits
carried to the place where they are to be separated.

The order _women_ is very copious. A husband is obliged to forbid his
wife to keep a particular man's company before two witnesses. Of the
waters of jealousy by which a suspected woman is to be tried by
drinking, we find ample particulars. The ceremonies of clothing the
accused woman at her trial. Pregnant women, or who suckle, are not
obliged to drink for the rabbins seem to be well convinced of the
effects of the imagination. Of their divorces many are the laws; and
care is taken to particularise bills of divorces written by men in
delirium or dangerously ill. One party of the rabbins will not allow of
any divorce, unless something light was found in the woman's character,
while another (the Pharisees) allow divorces even when a woman has only
been so unfortunate as to suffer her husband's soup to be burnt!

In the order of _damages_, containing rules how to tax the damages done
by man or beast, or other casualties, their distinctions are as nice as
their cases are numerous. What beasts are innocent and what convict. By
the one they mean creatures not naturally used to do mischief in any
particular way; and by the other, those that naturally, or by a vicious
habit, are mischievous that way. The tooth of a beast is convict, when
it is proved to eat its usual food, the property of another man, and
full restitution must be made; but if a beast that is used to eat fruits
and herbs gnaws clothes or damages tools, which are not its usual food,
the owner of the beast shall pay but half the damage when committed on
the property of the injured person; but if the injury is committed on
the property of the person who does the damage, he is free, because the
beast gnawed what was not its usual food. As thus; if the beast of A.
gnaws or tears the clothes of B. in B.'s house or grounds, A. shall pay
half the damages; but if B.'s clothes are injured in A.'s grounds by
A.'s beast, A. is free, for what had B. to do to put his clothes in A.'s
grounds? They made such subtile distinctions, as when an ox gores a man
or beast, the law inquired into the habits of the beast; whether it was
an ox that used to gore, or an ox that was not used to gore. However
acute these niceties sometimes were, they were often ridiculous. No
beast could be _convicted_ of being vicious till evidence was given that
he had done mischief three successive days; but if he leaves off those
vicious tricks for three days more, he is innocent again. An ox may be
convict of goring an ox and not a man, or of goring a man and not an ox:
nay; of goring on the sabbath, and not on a working day. Their aim was
to make the punishment depend on the proofs of the _design_ of the
beast that did the injury; but this attempt evidently led them to
distinctions much too subtile and obscure. Thus some rabbins say that
the morning prayer of the _Shemáh_ must be read at the time they can
distinguish _blue_ from _white_; but another, more indulgent, insists it
may be when we can distinguish _blue_ from _green_! which latter colours
are so near akin as to require a stronger light. With the same
remarkable acuteness in distinguishing things, is their law respecting
not touching fire on the Sabbath. Among those which are specified in
this constitution, the rabbins allow the minister to look over young
children by lamp-light, but he shall not read himself. The minister is
forbidden to _read_ by lamp-light, lest he should trim his lamp; but he
may direct the children where they should read, because that is quickly
done, and there would be no danger of his trimming his lamp in their
presence, or suffering any of them to do it in his. All these
regulations, which some may conceive as minute and frivolous, show a
great intimacy with the human heart, and a spirit of profound
observation which had been capable of achieving great purposes.

The owner of an innocent beast only pays half the costs for the mischief
incurred. Man is always convict, and for all mischief he does he must
pay full costs. However there are casual damages,--as when a man pours
water accidentally on another man; or makes a thorn-hedge which annoys
his neighbour; or falling down, and another by stumbling on him incurs
harm: how such compensations are to be made. He that has a vessel of
another's in keeping, and removes it, but in the removal breaks it, must
swear to his own integrity; i.e., that he had no design to break it. All
offensive or noisy trades were to be carried on at a certain distance
from a town. Where there is an estate, the sons inherit, and the
daughters are maintained; but if there is not enough for all, the
daughters are maintained, and the sons must get their living as they
can, or even beg. The contrary to this excellent ordination has been
observed in Europe.

These few titles may enable the reader to form a general notion of the
several subjects on which the Mishna treats. The Gemara or Commentary is
often overloaded with ineptitudes and ridiculous subtilties. For
instance, in the article of "Negative Oaths." If a man swears he will
eat no bread, and does eat all sorts of bread, in that case the perjury
is but one; but if he swears that he will eat neither barley, nor
wheaten, nor rye-bread, the perjury is multiplied as he multiplies his
eating of the several sorts.--Again, the Pharisees and the Sadducees had
strong differences about touching the holy writings with their hands.
The doctors ordained that whoever touched the book of the law must not
eat of the truma (first fruits of the wrought produce of the ground),
till they had washed their hands. The reason they gave was this. In
times of persecution, they used to hide those sacred books in secret
places, and good men would lay them out of the way when they had done
reading them. It was possible, then, that these rolls of the law might
be gnawed by _mice_. The hands then that touched these books when they
took them out of the places where they had laid them up, were supposed
to be unclean, so far as to disable them from eating the truma till they
were washed. On that account they made this a general rule, that if any
part of the _Bible_ (except _Ecclesiastes_, because that excellent book
their sagacity accounted less holy than the rest) or their phylacteries,
or the strings of their phylacteries, were touched by one who had a
right to eat the truma, he might not eat it till he had washed his
hands. An evidence of that superstitious trifling, for which the
Pharisees and the later Rabbins have been so justly reprobated.

They were absurdly minute in the literal observance of their vows, and
as shamefully subtile in their artful evasion of them. The Pharisees
could be easy enough to themselves when convenient, and always as hard
and unrelenting as possible to all others. They quibbled, and dissolved
their vows, with experienced casuistry. Jesus reproaches the Pharisees
in Matthew xv. and Mark vii. for flagrantly violating the fifth
commandment, by allowing the vow of a son, perhaps made in hasty anger,
its full force, when he had sworn that his father should never be the
better for him, or anything he had, and by which an indigent father
might be suffered to starve. There is an express case to this purpose in
the Mishna, in the title of _Vows_. The reader may be amused by the
story:--A man made a vow that his _father should not profit by him_.
This man afterwards made a wedding-feast for his son, and wishes his
father should be present; but he cannot invite him, because he is tied
up by his vow. He invented this expedient:--He makes a gift of the court
in which the feast was to be kept, and of the feast itself, to a third
person in trust, that his father should be invited by that third person,
with the other company whom he at first designed. This third person then
says--If these things you thus have given me are mine, I will dedicate
them to God, and then none of you can be the better for them. The son
replied--I did not give them to you that you should consecrate them.
Then the third man said--Yours was no donation, only you were willing to
eat and drink with your father. Thus, says R. Juda, they dissolved each
other's intentions; and when the case came before the rabbins, they
decreed that a gift which may not be consecrated by the person to whom
it is given is not a gift.

The following extract from the Talmud exhibits a subtile mode of
reasoning, which the Jews adopted when the learned of Rome sought to
persuade them to conform to their idolatry. It forms an entire Mishna,
entitled _Sedir Nezikin_, Avoda Zara, iv. 7. on idolatrous worship,
translated by Wotton.

"Some Roman senators examined the Jews in this manner:--If God hath no
delight in the worship of idols, why did he not destroy them? The Jews
made answer--If men had worshipped only things of which the world had
had no need, he would have destroyed the object of their worship; but
they also worship the sun and moon, stars and planets; and then he must
have destroyed his world for the sake of these deluded men. But still,
said the Romans, why does not God destroy the things which the world
does not want, and leave those things which the world cannot be without?
Because, replied the Jews, this would strengthen the hands of such as
worship these necessary things, who would then say--Ye allow now that
these are gods, since they are not destroyed."


The preceding article furnishes some of the more serious investigations
to be found in the Talmud. Its levities may amuse. I leave untouched the
gross obscenities and immoral decisions. The Talmud contains a vast
collection of stories, apologues, and jests; many display a vein of
pleasantry, and at times have a wildness of invention, which
sufficiently mark the features of an eastern parent. Many extravagantly
puerile were designed merely to recreate their young students. When a
rabbin was asked the reason of so much nonsense, he replied that the
ancients had a custom of introducing music in their lectures, which
accompaniment made them more agreeable; but that not having musical
instruments in the schools, the rabbins invented these strange stories
to arouse attention. This was ingeniously said; but they make miserable
work when they pretend to give mystical interpretations to pure

In 1711, a German professor of the Oriental languages, Dr. Eisenmenger,
published in two large volumes quarto, his "Judaism Discovered," a
ponderous labour, of which the scope was to ridicule the Jewish

I shall give a dangerous adventure into which King David was drawn by
the devil. The king one day hunting, Satan appeared before him in the
likeness of a roe. David discharged an arrow at him, but missed his aim.
He pursued the feigned roe into the land of the Philistines. Ishbi, the
brother of Goliath, instantly recognised the king as him who had slain
that giant. He bound him, and bending him neck and heels, laid him under
a wine-press in order to press him to death. A miracle saves David. The
earth beneath him became soft, and Ishbi could not press wine out of
him. That evening in the Jewish congregation a dove, whose wings were
covered with silver, appeared in great perplexity; and evidently
signified the king of Israel was in trouble. Abishai, one of the king's
counsellors, inquiring for the king, and finding him absent, is at a
loss to proceed, for according to the Mishna, no one may ride on the
king's horse, nor sit upon his throne, nor use his sceptre. The school
of the rabbins, however, allowed these things in time of danger. On this
Abishai vaults on David's horse, and (with an Oriental metaphor) the
land of the Philistines leaped to him instantly! Arrived at Ishbi's
house, he beholds his mother Orpa spinning. Perceiving the Israelite,
she snatched up her spinning-wheel and threw it at him, to kill him; but
not hitting him, she desired him to bring the spinning-wheel to her. He
did not do this exactly, but returned it to her in such a way that she
never asked any more for her spinning-wheel. When Ishbi saw this, and
recollecting that David, though tied up neck and heels, was still under
the wine-press, he cried out. "There are now two who will destroy me!"
So he threw David high up into the air, and stuck his spear into the
ground, imagining that David would fall upon it and perish. But Abishai
pronounced the magical name, which the Talmudists frequently make use
of, and it caused David to hover between earth and heaven, so that he
fell not down! Both at length unite against Ishbi, and observing that
two young lions should kill one lion, find no difficulty in getting rid
of the brother of Goliath.

Of Solomon, another favourite hero of the Talmudists, a fine Arabian
story is told. This king was an adept in necromancy, and a male and a
female devil were always in waiting for an emergency. It is observable,
that the Arabians, who have many stories concerning Solomon, always
describe him as a magician. His adventures with Aschmedai, the prince of
devils, are numerous; and they both (the king and the devil) served one
another many a slippery trick. One of the most remarkable is when
Aschmedai, who was prisoner to Solomon, the king having contrived to
possess himself of the devil's seal-ring, and chained him, one day
offered to answer an unholy question put to him by Solomon, provided he
returned him his seal-ring and loosened his chain. The impertinent
curiosity of Solomon induced him to commit this folly. Instantly
Aschmedai swallowed the monarch; and stretching out his wings up to the
firmament of heaven, one of his feet remaining on the earth, he spit out
Solomon four hundred leagues from him. This was done so privately, that
no one knew anything of the matter. Aschmedai then assumed the likeness
of Solomon, and sat on his throne. From that hour did Solomon say,
"_This_ then is the reward of all my labour," according to
Ecclesiasticus i. 3; which _this_ means, one rabbin says, his
walking-staff; and another insists was his ragged coat. For Solomon went
a begging from door to door; and wherever he came he uttered these
words; "I, the preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem." At length
coming before the council, and still repeating these remarkable words,
without addition or variation, the rabbins said, "This means something:
for a fool is not constant in his tale!" They asked the chamberlain, if
the king frequently saw him? and he replied to them, No! Then they sent
to the queens, to ask if the king came into their apartments? and they
answered, Yes! The rabbins then sent them a message to take notice of
his feet; for the feet of devils are like the feet of cocks. The queens
acquainted them that his majesty always came in slippers, but forced
them to embrace at times forbidden by the law. He had attempted to lie
with his mother Bathsheba, whom he had almost torn to pieces. At this
the rabbins assembled in great haste, and taking the beggar with them,
they gave him the ring and the chain in which the great magical name was
engraven, and led him to the palace. Asehmedai was sitting on the throne
as the real Solomon entered; but instantly he shrieked and flew away.
Yet to his last day was Solomon afraid of the prince of devils, and had
his bed guarded by the valiant men of Israel, as is written in Cant.
iii. 7, 8.

They frequently display much humour in their inventions, as in the
following account of the manners and morals of an infamous town, which
mocked at all justice. There were in Sodom four judges, who were liars,
and deriders of justice. When any one had struck his neighbour's wife,
and caused her to miscarry, these judges thus counselled the
husband:--"Give her to the offender, that he may get her with child for
thee." When any one had cut off an ear of his neighbour's ass, they said
to the owner--"Let him have the ass till the ear is grown again, that it
may be returned to thee as thou wishest." When any one had wounded his
neighbour, they told the wounded man to "give him a fee for letting him
blood." A toll was exacted in passing a certain bridge; but if any one
chose to wade through the water, or walk round about to save it, he was
condemned to a double toll. Eleasar, Abraham's servant, came thither,
and they wounded him. When, before the judge, he was ordered to pay his
fee for having his blood let, Eleasar flung a stone at the judge, and
wounded him; on which the judge said to him--"What meaneth this?"
Eleasar replied--"Give him who wounded me the fee that is due to myself
for wounding thee." The people of this town had a bedstead on which they
laid travellers who asked for rest. If any one was too long for it, they
cut off his legs; and if he was shorter than the bedstead, they strained
him to its head and foot. When a beggar came to this town, every one
gave him a penny, on which was inscribed the donor's name; but they
would sell him no bread, nor let him escape. When the beggar died from
hunger, then they came about him, and each man took back his penny.
These stories are curious inventions of keen mockery and malice,
seasoned with humour. It is said some of the famous decisions of Sancho
Panza are to be found in the Talmud.

Abraham is said to have been jealous of his wives, and built an
enchanted city for them. He built an iron city and put them in. The
walls were so high and dark, the sun could not be seen in it. He gave
them a bowl full of pearls and jewels, which sent forth a light in this
dark city equal to the sun. Noah, it seems, when in the ark, had no
other light than jewels and pearls. Abraham, in travelling to Egypt,
brought with him a chest. At the custom-house the officers exacted the
duties. Abraham would have readily paid, but desired they would not open
the chest. They first insisted on the duty for clothes, which Abraham
consented to pay; but then they thought, by his ready acquiescence, that
it might be gold. Abraham consents to pay for gold. They now suspected
it might be silk. Abraham was willing to pay for silk, or more costly
pearls; and Abraham generously consented to pay as if the chest
contained the most valuable of things. It was then they resolved to open
and examine the chest; and, behold, as soon as that chest was opened,
that great lustre of human beauty broke out which made such a noise in
the land of Egypt; it was Sarah herself! The jealous Abraham, to conceal
her beauty, had locked her up in this chest.

The whole creation in these rabbinical fancies is strangely gigantic and
vast. The works of eastern nations are full of these descriptions; and
Hesiod's Theogony, and Milton's battles of angels, are puny in
comparison with these rabbinical heroes, or rabbinical things. Mountains
are hurled, with all their woods, with great ease, and creatures start
into existence too terrible for our conceptions. The winged monster in
the "Arabian Nights," called the Roc, is evidently one of the creatures
of rabbinical fancy; it would sometimes, when very hungry, seize and fly
away with an elephant. Captain Cook found a bird's nest in an island
near New Holland, built with sticks on the ground, six-and-twenty feet
in circumference, and near three feet in height. But of the rabbinical
birds, fish, and animals, it is not probable any circumnavigator will
ever trace even the slightest vestige or resemblance.

One of their birds, when it spreads its wings, blots out the sun. An egg
from another fell out of its nest, and the white thereof broke and glued
about three hundred cedar-trees, and overflowed a village. One of them
stands up to the lower joint of the leg in a river, and some mariners,
imagining the water was not deep, were hastening to bathe, when a voice
from heaven said--"Step not in there, for seven years ago there a
carpenter dropped his axe, and it hath not yet reached the bottom."

The following passage, concerning fat geese, is perfectly in the style
of these rabbins:--"A rabbin once saw in a desert a flock of geese so
fat that their feathers fell off, and the rivers flowed in fat. Then
said I to them, shall we have part of you in the other world when the
Messiah shall come? And one of them lifted up a wing, and another a leg,
to signify these parts we should have. We should otherwise have had all
parts of these geese; but we Israelites shall be called to an account
touching these fat geese, because their sufferings are owing to us. It
is our iniquities that have delayed the coming of the Messiah; and these
geese suffer greatly by reason of their excessive fat, which daily and
daily increases, and will increase till the Messiah comes!"

What the manna was which fell in the wilderness, has often been
disputed, and still is disputable; it was sufficient for the rabbins to
have found in the Bible that the taste of it was "as a wafer made with
honey," to have raised their fancy to its pitch. They declare it was
"like oil to children, honey to old men, and cakes to middle age." It
had every kind of taste except that of cucumbers, melons, garlic, and
onions, and leeks, for these were those Egyptian roots which the
Israelites so much regretted to have lost. This manna had, however, the
quality to accommodate itself to the palate of those who did not murmur
in the wilderness; and to these it became fish, flesh, or fowl.

The rabbins never advance an absurdity without quoting a text in
Scripture; and to substantiate this fact they quote Deut. ii. 7, where
it is said, "Through this great wilderness these forty years the Lord
thy God hath been with thee, and _thou hast lacked nothing_!" St. Austin
repeats this explanation of the Rabbins, that the faithful found in this
manna the taste of their favourite food! However, the Israelites could
not have found all these benefits, as the rabbins tell us; for in
Numbers xi. 6, they exclaim, "There is _nothing at all besides this
manna_ before our eyes!" They had just said that they remembered the
melons, cucumbers, &c., which they had eaten of so freely in Egypt. One
of the hyperboles of the rabbins is, that the manna fell in such
mountains, that the kings of the east and the west beheld them; which
they found on a passage in the 23rd Psalm; "Thou preparest a table
before me in the presence of mine enemies!" These may serve as specimens
of the forced interpretations on which their grotesque fables are

Their detestation of Titus, their great conqueror, appears by the
following wild invention. After having narrated certain things too
shameful to read, of a prince whom Josephus describes in far different
colours, they tell us that on sea Titus tauntingly observed, in a great
storm, that the God of the Jews was only powerful on the water, and
that, therefore, he had succeeded in drowning Pharaoh and Sisera. "Had
he been strong, he would have waged war with me in Jerusalem." On
uttering this blasphemy, a voice from heaven said, "Wicked man! I have a
little creature in the world which shall wage war with thee!" When Titus
landed, a gnat entered his nostrils, and for seven years together made
holes in his brains. When his skull was opened, the gnat was found to be
as large as a pigeon: the mouth of the gnat was of copper, and the claws
of iron. A collection which has recently appeared of these Talmudical
stories has not been executed with any felicity of selection. That there
are, however, some beautiful inventions in the Talmud, I refer to the
story of Solomon and Sheba, in the present volume.


It is probable that this custom, so universally prevalent, originated in
some ancient superstition; it seems to have excited inquiry among all

"Some Catholics," says Father Feyjoo, "have attributed the origin of
this custom to the ordinance of a pope, Saint Gregory, who is said to
have instituted a short benediction to be used on such occasions, at a
time when, during a pestilence, the crisis was attended by _sneezing_,
and in most cases followed by _death_."

But the rabbins, who have a story for everything, say, that before Jacob
men never sneezed but _once_, and then immediately _died_: they assure
us that that patriarch was the first who died by natural disease; before
him all men died by sneezing; the memory of which was ordered to be
preserved in _all nations_, by a command of every prince to his subjects
to employ some salutary exclamation after the act of sneezing. But these
are Talmudical dreams, and only serve to prove that so familiar a custom
has always excited inquiry.

Even Aristotle has delivered some considerable nonsense on this custom;
he says it is an honourable acknowledgment of the seat of good sense and
genius--the head--to distinguish it from two other offensive eruptions
of air, which are never accompanied by any benediction from the
by-standers. The custom, at all events, existed long prior to Pope
Gregory. The lover in Apuleius, Gyton in Petronius, and allusions to it
in Pliny, prove its antiquity; and a memoir of the French Academy
notices the practice in the New World, on the first discovery of
America. Everywhere man is saluted for sneezing.

An amusing account of the ceremonies which attend the _sneezing_ of a
king of Monomotapa, shows what a national concern may be the sneeze of
despotism.--Those who are near his person, when this happens, salute him
in so loud a tone, that persons in the ante-chamber hear it, and join in
the acclamation; in the adjoining apartments they do the same, till the
noise reaches the street, and becomes propagated throughout the city; so
that, at each sneeze of his majesty, results a most horrid cry from the
salutations of many thousands of his vassals.

When the king of Sennaar sneezes, his courtiers immediately turn their
backs on him, and give a loud slap on their right thigh.

With the ancients sneezing was ominous;[42] from the _right_ it was
considered auspicious; and Plutarch, in his Life of Themistocles, says,
that before a naval battle it was a sign of conquest! Catullus, in his
pleasing poem of Acmè and Septimus, makes this action from the deity of
Love, from the _left_, the source of his fiction. The passage has been
elegantly versified by a poetical friend, who finds authority that the
gods sneezing on the _right_ in _heaven_, is supposed to come to us on
_earth_ on the _left_.

    Cupid _sneezing_ in his flight,
    Once was heard upon the _right_,
    Boding woe to lovers true;
    But now upon the _left_ he flew,
    And with sporting _sneeze_ divine,
    Gave to joy the sacred sign.
    Acmè bent her lovely face,
    Flush'd with rapture's rosy grace,
    And those eyes that swam in bliss,
    Prest with many a breathing kiss;
    Breathing, murmuring, soft, and low,
    Thus might life for ever flow!
    "Love of my life, and life of love!
    Cupid rules our fates above,
    Ever let us vow to join
    In homage at his happy shrine."
    Cupid heard the lovers true,
    Again upon the _left_ he flew,
    And with sporting _sneeze_ divine,
    Renew'd of joy the _sacred sign_!


[Footnote 42: Xenophon having addressed a speech to his soldiers, in
which he declared he felt many reasons for a dependence on the favour of
the gods, had scarcely concluded his words when one of them emitted a
loud sneeze. Xenophon at once declared this a spontaneous omen sent by
Jupiter as a sign that his protection was awarded them.

    "O, happy Bridegroom! thee a lucky sneeze
    To Sparta welcom'd."--_Theocritus_, Idyll xviii.

"Prometheus was the first that wished well to the sneezer, when the man
which he had made of clay fell into a fit of sternutation upon the
approach of that celestial fire which he stole from the sun."--Ross's
_Arcana Microcosmi_.]


A happy art in the relation of a story is, doubtless, a very agreeable
talent; it has obtained La Fontaine all the applause which his charming
_naïveté_ deserves.

Of "_Bonaventure de Periers, Valet de Chambre de la Royne de Navarre_,"
there are three little volumes of tales in prose, in the quaint or the
coarse pleasantry of that day. The following is not given as the best,
but as it introduces a novel etymology of a word in great use:--

"A student at law, who studied at Poitiers, had tolerably improved
himself in cases of equity; not that he was over-burthened with
learning; but his chief deficiency was a want of assurance and
confidence to display his knowledge. His father, passing by Poitiers,
recommended him to read aloud, and to render his memory more prompt by
continued exercise. To obey the injunctions of his father, he determined
to read at the _Ministery_. In order to obtain a certain quantity of
assurance, he went every day into a garden, which was a very retired
spot, being at a distance from any house, and where there grew a great
number of fine large cabbages. Thus for a long time he pursued his
studies, and repeated his lectures to these cabbages, addressing them by
the title of _gentlemen_, and balancing his periods to them as if they
had composed an audience of scholars. After a fort-night or three weeks'
preparation, he thought it was high time to take the _chair_; imagining
that he should be able to lecture his scholars as well as he had before
done his cabbages. He comes forward, he begins his oration--but before a
dozen words his tongue freezes between his teeth! Confused, and hardly
knowing where he was, all he could bring out was--_Domini, Ego bene
video quod non eslis caules_; that is to say--for there are some who
will have everything in plain English--_Gentlemen, I now clearly see you
are not cabbages!_ In the _garden_ he could conceive the _cabbages_ to
be _scholars_; but in the _chair_, he could not conceive the _scholars_
to be _cabbages_."

On this story La Monnoye has a note, which gives a new origin to a
familiar term.

"The hall of the School of Equity at Poitiers, where the institutes were
read, was called _La Ministerie_. On which head Florimond de Remond
(book vii. ch. 11), speaking of Albert Babinot, one of the first
disciples of Calvin, after having said he was called 'The _good man_,'
adds, that because he had been a student of the institutes at this
_Ministerie_ of Poitiers, Calvin and others styled him _Mr. Minister_;
from whence, afterwards _Calvin_ took occasion to give the name of
MINISTERS to the pastors of his church."


The Life of Grotius shows the singular felicity of a man of letters and
a statesman, and how a student can pass his hours in the closest
imprisonment. The gate of the prison has sometimes been the porch of

Grotius, studious from his infancy, had also received from Nature the
faculty of genius, and was so fortunate as to find in his father a tutor
who formed his early taste and his moral feelings. The younger Grotius,
in imitation of Horace, has celebrated his gratitude in verse.

One of the most interesting circumstances in the life of this great man,
which strongly marks his genius and fortitude, is displayed in the
manner in which he employed his time during his imprisonment. Other men,
condemned to exile and captivity, if they survive, despair; the man of
letters may reckon those days as the sweetest of his life.

When a prisoner at the Hague, he laboured on a Latin essay on the means
of terminating religious disputes, which occasion so many infelicities
in the state, in the church, and in families; when he was carried to
Louvenstein, he resumed his law studies, which other employments had
interrupted. He gave a portion of his time to moral philosophy, which
engaged him to translate the maxims of the ancient poets, collected by
Stobæus, and the fragments of Menander and Philemon.

Every Sunday was devoted to the Scriptures, and to his Commentaries on
the New Testament. In the course of the work he fell ill; but as soon as
he recovered his health, he composed his treatise, in Dutch verse, on
the Truth of the Christian Religion. Sacred and profane authors occupied
him alternately. His only mode of refreshing his mind was to pass from
one work to another. He sent to Vossius his observations on the
Tragedies of Seneca. He wrote several other works--particularly a little
Catechism, in verse, for his daughter Cornelia--and collected materials
to form his Apology. Although he produced thus abundantly, his
confinement was not more than two years. We may well exclaim here, that
the mind of Grotius had never been imprisoned.

To these various labours we may add an extensive correspondence he held
with the learned; his letters were often so many treatises, and there is
a printed collection amounting to two thousand. Grotius had notes ready
for every classical author of antiquity, whenever a new edition was
prepared; an account of his plans and his performances might furnish a
volume of themselves; yet he never published in haste, and was fond of
revising them. We must recollect, notwithstanding such uninterrupted
literary avocations, his hours were frequently devoted to the public
functions of an ambassador:--"I only reserve for my studies the time
which other ministers give to their pleasures, to conversations often
useless, and to visits sometimes unnecessary." Such is the language of
this great man!

I have seen this great student censured for neglecting his official
duties; but, to decide on this accusation, it would be necessary to know
the character of his accuser.


I offer to the contemplation of those unfortunate mortals who are
necessitated to undergo the criticisms of _lords_, this pair of

Soderini, the Gonfalonière of Florence, having had a statue made by the
great _Michael Angelo_, when it was finished, came to inspect it; and
having for some time sagaciously considered it, poring now on the face,
then on the arms, the knees, the form of the leg, and at length on the
foot itself; the statue being of such perfect beauty, he found himself
at a loss to display his powers of criticism, only by lavishing his
praise. But only to praise might appear as if there had been an
obtuseness in the keenness of his criticism. He trembled to find a
fault, but a fault must be found. At length he ventured to mutter
something concerning the nose--it might, he thought, be something more
Grecian. _Angelo_ differed from his Grace, but he said he would attempt
to gratify his taste. He took up his chisel, and concealed some marble
dust in his hand; feigning to re-touch the part, he adroitly let fall
some of the dust he held concealed. The Cardinal observing it as it
fell, transported at the idea of his critical acumen, exclaimed--"Ah,
_Angelo_, you have now given an inimitable grace!"

When Pope was first introduced to read his Iliad to Lord Halifax, the
noble critic did not venture to be dissatisfied with so perfect a
composition; but, like the cardinal, this passage, and that word, this
turn, and that expression, formed the broken cant of his criticisms. The
honest poet was stung with vexation; for, in general, the parts at which
his lordship hesitated were those with which he was most satisfied. As
he returned home with Sir Samuel Garth, he revealed to him the anxiety
of his mind. "Oh," replied Garth, laughing, "you are not so well
acquainted with his lordship as myself; he must criticize. At your next
visit, read to him those very passages as they now stand; tell him that
you have recollected his criticisms; and I'll warrant you of his
approbation of them. This is what I have done a hundred times myself."
_Pope_ made use of this stratagem; it took, like the marble dust of
_Angelo_; and my lord, like the cardinal, exclaimed--"Dear _Pope_, they
are now inimitable!"


Some authors have practised singular impositions on the public.
Varillas, the French historian, enjoyed for some time a great reputation
in his own country for his historical compositions; but when they became
more known, the scholars of other countries destroyed the reputation
which he had unjustly acquired. His continual professions of sincerity
prejudiced many in his favour, and made him pass for a writer who had
penetrated into the inmost recesses of the cabinet; but the public were
at length undeceived, and were convinced that the historical anecdotes
which Varillas put off for authentic facts had no foundation, being
wholly his own inventions--though he endeavoured to make them pass for
realities by affected citations of titles, instructions, letters,
memoirs, and relations, all of them imaginary! He had read almost
everything historical, printed and manuscript; but his fertile political
imagination gave his conjectures as facts, while he quoted at random his
pretended authorities. Burnet's book against Varillas is a curious
little volume.[43]

Gemelli Carreri, a Neapolitan gentleman, for many years never quitted
his chamber; confined by a tedious indisposition, he amused himself with
writing a _Voyage round the World_; giving characters of men, and
descriptions of countries, as if he had really visited them: and his
volumes are still very interesting. I preserve this anecdote as it has
long come down to us; but Carreri, it has been recently ascertained, met
the fate of Bruce--for he had visited the places he has described;
Humboldt and Clavigero have confirmed his local knowledge of Mexico and
of China, and found his book useful and veracious. Du Halde, who has
written so voluminous an account of China, compiled it from the Memoirs
of the Missionaries, and never travelled ten leagues from Paris in his
life,--though he appears, by his writings, to be familiar with Chinese

Damberger's Travels some years ago made a great sensation--and the
public were duped; they proved to be the ideal voyages of a member of
the German Grub-street, about his own garret. Too many of our "Travels"
have been manufactured to fill a certain size; and some which bear names
of great authority were not written by the professed authors.

There is an excellent observation of an anonymous author:--"_Writers_
who never visited foreign countries, and _travellers_ who have run
through immense regions with fleeting pace, have given us long accounts
of various countries and people; evidently collected from the idle
reports and absurd traditions of the ignorant vulgar, from whom only
they could have received those relations which we see accumulated with
such undiscerning credulity."

Some authors have practised the singular imposition of announcing a
variety of titles of works preparing for the press, but of which nothing
but the titles were ever written.

Paschal, historiographer of France, had a reason for these ingenious
inventions; he continually announced such titles, that his pension for
writing on the history of France might not be stopped. When he died, his
historical labours did not exceed six pages!

Gregorio Leti is an historian of much the same stamp as Varillas. He
wrote with great facility, and hunger generally quickened his pen. He
took everything too lightly; yet his works are sometimes looked into for
many anecdotes of English history not to be found elsewhere; and perhaps
ought not to have been there if truth had been consulted. His great aim
was always to make a book: he swells his volumes with digressions,
intersperses many ridiculous stories, and applies all the repartees he
collected from old novel-writers to modern characters.

Such forgeries abound; the numerous "Testaments Politiques" of Colbert,
Mazarin, and other great ministers, were forgeries usually from the
Dutch press, as are many pretended political "Memoirs."

Of our old translations from the Greek and Latin authors, many were
taken from French versions.

The Travels, written in Hebrew, of Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela, of which we
have a curious translation, are, I believe, apocryphal. He describes a
journey, which, if ever he took, it must have been with his night-cap
on; being a perfect dream! It is said that to inspirit and give
importance to his nation, he pretended that he had travelled to all the
synagogues in the East; he mentions places which he does not appear ever
to have seen, and the different people he describes no one has known. He
calculates that he has found near eight hundred thousand Jews, of which
about half are independent, and not subjects of any Christian or Gentile
sovereign. These fictitious travels have been a source of much trouble
to the learned; particularly to those who in their zeal to authenticate
them followed the aërial footsteps of the Hyppogriffe of Rabbi Benjamin.
He affirms that the tomb of Ezekiel, with the library of the first and
second temples, were to be seen in his time at a place on the banks of
the river Euphrates; Wesselius of Groningen, and many other literati,
travelled on purpose to Mesopotamia, to reach the tomb and examine the
library; but the fairy treasures were never to be seen, nor even heard

The first on the list of impudent impostors is Annius of Viterbo, a
Dominican, and master of the sacred palace under Alexander VI. He
pretended he had discovered the entire works of Sanchoniatho, Manetho,
Berosus, and others, of which only fragments are remaining. He published
seventeen books of antiquities! But not having any MSS. to produce,
though he declared he had found them buried in the earth, these literary
fabrications occasioned great controversies; for the author died before
he made up his mind to a confession. At their first publication
universal joy was diffused among the learned. Suspicion soon rose, and
detection followed. However, as the forger never would acknowledge
himself as such, it has been ingeniously conjectured that he himself was
imposed on, rather than that he was the impostor; or, as in the case of
Chatterton, possibly all may not be fictitious. It has been said that a
great volume in MS., anterior by two hundred years to the seventeen
books of Annius, exists in the Bibliothèque Colbertine, in which these
pretended histories were to be read; but as Annius would never point out
the sources of his, the whole may be considered as a very wonderful
imposture. I refer the reader to Tyrwhitt's Vindication of his Appendix
to Rowley's or Chatterton's Poems, p. 140, for some curious
observations, and some facts of literary imposture.

An extraordinary literary imposture was that of one Joseph Vella, who,
in 1794, was an adventurer in Sicily, and pretended that he possessed
seventeen of the lost books of Livy in Arabic: he had received this
literary treasure, he said, from a Frenchman, who had purloined it from
a shelf in St. Sophia's church at Constantinople. As many of the Greek
and Roman classics have been translated by the Arabians, and many were
first known in Europe in their Arabic dress, there was nothing
improbable in one part of his story. He was urged to publish these
long-desired books; and Lady Spencer, then in Italy, offered to defray
the expenses. He had the effrontery, by way of specimen, to edit an
Italian translation of the sixtieth book, but that book took up no more
than one octavo page! A professor of Oriental literature in Prussia
introduced it in his work, never suspecting the fraud; it proved to be
nothing more than the epitome of Florus. He also gave out that he
possessed a code which he had picked up in the abbey of St. Martin,
containing the ancient history of Sicily in the Arabic period,
comprehending above two hundred years; and of which ages their own
historians were entirely deficient in knowledge. Vella declared he had a
genuine official correspondence between the Arabian governors of Sicily
and their superiors in Africa, from the first landing of the Arabians in
that island. Vella was now loaded with honours and pensions! It is true
he showed Arabic MSS., which, however, did not contain a syllable of
what he said. He pretended he was in continual correspondence with
friends at Morocco and elsewhere. The King of Naples furnished him with
money to assist his researches. Four volumes in quarto were at length
published! Vella had the adroitness to change the Arabic MSS. he
possessed, which entirely related to Mahomet, to matters relative to
Sicily; he bestowed several weeks' labour to disfigure the whole,
altering page for page, line for line, and word for word, but
interspersed numberless dots, strokes, and flourishes; so that when he
published a fac-simile, every one admired the learning of Vella, who
could translate what no one else could read. He complained he had lost
an eye in this minute labour; and every one thought his pension ought to
have been increased. Everything prospered about him, except his eye,
which some thought was not so bad neither. It was at length discovered
by his blunders, &c., that the whole was a forgery: though it had now
been patronised, translated, and extracted through Europe. When this MS.
was examined by an Orientalist, it was discovered to be nothing but a
history of _Mahomet and his family_. Vella was condemned to

The Spanish antiquary, Medina Conde, in order to favour the pretensions
of the church in a great lawsuit, forged deeds and inscriptions, which
he buried in the ground, where he knew they would shortly be dug up.
Upon their being found, he published engravings of them, and gave
explanations of their unknown characters, making them out to be so many
authentic proofs and evidences of the contested assumptions of the

The Morocco ambassador purchased of him a copper bracelet of Fatima,
which Medina proved by the Arabic inscription and many certificates to
be genuine, and found among the ruins of the Alhambra, with other
treasures of its last king, who had hid them there in hope of better
days. This famous bracelet turned out afterwards to be the work of
Medina's own hand, made out of an old brass candlestick!

George Psalmanazar, to whose labours we owe much of the great Universal
History, exceeded in powers of deception any of the great impostors of
learning. His Island of Formosa was an illusion eminently bold,[44] and
maintained with as much felicity as erudition; and great must have been
that erudition which could form a pretended language and its grammar,
and fertile the genius which could invent the history of an unknown
people: it is said that the deception was only satisfactorily
ascertained by his own penitential confession; he had defied and
baffled the most learned.[45] The literary impostor Lauder had much more
audacity than ingenuity, and he died contemned by all the world.[46]
Ireland's "Shakspeare" served to show that commentators are not blessed,
necessarily, with an interior and unerring tact.[47] Genius and learning
are ill directed in forming literary impositions, but at least they must
be distinguished from the fabrications of ordinary impostors.

A singular forgery was practised on Captain Wilford by a learned Hindu,
who, to ingratiate himself and his studies with the too zealous and
pious European, contrived, among other attempts, to give the history of
Noah and his three sons, in his "Purana," under the designation of
Satyavrata. Captain Wilford having _read_ the passage, transcribed it
for Sir William Jones, who translated it as a curious extract; the whole
was an interpolation by the dexterous introduction of a forged sheet,
discoloured and prepared for the purpose of deception, and which, having
served his purpose for the moment, was afterwards withdrawn. As books in
India are not bound, it is not difficult to introduce loose leaves. To
confirm his various impositions, this learned forger had the patience to
write two voluminous sections, in which he connected all the legends
together in the style of the _Puranas_, consisting of 12,000 lines. When
Captain Wilford resolved to collate the manuscript with others, the
learned Hindu began to disfigure his own manuscript, the captain's, and
those of the college, by erasing the name of the country and
substituting that of Egypt. With as much pains, and with a more
honourable direction, our Hindu Lauder might have immortalized his

We have authors who sold their names to be prefixed to works they never
read; or, on the contrary, have prefixed the names of others to their
own writings. Sir John Hill, once when he fell sick, owned to a friend
that he had over-fatigued himself with writing seven works at once! one
of which was on architecture, and another on cookery! This hero once
contracted to translate Swammerdam's work on insects for fifty guineas.
After the agreement with the bookseller, he recollected that he did not
understand a word of the Dutch language! Nor did there exist a French
translation! The work, however, was not the less done for this small
obstacle. Sir John bargained with another translator for twenty-five
guineas. The second translator was precisely in the same situation as
the first--as ignorant, though not so well paid as the knight. He
rebargained with a third, who perfectly understood his original, for
twelve guineas! So that the translators who could not translate feasted
on venison and turtle, while the modest drudge, whose name never
appeared to the world, broke in patience his daily bread! The craft of
authorship has many mysteries.[48] One of the great patriarchs and
primeval dealers in English literature was Robert Green, one of the most
facetious, profligate, and indefatigable of the Scribleri family. He
laid the foundation of a new dynasty of literary emperors. The first act
by which he proved his claim to the throne of Grub-street has served as
a model to his numerous successors--it was an ambidextrous trick! Green
sold his "Orlando Furioso" to two different theatres, and is among the
first authors in English literary history who wrote as a _trader_;[49]
or as crabbed Anthony Wood phrases it, in the language of celibacy and
cynicism, "he wrote to maintain his _wife_, and that high and loose
course of living which _poets generally follow_." With a drop still
sweeter, old Anthony describes Gayton, another worthy; "he came up to
London to live in a _shirking condition_, and wrote _trite things_
merely to get bread to sustain him and his _wife_."[50] The hermit
Anthony seems to have had a mortal antipathy against the Eves of
literary men.


[Footnote 43: Burnet's little 12mo volume was printed at Amsterdam, "in
the Warmoes-straet near the Dam," 1686, and compiled by him when living
for safety in Holland during the reign of James II. He particularly
attacks Varillas' ninth book, which relates to England, and its false
history of the Reformation, or rather "his own imagination for true
history." On the authority of Catholic students, he says "the greatest
number of the pieces he cited were to be found nowhere but in his own
fancy." Burnet allows full latitude to an author for giving the best
colouring to his own views and that of his party--a latitude he
certainly always allowed to himself; but he justly censures the
falsifying, or rather inventing, of history; after Varillas' fashion.
"History," says Burnet, "is a sort of trade, in which false coyn and
false weights are more criminal than in other matters; because the
errour may go further and run longer, though their authors colour their
copper too slightly to make it keep its credit long."]

[Footnote 44: The volume was published in 8vo in 1704, as "An Historical
and Geographical Description of Formosa, an Island subject to the
Emperor of Japan." It is dedicated to the Bishop of London, who is told
that "the Europeans have such obscure and various notions of Japan, and
especially of our island Formosa, that they believe nothing for truth
that has been said of it." He accordingly narrates the political history
of the place; the manners and customs of its inhabitants; their
religion, language, &c. A number of engravings illustrate the whole, and
depict the dresses of the people, their houses, temples, and ceremonies.
A "Formosan Alphabet" is also given, and the Lord's Prayer, Apostles'
Creed, and Ten Commandments, are "translated" into this imaginary
language. To keep up the imposition, he ate raw meat when dining with
the Secretary to the Royal Society, and Formosa appeared in the maps as
a real island, in the spot he had described as its locality.]

[Footnote 45: Psalmanazar would never reveal the true history of his
early life, but acknowledged one of the southern provinces of France as
the place of his birth, about 1679. He received a fair education, became
lecturer in a Jesuit college, then a tutor at Avignon; he afterwards led
a wandering life, subsisting on charity, and pretending to be an Irish
student travelling to Rome for conscience sake. He soon found he would
be more successful if he personated a Pagan stranger, and hence he
gradually concocted his tale of _Formosa_; inventing an alphabet, and
perfecting his story, which was not fully matured before he had had a
few years' hard labour as a soldier in the Low Countries; where a Scotch
gentleman introduced him to the notice of Dr. Compton, Bishop of London;
who patronised him, and invited him to England. He came, and to oblige
the booksellers compiled his _History of Formosa_, by the two editions
of which he realized the noble sum of 22_l._ He ended in becoming a
regular bookseller's hack, and so highly moral a character, that Dr.
Johnson, who knew him well, declared he was "the best man he had ever

[Footnote 46: William Lauder first began his literary impostures in the
_Gentleman's Magazine_ for 1747, where he accused Milton of gross
plagiarisms in his _Paradise Lost_, pretending that he had discovered
the prototypes of his best thoughts in other authors. This he did by
absolute invention, in one instance interpolating twenty verses of a
Latin translation of Milton into the works of another author, and then
producing them with great virulence as a proof that Milton was a
plagiarist. The falsehood of his pretended quotations was demonstrated
by Dr. Douglas, Bishop of Salisbury, in 1751, but he returned to the
charge in 1754. His character and conduct became too bad to allow of his
continued residence in England, and he died in Barbadoes, "in universal
contempt," about 1771.]

[Footnote 47: Ireland's famous forgeries began when, as a young man in a
lawyer's office, he sought to imitate old deeds and letters in the name
of Shakspeare and his friends, urged thereto by his father's great
anxiety to discover some writings connected with the great bard. Such
was the enthusiasm with which they were received by men of great general
knowledge, that Ireland persevered in fresh forgeries until an entire
play was "discovered." It was a tragedy founded on early British
history, and named _Vortigern_. It was produced at Kemble's Theatre, and
was damned. Ireland's downward course commenced from that night. He
ultimately published confessions of his frauds, and died very poor in

[Footnote 48: Fielding, the novelist, in _The Author's Farce_, one of
those slight plays which he wrote so cleverly, has used this incident,
probably from his acquaintance with Hill's trick. He introduces his
author trying to sell a translation of the _Æneid_, which the bookseller
will not purchase; but after some conversation offers him "employ" in
the house as a translator; he then is compelled to own himself "not
qualified," because he "understands no language but his own." "What! and
translate _Virgil!_" exclaims the astonished bookseller. The detected
author answers despondingly, "Alas! sir, I translated him out of
Dryden!" The bookseller joyfully exclaims, "Not qualified! If I was an
Emperor, thou should'st be my Prime Minister! Thou art as well vers'd in
thy trade as if thou had'st laboured in my garret these ten years!"]


The present anecdote concerning Cardinal Richelieu may serve to teach
the man of letters how he deals out criticisms to the _great_, when they
ask his opinion of manuscripts, be they in verse or prose.

The cardinal placed in a gallery of his palace the portraits of several
illustrious men, and was desirous of composing the inscriptions under
the portraits. The one which he intended for Montluc, the marechal of
France, was conceived in these terms: _Multa fecit, plura scripsit, vir
tamen magnus fuit_. He showed it without mentioning the author to
Bourbon, the royal Greek professor, and asked his opinion concerning it.
The critic considered that the Latin was much in the style of the
breviary; and, had it concluded with an _allelujah_, it would serve for
an _anthem_ to the _magnificat_. The cardinal agreed with the severity
of his strictures, and even acknowledged the discernment of the
professor; "for," he said, "it is really written by a priest." But
however he might approve of Bourbon's critical powers, he punished
without mercy his ingenuity. The pension his majesty had bestowed on him
was withheld the next year.

The cardinal was one of those ambitious men who foolishly attempt to
rival every kind of genius; and seeing himself constantly disappointed,
he envied, with all the venom of rancour, those talents which are so
frequently the _all_ that men of genius possess.

He was jealous of Balzac's splendid reputation; and offered the elder
Heinsius ten thousand crowns to write a criticism which should ridicule
his elaborate compositions. This Heinsius refused, because Salmasius
threatened to revenge Balzac on his _Herodes Infanticida_.

He attempted to rival the reputation of Corneille's "Cid," by opposing
to it one of the most ridiculous dramatic productions; it was the
allegorical tragedy called "Europe," in which the _minister_ had
congregated the four quarters of the world! Much political matter was
thrown together, divided into scenes and acts. There are appended to it
keys of the dramatis personæ and of the allegories. In this tragedy
Francion represents France; Ibere, Spain; Parthenope, Naples, &c.; and
these have their attendants:--Lilian (alluding to the French lilies) is
the servant of Francion, while Hispale is the confidant of Ibere. But
the key to the allegories is much more copious:--Albione signifies
England; _three knots of the hair of Austrasie_ mean the towns of
Clermont, Stenay, and Jamet, these places once belonging to Lorraine. _A
box of diamonds_ of Austrasie is the town of Nancy, belonging once to
the dukes of Lorraine. The _key_ of Ibere's great porch is Perpignan,
which France took from Spain; and in this manner is this sublime tragedy
composed! When he first sent it anonymously to the French Academy it was
reprobated. He then tore it in a rage, and scattered it about his study.
Towards evening, like another Medea lamenting over the members of her
own children, he and his secretary passed the night in uniting the
scattered limbs. He then ventured to avow himself; and having pretended
to correct this incorrigible tragedy, the submissive Academy retracted
their censures, but the public pronounced its melancholy fate on its
first representation. This lamentable tragedy was intended to thwart
Corneille's "Cid." Enraged at its success, Richelieu even commanded the
Academy to publish a severe _critique_ of it, well known in French
literature. Boileau on this occasion has these two well-turned verses:--

    "En vain contre le Cid, un ministre se ligue;
    Tout Paris, pour _Chimene_, a les yeux de _Rodrigue_."

    "To oppose the Cid, in vain the statesman tries;
    All Paris, for _Chimene_, has _Roderick's_ eyes."

It is said that, in consequence of the fall of this tragedy, the French
custom is derived of securing a number of friends to applaud their
pieces at their first representations. I find the following droll
anecdote concerning this droll tragedy in Beauchamp's _Recherches sur le

The minister, after the ill success of his tragedy, retired
unaccompanied the same evening to his country-house at Ruel. He then
sent for his favourite Desmaret, who was at supper with his friend
Petit. Desmaret, conjecturing that the interview would be stormy, begged
his friend to accompany him.

"Well!" said the Cardinal, as soon as he saw them, "the French will
never possess a taste for what is lofty; they seem not to have relished
my tragedy."--"My lord," answered Petit, "it is not the fault of the
piece, which is so admirable, but that of the _players_. Did not your
eminence perceive that not only they knew not their parts, but that they
were all _drunk_?"--"Really," replied the Cardinal, something pleased,
"I observed they acted it dreadfully ill."

Desmaret and Petit returned to Paris, flew directly to the players to
plan a _new mode_ of performance, which was to _secure_ a number of
spectators; so that at the second representation bursts of applause were
frequently heard!

Richelieu had another singular vanity, of closely imitating Cardinal
Ximenes. Pliny was not a more servile imitator of Cicero. Marville tells
us that, like Ximenes, he placed himself at the head of an army; like
him, he degraded princes and nobles; and like him, rendered himself
formidable to all Europe. And because Ximenes had established schools of
theology, Richelieu undertook likewise to raise into notice the schools
of the Sorbonne. And, to conclude, as Ximenes had written several
theological treatises, our cardinal was also desirous of leaving
posterity various polemical works. But his gallantries rendered him more
ridiculous. Always in ill health, this miserable lover and grave
cardinal would, in a freak of love, dress himself with a red feather in
his cap and sword by his side. He was more hurt by an offensive nickname
given him by the queen of Louis XIII., than even by the hiss of theatres
and the critical condemnation of academies.

Cardinal Richelieu was assuredly a great political genius. Sir William
Temple observes, that he instituted the French Academy to give
employment to the _wits_, and to hinder them from inspecting too
narrowly his politics and his administration. It is believed that the
Marshal de Grammont lost an important battle by the orders of the
cardinal; that in this critical conjuncture of affairs his majesty, who
was inclined to dismiss him, could not then absolutely do without him.

Vanity in this cardinal levelled a great genius. He who would attempt to
display universal excellence will be impelled to practise meanness, and
to act follies which, if he has the least sensibility, must occasion him
many a pang and many a blush.


[Footnote 49: The story is told in _The Defence of Coneycatching_, 1592,
where he is said to have "sold _Orlando Furioso_ to the Queen's players
for twenty nobles, and when they were in the country sold the same play
to the Lord Admirall's men for as much more."]

[Footnote 50: Edmund Gayton was born in 1609, was educated at Oxford,
then led the life of a literary drudge in London, where the best book he
produced was _Pleasant Notes upon Don Quixote_, in which are many
curious and diverting stories, and among the rest the original of
Prior's _Ladle_. He ultimately retired to Oxford, and died there very
poor, in a subordinate place in his college.]


No philosopher has been so much praised and censured as Aristotle: but
he had this advantage, of which some of the most eminent scholars have
been deprived, that he enjoyed during his life a splendid reputation.
Philip of Macedon must have felt a strong conviction of his merit, when
he wrote to him, on the birth of Alexander:--"I receive from the gods
this day a son; but I thank them not so much for the favour of his
birth, as his having come into the world at a time when you can have the
care of his education; and that through you he will be rendered worthy
of being my son."

Diogenes Laertius describes the person of the Stagyrite.--His eyes were
small, his voice hoarse, and his legs lank. He stammered, was fond of a
magnificent dress, and wore costly rings. He had a mistress whom he
loved passionately, and for whom he frequently acted inconsistently with
the philosophic character; a thing as common with philosophers as with
other men. Aristotle had nothing of the austerity of the philosopher,
though his works are so austere: he was open, pleasant, and even
charming in his conversation; fiery and volatile in his pleasures;
magnificent in his dress. He is described as fierce, disdainful, and
sarcastic. He joined to a taste for profound erudition, that of an
elegant dissipation. His passion for luxury occasioned him such expenses
when he was young, that he consumed all his property. Laertius has
preserved the will of Aristotle, which is curious. The chief part turns
on the future welfare and marriage of his daughter. "If, after my death,
she chooses to marry, the executors will be careful she marries no
person of an inferior rank. If she resides at Chalcis, she shall occupy
the apartment contiguous to the garden; if she chooses Stagyra, she
shall reside in the house of my father, and my executors shall furnish
either of those places she fixes on."

Aristotle had studied under the divine Plato; but the disciple and the
master could not possibly agree in their doctrines: they were of
opposite tastes and talents. Plato was the chief of the academic sect,
and Aristotle of the peripatetic. Plato was simple, modest, frugal, and
of austere manners; a good friend and a zealous citizen, but a
theoretical politician: a lover indeed of benevolence, and desirous of
diffusing it amongst men, but knowing little of them as we find them;
his "Republic" is as chimerical as Rousseau's ideas, or Sir Thomas
More's Utopia.

Rapin, the critic, has sketched an ingenious parallel of these two
celebrated philosophers:--

"The genius of Plato is more polished, and that of Aristotle more vast
and profound. Plato has a lively and teeming imagination; fertile in
invention, in ideas, in expressions, and in figures; displaying a
thousand turns, a thousand new colours, all agreeable to their subject;
but after all it is nothing more than imagination. Aristotle is hard and
dry in all he says, but what he says is all reason, though it is
expressed drily: his diction, pure as it is, has something uncommonly
austere; and his obscurities, natural or affected, disgust and fatigue
his readers. Plato is equally delicate in his thoughts and in his
expressions. Aristotle, though he may be more natural, has not any
delicacy: his style is simple and equal, but close and nervous; that of
Plato is grand and elevated, but loose and diffuse. Plato always says
more than he should say: Aristotle never says enough, and leaves the
reader always to think more than he says. The one surprises the mind,
and charms it by a flowery and sparkling character: the other
illuminates and instructs it by a just and solid method. Plato
communicates something of genius, by the fecundity of his own; and
Aristotle something of judgment and reason, by that impression of good
sense which appears in all he says. In a word, Plato frequently only
thinks to express himself well: and Aristotle only thinks to think

An interesting anecdote is related of these philosophers--Aristotle
became the rival of Plato. Literary disputes long subsisted betwixt
them. The disciple ridiculed his master, and the master treated
contemptuously his disciple. To make his superiority manifest, Aristotle
wished for a regular disputation before an audience, where erudition and
reason might prevail; but this satisfaction was denied.

Plato was always surrounded by his scholars, who took a lively interest
in his glory. Three of these he taught to rival Aristotle, and it became
their mutual interest to depreciate his merits. Unfortunately one day
Plato found himself in his school without these three favourite
scholars. Aristotle flies to him--a crowd gathers and enters with him.
The idol whose oracles they wished to overturn was presented to them. He
was then a respectable old man, the weight of whose years had enfeebled
his memory. The combat was not long. Some rapid sophisms embarrassed
Plato. He saw himself surrounded by the inevitable traps of the subtlest
logician. Vanquished, he reproached his ancient scholar by a beautiful
figure:--"He has kicked against us as a colt against its mother."

Soon after this humiliating adventure he ceased to give public lectures.
Aristotle remained master in the field of battle. He raised a school,
and devoted himself to render it the most famous in Greece. But the
three favourite scholars of Plato, zealous to avenge the cause of their
master, and to make amends for their imprudence in having quitted him,
armed themselves against the usurper.--Xenocrates, the most ardent of
the three, attacked Aristotle, confounded the logician, and
re-established Plato in all his rights. Since that time the academic and
peripatetic sects, animated by the spirits of their several chiefs,
avowed an eternal hostility. In what manner his works have descended to
us has been told in a preceding article, on _Destruction of Books_.
Aristotle having declaimed irreverently of the gods, and dreading the
fate of Socrates, wished to retire from Athens. In a beautiful manner he
pointed out his successor. There were two rivals in his schools:
Menedemus the Rhodian, and Theophrastus the Lesbian. Alluding delicately
to his own critical situation, he told his assembled scholars that the
wine he was accustomed to drink was injurious to him, and he desired
them to bring the wines of Rhodes and Lesbos. He tasted both, and
declared they both did honour to their soil, each being excellent,
though differing in their quality;--the Rhodian wine is the strongest,
but the Lesbian is the sweetest, and that he himself preferred it. Thus
his ingenuity designated his favourite Theophrastus, the author of the
"Characters," for his successor.


Abelard, so famous for his writings and his amours with Eloisa, ranks
amongst the Heretics for opinions concerning the Trinity! His superior
genius probably made him appear so culpable in the eyes of his enemies.
The cabal formed against him disturbed the earlier part of his life with
a thousand persecutions, till at length they persuaded Bernard, his old
_friend_, but who had now turned _saint_, that poor Abelard was what
their malice described him to be. Bernard, inflamed against him,
condemned unheard the unfortunate scholar. But it is remarkable that the
book which was burnt as unorthodox, and as the composition of Abelard,
was in fact written by Peter Lombard, Bishop of Paris; a work which has
since been _canonised_ in the Sarbonne, and on which the scholastic
theology is founded. The objectionable passage is an illustration of the
_Trinity_ by the nature of a _syllogism_!--"As (says he) the three
propositions of a syllogism form but one truth, so the _Father and Son_
constitute but _one essence_. The _major_ represents the _Father_, the
_minor_ the _Son_, and the _conclusion_ the _Holy Ghost_!" It is curious
to add, that Bernard himself has explained this mystical union precisely
in the same manner, and equally clear. "The understanding," says this
saint, "is the image of God. We find it consists of three parts: memory,
intelligence, and will. To _memory_, we attribute all which we know,
without cogitation; to _intelligence_, all truths we discover which have
not been deposited by memory. By _memory_, we resemble the _Father_; by
_intelligence_, the _Son_; and by _will_, the _Holy Ghost_." Bernard's
Lib. de Animâ, cap. i. num. 6, quoted in the "Mem. Secrètes de la
République des Lettres." We may add also, that because Abelard, in the
warmth of honest indignation, had reproved the monks of St. Denis, in
France, and St. Gildas de Ruys, in Bretagne, for the horrid incontinence
of their lives, they joined his enemies, and assisted to embitter the
life of this ingenious scholar, who perhaps was guilty of no other crime
than that of feeling too sensibly an attachment to one who not only
possessed the enchanting attractions of the softer sex, but, what indeed
is very unusual, a congeniality of disposition, and an enthusiasm of

    "Is it, in heaven, a crime to love too well?"

It appears by a letter of Peter de Cluny to Eloisa, that she had
solicited for Abelard's absolution. The abbot gave it to her. It runs
thus:--"Ego Petrus Cluniacensis Abbas, qui Petrum Abælardum in monachum
Cluniacensem recepi, et corpus ejus furtim delatum Heloissæ abbatissæ et
moniali Paracleti concessi, auctoritate omnipotentis Dei et omnium
sanctorum absolvo eum pro officio ab omnibus peccatis suis."

An ancient chronicle of Tours records, that when they deposited the body
of the Abbess Eloisa in the tomb of her lover, Peter Abelard, who had
been there interred twenty years, this faithful husband raised his arms,
stretched them, and closely embraced his beloved Eloisa. This poetic
fiction was invented to sanctify, by a miracle, the frailties of their
youthful days. This is not wonderful;--but it is strange that Du Chesne,
the father of French history, not only relates this legendary tale of
the ancient chroniclers, but gives it as an incident well authenticated,
and maintains its possibility by various other examples. Such fanciful
incidents once not only embellished poetry, but enlivened history.

Bayle tells us that _billets doux_ and _amorous verses_ are two powerful
machines to employ in the assaults of love, particularly when the
passionate songs the poetical lover composes are sung by himself. This
secret was well known to the elegant Abelard. Abelard so touched the
sensible heart of Eloisa, and infused such fire into her frame, by
employing his _fine pen_, and his _fine voice_, that the poor woman
never recovered from the attack. She herself informs us that he
displayed two qualities which are rarely found in philosophers, and by
which he could instantly win the affections of the female;--he _wrote_
and _sung_ finely. He composed _love-verses_ so beautiful, and _songs_
so agreeable, as well for the _words_ as the _airs_, that all the world
got them by heart, and the name of his mistress was spread from province
to province.

What a gratification to the enthusiastic, the amorous, the vain Eloisa!
of whom Lord Lyttleton, in his curious Life of Henry II., observes, that
had she not been compelled to read the fathers and the legends in a
nunnery, and had been suffered to improve her genius by a continued
application to polite literature, from what appears in her letters, she
would have excelled any man of that age.

Eloisa, I suspect, however, would have proved but a very indifferent
polemic; she seems to have had a certain delicacy in her manners which
rather belongs to the _fine lady_. We cannot but smile at an observation
of hers on the _Apostles_ which we find in her letters:--"We read that
the _apostles_, even in the company of their Master, were so _rustic_
and _ill-bred,_ that, regardless of common decorum, as they passed
through the corn-fields they plucked the ears, and ate them like
children. Nor did they wash their hands before they sat down to table.
To eat with unwashed hands, said our Saviour to those who were offended,
doth not defile a man."

It is on the misconception of the mild apologetical reply of Jesus,
indeed, that religious fanatics have really considered, that, to be
careless of their dress, and not to free themselves from filth and
slovenliness, is an act of piety; just as the late political fanatics,
who thought that republicanism consisted in the most offensive
filthiness. On this principle, that it is saint-like to go dirty, ragged
and slovenly, says Bishop Lavington, in his "Enthusiasm of the
Methodists and Papists," how _piously_ did Whitfield take care of the
outward man, who in his journals writes, "My apparel was mean--thought
it unbecoming a penitent to have _powdered hair_.--I wore _woollen
gloves_, a _patched gown_, and _dirty shoes!_"

After an injury, not less cruel than humiliating, Abelard raises the
school of the Paraclete; with what enthusiasm is he followed to that
desert! His scholars in crowds hasten to their adored master; they cover
their mud sheds with the branches of trees; they care not to sleep under
better roofs, provided they remain by the side of their unfortunate
master. How lively must have been their taste for study!--it formed
their solitary passion, and the love of glory was gratified even in that

The two reprehensible lines in Pope's Eloisa, too celebrated among
certain of its readers--

    "Not Cesar's empress would I deign to prove;
    No,--make me mistress to the man I love!"--

are, however, found in her original letters. The author of that ancient
work, "The Romaunt of the Rose," has given it thus _naïvely_; a specimen
of the _natural_ style in those days:--

    Si l'empereur, qui est a Rome,
    Souhz qui doyvent etre tout homme,
    Me daignoit prendre pour sa femme,
    Et me faire du monde dame!
    Si vouldroye-je mieux, dist-elle
    Et Dieù en tesmoing en appelle,
    Etre sa Putaine appellée
    Qu'etre emperiere couronnée.


A very extraordinary physiognomical anecdote has been given by De la
Place, in his "_Pièces Intéressantes et peu Connues_," vol. iv. p. 8.

A friend assured him that he had seen a voluminous and secret
correspondence which had been carried on between Louis XIV. and his
favourite physician, De la Chambre, on this science. The faith of the
monarch seems to have been great, and the purpose to which this
correspondence tended was extraordinary indeed, and perhaps scarcely
credible. Who will believe that Louis XIV. was so convinced of that
talent which De la Chambre attributed to himself, of deciding merely by
the physiognomy of persons, not only on the real bent of their
character, but to what employment they were adapted, that the king
entered into a _secret correspondence_ to obtain the critical notices of
his _physiognomist?_ That Louis XIV. should have pursued this system,
undetected by his own courtiers, is also singular; but it appears, by
this correspondence, that this art positively swayed him in his choice
of officers and favourites. On one of the backs of these letters De la
Chambre had written, "If I die before his majesty, he will incur great
risk of making many an unfortunate choice!"

This collection of physiognomical correspondence, if it does really
exist, would form a curious publication; we have heard nothing of it! De
la Chambre was an enthusiastic physiognomist, as appears by his works;
"The Characters of the Passions," four volumes in quarto; "The Art of
Knowing Mankind;" and "The Knowledge of Animals." Lavater quotes his
"Vote and Interest," in favour of his favourite science. It is, however,
curious to add, that Philip Earl of Pembroke, under James I., had formed
a particular collection of portraits, with a view to physiognomical
studies. According to Evelyn on Medals, p. 302, such was his sagacity in
discovering the characters and dispositions of men by their
countenances, that James I. made no little use of his extraordinary
talent on _the first arrival of ambassadors at court_.

The following physiological definition of PHYSIOGNOMY is extracted from
a publication by Dr. Gwither, of the year 1604, which, dropping his
history of "The Animal Spirits," is curious:--

"Soft wax cannot receive more various and numerous impressions than are
imprinted on a man's face by _objects_ moving his affections: and not
only the _objects_ themselves have this power, but also the very
_images_ or _ideas_; that is to say, anything that puts the animal
spirits into the same motion that the _object_ present did, will have
the same effect with the object. To prove the first, let one observe a
man's face looking on a pitiful object, then a ridiculous, then a
strange, then on a terrible or dangerous object, and so forth. For the
second, that _ideas_ have the same effect with the _object_, dreams
confirm too often.

"The manner I conceive to be thus:--the animal spirits, moved in the
sensory by an object, continue their motion to the brain; whence the
motion is propagated to this or that particular part of the body, as is
most suitable to the design of its creation; having first made an
alteration in the _face_ by its nerves, especially by the _pathetic_ and
_oculorum motorii_ actuating its many muscles, as the dial-plate to that
stupendous piece of clock-work which shows what is to be expected next
from the striking part; not that I think the motion of the spirits in
the sensory continued by the impression of the object all the way, as
from a finger to the foot; I know it too weak, though the tenseness of
the nerves favours it. But I conceive it done in the medulla of the
brain, where is the common stock of spirits; as in an organ, whose
pipes being uncovered, the air rushes into them; but the keys let go,
are stopped again. Now, if by repeated acts of frequent entertaining of
a favourite idea of a passion or vice, which natural temperament has
hurried one to, or custom dragged, the _face_ is so often put into that
posture which attends such acts, that the animal spirits find such
latent passages into its nerves, that it is sometimes unalterably set:
as the _Indian_ religious are by long continuing in strange postures in
their _pagods_. But most commonly such a habit is contracted, that it
falls insensibly into that posture when some present object does not
obliterate that more natural impression by a new, or dissimulation hide

"Hence it is that we see great _drinkers_ with _eyes_ generally set
towards the nose, the adducent muscles being often employed to let them
see their loved liquor in the glass at the time of drinking; which were,
therefore, called _bibitory Lascivious persons_ are remarkable for the
_oculorum nobilis petulantia_, as Petronius calls it. From this also we
may solve the _Quaker's_ expecting face, waiting for the pretended
spirit; and the melancholy face of the _sectaries_; the _studious_ face
of men of great application of mind; revengeful and _bloody_ men, like
executioners in the act: and though silence in a sort may awhile pass
for wisdom, yet, sooner or later, Saint Martin peeps through the
disguise to undo all. A _changeable face_ I have observed to show a
_changeable mind_. But I would by no means have what has been said
understood as without exception; for I doubt not but sometimes there are
found men with great and virtuous souls under very unpromising

The great Prince of Condé was very expert in a sort of physiognomy which
showed the peculiar habits, motions, and postures of familiar life and
mechanical employments. He would sometimes lay wagers with his friends,
that he would guess, upon the Pont Neuf, what trade persons were of that
passed by, from their walk and air.


The idea of describing characters under the names of Musical Instruments
has been already displayed in two most pleasing papers which embellish
the _Tatler_, written by Addison. He dwells on this idea with uncommon
success. It has been applauded for its _originality_; and in the
general preface to that work, those papers are distinguished for their
felicity of imagination. The following paper was published in the year
1700, in a volume of "Philosophical Transactions and Collections," and
the two numbers of Addison in the year 1710. It is probable that this
inimitable writer borrowed the seminal hint from this work:--

"A conjecture at dispositions from the modulations of the voice.

"Sitting in some company, and having been but a little before musical, I
chanced to take notice that, in ordinary discourse, _words_ were spoken
in perfect _notes_; and that some of the company used _eighths_, some
_fifths_, some _thirds_; and that his discourse which was the most
pleasing, his _words_, as to their tone, consisted most of _concords_,
and were of _discords_ of such as made up harmony. The same person was
the most affable, pleasant, and best-natured in the company. This
suggests a reason why many discourses which one _hears_ with much
pleasure, when they come to be _read_ scarcely seem the same things.

"From this difference of MUSIC in SPEECH, we may conjecture that of
TEMPERS. We know the Doric mood sounds gravity and sobriety; the Lydian,
buxomness and freedom; the Æolic, sweet stillness and quiet composure;
the Phrygian, jollity and youthful levity; the Ionic is a stiller of
storms and disturbances arising from passion; and why may we not
reasonably suppose, that those whose speech naturally runs into the
notes peculiar to any of these moods, are likewise in nature hereunto
congenerous? _C Fa ut_ may show me to be of an ordinary capacity, though
good disposition. _G Sol re ut_, to be peevish and effeminate. _Flats_,
a manly or melancholic sadness. He who hath a voice which will in some
measure agree with all _cliffs_, to be of good parts, and fit for
variety of employments, yet somewhat of an inconstant nature. Likewise
from the TIMES: so _semi-briefs_ may speak a temper dull and phlegmatic;
_minims_, grave and serious; _crotchets_, a prompt wit; _quavers_,
vehemency of passion, and scolds use them. _Semi-brief-rest_ may denote
one either stupid or fuller of thoughts than he can utter; _minimrest,_
one that deliberates; _crotchet-rest_, one in a passion. So that from
the natural use of MOOD, NOTE, and TIME, we may collect DISPOSITIONS."


It is painful to observe the acrimony which the most eminent scholars
have infused frequently in their controversial writings. The politeness
of the present times has in some degree softened the malignity of the
man, in the dignity of the author; but this is by no means an
irrevocable law.

It is said not to be honourable to literature to revive such
controversies; and a work entitled "Querelles Littéraires," when it
first appeared, excited loud murmurs; but it has its moral: like showing
the drunkard to a youth, that he may turn aside disgusted with ebriety.
Must we suppose that men of letters are exempt from the human passions?
Their sensibility, on the contrary, is more irritable than that of
others. To observe the ridiculous attitudes in which great men appear,
when they employ the style of the fish-market, may be one great means of
restraining that ferocious pride often breaking out in the republic of
letters. Johnson at least appears to have entertained the same opinion;
for he thought proper to republish the low invective of _Dryden_ against
_Settle_; and since I have published my "Quarrels of Authors," it
becomes me to say no more.

The celebrated controversy of _Salmasius_, continued by Morus with
_Milton_--the first the pleader of King Charles, the latter the advocate
of the people--was of that magnitude, that all Europe took a part in the
paper-war of these two great men. The answer of Milton, who perfectly
massacred Salmasius, is now read but by the few. Whatever is addressed
to the times, however great may be its merits, is doomed to perish with
the times; yet on these pages the philosopher will not contemplate in

It will form no uninteresting article to gather a few of the rhetorical
_weeds_, for _flowers_ we cannot well call them, with which they
mutually presented each other. Their rancour was at least equal to their
erudition,--the two most learned antagonists of a learned age!

Salmasius was a man of vast erudition, but no taste. His writings are
learned, but sometimes ridiculous. He called his work _Defensio
Regia_, Defence of Kings. The opening of this work provokes a
laugh:--"Englishmen! who toss the heads of kings as so many
tennis-balls; who play with crowns as if they were bowls; who look upon
sceptres as so many crooks."

That the deformity of the body is an idea we attach to the deformity of
the mind, the vulgar must acknowledge; but surely it is unpardonable in
the enlightened philosopher thus to compare the crookedness of corporeal
matter with the rectitude of the intellect; yet Milbourne and Dennis,
the last a formidable critic, have frequently considered, that comparing
Dryden and Pope to whatever the eye turned from with displeasure, was
very good argument to lower their literary abilities. Salmasius seems
also to have entertained this idea, though his spies in England gave him
wrong information; or, possibly, he only drew the figure of his own
distempered imagination.

Salmasius sometimes reproaches Milton as being but a puny piece of man;
an homunculus, a dwarf deprived of the human figure, a bloodless being,
composed of nothing but skin and bone; a contemptible pedagogue, fit
only to flog his boys: and, rising into a poetic frenzy, applies to him
the words of Virgil, "_Monstrum horrendum, informe, ingens, cui lumen
ademptum_." Our great poet thought this senseless declamation merited a
serious refutation; perhaps he did not wish to appear despicable in the
eyes of the ladies; and he would not be silent on the subject, he says,
lest any one should consider him as the credulous Spaniards are made to
believe by their priests, that a heretic is a kind of rhinoceros or a
dog-headed monster. Milton says, that he does not think any one ever
considered him as unbeautiful; that his size rather approaches
mediocrity than, the diminutive; that he still felt the same courage and
the same strength which he possessed when young, when, with his sword,
he felt no difficulty to combat with men more robust than himself; that
his face, far from being pale, emaciated, and wrinkled, was sufficiently
creditable to him: for though he had passed his fortieth year, he was in
all other respects ten years younger. And very pathetically he adds,
"that even his eyes, blind as they are, are unblemished in their
appearance; in this instance alone, and much against my inclination, I
am a deceiver!"

Morus, in his Epistle dedicatory of his _Regii Sanguinis Clamor_,
compares Milton to a hangman; his disordered vision to the blindness of
his soul, and so vomits forth his venom.

When Salmasius found that his strictures on the person of Milton were
false, and that, on the contrary, it was uncommonly beautiful, he then
turned his battery against those graces with which Nature had so
liberally adorned his adversary: and it is now that he seems to have
laid no restrictions on his pen; but, raging with the irritation of
Milton's success, he throws out the blackest calumnies, and the most
infamous aspersions.

It must be observed, when Milton first proposed to answer Salmasius, he
had lost the use of one of his eyes; and his physicians declared that,
if he applied himself to the controversy, the other would likewise close
for ever! His patriotism was not to be baffled, but with life itself.
Unhappily, the prediction of his physicians took place! Thus a learned
man in the occupations of study falls blind--a circumstance even now not
read without sympathy. Salmasius considers it as one from which he may
draw caustic ridicule and satiric severity.

Salmasius glories that Milton lost his health and his eyes in answering
his apology for King Charles! He does not now reproach him with natural
deformities; but he malignantly sympathises with him, that he now no
more is in possession of that beauty which rendered him so amiable
during his residence in _Italy_. He speaks more plainly in a following
page; and, in a word, would blacken the austere virtue of Milton with a
crime infamous to name.

Impartiality of criticism obliges us to confess that Milton was not
destitute of rancour. When he was told that his adversary boasted he had
occasioned the loss of his eyes, he answered, with ferocity--"_And I
shall cost him his life!_" A prediction which was soon after verified;
for Christina, Queen of Sweden, withdrew her patronage from Salmasius,
and sided with Milton. The universal neglect the proud scholar felt
hastened his death in the course of a twelve-month.

The greatness of Milton's mind was degraded! He actually condescended to
enter into a correspondence in Holland, to obtain little scandalous
anecdotes of his miserable adversary, Morus; and deigned to adulate the
unworthy Christina of Sweden, because she had expressed herself
favourably on his "Defence." Of late years, we have had too many
instances of this worst of passions, the antipathies of politics!


We are indebted to the Italians for the idea of newspapers. The title of
their _gazettas_ was, perhaps, derived from _gazzera_, a magpie or
chatterer; or, more probably, from a farthing coin, peculiar to the city
of Venice, called _gazetta_, which was the common price of the
newspapers. Another etymologist is for deriving it from the Latin
_gaza_, which would colloquially lengthen into _gazetta_, and signify a
little treasury of news. The Spanish derive it from the Latin _gaza_,
and likewise their _gazatero_, and our _gazetteer_, for a writer of the
_gazette_ and, what is peculiar to themselves, _gazetista_, for a lover
of the gazette.

Newspapers, then, took their birth in that principal land of modern
politicians, Italy, and under the government of that aristocratical
republic, Venice. The first paper was a Venetian one, and only monthly;
but it was merely the newspaper of the government. Other governments
afterwards adopted the Venetian plan of a newspaper, with the Venetian
name:--from a solitary government gazette, an inundation of newspapers
has burst upon us.

Mr. George Chalmers, in his Life of Ruddiman, gives a curious particular
of these Venetian gazettes:--"A jealous government did not allow a
_printed_ newspaper; and the Venetian _gazetta_ continued long after the
invention of printing, to the close of the sixteenth century, and even
to our own days, to be distributed in _manuscript_." In the
Magliabechian library at Florence are thirty volumes of Venetian
gazettas, all in manuscript.

Those who first wrote newspapers were called by the Italians _menanti_;
because, says Vossius, they intended commonly by these loose papers to
spread about defamatory reflections, and were therefore prohibited in
Italy by Gregory XIII. by a particular bull, under the name of
_menantes_, from the Latin _minantes_, threatening. Menage, however,
derives it from the Italian _menare_, which signifies to lead at large,
or spread afar.

We are indebted to the wisdom of Elizabeth and the prudence of Burleigh
for the first newspaper. The epoch of the Spanish Armada is also the
epoch of a genuine newspaper. In the British Museum are several
newspapers which were printed while the Spanish fleet was in the English
Channel during the year 1588. It was a wise policy to prevent, during a
moment of general anxiety, the danger of false reports, by publishing
real information. The earliest newspaper is entitled "The English
Mercurie," which by _authority_ was "imprinted at London by her
highness's printer, 1588." These were, however, but extraordinary
gazettes, not regularly published. In this obscure origin they were
skilfully directed by the policy of that great statesman Burleigh, who,
to inflame the national feeling, gives an extract of a letter from
Madrid which speaks of putting the queen to death, and the instruments
of torture on board the Spanish fleet.

George Chalmers first exultingly took down these patriarchal newspapers,
covered with the dust of two centuries.

The first newspaper in the collection of the British Museum is marked
No. 50, and is in Roman, not in black letter. It contains the usual
articles of news, like the London Gazette of the present day. In that
curious paper, there are news dated from Whitehall, on the 23rd July,
1588. Under the date of July 26, there is the following
notice:--"Yesterday the Scots ambassador, being introduced to Sir
Francis Walsingham, had a private audience of her majesty, to whom he
delivered a letter from the king his master; containing the most cordial
assurances of his resolution to adhere to her majesty's interests, and
to those of the Protestant religion. And it may not here be improper to
take notice of a wise and spiritual saying of this young prince (he was
twenty-two) to the queen's minister at his court, viz.--That all the
favour he did expect from the Spaniards was the courtesy of Polypheme to
Ulysses, _to be the last devoured_." The gazetteer of the present day
would hardly give a more decorous account of the introduction of a
foreign minister. The aptness of King James's classical saying carried
it from the newspaper into history. I must add, that in respect to his
_wit_ no man has been more injured than this monarch. More pointed
sentences are recorded of James I. than perhaps of any prince; and yet,
such is the delusion of that medium by which the popular eye sees things
in this world, that he is usually considered as a mere royal pedant. I
have entered more largely on this subject, in an "Inquiry of the
Literary and Political Character of James I."[51]

Periodical papers seem first to have been more generally used by the
English, during the civil wars of the usurper Cromwell, to disseminate
amongst the people the sentiments of loyalty or rebellion, according as
their authors were disposed. _Peter Heylin_, in the preface to his
_Cosmography_, mentions, that "the affairs of each town, of war, were
better presented to the reader in the _Weekly News-books_." Hence we
find some papers, entitled "News from Hull," "Truths from York,"
"Warranted Tidings from Ireland," &c. We find also, "The Scots' Dove"
opposed to "The Parliament Kite," or "The Secret Owl."--Keener
animosities produced keener titles: "Heraclitus ridens" found an
antagonist in "Democritus ridens," and "The Weekly Discoverer" was
shortly met by "The Discoverer stript naked." "Mercuriua Britannicus"
was grappled by "Mercurius Mastix, faithfully lashing all Scouts,
Mercuries, Posts, Spies, and others." Under all these names papers had
appeared, but a "Mercury" was the prevailing title of these
"News-books," and the principles of the writer were generally shown by
the additional epithet. We find an alarming number of these Mercuries,
which, were the story not too long to tell, might excite laughter; they
present us with a very curious picture of those singular times.

Devoted to political purposes, they soon became a public nuisance by
serving as receptacles of party malice, and echoing to the farthest ends
of the kingdom the insolent voice of all factions. They set the minds of
men more at variance, inflamed their tempers to a greater fierceness,
and gave a keener edge to the sharpness of civil discord.

Such works will always find adventurers adapted to their scurrilous
purposes, who neither want at times either talents, or boldness, or wit,
or argument. A vast crowd issued from the press, and are now to be found
in private collections. They form a race of authors unknown to most
readers of these times: the names of some of their chiefs, however, have
reached us, and in the minor chronicle of domestic literature I rank
three notable heroes; Marchmont Needham, Sir John Birkenhead, and Sir
Roger L'Estrange.

_Marchmont Needham_, the great patriarch of newspaper writers, was a man
of versatile talents and more versatile politics; a bold adventurer, and
most successful, because the most profligate of his tribe. From college
he came to London; was an usher in Merchant Tailors' school; then an
under clerk in Gray's Inn; at length studied physic, and practised
chemistry; and finally, he was a captain, and in the words of our great
literary antiquary, "siding with the rout and scum of the people, he
made them weekly sport by railing at all that was noble, in his
Intelligence, called Mercurius Britannicus, wherein his endeavours were
to sacrifice the fame of some lord, or any person of quality, and of the
king himself, to the beast with many heads." He soon became popular, and
was known under the name of Captain Needham, of Gray's Inn; and whatever
he now wrote was deemed oracular. But whether from a slight imprisonment
for aspersing Charles I. or some pique with his own party, he requested
an audience on his knees with the king, reconciled himself to his
majesty, and showed himself a violent royalist in his "Mercurius
Pragmaticus," and galled the Presbyterians with his wit and quips. Some
time after, when the popular party prevailed, he was still further
enlightened, and was got over by President Bradshaw, as easily as by
Charles I. Our Mercurial writer became once more a virulent
Presbyterian, and lashed the royalists outrageously in his "Mercurius
Politicus;" at length on the return of Charles II. being now conscious,
says our cynical friend Anthony, that he might be in danger of the
halter, once more he is said to have fled into Holland, waiting for an
act of oblivion. For money given to a hungry courtier, Needham obtained
his pardon under the great seal. He latterly practised as a physician
among his party, but lived detested by the royalists; and now only
committed harmless treasons with the College of Physicians, on whom he
poured all that gall and vinegar which the government had suppressed
from flowing through its natural channel.

The royalists were not without their Needham in the prompt activity of
_Sir John Birkenhead_. In buffoonery, keenness, and boldness, having
been frequently imprisoned, he was not inferior, nor was he at times
less an adventurer. His "Mercurius Aulicus" was devoted to the court,
then at Oxford. But he was the fertile parent of numerous political
pamphlets, which appear to abound in banter, wit, and satire. Prompt to
seize on every temporary circumstance, he had equal facility in
execution. His "Paul's Church-yard" is a bantering pamphlet, containing
fictitious titles of books and acts of parliament, reflecting on the mad
reformers of those times. One of his poems is entitled "_The Jolt_,"
being written on the Protector having fallen off his own coach-box:
Cromwell had received a present from the German Count Oldenburgh, of six
German horses, and attempted to drive them himself in Hyde Park, when
this great political Phaeton met the accident, of which Sir John
Birkenhead was not slow to comprehend the benefit, and hints how
unfortunately for the country it turned out! Sir John was during the
dominion of Cromwell an author by profession. After various
imprisonments for his majesty's cause, says the venerable historian of
English literature already quoted, "he lived by his wits, in helping
young gentlemen out at dead lifts in making poems, songs, and epistles
on and to their mistresses; as also in translating, and other petite
employments." He lived however after the Restoration to become one of
the masters of requests, with a salary of 3000_l._ a year. But he showed
the baseness of his spirit, says Anthony, by slighting those who had
been his benefactors in his necessities.

Sir _Roger L'Estrange_ among his rivals was esteemed as the most
perfect model of political writing. He was a strong party-writer on the
government side, for Charles the Second, and the compositions of the
author seem to us coarse, yet they contain much idiomatic expression.
His Æsop's Fables are a curious specimen of familiar style. Queen Mary
showed a due contempt of him, after the Revolution, by this anagram:--

    _Roger L'Estrange_,
    _Lye strange Roger_!

Such were the three patriarchs of newspapers. De Saint Foix gives the
origin of newspapers to France. Renaudot, a physician at Paris, to amuse
his patients was a great collector of news; and he found by these means
that he was more sought after than his learned brethren. But as the
seasons were not always sickly, and he had many hours not occupied by
his patients, he reflected, after several years of assiduity given up to
this singular employment, that he might turn it to a better account, by
giving every week to his patients, who in this case were the public at
large, some fugitive sheets which should contain the news of various
countries. He obtained a privilege for this purpose in 1632.

At the Restoration the proceedings of parliament were interdicted to be
published, unless by authority; and the first daily paper after the
Revolution took the popular title of "The Orange Intelligencer."

In the reign of Queen _Anne_, there was but one daily paper; the others
were weekly. Some attempted to introduce literary subjects, and others
topics of a more general speculation. _Sir Richard Steele_ formed the
plan of his _Tatler_. He designed it to embrace the three provinces, of
manners and morals, of literature, and of politics. The public were to
be conducted insensibly into so different a track from that to which
they had been hitherto accustomed. Hence politics were admitted into his
paper. But it remained for the chaster genius of _Addison_ to banish
this painful topic from his elegant pages. The writer in polite letters
felt himself degraded by sinking into the diurnal narrator of political
events, which so frequently originate in rumours and party fictions.
From this time, newspapers and periodical literature became distinct
works--at present, there seems to be an attempt to revive this union; it
is a retrograde step for the independent dignity of literature.


[Footnote 51: Since the appearance of the _eleventh_ edition of this
work, the detection of a singular literary deception has occurred. The
evidence respecting _The English Mercurie_ rests on the alleged
discovery of the literary antiquary, George Chalmers. I witnessed, fifty
years ago, that laborious researcher busied among the long dusty shelves
of our periodical papers, which then reposed in the ante-chamber to the
former reading-room of the British Museum. To the industry which I had
witnessed, I confided, and such positive and precise evidence could not
fail to be accepted by all. In the British Museum, indeed, George
Chalmers found the printed _English Mercurie_; but there also, it now
appears, he might have seen _the original_, with all its corrections,
before it was sent to the press, written on paper of modern fabric. The
detection of this literary imposture has been ingeniously and
unquestionably demonstrated by Mr. Thomas Watts, in a letter to Mr.
Panizzi, the keeper of the printed books in the British Museum. The fact
is, the whole is a modern forgery, for which Birch, preserving it among
his papers, has not assigned either the occasion or the motive. Mr.
Watts says--"The general impression left on the mind by the perusal of
the _Mercurie_ is, that it must have been written after the
_Spectator_"; that the manuscript was composed in modern spelling,
afterwards _antiquated_ in the printed copy; while the type is similar
to that used by Caslon in 1766. By this accidental reference to the
originals, "the unaccountably successful imposition of fifty years was
shattered to fragments in five minutes." I am inclined to suspect that
it was a _jeu d'esprit_ of historical antiquarianism, concocted by Birch
and his friends the Yorkes, with whom, as it is well known, he was
concerned in a more elegant literary recreation, the composition of the
Athenian Letters. The blunder of George Chalmers has been repeated in
numerous publications throughout Europe and in America. I think it
better to correct the text by this notice than by a silent suppression,
that it may remain a memorable instance of the danger incurred by the
historian from forged documents; and a proof that multiplied authorities
add no strength to evidence, when nil are to be traced to a single


The strange trials to which those suspected of guilt were put in the
middle ages, conducted with many devout ceremonies by the ministers of
religion, were pronounced to be the _judgments of God_! The ordeal
consisted of various kinds: walking blindfold amidst burning
ploughshares; passing through fires; holding in the hand a red-hot bar;
and plunging the arm into boiling water: the popular affirmation--"I
will put my hand in the fire to confirm this," was derived from this
custom of our rude ancestors. Challenging the accuser to single combat,
when frequently the stoutest champion was allowed to supply their place;
swallowing a morsel of consecrated bread; sinking or swimming in a river
for witchcraft; or weighing a witch; stretching out the arms before the
cross, till the champion soonest wearied dropped his arms, and lost his
estate, which was decided by this very short chancery suit, called the
_judicium crucis_. The bishop of Paris and the abbot of St. Denis
disputed about the patronage of a monastery: Pepin the Short, not being
able to decide on their confused claims, decreed one of these judgments
of God, that of the Cross. The bishop and abbot each chose a man, and
both the men appeared in the chapel, where they stretched out their arms
in the form of a cross. The spectators, more devout than the mob of the
present day, but still the mob, were piously attentive, but _betted_
however now for one man, now for the other, and critically watched the
slightest motion of the arms. The bishop's man was first tired:--he let
his arms fall, and ruined his patron's cause for ever. Though sometimes
these trials might be eluded by the artifice of the priest, numerous
were the innocent victims who unquestionably suffered in these
superstitious practices.

From the tenth to the twelfth century they were common. Hildebert,
bishop of Mans, being accused of high treason by our William Rufus, was
prepared to undergo one of these trials, when Ives, bishop of Chartres,
convinced him that they were against the canons of the constitutions of
the church, and adds, that in this manner _Innocentiam defendere, set
innocentiam perdere_.

An abbot of St. Aubin, of Angers, in 1066, having refused to present a
horse to the Viscount of Tours, which the viscount claimed in right of
his lordship, whenever an abbot first took possession of that abbey, the
ecclesiastic offered to justify himself by the trial of the ordeal, or
by duel, for which he proposed to furnish a man. The viscount at first
agreed to the duel; but, reflecting that these combats, though
sanctioned by the church, depended wholly on the skill or vigour of the
adversary, and could therefore afford no substantial proof of the equity
of his claim, he proposed to compromise the matter in a manner which
strongly characterises the times: he waived his claim, on condition that
the abbot should not forget to mention in his prayers himself, his wife,
and his brothers! As the _orisons_ appeared to the abbot, in comparison
with the _horse_, of little or no value, he accepted the proposal.

In the tenth century the right of representation was not fixed: it was a
question whether the sons of a son ought to be reckoned among the
children of the family, and succeed equally with their uncles, if their
fathers happened to die while their grandfathers survived. This point
was decided by one of these combats. The champion in behalf of the right
of children to represent their deceased father proved victorious. It was
then established by a perpetual decree that they should thenceforward
share in the inheritance, together with their uncles. In the eleventh
century the same mode was practised to decide respecting two rival
_Liturgies_! A pair of knights, clad in complete armour, were the
critics to decide which was the authentic.

"If two neighbours," say the capitularies of Dagobert, "dispute
respecting the boundaries of their possessions, let a piece of turf of
the contested land be dug up by the judge, and brought by him into the
court; the two parties shall touch it with the points of their swords,
calling on God as a witness of their claims;--after this let them
_combat_, and let victory decide on their rights!"

In Germany, a solemn circumstance was practised in these judicial
combats. In the midst of the lists they placed a _bier_.--By its side
stood the accuser and the accused; one at the head and the other at the
foot of the bier, and leaned there for some time in profound silence,
before they began the combat.

The manners of the age are faithfully painted in the ancient Fabliaux.
The judicial combat is introduced by a writer of the fourteenth century,
in a scene where Pilate challenges Jesus Christ to _single combat_.
Another describes the person who pierced the side of Christ as _a knight
who jousted with Jesus_.[52]

Judicial combat appears to have been practised by the Jews. Whenever the
rabbins had to decide on a dispute about property between two parties,
neither of which could produce evidence to substantiate his claim, they
terminated it by single combat. The rabbins were impressed by a notion,
that consciousness of right would give additional confidence and
strength to the rightful possessor. It may, however, be more
philosophical to observe, that such judicial combats were more
frequently favourable to the criminal than to the innocent, because the
bold wicked man is usually more ferocious and hardy than he whom he
singles out as his victim, and who only wishes to preserve his own quiet
enjoyment:--in this case the assailant is the more terrible combatant.

Those accused of robbery were put to trial by a piece of barley-bread,
on which the mass had been said; which if they could not swallow, they
were declared guilty. This mode of trial was improved by adding to the
_bread_ a slice of _cheese_; and such was their credulity, that they
were very particular in this holy _bread_ and _cheese_, called the
_corsned_. The bread was to be of unleavened barley, and the cheese made
of ewe's milk in the month of May.

Du Cange observed, that the expression--"_May this piece of bread choke
me!_" comes from this custom. The anecdote of Earl Godwin's death by
swallowing a piece of bread, in making this asseveration, is recorded in
our history. Doubtless superstition would often terrify the innocent
person, in the attempt of swallowing a consecrated morsel.

Among the proofs of guilt in superstitious ages was that of the
_bleeding of a corpse_. It was believed, that at the touch or approach
of the murderer the blood gushed out of the murdered. By the side of the
bier, if the slightest change was observable in the eyes, the mouth,
feet, or hands of the corpse, the murderer was conjectured to be
present, and many innocent spectators must have suffered death. "When a
body is full of blood, warmed by a sudden external heat, and a
putrefaction coming on, some of the blood-vessels will burst, as they
will all in time." This practice was once allowed in England, and is
still looked on in some of the uncivilized parts of these kingdoms as a
detection of the criminal. It forms a solemn picture in the histories
and ballads of our old writers.

Robertson observes, that all these absurd institutions were cherished
from the superstitious of the age believing the legendary histories of
those saints who crowd and disgrace the Roman calendar. These fabulous
miracles had been declared authentic by the bulls of the popes and the
decrees of councils; they were greedily swallowed by the populace; and
whoever believed that the Supreme Being had interposed miraculously on
those trivial occasions mentioned in legends, could not but expect the
intervention of Heaven in these most solemn appeals. These customs were
a substitute for written laws, which that barbarous period had not; and
as no society can exist without _laws_, the ignorance of the people had
recourse to these _customs_, which, evil and absurd as they were, closed
endless controversies. Ordeals are in truth the rude laws of a barbarous
people who have not yet obtained a written code, and are not
sufficiently advanced in civilization to enter into the refined
inquiries, the subtile distinctions, and elaborate investigations, which
a court of law demands.

These ordeals probably originate in that one of Moses called the "Waters
of Jealousy." The Greeks likewise had ordeals, for in the Antigonus of
Sophocles the soldiers offer to prove their innocence by handling
red-hot iron, and walking between fires. One cannot but smile at the
whimsical ordeals of the Siamese. Among other practices to discover the
justice of a cause, civil or criminal, they are particularly attached to
using certain consecrated purgative pills, which they make the
contending parties swallow. He who _retains_ them longest gains his
cause! The practice of giving Indians a consecrated grain of rice to
swallow is known to discover the thief, in any company, by the
contortions and dismay evident on the countenance of the real thief.

In the middle ages, they were acquainted with _secrets_ to pass unhurt
these singular trials. Voltaire mentions one for undergoing the ordeal
of boiling water. Our late travellers in the East have confirmed this
statement. The Mevleheh dervises can hold red-hot iron between their
teeth. Such artifices have been often publicly exhibited at Paris and
London. Mr. Sharon Turner observes, on the ordeal of the Anglo-Saxons,
that the hand was not to be immediately inspected, and was left to the
chance of a good constitution to be so far healed during three days (the
time they required to be bound up and sealed, before it was examined) as
to discover those appearances when inspected, which were allowed to be
satisfactory. There was likewise much preparatory training, suggested by
the more experienced; besides, the accused had an opportunity of _going
alone into the church_, and making _terms_ with the _priest_. The few
_spectators_ were always _distant_; and cold iron might be substituted,
and the fire diminished, at the moment.

They possessed secrets and medicaments, to pass through these trials in
perfect security. An anecdote of these times may serve to show their
readiness. A rivalship existed between the Austin-friars and the
Jesuits. The father-general of the Austin-friars was dining with the
Jesuits; and when the table was removed, he entered into a formal
discourse of the superiority of the monastic order, and charged the
Jesuits, in unqualified terms, with assuming the title of "fratres,"
while they held not the three vows, which other monks were obliged to
consider as sacred and binding. The general of the Austin-friars was
very eloquent and very authoritative:--and the superior of the Jesuits
was very unlearned, but not half a fool.

The Jesuit avoided entering the list of controversy with the
Austin-friar, but arrested his triumph by asking him if he would see one
of his friars, who pretended to be nothing more than a Jesuit, and one
of the Austin-friars who religiously performed the aforesaid three vows,
show instantly which of them would be the readier to obey his
superiors? The Austin-friar consented. The Jesuit then turning to one of
his brothers, the holy friar Mark, who was waiting on them, said,
"Brother Mark, our companions are cold. I command you, in virtue of the
holy obedience you have sworn to me, to bring here instantly out of the
kitchen-fire, and in your hands, some burning coals, that they may warm
themselves over your hands." Father Mark instantly obeys, and, to the
astonishment of the Austin-friar, brought in his hands a supply of red
burning coals, and held them to whoever chose to warm himself; and at
the command of his superior returned them to the kitchen-hearth. The
general of the Austin-friars, with the rest of his brotherhood, stood
amazed; he looked wistfully on one of his monks, as if he wished to
command him to do the like. But the Austin monk, who perfectly
understood him, and saw this was not a time to hesitate,
observed,--"Reverend father, forbear, and do not command me to tempt
God! I am ready to fetch you fire in a chafing-dish, but not in my bare
hands." The triumph of the Jesuits was complete; and it is not necessary
to add, that the _miracle_ was noised about, and that the Austin-friars
could never account for it, notwithstanding their strict performance of
the three vows!


[Footnote 52: These curious passages, so strikingly indicative of the
state of thought in the days of their authors, are worth clearly noting.
Pilate's challenge to the Saviour is completely in the taste of the
writer's day. He was Adam Davie, a poet of the fourteenth century, of
whom an account is preserved in _Warton's History of English Poetry_;
and the passage occurs in his poem of the _Battle of Jerusalem_, the
incidents of which are treated as Froissart would treat the siege of a
town happening in his own day.

The second passage above quoted occurs in the _Vision of Piers Plowman_,
a poem of the same era, where the Roman soldier--whose name, according
to legendary history, was Longinus, and who pierced the Saviour's
side--is described as if he had given the wound in a passage of arms, or
joust; and elsewhere in the same poem it is said that Christ,

    "For mankyndes sake,
    Justed in Jerusalem,
    A joye to us all."

And in another part of the poem, speaking of the victory of Christ, it
is said--

    "Jhesus justede well."]


Innocent the Third, a pope as enterprising as he was successful in his
enterprises, having sent Dominic with some missionaries into Languedoc,
these men so irritated the heretics they were sent to convert, that most
of them were assassinated at Toulouse in the year 1200. He called in the
aid of temporal arms, and published against them a crusade, granting, as
was usual with the popes on similar occasions, all kinds of indulgences
and pardons to those who should arm against these _Mahometans_, so he
termed these unfortunate Languedocians. Once all were Turks when they
were not Romanists. Raymond, Count of Toulouse, was constrained to
submit. The inhabitants were passed on the edge of the sword, without
distinction of age or sex. It was then he established that scourge of
Europe, THE INQUISITION. This pope considered that, though men might be
compelled to submit by arms, numbers might remain professing particular
dogmas; and he established this sanguinary tribunal solely to inspect
into all families, and INQUIRE concerning all persons who they imagined
were unfriendly to the interests of Rome. Dominic did so much by his
persecuting inquiries, that he firmly established the Inquisition at

Not before the year 1484 it became known in Spain. To another Dominican,
John de Torquemada, the court of Rome owed this obligation. As he was
the confessor of Queen Isabella, he had extorted from her a promise,
that if ever she ascended the throne, she would use every means to
extirpate heresy and heretics. Ferdinand had conquered Granada, and had
expelled from the Spanish realms multitudes of unfortunate Moors. A few
remained, whom, with the Jews, he compelled to become Christians: they
at least assumed the name; but it was well known that both these nations
naturally respected their own faith, rather than that of the Christians.
This race was afterwards distinguished as _Christianos Novos_; and in
forming marriages, the blood of the Hidalgo was considered to lose its
purity by mingling with such a suspicious source.

Torquemada pretended that this dissimulation would greatly hurt the
interests of the holy religion. The queen listened with respectful
diffidence to her confessor; and at length gained over the king to
consent to the establishment of this unrelenting tribunal. Torquemada,
indefatigable in his zeal for the holy chair, in the space of fourteen
years that he exercised the office of chief inquisitor, is said to have
prosecuted near eighty thousand persons, of whom six thousand were
condemned to the flames.

Voltaire attributes the taciturnity of the Spaniards to the universal
horror such proceedings spread. "A general jealousy and suspicion took
possession of all ranks of people: friendship and sociability were at an
end! Brothers were afraid of brothers, fathers of their children."

The situation and the feelings of one imprisoned in the cells of the
Inquisition are forcibly painted by Orobio, a mild, and meek, and
learned man, whose controversy with Limborch is well known. When he
escaped from Spain he took refuge in Holland, was circumcised, and died
a philosophical Jew. He has left this admirable description of himself
in the cell of the Inquisition. "Inclosed in this dungeon I could not
even find space enough to turn myself about; I suffered so much that I
felt my brain disordered. I frequently asked myself, am I really Don
Balthazar Orobio, who used to walk about Seville at my pleasure, who so
greatly enjoyed myself with my wife and children? I often imagined that
all my life had only been a dream, and that I really had been born in
this dungeon! The only amusement I could invent was metaphysical
disputations. I was at once opponent, respondent, and præses!"

In the cathedral at Saragossa is the tomb of a famous inquisitor; six
pillars surround this tomb; to each is chained a Moor, as preparatory to
his being burnt. On this St. Foix ingeniously observes, "If ever the
Jack Ketch of any country should be rich enough to have a splendid tomb,
this might serve as an excellent model."

The Inquisition punished heretics by _fire_, to elude the maxim,
"_Ecclesia non novit sanguinem_;" for burning a man, say they, does not
_shed his blood_. Otho, the bishop at the Norman invasion, in the
tapestry worked by Matilda the queen of William the Conqueror, is
represented with a _mace_ in his hand, for the purpose that when he
_despatched_ his antagonist he might not _spill blood_, but only break
his bones! Religion has had her quibbles as well as law.

The establishment of this despotic order was resisted in France; but it
may perhaps surprise the reader that a recorder of London, in a speech,
urged the necessity of setting up an Inquisition in England! It was on
the trial of Penn the Quaker, in 1670, who was acquitted by the jury,
which highly provoked the said recorder. "_Magna Charta_," writes the
prefacer to the trial, "with the recorder of London, is nothing more
than _Magna F----!_" It appears that the jury, after being kept two days
and two nights to alter their verdict, were in the end both fined and
imprisoned. Sir John Howell, the recorder, said, "Till now I never
understood the reason of the policy and prudence of the Spaniards in
suffering the Inquisition among them; and certainly it will not be well
with us, till something _like unto the Spanish Inquisition be in
England_." Thus it will ever be, while both parties struggling for the
pre-eminence rush to the sharp extremity of things, and annihilate the
trembling balance of the constitution. But the adopted motto of Lord
Erskine must ever be that of every Briton, "_Trial by Jury_."

So late as the year 1761, Gabriel Malagrida, an old man of seventy, was
burnt by these evangelical executioners. His trial was printed at
Amsterdam, 1762, from the Lisbon copy. And for what was this unhappy
Jesuit condemned? Not, as some have imagined, for his having been
concerned in a conspiracy against the king of Portugal. No other charge
is laid to him in this trial but that of having indulged certain
heretical notions, which any other tribunal but that of the Inquisition
would have looked upon as the delirious fancies of a fanatical old man.
Will posterity believe, that in the eighteenth century an aged visionary
was led to the stake for having said, amongst other extravagances, that
"The holy Virgin having commanded him to write the life of Anti-Christ,
told him that he, Malagrida, was a second John, but more clear than John
the Evangelist; that there were to be three Anti-Christs, and that the
last should be born at Milan, of a monk and a nun, in the year 1920; and
that he would marry Proserpine, one of the infernal furies."

For such ravings as these the unhappy old man was burnt in recent times.
Granger assures us, that in his remembrance a _horse_ that had been
taught to tell the spots upon cards, the hour of the day, &c., by
significant tokens, was, together with his _owner_, put into the
Inquisition for _both_ of them dealing with the devil! A man of letters
declared that, having fallen into their hands, nothing perplexed him so
much as the ignorance of the inquisitor and his council; and it seemed
very doubtful whether they had read even the Scriptures.[53]

One of the most interesting anecdotes relating to the terrible
Inquisition, exemplifying how the use of the diabolical engines of
torture forces men to confess crimes they have not been guilty of, was
related to me by a Portuguese gentleman.

A nobleman in Lisbon having heard that his physician and friend was
imprisoned by the Inquisition, under the stale pretext of Judaism,
addressed a letter to one of them to request his freedom, assuring the
inquisitor that his friend was as orthodox a Christian as himself. The
physician, notwithstanding this high recommendation, was put to the
torture; and, as was usually the case, at the height of his sufferings
confessed everything they wished! This enraged the nobleman, and
feigning a dangerous illness he begged the inquisitor would come to give
him his last spiritual aid.

As soon as the Dominican arrived, the lord, who had prepared his
confidential servants, commanded the inquisitor in their presence to
acknowledge himself a Jew, to write his confession, and to sign it. On
the refusal of the inquisitor, the nobleman ordered his people to put on
the inquisitor's head a red-hot helmet, which to his astonishment, in
drawing aside a screen, he beheld glowing in a small furnace. At the
sight of this new instrument of torture, "Luke's iron crown," the monk
wrote and subscribed the abhorred confession. The nobleman then
observed, "See now the enormity of your manner of proceeding with
unhappy men! My poor physician, like you, has confessed Judaism; but
with this difference, only torments have forced that from him which fear
alone has drawn from you!"

The Inquisition has not failed of receiving its due praises. Macedo, a
Portuguese Jesuit, has discovered the "Origin of the _Inquisition_" in
the terrestrial Paradise, and presumes to allege that God was the first
who began the functions of an _inquisitor_ over Cain and the workmen of
Babel! Macedo, however, is not so dreaming a personage as he appears;
for he obtained a Professor's chair at Padua for the arguments he
delivered at Venice against the pope, which were published by the title
of "The literary Roarings of the Lion at St. Mark;" besides he is the
author of 109 different works; but it is curious to observe how far our
interest is apt to prevail over our conscience,--Macedo praised the
Inquisition up to the skies, while he sank the pope to nothing!

Among the great revolutions of this age, and since the last edition of
this work, the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal is abolished--but its
history enters into that of the human mind; and the history of the
Inquisition by Limborch, translated by Chandler, with a very curious
"Introduction," loses none of its value with the philosophical mind.
This monstrous tribunal of human opinions aimed at the sovereignty of
the intellectual world, without intellect.

In these changeful times, the history of the Inquisition is not the
least mutable. The Inquisition, which was abolished, was again
restored--and at the present moment, I know not whether it is to be
restored or abolished.


[Footnote 53: See also the remark of Galileo in a previous page of this
volume, in the article headed "The Persecuted Learned."]


The Maldivian islanders eat alone. They retire into the most hidden
parts of their houses; and they draw down the cloths that serve as
blinds to their windows, that they may eat unobserved. This custom
probably arises from the savage, in early periods of society, concealing
himself to eat: he fears that another, with as sharp an appetite, but
more strong than himself, should come and ravish his meal from him. The
ideas of witchcraft are also widely spread among barbarians; and they
are not a little fearful that some incantation may be thrown among their

In noticing the solitary meal of the Maldivian islander, another reason
may be alleged for this misanthropical repast. They never will eat with
any one who is inferior to them in birth, in riches, or dignity; and as
it is a difficult matter to settle this equality, they are condemned to
lead this unsocial life.

On the contrary, the islanders of the Philippines are remarkably social.
Whenever one of them finds himself without a companion to partake of his
meal, he runs till he meets with one; and we are assured that, however
keen his appetite may be, he ventures not to satisfy it without a

Savages, says Montaigne, when they eat, "_S'essuyent les doigts aux
cuisses, à la bourse des génitoires, et à la plante des pieds_." We
cannot forbear exulting in the polished convenience of napkins!

The tables of the rich Chinese shine with a beautiful varnish, and are
covered with silk carpets very elegantly worked. They do not make use of
plates, knives, and forks: every guest has two little ivory or ebony
sticks, which he handles very adroitly.

The Otaheiteans, who are naturally social, and very gentle in their
manners, feed separately from each other. At the hour of repast, the
members of each family divide; two brothers, two sisters, and even
husband and wife, father and mother, have each their respective basket.
They place themselves at the distance of two or three yards from each
other; they turn their backs, and take their meal in profound silence.

The custom of drinking at different hours from those assigned for eating
exists among many savage nations. Originally begun from necessity, it
became a habit, which subsisted even when the fountain was near to them.
A people transplanted, observes an ingenious philosopher, preserve in
another climate modes of living which relate to those from whence they
originally came. It is thus the Indians of Brazil scrupulously abstain
from eating when they drink, and from drinking when they eat.[55]

When neither decency nor politeness is known, the man who invites his
friends to a repast is greatly embarrassed to testify his esteem for his
guests, and to offer them some amusement; for the savage guest imposes
on himself this obligation. Amongst the greater part of the American
Indians, the host is continually on the watch to solicit them to eat,
but touches nothing himself. In New France, he wearies himself with
singing, to divert the company while they eat.

When civilization advances, men wish to show their confidence to their
friends: they treat their guests as relations; and it is said that in
China the master of a house, to give a mark of his politeness, absents
himself while his guests regale themselves at his table with undisturbed

The demonstrations of friendship in a rude state have a savage and gross
character, which it is not a little curious to observe. The Tartars pull
a man by the ear to press him to drink, and they continue tormenting him
till he opens his mouth; then they clap their hands and dance before

No customs seem more ridiculous than those practised by a Kamschatkan,
when he wishes to make another his friend. He first invites him to eat.
The host and his guest strip themselves in a cabin which is heated to an
uncommon degree. While the guest devours the food with which they serve
him, the other continually stirs the fire. The stranger must bear the
excess of the heat as well as of the repast. He vomits ten times before
he will yield; but, at length obliged to acknowledge himself overcome,
he begins to compound matters. He purchases a moment's respite by a
present of clothes or dogs; for his host threatens to heat the cabin,
and oblige him to eat till he dies. The stranger has the right of
retaliation allowed to him: he treats in the same manner, and exacts the
same presents. Should his host not accept the invitation of him whom he
had so handsomely regaled, in that case the guest would take possession
of his cabin, till he had the presents returned to him which the other
had in so singular a manner obtained.

For this extravagant custom a curious reason has been alleged. It is
meant to put the person to a trial, whose friendship is sought. The
Kamschatkan who is at the expense of the fires, and the repast, is
desirous to know if the stranger has the strength to support pain with
him, and if he is generous enough to share with him some part of his
property. While the guest is employed on his meal, he continues heating
the cabin to an insupportable degree; and for a last proof of the
stranger's constancy and attachment, he exacts more clothes and more
dogs. The host passes through the same ceremonies in the cabin of the
stranger; and he shows, in his turn, with what degree of fortitude he
can defend his friend. The most singular customs would appear simple, if
it were possible for the philosopher to understand them on the spot.

As a distinguishing mark of their esteem, the negroes of Ardra drink out
of one cup at the same time. The king of Loango eats in one house, and
drinks in another. A Kamschatkan kneels before his guests; he cuts an
enormous slice from a sea-calf; he crams it entire into the mouth of his
friend, furiously crying out "_Tana!_"--There! and cutting away what
hangs about his lips, snatches and swallows it with avidity.

A barbarous magnificence attended the feasts of the ancient monarchs of
France. After their coronation or consecration, when they sat at table,
the nobility served them on horseback.


[Footnote 54: In Cochin-China, a traveller may always obtain his dinner
by simply joining the family of the first house he may choose to enter,
such hospitality being the general custom.]

[Footnote 55: _Esprit des Usages, et des Coutumes._]

[Footnote 56: If the master be present, he devotes himself to cramming
his guests to repletion.]


Saint Chrysostom has this very acute observation on _kings_: Many
monarchs are infected with a strange wish that their successors may turn
out bad princes. Good kings desire it, as they imagine, continues this
pious politician, that their glory will appear the more splendid by the
contrast; and the bad desire it, as they consider such kings will serve
to countenance their own misdemeanours.

Princes, says Gracian, are willing to be _aided_, but not _surpassed_:
which maxim is thus illustrated.

A Spanish lord having frequently played at chess with Philip II., and
won all the games, perceived, when his Majesty rose from play, that he
was much ruffled with chagrin. The lord, when he returned home, said to
his family--"My children, we have nothing more to do at court: there we
must expect no favour; for the king is offended at my having won of him
every game of chess." As chess entirely depends on the genius of the
players, and not on fortune, King Philip the chess-player conceived he
ought to suffer no rival.

This appears still clearer by the anecdote told of the Earl of
Sunderland, minister to George I., who was partial to the game of chess.
He once played with the Laird of Cluny, and the learned Cunningham, the
editor of Horace. Cunningham, with too much skill and too much
sincerity, beat his lordship. "The earl was so fretted at his
superiority and surliness, that he dismissed him without any reward.
Cluny allowed himself sometimes to be beaten; and by that means got his
pardon, with something handsome besides."

In the Criticon of Gracian, there is a singular anecdote relative to

A Polish monarch having quitted his companions when he was hunting, his
courtiers found him, a few days after, in a market-place, disguised as a
porter, and lending out the use of his shoulders for a few pence. At
this they were as much surprised as they were doubtful at first whether
the _porter_ could be his _majesty_. At length they ventured to express
their complaints that so great a personage should debase himself by so
vile an employment. His majesty having heard them, replied--"Upon my
honour, gentlemen, the load which I quitted is by far heavier than the
one you see me carry here: the weightiest is but a straw, when compared
to that world under which I laboured. I have slept more in four nights
than I have during all my reign. I begin to live, and to be king of
myself. Elect whom you choose. For me, who am so well, it were madness
to return to _court_." Another Polish king, who succeeded this
philosophic _monarchical porter_, when they placed the sceptre in his
hand, exclaimed--"I had rather tug at an _oar_!" The vacillating
fortunes of the Polish monarchy present several of these anecdotes;
their monarchs appear to have frequently been philosophers; and, as the
world is made, an excellent philosopher proves but an indifferent king.

Two observations on kings were offered to a courtier with great
_naïveté_ by that experienced politician, the Duke of Alva:--"Kings who
affect to be familiar with their companions make use of _men_ as they do
of _oranges_; they take oranges to extract their juice, and when they
are well sucked they throw them away. Take care the king does not do the
same to you; be careful that he does not read all your thoughts;
otherwise he will throw you aside to the back of his chest, as a book of
which he has read enough." "The squeezed orange," the King of Prussia
applied in his dispute with Voltaire.

When it was suggested to Dr. Johnson that kings must be unhappy because
they are deprived of the greatest of all satisfactions, easy and
unreserved society, he observed that this was an ill-founded notion.
"Being a king does not exclude a man from such society. Great kings have
always been social. The King of Prussia, the only great king at present
(this was THE GREAT Frederic) is very social. Charles the Second, the
last king of England who was a man of parts, was social; our Henries and
Edwards were all social."

The Marquis of Halifax, in his character of Charles II., has exhibited a
_trait_ in the royal character of a good-natured monarch; that _trait_,
is _sauntering_. I transcribe this curious observation, which introduces
us into a levee.

"There was as much of laziness as of love in all those hours which he
passed amongst his mistresses, who served only to fill up his seraglio,
while a bewitching kind of pleasure, called SAUNTERING, was the sultana
queen he delighted in.

"The thing called SAUNTERING is a stronger temptation to princes than it
is to others.--The being galled with importunities, pursued from one
room to another with asking faces; the dismal sound of unreasonable
complaints and ill-grounded pretences; the deformity of fraud
ill-disguised:--all these would make any man run away from them, and I
used to think it was the motive for making him walk so fast."


The title of _illustrious_ was never given, till the reign of
Constantine, but to those whose reputation was splendid in arms or in
letters. Adulation had not yet adopted this noble word into her
vocabulary. Suetonius composed a book to record those who had possessed
this title; and, as it was _then_ bestowed, a moderate volume was
sufficient to contain their names.

In the time of Constantine, the title of _illustrious_ was given more
particularly to those princes who had distinguished themselves in war;
but it was not continued to their descendants. At length, it became very
common; and every son of a prince was _illustrious_. It is now a
convenient epithet for the poet.

In the rage for TITLES the ancient lawyers in Italy were not satisfied
by calling kings ILLUSTRES; they went a step higher, and would have
emperors to be _super-illustres_, a barbarous coinage of their own.

In Spain, they published a book of _titles_ for their kings, as well as
for the Portuguese; but Selden tells us, that "their _Cortesias_ and
giving of titles grew at length, through the affectation of heaping
great attributes on their princes to such an insufferable forme, that a
remedie was provided against it." This remedy was an act published by
Philip III. which ordained that all the _Cortesias_, as they termed
these strange phrases they had so servilely and ridiculously invented,
should be reduced to a simple superscription, "To the king our lord,"
leaving out those fantastical attributes of which every secretary had
vied with his predecessors in increasing the number.

It would fill three or four of these pages to transcribe the titles and
attributes of the Grand Signior, which he assumes in a letter to Henry
IV. Selden, in his "Titles of Honour," first part, p. 140, has preserved
them. This "emperor of victorious emperors," as he styles himself, at
length condescended to agree with the emperor of Germany, in 1606, that
in all their letters and instruments they should be only styled _father_
and _son_: the emperor calling the sultan his son; and the sultan the
emperor, in regard of his years, his _father_.

Formerly, says Houssaie, the title of _highness_ was only given to
kings; but now it has become so common that all the great houses assume
it. All the great, says a modern, are desirous of being confounded with
princes, and are ready to seize on the privileges of royal dignity. We
have already come to _highness_. The pride of our descendants, I
suspect, will usurp that of _majesty_.

Ferdinand, king of Aragon, and his queen Isabella of Castile, were only
treated with the title of _highness_. Charles was the first who took
that of _majesty_: not in his quality of king of Spain, but as emperor.
St. Foix informs us, that kings were usually addressed by the titles of
_most illustrious_, or _your serenity_, or _your grace_; but that the
custom of giving them that of _majesty_ was only established by Louis
XI., a prince the least majestic in all his actions, his manners, and
his exterior--a severe monarch, but no ordinary man, the Tiberius of
France. The manners of this monarch were most sordid; in public
audiences he dressed like the meanest of the people, and affected to sit
on an old broken chair, with a filthy dog on his knees. In an account
found of his household, this _majestic_ prince has a charge made him for
two new sleeves sewed on one of his old doublets.

Formerly kings were apostrophised by the title of _your grace_. Henry
VIII. was the first, says Houssaie, who assumed the title of _highness_;
and at length _majesty_. It was Francis I. who saluted him with this
last title, in their interview in the year 1520, though he called
himself only the first gentleman in his kingdom!

So distinct were once the titles of _highness_ and _excellence_, that
when Don Juan, the brother of Philip II., was permitted to take up the
latter title, and the city of Granada saluted him by the title of
_highness_, it occasioned such serious jealousy at court, that had he
persisted in it, he would have been condemned for treason.

The usual title of _cardinals_, about 1600, was _seignoria
illustrissima_; the Duke of Lerma, the Spanish minister and cardinal, in
his old age, assumed the title of _eccellencia reverendissima_. The
church of Rome was in its glory, and to be called _reverend_ was then
accounted a higher honour than to be styled _illustrious_. But by use
_illustrious_ grew familiar, and _reverend_ vulgar, and at last the
cardinals were distinguished by the title of _eminent_.

After all these historical notices respecting these titles, the reader
will smile when he is acquainted with the reason of an honest curate of
Montferrat, who refused to bestow the title of _highness_ on the duke of
Mantua, because he found in his breviary these words, _Tu solus Dominus,
tu solus Altissimus_; from all which he concluded, that none but the
Lord was to be honoured with the title of _highness_! The "Titles of
Honour" of Selden is a very curious volume, and, as the learned Usher
told Evelyn, the most valuable work of this great scholar. The best
edition is a folio of about one thousand pages. Selden vindicates the
right of a king of England to the title of _emperor_.

    "And never yet was TITLE did not move;
    And never eke a mind, _that_ TITLE did not love."


In countries where despotism exists in all its force, and is gratified
in all its caprices, either the intoxication of power has occasioned
sovereigns to assume the most solemn and the most fantastic titles; or
the royal duties and functions were considered of so high and extensive
a nature, that the people expressed their notion of the pure monarchical
state by the most energetic descriptions of oriental fancy.

The chiefs of the Natchez are regarded by their people as the children
of the sun, and they bear the name of their father.

The titles which some chiefs assume are not always honourable in
themselves; it is sufficient if the people respect them. The king of
Quiterva calls himself the _great lion_; and for this reason lions are
there so much respected, that they are not allowed to kill them, but at
certain royal huntings.

The king of Monomotapa is surrounded by musicians and poets, who adulate
him by such refined flatteries as _lord of the sun and moon_; _great
magician_; and _great thief!_--where probably thievery is merely a term
for dexterity.

The Asiatics have bestowed what to us appear as ridiculous titles of
honour on their _princes_. The king of Arracan assumes the following
ones: "Emperor of Arracan, possessor of the white elephant, and the two
ear-rings, and in virtue of this possession legitimate heir of Pegu and
Brama; lord of the twelve provinces of Bengal, and the twelve kings who
place their heads under his feet."

His majesty of Ava is called _God_: when he writes to a foreign
sovereign he calls himself the king of kings, whom all others should
obey, as he is the cause of the preservation of all animals; the
regulator of the seasons, the absolute master of the ebb and flow of the
sea, brother to the sun, and king of the four-and-twenty umbrellas!
These umbrellas are always carried before him as a mark of his dignity.

The titles of the kings of Achem are singular, though voluminous. The
most striking ones are sovereign of the universe, whose body is luminous
as the sun; whom God created to be as accomplished as the moon at her
plenitude; whose eye glitters like the northern star; a king as
spiritual as a ball is round; who when he rises shades all his people;
from under whose feet a sweet odour is wafted, &c. &c.

The Kandyan sovereign is called _Dewo_ (God). In a deed of gift he
proclaims his extraordinary attributes. "The protector of religion,
whose fame is infinite, and of surpassing excellence, exceeding the
moon, the unexpanded jessamine buds, the stars, &c.; whose feet are as
fragrant to the noses of other kings as flowers to bees; our most noble
patron and god by custom," &c.

After a long enumeration of the countries possessed by the king of
Persia, they give him some poetical distinctions: _the branch of
honour_; _the mirror of virtue_; and _the rose of delight_.


There is a curious dissertation in the "Mémoires de l'Académie des
Inscriptions et Belles Lettres," by the Abbé Mongault, "on the divine
honours which were paid to the governors of provinces during the Roman
republic;" in their lifetime these originally began in gratitude, and at
length degenerated into flattery. These facts curiously show how far the
human mind can advance, when led on by customs that operate
unperceivably on it, and blind us in our absurdities. One of these
ceremonies was exquisitely ludicrous. When they voted a statue to a
proconsul, they placed it among the statues of the gods in the festival
called _Lectisternium_, from the ridiculous circumstances of this solemn
festival. On that day the gods were invited to a repast, which was
however spread in various quarters of the city, to satiate mouths more
mortal. The gods were however taken down from their pedestals, laid on
beds ornamented in their temples; pillows were placed under their marble
heads; and while they reposed in this easy posture they were served with
a magnificent repast. When Cæsar had conquered Rome, the servile senate
put him to dine with the gods! Fatigued by and ashamed of these honours,
he desired the senate to erase from his statue in the capitol the title
they had given him of a _demi-god_!

The adulations lavished on the first Roman emperors were extravagant;
but perhaps few know that they were less offensive than the flatterers
of the third century under the Pagan, and of the fourth under the
Christian emperors. Those who are acquainted with the character of the
age of Augustulus have only to look at the one, and the other _code_, to
find an infinite number of passages which had not been tolerable even in
that age. For instance, here is a law of Arcadius and Honorius,
published in 404:--

"Let the officers of the palace be warned to abstain from frequenting
tumultuous meetings; and that those who, instigated by a _sacrilegious_
temerity, dare to oppose the authority of _our divinity_, shall be
deprived of their employments, and their estates confiscated." The
letters they write are _holy_. When the sons speak of their fathers, it
is, "Their father of _divine_ memory;" or "Their _divine_ father." They
call their own laws _oracles_, and _celestial_ oracles. So also their
subjects address them by the titles of "_Your Perpetuity_, _your
Eternity._" And it appears by a law of Theodoric the Great, that the
emperors at length added this to their titles. It begins, "If any
magistrate, after having concluded a public work, put his name rather
than that of _Our Perpetuity_, let him be judged guilty of
high-treason." All this reminds one of "the celestial empire" of the

Whenever the Great Mogul made an observation, Bernier tells us that some
of the first Omrahs lifted up their hands, crying, "Wonder! wonder!
wonder!" And a proverb current in his dominion was, "If the king saith
at noonday it is night, you are to say, Behold the moon and the stars!"
Such adulation, however, could not alter the general condition and
fortune of this unhappy being, who became a sovereign without knowing
what it is to be one. He was brought out of the seraglio to be placed on
the throne, and it was he, rather than the spectators, who might have
truly used the interjection of astonishment!


Fortune never appears in a more extravagant humour than when she reduces
monarchs to become mendicants. Half a century ago it was not imagined
that our own times should have to record many such instances. After
having contemplated _kings_ raised into _divinities_, we see them now
depressed as _beggars_. Our own times, in two opposite senses, may
emphatically be distinguished as the _age of kings_.

In Candide, or the Optimist, there is an admirable stroke of Voltaire's.
Eight travellers meet in an obscure inn, and some of them with not
sufficient money to pay for a scurvy dinner. In the course of
conversation, they are discovered to be _eight monarchs_ in Europe, who
had been deprived of their crowns!

What added to this exquisite satire was, that there were eight living
monarchs at that moment wanderers on the earth;--a circumstance which
has since occurred!

Adelaide, the widow of Lothario, king of Italy, one of the most
beautiful women in her age, was besieged in Pavia by Berenger, who
resolved to constrain her to marry his son after Pavia was taken; she
escaped from her prison with her almoner. The archbishop of Reggio had
offered her an asylum: to reach it, she and her almoner travelled on
foot through the country by night, concealing herself in the day-time
among the corn, while the almoner begged for alms and food through the

The emperor Henry IV. after having been deposed and imprisoned by his
son, Henry V., escaped from prison; poor, vagrant, and without aid, he
entreated the bishop of Spires to grant him a lay prebend in his church.
"I have studied," said he, "and have learned to sing, and may therefore
be of some service to you." The request was denied, and he died
miserably and obscurely at Liege, after having drawn the attention of
Europe to his victories and his grandeur!

Mary of Medicis, the widow of Henry the Great, mother of Louis XIII.,
mother-in-law of three sovereigns, and regent of France, frequently
wanted the necessaries of life, and died at Cologne in the utmost
misery. The intrigues of Richelieu compelled her to exile herself, and
live an unhappy fugitive. Her petition exists, with this supplicatory
opening: "Supplie Marie, Reine de France et de Navarre, disant, que
depuis le 23 Février elle aurait été arrêtée prisonnière au château de
Compiègne, sans être ni accusée ni soupçonné," &c. Lilly, the
astrologer, in his Life and Death of King Charles the First, presents us
with a melancholy picture of this unfortunate monarch. He has also
described the person of the old queen-mother of France:--

"In the month of August, 1641, I beheld the old queen-mother of France
departing from London, in company of Thomas, Earl of Arundel. A sad
spectacle of mortality it was, and produced tears from mine eyes and
many other beholders, to see an aged, lean, decrepit, poor queen, ready
for her grave, necessitated to depart hence, having no place of
residence in this world left her, but where the courtesy of her hard
fortune assigned it. She had been the only stately and magnificent woman
of Europe: wife to the greatest king that ever lived in France; mother
unto one king and unto two queens."

In the year 1595, died at Paris, Antonio, king of Portugal. His body is
interred at the Cordeliers, and his heart deposited at the Ave-Maria.
Nothing on earth could compel this prince to renounce his crown. He
passed over to England, and Elizabeth assisted him with troops; but at
length he died in France in great poverty. This dethroned monarch was
happy in one thing, which is indeed rare: in all his miseries he had a
servant, who proved a tender and faithful friend, and who only desired
to participate in his misfortunes, and to soften his miseries; and for
the recompense of his services he only wished to be buried at the feet
of his dear master. This hero in loyalty, to whom the ancient Romans
would have raised altars, was Don Diego Bothei, one of the greatest
lords of the court of Portugal, and who drew his origin from the kings
of Bohemia.

Hume supplies an anecdote of singular royal distress. The queen of
England, with her son Charles, "had a moderate pension assigned her; but
it was so ill paid, and her credit ran so low, that one morning when the
Cardinal de Retz waited on her, she informed him that her daughter, the
Princess Henrietta, was obliged to lie a-bed for want of a fire to warm
her. To such a condition was reduced, in the midst of Paris, a queen of
England, and a daughter of Henry IV. of France!" We find another proof
of her extreme poverty. Salmasius, after publishing his celebrated
political book, in favour of Charles I., the _Defensio Regia_, was much
blamed by a friend for not having sent a copy to the widowed queen of
Charles, who, he writes, "though poor, would yet have paid the bearer."

The daughter of James the First, who married the Elector Palatine, in
her attempts to get her husband crowned, was reduced to the utmost
distress, and wandered frequently in disguise.

A strange anecdote is related of Charles VII. of France. Our Henry V.
had shrunk his kingdom into the town of Bourges. It is said that having
told a shoemaker, after he had just tried a pair of his boots, that he
had no money to pay for them, Crispin had such callous feelings that he
refused his majesty the boots. "It is for this reason," says Comines, "I
praise those princes who are on good terms with the lowest of their
people; for they know not at what hour they may want them."

Many monarchs of this day have experienced more than once the truth of
the reflection of Comines.

We may add here, that in all conquered countries the descendants of
royal families have been found among the dregs of the populace. An Irish
prince has been discovered in the person of a miserable peasant; and in
Mexico, its faithful historian Clavigero notices, that he has known a
locksmith, who was a descendant of its ancient kings, and a tailor, the
representative of one of its noblest families.


Barbarous as the feudal customs were, they were the first attempts at
organising European society. The northern nations, in their irruptions
and settlements in Europe, were barbarians independent of each other,
till a sense of public safety induced these hordes to confederate. But
the private individual reaped no benefit from the public union; on the
contrary, he seems to have lost his wild liberty in the subjugation; he
in a short time was compelled to suffer from his chieftain; and the
curiosity of the philosopher is excited by contemplating in the feudal
customs a barbarous people carrying into their first social institutions
their original ferocity. The institution of forming cities into
communities at length gradually diminished this military and
aristocratic tyranny; and the freedom of cities, originating in the
pursuits of commerce, shook off the yoke of insolent lordships. A famous
ecclesiastical writer of that day, who had imbibed the feudal
prejudices, calls these communities, which were distinguished by the
name of _libertates_ (hence probably our municipal term the
_liberties_), as "execrable inventions, by which, contrary to law and
justice, slaves withdrew themselves from that obedience which they owed
to their masters." Such was the expiring voice of aristocratic tyranny!
This subject has been ingeniously discussed by Robertson in his
preliminary volume to Charles V.; but the following facts constitute the
picture which the historian leaves to be gleaned by the minuter

The feudal government introduced a species of servitude which till that
time was unknown, and which was called the servitude of the land. The
bondmen or serfs, and the villains or country servants, did not reside
in the house of the lord: but they entirely depended on his caprice; and
he sold them, as he did the animals, with the field where they lived,
and which they cultivated.

It is difficult to conceive with what insolence the petty lords of those
times tyrannized over their villains: they not only oppressed their
slaves with unremitted labour, instigated by a vile cupidity, but their
whim and caprice led them to inflict miseries without even any motive of

In Scotland they had a shameful institution of maiden-rights; and
Malcolm the Third only abolished it, by ordering that they might be
redeemed by a quit-rent. The truth of this circumstance Dalrymple has
attempted, with excusable patriotism, to render doubtful. There seems,
however, to be no doubt of the existence of this custom; since it also
spread through Germany, and various parts of Europe; and the French
barons extended their domestic tyranny to three nights of involuntary
prostitution. Montesquieu is infinitely French, when he could turn this
shameful species of tyranny into a _bon mot_; for he boldly observes on
this, "_C'étoit bien ces trois nuits-là, qu'il falloit choisir; car pour
les autres on n'auroit pas donné beaucoup d'argent_." The legislator in
the wit forgot the feelings of his heart.

Others, to preserve this privilege when they could not enjoy it in all
its extent, thrust their leg booted into the bed of the new-married
couple. This was called the _droit de cuisse_. When the bride was in
bed, the esquire or lord performed this ceremony, and stood there, his
thigh in the bed, with a lance in his hand: in this ridiculous attitude
he remained till he was tired; and the bridegroom was not suffered to
enter the chamber till his lordship had retired. Such indecent
privileges must have originated in the worst of intentions; and when
afterwards they advanced a step in more humane manners, the ceremonial
was preserved from avaricious motives. Others have compelled their
subjects to pass the first night at the top of a tree, and there to
consummate their marriage; to pass the bridal hours in a river; or to be
bound naked to a cart, and to trace some furrows as they were dragged;
or to leap with their feet tied over the horns of stags.

Sometimes their caprice commanded the bridegroom to appear in drawers at
their castle, and plunge into a ditch of mud; and sometimes they were
compelled to beat the waters of the ponds to hinder the frogs from
disturbing the lord!

Wardship, or the privilege of guardianship enjoyed by some lords, was
one of the barbarous inventions of the feudal ages; the guardian had
both the care of the person, and for his own use the revenue of the
estates. This feudal custom was so far abused in England, that the king
sold these lordships to strangers; and when the guardian had fixed on a
marriage for the infant, if the youth or maiden did not agree to this,
they forfeited the value of the marriage; that is, the sum the guardian
would have obtained by the other party had it taken place. This cruel
custom was a source of domestic unhappiness, particularly in
love-affairs, and has served as the ground-work of many a pathetic play
by our elder dramatists.

There was a time when the German lords reckoned amongst their privileges
that of robbing on the highways of their territory; which ended in
raising up the famous Hanseatic Union, to protect their commerce against
rapine and avaricious exactions of toll.

Geoffrey, lord of Coventry, compelled his wife to ride naked on a white
pad through the streets of the town; that by this mode he might restore
to the inhabitants those privileges of which his wantonness had deprived
them. This anecdote some have suspected to be fictitious, from its
extreme barbarity; but the character of the middle ages will admit of
any kind of wanton barbarism.

When the abbot of Figeac made his entry into that town, the lord of
Montbron, dressed in a harlequin's coat, and one of his legs naked, was
compelled by an ancient custom to conduct him to the door of his abbey,
leading his horse by the bridle. Blount's "Jocular Tenures" is a curious
collection of such capricious clauses in the grants of their lands.[57]

The feudal barons frequently combined to share among themselves those
children of their villains who appeared to be the most healthy and
serviceable, or remarkable for their talent; and not unfrequently sold
them in their markets.

The feudal servitude is not, even in the present enlightened times,
abolished in Poland, in Germany, and in Russia. In those countries, the
bondmen are still entirely dependent on the caprice of their masters.
The peasants of Hungary or Bohemia frequently revolt, and attempt to
shake off the pressure of feudal tyranny.

An anecdote of comparatively recent date displays their unfeeling
caprice. A lord or prince of the northern countries passing through one
of his villages, observed a small assembly of peasants and their
families amusing themselves with dancing. He commands his domestics to
part the men from the women, and confine them in the houses. He orders
the coats of the women to be drawn up above their heads, and tied with
their garters. The men were then liberated, and those who did not
recognise their wives in that state received a severe castigation.

Absolute dominion hardens the human heart; and nobles accustomed to
command their bondmen will treat their domestics as slaves, as
capricious or inhuman West Indians treated their domestic slaves. Those
of Siberia punish theirs by a free use of the cudgel or rod. The Abbé
Chappe saw two Russian slaves undress a chambermaid, who had by some
trifling negligence given offence to her mistress; after having
uncovered as far as her waist, one placed her head betwixt his knees;
the other held her by the feet; while both, armed with two sharp rods,
violently lashed her back till it pleased the domestic tyrant to decree
_it was enough_!

After a perusal of these anecdotes of feudal tyranny, we may exclaim
with Goldsmith--

    "I fly from  PETTY TYRANTS--to the THRONE."

Mr. Hallam's "State of Europe during the Middle Ages" renders this short
article superfluous in a philosophical view.


[Footnote 57: Many are of the nature of "peppercorn rents." Thus a manor
was held from the king "by the service of one rose only, to be paid
yearly, at the feast of St. John the Baptist, for all services; and they
gave the king one penny for the price of the said one rose, as it was
appraised by the barons of the Exchequer." Nicholas De Mora, in the
reign of Henry III., "rendered at the Exchequer two knives, one good,
and the other a very bad one, for certain land which he held in
Shropshire." The citizens of London still pay to the Exchequer six
horseshoes with nails, for their right to a piece of ground in the
parish of St. Clement, originally granted to a farrier, as early as the
reign of Henry III.]


Gaming appears to be an universal passion. Some have attempted to deny
its universality; they have imagined that it is chiefly prevalent in
cold climates, where such a passion becomes most capable of agitating
and gratifying the torpid minds of their inhabitants.

The fatal propensity of gaming is to be discovered, as well amongst the
inhabitants of the frigid and torrid zones, as amongst those of the
milder climates. The savage and the civilized, the illiterate and the
learned, are alike captivated by the hope of accumulating wealth without
the labours of industry.

Barbeyrac has written an elaborate treatise on gaming, and we have two
quarto volumes, by C. Moore, on suicide, gaming, and duelling, which may
be placed by the side of Barbeyrac. All these works are excellent
sermons; but a sermon to a gambler, a duellist, or a suicide! A
dice-box, a sword, and pistol, are the only things that seem to have any
power over these unhappy men, for ever lost in a labyrinth of their own

I am much pleased with the following thought. "The ancients," says the
author of _Amusemens Sérieux et Comiques_, "assembled to see their
gladiators kill one another; they classed this among their _games_! What
barbarity! But are we less barbarous, we who call a _game_ an
assembly--who meet at the faro table, where the actors themselves
confess they only meet to destroy one another?" In both these cases the
philosopher may perhaps discover their origin in the listless state of
_ennui_ requiring an immediate impulse of the passions, and very
inconsiderate as to the fatal means which procure the desired agitation.

The most ancient treatise by a modern on this subject, is said to be by
a French physician, one Eckeloo, who published in 1569, _De Aleâ, sive
de curandâ Ludendi in Pecuniam cupiditate_, that is, "On games of
chance, or a cure for gaming." The treatise itself is only worth notice
from the circumstance of the author being himself one of the most
inveterate gamblers; he wrote this work to convince himself of this
folly. But in spite of all his solemn vows, the prayers of his friends,
and his own book perpetually quoted before his face, he was a great
gamester to his last hour! The same circumstance happened to Sir John
Denham, who also published a tract against gaming, and to the last
remained a gamester. They had not the good sense of old Montaigne, who
gives the reason why he gave over gaming. "I used to like formerly games
of chance with cards and dice; but of that folly I have long been cured;
merely because I found that whatever good countenance I put on when I
lost, I did not feel my vexation the less." Goldsmith fell a victim to
this madness. To play any game well requires serious study, time, and
experience. If a literary man plays deeply, he will be duped even by
shallow fellows, as well as by professed gamblers.

_Dice_, and that little pugnacious animal the _cock_, are the chief
instruments employed by the numerous nations of the East, to agitate
their minds and ruin their fortunes; to which the Chinese, who are
desperate gamesters, add the use of _cards_. When all other property is
played away, the Asiatic gambler scruples not to stake his _wife_ or his
_child_, on the cast of a die, or the courage and strength of a martial
bird. If still unsuccessful, the last venture he stakes is _himself_.

In the Island of Ceylon, _cock-fighting_ is carried to a great height.
The Sumatrans are addicted to the use of dice. A strong spirit of play
characterises a Malayan. After having resigned everything to the good
fortune of the winner, he is reduced to a horrid state of desperation;
he then loosens a certain lock of hair, which indicates war and
destruction to all whom the raving gamester meets. He intoxicates
himself with opium; and working himself into a fit of frenzy, he bites
or kills every one who comes in his way. But as soon as this lock is
seen flowing, it is _lawful_ to fire at the person and to destroy him
as fast as possible. This custom is what is called "To run a muck." Thus
Dryden writes--

    "Frontless and satire-proof, he scours the streets,
    And _runs_ an Indian _muck_ at all he meets."

Thus also Pope--

    "Satire's my weapon, but =I'm= too discreet
    To _run a muck_, and tilt at all I meet."

Johnson could not discover the derivation of the word _muck_. To "run a
muck" is an old phrase for attacking madly and indiscriminately; and has
since been ascertained to be a Malay word.

To discharge their gambling debts, the Siamese sell their possessions,
their families, and at length themselves. The Chinese play _night_ and
_day_, till they have lost all they are worth; and then they usually go
and hang themselves. Such is the propensity of the Javanese for high
play, that they were compelled to make a law, that "Whoever ventures his
money at play shall be put to death." In the newly-discovered islands of
the Pacific Ocean, they venture even their hatchets, which they hold as
invaluable acquisitions, on running-matches.--"We saw a man," says Cook,
"beating his breast and tearing his hair in the violence of rage, for
having lost three hatchets at one of these races, and which he had
purchased with nearly half his property."

The ancient nations were not less addicted to gaming: Persians,
Grecians, and Romans; the Goths, and Germans. To notice the modern ones
were a melancholy task: there is hardly a family in Europe which cannot
record, from their own domestic annals, the dreadful prevalence of this

_Gamester_ and _cheater_ were synonymous terms in the time of Shakspeare
and Jonson: they have hardly lost much of their double signification in
the present day.

The following is a curious picture of a gambling-house, from a
contemporary account, and appears to be an establishment more systematic
even than the "Hells" of the present day.

"A list of the officers established in the most notorious
gaming-houses," from the DAILY JOURNAL, Jan. 9th, 1731.

1st. A COMMISSIONER, always a proprietor, who looks in of a night; and
the week's account is audited by him and two other proprietors.

2nd. A DIRECTOR, who superintends the room.

3rd. An OPERATOR, who deals the cards at a cheating game, called Faro.

4th. Two CROWPEES, who watch the cards, and gather the money for the

5th. Two PUFFS, who have money given them to decoy others to play.

6th. A CLERK, who is a check upon the PUFFS, to see that they sink none
of the money given them to play with.

7th. A SQUIB is a puff of lower rank, who serves at half-pay salary
while he is learning to deal.

8th. A FLASHER, to swear how often the bank has been stript.

9th. A DUNNER, who goes about to recover money lost at play.

10th. A WAITER, to fill out wine, snuff candles, and attend the

11th. An ATTORNEY, a Newgate solicitor.

12th. A CAPTAIN, who is to fight any gentleman who is peevish for losing
his money.

13th. An USHER, who lights gentlemen up and down stairs, and gives the
word to the porter.

14th. A PORTER, who is generally a soldier of the Foot Guards.

15th. An ORDERLY MAN, who walks up and down the outside of the door, to
give notice to the porter, and alarm the house at the approach of the

16th. A RUNNER, who is to get intelligence of the justices' meeting.

17th. LINK-BOYS, COACHMEN, CHAIRMEN, or others who bring intelligence of
the justices' meetings, or of the constables being out, at half-a-guinea

multis aliis_.

The "Memoirs of the most famous Gamesters from the reign of Charles II.
to Queen Anne, by T. Lucas, Esq., 1714," appears to be a bookseller's
job; but probably a few traditional stories are preserved.[58]


[Footnote 58: This curious little volume deserves more attention than
the slight mention above would occasion. It is diffuse in style, and
hence looks a little like a "bookseller's job," of which the most was to
be made; but the same fault has characterised many works whose authors
possess a bad style. Many of the tales narrated of well-known London
characters of the "merry days" of Charles the Second are very
characteristic, and are not to be met with elsewhere.]


An Arabic chronicle is only valuable from the time of Mahomet. For such
is the stupid superstition of the Arabs, that they pride themselves on
being ignorant of whatever has passed before the mission of their
Prophet. The Arabic chronicle of Jerusalem contains the most curious
information concerning the crusades: Longuerue translated several
portions of this chronicle, which appears to be written with
impartiality. It renders justice to the Christian heroes, and
particularly dwells on the gallant actions of the Count de St. Gilles.

Our historians chiefly write concerning _Godfrey de Bouillon_; only the
learned know that the Count _de St. Gilles_ acted there so important a
character. The stories of the _Saracens_ are just the reverse; they
speak little concerning Godfrey, and eminently distinguish Saint Gilles.

Tasso has given in to the more vulgar accounts, by making the former so
eminent, at the cost of the other heroes, in his Jerusalem Delivered.
Thus Virgil transformed by his magical power the chaste Dido into a
distracted lover; and Homer the meretricious Penelope into a moaning
matron. It is not requisite for poets to be historians, but historians
should not be so frequently poets. The same charge, I have been told,
must be made against the Grecian historians. The Persians are viewed to
great disadvantage in Grecian history. It would form a curious inquiry,
and the result might be unexpected to some, were the Oriental student to
comment on the Grecian historians. The Grecians were not the demi-gods
they paint themselves to have been, nor those they attacked the
contemptible multitudes they describe. These boasted victories might be
diminished. The same observation attaches to Cæsar's account of his
British expedition. He never records the defeats he frequently
experienced. The national prejudices of the Roman historians have
undoubtedly occasioned us to have a very erroneous conception of the
Carthaginians, whose discoveries in navigation and commercial
enterprises were the most considerable among the ancients. We must
indeed think highly of that people, whose works on agriculture, which
they had raised into a science, the senate of Rome ordered to be
translated into Latin. They must indeed have been a wise and grave
people.--Yet they are stigmatised by the Romans for faction, cruelty,
and cowardice; and the "Punic" faith has come down to us in a proverb:
but Livy was a Roman! and there is such a thing as a patriotic


If we except the belief of a future remuneration beyond this life for
suffering virtue, and retribution for successful crimes, there is no
system so simple, and so little repugnant to our understanding, as that
of the metempsychosis. The pains and the pleasures of this life are by
this system considered as the recompense or the punishment of our
actions in an anterior state: so that, says St. Foix, we cease to wonder
that, among men and animals, some enjoy an easy and agreeable life,
while others seem born only to suffer all kinds of miseries.
Preposterous as this system may appear, it has not wanted for advocates
in the present age, which indeed has revived every kind of fanciful
theory. Mercier, in _L'an deux mille quatre cents quarante_, seriously
maintains the present one.

If we seek for the origin of the opinion of the metempsychosis, or the
transmigration of souls into other bodies, we must plunge into the
remotest antiquity; and even then we shall find it impossible to fix the
epoch of its first author. The notion was long extant in Greece before
the time of Pythagoras. Herodotus assures us that the Egyptian priests
taught it; but he does not inform us of the time it began to spread. It
probably followed the opinion of the immortality of the soul. As soon as
the first philosophers had established this dogma, they thought they
could not maintain this immortality without a transmigration of souls.
The opinion of the metempsychosis spread in almost every region of the
earth; and it continues, even to the present time, in all its force
amongst those nations who have not yet embraced Christianity. The people
of Arracan, Peru, Siam, Camboya, Tonquin, Cochin-China, Japan, Java, and
Ceylon still entertain that fancy, which also forms the chief article of
the Chinese religion. The Druids believed in transmigration. The bardic
triads of the Welsh are full of this belief; and a Welsh antiquary
insists, that by an emigration which formerly took place, it was
conveyed to the Bramins of India from Wales! The Welsh bards tell us
that the souls of men transmigrate into the bodies of those animals
whose habits and characters they most resemble, till after a circuit of
such penitential miseries, they are purified for the celestial presence;
for man may be converted into a pig or a wolf, till at length he assumes
the inoffensiveness of the dove.

My learned friend Sharon Turner has explained, in his "Vindication of
the ancient British Poems," p. 231, the Welsh system of the
metempsychosis. Their bards mention three circles of existence. The
circle of the all-enclosing circle holds nothing alive or dead, but God.
The second circle, that of felicity, is that which men are to pervade
after they have passed through their terrestrial changes. The circle of
evil is that in which human nature passes through those varying stages
of existence which it must undergo before it is qualified to inhabit the
circle of felicity.

The progression of man through the circle of evil is marked by three
infelicities: Necessity, oblivion, and deaths. The deaths which follow
our changes are so many escapes from their power. Man is a free agent,
and has the liberty of choosing; his sufferings and changes cannot be
foreseen. By his misconduct he may happen to fall retrograde into the
lowest state from which he had emerged. If his conduct in any one state,
instead of improving his being, had made it worse, he fell back into a
worse condition, to commence again his purifying revolutions. Humanity
was the limit of the degraded transmigrations. All the changes above
humanity produced felicity. Humanity is the scene of the contest; and
after man has traversed every state of animated existence, and can
remember all that he has passed through, that consummation follows which
he attains in the circle of felicity. It is on this system of
transmigration that Taliessin, the Welsh bard, who wrote in the sixth
century, gives a recital of his pretended transmigrations. He tells how
he had been a serpent, a wild ass, a buck, or a crane, &c.; and this
kind of reminiscence of his former state, this recovery of memory, was a
proof of the mortal's advances to the happier circle. For to forget what
we have been was one of the curses of the circle of evil. Taliessin,
therefore, adds Mr. Turner, as profusely boasts of his recovered
reminiscence as any modern sectary can do of his state of grace and

In all these wild reveries there seems to be a moral fable in the
notion, that the clearer a man recollects what a _brute_ he has been, it
is a certain proof that he is in an improved state!

According to the authentic Clavigero, in his history of Mexico, we find
the Pythagorean transmigration carried on in the West, and not less
fancifully than in the countries of the East. The people of Tlascala
believe that the souls of persons of rank went after their death to
inhabit the bodies of _beautiful and sweet singing birds_, and those of
the _nobler quadrupeds_; while the souls of inferior persons were
supposed to pass into _weasels_, _beetles_, and such other _meaner

There is something not a little ludicrous in the description Plutarch
gives at the close of his treatise on "the delay of heavenly justice."
Thespesius saw at length the souls of those who were condemned to return
to life, and whom they violently forced to take the forms of all kinds
of animals. The labourers charged with this transformation forged with
their instruments certain parts; others, a new form; and made some
totally disappear; that these souls might be rendered proper for another
kind of life and other habits. Among these he perceived the soul of
Nero, which had already suffered long torments, and which stuck to the
body by nails red from the fire. The workmen seized on him to make a
viper of, under which form he was now to live, after having devoured the
breast that had carried him.--But in this Plutarch only copies the fine
reveries of Plato.


The etiquette, or rules to be observed in royal palaces, is necessary
for keeping order at court. In Spain it was carried to such lengths as
to make martyrs of their kings. Here is an instance, at which, in spite
of the fatal consequences it produced, one cannot refrain from smiling.

Philip the Third was gravely seated by the fire-side: the fire-maker of
the court had kindled so great a quantity of wood, that the monarch was
nearly suffocated with heat, and his _grandeur_ would not suffer him to
rise from the chair; the domestics could not _presume_ to enter the
apartment, because it was against the _etiquette_. At length the Marquis
de Potat appeared, and the king ordered him to damp the fire; but _he_
excused himself; alleging that he was forbidden by the _etiquette_ to
perform such a function, for which the Duke d'Ussada ought to be called
upon, as it was his business. The duke was gone out: the _fire_ burnt
fiercer; and the _king_ endured it, rather than derogate from his
_dignity_. But his blood was heated to such a degree, that an erysipelas
of the head appeared the next day, which, succeeded by a violent fever,
carried him off in 1621, in the twenty-fourth year of his reign.

The palace was once on fire; a soldier, who knew the king's sister was
in her apartment, and must inevitably have been consumed in a few
moments by the flames, at the risk of his life rushed in, and brought
her highness safe out in his arms: but the Spanish _etiquette_ was here
wofully broken into! The loyal soldier was brought to trial; and as it
was impossible to deny that he had entered her apartment, the judges
condemned him to die! The Spanish Princess however condescended, in
consideration of the circumstance, to _pardon_ the soldier, and very
benevolently saved his life.

When Isabella, mother of Philip II., was ready to be delivered of him,
she commanded that all the lights should be extinguished: that if the
violence of her pain should occasion her face to change colour, no one
might perceive it. And when the midwife said, "Madam, cry out, that will
give you ease," she answered in _good Spanish_, "How dare you give me
such advice? I would rather die than cry out."

    "Spain gives us _pride_--which Spain to all the earth
    May largely give, nor fear herself a dearth!"--_Churchill._

Philip the Third was a weak bigot, who suffered himself to be governed
by his ministers. A patriot wished to open his eyes, but he could not
pierce through the crowds of his flatterers; besides that the voice of
patriotism heard in a corrupted court would have become a crime never
pardoned. He found, however, an ingenious manner of conveying to him his
censure. He caused to be laid on his table, one day, a letter sealed,
which bore this address--"To the King of Spain, Philip the Third, at
present in the service of the Duke of Lerma."

In a similar manner, Don Carlos, son to Philip the Second, made a book
with empty pages, to contain the voyages of his father, which bore this
title--"The great and admirable Voyages of the King Mr. Philip." All
these voyages consisted in going to the Escurial from Madrid, and
returning to Madrid from the Escurial. Jests of this kind at length cost
him his life.


The terrific honours which these ferocious nations paid to their
deceased monarchs are recorded in history, by the interment of Attila,
king of the Huns, and Alaric, king of the Goths.

Attila died in 453, and was buried in the midst of a vast champaign in a
coffin which was inclosed in one of gold, another of silver, and a third
of iron. With the body were interred all the spoils of the enemy,
harnesses embroidered with gold and studded with jewels, rich silks, and
whatever they had taken most precious in the palaces of the kings they
had pillaged; and that the place of his interment might for ever remain
concealed, the Huns deprived of life all who assisted at his burial!

The Goths had done nearly the same for Alaric in 410, at Cosença, a town
in Calabria. They turned aside the river Vasento; and having formed a
grave in the midst of its bed where its course was most rapid, they
interred this king with prodigious accumulations of riches. After having
caused the river to reassume its usual course, they murdered, without
exception, all those who had been concerned in digging this singular


The vicar of Bray, in Berkshire, was a papist under the reign of Henry
the Eighth, and a Protestant under Edward the Sixth; he was a papist
again under Mary, and once more became a Protestant in the reign of
Elizabeth.[59] When this scandal to the gown was reproached for his
versatility of religious creeds, and taxed for being a turncoat and an
inconstant changeling, as Fuller expresses it, he replied, "Not so
neither; for if I changed my religion, I am sure I kept true to my
principle; which is, to live and die the vicar of Bray!"

This vivacious and reverend hero has given birth to a proverb peculiar
to this county, "The vicar of Bray will be vicar of Bray still." But how
has it happened that this _vicar_ should be so notorious, and one in
much higher rank, acting the same part, should have escaped notice? Dr.
_Kitchen_, bishop of Llandaff, from an idle abbot under Henry VIII. was
made a busy bishop; Protestant under Edward, he returned to his old
master under Mary; and at last took the oath of supremacy under
Elizabeth, and finished as a parliament Protestant. A pun spread the
odium of his name; for they said that he had always loved the _Kitchen_
better than the _Church_!


[Footnote 59: His name was Simon Symonds. The popular ballad absurdly
exaggerates his deeds, and gives them untrue amplitude. It is not older
than the last century, and is printed in Ritson's _English Songs_.]


It may be recorded as a species of Puritanic barbarism, that no later
than the year 1757, a man of genius was persecuted because he had
written a tragedy which tended by no means to hurt the morals; but, on
the contrary, by awakening the piety of domestic affections with the
nobler passions, would rather elevate and purify the mind.

When Home, the author of the tragedy of Douglas, had it performed at
Edinburgh, some of the divines, his acquaintance, attending the
representation, the clergy, with the monastic spirit of the darkest
ages, published a paper, which I abridge for the contemplation of the
reader, who may wonder to see such a composition written in the
eighteenth century."

"On Wednesday, February the 2nd, 1757, the Presbytery of Glasgow came to
the following resolution. They having seen a printed paper, intituled,
'An admonition and exhortation of the reverend Presbytery of Edinburgh;'
which, among other _evils_ prevailing, observing the following
_melancholy_ but _notorious_ facts: that one who is a minister of the
church of Scotland did _himself_ write and compose _a stage-play_,
intituled, 'The tragedy of Douglas,' and got it to be acted at the
theatre of Edinburgh; and that he with several other ministers of the
church were present; and _some_ of them _oftener than once_, at the
acting of the said play before a numerous audience. The presbytery being
_deeply affected_ with this new and strange appearance, do publish these
sentiments," &c Sentiments with which I will not disgust the reader;
but which they appear not yet to have purified and corrected, as they
have shown in the case of Logan and other Scotchmen, who have committed
the crying sin of composing dramas!


M. Morin, in the Memoirs of the French Academy, has formed a little
history of Poverty, which I abridge.

The writers on the genealogies of the gods have not noticed the deity of
Poverty, though admitted as such in the pagan heaven, while she has had
temples and altars on earth. The allegorical Plato has pleasingly
narrated, that at the feast which Jupiter gave on the birth of Venus,
Poverty modestly stood at the gate of the palace to gather the fragments
of the celestial banquet; when she observed the god of riches,
inebriated with nectar, roll out of the heavenly residence, and passing
into the Olympian Gardens, throw himself on a vernal bank. She seized
this opportunity to become familiar with the god. The frolicsome deity
honoured her with his caresses; and from this amour sprung the god of
Love, who resembles his father in jollity and mirth, and his mother in
his nudity. The allegory is ingenious. The union of poverty with riches
must inevitably produce the most delightful of pleasures.

The golden age, however, had but the duration of a flower; when it
finished, Poverty began to appear. The ancestors of the human race, if
they did not meet her face to face, knew her in a partial degree; the
vagrant Cain encountered her. She was firmly established in the
patriarchal age. We hear of merchants who publicly practised the
commerce of vending slaves, which indicates the utmost degree of
poverty. She is distinctly marked by Job: this holy man protests, that
he had nothing to reproach himself with respecting the poor, for he had
assisted them in their necessities.

In the scriptures, legislators paid great attention to their relief.
Moses, by his wise precautions, endeavoured to soften the rigours of
this unhappy state. The division of lands, by tribes and families; the
septennial jubilees; the regulation to bestow at the harvest-time a
certain portion of all the fruits of the earth for those families who
were in want; and the obligation of his moral law to love one's
neighbour as one's self; were so many mounds erected against the
inundations of poverty. The Jews under their Theocracy had few or no
mendicants. Their kings were unjust; and rapaciously seizing on
inheritances which were not their right, increased the numbers of the
poor. From the reign of David there were oppressive governors, who
devoured the people as their bread. It was still worse under the foreign
powers of Babylon, of Persia, and the Roman emperors. Such were the
extortions of their publicans, and the avarice of their governors, that
the number of mendicants dreadfully augmented; and it was probably for
that reason that the opulent families consecrated a tenth part of their
property for their succour, as appears in the time of the evangelists.
In the preceding ages no more was given, as their casuists assure us,
than the fortieth or thirtieth part; a custom which this singular nation
still practise. If there are no poor of their nation where they reside,
they send it to the most distant parts. The Jewish merchants make this
charity a regular charge in their transactions with each other; and at
the close of the year render an account to the poor of their nation.

By the example of Moses, the ancient legislators were taught to pay a
similar attention to the poor. Like him, they published laws respecting
the division of lands; and many ordinances were made for the benefit of
those whom fires, inundations, wars, or bad harvests had reduced to
want. Convinced that _idleness_ more inevitably introduced poverty than
any other cause, it was rigorously punished; the Egyptians made it
criminal, and no vagabonds or mendicants were suffered under any
pretence whatever. Those who were convicted of slothfulness, and still
refused to labour for the public when labour was offered to them, were
punished with death. The famous Pyramids are the works of men who
otherwise had remained vagabonds and mendicants.

The same spirit inspired Greece. Lycurgus would not have in his republic
either _poor_ or _rich_: they lived and laboured in common. As in the
present times, every family has its stores and cellars, so they had
public ones, and distributed the provisions according to the ages and
constitutions of the people. If the same regulation was not precisely
observed by the Athenians, the Corinthians, and the other people of
Greece, the same maxim existed in full force against idleness.

According to the laws of Draco, Solon, &c., a conviction of wilful
poverty was punished with the loss of life. Plato, more gentle in his
manners, would have them only banished. He calls them enemies of the
state; and pronounces as a maxim, that where there are great numbers of
mendicants, fatal revolutions will happen; for as these people have
nothing to lose, they plan opportunities to disturb the public repose.

The ancient Romans, whose universal object was the public prosperity,
were not indebted to Greece on this head. One of the principal
occupations of their censors was to keep a watch on the vagabonds. Those
who were condemned as incorrigible sluggards were sent to the mines, or
made to labour on the public edifices. The Romans of those times, unlike
the present race, did not consider the _far niente_ as an occupation;
they were convinced that their liberalities were ill-placed in bestowing
them on such men. The little republics of the _bees_ and the _ants_ were
often held out as an example; and the last particularly, where Virgil
says, that they have elected overseers who correct the sluggards:

    "---- Pars agmina cogunt,
    Castigantque moras."

And if we may trust the narratives of our travellers, the _beavers_
pursue this regulation more rigorously and exactly than even these
industrious societies. But their rigour, although but animals, is not so
barbarous as that of the ancient Germans; who, Tacitus informs us,
plunged the idlers and vagabonds in the thickest mire of their marshes,
and left them to perish by a kind of death which resembled their
inactive dispositions.

Yet, after all, it was not inhumanity that prompted the ancients thus
severely to chastise idleness; they were induced to it by a strict
equity, and it would be doing them injustice to suppose, that it was
thus they treated those _unfortunate poor_, whose indigence was
occasioned by infirmities, by age, or unforeseen calamities. Every
family constantly assisted its branches to save them from being reduced
to beggary; which to them appeared worse than death. The magistrates
protected those who were destitute of friends, or incapable of labour.
When Ulysses was disguised as a mendicant, and presented himself to
Eurymachus, this prince observing him, to be robust and healthy, offered
to give him employment, or otherwise to leave him to his ill fortune.
When the Roman Emperors, even in the reigns of Nero and Tiberius,
bestowed their largesses, the distributors were ordered to exempt those
from receiving a share whose bad conduct kept them in misery; for that
it was better the lazy should die with hunger than be fed in idleness.

Whether the police of the ancients was more exact, or whether they were
more attentive to practise the duties of humanity, or that slavery
served as an efficacious corrective of idleness; it clearly appears how
small was the misery, and how few the numbers of their poor. This they
did, too, without having recourse to hospitals.

At the establishment of Christianity, when the apostles commanded a
community of wealth among their disciples, the miseries of the poor
became alleviated in a greater degree. If they did not absolutely live
together, as we have seen religious orders, yet the wealthy continually
supplied their distressed brethren: but matters greatly changed under
Constantine. This prince published edicts in favour of those Christians
who had been condemned in the preceding reigns to slavery, to the mines,
to the galleys, or prisons. The church felt an inundation of prodigious
crowds of these miserable men, who brought with them urgent wants and
corporeal infirmities. The Christian families were then not numerous;
they could not satisfy these claimants. The magistrates protected them:
they built spacious hospitals, under different titles, for the sick, the
aged, the invalids, the widows, and orphans. The emperors, and the most
eminent personages, were seen in these hospitals, examining the
patients; they assisted the helpless; they dressed the wounded. This did
so much honour to the new religion, that Julian the Apostate introduced
this custom among the pagans. But the best things are continually

These retreats were found insufficient. Many slaves, proud of the
liberty they had just recovered, looked on them as prisons; and, under
various pretexts, wandered about the country. They displayed with art
the scars of their former wounds, and exposed the imprinted marks of
their chains. They found thus a lucrative profession in begging, which
had been interdicted by the laws. The profession did not finish with
them: men of an untoward, turbulent, and licentious disposition, gladly
embraced it. It spread so wide that the succeeding emperors were obliged
to institute new laws; and individuals were allowed to seize on these
mendicants for their slaves and perpetual vassals: a powerful
preservative against this disorder. It is observed in almost every part
of the world but ours; and prevents that populace of beggary which
disgraces Europe. China presents us with a noble example. No beggars are
seen loitering in that country. All the world are occupied, even to the
blind and the lame; and only those who are incapable of labour live at
the public expense. What is done _there_ may also be performed _here_.
Instead of that hideous, importunate, idle, licentious poverty, as
pernicious to the police as to morality, we should see the poverty of
the earlier ages, humble, modest, frugal, robust, industrious, and
laborious. Then, indeed, the fable of Plato might be realised: Poverty
might be embraced by the god of Riches; and if she did not produce the
voluptuous offspring of Love, she would become the fertile mother of
Agriculture, and the ingenious parent of the Arts and Manufactures.


A Rabbin once told me an ingenious invention, which in the Talmud is
attributed to Solomon.

The power of the monarch had spread his wisdom to the remotest parts of
the known world. Queen Sheba, attracted by the splendour of his
reputation, visited this poetical king at his own court; there, one day
to exercise the sagacity of the monarch, Sheba presented herself at the
foot of the throne: in each hand she held a wreath; the one was composed
of natural, and the other of artificial, flowers. Art, in the labour of
the mimetic wreath, had exquisitely emulated the lively hues of nature;
so that, at the distance it was held by the queen for the inspection of
the king, it was deemed impossible for him to decide, as her question
imported, which wreath was the production of nature, and which the work
of art. The sagacious Solomon seemed perplexed; yet to be vanquished,
though in a trifle, by a trifling woman, irritated his pride. The son of
David, he who had written treatises on the vegetable productions "from
the cedar to the hyssop," to acknowledge himself outwitted by a woman,
with shreds of paper and glazed paintings! The honour of the monarch's
reputation for divine sagacity seemed diminished, and the whole Jewish
court looked solemn and melancholy. At length an expedient presented
itself to the king; and one it must be confessed worthy of the
naturalist. Observing a cluster of bees hovering about a window, he
commanded that it should be opened: it was opened; the bees rushed into
the court, and alighted immediately on one of the wreaths, while not a
single one fixed on the other. The baffled Sheba had one more reason to
be astonished at the wisdom of Solomon.

This would make a pretty poetical tale. It would yield an elegant
description, and a pleasing moral; that _the bee_ only _rests_ on the
natural beauties, and never _fixes_ on the _painted flowers_, however
inimitably the colours may be laid on. Applied to the _ladies_, this
would give it pungency. In the "Practical Education" of the Edgeworths,
the reader will find a very ingenious conversation founded on this


Oldham, in his "Satires upon the Jesuits," a work which would admit of a
curious commentary, alludes to their "lying legends," and the
innumerable impositions they practised on the credulous. I quote a few
lines in which he has collected some of those legendary miracles, which
I have noticed in the article LEGENDS, and the amours of the Virgin Mary
are detailed in that on RELIGIOUS NOUVELLETTES.

    Tell, how _blessed Virgin_ to come down was seen,
    Like play-house punk descending in machine,
    How she writ _billet-doux_ and _love-discourse_,
    Made _assignations_, _visits_, and _amours_;
    How hosts distrest, her _smock_ for _banner_ wore,
    Which vanquished foes!
    ---- how _fish_ in conventicles met,
    And _mackerel_ were with _bait of doctrine_ caught:
    How cattle have judicious hearers been!--
    How _consecrated hives_ with bells were hung,
    And _bees_ kept mass, and holy _anthems sung_!
    How _pigs_ to th' _rosary_ kneel'd, and _sheep_ were taught
    To bleat _Te Deum_ and _Magnificat_;
    How _fly-flap_, of church-censure houses rid
    Of insects, which at _curse of fryar_ died.
    How _ferrying cowls_ religious pilgrims bore
    O'er waves, without the help of sail or oar;
    How _zealous crab_ the _sacred image_ bore,
    And swam a catholic to the distant shore.
    With shams like these the giddy rout mislead,
    Their folly and their superstition feed.

All these are allusions to the extravagant fictions in the "Golden
Legend." Among other gross impositions to deceive the mob, Oldham
likewise attacks them for certain publications on topics not less
singular. The tales he has recounted, Oldham says, are only baits for
children, like toys at a fair; but they have their profounder and higher
matters for the learned and inquisitive. He goes on:--

    One undertakes by scales of miles to tell
    The bounds, dimensions, and extent of HELL;
    How many German leagues that realm contains!
    How many chaldrons Hell each year expends
    In coals for roasting Hugonots and friends!
    Another frights the rout with useful stories
    Of wild chimeras, limbos--PURGATORIES--
    Where bloated souls in smoky durance hung,
    Like a Westphalia gammon or neat's tongue,
    To be redeem'd with masses and a song.--SATIRE IV.

The readers of Oldham, for Oldham must ever have readers among the
curious in our poetry, have been greatly disappointed in the pompous
edition of a Captain Thompson, which illustrates none of his allusions.
In the above lines Oldham alludes to some singular works.

Treatises and topographical descriptions of HELL, PURGATORY, and even
HEAVEN, were once the favourite researches among certain zealous
defenders of the Romish Church, who exhausted their ink-horns in
building up a Hell to their own taste, or for their particular
purpose.[60] We have a treatise of Cardinal Bellarmin, a Jesuit, on
_Purgatory_; he seems to have the science of a surveyor among all the
secret tracks and the formidable divisions of "the bottomless pit."

Bellarmin informs us that there are beneath the earth four different
places, or a profound place divided into four parts. The deepest of
these places is _Hell_; it contains all the souls of the damned, where
will be also their bodies after the resurrection, and likewise all the
demons. The place nearest _Hell_ is _Purgatory_, where souls are purged,
or rather where they appease the anger of God by their sufferings. He
says that the same fires and the same torments are alike in both these
places, the only difference between _Hell_ and _Purgatory_ consisting in
their duration. Next to _Purgatory_ is the _limbo_ of those _infants_
who die without having received the sacrament; and the fourth place is
the _limbo_ of the _Fathers_; that is to say, of those _just men_ who
died before the death of Christ. But since the days of the Redeemer,
this last division is empty, like an apartment to be let. A later
catholic theologist, the famous Tillemont, condemns _all the illustrious
pagans_ to the _eternal torments of Hell_? because they lived before the
time of Jesus, and therefore could not be benefited by the redemption!
Speaking of young Tiberius, who was compelled to fall on his own sword,
Tillemont adds, "Thus by his own hand he ended his miserable life, _to
begin another, the misery of which will never end_!" Yet history records
nothing bad of this prince. Jortin observes that he added this
_reflection_ in his later edition, so that the good man as he grew older
grew more uncharitable in his religious notions. It is in this manner
too that the Benedictine editor of Justin Martyr speaks of the
illustrious pagans. This father, after highly applauding Socrates, and a
few more who resembled him, inclines to think that they are not fixed in
_Hell_. But the Benedictine editor takes great pains to clear the good
father from the shameful imputation of supposing that a _virtuous pagan
might be saved_ as well as a Benedictine monk! For a curious specimen of
this _odium theologicum_, see the "Censure" of the Sorbonne on
Marmontel's Belisarius.

The adverse party, who were either philosophers or reformers, received
all such information with great suspicion. Anthony Cornelius, a lawyer
in the sixteenth century, wrote a small tract, which was so effectually
suppressed, as a monster of atheism, that a copy is now only to be found
in the hands of the curious. This author ridiculed the absurd and horrid
doctrine of _infant damnation_, and was instantly decried as an atheist,
and the printer prosecuted to his ruin! Cælius Secundus Curio, a noble
Italian, published a treatise _De Amplitudine beati Regni Dei_, to prove
that _Heaven_ has more inhabitants than _Hell_,--or, in his own phrase,
that the _elect_ are more numerous than the _reprobate_. However we may
incline to smile at these works, their design was benevolent. They were
the first streaks of the morning light of the Reformation. Even such
works assisted mankind to examine more closely, and hold in greater
contempt, the extravagant and pernicious doctrines of the domineering
papistical church.


[Footnote 60: One of the most horrible of these books was the work of
the Jesuit Pinamonti; it details with frightful minuteness the nature of
hell-torments, accompanied by the most revolting pictures of the
condemned under various refined torments. It was translated in an
abbreviated form, and sold for a few pence as a popular religious book
in Ireland, and may be so still. It is divided into a series of
meditations for each day in the week, on hell and its torments.]


The character of Bruyère's "Absent Man" has been translated in the
Spectator, and exhibited on the theatre. It is supposed to be a
fictitious character, or one highly coloured. It was well known,
however, to his contemporaries, to be the Count de Brancas. The present
anecdotes concerning the same person were unknown to, or forgotten by,
Bruyère; and are to the full as extraordinary as those which
characterise _Menalcas_, or the Absent Man.

The count was reading by the fireside, but Heaven knows with what degree
of attention, when the nurse brought him his infant child. He throws
down the book; he takes the child in his arms. He was playing with her,
when an important visitor was announced. Having forgot he had quitted
his book, and that it was his child he held in his hands, he hastily
flung the squalling innocent on the table.

The count was walking in the street, and the Duke de la Rochefoucault
crossed the way to speak to him.--"God bless thee, poor man!" exclaimed
the count. Rochefoucault smiled, and was beginning to address him:--"Is
it not enough," cried the count, interrupting him, and somewhat in a
passion; "is it not enough that I have said, at first, I have nothing
for you? Such lazy vagrants as you hinder a gentleman from walking the
streets." Rochefoucault burst into a loud laugh, and awakening the
absent man from his lethargy, he was not a little surprised, himself,
that he should have taken his friend for an importunate mendicant! La
Fontaine is recorded to have been one of the most absent men; and
Furetière relates a most singular instance of this absence of mind. La
Fontaine attended the burial of one of his friends, and some time
afterwards he called to visit him. At first he was shocked at the
information of his death; but recovering from his surprise,
observed--"True! true! I recollect I went to his funeral."


We have heard of many curious deceptions occasioned by the imitative
powers of wax-work. A series of anatomical sculptures in coloured wax
was projected by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, under the direction of
Fontana. Twenty apartments have been filled with those curious
imitations. They represent in every possible detail, and in each
successive stage of denudation, the organs of sense and reproduction;
the muscular, the vascular, the nervous, and the bony system. They
imitate equally well the form, and more exactly the colouring, of nature
than injected preparations; and they have been employed to perpetuate
many transient phenomena of disease, of which no other art could have
made so lively a record.[61]

There is a species of wax-work, which, though it can hardly claim the
honours of the fine arts, is adapted to afford much pleasure--I mean
figures of wax, which may be modelled with great truth of character.

Menage has noticed a work of this kind. In the year 1675, the Duke de
Maine received a gilt cabinet, about the size of a moderate table. On
the door was inscribed, "_The Apartment of Wit_." The inside exhibited
an alcove and a long gallery. In an arm-chair was seated the figure of
the duke himself, composed of wax, the resemblance the most perfect
imaginable. On one side stood the Duke de la Rochefoucault, to whom he
presented a paper of verses for his examination. M. de Marsillac, and
Bossuet bishop of Meaux, were standing near the arm-chair. In the
alcove, Madame de Thianges and Madame de la Fayette sat retired, reading
a book. Boileau, the satirist, stood at the door of the gallery,
hindering seven or eight bad poets from entering. Near Boileau stood
Racine, who seemed to beckon to La Fontaine to come forwards. All these
figures were formed of wax; and this philosophical baby-house,
interesting for the personages it imitated, might induce a wish in some
philosophers to play once more with one.

There was lately an old canon at Cologne who made a collection of small
wax models of characteristic figures, such as personifications of
Misery, in a haggard old man with a scanty crust and a brown jug before
him; or of Avarice, in a keen-looking Jew miser counting his gold: which
were done with such a spirit and reality that a Flemish painter, a
Hogarth or Wilkie, could hardly have worked up the _feeling_ of the
figure more impressively. "All these were done with truth and expression
which I could not have imagined the wax capable of exhibiting," says the
lively writer of "An Autumn near the Rhine." There is something very
infantine in this taste; but I lament that it is very rarely gratified
by such close copiers of nature as was this old canon of Cologne.


[Footnote 61: The finest collection at present is in Guy's Hospital,
Southwark; they are the work of an artist especially retained there, who
by long practice has become perfect, making a labour of love of a
pursuit that would be disgustful to many.]


All the world have heard of these _statues_: they have served as
vehicles for the keenest satire in a land of the most uncontrolled
despotism. The _statue of Pasquin_ (from whence the word _pasquinade_)
and that of _Marforio_ are placed in Rome in two different quarters.
_Marforio_ is an ancient _statue_ of _Mars_, found in the _Forum_, which
the people have corrupted into _Marforio_. _Pasquin_ is a marble
_statue_, greatly mutilated, supposed to be the figure of a
gladiator.[62] To one or other of these _statues_, during the
concealment of the night, are affixed those satires or lampoons which
the authors wish should be dispersed about Rome without any danger to
themselves. When _Marforio_ is attacked, _Pasquin_ comes to his succour;
and when _Pasquin_ is the sufferer, he finds in _Marforio_ a constant
defender. Thus, by a thrust and a parry, the most serious matters are
disclosed: and the most illustrious personages are attacked by their
enemies, and defended by their friends.

Misson, in his Travels in Italy, gives the following account of the
origin of the name of the statue of _Pasquin_:--

A satirical tailor, who lived at Rome, and whose name was _Pasquin_,
amused himself by severe raillery, liberally bestowed on those who
passed by his shop; which in time became the lounge of the newsmongers.
The tailor had precisely the talents to head a regiment of satirical
wits; and had he had time to _publish_, he would have been the Peter
Pindar of his day; but his genius seems to have been satisfied to rest
cross-legged on his shopboard. When any lampoons or amusing bon-mots
were current at Rome, they were usually called, from his shop,
_pasquinades_. After his death, this statue of an ancient gladiator was
found under the pavement of his shop. It was soon set up, and by
universal consent was inscribed with his name; and they still attempt to
raise him from the dead, and keep the caustic tailor alive, in the
marble gladiator of wit.

There is a very rare work, with this title:--"Pasquillorum Tomi Duo;"
the first containing the verse, and the second the prose pasquinades,
published at Basle, 1544. The rarity of this collection of satirical
pieces is entirely owing to the arts of suppression practised by the
papal government. Sallengre, in his literary Memoirs, has given an
account of this work; his own copy had formerly belonged to Daniel
Heinsius, who, in verses written in his hand, describes its rarity and
the price it too cost:--

    Roma meos fratres igni dedit, unica Phoenix
    Vivo, aureisque venio centum Heinsio.

     "Rome gave my brothers to the flames, but I survive a solitary
     Phoenix. Heinsius bought me for a hundred golden ducats."

This collection contains a great number of pieces composed at different
times, against the popes, cardinals, &c. They are not, indeed, materials
for the historian, and they must be taken with grains of allowance. We
find sarcastic epigrams on Leo X., and the infamous Lucretia, daughter
of Alexander VI.: even the corrupt Romans of the day were capable of
expressing themselves with the utmost freedom. Of Alexander VI. we have
an apology for his conduct:

    Vendit Alexander claves, altaria, Christum;
    Emerat ille prius, vendere jure potest.

    "Alexander _sells_ the keys, the altars, and Christ;
    As he _bought_ them first, he had a right to _sell them_!"

On Lucretia:--

    Hoc tumulo dormit Lucretia nomine, sed re
      Thais; Alexandri filia, sponsa, nurus!

     "Beneath this stone sleeps Lucretia by name, but by nature Thais;
     the daughter, the wife, and the daughter-in-law of Alexander!"

Leo X. was a frequent butt for the arrows of Pasquin:--

    Sacra sub extremâ, si forte requiritis, horâ
      Cur Leo non potuit sumere; vendiderat.

     "Do you ask why Leo did not take the sacrament on his
     death-bed?--How could he? He had sold it!"

Many of these satirical touches depend on puns. Urban VII., one of the
_Barberini_ family, pillaged the Pantheon of brass to make cannon,[63]
on which occasion Pasquin was made to say:--

    Quod non fecerunt _Barbari_ Romæ, fecit _Barberini_.

On Clement VII., whose death was said to be occasioned by the
prescriptions of his physician:--

    Curtius occidit Clementem; Curtius auro
      Donandus, per quem publica parta salus.

     "Dr. Curtius has killed the pope by his remedies; he ought to be
     remunerated as a man who has cured the state."

The following, on Paul III., are singular conceptions:--

    Papa Medusæum caput est, coma turba Nepotum;
      Perseu cæde caput, Cæsaries periit.

     "The pope is the head of Medusa; the horrid tresses are his
     nephews; Perseus, cut off the head, and then we shall be rid of
     these serpent-locks."

Another is sarcastic--

    Ut canerent data multa olim sunt Vatibus æra:
      Ut taceam, quantum tu mihi, Paule, dabis?

     "Heretofore money was given to poets that they might sing: how much
     will you give me, Paul, to be silent?"

This collection contains, among other classes, passages from the
Scriptures which have been applied to the court of Rome; to different
nations and persons; and one of "_Sortes Virgilianæ per Pasquillum
collectæ_,"--passages from Virgil frequently happily applied; and those
who are curious in the history of those times will find this portion
interesting. The work itself is not quite so rare as Daniel Heinsius
imagined; the price might now reach from five to ten guineas.[64]

These satirical statues are placed at opposite ends of the town, so that
there is always sufficient time to make Marforio reply to the gibes and
jeers of Pasquin in walking from one to the other. They are an ingenious
substitute for publishing to the world, what no Roman newspaper would
dare to print.


[Footnote 62: The description of these two famous statues is not
correctly given in the text. The statue called _Marforio_ is the figure
of a recumbent river god of colossal proportions, found near the arch of
Septimius Severus. When the museum of the capitol was completed, the
Pope moved the figure into the court-yard; there it is still to be seen.
He also wished to move that of _Pasquin_, but the Duke de Braschi
refused to allow it; and it still stands on its pedestal, at the angle
of the Braschi Palace, in the small square that takes the name of Piazza
del Pasquino from that circumstance. It is much mutilated, but is the
ruin of a very fine work; Bernini expressed great admiration for it. It
is considered by Count Maffei to represent Ajax supporting Menelaus. The
torso of the latter figure only is left, the arms of the former are
broken away; but enough remains of both to conjecture what the original
might have been in design. The _pose_ of both figures is similar to the
fine group known as Ajax and Telamon, in the Loggia of the Pitti Palace
at Florence.]

[Footnote 63: The cannon were to supply the castle of St. Angelo, but a
large portion of the metal (which formerly covered the roof of the
temple) was used to construct the canopy and pillars which still stand
over the tomb of St. Peter, in the great cathedral at Rome.]


The ladies in Japan gild their teeth; and those of the Indies paint them
red. The pearl of teeth must be dyed black to be beautiful in Guzerat.
In Greenland the women colour their faces with blue and yellow. However
fresh the complexion of a Muscovite may be, she would think herself very
ugly if she was not plastered over with paint. The Chinese must have
their feet as diminutive as those of the she-goat; and to render them
thus, their youth is passed in tortures. In ancient Persia an aquiline
nose was often thought worthy of the crown; and if there was any
competition between two princes, the people generally went by this
criterion of majesty. In some countries, the mothers break the noses of
their children; and in others press the head between two boards, that it
may become square. The modern Persians have a strong aversion to red
hair: the Turks, on the contrary, are warm admirers of it. The female
Hottentot receives from the hand of her lover, not silks nor wreaths of
flowers, but warm guts and reeking tripe, to dress herself with enviable

In China, small round eyes are liked; and the girls are continually
plucking their eye-brows, that they may be thin and long. The Turkish
women dip a gold brush in the tincture of a black drug, which they pass
over their eye-brows. It is too visible by day, but looks shining by
night. They tinge their nails with a rose-colour. An African beauty must
have small eyes, thick lips, a large flat nose, and a skin beautifully
black. The Emperor of Monomotapa would not change his amiable negress
for the most brilliant European beauty.

An ornament for the nose appears to us perfectly unnecessary. The
Peruvians, however, think otherwise; and they hang on it a weighty ring,
the thickness of which is proportioned by the rank of their husbands.
The custom of boring it, as our ladies do their ears, is very common in
several nations. Through the perforation are hung various materials;
such as green crystal, gold, stones, a single and sometimes a great
number of gold rings.[65] This is rather troublesome to them in blowing
their noses; and the fact is, as some have informed us, that the Indian
ladies never perform this very useful operation.

The female head-dress is carried in some countries to singular
extravagance. The Chinese fair carries on her head the figure of a
certain bird. This bird is composed of copper or of gold, according to
the quality of the person; the wings spread out, fall over the front of
the head-dress, and conceal the temples. The tail, long and open, forms
a beautiful tuft of feathers. The beak covers the top of the nose; the
neck is fastened to the body of the artificial animal by a spring, that
it may the more freely play, and tremble at the slightest motion.

The extravagance of the Myantses is far more ridiculous than the above.
They carry on their heads a slight board, rather longer than a foot, and
about six inches broad; with this they cover their hair, and seal it
with wax. They cannot lie down, or lean, without keeping the neck
straight; and the country being very woody, it is not uncommon to find
them with their head-dress entangled in the trees. Whenever they comb
their hair, they pass an hour by the fire in melting the wax; but this
combing is only performed once or twice a year.

The inhabitants of the land of Natal wear caps or bonnets, from six to
ten inches high, composed of the fat of oxen. They then gradually anoint
the head with a purer grease, which mixing with the hair, fastens these
_bonnets_ for their lives.


[Footnote 64: This vehicle for satire was introduced early into England;
thus, in 1589, was published "The return of the renowned Cavaliero
Pasquill to England from the other side of the seas, and his meeting
with Marforio at London, upon the Royall Exchange."]

[Footnote 65: For some very strong remarks on this fashion, the reader
may consult Bulwer's _Anthropometamorphosis, or Artificiall Changeling_,
1653. The author is very ungallant in his strictures on "precious jewels
in the snouts of such swine."]


Erasmus, in his Age of Religious Revolution, expressed an alarm, which
in some shape has been since realized. He strangely, yet acutely
observes, that "_literature_ began to make a great and happy progress;
but," he adds, "I fear two things--that the study of _Hebrew_ will
promote _Judaism_, and the study of _philology_ will revive PAGANISM."
He speaks to the same purpose in the Adages, c. 189, as Jortin observes.
Blackwell, in his curious Life of Homer, after showing that the ancient
oracles were the fountains of knowledge, and that the votaries of the
_god_ of _Delphi_ had their faith confirmed by the oracle's perfect
acquaintance with the country, parentage, and fortunes of the suppliant,
and many predictions verified; that besides all this, the oracles that
have reached us discover a wide knowledge of everything relating to
Greece;--this learned writer is at a loss to account for a knowledge
that he thinks has something divine in it: it was a knowledge to be
found nowhere in Greece but among the _Oracles_. He would account for
this phenomenon by supposing there existed a succession of learned men
devoted to this purpose. He says, "Either we must admit the knowledge of
the priests, or turn _converts to the ancients_, and believe in the
_omniscience of Apollo, which in this age I know nobody in hazard of_."
Yet, to the astonishment of this writer, were he now living, he would
have witnessed this incredible fact! Even Erasmus himself might have

We discover the origin of MODERN PLATONISM, as it may be distinguished,
among the Italians. About the middle of the fifteenth century, some time
before the Turks had become masters of Constantinople, a great number of
philosophers flourished. _Gemisthus Pletho_ was one distinguished by his
genius, his erudition, and his fervent passion for _platonism_. Mr.
Roscoe notices Pletho: "His discourses had so powerful an effect upon
Cosmo de' Medici, who was his constant auditor, that he established an
academy at Florence, for the sole purpose of cultivating this new and
more elevated species of philosophy." The learned Marsilio Ficino
translated Plotinus, that great archimage of _platonic mysticism_. Such
were Pletho's eminent abilities, that in his old age those whom his
novel system had greatly irritated either feared or respected him. He
had scarcely breathed his last when they began to abuse Plato and our
Pletho. The following account is written by George of Trebizond.

"Lately has risen amongst us a second Mahomet: and this second, if we do
not take care, will exceed in greatness the first, by the dreadful
consequences of his wicked doctrine, as the first has exceeded Plato. A
disciple and rival of this philosopher in philosophy, in eloquence, and
in science, he had fixed his residence in the Peloponnese. His common
name was _Gemisthus_, but he assumed that of _Pletho_. Perhaps
Gemisthus, to make us believe more easily that he was descended from
heaven, and to engage us to receive more readily his doctrine and his
new law, wished to change his name, according to the manner of the
ancient patriarchs, of whom it is said, that at the time the name was
changed they were called to the greatest things. He has written with no
vulgar art, and with no common elegance. He has given new rules for the
conduct of life, and for the regulation of human affairs; and at the
same time has vomited forth a great number of blasphemies against the
Catholic religion. He was so zealous a platonist that he entertained no
other sentiments than those of Plato, concerning the nature of the gods,
souls, sacrifices, &c. I have heard him myself, when we were together at
Florence, say, that in a few years all men on the face of the earth
would embrace with one common consent, and with one mind, a single and
simple religion, at the first instructions which should be given by a
single preaching. And when I asked him if it would be the religion of
Jesus Christ, or that of Mahomet? he answered, 'Neither one nor the
other; but a _third_, which will not greatly differ from _paganism_.'
These words I heard with so much indignation, that since that time I
have always hated him: I look upon him as a dangerous viper; and I
cannot think of him without abhorrence."

The pious writer might have been satisfied to have bestowed a smile of
pity or contempt.

When Pletho died, full of years and honours, the malice of his enemies
collected all its venom. This circumstance seems to prove that his
abilities must have been great indeed, to have kept such crowds silent.
Several Catholic writers lament that his book was burnt, and regret the
loss of Pletho's work; which, they say, was not designed to subvert the
Christian religion, but only to unfold the system of Plato, and to
collect what he and other philosophers had written on religion and

Of his religious scheme, the reader may judge by this summary account.
The general title of the volume ran thus:--"This book treats of the laws
of the best form of government, and what all men must observe in their
public and private stations, to live together in the most perfect, the
most innocent, and the most happy manner." The whole was divided into
three books. The titles of the chapters where paganism was openly
inculcated are reported by Gennadius, who condemned it to the flames,
but who has not thought proper to enter into the manner of his
arguments. The extravagance of this new legislator appeared, above all,
in the articles which concerned religion. He acknowledges a plurality of
gods: some superior, whom he placed above the heavens; and the others
inferior, on this side the heavens. The first existing from the remotest
antiquity; the others younger, and of different ages. He gave a king to
all these gods, and he called him [Greek: ZEUS], or _Jupiter_; as the
pagans named this power formerly. According to him, the stars had a
soul; the demons were not malignant spirits; and the world was eternal.
He established polygamy, and was even inclined to a community of women.
All his work was filled with such reveries, and, with not a few
impieties, which my pious author has not ventured to give.

What were the intentions of Pletho? If the work was only an arranged
system of paganism, or the platonic philosophy, it might have been an
innocent, if not a curious volume. He was learned and humane, and had
not passed his life entirely in the solitary recesses of his study.

To strain human curiosity to the utmost limits of human credibility, a
_modern Pletho_ has risen in Mr. _Thomas Taylor_, who, consonant to the
platonic philosophy in the present day, religiously professes
_polytheism_! At the close of the eighteenth century, be it recorded,
were published many volumes, in which the author affects to avow himself
a zealous Platonist, and asserts that he can prove that the Christian
religion is "a bastardized and barbarous Platonism." The divinities of
Plato are the divinities to be adored, and we are to be taught to call
God, Jupiter; the Virgin, Venus; and Christ, Cupid! The Iliad of Homer
allegorised, is converted into a Greek bible of the arcana of nature!
Extraordinary as this literary lunacy may appear, we must observe, that
it stands not singular in the annals of the history of the human mind.
The Florentine Academy, which Cosmo founded, had, no doubt, some
classical enthusiasts; but who, perhaps, according to the political
character of their country, were prudent and reserved. The platonic
furor, however, appears to have reached other countries. In the reign of
Louis XII., a scholar named Hemon de la Fosse, a native of Abbeville, by
continually reading the Greek and Latin writers, became mad enough to
persuade himself that it was impossible that the religion of such great
geniuses as Homer, Cicero, and Virgil was a false one. On the 25th of
August, 1503, being at church, he suddenly snatched the host from the
hands of the priest, at the moment it was raised, exclaiming--"What!
always this folly!" He was immediately seized. In the hope that he would
abjure his extravagant errors, they delayed his punishment; but no
exhortation or entreaties availed. He persisted in maintaining that
Jupiter was the sovereign God of the universe, and that there was no
other paradise than the Elysian fields. He was burnt alive, after having
first had his tongue pierced, and his hand cut off. Thus perished an
ardent and learned youth, who ought only to have been condemned as a

Dr. More, the most rational of our modern Platonists, abounds, however,
with the most extravagant reveries, and was inflated with egotism and
enthusiasm, as much as any of his mystic predecessors. He conceived that
he communed with the Divinity itself! that he had been shot as a fiery
dart into the world, and he hoped he had hit the mark. He carried his
self-conceit to such extravagance, that he thought his urine smelt like
violets, and his body in the spring season had a sweet odour; a
perfection peculiar to himself. These visionaries indulge the most
fanciful vanity.

The "sweet odours," and that of "the violets," might, however, have been
real--for they mark a certain stage of the disease of diabetes, as
appears in a medical tract by the elder Dr. Latham.


A volume on this subject might be made very curious and entertaining,
for our ancestors were not less vacillating, and perhaps more
capriciously grotesque, though with infinitely less taste, than the
present generation. Were a philosopher and an artist, as well as an
antiquary, to compose such a work, much diversified entertainment, and
some curious investigation of the progress of the arts and taste, would
doubtless be the result; the subject otherwise appears of trifling
value; the very farthing pieces of history.

The origin of many fashions was in the endeavour to conceal some
deformity of the inventor: hence the cushions, ruffs, hoops, and other
monstrous devices. If a reigning beauty chanced to have an unequal hip,
those who had very handsome hips would load them with that false rump
which the other was compelled by the unkindness of nature to substitute.
Patches were invented in England in the reign of Edward VI. by a foreign
lady, who in this manner ingeniously covered a wen on her neck.
Full-bottomed wigs were invented by a French barber, one Duviller, whose
name they perpetuated, for the purpose of concealing an elevation in the
shoulder of the Dauphin. Charles VII. of France introduced long coats to
hide his ill-made legs. Shoes with very long points, full two feet in
length, were invented by Henry Plantagenet, Duke of Anjou, to conceal a
large excrescence on one of his feet. When Francis I. was obliged to
wear his hair short, owing to a wound he received in the head, it became
a prevailing fashion at court. Others, on the contrary, adapted fashions
to set off their peculiar beauties: as Isabella of Bavaria, remarkable
for her gallantry, and the fairness of her complexion, introduced the
fashion of leaving the shoulders and part of the neck uncovered.

Fashions have frequently originated from circumstances as silly as the
following one. Isabella, daughter of Philip II. and wife of the Archduke
Albert, vowed not to change her linen till Ostend was taken; this siege,
unluckily for her comfort, lasted three years; and the supposed colour
of the archduchess's linen gave rise to a fashionable colour, hence
called _l'Isabeau_, or the Isabella; a kind of whitish-yellow-dingy.
Sometimes they originate in some temporary event; as after the battle of
Steenkirk, where the allies wore large cravats, by which the French
frequently seized hold of them, a circumstance perpetuated on the medals
of Louis XIV., cravats were called Steenkirks; and after the battle of
Ramilies, wigs received that denomination.

The _court_, in all ages and in every country, are the modellers of
fashions; so that all the ridicule, of which these are so susceptible,
must fall on them, and not upon their servile imitators the _citizens_.
This complaint is made even so far back as in 1586, by Jean des Caures,
an old French moralist, who, in declaiming against the fashions of his
day, notices one, of the ladies carrying _mirrors fixed to their
waists_, which seemed to employ their eyes in perpetual activity. From
this mode will result, according to honest Des Caures, their eternal
damnation. "Alas! (he exclaims) in what an age do we live: to see such
depravity which we see, that induces them even to bring into church
these _scandalous mirrors hanging about their waists_! Let all
histories, divine, human, and profane, be consulted; never will it be
found that these objects of vanity were ever thus brought into public by
the most meretricious of the sex. It is true, at present none but the
ladies of the court venture to wear them; but long it will not be before
_every citizen's daughter_ and every _female servant_, will have them!"
Such in all times has been the rise and decline of fashion; and the
absurd mimicry of the _citizens_, even of the lowest classes, to their
very ruin, in straining to rival the _newest fashion_, has mortified and
galled the courtier.

On this subject old Camden, in his Remains, relates a story of a trick
played off on a citizen, which I give in the plainness of his own
venerable style. Sir Philip Calthrop purged John Drakes, the _shoemaker
of Norwich_, in the time of King Henry VIII. of the _proud humour_ which
our _people have to be of the gentlemen's cut_. This knight bought on a
time as much fine French tawny cloth as should make him a gown, and sent
it to the taylor's to be made. John Drakes, a shoemaker of that town,
coming to this said taylor's, and seeing the knight's gown cloth lying
there, liking it well, caused the taylor to buy him as much of the same
cloth and price to the same intent, and further bade him to _make it of
the same fashion that the knight would have his made of_. Not long
after, the knight coming to the taylor's to take measure of his gown,
perceiving the like cloth lying there, asked of the taylor whose it was?
Quoth the taylor, it is John Drakes' the _shoemaker_, who will have it
_made of the self-same fashion that yours is made of_! 'Well!' said the
knight, 'in good time be it! I will have mine made _as full of cuts as
thy shears can make it_.' 'It shall be done!' said the taylor;
whereupon, because the time drew near, he made haste to finish both
their garments. John Drakes had no time to go to the taylor's till
Christmas-day, for serving his customers, when he hoped to have worn his
gown; perceiving the same to be _full of cuts_ began to swear at the
taylor, for the making his gown after that sort. 'I have done nothing,'
quoth the taylor, 'but that you bid me; for as Sir Philip Calthrop's
garment is, even so I have made yours!' 'By my latchet!' quoth John
Drakes, '_I will never wear gentlemen's fashions again_!'

Sometimes fashions are quite reversed in their use in one age from
another. Bags, when first in fashion in France, were only worn _en
déshabillé_; in visits of ceremony, the hair was tied by a riband and
floated over the shoulders, which is exactly reversed in the present
fashion. In the year 1735 the men had no hats but a little chapeau de
bras; in 1745 they wore a very small hat; in 1755 they wore an enormous
one, as may be seen in Jeffrey's curious "Collection of Habits in all
Nations." Old Puttenham, in "The Art of Poesie," p. 239, on the present
topic gives some curious information. "Henry VIII. caused his own head,
and all his courtiers, to be _polled_ and his _beard_ to be _cut short_;
_before that time_ it was thought _more decent_, both for old men and
young, to be _all shaven_, and weare _long haire_, either rounded or
square. Now _again at this time_ (Elizabeth's reign), the young
gentlemen of the court have _taken up the long haire_ trayling on their
shoulders, and think this more decent; for what respect I would be glad
to know."

When the fair sex were accustomed to behold their lovers with beards,
the sight of a shaved chin excited feelings of horror and aversion; as
much indeed as, in this less heroic age, would a gallant whose luxuriant
beard should

    "Stream like a meteor to the troubled air."

When Louis VII., to obey the injunctions of his bishops, cropped his
hair, and shaved his beard, Eleanor, his consort, found him, with this
unusual appearance, very ridiculous, and soon very contemptible. She
revenged herself as she thought proper, and the poor shaved king
obtained a divorce. She then married the Count of Anjou, afterwards our
Henry II. She had for her marriage dower the rich provinces of Poitou
and Guienne; and this was the origin of those wars which for three
hundred years ravaged France, and cost the French three millions of men.
All which, probably, had never occurred had Louis VII. not been so rash
as to crop his head and shave his beard, by which he became so
disgustful in the eyes of our Queen Eleanor.

We cannot perhaps sympathise with the feelings of her majesty, though at
Constantinople she might not have been considered unreasonable. There
must be something more powerful in _beards_ and _mustachios_ than we are
quite aware of; for when these were in fashion--and long after this was
written--the fashion has returned on us--with what enthusiasm were they
not contemplated! When _mustachios_ were in general use, an author, in
his Elements of Education, published in 1640, thinks that "hairy
excrement," as Armado in "Love's Labour Lost" calls it, contributed to
make men valorous. He says, "I have a favourable opinion of that young
gentleman who is _curious in fine mustachios_. The time he employs in
adjusting, dressing, and curling them, is no lost time; for the more he
contemplates his mustachios, the more his mind will cherish and be
animated by masculine and courageous notions." The best reason that
could be given for wearing the _longest and largest beard_ of any
Englishman was that of a worthy clergyman in Elizabeth's reign, "that no
act of his life might be unworthy of the gravity of his appearance."

The grandfather of Mrs. Thomas, the Corinna of Cromwell, the literary
friend of Pope, by her account, "was very nice in the mode of that age,
his valet being some hours every morning in _starching his beard_ and
_curling his whiskers_; during which time he was always read to."
Taylor, the water poet, humorously describes the great variety of beards
in his time, which extract may be found in Grey's Hudibras, Vol. I. p.
300. The _beard_ dwindled gradually under the two Charleses, till it was
reduced into _whiskers_, and became extinct in the reign of James II.,
as if its fatality had been connected with that of the house of Stuart.

The hair has in all ages been an endless topic for the declamation of
the moralist, and the favourite object of fashion. If the _beau monde_
wore their hair luxuriant, or their wig enormous, the preachers, in
Charles the Second's reign, instantly were seen in the pulpit with their
hair cut shorter, and their sermon longer, in consequence; respect was,
however, paid by the world to the size of the _wig_, in spite of the
_hair-cutter_ in the pulpit. Our judges, and till lately our physicians,
well knew its magical effect. In the reign of Charles II. the
hair-dress of the ladies was very elaborate; it was not only curled and
frizzled with the nicest art, but set off with certain artificial curls,
then too emphatically known by the pathetic terms of _heart-breakers_
and _love-locks_. So late as William and Mary, lads, and even children,
wore wigs; and if they had not wigs, they curled their hair to resemble
this fashionable ornament. Women then were the hair-dressers.

There are flagrant follies in fashion which must be endured while they
reign, and which never appear ridiculous till they are out of fashion.
In the reign of Henry III. of France, they could not exist without an
abundant use of comfits. All the world, the grave and the gay, carried
in their pockets a _comfit-box_, as we do snuff-boxes. They used them
even on the most solemn occasions; when the Duke of Guise was shot at
Blois, he was found with his comfit-box in his hand.--Fashions indeed
have been carried to so extravagant a length, as to have become a public
offence, and to have required the interference of government. Short and
tight breeches were so much the rage in France, that Charles V. was
compelled to banish this disgusting mode by edicts, which may be found
in Mezerai. An Italian author of the fifteenth century supposes an
Italian traveller of nice modesty would not pass through France, that he
might not be offended by seeing men whose clothes rather exposed their
nakedness than hid it. The very same fashion was the complaint in the
remoter period of our Chaucer, in his Parson's Tale.

In the reign of our Elizabeth the reverse of all this took place; then
the mode of enormous breeches was pushed to a most laughable excess. The
beaux of that day stuffed out their breeches with rags, feathers, and
other light matters, till they brought them out to an enormous size.
They resembled woolsacks, and in a public spectacle they were obliged to
raise scaffolds for the seats of these ponderous beaux. To accord with
this fantastical taste, the ladies invented large hoop farthingales; two
lovers aside could surely never have taken one another by the hand. In a
preceding reign the fashion ran on square toes; insomuch that a
proclamation was issued that no person should wear shoes above six
inches square at the toes! Then succeeded picked-pointed shoes! The
nation was again, in the reign of Elizabeth, put under the royal
authority. "In that time," says honest John Stowe, "he was held the
greatest gallant that had the _deepest ruff_ and _longest rapier_: the
offence to the eye of the one, and hurt unto the life of the subject
that came by the other--this caused her Majestie to _make proclamation
against them both_, and to _place selected grave citizens at every gate,
to cut the ruffes, and breake the rapiers' points_ of all passengers
that exceeded a yeard in length of their rapiers, and a nayle of a yeard
in depth of their ruffes." These "grave citizens," at every gate cutting
the ruffs and breaking the rapiers, must doubtless have encountered in
their ludicrous employment some stubborn opposition; but this regulation
was, in the spirit of that age, despotic and effectual. Paul, the
Emperor of Russia, one day ordered the soldiers to stop every passenger
who wore pantaloons, and with their hangers to cut off, upon the leg,
the offending part of these superfluous breeches; so that a man's legs
depended greatly on the adroitness and humanity of a Russ or a Cossack;
however this war against _pantaloons_ was very successful, and obtained
a complete triumph in favour of the _breeches_ in the course of the

A shameful extravagance in dress has been a most venerable folly. In the
reign of Richard II. their dress was sumptuous beyond belief. Sir John
Arundel had a change of no less than fifty-two new suits of cloth of
gold tissue. The prelates indulged in all the ostentatious luxury of
dress. Chaucer says, they had "chaunge of clothing everie daie."
Brantome records of Elizabeth, Queen of Philip II. of Spain, that she
never wore a gown twice; this was told him by her majesty's own
_tailleur_, who from a poor man soon became as rich as any one he knew.
Our own Elizabeth left no less than three thousand different habits in
her wardrobe when she died. She was possessed of the dresses of all

The catholic religion has ever considered the pomp of the clerical habit
as not the slightest part of its religious ceremonies; their devotion is
addressed to the eye of the people. In the reign of our catholic Queen
Mary, the dress of a priest was costly indeed; and the sarcastic and
good-humoured Fuller gives, in his Worthies, the will of a priest, to
show the wardrobe of men of his order, and desires that the priest may
not be jeered for the gallantry of his splendid apparel. He bequeaths to
various parish churches and persons, "My vestment of crimson satin--my
vestment of crimson velvet--my stole and fanon set with pearl--my black
gown faced with taffeta," &c.

Chaucer has minutely detailed in "The Persone's Tale" the grotesque and
the costly fashions of his day; and the simplicity of the venerable
satirist will interest the antiquary and the philosopher. Much, and
curiously, has his caustic severity or lenient humour descanted on the
"moche superfluitee," and "wast of cloth in vanitee," as well as "the
disordinate scantnesse." In the spirit of the good old times, he
calculates "the coste of the embrouding or embroidering; endenting or
barring; ounding or wavy; paling or imitating pales; and winding or
bending; the costlewe furring in the gounes; so much pounsoning of
chesel to maken holes (that is, punched with a bodkin); so moche dagging
of sheres (cutting into slips); with the superfluitee in length of the
gounes trailing in the dong and in the myre, on horse and eke on foot,
as wel of man as of woman--that all thilke trailing," he verily
believes, which wastes, consumes, wears threadbare, and is rotten with
dung, are all to the damage of "the poor folk," who might be clothed
only out of the flounces and draggle-tails of these children of vanity.
But then his Parson is not less bitter against "the horrible disordinat
scantnesse of clothing," and very copiously he describes, though perhaps
in terms and with a humour too coarse for me to transcribe, the
consequences of these very tight dresses. Of these persons, among other
offensive matters, he sees "the buttokkes behind, as if they were the
hinder part of a sheap, in the ful of the mone." He notices one of the
most grotesque modes, the wearing a parti-coloured dress; one stocking
part white and part red, so that they looked as if they had been flayed.
Or white and blue, or white and black, or black and red; this variety of
colours gave an appearance to their members of St. Anthony's fire, or
cancer, or other mischance!

The modes of dress during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries were
so various and ridiculous, that they afforded perpetual food for the
eager satirist.

The conquests of Edward III. introduced the French fashions into
England; and the Scotch adopted them by their alliance with the French
court, and close intercourse with that nation.

Walsingham dates the introduction of French fashions among us from the
taking of Calais in 1347; but we appear to have possessed such a rage
for imitation in dress, that an English beau was actually a fantastical
compound of all the fashions in Europe, and even Asia, in the reign of
Elizabeth. In Chaucer's time, the prevalence of French fashions was a
common topic with our satirist; and he notices the affectation of our
female citizens in speaking the French language, a stroke of satire
which, after four centuries, is not obsolete, if applied to their faulty
pronunciation. In the prologue to the Prioresse, Chaucer has these
humorous lines:--

    Entewned in her voice full seemly,
    And French she spake full feteously,
    _After the Scole of Stratford at Bowe_:
    The _French of Paris_ was to her unknowe.

A beau of the reign of Henry IV. has been made out, by the laborious
Henry. They wore then long-pointed shoes to such an immoderate length,
that they could not walk till they were fastened to their knees with
chains. Luxury improving on this ridiculous mode, these chains the
English beau of the fourteenth century had made of gold and silver; but
the grotesque fashion did not finish here, for the tops of their shoes
were carved in the manner of a church window. The ladies of that period
were not less fantastical.

The wild variety of dresses worn in the reign of Henry VIII. is alluded
to in a print of a naked Englishman holding a piece of cloth hanging on
his right arm, and a pair of shears in his left hand. It was invented by
Andrew Borde, a learned wit of those days. The print bears the following

    I am an Englishman, and naked I stand here,
    Musing in my mind, what rayment I shall were;
    For now I will were this, and now I will were that,
    And now I will were what I cannot tell what.

At a lower period, about the reign of Elizabeth, we are presented with a
curious picture of a man of fashion by Puttenham, in his "Arte of
Poetry," p. 250. This author was a travelled courtier, and has
interspersed his curious work with many lively anecdotes of the times.
This is his fantastical beau in the reign of Elizabeth. "May it not
seeme enough for a courtier to know how to _weare a feather_ and _set
his cappe_ aflaunt; his _chain en echarpe_; a straight _buskin, al
Inglese_; a loose _à la Turquesque_; the cape _alla Spaniola_; the
breech _à la Françoise_, and, by twentie maner of new-fashioned
garments, to disguise his body and his face with as many countenances,
whereof it seems there be many that make a very arte and studie, who
can shewe himselfe most fine, I will not say most foolish or
ridiculous." So that a beau of those times wore in the same dress a
grotesque mixture of all the fashions in the world. About the same
period the _ton_ ran in a different course in France. There, fashion
consisted in an affected negligence of dress; for Montaigne honestly
laments, in Book i. Cap. 25--"I have never yet been apt to imitate the
_negligent garb_ which is yet observable among the _young men_ of our
time; to wear my _cloak on one shoulder_, my _bonnet on one side_, and
_one stocking_ in something _more disorder than the other_, meant to
express a manly disdain of such exotic ornaments, and a contempt of

The fashions of the Elizabethan age have been chronicled by honest John
Stowe. Stowe was originally a _tailor_, and when he laid down the
shears, and took up the pen, the taste and curiosity for _dress_ was
still retained. He is the grave chronicler of matters not grave. The
chronology of ruffs, and tufted taffetas; the revolution of steel
poking-sticks, instead of bone or wood, used by the laundresses; the
invasion of shoe-buckles, and the total rout of shoe-roses; that grand
adventure of a certain Flemish lady, who introduced the art of starching
the ruffs with a yellow tinge into Britain: while Mrs. Montague emulated
her in the royal favour, by presenting her highness the queen with a
pair of black silk stockings, instead of her cloth hose, which her
majesty now for ever rejected; the heroic achievements of the Right
Honourable Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, who first brought from Italy
the whole mystery and craft of perfumery, and costly washes; and among
other pleasant things besides, a perfumed jerkin, a pair of perfumed
gloves trimmed with roses, in which the queen took such delight, that
she was actually pictured with those gloves on her royal hands, and for
many years after the scent was called the Earl of Oxford's Perfume.
These, and occurrences as memorable, receive a pleasant kind of
historical pomp in the important, and not incurious, narrative of the
antiquary and the tailor. The toilet of Elizabeth was indeed an altar of
devotion, of which she was the idol, and all her ministers were her
votaries: it was the reign of coquetry, and the golden age of millinery!
But for grace and elegance they had not the slightest feeling! There is
a print by Vertue, of Queen Elizabeth going in a procession to Lord
Hunsdon. This procession is led by Lady Hunsdon, who no doubt was the
leader likewise of the fashion; but it is impossible, with our ideas of
grace and comfort, not to commiserate this unfortunate lady; whose
standing-up wire ruff, rising above her head; whose stays, or bodice, so
long-waisted as to reach to her knees; and the circumference of her
large hoop farthingale, which seems to enclose her in a capacious tub;
mark her out as one of the most pitiable martyrs of ancient modes. The
amorous Sir Walter Raleigh must have found some of the maids of honour
the most impregnable fortification his gallant spirit ever assailed: a
_coup de main_ was impossible.

I shall transcribe from old Stowe a few extracts, which may amuse the

"In the second yeere of Queen Elizabeth, 1560, her _silke woman_,
Mistris Montague, presented her majestie for a new yeere's gift, a
_paire of black knit silk stockings_, the which, after a few days'
wearing, pleased her highness so well, that she sent for Mistris
Montague, and asked her where she had them, and if she could help her to
any more; who answered, saying, 'I made them very carefully of purpose
only for your majestie, and seeing these please you so well, I will
presently set more in hand.' 'Do so (quoth the queene), for _indeed I
like silk stockings so well, because they are pleasant, fine, and
delicate, that henceforth I will wear no more_ CLOTH STOCKINGS'--and
from that time unto her death the queene never wore any more _cloth
hose_, but only silke stockings; for you shall understand that King
Henry the Eight did weare onely cloath hose, or hose cut out of
ell-broade taffety, or that by great chance there came a pair of
_Spanish silk stockings_ from Spain. King Edward the Sixt had a _payre
of long Spanish silk stockings_ sent him for a _great present_.--Dukes'
daughters then wore gownes of satten of Bridges (Bruges) upon solemn
dayes. Cushens, and window pillows of velvet and damaske, formerly only
princely furniture, now be very plenteous in most citizens' houses."

"Milloners or haberdashers had not then any _gloves imbroydered_, or
trimmed with gold, or silke; neither gold nor imbroydered girdles and
hangers, neither could they _make any costly wash_ or _perfume_, until
about the fifteenth yeere of the queene, the Right Honourable Edward de
Vere, Earl of Oxford, came from _Italy_, and brought with him gloves,
sweete bagges, a perfumed leather jerkin, and other _pleasant things_;
and that yeere the queene had a _pair of perfumed gloves_ trimmed only
with four tuffes, or _roses of coloured silk_. The queene took such
pleasure in those gloves, that she was pictured with those gloves upon
her handes, and for many years after it was called '_The Earl of
Oxford's perfume_.'"

In such a chronology of fashions, an event not less important surely was
the origin of _starching_; and here we find it treated with the utmost
historical dignity.

"In the year 1564, Mistris Dinghen Van den Plasse, borne at Tænen in
Flaunders, daughter to a worshipfull knight of that province, with her
husband, came to London for their better safeties and there professed
herself a _starcher_, wherein she excelled, unto whom her owne nation
presently repaired, and payed her very liberally for her worke. Some
very few of the best and most curious wives of that time, observing the
_neatness and delicacy of the Dutch for whitenesse and fine wearing of
linen_, made them _cambricke ruffs_, and sent them to Mistris Dinghen to
_starch_, and after awhile they made them _ruffes of lawn_, which was at
that time a stuff most strange, and wonderfull, and thereupon rose a
_general scoffe_ or _by-word_, that shortly they would make _ruffs of a
spider's web_; and then they began to send their daughters and nearest
kinswomen to Mistris Dinghen to _learn how to starche_; her usuall price
was at that time, foure or five pound, to teach them how _to starch_,
and twenty shillings how to _seeth starch_."

Thus Italy, Holland, and France supplied us with fashions and
refinements. But in those days there were, as I have shown from
Puttenham, as _extravagant dressers_ as any of their present supposed
degenerate descendants. Stowe affords us another curious extract.
"Divers noble personages made them _ruffes, a full quarter of a yeard
deepe_, and two lengthe in one ruffe. This _fashion_ in _London_ was
called the _French fashion_; but when Englishmen came to _Paris_, the
_French_ knew it not, and in derision called it _the English monster_."
An exact parallel this of many of our own Parisian modes in the present

This was the golden period of cosmetics. The beaux of that day, it is
evident, used the abominable art of painting their faces as well as the
women. Our old comedies abound with perpetual allusions to oils,
tinctures, quintessences, pomatums, perfumes, paint white and red, &c.
One of their prime cosmetics was a frequent use of the _bath_, and the
application of _wine_. Strutt quotes from an old MS. a recipe to make
the face of a beautiful red colour. The person was to be in a bath that
he might perspire, and afterwards wash his face with wine, and "so
should be both faire and roddy." In Mr. Lodge's "Illustrations of
British History," the Earl of Shrewsbury, who had the keeping of the
unfortunate Queen of Scots, complains of the expenses of the queen for
_bathing in wine_, and requires a further allowance. A learned Scotch
professor informed me that _white wine_ was used for these purposes.
They also made a bath of _milk_. Elder beauties _bathed in wine_, to get
rid of their wrinkles; and perhaps not without reason, wine being a
great astringent. Unwrinkled beauties _bathed in milk_, to preserve the
softness and sleekness of the skin. Our venerable beauties of the
Elizabethan age were initiated coquettes; and the mysteries of their
toilet might be worth unveiling.

The reign of Charles II. was the dominion of French fashions. In some
respects the taste was a little lighter, but the moral effect of dress,
and which no doubt it has, was much worse. The dress was very
inflammatory; and the nudity of the beauties of the portrait-painter,
Sir Peter Lely, has been observed. The queen of Charles II. exposed her
breast and shoulders without even the gloss of the lightest gauze; and
the tucker, instead of standing up on her bosom, is with licentious
boldness turned down, and lies upon her stays. This custom of baring the
bosom was much exclaimed against by the authors of that age. That honest
divine, Richard Baxter, wrote a preface to a book, entitled, "A just and
seasonable reprehension of _naked breasts and shoulders_." In 1672 a
book was published, entitled, "New instructions unto youth for their
behaviour, and also a discourse upon some innovations of habits and
dressing; _against powdering of hair_, _naked breasts_, _black spots_
(or patches), and other unseemly customs."A whimsical fashion now
prevailed among the ladies, of strangely ornamenting their faces with
abundance of black patches cut into grotesque forms, such as a coach and
horses, owls, rings, suns, moons, crowns, cross and crosslets. The
author has prefixed _two ladies' heads_; the one representing _Virtue_,
and the other _Vice_. _Virtue_ is a lady modestly habited, with a black
velvet hood, and a plain white kerchief on her neck, with a border.
_Vice_ wears no handkerchief; her stays cut low, so that they display
great part of the breasts; and a variety of fantastical patches on her

The innovations of fashions in the reign of Charles II. were watched
with a jealous eye by the remains of those strict puritans, who now
could only pour out their bile in such solemn admonitions. They affected
all possible plainness and sanctity. When courtiers wore monstrous wigs,
they cut their hair short; when they adopted hats with broad plumes,
they clapped on round black caps, and screwed up their pale religious
faces; and when shoe-buckles were revived, they wore strings. The
sublime Milton, perhaps, exulted in his intrepidity of still wearing
latchets! The Tatler ridicules Sir William Whitelocke for his
singularity in still affecting them. "Thou dear _Will Shoestring_, how
shall I draw thee? Thou dear outside, will you be _combing your wig_,
playing with your _box_, or picking your teeth?" &c. _Wigs_ and
_snuff-boxes_ were then the rage. Steele's own wig, it is recorded, made
at one time a considerable part of his annual expenditure. His large
black periwig cost him, even at that day, no less than forty
guineas!--We wear nothing at present in this degree of extravagance. But
such a wig was the idol of fashion, and they were performing perpetually
their worship with infinite self-complacency; combing their wigs in
public was then the very spirit of gallantry and rank. The hero of
Richardson, youthful and elegant as he wished him to be, is represented
waiting at an assignation, and describing his sufferings in bad weather
by lamenting that "his _wig_ and his linen were dripping with the hoar
frost dissolving on them." Even Betty, Clarissa's lady's-maid, is
described as "tapping on her _snuff-box_," and frequently taking
_snuff_. At this time nothing was so monstrous as the head-dresses of
the ladies in Queen Anne's reign: they formed a kind of edifice of three
stories high; and a fashionable lady of that day much resembles the
mythological figure of Cybele, the mother of the gods, with three towers
on her head.[66]

It is not worth noticing the changes in fashion, unless to ridicule
them. However, there are some who find amusement in these records of
luxurious idleness; these thousand and one follies! Modern fashions,
till, very lately, a purer taste has obtained among our females, were
generally mere copies of obsolete ones, and rarely originally
fantastical. The dress of _some_ of our _beaux_ will only be known in a
few years hence by their _caricatures_. In 1751 the dress of a _dandy_
is described in the Inspector. A _black_ velvet coat, a _green_ and
silver waistcoat, _yellow_ velvet breeches, and _blue_ stockings. This
too was the æra of _black silk breeches_; an extraordinary novelty
against which "some frowsy people attempted to raise up _worsted_ in
emulation." A satirical writer has described a buck about forty years
ago;[67] one could hardly have suspected such a gentleman to have been
one of our contemporaries. "A coat of light green, with sleeves too
small for the arms, and buttons too big for the sleeves; a pair of
Manchester fine stuff breeches, without money in the pockets; clouded
silk stockings, but no legs; a club of hair behind larger than the head
that carries it; a hat of the size of sixpence on a block not worth a

As this article may probably arrest the volatile eyes of my fair
readers, let me be permitted to felicitate them on their improvement in
elegance in the forms of their dress; and the taste and knowledge of art
which they frequently exhibit. But let me remind them that there are
universal principles of beauty in dress independent of all fashions.
Tacitus remarks of Poppea, the consort of Nero, that she concealed _a
part of her face_; to the end that, the imagination having fuller play
by irritating curiosity, they might think higher of her beauty than if
the whole of her face had been exposed. The sentiment is beautifully
expressed by Tasso, and it will not be difficult to remember it:--

    "Non copre sue bellezze, e non l'espose."

I conclude by a poem, written in my youth, not only because the late Sir
Walter Scott once repeated some of the lines, from memory, to remind me
of it, and has preserved it in "The English Minstrelsy," but also as a
memorial of some fashions which have become extinct in my own days.



    AH, LAURA! quit the noisy town,
      And FASHION'S persecuting reign:
    Health wanders on the breezy down,
      And Science on the silent plain.

    How long from Art's reflected hues
      Shalt thou a mimic charm receive?
    Believe, my fair! the faithful muse,
      They spoil the blush they cannot give.

    Must ruthless art, with tortuous steel,
      Thy artless locks of gold deface,
    In serpent folds their charms conceal,
      And spoil, at every touch, a grace.

    Too sweet thy youth's enchanting bloom
      To waste on midnight's sordid crews:
    Let wrinkled age the night consume,
      For age has but its hoards to lose.

    Sacred to love and sweet repose,
      Behold that trellis'd bower is nigh!
    That bower the verdant walls enclose,
      Safe from pursuing Scandal's eye.

    There, as in every lock of gold
      Some flower of pleasing hue I weave,
    A goddess shall the muse behold,
      And many a votive sigh shall heave.

    So the rude Tartar's holy rite
      A feeble MORTAL once array'd;
    Then trembled in that mortal's sight,
      And own'd DIVINE the power he MADE.[68]


[Footnote 66: It consisted of three borders of lace of different depths,
set one above the other, and was called a _Fontange_, from its inventor,
Mademoiselle Font-Ange, a lady of the Court of Louis XIV.]

[Footnote 67: This was written in 1790.]


In a book entitled "Intérêts et Maximes des Princes et des Etats
Souverains, par M. le duc de Rohan; Cologne, 1666," an anecdote is
recorded concerning the Jesuits, which neither Puffendorf nor Vertot has
noticed in his history.

When Sigismond, king of Sweden, was elected king of Poland, he made a
treaty with the states of Sweden, by which he obliged himself to pass
every fifth year in that kingdom. By his wars with the Ottoman court,
with Muscovy, and Tartary, compelled to remain in Poland to encounter
these powerful enemies, during fifteen years he failed in accomplishing
his promise. To remedy this in some shape, by the advice of the Jesuits,
who had gained an ascendancy over him, he created a senate to reside at
Stockholm, composed of forty chosen Jesuits. He presented them with
letters-patent, and invested them with the royal authority.

While this senate of Jesuits was at Dantzic, waiting for a fair wind to
set sail for Stockholm, he published an edict, that the Swedes should
receive them as his own royal person. A public council was immediately
held. Charles, the uncle of Sigismond, the prelates, and the lords,
resolved to prepare for them a splendid and magnificent entry.

But in a private council, they came to very contrary resolutions: for
the prince said, he could not bear that a senate of priests should
command, in preference to all the princes and lords, natives of the
country. All the others agreed with him in rejecting this holy senate.
The archbishop rose, and said, "Since Sigismond has disdained to be our
king, we also must not acknowledge him as such; and from this moment we
should no longer consider ourselves as his subjects. His authority is
_in suspenso_, because he has bestowed it on the Jesuits who form this
senate. The people have not yet acknowledged them. In this interval of
resignation on the one side, and assumption on the other, I absolve you
all of the fidelity the king may claim from you as his Swedish
subjects." The prince of Bithynia addressing himself to Prince Charles,
uncle of the king, said, "I own no other king than you; and I believe
you are now obliged to receive us as your affectionate subjects, and to
assist us to hunt these vermin from the state." All the others joined
him, and acknowledged Charles as their lawful monarch.

Having resolved to keep their declaration for some time secret, they
deliberated in what manner they were to receive and to precede this
senate in their entry into the harbour, who were now on board a great
galleon, which had anchored two leagues from Stockholm, that they might
enter more magnificently in the night, when the fireworks they had
prepared would appear to the greatest advantage. About the time of their
reception, Prince Charles, accompanied by twenty-five or thirty vessels,
appeared before this senate. Wheeling about, and forming a caracol of
ships, they discharged a volley, and emptied all their cannon on the
galleon bearing this senate, which had its sides pierced through with
the balls. The galleon immediately filled with water and sunk, without
one of the unfortunate Jesuits being assisted: on the contrary, their
assailants cried to them that this was the time to perform some miracle,
such as they were accustomed to do in India and Japan; and if they
chose, they could walk on the waters!

The report of the cannon, and the smoke which the powder occasioned,
prevented either the cries or the submersion of the holy fathers from
being observed: and as if they were conducting the senate to the town,
Charles entered triumphantly; went into the church, where they sung _Te
Deum_; and to conclude the night, he partook of the entertainment which
had been prepared for this ill-fated senate.

The Jesuits of the city of Stockholm having come, about midnight, to pay
their respects to the Fathers, perceived their loss. They directly
posted up _placards_ of excommunication against Charles and his
adherents, who had caused the senate of Jesuits to perish. They urged
the people to rebel; but they were soon expelled the city, and Charles
made a public profession of Lutheranism.

Sigismond, King of Poland, began a war with Charles in 1604, which
lasted two years. Disturbed by the invasions of the Tartars, the
Muscovites, and the Cossacs, a truce was concluded; but Sigismond lost
both his crowns, by his bigoted attachment to Roman Catholicism.


[Footnote 68: The _Lama_, or God of the Tartars, is composed of such
frail materials as mere mortality; contrived, however, by the power of
priestcraft, to appear immortal; the _succession of Lamas_ never


The following tale, recorded in the Historical Memoirs of Champagne, by
Bougier, has been a favourite narrative with the old romance writers;
and the principal incident, however objectionable, has been displayed in
several modern poems.

Howell, in his "Familiar Letters," in one addressed to Ben Jonson,
recommends it to him as a subject "which peradventure you may make use
of in your way;" and concludes by saying, "in my opinion, which vails to
yours, this is choice and rich stuff for you to put upon your loom, and
make a curious web of."

The Lord de Coucy, vassal to the Count de Champagne, was one of the most
accomplished youths of his time. He loved, with an excess of passion,
the lady of the Lord du Fayel, who felt a reciprocal affection. With the
most poignant grief this lady heard from her lover, that he had resolved
to accompany the king and the Count de Champagne to the wars of the Holy
Land; but she would not oppose his wishes, because she hoped that his
absence might dissipate the jealousy of her husband. The time of
departure having come, these two lovers parted with sorrows of the most
lively tenderness. The lady, in quitting her lover, presented him with
some rings, some diamonds, and with a string that she had woven herself
of his own hair, intermixed with silk and buttons of large pearls, to
serve him, according to the fashion of those days, to tie a magnificent
hood which covered his helmet. This he gratefully accepted.

In Palestine, at the siege of Acre, in 1191, in gloriously ascending the
ramparts, he received a wound, which was declared mortal. He employed
the few moments he had to live in writing to the Lady du Fayel; and he
poured forth the fervour of his soul. He ordered his squire to embalm
his heart after his death, and to convey it to his beloved mistress,
with the presents he had received from her hands in quitting her.

The squire, faithful to the dying injunction of his master, returned to
France, to present the heart and the gifts to the lady of Du Fayel. But
when he approached the castle of this lady, he concealed himself in the
neighbouring wood, watching some favourable moment to complete his
promise. He had the misfortune to be observed by the husband of this
lady, who recognised him, and who immediately suspected he came in
search of his wife with some message from his master. He threatened to
deprive him of his life if he did not divulge the occasion of his
return. The squire assured him that his master was dead; but Du Fayel
not believing it, drew his sword on him. This man, frightened at the
peril in which he found himself, confessed everything; and put into his
hands the heart and letter of his master. Du Fayel was maddened by the
fellest passions, and he took a wild and horrid revenge. He ordered his
cook to mince the heart; and having mixed it with meat, he caused a
favourite ragout, which he knew pleased the taste of his wife, to be
made, and had it served to her. The lady ate heartily of the dish. After
the repast, Du Fayel inquired of his wife if she had found the ragout
according to her taste: she answered him that she had found it
excellent. "It is for this reason that I caused it to be served to you,
for it is a kind of meat which you very much liked. You have, Madame,"
the savage Du Fayel continued, "eaten the heart of the Lord de Coucy."
But this the lady would not believe, till he showed her the letter of
her lover, with the string of his hair, and the diamonds she had given
him. Shuddering in the anguish of her sensations, and urged by the
utmost despair, she told him--"It is true that I loved that heart,
because it merited to be loved: for never could it find its superior;
and since I have eaten of so noble a meat, and that my stomach is the
tomb of so precious a heart, I will take care that nothing of inferior
worth shall ever be mixed with it." Grief and passion choked her
utterance. She retired to her chamber: she closed the door for ever; and
refusing to accept of consolation or food, the amiable victim expired on
the fourth day.


The present learned and curious dissertation is compiled from the papers
of an ingenious antiquary, from the "Present State of the Republic of
Letters," vol. x. p. 289.[69]

The antiquity of this part of dress will form our first inquiry; and we
shall then show its various uses in the several ages of the world.

It has been imagined that gloves are noticed in the 108th Psalm, where
the royal prophet declares, he will cast his _shoe_ over Edom; and still
farther back, supposing them to be used in the times of the Judges, Ruth
iv. 7, where the custom is noticed of a man taking off his _shoe_ and
giving it to his neighbour, as a pledge for redeeming or exchanging
anything. The word in these two texts, usually translated _shoe_ by the
Chaldee paraphrast, in the latter is rendered _glove_. Casaubon is of
opinion that _gloves_ were worn by the Chaldeans, from the word here
mentioned being explained in the Talmud Lexicon, _the clothing of the

_Xenophon_ gives a clear and distinct account of _gloves_. Speaking of
the manners of the Persians, as a proof of their effeminacy, he
observes, that, not satisfied with covering their head and their feet,
they also guarded their hands against the cold with _thick gloves_.
_Homer_, describing Laertes at work in his garden, represents him with
_gloves on his hands, to secure them from the thorns_. _Varro_, an
ancient writer, is an evidence in favour of their antiquity among the
Romans. In lib. ii. cap. 55, _De Re Rusticâ_, he says, that olives
gathered by the naked hand are preferable to those gathered with
_gloves_. _Athenæus_ speaks of a celebrated glutton who always came to
table with _gloves_ on his hands, that he might be able to handle and
eat the meat while hot, and devour more than the rest of the company.

These authorities show that the ancients were not strangers to the use
of _gloves_, though their use was not common. In a hot climate to wear
gloves implies a considerable degree of effeminacy. We can more clearly
trace the early use of gloves in northern than in southern nations. When
the ancient severity of manners declined, the use of _gloves_ prevailed
among the Romans; but not without some opposition from the philosophers.
_Musonius_, a philosopher, who lived at the close of the first century
of Christianity, among other invectives against the corruption of the
age, says, _It is shameful that persons in perfect health should clothe
their hands and feet with soft and hairy coverings_. Their convenience,
however, soon made the use general. _Pliny_ the younger informs us, in
his account of his uncle's journey to Vesuvius, that his secretary sat
by him ready to write down whatever occurred remarkable; and that he had
_gloves_ on his hands, that the coldness of the weather might not impede
his business.

In the beginning of the ninth century, the use of _gloves_ was become so
universal, that even the church thought a regulation in that part of
dress necessary. In the reign of _Louis le Debonair_, the council of Aix
ordered that the monks should only wear _gloves_ made of sheep-skin.

That time has made alterations in the form of this, as in all other
apparel, appears from the old pictures and monuments.

_Gloves_, beside their original design for a covering of the hand, have
been employed on several great and solemn occasions; as in the ceremony
of _investitures_, in bestowing lands, or in conferring _dignities_.
Giving possession by the delivery of a _glove_, prevailed in several
parts of Christendom in later ages. In the year 1002, the bishops of
Paderborn and Moncerco were put into possession of their sees by
receiving a _glove_. It was thought so essential a part of the episcopal
habit, that some abbots in France presuming to wear _gloves_, the
council of Poitiers interposed in the affair, and forbad them the use,
on the same principle as the ring and sandals; these being peculiar to
bishops, who frequently wore them richly adorned with jewels.

Favin observes, that the custom of blessing _gloves_ at the coronation
of the kings of France, which still subsists, is a remain of the eastern
practice of investiture by _a glove_. A remarkable instance of this
ceremony is recorded. The unfortunate _Conradin_ was deprived of his
crown and his life by the usurper _Mainfroy_. When having ascended the
scaffold, the injured prince lamenting his hard fate, asserted his right
to the crown, and, as a token of investiture, threw his _glove_ among
the crowd, intreating it might be conveyed to some of his relations, who
would revenge his death,--it was taken up by a knight, and brought to
Peter, king of Aragon, who in virtue of this glove was afterwards
crowned at Palermo.

As the delivery of _gloves_ was once a part of the ceremony used in
giving possession, so the depriving a person of them was a mark of
divesting him of his office, and of degradation. The Earl of Carlisle,
in the reign of Edward the Second, impeached of holding a correspondence
with the Scots, was condemned to die as a traitor. Walsingham, relating
other circumstances of his degradation, says, "His spurs were cut off
with a hatchet; and his _gloves_ and shoes were taken off," &c.

Another use of _gloves_ was in a duel; he who threw one down was by this
act understood to give defiance, and he who took it up to accept the

The use of single combat, at first designed only for a trial of
innocence, like the ordeals of fire and water, was in succeeding ages
practised for deciding rights and property. Challenging by the _glove_
was continued down to the reign of Elizabeth, as appears by an account
given by Spelman of a duel appointed to be fought in Tothill Fields, in
the year 1571. The dispute was concerning some lands in the county of
Kent. The plaintiffs appeared in court, and demanded single combat. One
of them threw down his _glove_, which the other immediately taking up,
carried off on the point of his sword, and the day of fighting was
appointed; this affair was, however, adjusted by the queen's judicious

The ceremony is still practised of challenging by a _glove_ at the
coronations of the kings of England, by his majesty's champion entering
Westminster Hall completely armed and mounted.

Challenging by the _glove_ is still in use in some parts of the world.
In Germany, on receiving an affront, to send a _glove_ to the offending
party is a challenge to a duel.

The last use of _gloves_ was for carrying the _hawk_. In former times,
princes and other great men took so much pleasure in carrying the hawk
on their hand, that some of them have chosen to be represented in this
attitude. There is a monument of Philip the First of France, on which he
is represented at length, on his tomb, holding a _glove_ in his hand.

Chambers says that, formerly, judges were forbid to wear _gloves_ on the
bench. No reason is assigned for this prohibition. Our judges lie under
no such restraint; for both they and the rest of the court make no
difficulty of receiving _gloves_ from the sheriffs, whenever the session
or assize concludes without any one receiving sentence of death, which
is called a _maiden assize_; a custom of great antiquity.

Our curious antiquary has preserved a singular anecdote concerning
_gloves_. Chambers informs us, that it is not safe at present to enter
the stables of princes without pulling off our _gloves_. He does not
tell us in what the danger consists; but it is an ancient established
custom in Germany, that whoever enters the stables of a prince, or great
man, with his _gloves_ on his hands, is obliged to forfeit them, or
redeem them by a fee to the servants. The same custom is observed in
some places at the death of the stag; in which case, if the _gloves_ are
not taken off, they are redeemed by money given to the huntsmen and
keepers. The French king never failed of pulling off one of his _gloves_
on that occasion. The reason of this ceremony seems to be lost.

We meet with the term _glove-money_ in our old records; by which is
meant, money given to servants to buy _gloves_. This, probably, is the
origin of the phrase _giving a pair of gloves_, to signify making a
present for some favour or service.

Gough, in his "Sepulchral Monuments," informs us that gloves formed no
part of the female dress till after the Reformation.[71] I have seen
some as late as the time of Anne richly worked and embroidered.

There must exist in the Denny family some of the oldest gloves extant,
as appears by the following glove anecdote.

At the sale of the Earl of Arran's goods, April 6th, 1759, the gloves
given by Henry VIII. to Sir Anthony Denny were sold for 38_l._ 17_s._;
those given by James I. to his son Edward Denny for 22_l._ 4_s._; the
mittens given by Queen Elizabeth to Sir Edward Denny's lady, 25_l._
4_s._; all which were bought for Sir Thomas Denny, of Ireland, who was
descended in a direct line from the great Sir Anthony Denny, one of the
executors of the will of Henry VIII.


[Footnote 69: In 1834 was published a curious little volume by William
Hull, "The History of the Glove Trade, with the Customs connected with
the Glove," which adds some interesting information to the present

[Footnote 70: A still more curious use for gloves was proposed by the
Marquis of Worcester, in his "Century of Inventions," 1659; it was to
make them with "knotted silk strings, to signify any letter," or "pinked
with the alphabet," that they might by this means be subservient to the
practice of secret correspondence.]

[Footnote 71: This is an extraordinary mistake for so accurate an
antiquary to make. They occur on monumental effigies, or brasses; also
in illuminated manuscripts, continually from the Saxon era; as may be
seen in Strutt's plates to any of his books.]


When relics of saints were first introduced, the relique-mania was
universal; they bought and they sold, and, like other collectors, made
no scruple to _steal_ them. It is entertaining to observe the singular
ardour and grasping avidity of some, to enrich themselves with these
religious morsels; their little discernment, the curious impositions of
the vendor, and the good faith and sincerity of the purchaser. The
prelate of the place sometimes ordained a fast to implore God that they
might not be cheated with the relics of saints, which he sometimes
purchased for the holy benefit of the village or town.

Guibert de Nogent wrote a treatise on the relics of saints;
acknowledging that there were many false ones, as well as false legends,
he reprobates the inventors of these lying miracles. He wrote his
treatise on the occasion of _a tooth_ of our Lord's, by which the monks
of St. Medard de Soissons pretended to operate miracles. He asserts that
this pretension is as chimerical as that of several persons, who
believed they possessed the navel, and other parts less decent, of--the
body of Christ!

A monk of Bergsvinck has given a history of the translation of St.
Lewin, a virgin and a martyr: her relics were brought from England to
Bergs. He collected with religious care the facts from his brethren,
especially from the conductor of these relics from England. After the
history of the translation, and a panegyric of the saint, he relates the
miracles performed in Flanders since the arrival of her relics. The
prevailing passion of the times to possess fragments of saints is well
marked, when the author particularises with a certain complacency all
the knavish modes they used to carry off those in question. None then
objected to this sort of robbery; because the gratification of the
reigning passion had made it worth while to supply the demand.

A monk of Cluny has given a history of the translation of the body of
St. Indalece, one of the earliest Spanish bishops, written by order of
the abbot of St. Juan de la Penna. He protests he advances nothing but
facts: having himself seen, or learnt from other witnesses, all he
relates. It was not difficult for him to be well informed, since it was
to the monastery of St. Juan de la Penna that the holy relics were
transported, and those who brought them were two monks of that house. He
has authenticated his minute detail of circumstances by giving the names
of persons and places. His account was written for the great festival
immediately instituted in honour of this translation. He informs us of
the miraculous manner by which they were so fortunate as to discover the
body of this bishop, and the different plans they concerted to carry it
off. He gives the itinerary of the two monks who accompanied the holy
remains. They were not a little cheered in their long journey by visions
and miracles.

Another has written a history of what he calls the translation of the
relics of St. Majean to the monastery of Villemagne. _Translation_ is,
in fact, only a softened expression for the robbery of the relics of the
saint committed by two monks, who carried them off secretly to enrich
their monastery; and they did not hesitate at any artifice or lie to
complete their design. They thought everything was permitted to acquire
these fragments of mortality, which had now become a branch of commerce.
They even regarded their possessors with an hostile eye. Such was the
religious opinion from the ninth to the twelfth century. Our Canute
commissioned his agent at Rome to purchase _St. Augustin's arm_ for one
hundred talents of silver and one of gold; a much greater sum, observes
Granger, than the finest statue of antiquity would have then sold for.

Another monk describes a strange act of devotion, attested by several
contemporary writers. When the saints did not readily comply with the
prayers of their votaries, they flogged their relics with rods, in a
spirit of impatience which they conceived was necessary to make them
bend into compliance.

Theofroy, abbot of Epternac, to raise our admiration, relates the daily
miracles performed by the relics of saints, their ashes, their clothes,
or other mortal spoils, and even by the instruments of their martyrdom.
He inveighs against that luxury of ornaments which was indulged under
religious pretext: "It is not to be supposed that the saints are
desirous of such a profusion of gold and silver. They care not that we
should raise to them such magnificent churches, to exhibit that
ingenious order of pillars which shine with gold, nor those rich
ceilings, nor those altars sparkling with jewels. They desire not the
purple parchment of price for their writings, the liquid gold to
embellish the letters, nor the precious stones to decorate their covers,
while you have such little care for the ministers of the altar." The
pious writer has not forgotten _himself_ in this copartnership with _the

The Roman church not being able to deny, says Bayle, that there have
been false relics, which have operated miracles, they reply that the
good intentions of those believers who have recourse to them obtained
from God this reward for their good faith! In the same spirit, when it
was shown that two or three bodies of the same saint was said to exist
in different places, and that therefore they all could not be authentic,
it was answered that they were all genuine; for God had multiplied and
miraculously reproduced them for the comfort of the faithful! A curious
specimen of the intolerance of good sense.

When the Reformation was spread in Lithuania, Prince Radzivil was so
affected by it, that he went in person to pay the pope all possible
honours. His holiness on this occasion presented him with a precious box
of relics. The prince having returned home, some monks entreated
permission to try the effects of these relics on a demoniac, who had
hitherto resisted every kind of exorcism. They were brought into the
church with solemn pomp, and deposited on the altar, accompanied by an
innumerable crowd. After the usual conjurations, which were
unsuccessful, they applied the relics. The demoniac instantly recovered.
The people called out "_a miracle!_" and the prince, lifting his hands
and eyes to heaven, felt his faith confirmed. In this transport of pious
joy, he observed that a young gentleman, who was keeper of this treasure
of relics, smiled, and by his motions ridiculed the miracle. The prince
indignantly took our young keeper of the relics to task; who, on promise
of pardon, gave the following _secret intelligence_ concerning them. In
travelling from Rome he had lost the box of relics; and not daring to
mention it, he had procured a similar one, which he had filled with the
small bones of dogs and cats, and other trifles similar to what were
lost. He hoped he might be forgiven for smiling, when he found that such
a collection of rubbish was idolized with such pomp, and had even the
virtue of expelling demons. It was by the assistance of this box that
the prince discovered the gross impositions of the monks and the
demoniacs, and Radzivil afterwards became a zealous Lutheran.

The elector Frederic, surnamed _the Wise_, was an indefatigable
collector of relics. After his death, one of the monks employed by him
solicited payment for several parcels he had purchased for our _wise_
elector; but the times had changed! He was advised to give over this
business; the relics for which he desired payment they were willing _to
return_; that the price had fallen considerably since the reformation of
Luther; and that they would find a _better market_ in Italy than in

Our Henry III., who was deeply tainted with the superstition of the age,
summoned all the great in the kingdom to meet in London. This summons
excited the most general curiosity, and multitudes appeared. The king
then acquainted them that the great master of the Knights Templars had
sent him a phial containing _a small portion of the precious blood of
Christ_ which he had shed upon the _cross_; and _attested to be genuine_
by the seals of the patriarch of Jerusalem and others! He commanded a
procession the following day; and the historian adds, that though the
road between St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey was very deep and miry,
the king kept his eyes constantly fixed on the phial. Two monks received
it, and deposited the phial in the abbey, "which made all England shine
with glory, dedicating it to God and St. Edward."

Lord Herbert, in his Life of Henry VIII., notices the _great fall of the
price of relics_ at the dissolution of the monasteries. "The respect
given to relics, and some pretended miracles, fell; insomuch, as I find
by our records, that _a piece of St. Andrew's finger_ (covered only with
an ounce of silver), being laid to pledge by a monastery for forty
pounds, was left unredeemed at the dissolution of the house; the king's
commissioners, who upon surrender of any foundation undertook to pay the
debts, refusing to return the price again." That is, they did not
choose to repay the _forty pounds_, to receive _apiece of the finger of
St. Andrew_.

About this time the property of relics suddenly sunk to a South-sea
bubble; for shortly after the artifice of the Rood of Grace, at Boxley,
in Kent, was fully opened to the eye of the populace; and a far-famed
relic at Hales, in Gloucestershire, of the blood of Christ, was at the
same time exhibited. It was shown in a phial, and it was believed that
none could see it who were in mortal sin; and after many trials usually
repeated to the same person, the deluded pilgrims at length went away
fully satisfied. This relic was the _blood of a duck_, renewed every
week, and put in a phial; one side was _opaque_, and the other
_transparent_; the monk turned either side to the pilgrim, as he thought
proper. The success of the pilgrim depended on the oblations he made;
those who were scanty in their offerings were the longest to get a sight
of the blood: when a man was in despair, he usually became generous!


No. 379 of the Spectator relates an anecdote of a person who had opened
the sepulchre of the famous Rosicrucius. He discovered a lamp burning,
which a statue of clock-work struck into pieces. Hence, the disciples of
this visionary said that he made use of this method to show "that he had
re-invented the ever-burning lamps of the ancients."

Many writers have made mention of these wonderful lamps.

It has happened frequently that inquisitive men examining with a
flambeau ancient sepulchres which had been just opened, the fat and
gross vapours kindled as the flambeau approached them, to the great
astonishment of the spectators, who frequently cried out "_a miracle!_"
This sudden inflammation, although very natural, has given room to
believe that these flames proceeded from _perpetual lamps_, which some
have thought were placed in the tombs of the ancients, and which, they
said, were extinguished at the moment that these tombs opened, and were
penetrated by the exterior air.

The accounts of the perpetual lamps which ancient writers give have
occasioned several ingenious men to search after their composition.
Licetus, who possessed more erudition than love of truth, has given two
receipts for making this eternal fire by a preparation of certain
minerals. More credible writers maintain that it is possible to make
lamps perpetually burning, and an oil at once inflammable and
inconsumable; but Boyle, assisted by several experiments made on the
air-pump, found that these lights, which have been viewed in opening
tombs, proceeded from the collision of fresh air. This reasonable
observation conciliates all, and does not compel us to deny the

The story of the lamp of Rosicrucius, even if it ever had the slightest
foundation, only owes its origin to the spirit of party, which at the
time would have persuaded the world that Rosicrucius had at least
discovered something.

It was reserved for modern discoveries in chemistry to prove that air
was not only necessary for a medium to the existence of the flame, which
indeed the air-pump had already shown; but also as a constituent part of
the inflammation, and without which a body, otherwise very inflammable
in all its parts, cannot, however, burn but in its superficies, which
alone is in contact with the ambient air.


Some stones are preserved by the curious, for representing distinctly
figures traced by nature alone, and without the aid of art.

Pliny mentions an agate, in which appeared, formed by the hand of
nature, Apollo amidst the Nine Muses holding a harp. At Venice another
may be seen, in which is naturally formed the perfect figure of a man.
At Pisa, in the church of St. John, there is a similar natural
production, which represents an old hermit in a desert, seated by the
side of a stream, and who holds in his hands a small bell, as St.
Anthony is commonly painted. In the temple of St. Sophia, at
Constantinople, there was formerly on a white marble the image of St.
John the Baptist covered with the skin of a camel; with this only
imperfection, that nature had given but one leg. At Ravenna, in the
church of St. Vital, a cordelier is seen on a dusky stone. They found in
Italy a marble, in which a crucifix was so elaborately finished, that
there appeared the nails, the drops of blood, and the wounds, as
perfectly as the most excellent painter could have performed. At
Sneilberg, in Germany, they found in a mine a certain rough metal, on
which was seen the figure of a man, who carried a child on his back. In
Provence they found in a mine a quantity of natural figures of birds,
trees, rats, and serpents; and in some places of the western parts of
Tartary, are seen on divers rocks the figures of camels, horses, and
sheep. Pancirollus, in his Lost Antiquities, attests, that in a church
at Rome, a marble perfectly represented a priest celebrating mass, and
raising the host. Paul III. conceiving that art had been used, scraped
the marble to discover whether any painting had been employed: but
nothing of the kind was discovered. "I have seen," writes a friend,
"many of these curiosities. They are _always helped out_ by art. In my
father's house was a gray marble chimney-piece, which abounded in
portraits, landscapes, &c., the greatest part of which was made by
myself." I have myself seen a large collection, many certainly untouched
by art. One stone appears like a perfect cameo of a Minerva's head;
another shows an old man's head, beautiful as if the hand of Raffaelle
had designed it. Both these stones are transparent. Some exhibit

There is preserved in the British Museum a black stone, on which nature
has sketched a resemblance of the portrait of Chaucer.[72] Stones of
this kind, possessing a sufficient degree of resemblance, are rare; but
art appears not to have been used. Even in plants, we find this sort of
resemblance. There is a species of the orchis, where Nature has formed a
bee, apparently feeding in the breast of the flower, with so much
exactness, that it is impossible at a very small distance to distinguish
the imposition. Hence the plant derives its name, and is called the
BEE-FLOWER. Langhorne elegantly notices its appearance:--

        See on that flow'ret's velvet breast,
          How close the busy vagrant lies!
        His thin-wrought plume, his downy breast,
           The ambrosial gold that swells his thighs.

        Perhaps his fragrant load may bind
           His limbs;--we'll set the captive free--
        I sought the LIVING BEE to find,
           And found the PICTURE of a BEE.

The late Mr. Jackson, of Exeter, wrote to me on this subject: "This
orchis is common near our sea-coasts; but instead of being exactly like
a BEE, _it is not like it at all_. It has a general resemblance to a
_fly_, and by the help of imagination may be supposed to be a fly
pitched upon the flower. The mandrake very frequently has a forked root,
which may be fancied to resemble thighs and legs. I have seen it helped
out with nails on the toes."

An ingenious botanist, after reading this article, was so kind as to
send me specimens of the _fly_ orchis, _ophrys muscifera_, and of the
_bee_ orchis, _ophrys apifera_. Their resemblance to these insects when
in full flower is the most perfect conceivable: they are distinct
plants. The poetical eye of Langhorne was equally correct and fanciful;
and that too of Jackson, who differed so positively. Many controversies
have been carried on, from a want of a little more knowledge; like that
of the BEE _orchis_ and the FLY _orchis_, both parties prove to be

Another curious specimen of the playful operations of nature is the
mandrake; a plant, indeed, when it is bare of leaves, perfectly
resembling that of the human form. The ginseng tree is noticed for the
same appearance. This object the same poet has noticed:--

    Mark how that rooted mandrake wears
       His human feet, his human hands;
    Oft, as his shapely form he rears,
       Aghast the frighted ploughman stands.

He closes this beautiful fable with the following stanza not inapposite
to the curious subject of this article:

    Helvetia's rocks, Sabrina's waves,
       Still many a shining pebble bear:
    Where nature's studious hand engraves
       The PERFECT FORM, and leaves it there.


[Footnote 72: One of the most curious of these natural portraits is the
enormous rock in Wales, known as the Pitt Stone. It is an immense
fragment, the outline bearing a perfect resemblance to the profile of
the great statesman. The frontispiece to Brace's "Visit to Norway and
Sweden" represents an island popularly known as "The Horseman's Island,"
that takes the form of a gigantic mounted horseman wading through the
deep. W.B. Cooke, the late eminent engraver, amused himself by depicting
a landscape with waterfalls and ruins, which, when turned on one side,
formed a perfect human face.]


Huet has given a charming description of a present made by a lover to
his mistress; a gift which romance has seldom equalled for its
gallantry, ingenuity, and novelty. It was called the garland of Julia.
To understand the nature of this gift, it will be necessary to give the
history of the parties.

The beautiful Julia d'Angennes was in the flower of her youth and fame,
when the celebrated Gustavus, king of Sweden, was making war in Germany
with the most splendid success. Julia expressed her warm admiration of
this hero. She had his portrait placed on her toilet, and took pleasure
in declaring that she would have no other lover than Gustavus. The Duke
de Montausier was, however, her avowed and ardent admirer. A short time
after the death of Gustavus, he sent her, as a new-year's gift, the
POETICAL GARLAND of which the following is a description.

The most beautiful flowers were painted in miniature by an eminent
artist, one Robert, on pieces of vellum, all of equal dimensions. Under
every flower a space was left open for a madrigal on the subject of the
flower there painted. The duke solicited the wits of the time to assist
in the composition of these little poems, reserving a considerable
number for the effusions of his own amorous muse. Under every flower he
had its madrigal written by N. Du Jarry, celebrated for his beautiful
caligraphy. A decorated frontispiece offered a splendid garland composed
of all these twenty-nine flowers; and on turning the page a cupid is
painted to the life. These were magnificently bound, and enclosed in a
bag of rich Spanish leather. When Julia awoke on new-year's day, she
found this lover's gift lying on her toilet; it was one quite to her
taste, and successful to the donor's hopes.

Of this Poetical Garland, thus formed by the hands of Wit and Love, Huet
says, "As I had long heard of it, I frequently expressed a wish to see
it: at length the Duchess of Usez gratified me with the sight. She
locked me in her cabinet one afternoon with this garland: she then went
to the queen, and at the close of the evening liberated me. I never
passed a more agreeable afternoon."

One of the prettiest inscriptions of these flowers is the following,
composed for


    Modeste en ma couleur, modeste en mon séjour,
    Franche d'ambition, je me cache sous l'herbe;
    Mais, si sur votre front je puis me voir un jour,
    La plus humble des fleurs sera la plus superbe.

    Modest my colour, modest is my place,
    Pleased in the grass my lowly form to hide;
    But mid your tresses might I wind with grace,
    The humblest flower would feel the loftiest pride.

The following is some additional information respecting "the Poetical
Garland of Julia."

At the sale of the library of the Duke de la Vallière, in 1784, among
its numerous literary curiosities this garland appeared. It was actually
sold for the extravagant sum of 14,510 livres! though in 1770, at
Gaignat's sale, it only cost 780 livres. It is described to be "a
manuscript on vellum, composed of twenty-nine flowers painted by one
Robert, under which are inserted madrigals by various authors." But the
Abbé Rive, the superintendent of the Vallière library, published in 1779
an inflammatory notice of this garland; and as he and the duke had the
art of appreciating, and it has been said _making_ spurious literary
curiosities, this notice was no doubt the occasion of the maniacal

In the great French Revolution, this literary curiosity found its
passage into this country. A bookseller offered it for sale at the
enormous price of 500_l._ sterling! No curious collector has been
discovered to have purchased this unique; which is most remarkable for
the extreme folly of the purchaser who gave the 14,510 livres for poetry
and painting not always exquisite. The history of the Garland of Julia
is a child's lesson for certain rash and inexperienced collectors, who
may here

    Learn to do well by others harm.


Montfleury, a French player, was one of the greatest actors of his time
for characters highly tragic. He died of the violent efforts he made in
representing Orestes in the Andromache of Racine. The author of the
"Parnasse Reformé" makes him thus express himself in the shades. There
is something extremely droll in his lamentations, with a severe
raillery on the inconveniences to which tragic actors are liable.

"Ah! how sincerely do I wish that tragedies had never been invented! I
might then have been yet in a state capable of appearing on the stage;
and if I should not have attained the glory of sustaining sublime
characters, I should at least have trifled agreeably, and have worked
off my spleen in laughing! I have wasted my lungs in the violent
emotions of jealousy, love, and ambition. A thousand times have I been
obliged to force myself to represent more passions than Le Brun ever
painted or conceived. I saw myself frequently obliged to dart terrible
glances; to roll my eyes furiously in my head, like a man insane; to
frighten others by extravagant grimaces; to imprint on my countenance
the redness of indignation and hatred; to make the paleness of fear and
surprise succeed each other by turns; to express the transports of rage
and despair; to cry out like a demoniac: and consequently to strain all
the parts of my body to render my gestures fitter to accompany these
different impressions. The man then who would know of what I died, let
him not ask if it were of the fever, the dropsy, or the gout; but let
him know that it was of _the Andromache_!"

The Jesuit Rapin informs us, that when Mondory acted Herod in the
Mariamne of Tristan, the spectators quitted the theatre mournful and
thoughtful; so tenderly were they penetrated with the sorrows of the
unfortunate heroine. In this melancholy pleasure, he says, we have a
rude picture of the strong impressions which were made by the Grecian
tragedians. Mondory indeed felt so powerfully the character he assumed,
that it cost him his life.

Some readers may recollect the death of Bond, who felt so exquisitely
the character of Lusignan in Zara, which he personated when an old man,
that Zara, when she addressed him, found him _dead_ in his chair.

The assumption of a variety of characters by a person of irritable and
delicate nerves, has often a tragical effect on the mental faculties. We
might draw up a list of ACTORS, who have fallen martyrs to their tragic
characters. Several have died on the stage, and, like Palmer, usually in
the midst of some agitated appeal to the feelings.[73]

Baron, who was the French Garrick, had a most elevated notion of his
profession: he used to say, that tragic actors should be nursed on the
lap of queens! Nor was his vanity inferior to his enthusiasm for his
profession; for, according to him, the world might see once in a century
a _Cæsar_, but that it required a thousand years to produce a _Baron_! A
variety of anecdotes testify the admirable talents he displayed.
Whenever he meant to compliment the talents or merits of distinguished
characters, he always delivered in a pointed manner the striking
passages of the play, fixing his eye on them. An observation of his
respecting actors, is not less applicable to poets and to painters.
"RULES," said this sublime actor, "may teach us not to raise the arms
above the head; but if PASSION carries them, it will be well done;

Betterton, although his countenance was ruddy and sanguine, when he
performed Hamlet, through the violent and sudden emotion of amazement
and horror at the presence of his father's spectre, instantly turned as
white as his neckcloth, while his whole body seemed to be affected with
a strong tremor: had his father's apparition actually risen before him,
he could not have been seized with more real agonies. This struck the
spectators so forcibly, that they felt a shuddering in their veins, and
participated in the astonishment and the horror so apparent in the
actor. Davies in his Dramatic Miscellanies records this fact; and in the
Richardsoniana, we find that the first time Booth attempted the ghost
when Betterton acted Hamlet, that actor's look at him struck him with
such horror that he became disconcerted to such a degree, that he could
not speak his part. Here seems no want of evidence of the force of the
ideal presence in this marvellous acting: these facts might deserve a
philosophical investigation.

Le Kain, the French actor, who retired from the Parisian stage, like our
Garrick, covered with glory and gold, was one day congratulated by a
company on the retirement which he was preparing to enjoy. "As to
glory," modestly replied this actor, "I do not flatter myself to have
acquired much. This kind of reward is always disputed by many, and you
yourselves would not allow it, were I to assume it. As to the money, I
have not so much reason to be satisfied; at the Italian Theatre, their
share is far more considerable than mine; an actor there may get twenty
to twenty-five thousand livres, and my share amounts at the most to ten
or twelve thousand." "How! the devil!" exclaimed a rude chevalier of the
order of St. Louis, who was present, "How! the devil! a vile stroller is
not content with twelve thousand livres annually, and I, who am in the
king's service, who sleep upon a cannon and lavish my blood for my
country, I must consider myself as fortunate in having obtained a
pension of one thousand livres." "And do you account as nothing, sir,
the liberty of addressing me thus?" replied Le Kain, with all the
sublimity and conciseness of an irritated Orosmane.

The memoirs of Mademoiselle Clairon display her exalted feeling of the
character of a sublime actress; she was of opinion, that in common life
the truly sublime actor should be a hero, or heroine off the stage. "If
I am only a vulgar and ordinary woman during twenty hours of the day,
whatever effort I may make, I shall only be an ordinary and vulgar woman
in Agrippina or Semiramis, during the remaining four." In society she
was nicknamed the Queen of Carthage, from her admirable personification
of Dido in a tragedy of that name.


[Footnote 73: Palmer's death took place on the Liverpool stage, August
2, 1798; he was in the fifty-seventh year of his age. The death of his
wife and his son had some time before thrown him into a profound
melancholy, and on this occasion he was unfortunately "cast" for the
agitating part of "the Stranger." He appeared unusually moved on
uttering the words "there is another and a better world," in the third
act. In the first scene of the following act, when he was asked "Why did
you not keep your children with you? they would have amused you in many
a dreary hour," he turned to reply--and "for the space of about ten
seconds, he paused as if waiting for the prompter to give him the
word"--says Mr. Whitfield the actor, who was then with him upon the
stage--"then put out his right hand, as if going to take hold of mine.
It dropt, as if to support his fall, but it had no power; in that
instant he fell, but not at full length, he crouched in falling, so that
his head did not strike the stage with great violence. He never breathed
after. I think I may venture to say he died without a pang." It is one
of the most melancholy incidents connected with theatrical history.]


These preachers, whose works are excessively rare, form a race unknown
to the general reader. I shall sketch the characters of these pious
buffoons, before I introduce them to his acquaintance. They, as it has
been said of Sterne, seemed to have wished, every now and then, to have
thrown their wigs into the faces of their auditors.

These preachers flourished in the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth
centuries; we are therefore to ascribe their extravagant mixture of
grave admonition with facetious illustration, comic tales which have
been occasionally adopted by the most licentious writers, and minute and
lively descriptions, to the great simplicity of the times, when the
grossest indecency was never concealed under a gentle periphrasis, but
everything was called by its name. All this was enforced by the most
daring personalities, and seasoned by those temporary allusions which
neither spared, nor feared even the throne. These ancient sermons
therefore are singularly precious, to those whose inquisitive pleasures
are gratified by tracing the _manners_ of former ages. When Henry
Stephens, in his apology for Herodotus, describes the irregularities of
the age, and the minutiæ of national manners, he effects this chiefly by
extracts from these sermons. Their wit is not always the brightest, nor
their satire the most poignant; but there is always that prevailing
_naïveté_ of the age running through their rude eloquence, which
interests the reflecting mind. In a word, these sermons were addressed
to the multitude; and therefore they show good sense and absurdity;
fancy and puerility; satire and insipidity; extravagance and truth.

Oliver Maillard, a famous cordelier, died in 1502. This preacher having
pointed some keen traits in his sermons at Louis XI., the irritated
monarch had our cordelier informed that he would throw him into the
river. He replied undaunted, and not forgetting his satire: "The king
may do as he chooses; but tell him that I shall sooner get to paradise
by water, than he will arrive by all his post-horses." He alluded to
travelling by post, which this monarch had lately introduced into
France. This bold answer, it is said, intimidated Louis: it is certain
that Maillard continued as courageous and satirical as ever in his

The following extracts are descriptive of the manners of the times.

In attacking rapine and robbery, under the first head he describes a
kind of usury, which was practised in the days of Ben Jonson, and I am
told in the present, as well as in the times of Maillard. "This," says
he, "is called a palliated usury. It is thus. When a person is in want
of money, he goes to a treasurer (a kind of banker or merchant), on whom
he has an order for 1000 crowns; the treasurer tells him that he will
pay him in a fortnight's time, when he is to receive the money. The
poor man cannot wait. Our good treasurer tells him, I will give you half
in money and half in goods. So he passes his goods that are worth 100
crowns for 200." He then touches on the bribes which these treasurers
and clerks in office took, excusing themselves by alleging the little
pay they otherwise received. "All these practices be sent to the
devils!" cries Maillard, in thus addressing himself to the _ladies_: "it
is for _you_ all this damnation ensues. Yes! yes! you must have rich
satins, and girdles of gold out of this accursed money. When any one has
anything to receive from the husband, he must make a present to the wife
of some fine gown, or girdle, or ring. If you ladies and gentlemen who
are battening on your pleasures, and wear scarlet clothes, I believe if
you were closely put in a good press, we should see the blood of the
poor gush out, with which your scarlet is dyed."

Maillard notices the following curious particulars of the mode of
_cheating in trade_ in his times.

He is violent against the apothecaries for their cheats. "They mix
ginger with cinnamon, which they sell for real spices: they put their
bags of ginger, pepper, saffron, cinnamon, and other drugs in damp
cellars, that they may weigh heavier; they mix oil with saffron, to give
it a colour, and to make it weightier." He does not forget those
tradesmen who put water in their wool, and moisten their cloth that it
may stretch; tavern-keepers, who sophisticate and mingle wines; the
butchers, who blow up their meat, and who mix hog's lard with the fat of
their meat. He terribly declaims against those who buy with a great
allowance of measure and weight, and then sell with a small measure and
weight; and curses those who, when they weigh, press the scales down
with their finger. But it is time to conclude with Master Oliver! His
catalogue is, however, by no means exhausted; and it may not be amiss to
observe, that the present age has retained every one of the sins.

The following extracts are from Menot's sermons, which are written, like
Maillard's, in a barbarous Latin, mixed with old French.

Michael Menot died in 1518. I think he has more wit than Maillard, and
occasionally displays a brilliant imagination; with the same singular
mixture of grave declamation and farcical absurdities. He is called in
the title-page the _golden-tongued_. It runs thus, _Predicatoris qui
lingua aurea, sua tempestate nuncupatus est, Sermones quadragesimales,
ab ipso olim Turonis declamati_. _Paris, 1525_, 8vo.

When he compares the church with a vine, he says, "There were once some
Britons and Englishmen who would have carried away all France into their
country, because they found our wine better than their beer; but as they
well knew that they could not always remain in France, nor carry away
France into their country, they would at least carry with them several
stocks of vines; they planted some in England; but these stocks soon
degenerated, because the soil was not adapted to them." Notwithstanding
what Menot said in 1500, and that we have tried so often, we have often
flattered ourselves that if we plant vineyards, we may have English

The following beautiful figure describes those who live neglectful of
their aged parents, who had cherished them into prosperity. "See the
trees flourish and recover their leaves; it is their root that has
produced all; but when the branches are loaded with flowers and with
fruits, they yield nothing to the root. This is an image of those
children who prefer their own amusements, and to game away their
fortunes, than to give to their old parents that which they want."

He acquaints us with the following circumstances of the immorality of
that age: "Who has not got a mistress besides his wife? The poor wife
eats the fruits of bitterness, and even makes the bed for the mistress."
Oaths were not unfashionable in his day. "Since the world has been
world, this crime was never greater. There were once pillories for these
swearers; but now this crime is so common, that the child of five years
can swear; and even the old dotard of eighty, who has only two teeth
remaining, can fling out an oath."

On the power of the fair sex of his day, he observes--"A father says, my
son studies; he must have a bishopric, or an abbey of 500 livres. Then
he will have dogs, horses, and mistresses, like others. Another says, I
will have my son placed at court, and have many honourable dignities. To
succeed well, both employ the mediation of women; unhappily the church
and the law are entirely at their disposal. We have artful Dalilahs who
shear us close. For twelve crowns and an ell of velvet given to a woman,
you gain the worst lawsuit, and the best living."

In his last sermon, Menot recapitulates the various topics he had
touched on during Lent. This extract presents a curious picture, and a
just notion of the versatile talents of these preachers.

"I have told _ecclesiastics_ how they should conduct themselves; not
that they are ignorant of their duties; but I must ever repeat to girls,
not to suffer themselves to be duped by them. I have told these
ecclesiastics that they should imitate the lark; if she has a grain she
does not remain idle, but feels her pleasure in singing, and in singing
always is ascending towards heaven. So they should not amass; but
elevate the hearts of all to God; and not do as the frogs who are crying
out day and night, and think they have a fine throat, but always remain
fixed in the mud.

"I have told the _men of the law_ that they should have the qualities of
the eagle. The first is, that this bird when it flies fixes its eye on
the sun; so all judges, counsellors, and attorneys, in judging, writing,
and signing, should always have God before their eyes. And secondly,
this bird is never greedy; it willingly shares its prey with others; so
all lawyers, who are rich in crowns after having had their bills paid,
should distribute some to the poor, particularly when they are conscious
that their money arises from their prey.

"I have spoken of the _marriage state_, but all that I have said has
been disregarded. See those wretches who break the hymeneal chains, and
abandon their wives! they pass their holidays out of their parishes,
because if they remained at home they must have joined their wives at
church; they liked their prostitutes better; and it will be so every day
in the year! I would as well dine with a Jew or a heretic, as with them.
What an infected place is this! Mistress Lubricity has taken possession
of the whole city; look in every corner, and you'll be convinced.

"For you _married women_! If you have heard the nightingale's song, you
must know that she sings during three months, and that she is silent
when she has young ones. So there is a time in which you may sing and
take your pleasures in the marriage state, and another to watch your
children. Don't damn yourselves for them; and remember it would be
better to see them drowned than damned.

"As to _widows_, I observe, that the turtle withdraws and sighs in the
woods, whenever she has lost her companion; so must they retire into the
wood of the cross, and having lost their temporal husband, take no other
but Jesus Christ.

"And, to close all I have told _girls_ that they must fly from the
company of men, and not permit them to embrace, nor even touch them.
Look on the rose; it has a delightful odour; it embalms the place in
which it is placed; but if you grasp it underneath, it will prick you
till the blood issues. The beauty of the rose is the beauty of the girl.
The beauty and perfume of the first invite to smell and to handle it,
but when it is touched underneath it pricks sharply; the beauty of a
girl likewise invites the hand; but you, my young ladies, you must never
suffer this, for I tell you that every man who does this designs to make
you harlots."

These ample extracts may convey the same pleasure to the reader which I
have received by collecting them from their scarce originals, little
known even to the curious. Menot, it cannot be denied, displays a poetic
imagination, and a fertility of conception which distinguishes him among
his rivals. The same taste and popular manner came into our country, and
were suited to the simplicity of the age. In 1527, our Bishop Latimer
preached a sermon,[74] in which he expresses himself thus:--"Now, ye
have heard what is meant by this _first card_, and how ye ought to
_play_. I purpose again to _deal_ unto you another _card of the same
suit_; for they be so nigh affinity, that one cannot be well played
without the other."[75] It is curious to observe about a century
afterwards, as Fuller informs us, that when a country clergyman imitated
these familiar allusions, the taste of the congregation had so changed
that he was interrupted by peals of laughter!

Even in more modern times have Menot and Maillard found an imitator in
little Father André, as well as others. His character has been variously
drawn. He is by some represented as a kind of buffoon in the pulpit; but
others more judiciously observe, that he only indulged his natural
genius, and uttered humorous and lively things, as the good Father
observes himself, to keep the attention of his audience awake. He was
not always laughing. "He told many a bold truth," says the author of
_Guerre des Auteurs anciens et modernes_, "that sent bishops to their
dioceses, and made many a coquette blush. He possessed the art of biting
when he smiled; and more ably combated vice by his ingenious satire than
by those vague apostrophes which no one takes to himself. While others
were straining their minds to catch at sublime thoughts which no one
understood, he lowered his talents to the most humble situations, and to
the minutest things. From them he drew his examples and his comparisons;
and the one and the other never failed of success." Marville says, that
"his expressions were full of shrewd simplicity. He made very free use
of the most popular proverbs. His comparisons and figures were always
borrowed from the most familiar and lowest things." To ridicule
effectually the reigning vices, he would prefer quirks or puns to
sublime thoughts; and he was little solicitous of his choice of
expression, so the things came home. Gozzi, in Italy, had the same power
in drawing unexpected inferences from vulgar and familiar occurrences.
It was by this art Whitfield obtained so many followers. In Piozzi's
British Synonymes, vol. ii. p. 205, we have an instance of Gozzi's
manner. In the time of Charles II. it became fashionable to introduce
humour into sermons. Sterne seems to have revived it in his: South's
sparkle perpetually with wit and pun.

Far different, however, are the characters of the sublime preachers, of
whom the French have preserved the following descriptions.

We have not any more Bourdaloue, La Rue, and Massillon; but the idea
which still exists of their manner of addressing their auditors may
serve instead of lessons. Each had his own peculiar mode, always adapted
to place, time, circumstance; to their auditors, their style, and their

Bourdaloue, with a collected air, had little action; with eyes generally
half closed he penetrated the hearts of the people by the sound of a
voice uniform and solemn. The tone with which a sacred orator pronounced
the words, _Tu est ille vir!_ "Thou art the man!" in suddenly addressing
them to one of the kings of France, struck more forcibly than their
application. Madame de Sévigné describes our preacher, by saying,
"Father Bourdaloue thunders at Notre Dame."

La Rue appeared with the air of a prophet. His manner was irresistible,
full of fire, intelligence, and force. He had strokes perfectly
original. Several old men, his contemporaries, still shuddered at the
recollection of the expression which he employed in an apostrophe to the
God of vengeance, _Evaginare gladium tuum!_

The person of Massillon affected his admirers. He was seen in the pulpit
with that air of simplicity, that modest demeanour, those eyes humbly
declining, those unstudied gestures, that passionate tone, that mild
countenance of a man penetrated with his subject, conveying to the mind
the most luminous ideas, and to the heart the most tender emotions.
Baron, the tragedian, coming out from one of his sermons, truth forced
from his lips a confession humiliating to his profession; "My friend,"
said he to one of his companions, "this is an _orator!_ and we are _only


[Footnote 74: In it he likens Christianity to a game at cards.]

[Footnote 75: In his "Sermon of the Plough," preached at Paul's Cross,
1548, we meet the same quaint imagery. "Preaching of the Gospel is one
of God's plough works, and the preacher is one of God's ploughmen--and
well may the preacher and the ploughman be likened together: first, for
their labour at all seasons of the year; for there is no time of the
year in which the ploughman hath not some special work to do." He says
that Satan "is ever busy in following his plough;" and he winds up his
peroration by the somewhat startling words, "the devil shall go for my
money, for he applieth to his business. Therefore, ye unpreaching
prelates, learn of the devil: to be diligent in doing your office learn
of the devil: and if you will not learn of God, nor good men, for shame
learn of the devil."]


There have been found occasionally some artists who could so perfectly
imitate the spirit, the taste, the character, and the peculiarities of
great masters, that they have not unfrequently deceived the most skilful
connoisseurs. Michael Angelo sculptured a sleeping Cupid, of which
having broken off an arm, he buried the statue in a place where he knew
it would soon be found. The critics were never tired of admiring it, as
one of the most precious relics of antiquity. It was sold to the
Cardinal of St. George, to whom Michael Angelo discovered the whole
mystery, by joining to the Cupid the arm which he had reserved.

An anecdote of Peter Mignard is more singular. This great artist painted
a Magdalen on a canvas fabricated at Rome. A broker, in concert with
Mignard, went to the Chevalier de Clairville, and told him as a secret
that he was to receive from Italy a Magdalen of Guido, and his
masterpiece. The chevalier caught the bait, begged the preference, and
purchased the picture at a very high price.

He was informed that he had been imposed upon, and that the Magdalen was
painted by Mignard. Mignard himself caused the alarm to be given, but
the amateur would not believe it; all the connoisseurs agreed it was a
Guido, and the famous Le Brun corroborated this opinion.

The chevalier came to Mignard:--"Some persons assure me that my Magdalen
is your work!"--"Mine! they do me great honour. I am sure that Le Brun
is not of this opinion." "Le Brun swears it can be no other than a
Guido. You shall dine with me, and meet several of the first

On the day of meeting, the picture was again more closely inspected.
Mignard hinted his doubts whether the piece was the work of that great
master; he insinuated that it was possible to be deceived; and added,
that if it was Guido's, he did not think it in his best manner. "It is a
Guido, sir, and in his very best manner," replied Le Brun, with warmth;
and all the critics were unanimous. Mignard then spoke in a firm tone of
voice: "And I, gentlemen, will wager three hundred louis that it is not
a Guido." The dispute now became violent: Le Brun was desirous of
accepting the wager. In a word, the affair became such that it could add
nothing more to the glory of Mignard. "No, sir," replied the latter, "I
am too honest to bet when I am certain to win. Monsieur le Chevalier,
this piece cost you two thousand crowns: the money must be
returned,--the painting is _mine_." Le Brun would not believe it. "The
proof," Mignard continued, "is easy. On this canvas, which is a Roman
one, was the portrait of a cardinal; I will show you his cap."--The
chevalier did not know which of the rival artists to credit. The
proposition alarmed him. "He who painted the picture shall repair it,"
said Mignard. He took a pencil dipped in oil, and rubbing the hair of
the Magdalen, discovered the cap of the cardinal. The honour of the
ingenious painter could no longer be disputed; Le Brun, vexed,
sarcastically exclaimed, "Always paint Guido, but never Mignard."

There is a collection of engravings by that ingenious artist Bernard
Picart, which has been published under the title of _The Innocent
Impostors_. Picart had long been vexed at the taste of his day, which
ran wholly in favour of antiquity, and no one would look at, much less
admire, a modern master. He published a pretended collection, or a set
of prints, from the designs of the great painters; in which he imitated
the etchings and engravings of the various masters, and much were these
prints admired as the works of Guido, Rembrandt, and others. Having had
his joke, they were published under the title of _Imposteurs
Innocentes_. The connoisseurs, however, are strangely divided in their
opinion of the merit of this collection. Gilpin classes these "Innocent
Impostors" among the most entertaining of his works, and is delighted by
the happiness with which he has outdone in their own excellences the
artists whom he copied; but Strutt, too grave to admit of jokes that
twitch the connoisseurs, declares that they could never have deceived an
experienced judge, and reprobates such kinds of ingenuity, played off at
the cost of the venerable brotherhood of the cognoscenti.

The same thing was, however, done by Goltzius, who being disgusted at
the preference given to the works of Albert Durer, Lucas of Leyden, and
others of that school, and having attempted to introduce a better taste,
which was not immediately relished, he published what were afterwards
called his _masterpieces_. These are six prints in the style of these
masters, merely to prove that Goltzius could imitate their works, if he
thought proper. One of these, the Circumcision, he had printed on soiled
paper; and to give it the brown tint of antiquity had carefully smoked
it, by which means it was sold as a curious performance, and deceived
some of the most capital connoisseurs of the day, one of whom bought it
as one of the finest engravings of Albert Durer: even Strutt
acknowledges the merit of Goltzius's _masterpieces_!

To these instances of artists I will add others of celebrated authors.
Muretus rendered Joseph Scaliger, a great stickler for the ancients,
highly ridiculous by an artifice which he practised. He sent some verses
which he pretended were copied from an old manuscript. The verses were
excellent, and Scaliger was credulous. After having read them, he
exclaimed they were admirable, and affirmed that they were written by an
old comic poet, Trabeus. He quoted them, in his commentary on Varro _De
Re Rusticâ_, as one of the most precious fragments of antiquity. It was
then, when he had fixed his foot firmly in the trap, that Muretus
informed the world of the little dependence to be placed on the critical
sagacity of one so prejudiced in favour of the ancients, and who
considered his judgment as infallible.

The Abbé Regnier Desmarais, having written an ode or, as the Italians
call it, canzone, sent it to the Abbé Strozzi at Florence, who used it
to impose on three or four academicians of Della Crusca. He gave out
that Leo Allatius, librarian of the Vatican, in examining carefully the
MSS. of Petrarch preserved there, had found two pages slightly glued,
which having separated, he had discovered this ode. The fact was not at
first easily credited; but afterwards the similarity of style and manner
rendered it highly probable. When Strozzi undeceived the public, it
procured the Abbé Regnier a place in the academy, as an honourable
testimony of his ingenuity.

Père Commire, when Louis XIV. resolved on the conquest of Holland,
composed a Latin fable, entitled "The Sun and the Frogs," in which he
assumed with such felicity the style and character of Phædrus, that the
learned Wolfius was deceived, and innocently inserted it in his edition
of that fabulist.

Flaminius Strada would have deceived most of the critics of his age, if
he had given as the remains of antiquity the different pieces of history
and poetry which he composed on the model of the ancients, in his
_Prolusiones Academicæ_. To preserve probability he might have given out
that he had drawn them, from some old and neglected library; he had then
only to have added a good commentary, tending to display the conformity
of the style and manner of these fragments with the works of those
authors to whom he ascribed them.

Sigonius was a great master of the style of Cicero, and ventured to
publish a treatise _De Consolatione_, as a composition of Cicero
recently discovered; many were deceived by the counterfeit, which was
performed with great dexterity, and was long received as genuine; but he
could not deceive Lipsius, who, after reading only ten lines, threw it
away, exclaiming, "_Vah! non est Ciceronis_." The late Mr. Burke
succeeded more skilfully in his "Vindication of Natural Society," which
for a long time passed as the composition of Lord Bolingbroke; so
perfect is this ingenious imposture of the spirit, manner, and course of
thinking of the noble author. I believe it was written for a wager, and
fairly won.


Our Edward the Fourth was dissipated and voluptuous; and probably owed
his crown to his handsomeness, his enormous debts, and passion for the
fair sex. He had many Jane Shores. Honest Philip de Comines, his
contemporary, says, "That what greatly contributed to his entering
London as soon as he appeared at its gates was the great debts this
prince had contracted, which made his creditors gladly assist him; and
the high favour in which he was held by the _bourgeoises_, into whose
good graces he had frequently glided, and who gained over to him their
husbands, who, for the tranquillity of their lives, were glad to depose
or to raise monarchs. Many ladies and rich citizens' wives, of whom
formerly he had great privacies and familiar acquaintance, gained over
to him their husbands and relations."

This is the description of his voluptuous life; we must recollect that
the writer had been an eye-witness, and was an honest man.

"He had been during the last twelve years more accustomed to his ease
and pleasure than any other prince who lived in his time. He had nothing
in his thoughts but _les dames_, and of them more than was _reasonable_;
and hunting-matches, good eating, and great care of his person. When he
went in their seasons to these hunting-matches, he always had carried
with him great pavilions for _les dames_, and at the same time gave
splendid entertainments; so that it is not surprising that his person
was as jolly as any one I ever saw. He was then young, and as handsome
as any man of his age; but he has since become enormously fat."

Since I have got old Philip in my hand, the reader will not, perhaps, be
displeased, if he attends to a little more of his _naïveté_, which will
appear in the form of a _conversazione_ of the times. He relates what
passed between the English and the French Monarch.

"When the ceremony of the oath was concluded, our king, who was desirous
of being friendly, began to say to the king of England, in a laughing
way, that he must come to Paris, and be jovial amongst our ladies; and
that he would give him the Cardinal de Bourbon for his confessor, who
would very willingly absolve him of any _sin_ which perchance he might
commit. The king of England seemed well pleased at the invitation, and
laughed heartily; for he knew that the said cardinal was _un fort bon
compagnon_. When the king was returning, he spoke on the road to me; and
said that he did not like to find the king of England so much inclined
to come to Paris. 'He is,' said he, 'a very _handsome_ king; he likes
the women too much. He may probably find one at Paris that may make him
like to come too often, or stay too long. His predecessors have already
been too much at Paris and in Normandy;' and that 'his company was not
agreeable _this side of the sea_; but that, beyond the sea, he wished
to be _bon frère et amy_.'"

I have called Philip de Comines _honest_. The old writers, from the
simplicity of their style, usually receive this honourable epithet; but
sometimes they deserve it as little as most modern memoir writers. No
enemy is indeed so terrible as a man of genius. Comines's violent enmity
to the Duke of Burgundy, which appears in these memoirs, has been traced
by the minute researchers of anecdotes; and the cause is not honourable
to the memoir-writer, whose resentment was implacable. De Comines was
born a subject of the Duke of Burgundy, and for seven years had been a
favourite; but one day returning from hunting with the Duke, then Count
de Charolois, in familiar jocularity he sat himself down before the
prince, ordering the prince to pull off his boots. The count laughed,
and did this; but in return for Comines's princely amusement, dashed the
boot in his face, and gave Comines a bloody nose, From that time he was
mortified in the court of Burgundy by the nickname of the _booted head_.
Comines long felt a rankling wound in his mind; and after this domestic
quarrel, for it was nothing more, he went over to the king of France,
and wrote off his bile against the Duke of Burgundy in these "Memoirs,"
which give posterity a caricature likeness of that prince, whom he is
ever censuring for presumption, obstinacy, pride, and cruelty. This Duke
of Burgundy, however, it is said, with many virtues, had but one great
vice, the vice of sovereigns, that of ambition!

The impertinence of Comines had not been chastised with great severity;
but the nickname was never forgiven: unfortunately for the duke, Comines
was a man of genius. When we are versed in the history of the times, we
often discover that memoir-writers have some secret poison in their
hearts. Many, like Comines, have had the boot dashed on their nose.
Personal rancour wonderfully enlivens the style of Lord Orford and
Cardinal de Retz. Memoirs are often dictated by its fiercest spirit; and
then histories are composed from memoirs. Where is TRUTH? Not always in
histories and memoirs!


This great queen passionately admired handsome persons, and he was
already far advanced in her favour who approached her with beauty and
grace. She had so unconquerable an aversion for men who had been treated
unfortunately by nature, that she could not endure their presence.

When she issued from her palace, her guards were careful to disperse
from before her eyes hideous and deformed people, the lame, the
hunchbacked, &c.; in a word, all those whose appearance might shock her
fastidious sensations.

"There is this singular and admirable in the conduct of Elizabeth that
she made her pleasures subservient to her policy, and she maintained her
affairs by what in general occasions the ruin of princes. So secret were
her amours, that even to the present day their mysteries cannot be
penetrated; but the utility she drew from them is public, and always
operated for the good of her people. Her lovers were her ministers, and
her ministers were her lovers. Love commanded, love was obeyed; and the
reign of this princess was happy, because it was the reign of _Love_, in
which its chains and its slavery are liked!"

The origin of Raleigh's advancement in the queen's graces was by an act
of gallantry. Raleigh spoiled a new plush cloak, while the queen,
stepping cautiously on this prodigal's footcloth, shot forth a smile, in
which he read promotion. Captain Raleigh soon became Sir Walter, and
rapidly advanced in the queen's favour.

Hume has furnished us with ample proofs of the _passion_ which her
courtiers feigned for her, and it remains a question whether it ever
went further than boisterous or romantic gallantry. The secrecy of her
amours is not so wonderful as it seems, if there were impediments to any
but exterior gallantries. Hume has preserved in his notes a letter
written by Raleigh. It is a perfect amorous composition. After having
exerted his poetic talents to exalt _her charms_ and _his affection_, he
concludes, by comparing her majesty, who was then _sixty_, to Venus and
Diana. Sir Walter was not her only courtier who wrote in this style.
Even in her old age she affected a strange fondness for music and
dancing, with a kind of childish simplicity; her court seemed a court of
love, and she the sovereign. Secretary Cecil, the youngest son of Lord
Burleigh, seems to have perfectly entered into her character. Lady Derby
wore about her neck and in her bosom a portrait; the queen inquired
about it, but her ladyship was anxious to conceal it. The queen insisted
on having it; and discovering it to be the portrait of young Cecil, she
snatched it away, tying it upon her shoe, and walked with it; afterwards
she pinned it on her elbow, and wore it some time there. Secretary Cecil
hearing of this, composed some verses and got them set to music; this
music the queen insisted on hearing. In his verses Cecil said that he
repined not, though her majesty was pleased to grace others; he
contented himself with the favour she had given him by wearing his
portrait on her feet and on her arms! The writer of the letter who
relates this anecdote, adds, "All these things are very secret." In this
manner she contrived to lay the fastest hold on her able servants, and
her servants on her.

Those who are intimately acquainted with the private anecdotes of those
times, know what encouragement this royal coquette gave to most who were
near her person. Dodd, in his Church History, says, that the Earls of
Arran and Arundel, and Sir William Pickering, "were not out of hopes of
gaining Queen Elizabeth's affections in a matrimonial way."

She encouraged every person of eminence: she even went so far, on the
anniversary of her coronation, as publicly to take a ring from her
finger, and put it on the Duke of Aleçnon's hand. She also ranked
amongst her suitors Henry the Third of France, and Henry the Great.

She never forgave Buzenval for ridiculing her bad pronunciation of the
French language; and when Henry IV. sent him over on an embassy, she
would not receive him. So nice was the irritable pride of this great
queen, that she made her private injuries matters of state.

"This queen," writes Du Maurier, in his _Memoires pour servir à
l'Histoire de la Hollande_, "who displayed so many heroic
accomplishments, had this foible, of wishing to be thought beautiful by
all the world. I heard from my father, that at every audience he had
with her majesty, she pulled off her gloves more than a hundred times to
display her hands, which indeed were very beautiful and very white."

A not less curious anecdote relates to the affair of the Duke of Anjou
and our Elizabeth; it is one more proof of her partiality for handsome
men. The writer was Lewis Guyon, a contemporary.

"Francis Duke of Anjou, being desirous of marrying a crowned head,
caused proposals of marriage to be made to Elizabeth, queen of England.
Letters passed betwixt them, and their portraits were exchanged. At
length her majesty informed him, that she would never contract a
marriage with any one who sought her, if she did not first _see his
person_. If he would not come, nothing more should be said on the
subject. This prince, over-pressed by his young friends (who were as
little able of judging as himself), paid no attention to the counsels of
men of maturer judgment. He passed over to England without a splendid
train. The said lady contemplated his _person_: she found him _ugly_,
disfigured by deep sears of the _small-pox_, and that he also had an
_ill-shaped nose_, with _swellings in the neck_! All these were so many
reasons with her, that he could never be admitted into her good graces."

Puttenham, in his very rare book of the "Art of Poesie," p. 248, notices
the grace and majesty of Elizabeth's demeanour: "Her stately manner of
walk, with a certaine granditie rather than gravietie, marching with
leysure, which our sovereign ladye and mistresse is accustomed to doe
generally, unless it be when she walketh apace for her pleasure, or to
catch her a heate in the cold mornings."

By the following extract from a letter from one of her gentlemen, we
discover that her usual habits, though studious, were not of the
gentlest kind, and that the service she exacted from her attendants was
not borne without concealed murmurs. The writer groans in secrecy to his
friend. Sir John Stanhope writes to Sir Robert Cecil in 1598: "I was all
the afternowne with her majestie, _at my booke_; and then thinking to
rest me, went in agayne with your letter. She was pleased with the
Filosofer's stone, and hath ben _all this daye reasonably quyett_. Mr.
Grevell is absent, and I am tyed so as I cannot styrr, but shall be _at
the wourse_ for yt, these two dayes!"[76]

Puttenham, p. 249, has also recorded an honourable anecdote of
Elizabeth, and characteristic of that high majesty which was in her
thoughts, as well as in her actions. When she came to the crown, a
knight of the realm, who had insolently behaved to her when Lady
Elizabeth, fell upon his knees and besought her pardon, expecting to be
sent to the Tower: she replied mildly, "Do you not know that we are
descended of the _lion_, whose nature is not to harme or prey upon the
mouse, or any other such small vermin?"

Queen Elizabeth was taught to write by the celebrated _Roger Ascham_.
Her writing is extremely beautiful and correct, as may be seen by
examining a little manuscript book of prayers, preserved in the British
Museum. I have seen her first writing book, preserved at Oxford in the
Bodleian Library: the gradual improvement in her majesty's handwriting
is very honourable to her diligence; but the most curious thing is the
paper on which she tried her pens; this she usually did by writing the
name of her beloved brother Edward; a proof of the early and ardent
attachment she formed to that amiable prince.

The education of Elizabeth had been severely classical; she thought and
she wrote in all the spirit of the characters of antiquity; and her
speeches and her letters are studded with apophthegms, and a terseness
of ideas and language, that give an exalted idea of her mind. In her
evasive answers to the Commons, in reply to their petitions to her
majesty to marry, she has employed an energetic word: "Were I to tell
you that I do not mean to marry, I might say less than I did intend; and
were I to tell you that I do mean to marry, I might say more than it is
proper for you to know; therefore I give you an _answer_, ANSWERLESS!"


[Footnote 76: Sir Robert Cecil, in a letter to Sir John Harrington,
happily characterized her Majesty as occasionally "being more than a
man, and, in truth, sometimes less than a woman."]


The Chinese language is like no other on the globe; it is said to
contain not more than about three hundred and thirty words, but it is by
no means monotonous, for it has four accents; the even, the raised, the
lessened, and the returning, which multiply every word into four; as
difficult, says Mr. Astle, for an European to understand, as it is for a
Chinese to comprehend the six pronunciations of the French E. In fact,
they can so diversify their monosyllabic words by the different _tones_
which they give them, that the same character differently accented
signifies sometimes ten or more different things.

P. Bourgeois, one of the missionaries, attempted, after ten months'
residence at Pekin, to preach in the Chinese language. These are the
words of the good father: "God knows how much this first Chinese sermon
cost me! I can assure you this language resembles no other. The same
word has never but one termination; and then adieu to all that in our
declensions distinguishes the gender, and the number of things we would
speak: adieu, in the verbs, to all which might explain the active
person, how and in what time it acts, if it acts alone or with others:
in a word, with the Chinese, the same word is substantive, adjective,
verb, singular, plural, masculine, feminine, &c. It is the person who
hears who must arrange the circumstances, and guess them. Add to all
this, that all the words of this language are reduced to three hundred
and a few more; that they are pronounced in so many different ways, that
they signify eighty thousand different things, which are expressed by as
many different characters. This is not all: the arrangement of all these
monosyllables appears to be under no general rule; so that to know the
language after having learnt the words, we must learn every particular
phrase: the least inversion would make you unintelligible to three parts
of the Chinese.

"I will give you an example of their words. They told me _chou_
signifies a _book_: so that I thought whenever the word _chou_ was
pronounced, a _book_ was the subject. Not at all! _Chou_, the next time
I heard it, I found signified a _tree_. Now I was to recollect; _chou_
was a _book_ or a _tree_. But this amounted to nothing; _chou_, I found,
expressed also _great heats_; _chou_ is to _relate_; _chou_ is the
_Aurora_; _chou_ means to be _accustomed_; _chou_ expresses the _loss of
a wager_, &c. I should not finish, were I to attempt to give you all its

"Notwithstanding these singular difficulties, could one but find a help
in the perusal of their books, I should not complain. But this is
impossible! Their language is quite different from that of simple
conversation. What will ever be an insurmountable difficulty to every
European is the pronunciation; every word may be pronounced in five
different tones, yet every tone is not so distinct that an unpractised
ear can easily distinguish it. These monosyllables fly with amazing
rapidity; then they are continually disguised by elisions, which
sometimes hardly leave anything of two monosyllables. From an aspirated
tone you must pass immediately to an even one; from a whistling note to
an inward one: sometimes your voice must proceed from the palate;
sometimes it must be guttural, and almost always nasal. I recited my
sermon at least fifty times to my servant before I spoke it in public;
and yet I am told, though he continually corrected me, that of the ten
parts of the sermon (as the Chinese express themselves), they hardly
understood three. Fortunately the Chinese are wonderfully patient; and
they are astonished that any ignorant stranger should be able to learn
two words of their language."

It has been said that "Satires are often composed in China, which, if
you attend to the _characters_, their import is pure and sublime; but if
you regard the _tone_ only, they contain a meaning ludicrous or obscene.
In the Chinese _one word_ sometimes corresponds to three or four
thousand characters; a property quite opposite to that of our language,
in which _myriads_ of different _words_ are expressed by the _same


In the Philosophical Magazine for May, 1806, we find that "several of
the medical literati on the continent are at present engaged in making
inquiries and experiments upon the _influence of music in the cure of
diseases_." The learned Dusaux is said to lead the band of this new
tribe of _amateurs_ and _cognoscenti_.

The subject excited my curiosity, though I since have found that it is
no new discovery.

There is a curious article in Dr. Burney's History of Music, "On the
Medicinal Powers attributed to Music by the Ancients," which he derived
from the learned labours of a modern physician, M. Burette, who
doubtless could play a tune to, as well as prescribe one to, his
patient. He conceives that music can relieve the pains of the sciatica;
and that, independent of the greater or less skill of the musician, by
flattering the ear, and diverting the attention, and occasioning certain
vibrations of the nerves, it can remove those obstructions which
occasion this disorder. M. Burette, and many modern physicians and
philosophers, have believed that music has the power of affecting the
mind, and the whole nervous system, so as to give a temporary relief in
certain diseases, and even a radical cure. De Mairan, Bianchini, and
other respectable names, have pursued the same career. But the ancients
recorded miracles!

The Rev. Dr. Mitchell, of Brighthelmstone, wrote a dissertation, "_De
Arte Medendi apud Priscos, Musices ope atque Carminum_," printed for J.
Nichols, 1783. He writes under the assumed name of Michael Gaspar; but
whether this learned dissertator be grave or jocular, more than one
critic has not been able to resolve me. I suspect it to be a satire on
the parade of Germanic erudition, by which they often prove a point by
the weakest analogies and most fanciful conceits.

Amongst half-civilized nations, diseases have been generally attributed
to the influence of evil spirits. The depression of mind which is
generally attendant on sickness, and the delirium accompanying certain
stages of disease, seem to have been considered as especially denoting
the immediate influence of a demon. The effect of music in raising the
energies of the mind, or what we commonly call animal spirits, was
obvious to early observation. Its power of attracting strong attention
may in some cases have appeared to affect even those who laboured under
a considerable degree of mental disorder. The accompanying depression of
mind was considered as a part of the disease, perhaps rightly enough,
and music was prescribed as a remedy to remove the symptom, when
experience had not ascertained the probable cause. Homer, whose heroes
exhibit high passions, but not refined manners, represents the Grecian
army as employing music to stay the raging of the plague. The Jewish
nation, in the time of King David, appear not to have been much further
advanced in civilization; accordingly we find David employed in his
youth to remove the mental derangement of Saul by his harp. The method
of cure was suggested as a common one in those days, by Saul's servants;
and the success is not mentioned as a miracle. Pindar, with poetic
licence, speaks of Æsculapius healing acute disorders with soothing
songs; but Æsculapius, whether man or deity, or between both, is a
physician of the days of barbarism and fable. Pliny scouts the idea that
music could affect real bodily injury, but quotes Homer on the subject;
mentions Theophrastus as suggesting a tune for the cure of the hip gout,
and Cato as entertaining a fancy that it had a good effect when limbs
were out of joint, and likewise that Varro thought it good for the gout.
Aulus Gellius cites a work of Theophrastus, which recommends music as a
specific for the bite of a viper. Boyle and Shakspeare mention the
effects of music _super vesicam_. Kircher's "Musurgia," and Swinburne's
Travels, relate the effects of music on those who are bitten by the
tarantula. Sir W. Temple seems to have given credit to the stories of
the power of music over diseases.

The ancients, indeed, record miracles in the tales they relate of the
medicinal powers of music. A fever is removed by a song, and deafness is
cured by a trumpet, and the pestilence is chased away by the sweetness
of an harmonious lyre. That deaf people can hear best in a great noise,
is a fact alleged by some moderns, in favour of the ancient story of
curing deafness by a trumpet. Dr. Willis tells us, says Dr. Burney, of a
lady who could _hear_ only while _a drum was beating_, insomuch, that
her husband, the account says, hired a drummer as her servant, in order
to enjoy the pleasure of her conversation.

Music and the sounds of instruments, says the lively Vigneul de
Marville, contribute to the health of the body and the mind; they
quicken the circulation of the blood, they dissipate vapours, and open
the vessels, so that the action of perspiration is freer. He tells a
story of a person of distinction, who assured him, that once being
suddenly seized by violent illness, instead of a consultation of
physicians, he immediately called a band of musicians; and their
violins-played so well in his inside, that his bowels became perfectly
in tune, and in a few hours were harmoniously becalmed. I once heard a
story of Farinelli, the famous singer, who was sent for to Madrid, to
try the effect of his magical voice on the king of Spain. His majesty
was buried in the profoundest melancholy; nothing could raise an emotion
in him; he lived in a total oblivion of life; he sate in a darkened
chamber, entirely given up to the most distressing kind of madness. The
physicians ordered Farinelli at first to sing in an outer room; and for
the first day or two this was done, without any effect, on the royal
patient. At length, it was observed, that the king, awakening from his
stupor, seemed to listen; on the next day tears were seen starting in
his eyes; the day after he ordered the door of his chamber to be left
open--and at length the perturbed spirit entirely left our modern Saul,
and the _medicinal voice_ of Farinelli effected what no other medicine

I now prepare to give the reader some _facts_, which he may consider as
a trial of credulity.--Their authorities are, however, not
contemptible.--Naturalists assert that animals and birds, as well as
"knotted oaks," as Congreve informs us, are sensible to the charms of
music. This may serve as an instance:--An officer was confined in the
Bastile; he begged the governor to permit him the use of his lute, to
soften, by the harmonies of his instrument, the rigours of his prison.
At the end of a few days, this modern Orpheus, playing on his lute, was
greatly astonished to see frisking out of their holes great numbers of
mice, and descending from their woven habitations crowds of spiders, who
formed a circle about him, while he continued breathing his
soul-subduing instrument. He was petrified with astonishment. Having
ceased to play, the assembly, who did not come to see his person, but to
hear his instrument, immediately broke up. As he had a great dislike to
spiders, it was two days before he ventured again to touch his
instrument. At length, having overcome, for the novelty of his company,
his dislike of them, he recommenced his concert, when the assembly was
by far more numerous than at first; and in the course of farther time,
he found himself surrounded by a hundred _musical amateurs_. Having thus
succeeded in attracting this company, he treacherously contrived to get
rid of them at his will. For this purpose he begged the keeper to give
him a cat, which he put in a cage, and let loose at the very instant
when the little hairy people were most entranced by the Orphean skill he

The Abbé Olivet has described an amusement of Pelisson during his
confinement in the Bastile, which consisted in feeding a spider, which
he had discovered forming its web in the corner of a small window. For
some time he placed his flies at the edge, while his valet, who was with
him, played on a bagpipe: little by little, the spider used itself to
distinguish the sound of the instrument, and issued from its hole to run
and catch its prey. Thus calling it always by the same sound, and
placing the flies at a still greater distance, he succeeded, after
several months, to drill the spider by regular exercise, so that at
length it never failed appearing at the first sound to seize on the fly
provided for it, even on the knees of the prisoner.

Marville has given us the following curious anecdote on this subject. He
says, that doubting the truth of those who say that the love of music
is a natural taste, especially the sound of instruments, and that beasts
themselves are touched by it, being one day in the country I tried an
experiment. While a man was playing on the trump marine, I made my
observations on a cat, a dog, a horse, an ass, a hind, cows, small
birds, and a cock and hens, who were in a yard, under a window on which
I was leaning. I did not perceive that the cat was the least affected,
and I even judged, by her air, that she would have given all the
instruments in the world for a mouse, sleeping in the sun all the time;
the horse stopped short from time to time before the window, raising his
head up now and then, as he was feeding on the grass; the dog continued
for above an hour seated on his hind legs, looking steadfastly at the
player; the ass did not discover the least indication of his being
touched, eating his thistles peaceably; the hind lifted up her large
wide ears, and seemed very attentive; the cows slept a little, and after
gazing, as though they had been acquainted with us, went forward; some
little birds who were in an aviary, and others on the trees and bushes,
almost tore their little throats with singing; but the cock, who minded
only his hens, and the hens, who were solely employed in scraping a
neighbouring dunghill, did not show in any manner that they took the
least pleasure in hearing the trump marine.

A modern traveller assures us, that he has repeatedly observed in the
island of Madeira, that the lizards are attracted by the notes of music,
and that he has assembled a number of them by the powers of his
instrument. When the negroes catch them for food, they accompany the
chase by whistling some tune, which has always the effect of drawing
great numbers towards them. Stedman, in his Expedition to Surinam,
describes certain sibyls among the negroes, who, among several singular
practices, can charm or conjure down from the tree certain serpents, who
will wreath about the arms, neck, and breast of the pretended sorceress,
listening to her voice. The sacred writers speak of the charming of
adders and serpents; and nothing, says he, is more notorious than that
the eastern Indians will rid the houses of the most venomous snakes, by
charming them with the sound of a flute, which calls them out of their
holes. These anecdotes seem fully confirmed by Sir William Jones, in his
dissertation on the musical modes of the Hindus.

"After food, when the operations of digestion and absorption give so
much employment to the vessels, that a temporary state of mental repose
must be found, especially in hot climates, essential to health, it seems
reasonable to believe that a few agreeable airs, either heard or played
without effort, must have all the good effects of sleep, and none of its
disadvantages; _putting the soul in tune_, as Milton says, for any
subsequent exertion; an experiment often successfully made by myself. I
have been assured by a credible eye-witness, that two wild antelopes
used often to come from their woods to the place where a more savage
beast, Sirájuddaulah, entertained himself with concerts, and that they
listened to the strains with an appearance of pleasure, till the
monster, in whose soul there was no music, shot one of them to display
his archery. A learned native told me that he had frequently seen the
most venomous and malignant snakes leave their holes upon hearing tunes
on a flute, which, as he supposed, gave them peculiar delight. An
intelligent Persian declared he had more than once been present, when a
celebrated lutenist, surnamed Bulbul (i.e., the nightingale), was
playing to a large company, in a grove near Shiraz, where he distinctly
saw the nightingales trying to vie with the musician, sometimes warbling
on the trees, sometimes fluttering from branch to branch, as if they
wished to approach the instrument, and at length dropping on the ground
in a kind of ecstacy, from which they were soon raised, he assured me,
by a change in the mode."

Jackson of Exeter, in reply to a question of Dryden, "What passion
cannot music raise or quell?" sarcastically returns, "What passion _can_
music raise or quell?" Would not a savage, who had never listened to a
musical instrument, feel certain emotions at listening to one for the
first time? But civilized man is, no doubt, particularly affected by
_association of ideas_, as all pieces of national music evidently prove.

THE RANZ DES VACHES, mentioned by Rousseau in his Dictionary of Music,
though without anything striking in the composition, has such a powerful
influence over the Swiss, and impresses them with so violent a desire to
return to their own country, that it is forbidden to be played in the
Swiss regiments, in the French service, on pain of death. There is also
a Scotch tune, which has the same effect on some of our North Britons.
In one of our battles in Calabria, a bagpiper of the 78th Highland
regiment, when the light infantry charged the French, posted himself on
the right, and remained in his solitary situation during the whole of
the battle, encouraging the men with a famous Highland charging tune;
and actually upon the retreat and complete rout of the French changed it
to another, equally celebrated in Scotland, upon the retreat of and
victory over an enemy. His next-hand neighbour guarded him so well that
he escaped unhurt. This was the spirit of the "Last Minstrel," who
infused courage among his countrymen, by possessing it in so animated a
degree, and in so venerable a character.


The Iliad of Homer in a nutshell, which Pliny says that Cicero once saw,
it is pretended might have been a fact, however to some it may appear
impossible. Ælian notices an artist who wrote a distich in letters of
gold, which he enclosed in the rind of a grain of corn.

Antiquity and modern times record many such penmen, whose glory
consisted in writing in so small a hand that the writing could not be
legible to the naked eye. Menage mentions, he saw whole sentences which
were not perceptible to the eye without the microscope; pictures and
portraits which appeared at first to be lines and scratches thrown down
at random; one formed the face of the Dauphiness with the most correct
resemblance. He read an Italian poem, in praise of this princess,
containing some thousand verses, written by an officer, in a space of a
foot and a half. This species of curious idleness has not been lost in
our own country, where this minute writing has equalled any on record.
Peter Bales, a celebrated caligrapher in the reign of Elizabeth,
astonished the eyes of beholders by showing them what they could not
see; for in the Harleian MSS. 530, we have a narrative of "a rare piece
of work brought to pass by Peter Bales, an Englishman, and a clerk of
the chancery;" it seems by the description to have been the whole Bible
"in an English walnut no bigger than a hen's egg. The nut holdeth the
book: there are as many leaves in his little book as the great Bible,
and he hath written as much in one of his little leaves as a great leaf
of the Bible." We are told that this wonderfully unreadable copy of the
Bible was "seen by many thousands." There is a drawing of the head of
Charles I. in the library of St. John's College, at Oxford, wholly
composed of minute written characters, which, at a small distance,
resemble the lines of an engraving. The lines of the head, and the ruff,
are said to contain the book of Psalms, the Creed, and the Lord's
Prayer. In the British Museum we find a drawing representing the
portrait of Queen Anne, not much above the size of the hand. On this
drawing appears a number of lines and scratches, which the librarian
assures the marvelling spectator includes the entire contents of a thin
_folio_, which on this occasion is carried in the hand.

The learned Huet asserts that, like the rest of the world, he considered
as a fiction the story of that indefatigable trifler who is said to have
enclosed the Iliad in a nutshell. Examining the matter more closely, he
thought it possible. One day this learned man trifled half an hour in
demonstrating it. A piece of vellum, about ten inches in length and
eight in width, pliant and firm, can be folded up, and enclosed in the
shell of a large walnut. It can hold in its breadth one line, which can
contain 30 verses, and in its length 250 lines. With a crow-quill the
writing can be perfect. A page of this piece of vellum will then contain
7500 verses, and the reverse as much; the whole 15,000 verses of the
Iliad. And this he proved by using a piece of paper, and with a common
pen. The thing is possible to be effected; and if on any occasion paper
should be most excessively rare, it may be useful to know that a volume
of matter may be contained in a single leaf.


The learned, after many contests, have at length agreed that the
numerical figures 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, usually called _Arabic_,
are of _Indian_ origin. The Arabians do not pretend to have been the
inventors of them, but borrowed them from the Indian nations. The
numeral characters of the Bramins, the Persians, the Arabians, and other
eastern nations, are similar. They appear afterwards to have been
introduced into several European nations by their respective travellers,
who returned from the East. They were admitted into calendars and
chronicles, but they were not introduced into charters, says Mr. Astle,
before the sixteenth century. The Spaniards, no doubt, derived their use
from the Moors who invaded them. In 1210, the Alphonsean astronomical
tables were made by the order of Alphonsus X. by a Jew, and an Arabian;
they used these numerals, from whence the Spaniards contend that they
were first introduced by them.

They were not generally used in Germany until the beginning of the
fourteenth century; but in general the forms of the ciphers were not
permanently fixed there till after the year 1531. The Russians were
strangers to them, before Peter the Great had finished his travels in
the beginning of the last century.

The origin of these useful characters with the Indians and Arabians is
attributed to their great skill in the arts of astronomy and of
arithmetic, which required more convenient characters than alphabetic
letters for the expressing of numbers.

Before the introduction into Europe of these Arabic numerals, they used
alphabetical characters, or _Roman numerals_. The learned authors of the
Nouveau Traité Diplomatique, the most valuable work on everything
concerning the arts and progress of writing, have given some curious
notices on the origin of the Roman numerals. Originally men counted by
their fingers; thus, to mark the first four numbers they used an I,
which naturally represents them. To mark the fifth, they chose a V,
which is made out by bending inwards the three middle fingers, and
stretching out only the thumb and the little finger; and for the tenth
they used an X, which is a double V, one placed topsy-turvy under the
other. From this the progression of these numbers is always from one to
five, and from five to ten. The hundred was signified by the capital
letter of that word in Latin, C--centum. The other letters, D for 500,
and M for a 1000, were afterwards added. They subsequently abbreviated
their characters, by placing one of these figures before another; and
the figure of less value before a higher number, denotes that so much
may be deducted from a greater number; for instance, IV signifies five
less one, that is four; IX ten less one, that is nine; but these
abbreviations are not found amongst the ancient monuments.[77] These
numerical letters are still continued by us in the accounts of our

That men counted originally by their fingers, is no improbable
supposition; it is still naturally practised by the people. In
semi-civilized states small stones have been used, and the etymologists
derive the words _calculate_ and _calculations_ from _calculus_, the
Latin term for a pebble-stone, and by which they denominated their
counters used for arithmetical computations.

Professor Ward, in a learned dissertation on this subject in the
Philosophical Transactions, concludes that it is easier to falsify the
Arabic ciphers than the Roman alphabetical numerals; when 1375 is dated
in Arabic ciphers, if the 3 is only changed into an 0, three centuries
are taken away; if the 3 is made into a 9 and take away the 1, four
hundred years are lost. Such accidents have assuredly produced much
confusion among our ancient manuscripts, and still do in our printed
books; which is the reason that Dr. Robertson in his histories has also
preferred writing his dates in _words_, rather than confide them to the
care of a negligent printer. Gibbon observes, that some remarkable
mistakes have happened by the word _mil._ in MSS., which is an
abbreviation for _soldiers_, or for _thousands_; and to this blunder he
attributes the incredible numbers of martyrdoms, which cannot otherwise
be accounted for by historical records.


[Footnote 77: A peculiar arrangement of letters was in use by the German
and Flemish printers of the 16th century. Thus cI[R 'c'] denoted
1000, and I[R 'c'], 500. The date 1619 would therefore be thus
printed:--cI[R 'c']. I[R 'c']cxx.]


A belief in judicial astrology can now only exist in the people, who may
be said to have no belief at all; for mere traditional sentiments can
hardly be said to amount to a _belief_. But a faith in this ridiculous
system in our country is of late existence; and was a favourite
superstition with the learned.

When Charles the First was confined, Lilly the astrologer was consulted
for the hour which would favour his escape.

A story, which strongly proves how greatly Charles the Second was
bigoted to judicial astrology, is recorded is Burnet's History of his
Own Times.

The most respectable characters of the age, Sir William Dugdale, Ellas
Ashmole, Dr. Grew, and others, were members of an astrological club.
Congreve's character of Foresight, in Love for Love, was then no
uncommon person, though the humour now is scarcely intelligible.

Dryden cast the nativities of his sons; and, what is remarkable, his
prediction relating to his son Charles took place. This incident is of
so late a date, one might hope it would have been cleared up.

In 1670, the passion for horoscopes and expounding the stars prevailed
in France among the first rank. The new-born child was usually presented
naked to the astrologer, who read the first lineaments in his forehead,
and the transverse lines in its hand, and thence wrote down its future
destiny. Catherine de Medicis brought Henry IV., then a child, to old
Nostradamus, whom antiquaries esteem more for his chronicle of Provence
than his vaticinating powers. The sight of the reverend seer, with a
beard which "streamed like a meteor in the air," terrified the future
hero, who dreaded a whipping from so grave a personage. One of these
magicians having assured Charles IX. that he would live as many days as
he should turn about on his heels in an hour, standing on one leg, his
majesty every morning performed that solemn gyration; the principal
officers of the court, the judges, the chancellors, and generals,
likewise, in compliment, standing on one leg and turning round!

It has been reported of several famous for their astrologic skill, that
they have suffered a voluntary death merely to verify their own
predictions; this has been reported of _Cardan_, and _Burton_, the
author of the Anatomy of Melancholy.

It is curious to observe the shifts to which astrologers are put when
their predictions are not verified. Great _winds_ were predicted, by a
famous adept, about the year 1586. No unusual storms, however, happened.
Bodin, to save the reputation of the art, applied it as _figure_ to some
_revolutions_ in the _state_, and of which there were instances enough
at that moment. Among their lucky and unlucky days, they pretend to give
those of various illustrious persons and of families. One is very
striking.--Thursday was the unlucky day of our Henry VIII. He, his son
Edward VI., Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth, all died on a Thursday!
This fact had, no doubt, great weight in this controversy of the
astrologers with their adversaries.[78]

Lilly, the astrologer, is the Sidrophel of Butler. His Life, written by
himself, contains so much artless narrative, and so much palpable
imposture, that it is difficult to know when he is speaking what he
really believes to be the truth. In a sketch of the state of astrology
in his day, those adepts, whose characters he has drawn, were the lowest
miscreants of the town. They all speak of each other as rogues and
impostors. Such were Booker, Backhouse, Gadbury; men who gained a
livelihood by practising on the credulity of even men of learning so
late as in 1650, nor were they much out of date in the eighteenth
century. In Ashmole's Life an account of these artful impostors may be
found. Most of them had taken the air in the pillory, and others had
conjured themselves up to the gallows. This seems a true statement of
facts. But Lilly informs us, that in his various conferences with
_angels_, their voices resembled that of the _Irish_!

The work contains anecdotes of the times. The amours of Lilly with his
mistress are characteristic. He was a very artful man, and admirably
managed matters which required deception and invention.

Astrology greatly flourished in the time of the civil wars. The
royalists and the rebels had their _astrologers_, as well as their
_soldiers!_ and the predictions of the former had a great influence over
the latter.

On this subject, it may gratify curiosity to notice three or four works,
which hear an excessive price. The price cannot entirely be occasioned
by their rarity, and I am induced to suppose that we have still adepts,
whose faith must be strong, or whose scepticism but weak.

The Chaldean sages were nearly put to the rout by a quarto park of
artillery, fired on them by Mr. John Chamber, in 1601. Apollo did not
use Marsyas more inhumanly than his scourging pen this mystical race,
and his personalities made them feel more sore. However, a Norwich
knight, the very Quixote of astrology, arrayed in the enchanted armour
of his occult authors, encountered this pagan in a most stately
carousal. He came forth with "A Defence of Judiciall Astrologye, in
answer to a treatise lately published by Mr. John Chamber. By Sir
Christopher Heydon, Knight; printed at Cambridge, 1603." This is a
handsome quarto of about 500 pages. Sir Christopher is a learned writer,
and a knight worthy to defend a better cause. But his Dulcinea had
wrought most wonderfully on his imagination. This defence of this
fanciful science, if science it may be called, demonstrates nothing,
while it defends everything. It confutes, according to the knight's own
ideas: it alleges a few scattered facts in favour of astrological
predictions, which may be picked up in that immensity of fabling which
disgraces history. He strenuously denies, or ridicules, what the
greatest writers have said against this fanciful art, while he lays
great stress on some passages from authors of no authority. The most
pleasant part is at the close, where he defends the art from the
objections of Mr. Chamber by recrimination. Chamber had enriched himself
by medical practice; and when he charges the astrologers with merely
aiming to gain a few beggarly pence, Sir Christopher catches fire, and
shows by his quotations, that if we are to despise an art, by its
professors attempting to subsist on it, or for the objections which may
be raised against its vital principles, we ought by this argument most
heartily to despise the medical science and medical men! He gives here
all he can collect against physic and physicians; and from the
confessions of Hippocrates and Galen, Avicenna and Agrippa, medicine
appears to be a vainer science than even astrology! Sir Christopher is a
shrewd and ingenious adversary; but when he says he means only to give
Mr. Chamber oil for his vinegar, he has totally mistaken its quality.

The defence was answered by Thomas Vicars, in his "Madnesse of

But the great work is by Lilly; and entirely devoted to the adepts. He
defends nothing; for this oracle delivers his dictum, and details every
event as matters not questionable. He sits on the tripod; and every page
is embellished by a horoscope, which he explains with the utmost
facility. This voluminous monument of the folly of the age is a quarto
valued at some guineas! It is entitled, "Christian Astrology, modestly
treated of in three books, by William Lilly, student in Astrology, 2nd
edition, 1659." The most curious part of this work is "a Catalogue of
most astrological authors." There is also a portrait of this arch rogue,
and astrologer: an admirable illustration for Lavater![79]

Lilly's opinions, and his pretended science, were such favourites with
the age, that the learned Gataker wrote professedly against this popular
delusion. Lilly, at the head of his star-expounding friends, not only
formally replied to, but persecuted Gataker annually in his predictions,
and even struck at his ghost, when beyond the grave. Gataker died in
July, 1654; and Lilly having written in his almanac of that year for the
month of August this barbarous Latin verse:--

    _Hoc in tumbo jacet presbyter et nebulo!_
    Here in this tomb lies a presbyter and a knave!

he had the impudence to assert that he had predicted Gataker's death!
But the truth is, it was an epitaph like lodgings to let; it stood empty
ready for the first passenger to inhabit. Had any other of that party of
any eminence died in that month, it would have been as appositely
applied to him. But Lilly was an exquisite rogue, and never at fault.
Having prophesied in his almanac for 1650, that the parliament stood
upon a tottering foundation, when taken up by a messenger, during the
night he was confined, he contrived to cancel the page, printed off
another, and showed his copies before the committee, assuring them that
the others were none of his own, but forged by his enemies.


[Footnote 78: "Day fatality" was especially insisted on by these
students, and is curiously noted in a folio tract, published in 1687,
particularly devoted to "Remarques on the 14th of October, being the
auspicious birth-day of his present Majesty James II.," whose author
speaks of having seen in the hands of "that genera scholar, and great
astrologer, E. Ashmole," a manuscript in which the following barbarous
monkish rhymes were inserted, noting the unlucky days of each month:--

    JANUARY      Prima dies menses, et septima truncat ut ensis.
    FEBRUARY     Quarta subit mortem, prosternit tertia fortem.
    MARCH        Primus mandentem, disrumpit quarta bibentem.
    APRIL        Denus et undenus est mortis vulnere plenus.
    MAY          Tertius occidit, et septimus ora relidit.
    JUNE         Denus pallescit, quindenus foedra nescit.
    JULY         Ter-decimus mactat, Julii denus labefactat.
    AUGUST       Prima necat fortem prosternit secunda cohortem.
    SEPTEMBER    Tertia Septembris, et denus fert mala membris.
    OCTOBER      Tertius et denus, est sicut mors alienus.
    NOVEMBER     Scorpius est quintus, et tertius e nece cinctus.
    DECEMBER     Septimus exanguis, virosus denus et anguis.

The author of this strange book fortifies his notions on "day fatality"
by printing a letter from Sir Winstan Churchill, who says, "I have made
great experience of the truth of it, and have set down Fryday as my own
lucky day; the day on which I was born, christened, married, and I
believe will be the day of my death. The day whereon I have had sundry
deliverances from perils by sea and land, perils by false brethren,
perils of lawsuits, &c. I was knighted (by chance unexpected of myself)
on the same day, and have several good accidents happened to me on that
day; and am so superstitious in the belief of its good omen, that I
choose to begin any considerable action that concerns me on the same

[Footnote 79: Lilly was at one time a staunch adherent of the
Roundheads, and "read in the stars" all kinds of successes for them. His
great feat was a prediction made for the month of June, 1645--"If now we
fight, a victory stealeth upon us." A fight did occur at Naseby, and
concluded the overthrow of the unfortunate Charles the First. The words
are sufficiently ambiguous; but not so much so, as many other
"prophecies" of the same notable quack, happily constructed to shift
with changes in events, and so be made to fit them. Lilly was opposed by
Wharton, who saw in the stars as many good signs for the Royal Army; and
Lilly himself began to see differently as the power of Cromwell waned.
Among the hundreds of pamphlets poured from the press in the excited
days of the great civil wars in England, few are more curious than these
"strange and remarkable predictions," "Signs in the Sky," and "Warnings
to England," the productions of star-gazing knaves, which "terrified our
isle from its propriety."]


Mrs. Thomas, the Corinna of Dryden, in her Life, has recorded one of the
delusions of alchymy.

An infatuated lover of this delusive art met with one who pretended to
have the power of transmuting lead to gold; that is, in their language,
the _imperfect_ metals to the _perfect one_. The hermetic philosopher
required only the materials, and time, to perform his golden operations.
He was taken, to the country residence of his patroness. A long
laboratory was built, and that his labours might not be impeded by any
disturbance, no one was permitted to enter into it. His door was
contrived to turn on a pivot; so that, unseen and unseeing, his meals
were conveyed to him without distracting the sublime meditations of the

During a residence of two years, he never condescended to speak but two
or three times in a year to his infatuated patroness. When she was
admitted into the laboratory, she saw, with pleasing astonishment,
stills, cauldrons, long flues, and three or four Vulcanian fires blazing
at different corners of this magical mine; nor did she behold with less
reverence the venerable figure of the dusty philosopher. Pale and
emaciated with daily operations and nightly vigils, he revealed to her,
in unintelligible jargon, his progresses; and having sometimes
condescended to explain the mysteries of the arcana, she beheld, or
seemed to behold, streams of fluid and heaps of solid ore scattered
around the laboratory. Sometimes he required a new still, and sometimes
vast quantities of lead. Already this unfortunate lady had expended the
half of her fortune in supplying the demands of the philosopher. She
began now to lower her imagination to the standard of reason. Two years
had now elapsed, vast quantities of lead had gone in, and nothing but
lead had come out. She disclosed her sentiments to the philosopher. He
candidly confessed he was himself surprised at his tardy processes; but
that now he would exert himself to the utmost, and that he would venture
to perform a laborious operation, which hitherto he had hoped not to
have been necessitated to employ. His patroness retired, and the golden
visions resumed all their lustre.

One day, as they sat at dinner, a terrible shriek, and one crack
followed by another, loud as the report of cannon, assailed their ears.
They hastened to the laboratory; two of the greatest stills had burst,
and one part of the laboratory and the house were in flames. We are told
that, after another adventure of this kind, this victim to alchymy,
after ruining another patron, in despair swallowed poison.

Even more recently we have a history of an alchymist in the life of
Romney, the painter. This alchymist, after bestowing much time and money
on preparations for the grand projection, and being near the decisive
hour, was induced, by the too earnest request of his wife, to quit his
furnace one evening, to attend some of her company at the tea-table.
While the projector was attending the ladies, his furnace blew up! In
consequence of this event, he conceived such an antipathy against his
wife, that he could not endure the idea of living with her again.[80]

Henry VI., Evelyn observes in his Numismata, endeavoured to recruit his
empty coffers by _alchymy_. The _record_ of this singular proposition
contains "the most solemn and serious account of the feasibility and
virtues of the _philosopher's stone_, encouraging the search after it,
and dispensing with all statutes and prohibitions to the contrary." This
record was probably communicated by Mr. Selden to his beloved friend Ben
Jonson, when the poet was writing his comedy of the Alchymist.

After this patent was published, many promised to answer the king's
expectations so effectually, that the next year he published _another
patent_; wherein he tells his subjects, that the _happy hour_ was
drawing nigh, and by means of THE STONE, which he should soon be master
of, he would pay all the debts of the nation in real _gold and silver_.
The persons picked out for his new operators were as remarkable as the
patent itself, being a most "miscellaneous rabble" of friars, grocers,
mercers, and fishmongers!

This patent was likewise granted _authoritate Parliamenti_; and is given
by Prynne in his _Aurum Reginæ_, p. 135.

Alchymists were formerly called _multipliers_, although they never could
_multiply_; as appears from a statute of Henry IV. repealed in the
preceding record.

"None from henceforth shall use to _multiply_ gold or silver, or use the
_craft of multiplication_; and if any the same do, he shall incur the
pain of felony." Among the articles charged on the Protector Somerset is
this extraordinary one:--"You commanded _multiplication_ and
_alcumestry_ to be practised, thereby _to abate the king's coin_."
Stowe, p. 601. What are we to understand? Did they believe that alchymy
would be so productive of the precious metals as to _abate_ the value of
the coin; or does _multiplication_ refer to an arbitrary rise in the
currency by order of the government?

Every philosophical mind must be convinced that alchymy is not an art,
which some have fancifully traced to the _remotest times_; it may be
rather regarded, when opposed to such a distance of time, as a modern
imposture. Cæsar commanded the treatises of alchymy to be burnt
throughout the Roman dominions: Cæsar, who is not less to be admired as
a philosopher than as a monarch.

Gibbon has this succinct passage relative to alchymy:--"The ancient
books of alchymy, so liberally ascribed to Pythagoras, to Solomon, or to
Hermes, were the pious frauds of more recent adepts. The Greeks were
inattentive either to the use or the abuse of chemistry. In that immense
register where Pliny has deposited the discoveries, the arts, and the
errors of mankind, there is not the least mention of the transmutations
of metals; and the persecution of Diocletian is the first authentic
event in the history of alchymy. The conquest of Egypt by the Arabs
diffused that vain science over the globe. Congenial to the avarice of
the human heart, it was studied in China, as in Europe, with equal
eagerness and equal success. The darkness of the middle ages ensured a
favourable reception to every tale of wonder; and the revival of
learning gave new vigour to hope, and suggested more specious arts to
deception. Philosophy, with the aid of experience, has at length
banished the study of alchymy; and the present age, however desirous of
riches, is content to seek them by the humbler means of commerce and

Elias Ashmole writes in his diary--"May 13, 1653. My father Backhouse
(an astrologer who had adopted him for his son, a common practice with
these men) lying sick in Fleet-street, over against St. Dunstan's
church, and not knowing whether he should live or die, about eleven of
the clock, told me in _syllables_ the true matter of the _philosopher's
stone_, which he bequeathed to me as a _legacy_." By this we learn that
a miserable wretch knew the art of _making gold_, yet always lived a
beggar; and that Ashmole really imagined he was in possession of the
_syllables of a secret_! He has, however, built a curious monument of
the learned follies of the last age, in his "Theatrum Chemicum
Britannicum." Though Ashmole is rather the historian of this vain
science than an adept, it may amuse literary leisure to turn over this
quarto volume, in which he has collected the works of several English
alchymists, subjoining his commentary. It affords a curious specimen of
Rosicrucian mysteries; and Ashmole relates several miraculous stories.
Of the philosopher's stone, he says he knows enough to hold his tongue,
but not enough to speak. This stone has not only the power of
transmuting any imperfect earthy matter into its utmost degree of
perfection, and can convert the basest metals into gold, flints into
stone, &c.; but it has still more occult virtues, when the arcana have
been entered into by the choice fathers of hermetic mysteries. The
vegetable stone has power over the natures of man, beast, fowls, fishes,
and all kinds of trees and plants, to make them flourish and bear fruit
at any time. The magical stone discovers any person wherever he is
concealed; while the angelical stone gives the apparitions of angels,
and a power of conversing with them. These great mysteries are supported
by occasional facts, and illustrated by prints of the most divine and
incomprehensible designs, which we would hope were intelligible to the
initiated. It may be worth showing, however, how liable even the latter
were to blunder on these mysterious hieroglyphics. Ashmole, in one of
his chemical works, prefixed a frontispiece, which, in several
compartments, exhibited Phoebus on a lion, and opposite to him a lady,
who represented Diana, with the moon in one hand and an arrow in the
other, sitting on a crab; Mercury on a tripod, with the scheme of the
heavens in one hand, and his caduccus in the other. These were intended
to express the materials of the stone, and the season for the process.
Upon the altar is the bust of a man, his head covered by an astrological
scheme dropped from the clouds; and on the altar are these words,
"Mercuriophilus Anglicus," _i.e._, the English lover of hermetic
philosophy. There is a tree, and a little creature gnawing the root, a
pillar adorned with musical and mathematical instruments, and another
with military ensigns. This strange composition created great inquiry
among the chemical sages. Deep mysteries were conjectured to be veiled
by it. Verses were written in the highest strain of the Rosicrucian
language. _Ashmole_ confessed he meant nothing more than a kind of _pun_
on his own name, for the tree was the _ash_, and the creature was a
_mole_. One pillar tells his love of music and freemasonry, and the
other his military preferment and astrological studies! He afterwards
regretted that no one added a second volume to his work, from which he
himself had been hindered, for the honour of the family of Hermes, and
"to show the world what excellent men we had once of our nation, famous
for this kind of philosophy, and masters of so transcendant a secret."

Modern chemistry is not without a _hope_, not to say a _certainty_, of
verifying the golden visions of the alchymists. Dr. Girtanner, of
Gottingen, not long ago adventured the following prophecy: "In the
_nineteenth century_ the transmutation of metals will be generally known
and practised. Every chemist and every artist will _make gold_; kitchen
utensils will be of silver, and even gold, which will contribute more
than anything else to _prolong life_, poisoned at present by the oxides
of copper, lead, and iron, which we daily swallow with our food." Phil.
Mag. vol. vi., p. 383. This sublime chemist, though he does not venture
to predict that universal _elixir_, which is to prolong life at
pleasure, yet approximates to it. A chemical friend writes to me, that
"The _metals_ seem to be _composite bodies_, which nature is perpetually
preparing; and it may be reserved for the future researches of science
to trace, and perhaps to imitate, some of these curious operations." Sir
Humphry Davy told me that he did not consider this undiscovered art an
impossible thing, but which, should it ever be discovered, would
certainly be useless.


[Footnote 80: He was assisted in the art by one Williamson, a
watchmaker, of Dalton, Lancashire, with whom Romney lived in constant
companionship. They were partners in a furnace, and had kept the fire
burning for nine months, when the contents of the crucible began to
assume the yellow hue which excited all their hopes; a few moments of
neglect led to the catastrophe narrated above.]


Were it inquired of an ingenious writer what page of his work had
occasioned him most perplexity, he would often point to the
_title-page_. The curiosity which we there would excite, is, however,
most fastidious to gratify.

Among those who appear to have felt this irksome situation, are most of
our periodical writers. The "Tatler" and the "Spectator," enjoying
priority of conception, have adopted titles with characteristic
felicity; but perhaps the invention of the authors begins to fail in the
"Reader," the "Lover," and the "Theatre!" Succeeding writers were as
unfortunate in their titles, as their works; such are the "Universal
Spectator," and the "Lay Monastery." The copious mind of Johnson could
not discover an appropriate title, and indeed in the first "Idler"
acknowledged his despair. The "Rambler" was so little understood, at the
time of its appearance, that a French journalist has translated it as
"_Le Chevalier Errant_;" and when it was corrected to _L'Errant_, a
foreigner drank Johnson's health one day, by innocently addressing him
by the appellation of Mr. "Vagabond!" The "Adventurer" cannot be
considered as a fortunate title; it is not appropriate to those pleasing
miscellanies, for any writer is an adventurer. The "Lounger," the
"Mirror," and even the "Connoisseur," if examined accurately, present
nothing in the titles descriptive of the works. As for the "World," it
could only have been given by the fashionable egotism of its authors,
who considered the world as merely a circuit round St. James's Street.
When the celebrated father of reviews, _Le Journal des Sçavans_, was
first published, the very title repulsed the public. The author was
obliged in his succeeding volumes to soften it down, by explaining its
general tendency. He there assures the curious, that not only men of
learning and taste, but the humblest mechanic, may find a profitable
amusement. An English novel, published with the title of "The Champion
of Virtue," could find no readers; but afterwards passed through several
editions under the happier invitation of "The Old English Baron." "The
Concubine," a poem by Mickle, could never find purchasers, till it
assumed the more delicate title of "Sir Martyn."

As a subject of literary curiosity, some amusement may be gathered from
a glance at what has been doing in the world, concerning this important
portion of every book.

The Jewish and many oriental authors were fond of allegorical titles,
which always indicate the most puerile age of taste. The titles were
usually adapted to their obscure works. It might exercise an able
enigmatist to explain their allusions; for we must understand by "The
Heart of Aaron," that it is a commentary on several of the prophets.
"The Bones of Joseph" is an introduction to the Talmud. "The Garden of
Nuts," and "The Golden Apples," are theological questions; and "The
Pomegranate with its Flower," is a treatise of ceremonies, not any more
practised. Jortin gives a title, which he says of all the fantastical
titles he can recollect is one of the prettiest. A rabbin published a
catalogue of rabbinical writers, and called it _Labia Dormientium_, from
Cantic. vii. 9. "Like the best wine of my beloved that goeth down
sweetly, causing _the lips of those that are asleep to speak_." It hath
a double meaning, of which he was not aware, for most of his rabbinical
brethren talk very much like _men in their sleep_.

Almost all their works bear such titles as
bread--gold--silver--roses--eyes, &c.; in a word, anything that
signifies nothing.

Affected title-pages were not peculiar to the orientals: the Greeks and
the Romans have shown a finer taste. They had their Cornucopias, or
horns of abundance--Limones, or meadows--Pinakidions, or
tablets--Pancarpes, or all sorts of fruits; titles not unhappily adapted
for the miscellanists. The nine books of Herodotus, and the nine
epistles of Æschines, were respectively honoured by the name of a Muse;
and three orations of the latter, by those of the Graces.

The modern fanatics have had a most barbarous taste for titles. We could
produce numbers from abroad, and at home. Some works have been called,
"Matches lighted at the Divine Fire,"--and one "The Gun of Penitence:" a
collection of passages from the fathers is called "The Shop of the
Spiritual Apothecary:" we have "The Bank of Faith," and "The
Sixpennyworth of Divine Spirit:" one of these works bears the following
elaborate title: "Some fine Biscuits baked in the Oven of Charity,
carefully conserved for the Chickens of the Church, the Sparrows of the
Spirit, and the sweet Swallows of Salvation." Sometimes their quaintness
has some humour. Sir Humphrey Lind, a zealous puritan, published a work
which a Jesuit answered by another, entitled "A Pair of Spectacles for
Sir Humphrey Lind." The doughty knight retorted, by "A Case for Sir
Humphrey Lind's Spectacles."

Some of these obscure titles have an entertaining absurdity; as "The
Three Daughters of Job," which is a treatise on the three virtues of
patience, fortitude, and pain. "The Innocent Love, or the Holy Knight,"
is a description of the ardours of a saint for the Virgin. "The Sound of
the Trumpet," is a work on the day of judgment; and "A Fan to drive away
Flies," is a theological treatise on purgatory.

We must not write to the utter neglect of our title; and a fair author
should have the literary piety of ever having "the fear of his
title-page before his eyes." The following are improper titles. Don
Matthews, chief huntsman to Philip IV. of Spain, entitled his book "The
Origin and Dignity of the Royal House," but the entire work relates only
to hunting. De Chantereine composed several moral essays, which being at
a loss how to entitle, he called "The Education of a Prince." He would
persuade the reader in his preface, that though they were not composed
with a view to this subject, they should not, however, be censured for
the title, as they partly related to the education of a prince. The
world was too sagacious to be duped, and the author in his second
edition acknowledges the absurdity, drops "the magnificent title," and
calls his work "Moral Essays." Montaigne's immortal history of his own
mind, for such are his "Essays," has assumed perhaps too modest a title,
and not sufficiently discriminative. Sorlin equivocally entitled a
collection of essays, "The Walks of Richelieu," because they were
composed at that place; "The Attic Nights" of Aulus Gellius were so
called, because they were written in Attica. Mr. Tooke, in his
grammatical "Diversions of Purley," must have deceived many.

A rhodomontade title-page was once a great favourite. There was a time
when the republic of letters was over-built with "Palaces of Pleasure,"
"Palaces of Honour," and "Palaces of Eloquence;" with "Temples of
Memory," and "Theatres of Human Life," and "Amphitheatres of
Providence;" "Pharoses, Gardens, Pictures, Treasures." The epistles of
Guevara dazzled the public eye with their splendid title, for they were
called "Golden Epistles;" and the "Golden Legend" of Voragine had been
more appropriately entitled leaden.

They were once so fond of novelty, that every book recommended itself by
such titles as "A new Method; new Elements of Geometry; the new Letter
Writer, and the new Art of Cookery."

To excite the curiosity of the pious, some writers employed artifices of
a very ludicrous nature. Some made their titles rhyming echoes; as this
one of a father, who has given his works under the title of _Scalæ Alæ
animi_; and _Jesus esus novus Orbis_. Some have distributed them
according to the measure of time, as one Father Nadasi, the greater part
of whose works are _years_, _months_, _weeks_, _days_, and _hours_. Some
have borrowed their titles from the parts of the body; and others have
used quaint expressions, such as--_Think before you leap_--_We must all
die_--_Compel them to enter_. Some of our pious authors appear not to
have been aware that they were burlesquing religion. One Massieu having
written a moral explanation of the solemn anthems sung in Advent, which
begin with the letter O, published this work under the punning title of
_La douce Moelle, et la Sauce friande des os Savoureux de l'Avent_.[81]

The Marquis of Carraccioli assumed the ambiguous title of _La Jouissance
de soi-même_. Seduced by the epicurean title of self-enjoyment, the sale
of the work was continual with the libertines, who, however, found
nothing but very tedious essays on religion and morality. In the sixth
edition the marquis greatly exults in his successful contrivance; by
which means he had punished the vicious curiosity of certain persons,
and perhaps had persuaded some, whom otherwise his book might never have

If a title be obscure, it raises a prejudice against the author; we are
apt to suppose that an ambiguous title is the effect of an intricate or
confused mind. Baillet censures the Ocean Macromicrocosmic of one Sachs.
To understand this title, a grammarian would send an inquirer to a
geographer, and he to a natural philosopher; neither would probably
think of recurring to a physician, to inform one that this ambiguous
title signifies the connexion which exists between the motion of the
waters with that of the blood. He censures Leo Allatius for a title
which appears to me not inelegantly conceived. This writer has entitled
one of his books the _Urban Bees_; it is an account of those illustrious
writers who flourished during the pontificate of one of the Barberinis.
The allusion refers to the _bees_ which were the arms of this family,
and Urban VIII. is the Pope designed.

The false idea which a title conveys is alike prejudicial to the author
and the reader. Titles are generally too prodigal of their promises, and
their authors are contemned; but the works of modest authors, though
they present more than they promise, may fail of attracting notice by
their extreme simplicity. In either case, a collector of books is
prejudiced; he is induced to collect what merits no attention, or he
passes over those valuable works whose titles may not happen to be
interesting. It is related of Pinelli, the celebrated collector of
books, that the booksellers permitted him to remain hours, and sometimes
days, in their shops to examine books before he purchased. He was
desirous of not injuring his precious collection by useless
acquisitions; but he confessed that he sometimes could not help being
dazzled by magnificent titles, nor being mistaken by the simplicity of
others, which had been chosen by the modesty of their authors. After
all, many authors are really neither so vain, nor so honest, as they
appear; for magnificent, or simple titles, have often been given from
the difficulty of forming any others.

It is too often with the Titles of Books, as with those painted
representations exhibited by the keepers of wild beasts; where, in
general, the picture itself is made more striking and inviting to the
eye, than the inclosed animal is always found to be.


[Footnote 81: Religious parody seems to have carried no sense of
impropriety with it to the minds of the men of the 15th and 16th
centuries. Luther was an adept in this art, and the preachers who
followed him continued the practice. The sermons of divines in the
following century often sought an attraction by quaint titles, such
as--"Heaven ravished"--"The Blacksmith, a sermon preached at Whitehall
before the King," 1606. Beloe, in his _Anecdotes of Literature_, vol. 6,
has recorded many of these quaint titles, among them the
following:--"_The Nail hit on the head_, and driven into the city and
cathedral wall of Norwich. By John Carter, 1644." "_The Wheel turned_ by
a voice from the throne of glory. By John Carter, 1647." "_Two Sticks
made one_, or the excellence of Unity. By Matthew Mead, 1691." "_Peter's
Net let downe_, or the Fisher and the Fish, both prepared towards a
blessed haven. By R. Matthew, 1634." In the middle of the last century
two religious tracts were published, one bearing the alarming title,
"Die and be Damned," the other being termed, "A sure Guide to Hell." The
first was levelled against the preaching of the Methodists, and the
title obtained from what the author asserts to be the words of
condemnation then frequently applied by them to all who differed from
their creed. The second is a satirical attack on the prevalent follies
and vices of the day, which form the surest "guide," in the opinion of
the author, to the bottomless pit.]


The Greeks composed lipogrammatic works; works in which one letter of
the alphabet is omitted. A lipogrammatist is a letter-dropper. In this
manner Tryphiodorus wrote his Odyssey; he had not [Greek: alpha] in his
first book, nor [Greek: beta] in his second; and so on with the
subsequent letters one after another. This Odyssey was an imitation of
the lipogrammatic Iliad of Nestor. Among other works of this kind,
Athenæus mentions an ode by Pindar, in which he had purposely omitted
the letter S; so that this inept ingenuity appears to have been one of
those literary fashions which are sometimes encouraged even by those who
should first oppose such progresses into the realms of nonsense.

There is in Latin a little prose work of Fulgentius, which the author
divides into twenty-three chapters, according to the order of the
twenty-three letters of the Latin alphabet. From A to O are still
remaining. The first chapter is with out A; the second without B; the
third without C; and so with the rest. There are five novels in prose of
Lopes de Vega; the first without A, the second without E, the third
without I, &c. Who will attempt to verify them?

The Orientalists are not without this literary folly. A Persian poet
read to the celebrated Jami a gazel of his own composition, which Jami
did not like: but the writer replied, it was notwithstanding a very
curious sonnet, for the _letter Aliff_ was not to be found in any one of
the words! Jami sarcastically replied, "You can do a better thing yet;
take away _all the letters_ from every word you have written."

To these works may be added the _Ecloga de Calvis_, by Hugbald the monk.
All the words of this silly work begin with a C. It is printed in
Dornavius. _Pugna Porcorum_; all the words beginning with a P, in the
Nugæ Venales. _Canum cum cattis certamen_; the words beginning with a C:
a performance of the same kind in the same work. Gregorio Leti presented
a discourse to the Academy of the Humorists at Rome, throughout which he
had purposely omitted the letter R, and he entitled it the exiled R. A
friend having requested a copy, as a literary curiosity, for so he
considered this idle performance, Leti, to show that this affair was not
so difficult, replied by a copious answer of seven pages, in which he
had observed the same severe ostracism against the letter R! Lord
North, in the court of James, I., has written a set of Sonnets, each of
which begins with a successive letter of the alphabet. The Earl of
Rivers, in the reign of Edward IV., translated the Moral Proverbs of
Christiana of Pisa, a poem of about two hundred lines, the greatest part
of which he contrived to conclude with the letter E; an instance of his
lordship's hard application, and the bad taste of an age which, Lord
Orford observes, had witticisms and whims to struggle with, as well as

It has been well observed of these minute triflers, that extreme
exactness is the sublime of fools, whose labours may be well called, in
the language of Dryden,

    Pangs without birth, and fruitless industry.

And Martial says,

    Turpe est difficiles habere nugas,
    Et stultus labor est ineptiarum.

Which we may translate,

    'Tis a folly to sweat o'er a difficult trifle,
    And for silly devices invention to rifle.

I shall not dwell on the wits who composed verses in the forms of
hearts, wings, altars, and true-love knots; or as Ben Jonson describes
their grotesque shapes,

    A pair of scissors and a comb in verse.

Tom Nash, who loved to push the ludicrous to its extreme, in his amusing
invective against the classical Gabriel Harvey, tells us that "he had
writ verses in all kinds; in form of a pair of gloves, a pair of
spectacles, and a pair of pot-hooks," &c. They are not less absurd, who
expose to public ridicule the name of their mistress by employing it to
form their acrostics. I have seen some of the latter where, _both sides_
and _crossways_, the name of the mistress or the patron has been sent
down to posterity with eternal torture. When _one name_ is made out
_four times_ in the same acrostic, the great difficulty must have been
to have found words by which the letters forming the name should be
forced to stand in their particular places. It might be incredible that
so great a genius as Boccaccio could have lent himself to these literary
fashions; yet one of the most gigantic of acrostics may be seen in his
works; it is a poem of fifty cantos! Ginguené has preserved a specimen
in his Literary History of Italy, vol. iii. p.54. Puttenham, in "The Art
of Poesie," p. 75, gives several odd specimens of poems in the forms of
lozenges, rhomboids, pillars, &c. Puttenham has contrived to form a
defence for describing and making such trifling devices. He has done
more: he has erected two pillars himself to the honour of Queen
Elizabeth; every pillar consists of a base of eight syllables, the shaft
or middle of four, and the capital is equal with the base. The only
difference between the two pillars consists in this; in the one "ye must
read upwards," and in the other the reverse. These pillars,
notwithstanding this fortunate device and variation, may be fixed as two
columns in the porch of the vast temple of literary folly.

It was at this period, when _words_ or _verse_ were tortured into such
fantastic forms, that the trees in gardens were twisted and sheared into
obelisks and giants, peacocks, or flower-pots. In a copy of verses, "To
a hair of my mistress's eye-lash," the merit, next to the choice of the
subject, must have been the arrangement, or the disarrangement, of the
whole poem into the form of a heart. With a pair of wings many a sonnet
fluttered, and a sacred hymn was expressed by the mystical triangle.
_Acrostics_ are formed from the initial letters of every verse; but a
different conceit regulated _chronograms_, which were used to describe
_dates_--the _numeral letters_, in whatever part of the word they stood,
were distinguished from other letters by being written in capitals. In
the following chronogram from Horace,

    --_feriam sidera vertice_,

by a strange elevation of CAPITALS the _chronogrammatist_ compels even
Horace to give the year of our Lord thus,

    --feriaM siDera VertIce. MDVI.

The Acrostic and the Chronogram are both ingeniously described in the
mock epic of the Scribleriad.[82] The _initial letters_ of the
acrostics are thus alluded to in the literary wars:--

    Firm and compact, in three fair columns wove,
    O'er the smooth plain, the bold _acrostics_ move;
    _High_ o'er the rest, the TOWERING LEADERS rise
    With _limbs gigantic_, and _superior size_.[83]

But the looser character of the _chronograms_, and the disorder in which
they are found, are ingeniously sung thus:--

    Not thus the _looser chronograms_ prepare
    Careless their troops, undisciplined to war;
    With _rank irregular, confused_ they stand,
    The CHIEFTAINS MINGLING with the vulgar band.

He afterwards adds others of the illegitimate race of wit:--

    To join these squadrons, o'er the champaign came
    A numerous race of no ignoble name;
    _Riddle_ and _Rebus_, Riddle's dearest son,
    And _false Conundrum_ and _insidious Pun_.
    _Fustian_, who scarcely deigns to tread the ground,
    And _Rondeau_, wheeling in repeated round.
    On their fair standards, by the wind display'd,
    _Eggs_, _altars_, _wings_, _pipes_, _axes_, were pourtray'd.

I find the origin of _Bouts-rimés_, or "Rhyming Ends," in Goujet's Bib.
Fr. xvi. p. 181. One Dulot, a foolish poet, when sonnets were in demand,
had a singular custom of preparing the rhymes of these poems to be
filled up at his leisure. Having been robbed of his papers, he was
regretting most the loss of three hundred sonnets: his friends were
astonished that he had written so many which they had never heard. "They
were _blank sonnets_," he replied; and explained the mystery by
describing his _Bouts-rimés_. The idea appeared ridiculously amusing;
and it soon became fashionable to collect the most difficult rhymes, and
fill up the lines.

The _Charade_ is of recent birth, and I cannot discover the origin of
this species of logogriphes. It was not known in France so late as in
1771; in the great Dictionnaire de Trévoux, the term appears only as the
name of an Indian sect of a military character. Its mystical conceits
have occasionally displayed singular felicity.

_Anagrams_ were another whimsical invention; with the _letters_ of any
_name_ they contrived to make out some entire word, descriptive of the
character of the person who bore the name. These anagrams, therefore,
were either satirical or complimentary. When in fashion, lovers made use
of them continually: I have read of one, whose mistress's name was
Magdalen, for whom he composed, not only an epic under that name, but as
a proof of his passion, one day he sent her three dozen of anagrams all
on her lovely name. Scioppius imagined himself fortunate that his
adversary _Scaliger_ was perfectly _Sacrilege_ in all the oblique cases
of the Latin language; on this principle Sir John _Wiat_ was made out,
to his own satisfaction--_a wit_. They were not always correct when a
great compliment was required; the poet _John Cleveland_ was strained
hard to make _Heliconian dew_. This literary trifle has, however, in our
own times produced several, equally ingenious and caustic.

Verses of grotesque shapes have sometimes been contrived to convey
ingenious thoughts. Pannard, a modern French poet, has tortured his
agreeable vein of poetry into such forms. He has made some of his
Bacchanalian songs to take the figures of _bottles_, and others of
_glasses_. These objects are perfectly drawn by the various measures of
the verses which form the songs. He has also introduced an _echo_ in his
verses which he contrives so as not to injure their sense. This was
practised by the old French bards in the age of Marot, and this poetical
whim is ridiculed by Butler in his Hudibras, Part I. Canto 3, Verse 190.
I give an example of these poetical echoes. The following ones are
ingenious, lively, and satirical:--

        Pour nous plaire, un pl_umet_


        Tout en usage:

        Mais on trouve sou_vent_


        Dans son langage.

        On y voit des Com_mis_


        Comme des Princes,

        Après être ve_nus_


        De leurs Provinces.

The poetical whim of Cretin, a French poet, brought into fashion punning
or equivocal rhymes. Maret thus addressed him in his own way:--

    L'homme, sotart, et _non sçavant_
    Comme un rotisseur, _qui lave oye_,
    La faute d'autrui, _nonce avant_,
    Qu'il la cognoisse, ou _qu'il la voye_, &c.

In these lines of Du Bartas, this poet imagined that he imitated the
harmonious notes of the lark: "the sound" is here, however, _not_ "an
echo to the sense."

    La gentille aloüette, avec son tirelire,
    Tirelire, à lire, et tireliran, tire
    Vers la voute du ciel, puis son vol vers ce lieu,
    Vire et desire dire adieu Dieu, adieu Dieu.

The French have an ingenious kind of Nonsense Verses called
_Amphigouries_. This word is composed of a Greek adverb signifying
_about_, and of a substantive signifying _a circle_. The following is a
specimen, elegant in the selection of words, and what the French called
richly rhymed, but in fact they are fine verses without any meaning
whatever. Pope's Stanzas, said to be written by a _person of quality_,
to ridicule the tuneful nonsense of certain bards, and which Gilbert
Wakefield mistook for a serious composition, and wrote two pages of
Commentary to prove this song was disjointed, obscure, and absurd, is an
excellent specimen of these _Amphigouries_.


        Qu'il est heureux de se defendre
        Quand le coeur ne s'est pas rendu!
        Mais qu'il est facheux de se rendre
        Quand le bonheur est suspendu!

        Par un discours sans suite et tendre,
        Egarez un coeur éperdu;
        Souvent par un mal-entendu
        L'amant adroit se fait entendre.


        How happy to defend our heart,
        When Love has never thrown a dart!
        But ah! unhappy when it bends,
        If pleasure her soft bliss suspends!
        Sweet in a wild disordered strain,
        A lost and wandering heart to gain!
        Oft in mistaken language wooed,
        The skilful lover's understood.

These verses have such a resemblance to meaning, that Fontenelle, having
listened to the song, imagined that he had a glimpse of sense, and
requested to have it repeated. "Don't you perceive," said Madame Tencin,
"that they are _nonsense verses_?" The malicious wit retorted, "They are
so much like the fine verses I have heard here, that it is not
surprising I should be for once mistaken."

In the "Scribleriad" we find a good account of _the Cento_. A Cento
primarily signifies a cloak made of patches. In poetry it denotes a work
wholly composed of verses, or passages promiscuously taken from other
authors, only disposed in a new form or order, so as to compose a new
work and a new meaning. Ausonius has laid down the rules to be observed
in composing _Cento's_. The pieces may be taken either from the same
poet, or from several; and the verses may be either taken entire, or
divided into two; one half to be connected with another half taken
elsewhere; but two verses are never to be taken together. Agreeable to
these rules, he has made a pleasant nuptial _Cento_ from Virgil.[84]

The Empress Eudoxia wrote the life of Jesus Christ, in centos taken from
Homer; Proba Falconia from Virgil. Among these grave triflers may be
mentioned Alexander Ross, who published "Virgilius Evangelizans, sive
Historia Domini et Salvatoris nostri Jesu Christi Virgilianis verbis et
versibus descripta." It was republished in 1769.

A more difficult whim is that of "_Reciprocal Verses_," which give the
same words whether read backwards or forwards. The following lines by
Sidonius Apollinaris were once infinitely admired:--

    _Signa te signa temere me tangis et angis.
    Roma tibi subito motibus ibit amor._

The reader has only to take the pains of reading the lines backwards,
and he will find himself just where he was after all his fatigue.[85]

Capitaine Lasphrise, a French self-taught poet, boasts of his
inventions; among other singularities, one has at least the merit of _la
difficulté vaincue_. He asserts this novelty to be entirely his own; the
last word of every verse forms the first word of the following verse:

    Falloit-il que le ciel me rendit amoureux
    Amoureux, jouissant d'une beauté craintive,
    Craintive à recevoir la douceur excessive,
    Excessive au plaisir qui rend l'amant heureux;
    Heureux si nous avions quelques paisibles lieux,
    Lieux où plus surement l'ami fidèle arrive,
    Arrive sans soupçon de quelque ami attentive,
    Attentive à vouloir nous surprendre tous deux.

Francis Colonna, an Italian Monk, is the author of a singular book
entitled "The Dream of Poliphilus," in which he relates his amours with
a lady of the name of Polia. It was considered improper to prefix his
name to the work; but being desirous of marking it by some peculiarity,
that he might claim it at any distant day, he contrived that the initial
letters of every chapter should be formed of those of his name, and of
the subject he treats. This strange invention was not discovered till
many years afterwards: when the wits employed themselves in deciphering
it, unfortunately it became a source of literary altercation, being
susceptible of various readings. The correct appears thus:--POLIAM
passionately loved Polia." This gallant monk, like another Petrarch,
made the name of his mistress the subject of his amatorial meditations;
and as the first called his Laura, his Laurel, this called his Polia,
his Polita.

A few years afterwards, Marcellus Palingenius Stellatus employed a
similar artifice in his ZODIACUS VITÆ, "The Zodiac of Life:" the initial
letters of the first twenty-nine verses of the first book of this poem
forming his name, which curious particular was probably unknown to
Warton in his account of this work.--The performance is divided into
twelve books, but has no reference to astronomy, which we might
naturally expect. He distinguished his twelve books by the twelve names
of the celestial signs, and probably extended or confined them purposely
to that number, to humour his fancy. Warton, however, observes, "This
strange pedantic title is not totally without a _conceit_, as the author
was born at _Stellada_ or _Stellata_, a province of Ferrara, and from
whence he called himself Marcellus Palingenius Stellatus." The work
itself is a curious satire on the Pope and the Church of Rome. It
occasioned Bayle to commit a remarkable _literary blunder_, which I
shall record in its place. Of Italian conceit in those times, of which
Petrarch was the father, with his perpetual play on words and on his
_Laurel_, or his mistress _Laura_, he has himself afforded a remarkable
example. Our poet lost his mother, who died in her thirty-eighth year:
he has commemorated her death by a sonnet composed of thirty-eight
lines. He seems to have conceived that the exactness of the number was
equally natural and tender.

Are we not to class among _literary follies_ the strange researches
which writers, even of the present day, have made in _Antediluvian_
times? Forgeries of the grossest nature have been alluded to, or quoted
as authorities. A _Book of Enoch_ once attracted considerable attention;
this curious forgery has been recently translated. The Sabeans pretend
they possess a work written by _Adam_! and this work has been _recently_
appealed to in favour of a visionary theory![86] Astle gravely observes,
that "with respect to _Writings_ attributed to the _Antediluvians_, it
seems not only decent but rational to say that we know nothing
concerning them." Without alluding to living writers, Dr. Parsons, in
his erudite "Remains of Japhet," tracing the origin of the alphabetical
character, supposes that _letters_ were known to _Adam_! Some, too, have
noticed astronomical libraries in the Ark of Noah! Such historical
memorials are the deliriums of learning, or are founded on forgeries.

Hugh Broughton, a writer of controversy in the reign of James the First,
shows us, in a tedious discussion on Scripture chronology, that Rahab
was a harlot at _ten_ years of age; and enters into many grave
discussions concerning the _colour_ of Aaron's _ephod_, and the language
which _Eve_ first spoke. This writer is ridiculed in Ben Jonson's
Comedies:--he is not without rivals even in the present day!
Covarruvias, after others of his school, discovers that when male
children are born they cry out with an A, being the first vowel of the
word _Adam_, while the female infants prefer the letter E, in allusion
to _Eve_; and we may add that, by the pinch of a negligent nurse, they
may probably learn all their vowels. Of the pedantic triflings of
commentators, a controversy among the Portuguese on the works of Camoens
is not the least. Some of these profound critics, who affected great
delicacy in the laws of epic poetry, pretended to be doubtful whether
the poet had fixed on the right time for a _king's dream_; whether, said
they, a king should have a propitious dream on his _first going to bed_
or at the _dawn of the following morning_? No one seemed to be quite
certain; they puzzled each other till the controversy closed in this
felicitous manner, and satisfied both the night and the dawn critics.
Barreto discovered that an _accent_ on one of the words alluded to in
the controversy would answer the purpose, and by making king Manuel's
dream to take place at the dawn would restore Camoens to their good
opinion, and preserve the dignity of the poet.

Chevreau begins his History of the World in these words:--"Several
learned men have examined in _what season_ God created the world, though
there could hardly be any season then, since there was no sun, no moon,
nor stars. But as the world must have been created in one of the four
seasons, this question has exercised the talents of the most curious,
and opinions are various. Some say it was in the month of _Nisan_, that
is, in the spring: others maintain that it was in the month of _Tisri_,
which begins the civil year of the Jews, and that it was on the _sixth
day_ of this month, which answers to our _September_, that _Adam_ and
_Eve_ were created, and that it was on a _Friday_, a little after four
o'clock in the afternoon!" This is according to the Rabbinical notion
of the eve of the Sabbath.

The Irish antiquaries mention _public libraries_ that were before the
flood; and Paul Christian Ilsker, with profounder erudition, has given
an exact catalogue of _Adam's_. Messieurs O'Flaherty, O'Connor, and
O'Halloran, have most gravely recorded as authentic narrations the
wildest legendary traditions; and more recently, to make confusion
doubly confounded, others have built up what they call theoretical
histories on these nursery tales. By which species of black art they
contrive to prove that an Irishman is an Indian, and a Peruvian may be a
Welshman, from certain emigrations which took place many centuries
before Christ, and some about two centuries after the flood! Keating, in
his "History of Ireland," starts a favourite hero in the giant
Partholanus, who was descended from Japhet, and landed on the coast of
Munster 14th May, in the year of the world 1987. This giant succeeded in
his enterprise, but a domestic misfortune attended him among his Irish
friends:--his wife exposed him to their laughter by her loose behaviour,
and provoked him to such a degree that he killed two favourite
greyhounds; and this the learned historian assures us was the _first_
instance of female infidelity ever known in Ireland!

The learned, not contented with Homer's poetical pre-eminence, make him
the most authentic historian and most accurate geographer of antiquity,
besides endowing him with all the arts and sciences to be found in our
Encyclopædia. Even in surgery, a treatise has been written to show, by
the variety of the _wounds_ of his heroes, that he was a most scientific
anatomist; and a military scholar has lately told us, that from him is
derived all the science of the modern adjutant and quarter-master
general; all the knowledge of _tactics_ which we now possess; and that
Xenophon, Epaminondas, Philip, and Alexander, owed all their warlike
reputation to Homer!

To return to pleasanter follies. Des Fontaines, the journalist, who had
wit and malice, inserted the fragment of a letter which the poet
Rousseau wrote to the younger Racine whilst he was at the Hague. These
were the words: "I enjoy the conversation within these few days of my
associates in Parnassus. Mr. Piron is an excellent antidote against
melancholy; _but_"--&c. Des Fontaines maliciously stopped at this _but_.
In the letter of Rousseau it was, "but unfortunately he departs soon."
Piron was very sensibly affected at this equivocal _but_, and resolved
to revenge himself by composing one hundred epigrams against the
malignant critic. He had written sixty before Des Fontaines died: but of
these only two attracted any notice.

Towards the conclusion of the fifteenth century, Antonio Cornezano wrote
a hundred different sonnets on one subject, "the eyes of his mistress!"
to which possibly Shakspeare may allude, when Jaques describes a lover,
with his

                    Woeful ballad,
    Made to his mistress' eyebrow.

Not inferior to this ingenious trifler is Nicholas Franco, well known in
Italian literature, who employed himself in writing two hundred and
eighteen satiric sonnets, chiefly on the famous Peter Aretin. This
lampooner had the honour of being hanged at Rome for his defamatory
publications. In the same class are to be placed two other writers.
Brebeuf, who wrote one hundred and fifty epigrams against a painted
lady. Another wit, desirous of emulating him, and for a literary
bravado, _continued_ the same subject, and pointed at this unfortunate
fair three hundred more, without once repeating the thoughts of Brebeuf!
There is a collection of poems called "_La_ PUCE _des grands jours de
Poitiers_." "The FLEA of the carnival of Poietiers." These poems were
begun by the learned Pasquier, who edited the collection, upon a FLEA
which was found one morning in the bosom of the famous Catherine des

Not long ago, a Mr. and Mrs. Bilderdyk, in Flanders, published poems
under the whimsical title of "White and Red."--His own poems were called
white, from the colour of his hair; and those of his lady red, in
allusion to the colour of the rose. The idea must be Flemish!

Gildon, in his "Laws of Poetry," commenting on this line of the Duke of
Buckingham's "Essay on Poetry,"

    Nature's chief masterpiece is _writing well_:

very profoundly informs his readers "That what is here said has not the
least regard to the _penmanship_, that is, to the fairness or badness of
the handwriting," and proceeds throughout a whole page, with a panegyric
on a _fine handwriting_! The stupidity of dulness seems to have at times
great claims to originality!

Littleton, the author of the Latin and English Dictionary, seems to
have indulged his favourite propensity to punning so far as even to
introduce a pun in the grave and elaborate work of a Lexicon. A story
has been raised to account for it, and it has been ascribed to the
impatient interjection of the lexicographer to his scribe, who, taking
no offence at the peevishness of his master, put it down in the
Dictionary. The article alluded to is, "CONCURRO, to run with others; to
run together; to come together; to fall foul of one another; to
CON-_cur,_ to CON-_dog_."

Mr. Todd, in his Dictionary, has laboured to show the "inaccuracy of
this pretended narrative." Yet a similar blunder appears to have
happened to Ash. Johnson, while composing his Dictionary, sent a note to
the Gentleman's Magazine to inquire the etymology of the word
_curmudgeon_. Having obtained the information, he records in his work
the obligation to an anonymous letter-writer. "Curmudgeon, a vicious way
of pronouncing _coeur méchant_. An unknown correspondent." Ash copied
the word into his dictionary in this manner: "Curmudgeon: from the
French _coeur_ unknown; and _méchant_, a correspondent." This singular
negligence ought to be placed in the class of our _literary blunders_;
these form a pair of lexicographical anecdotes.

Two singular literary follies have been practised on Milton. There is a
_prose version_ of his "Paradise Lost," which was innocently
_translated_ from the French version of his epic! One Green published a
specimen of a _new version_ of the "Paradise Lost" into _blank verse_!
For this purpose he has utterly ruined the harmony of Milton's cadences,
by what he conceived to be "bringing that amazing work somewhat _nearer
the summit of perfection_."

A French author, when his book had been received by the French Academy,
had the portrait of Cardinal Richelieu engraved on his title-page,
encircled by a crown of _forty rays_, in each of which was written the
name of the celebrated _forty academicians_.

The self-exaltation frequently employed by injudicious writers,
sometimes places them in ridiculous attitudes. A writer of a bad
dictionary, which he intended for a Cyclopaedia, formed such an opinion
of its extensive sale, that he put on the title-page the words "_first
edition_," a hint to the gentle reader that it would not be the last.
Desmarest was so delighted with his "Clovis," an epic poem, that he
solemnly concludes his preface with a thanksgiving to God, to whom he
attributes all its glory! This is like that conceited member of a French
Parliament, who was overheard, after his tedious harangue, muttering
most devoutly to himself, "_Non nobis Domine_."

Several works have been produced from some odd coincidence with the
_name of their authors_. Thus, De Saussay has written a folio volume,
consisting of panegyrics of persons of eminence whose Christian names
were _Andrew_; because _Andrew_ was his own name. Two Jesuits made a
similar collection of illustrious men whose Christian names were
_Theophilus_ and _Philip_, being their own. _Anthony Saunderus_ has also
composed a treatise of illustrious _Anthonies_! And we have one
_Buchanan_, who has written the lives of those persons who were so
fortunate as to have been his namesakes.

Several forgotten writers have frequently been intruded on the public
eye, merely through such trifling coincidences as being members of some
particular society, or natives of some particular country. Cordeliers
have stood forward to revive the writings of Duns Scotus, because he had
been a cordelier; and a Jesuit compiled a folio on the antiquities of a
province, merely from the circumstance that the founder of his order,
Ignatius Loyola, had been born there. Several of the classics are
violently extolled above others, merely from the accidental circumstance
of their editors having collected a vast number of notes, which they
resolved to discharge on the public. County histories have been
frequently compiled, and provincial writers have received a temporary
existence, from the accident of some obscure individual being an
inhabitant of some obscure town.

On such literary follies Malebranche has made this refined observation.
The _critics_, standing in some way connected with _the author_, their
_self-love_ inspires them, and abundantly furnishes eulogiums which the
author never merited, that they may thus obliquely reflect some praise
on themselves. This is made so adroitly, so delicately, and so
concealed, that it is not perceived.

The following are strange inventions, originating in the wilful bad
taste of the authors. OTTO VENIUS, the master of Rubens, is the designer
of _Le Théâtre moral de la Vie humaine_. In this emblematical history of
human life, he has taken his subjects from Horace; but certainly his
conceptions are not Horatian. He takes every image in a _literal_
sense. If Horace says, "_Misce stultitiam_ CONSILIIS BREVEM," behold,
Venius takes _brevis_ personally, and represents Folly as a _little
short child_! of not above three or four years old! In the emblem which
answers Horace's "_Raro antecedentem scelestum deseruit_ PEDE POENA
CLAUDO," we find Punishment with _a wooden leg_.--And for "PULVIS ET
UMBRA SUMUS," we have a dark burying vault, with _dust_ sprinkled about
the floor, and a _shadow_ walking upright between two ranges of urns.
For "_Virtus est vitium fugere, et sapientia prima stultitiâ caruisse_,"
most flatly he gives seven or eight Vices pursuing Virtue, and Folly
just at the heels of Wisdom. I saw in an English Bible printed in
Holland an instance of the same taste: the artist, to illustrate "Thou
seest the _mote_ in thy neighbour's eye, but not the _beam_ in thine
own," has actually placed an immense beam which projects from the eye of
the cavalier to the ground![87]

As a contrast to the too obvious taste of VENIUS, may be placed CESARE
DI RIPA, who is the author of an Italian work, translated into most
European languages, the _Iconologia_; the favourite book of the age, and
the fertile parent of the most absurd offspring which Taste has known.
Ripa is as darkly subtle as Venius is obvious; and as far-fetched in his
conceits as the other is literal. Ripa represents Beauty by a naked
lady, with her head in a cloud; because the true idea of beauty is hard
to be conceived! Flattery, by a lady with a flute in her hand, and a
stag at her feet; because stags are said to love music so much, that
they suffer themselves to be taken, if you play to them on a flute.
Fraud, with two hearts in one hand, and a mask in the other;--his
collection is too numerous to point out more instances. Ripa also
describes how the allegorical figures are to be coloured; Hope is to
have a sky-blue robe, because she always looks towards heaven. Enough of
these _capriccios_!


[Footnote 82: The Scribleriad is a poem now scarcely known. It was a
partial imitation of the Dunciad written by Richard Owen Cambridge, a
scholar and man of fortune, who, in his residence at Twickenham,
surrounded by friends of congenial tastes, enjoyed a life of literary
ease. The Scribleriad is an attack on pseudo-science, the hero being a
virtuoso of the most Quixotic kind, who travels far to discover
rarities, loves a lady with the _plica Polonica_, waits three years at
Naples to see the eruption of Vesuvius; and plays all kinds of fantastic
tricks, as if in continual ridicule of _The Philosophical Transactions_,
which are especially aimed at in the notes which accompany the poem. It
achieved considerable notoriety in its own day, and is not without
merit. It was published by Dodsley, in 1751, in a handsome quarto, with
some good engravings by Boitard.]

[Footnote 83: Thomas Jordan, a poet of the time of Charles II., has the
following specimen of a double acrostic, which must have occupied a
large amount of labour. He calls it "a cross acrostick on two crost
lovers." The man's name running through from top to bottom, and the
female's the contrary way of the poem.

    Though crost in our affections, still the flames
    Of Honour shall secure our noble Names;
    Nor shall Our fate divorce our faith, Or cause
    The least Mislike of love's Diviner lawes.
    Crosses sometimes Are cures, Now let us prove,
    That no strength Shall Abate the power of love:
    Honour, wit, beauty, Riches, wise men call
    Frail fortune's Badges, In true love lies all.
    Therefore to him we Yield, our Vowes shall be
    Paid--Read, and written in Eternity:
    That All may know when men grant no Redress,
    Much love can sweeten the unhappinesS.]

[Footnote 84: The following example, barbarously made up in this way
from passages in the Æneid and the Georgics, is by Stephen de Pleurre,
and describes the adoration of the Magi. The references to each half
line of the originals are given, the central cross marks the length of
each quotation.

                  Tum Reges----
    7 Æ · 98. Externi veniunt x quæ cuiq; est copia læti. 5 Æ · 100.
    11 Æ · 333. Munera portantes x molles sua tura Sabæi. 1 G · 57.
    3 Æ · 464. Dona dehinc auro gravia x Myrrhaque madentes.  12 Æ · 100.
    9 Æ · 659. Agnovere Deum Regum x Regumque parentum. 6 Æ · 548.
    1 G · 418. Mutavere vias x perfectis ordine votis. 10 Æ · 548.]

[Footnote 85: The old Poet, Gascoigne, composed one of the longest
English specimens, which he says gave him infinite trouble. It is as

    "Lewd did I live, evil I did dwel."]

[Footnote 86: We need feel little wonder at this when "The Book of
Mormon" could be fabricated in our own time, and, with abundant evidence
of that fact, yet become the Gospel of a very large number of persons.]

[Footnote 87: There are several instances of this ludicrous literal
representation. Daniel Hopfer, a German engraver of the 16th century,
published a large print of this subject; the scene is laid in the
interior of a Gothic church, and _the beam_ is a solid squared piece of
timber, reaching from the eye of the man to the walls of the building.
This peculiar mode of treating the subject may be traced to the earliest
picture-books--thus the _Ars Memorandi_, a block-book of the early part
of the 15th century, represents this figure of speech by a piece of
timber transfixing a human eye.]


In the article MILTON, I had occasion to give some strictures on the
asperity of literary controversy, drawn from his own and Salmasius's
writings. If to some the subject has appeared exceptionable, to me, I
confess, it seems useful, and I shall therefore add some other
particulars; for this topic has many branches. Of the following
specimens the grossness and malignity are extreme; yet they were
employed by the first scholars in Europe.

Martin Luther was not destitute of genius, of learning, or of eloquence;
but his violence disfigured his works with singularities of abuse. The
great reformer of superstition had himself all the vulgar ones of his
day; he believed that flies were devils; and that he had had a buffeting
with Satan, when his left ear felt the prodigious beating. Hear him
express himself on the Catholic divines: "The Papists are all asses, and
will always remain asses. Put them in whatever sauce you choose, boiled,
roasted, baked, fried, skinned, beat, hashed, they are always the same

Gentle and moderate, compared with a salute to his holiness:--"The Pope
was born out of the Devil's posteriors. He is full of devils, lies,
blasphemies, and idolatries; he is anti-Christ; the robber of churches;
the ravisher of virgins; the greatest of pimps; the governor of Sodom,
&c. If the Turks lay hold of us, then we shall be in the hands of the
Devil; but if we remain with the Pope, we shall be in hell.--What a
pleasing sight would it be to see the Pope and the Cardinals hanging on
one gallows in exact order, like the seals which dangle from the bulls
of the Pope! What an excellent council would they hold under the

Sometimes, desirous of catching the attention of the vulgar, Luther
attempts to enliven his style by the grossest buffooneries: "Take care,
my little Popa! my little ass! Go on slowly: the times are slippery:
this year is dangerous: if them fallest, they will exclaim, See! how
our little Pope is spoilt!" It was fortunate for the cause of the
Reformation that the violence of Luther was softened in a considerable
degree by the meek Melancthon, who often poured honey on the sting
inflicted by the angry wasp. Luther was no respecter of kings; he was so
fortunate, indeed, as to find among his antagonists a crowned head; a
great good fortune for an obscure controversialist, and the very
_punctum saliens_ of controversy. Our Henry VIII. wrote his book against
the new doctrine: then warm from scholastic studies, Henry presented Leo
X. with a work highly creditable to his abilities, according to the
genius of the age. Collier, in his Ecclesiastical History, has analysed
the book, and does not ill describe its spirit: "Henry seems superior to
his adversary in the vigour and propriety of his style, in the force of
his reasoning, and the learning of his citations. It is true he leans
_too much_ upon his character, argues in his _garter-robes_, and writes
as 'twere with his _sceptre_." But Luther in reply abandons his pen to
all kinds of railing and abuse. He addresses Henry VIII. in the
following style: "It is hard to say if folly can be more foolish, or
stupidity more stupid, than is the head of Henry. He has not attacked me
with the heart of a king, but with the impudence of a knave. This rotten
worm of the earth having blasphemed the majesty of my king, I have a
just right to bespatter his English majesty with his own dirt and
ordure. This Henry has lied." Some of his original expressions to our
Henry VIII. are these: "Stulta, ridicula, et verissimè _Henricicana_ et
_Thomastica_ sunt hæc--Regem Angliæ Henricum istum planè mentiri,
&c.--Hoc agit inquietus Satan, ut nos a Scripturis avocet per
_sceleratos Henricos_," &c.--He was repaid with capital and interest by
an anonymous reply, said to have been written by Sir Thomas More, who
concludes his arguments by leaving Luther in language not necessary to
translate: "cum suis furiis et furoribus, cum suis merdis et stercoribus
cacantem cacatumque." Such were the vigorous elegancies of a controversy
on the Seven Sacraments! Long after, the court of Rome had not lost the
taste of these "bitter herbs:" for in the bull of the canonization of
Ignatius Loyola in August, 1623, Luther is called _monstrum teterrimum
et detestabilis pestis_.

Calvin was less tolerant, for he had no Melancthon! His adversaries are
never others than knaves, lunatics, drunkards and assassins! Sometimes
they are characterised by the familiar appellatives of bulls, asses,
cats, and hogs! By him Catholic and Lutheran are alike hated. Yet, after
having given vent to this virulent humour, he frequently boasts of his
mildness. When he reads over his writings, he tells us, that he is
astonished at his forbearance; but this, he adds, is the duty of every
Christian! at the same time, he generally finishes a period with--"Do
you hear, you dog?" "Do you hear, madman?"

Beza, the disciple of Calvin, sometimes imitates the luxuriant abuse of
his master. When he writes against Tillemont, a Lutheran minister, he
bestows on him the following titles of honour:--"Polyphemus; an ape; a
great ass, who is distinguished from other asses by wearing a hat; an
ass on two feet; a monster composed of part of an ape and wild ass; a
villain who merits hanging on the first tree we find." And Beza was, no
doubt, desirous of the office of executioner!

The Catholic party is by no means inferior in the felicities of their
style. The Jesuit Raynaud calls Erasmus the "Batavian buffoon," and
accuses him of nourishing the egg which Luther hatched. These men were
alike supposed by their friends to be the inspired regulators of

Bishop Bedell, a great and good man, respected even by his adversaries,
in an address to his clergy, observes, "Our calling is to deal with
errors, not to disgrace the man with scolding words. It is said of
Alexander, I think, when he overheard one of his soldiers railing
lustily against Darius his enemy, that he reproved him, and added,
"Friend, I entertain thee to fight against Darius, not to revile him;"
and my sentiments of treating the Catholics," concludes Bedell, "are
not conformable to the practice of Luther and Calvin; but they were but
men, and perhaps we must confess they suffered themselves to yield to
the violence of passion."

The Fathers of the Church were proficients in the art of abuse, and very
ingeniously defended it. St. Austin affirms that the most caustic
personality may produce a wonderful effect, in opening a man's eyes to
his own follies. He illustrates his position with a story, given with
great simplicity, of his mother Saint Monica with her maid. Saint Monica
certainly would have been a confirmed drunkard, had not her maid
timelily and outrageously abused her. The story will amuse.--"My mother
had by little and little accustomed herself to relish wine. They used to
send her to the cellar, as being one of the soberest in the family: she
first sipped from the jug and tasted a few drops, for she abhorred wine,
and did not care to drink. However, she gradually accustomed herself,
and from sipping it on her lips she swallowed a draught. As people from
the smallest faults insensibly increase, she at length liked wine, and
drank bumpers. But one day being alone with the maid who usually
attended her to the cellar, they quarrelled, and the maid bitterly
reproached her with being a _drunkard_! That _single word_ struck her so
poignantly that it opened her understanding; and reflecting on the
deformity of the vice, she desisted for ever from its use."

To jeer and play the droll, or, in his own words, _de bouffonner_, was a
mode of controversy the great Arnauld defended, as permitted by the
writings of the holy fathers. It is still more singular, when he not
only brings forward as an example of this ribaldry, Elijah _mocking_ at
the false divinities, but _God_ himself _bantering_ the first man after
his fall. He justifies the injurious epithets which he has so liberally
bestowed on his adversaries by the example of Jesus Christ and the
apostles! It was on these grounds also that the celebrated Pascal
apologised for the invectives with which he has occasionally disfigured
his Provincial Letters. A Jesuit has collected "An Alphabetical
Catalogue of the Names of _Beasts_ by which the Fathers characterised
the Heretics!" It may be found in _Erotemata de malis ac bonis Libris_,
p. 93, 4to. 1653, of Father Kaynaud. This list of brutes and insects,
among which are a vast variety of serpents, is accompanied by the names
of the heretics designated!

Henry Fitzsermon, an Irish Jesuit, was imprisoned for his papistical
designs and seditious preaching. During his confinement he proved
himself to be a great amateur of controversy. He said, "he felt like a
_bear_ tied to a stake, and wanted somebody to _bait_ him." A kind
office, zealously undertaken by the learned _Usher_, then a young man.
He _engaged to dispute_ with him _once a week_ on the subject of
_antichrist_! They met several times. It appears that _our bear_ was
out-worried, and declined any further _dog-baiting_. This spread an
universal joy through the Protestants in Dublin. At the early period of
the Reformation, Dr. Smith of Oxford abjured papistry, with the hope of
retaining his professorship, but it was given to Peter Martyr. On this
our Doctor recants, and writes several controversial works against Peter
Martyr; the most curious part of which is the singular mode adopted of
attacking others, as well as Peter Martyr. In his margin he frequently
breaks out thus: "Let Hooper read this!"--"Here, Ponet, open your eyes
and see your errors!"--"Ergo, Cox, thou art damned!" In this manner,
without expressly writing against these persons, the stirring polemic
contrived to keep up a sharp bush-fighting in his margins. Such was the
spirit of those times, very different from our own. When a modern bishop
was just advanced to a mitre, his bookseller begged to re-publish a
popular theological tract of his against another bishop, because he
might now meet him on equal terms. My lord answered--"Mr.----, no more
controversy now!" Our good bishop resembled Baldwin, who from a simple
monk, arrived to the honour of the see of Canterbury. The successive
honours successively changed his manners. Urban the Second inscribed his
brief to him in this concise description--_Balduino Monastico
ferventissimo, Abbati calido, Episcopo tepido, Archiepiscopo remisso_!

On the subject of literary controversies, we cannot pass over the
various sects of the scholastics: a volume might be compiled of their
ferocious wars, which in more than one instance were accompanied by
stones and daggers. The most memorable, on account of the extent, the
violence, and duration of their contests, are those of the NOMINALISTS
and the REALISTS.

It was a most subtle question assuredly, and the world thought for a
long while that their happiness depended on deciding, whether
universals, that is _genera_, have a real essence, and exist
independent of particulars, that is _species_:--whether, for instance,
we could form an idea of asses, prior to individual asses? Roscelinus,
in the eleventh century, adopted the opinion that universals have no
real existence, either before or in individuals, but are mere names and
words by which the kind of individuals is expressed; a tenet propagated
by Abelard, which produced the sect of _Nominalists_. But the _Realists_
asserted that universals existed independent of individuals,--though
they were somewhat divided between the various opinions of Plato and
Aristotle. Of the Realists the most famous were Thomas Aquinas and Duns
Scotus. The cause of the Nominalists was almost desperate, till Occam in
the fourteenth century revived the dying embers. Louis XI. adopted the
Nominalists, and the Nominalists flourished at large in France and
Germany; but unfortunately Pope John XXIII. patronised the Realists, and
throughout Italy it was dangerous for a Nominalist to open his lips. The
French King wavered, and the Pope triumphed; his majesty published an
edict in 1474, in which he silenced for ever the Nominalists, and
ordered their books to be fastened up in their libraries with iron
chains, that they might not be read by young students! The leaders of
that sect fled into England and Germany, where they united their forces
with Luther and the first Reformers.

Nothing could exceed the violence with which these disputes were
conducted. Vives himself, who witnessed the contests, says that, "when
the contending parties had exhausted their stock of verbal abuse, they
often came to blows; and it was not uncommon in these quarrels about
_universals_, to see the combatants engaging not only with their fists,
but with clubs and swords, so that many have been wounded and some

On this war of words, and all this terrifying nonsense John of Salisbury
observes, "that there had been more time consumed than the Cæsars had
employed in making themselves masters of the world; that the riches of
Croesus were inferior to the treasures that had been exhausted in this
controversy; and that the contending parties, after having spent their
whole lives in this single point, had neither been so happy as to
determine it to their satisfaction, nor to find in the labyrinths of
science where they had been groping any discovery that was worth the
pains they had taken." It may be added that Ramus having attacked
Aristotle, for "teaching us chimeras," all his scholars revolted; the
parliament put a stop to his lectures, and at length having brought the
matter into a law court, he was declared "to be insolent and
daring"--the king proscribed his works, he was ridiculed on the stage,
and hissed at by his scholars. When at length, during the plague, he
opened again his schools, he drew on himself a fresh storm by reforming
the pronunciation of the letter Q, which they then pronounced like
K--Kiskis for Quisquis, and Kamkam for Quamquam. This innovation Was
once more laid to his charge: a new rebellion! and a new ejection of the
Anti-Aristotelian! The brother of that Gabriel Harvey who was the friend
of Spenser, and with Gabriel had been the whetstone of the town-wits of
his time, distinguished himself by his wrath against the Stagyrite.
After having with Gabriel predicted an earthquake, and alarmed the
kingdom, which never took place (that is the earthquake, not the alarm),
the wits buffeted him. Nash says of him, that "Tarlton at the theatre
made jests of him, and Elderton consumed his ale-crammed nose to
nothing, in bear-baiting him with whole bundles of ballads." Marlow
declared him to be "an ass fit only to preach of the iron age." Stung to
madness by this lively nest of hornets, he avenged himself in a very
cowardly manner--he attacked Aristotle himself! for he set _Aristotle_
with his _heels upwards_ on the school gates at Cambridge, and with
_asses' ears_ on his head!

But this controversy concerning Aristotle and the school divinity was
even prolonged. A professor in the College at Naples published in 1688
four volumes of peripatetic philosophy, to establish the principles of
Aristotle. The work was exploded, and he wrote an abusive treatise under
the _nom de guerre_ of Benedetto Aletino. A man of letters, Constantino
Grimaldi, replied. Aletino rejoined; he wrote letters, an apology for
the letters, and would have written more for Aristotle than Aristotle
himself perhaps would have done. However, Grimaldi was no ordinary
antagonist, and not to be outwearied. He had not only the best of the
argument, but he was resolved to tell the world so, as long as the world
would listen. Whether he killed off Father Benedictus, the first author,
is not affirmed; but the latter died during the controversy. Grimaldi,
however, afterwards pursued his ghost, and buffeted the father in his
grave. This enraged the University of Naples; and the Jesuits, to a man,
denounced Grimaldi to Pope Benedict XIII. and to the Viceroy of Naples.
On this the Pope issued a bull prohibiting the reading of Grimaldi's
works, or keeping them, under pain of excommunication; and the viceroy,
more active than the bull, caused all the copies which were found in the
author's house to be thrown _into the sea_! The author with tears in his
eyes beheld his expatriated volumes, hopeless that their voyage would
have been successful. However, all the little family of the Grimaldis
were not drowned--for a storm arose, and happily drove ashore many of
the floating copies, and these falling into charitable hands, the
heretical opinions of poor Grimaldi against Aristotle and school
divinity were still read by those who were not out-terrified by the
Pope's bulls. The _salted_ passages were still at hand, and quoted with
a double zest against the Jesuits!

We now turn to writers whose controversy was kindled only by subjects of
polite literature. The particulars form a curious picture of the taste
of the age.

"There is," says Joseph Scaliger, that great critic and reviler, "an art
of abuse or slandering, of which those that are ignorant may be said to
defame others much less than they show a willingness to defame."

"Literary wars," says Bayle, "are sometimes as lasting as they are
terrible." A disputation between two great scholars was so interminably
violent, that it lasted thirty years! He humorously compares its
duration to the German war which lasted as long.

Baillet, when he refuted the sentiments of a certain author always did
it without naming him; but when he found any observation which, he
deemed commendable, he quoted his name. Bayle observes, that "this is an
excess of politeness, prejudicial to that freedom which should ever
exist in the republic of letters; that it should be allowed always to
name those whom we refute; and that it is sufficient for this purpose
that we banish asperity, malice, and indecency."

After these preliminary observations, I shall bring forward various
examples where this excellent advice is by no means regarded.

Erasmus produced a dialogue, in which he ridiculed those scholars who
were servile imitators of Cicero; so servile, that they would employ no
expression but what was found in the works of that writer; everything
with them was Ciceronianised. This dialogue is written with great
humour. Julius Cæsar Scaliger, the father, who was then unknown to the
world, had been long looking for some occasion to distinguish himself;
he now wrote a defence of Cicero, but which in fact was one continued
invective against Erasmus: he there treats the latter as illiterate, a
drunkard, an impostor, an apostate, a hangman, a demon hot from hell!
The same Scaliger, acting on the same principle of distinguishing
himself at the cost of others, attacked Cardan's best work _De
Subtilitate_: his criticism did not appear till seven years after the
first edition of the work, and then he obstinately stuck to that
edition, though Cardan had corrected it in subsequent ones; but this
Scaliger chose, that he might have a wider field for his attack. After
this, a rumour spread that Cardan had died of vexation from Julius
Cæsar's invincible pen; then Scaliger pretended to feel all the regret
possible for a man he had killed, and whom he now praised: however, his
regret had as little foundation as his triumph; for Cardan outlived
Scaliger many years, and valued his criticisms too cheaply to have
suffered them to have disturbed his quiet. All this does not exceed the
_Invectives_ of Poggius, who has thus entitled several literary libels
composed against some of his adversaries, Laurentius Valla, Philelphus,
&c., who returned the poisoned chalice to his own lips; declamations of
scurrility, obscenity, and calumny!

Scioppius was a worthy successor of the Scaligers: his favourite
expression was, that he had trodden down his adversary.

Scioppius was a critic, as skilful as Salmasius or Scaliger, but still
more learned in the language of abuse. This cynic was the Attila of
authors. He boasted that he had occasioned the deaths of Casaubon and
Scaliger. Detested and dreaded as the public scourge, Scioppius, at the
close of his life, was fearful he should find no retreat in which he
might be secure.

The great Casaubon employs the dialect of St. Giles's in his furious
attacks on the learned Dalechamps, the Latin translator of Athenæus. To
this great physician he stood more deeply indebted than he chose to
confess; and to conceal the claims of this literary creditor, he called
out _Vesanum!_ _Insanum!_ _Tiresiam!_ &c. It was the fashion of that day
with the ferocious heroes of the literary republic, to overwhelm each
other with invectives, and to consider that their own grandeur
consisted in the magnitude of their volumes; and their triumphs in
reducing their brother giants into puny dwarfs. In science, Linnæus had
a dread of controversy--conqueror or conquered we cannot escape without
disgrace! Mathiolus would have been the great man of his day, had he not
meddled with such matters. Who is gratified by "the mad Cornarus," or
"the flayed Fox?" titles which Fuchsius and Cornarus, two eminent
botanists, have bestowed on each other. Some who were too fond of
controversy, as they grew wiser, have refused to take up the gauntlet.

The heat and acrimony of verbal critics have exceeded description. Their
stigmas and anathemas have been long known to bear no proportion to the
offences against which they have been directed. "God confound you,"
cried one grammarian to another, "for your theory of impersonal verbs!"
There was a long and terrible controversy formerly, whether the
Florentine dialect was to prevail over the others. The academy was put
to great trouble, and the Anti-Cruscans were often on the point of
annulling this supremacy; _una mordace scritura_ was applied to one of
these literary canons; and in a letter of those times the following
paragraph appears:--"Pescetti is preparing to give a second answer to
Beni, which will not please him; I now believe the prophecy of Cavalier
Tedeschi will be verified, and that this controversy, begun with pens,
will end with poniards!"

Fabretti, an Italian, wrote furiously against Gronovius, whom he calls
_Grunnovius_: he compared him to all those animals whose voice was
expressed by the word _Grunnire, to grunt_. Gronovius was so malevolent
a critic, that he was distinguished by the title of the "Grammatical

When critics venture to attack the person as well as the performance of
an author, I recommend the salutary proceedings of Huberus, the writer
of an esteemed Universal History. He had been so roughly handled by
Perizonius, that he obliged him to make the _amende honorable_ in a
court of justice; where, however, I fear an English jury would give the
smallest damages.

Certain authors may be distinguished by the title of LITERARY BOBADILS,
or fighting authors. One of our own celebrated writers drew his sword on
a reviewer; and another, when his farce was condemned, offered to fight
any one of the audience who hissed. Scudery, brother of the celebrated
Mademoiselle Scudery, was a true Parnassian bully. The first
publication which brought him into notice was his edition of the works
of his friend Theophile. He concludes the preface with these singular
expressions--"I do not hesitate to declare, that, amongst all the dead,
and all the living, there is no person who has anything to show that
approaches the force of this vigorous genius; but if amongst the latter,
any one were so extravagant as to consider that I detract from his
imaginary glory, to show him that I fear as little as I esteem him, this
is to inform him that my name is
                                                    "DE SCUDERY."

A similar rhodomontade is that of Claude Trellon, a poetical soldier,
who begins his poems by challenging the critics, assuring them that if
any one attempts to censure him, he will only condescend to answer sword
in hand. Father Macedo, a Portuguese Jesuit, having written against
Cardinal Noris, on the monkery of St. Austin, it was deemed necessary to
silence both parties. Macedo, compelled to relinquish the pen, sent his
adversary a challenge, and according to the laws of chivalry, appointed
a place for meeting in the wood of Boulogne. Another edict forbad the
duel! Macedo then murmured at his hard fate, which would not suffer him,
for the sake of St. Austin, for whom he had a particular regard, to
spill either his _ink_ or his _blood_.

ANTI, prefixed to the name of the person attacked, was once a favourite
title to books of literary controversy. With a critical review of such
books Baillet has filled a quarto volume; yet such was the abundant
harvest, that he left considerable gleanings for posterior industry.

Anti-Gronovius was a book published against Gronovius, by Kuster.
Perizonius, another pugilist of literature, entered into this dispute on
the subject of the Æs grave of the ancients, to which Kuster had just
adverted at the close of his volume. What was the consequence?
Dreadful!--Answers and rejoinders from both, in which they bespattered
each other with the foulest abuse. A journalist pleasantly blames this
acrimonious controversy. He says, "To read the pamphlets of a Perizonius
and a Kuster on the Æs grave of the ancients, who would not renounce all
commerce with antiquity? It seems as if an Agamemnon and an Achilles
were railing at each other. Who can refrain from laughter, when one of
these commentators even points his attacks at the very name of his
adversary? According to Kuster, the name of Perizonius signifies a
_certain part_ of the human body. How is it possible, that with such a
name he could be right concerning the Æs grave? But does that of Kuster
promise a better thing, since it signifies a beadle; a man who drives
dogs out of churches?--What madness is this!"

Corneille, like our Dryden, felt the acrimony of literary irritation. To
the critical strictures of D'Aubignac it is acknowledged he paid the
greatest attention, for, after this critic's _Pratique du Théâtre_
appeared, his tragedies were more artfully conducted. But instead of
mentioning the critic with due praise, he preserved an ungrateful
silence. This occasioned a quarrel between the poet and the critic, in
which the former exhaled his bile in several abusive epigrams, which
have, fortunately for his credit, not been preserved in his works.

The lively Voltaire could not resist the charm of abusing his
adversaries. We may smile when he calls a blockhead, a blockhead; a
dotard, a dotard; but when he attacks, for a difference of opinion, the
_morals_ of another man, our sensibility is alarmed. A higher tribunal
than that of criticism is to decide on the _actions_ of men.

There is a certain disguised malice, which some writers have most
unfairly employed in characterising a contemporary. Burnet called Prior,
_one Prior_. In Bishop Parker's History of his Own Times, an innocent
reader may start at seeing the celebrated Marvell described as an
outcast of society; an infamous libeller; and one whose talents were
even more despicable than his person. To such lengths did the hatred of
party, united with personal rancour, carry this bishop, who was himself
the worst of time-servers. He was, however, amply paid by the keen wit
of Marvell in "The Rehearsal Transposed," which may still be read with
delight, as an admirable effusion of banter, wit, and satire. Le Clerc,
a cool ponderous Greek critic, quarrelled with Boileau about a passage
in Longinus, and several years afterwards, in revising Moreri's
Dictionary, gave a short sarcastic notice of the poet's brother; in
which he calls him the elder brother of _him who has written the book
entitled, "Satires of Mr. Boileau Despréaux_!"--the works of the modern
Horace, which were then delighting Europe, he calls, with simple
impudence, "a book entitled Satires!"

The works of Homer produced a controversy, both long and virulent,
amongst the wits of France. This literary quarrel is of some note in
the annals of literature, since it has produced two valuable books; La
Motte's "Réflexions sur la Critique," and Madame Dacier's "Des Causes de
la Corruption du Goût." La Motte wrote with feminine delicacy, and
Madame Dacier like a University pedant. "At length, by the efforts of
Valincour, the friend of art, of artists, and of peace, the contest was
terminated." Both parties were formidable in number, and to each he made
remonstrances, and applied reproaches. La Motte and Madame Dacier, the
opposite leaders, were convinced by his arguments, made reciprocal
concessions, and concluded a peace. The treaty was formally ratified at
a dinner, given on the occasion by a Madame De Staël, who represented
"Neutrality." Libations were poured to the memory of old Homer, and the
parties were reconciled.


[Footnote 88: Caricaturists were employed on both sides of the question,
and by pictures as well as words the war of polemics was vigorously
carried on. In one instance, the head of Luther is represented as the
Devil's Bagpipe; he blows into his ear, and uses his nose as a chanter.
Cocleus, in one of his tracts, represents Luther as a monster with seven
heads, indicative of his follies; the first is that of a disputatious
doctor, the last that of Barabbas! Luther replied in other pamphlets,
adorned with equally gross delineations levelled at his opponents.]

[Footnote 89: Bishop Percy's _Reliques of Ancient English Poetry_ will
furnish an example of the coarseness of invective used by both parties
during the era of the Reformation; in such rhymes as "Plain Truth and
Blind Ignorance"--"A Ballad of Luther and the Pope," &c. The old
interlude of "Newe Custome," printed in Dodsley's _Old Plays_; and that
of "Lusty Juventus," in Hawkins's _English Drama_, are choice specimens
of the vulgarest abuse. Bishop Bale in his play of _King John_
(published in 1838 by the Camden Society), indulges in a levity and
coarseness that would not now be tolerated in an alehouse--"stynkyng
heretic" on one side, and "vile popysh swyne" on the other, are among
the mildest epithets used in these religious satires. One of the most
curious is a dialogue between John Bon, a husbandman, and "Master
Parson" of his parish, on the subject of transubstantiation; it was so
violent in its style as to threaten great trouble to author and printer
(see Strype's _Ecclesiastical Memorials_). It may be seen in vol. xxx.
of the Percy Society's publications.]


When Dante published his "Inferno," the simplicity of the age accepted
it as a true narrative of his descent into hell.

When the Utopia of Sir Thomas More was first published, it occasioned a
pleasant mistake. This political romance represents a perfect, but
visionary republic, in an island supposed to have been newly discovered
in America. "As this was the age of discovery," says Granger, "the
learned Budæus, and others, took it for a genuine history; and
considered it as highly expedient, that missionaries should be sent
thither, in order to convert so wise a nation to Christianity."

It was a long while after publication that many readers were convinced
that Gulliver's Travels were fictitious.[90]

But the most singular blunder was produced by the ingenious "Hermippus
Redivivus" of Dr. Campbell, a curious banter on the hermetic philosophy,
and the universal medicine; but the grave irony is so closely kept up,
that it deceived for a length of time the most learned. His notion of
the art of prolonging life, by inhaling the breath of young women, was
eagerly credited. A physician, who himself had composed a treatise on
health, was so influenced by it, that he actually took lodgings at a
female boarding-school, that he might never be without a constant supply
of the breath of young ladies. Mr. Thicknesse seriously adopted the
project. Dr. Kippis acknowledged that after he had read the work in his
youth, the reasonings and the facts left him several days in a kind of
fairy land. I have a copy with manuscript notes by a learned physician,
who seems to have had no doubts of its veracity. After all, the
intention of the work was long doubtful; till Dr. Campbell assured a
friend it was a mere jeu-d'esprit; that Bayle was considered as standing
without a rival in the art of treating at large a difficult subject,
without discovering to which side his own sentiments leaned: Campbell
had read more uncommon books than most men, and wished to rival Bayle,
and at the same time to give many curious matters little known.

Palavicini, in his History of the Council of Trent, to confer an honour
on M. Lansac, ambassador of Charles IX. to that council, bestows on him
a collar of the order of Saint Esprit; but which order was not
instituted till several years afterwards by Henry III. A similar
voluntary blunder is that of Surita, in his _Annales de la Corona de
Aragon_. This writer represents, in the battles he describes, many
persons who were not present; and this, merely to confer honour on some
particular families.

Fabiana, quoting a French narrative of travels in Italy, took for the
name of the author the words, found at the end of the title-page,
_Enrichi de deux Listes_; that is, "Enriched with two lists:" on this he
observes, "that Mr. Enriched with two lists has not failed to do that
justice to Ciampini which he merited."[91] The abridgers of Gesner's
Bibliotheca ascribe the romance of Amadis to one _Acuerdo Olvido_;
Remembrance, Oblivion; mistaking the French translator's Spanish motto
on the title-page for the name of the author.

D'Aquin, the French king's physician, in his Memoir on the Preparation
of Bark, takes _Mantissa_, which is the title of the Appendix to the
History of Plants, by Johnstone, for the name of an author, and who, he
says, is so extremely rare, that he only knows him by name.

Lord Bolingbroke imagined, that in those famous verses, beginning with
_Excudent alii_, &c., Virgil attributed to the Romans the glory of
having surpassed the Greeks in historical composition: according to his
idea, those Roman historians whom Virgil preferred to the Grecians were
Sallust, Livy, and Tacitus. But Virgil died before Livy had written his
history, or Tacitus was born.

An honest friar, who compiled a church history, has placed in the class
of ecclesiastical writers Guarini, the Italian poet, on the faith of the
title of his celebrated amorous pastoral, _Il Pastor Fido_, "The
Faithful Shepherd;" our good father imagined that the character of a
curate, vicar, or bishop, was represented in this work.

A blunder has been recorded of the monks in the dark ages, which was
likely enough to happen when their ignorance was so dense. A rector of a
parish going to law with his parishioners about paving the church,
quoted this authority from St. Peter--_Paveant illi, non paveam ego_;
which he construed, _They are to pave the church, not I_. This was
allowed to be good law by a judge, himself an ecclesiastic too.

One of the grossest literary blunders of modern times is that of the
late Gilbert Wakefield, in his edition of Pope. He there takes the
well-known "Song by a Person of Quality," which is a piece of ridicule
on the glittering tuneful nonsense of certain poets, as a serious
composition. In a most copious commentary, he proves that every line
seems unconnected with its brothers, and that the whole reflects
disgrace on its author! A circumstance which too evidently shows how
necessary the knowledge of modern literary history is to a modern
commentator, and that those who are profound in verbal Greek are not the
best critics on English writers.

The Abbé Bizot, the author of the medallic history of Holland, fell into
a droll mistake. There is a medal, struck when Philip II. set forth his
_invincible Armada_, on which are represented the King of Spain, the
Emperor, the Pope, Electors, Cardinals, &c., with their eyes covered
with a bandage, and bearing for inscription this fine verse of

    O cæcas hominum menteis! O pectora cæca!

The Abbé, prepossessed with the prejudice that a nation persecuted by
the Pope and his adherents could not represent them without some insult,
did not examine with sufficient care the ends of the bandages which
covered the eyes and waved about the heads of the personages represented
on this medal: he rashly took them for _asses' ears_, and as such they
are engraved!

Mabillon has preserved a curious literary blunder of some pious
Spaniards, who applied to the Pope for consecrating a day in honour of
_Saint Viar_. His holiness, in the voluminous catalogue of his saints,
was ignorant of this one. The only proof brought forward for his
existence was this inscription:--

    S. VIAR.

An antiquary, however, hindered one more festival in the Catholic
calendar, by convincing them that these letters were only the remains of
an inscription erected for an ancient surveyor of the roads; and he read
their saintship thus:--


Maffei, in his comparison between Medals and Inscriptions, detects a
literary blunder in Spon, who, meeting with this inscription,

    Maximo VI Consule

takes the letters VI for numerals, which occasions a strange
anachronism. They are only contractions of _Viro Illustri_--V I.

As absurd a blunder was this of Dr. Stukeley on the coins of Carausius;
finding a battered one with a defaced inscription of


he read it


And sagaciously interpreting this to be the _wife_ of Carausius, makes
a new personage start up in history; he contrives even to give some
_theoretical Memoirs_ of the _August Oriuna_.[92]

Father Sirmond was of opinion that St. Ursula and her eleven thousand
Virgins were all created out of a blunder. In some ancient MS. they
found _St. Ursula et Undecimilla V. M._ meaning St. Ursula and
_Undecimilla_, Virgin Martyrs; imagining that _Undecimilla_ with the
_V._ and _M._ which followed, was an abbreviation for _Undecem Millia
Martyrum Virginum_, they made out of _Two Virgins_ the whole _Eleven

Pope, in a note on Measure for Measure, informs us, that its story was
taken from Cinthio's Novels, _Dec._ 8. _Nov._ 5. That is, _Decade 8,
Novel 5._ The critical Warburton, in his edition of Shakspeare, puts the
words in full length thus, _December_ 8, _November 5._

When the fragments of Petronius made a great noise in the literary
world, Meibomius, an erudit of Lubeck, read in a letter from another
learned scholar from Bologna, "We have here _an entire Petronius_; I saw
it with mine own eyes, and with admiration." Meibomius in post-haste is
on the road, arrives at Bologna, and immediately inquires for the
librarian Capponi. He inquires if it were true that they had at Bologna
_an entire Petronius_? Capponi assures him that it was a thing which had
long been public. "Can I see this Petronius? Let me examine
it!"--"Certainly," replies Capponi, and leads our erudit of Lubeck to
the church where reposes _the body of St. Petronius_. Meibomius bites
his lips, calls for his chaise, and takes his flight.

A French translator, when he came to a passage of Swift, in which it is
said that the Duke of Marlborough _broke_ an officer; not being
acquainted with this Anglicism, he translated it _roué_, broke on a

Cibber's play of "_Love's Last Shift_" was entitled "_La Dernière
Chemise de l'Amour_." A French writer of Congreve's life has taken his
_Mourning_ for a _Morning_ Bride, and translated it _L'Espouse du

Sir John Pringle mentions his having cured a soldier by the use of two
quarts of _Dog and Duck water_ daily: a French translator specifies it
as an excellent _broth_ made of a duck and a dog! In a recent catalogue
compiled by a French writer of _Works on Natural History_, he has
inserted the well-known "Essay on _Irish Bulls_" by the Edgeworths. The
proof, if it required any, that a Frenchman cannot understand the
idiomatic style of Shakspeare appears in a French translator, who prided
himself on giving a verbal translation of our great poet, not approving
of Le Tourneur's paraphrastical version. He found in the celebrated
speech of Northumberland in Henry IV.

    Even such a man, so faint, so spiritless,
    So dull, so dead in look, so _woe-begone_--

which he renders "_Ainsi douleur! va-t'en!"_

The Abbé Gregoire affords another striking proof of the errors to which
foreigners are liable when they decide on the _language_ and _customs_
of another country. The Abbé, in the excess of his philanthropy, to show
to what dishonourable offices human nature is degraded, acquaints us
that at London he observed a sign-board, proclaiming the master as
_tueur des punaises de sa majesté_! Bug-destroyer to his majesty! This
is, no doubt, the honest Mr. Tiffin, in the Strand; and the idea which
must have occurred to the good Abbé was, that his majesty's bugs were
hunted by the said destroyer, and taken by hand--and thus human nature
was degraded!

A French writer translates the Latin title of a treatise of Philo-Judæus
_Omnis bonus liber est_, Every good man is a free man, by _Tout livre
est bon_. It was well for him, observes Jortin, that he did not live
within the reach of the Inquisition, which might have taken this as a
reflection on the _Index Expurgatorius_.

An English translator turned "Dieu _défend_ l'adultère" into "God
_defends_ adultery."--Guthrie, in his translation of Du Halde, has "the
twenty-sixth day of the _new_ moon." The whole age of the moon is but
twenty-eight days. The blunder arose from his mistaking the word
_neuvième_ (ninth) for _nouvelle_ or _neuve_ (new).

The facetious Tom Brown committed a strange blunder in his translation
of Gelli's Circe. The word _Starne_, not aware of its signification, he
boldly rendered _stares_, probably from the similitude of sound; the
succeeding translator more correctly discovered _Starne_ to be
red-legged partridges!

In Charles II.'s reign a new collect was drawn, in which a new epithet
was added to the king's title, that gave great offence, and occasioned
great raillery. He was styled _our most religious king_. Whatever the
signification of _religious_ might be in the _Latin_ word, as importing
the sacredness of the king's person, yet in the _English language_ it
bore a signification that was no way applicable to the king. And he was
asked by his familiar courtiers, what must the nation think when they
heard him prayed for as their _most religious king_?--Literary blunders
of this nature are frequently discovered in the versions of good
classical scholars, who would make the _English_ servilely bend to the
Latin and Greek. Even Milton has been justly censured for his free use
of Latinisms and Grecisms.

The blunders of modern antiquaries on sepulchral monuments are numerous.
One mistakes _a lion_ at a knight's feet for a _curled water dog_;
another could not distinguish _censers_ in the hands of angels from
_fishing-nets_; _two angels_ at a lady's feet were counted as her two
cherub-like _babes_; and another has mistaken a _leopard_ and a
_hedgehog_ for a _cat_ and a _rat!_ In some of these cases, are the
antiquaries or the sculptors most to be blamed?[93]

A literary blunder of Thomas Warton is a specimen of the manner in which
a man of genius may continue to blunder with infinite ingenuity. In an
old romance he finds these lines, describing the duel of Saladin with
Richard Coeur de Lion:--

    A _Faucon brode_ in hande he bare,
    For he thought he wolde thare
    Have slayne Richard.

He imagines this _Faucon brode_ means a _falcon bird_, or a hawk, and
that Saladin is represented with this bird on his fist to express his
contempt of his adversary. He supports his conjecture by noticing a
Gothic picture, supposed to be the subject of this duel, and also some
old tapestry of heroes on horseback with hawks on their fists; he
plunges into feudal times, when no gentleman appeared on horseback
without his hawk. After all this curious erudition, the rough but
skilful Ritson inhumanly triumphed by dissolving the magical fancies of
the more elegant Warton, by explaining a _Faucon brode_ to be nothing
more than a _broad faulchion_, which, in a duel, was certainly more
useful than a _bird_. The editor of the private reprint of Hentzner, on
that writer's tradition respecting "the Kings of Denmark who reigned in
England" buried in the Temple Church, metamorphosed the two Inns of
Court, _Gray's Inn_ and _Lincoln's Inn_, into the names of the Danish
kings, _Gresin_ and _Lyconin_.[94]

Bayle supposes that Marcellus Palingenius, who wrote the poem entitled
the _Zodiac_, the twelve books bearing the names of the signs, from this
circumstance assumed the title of _Poeta Stellatus_. But it appears that
this writer was an Italian and a native of _Stellada_, a town in the
Ferrarese. It is probable that his birthplace originally produced the
conceit of the title of his poem: it is a curious instance how critical
conjecture may be led astray by its own ingenuity, when ignorant of the
real fact.


[Footnote 90: The first edition had all the external appearance of
truth: a portrait of "Captain Lemuel Gulliver, of Redriff, aetat. suæ
lviii." faces the title; and maps of all the places, he only, visited,
are carefully laid down in connexion with the realities of geography.
Thus "Lilliput, discovered A.D. 1699," lies between Sumatra and Van
Dieman's Land. "Brobdignag, discovered A.D. 1703," is a peninsula of
North America. One Richard Sympson vouches for the veracity of his
"antient and intimate friend," in a Preface detailing some "facts" of
Gulliver's Life. Arbuthnot says he "lent the book to an old gentleman,
who went immediately to his map to search for Lilliput."]

[Footnote 91: In Nagler's _Kunstler-Lexicon_ is a whimsical error
concerning a living English artist--George Cruikshank. Some years ago
the relative merits of himself and brother were contrasted in an English
review, and George was spoken of as "The real Simon Pure"--the first who
had illustrated scenes of "Life in London." Unaware of the real
significance of a quotation which has become proverbial among us, the
German editor begins his Memoir of Cruikshank, by gravely informing us
that he is an English artist, "whose real name is Simon Pure!" Turning
to the artists under the letter P, we accordingly read:--"PURE (Simon),
the real name of the celebrated caricaturist, George Cruikshank."]

[Footnote 92: The whole of Dr. Stukeley's tract is a most curious
instance of learned perversity and obstinacy. The coin is broken away
where the letter F should be, and Stukeley himself allows that the upper
part of the T might be worn away, and so the inscription really be
_Fortuna Aug_; but he cast all such evidence aside, to construct an
imaginary life of an imaginary empress; "that we have no history of this
lady," he says, "is not to be wondered at," and he forthwith imagines
one; that she was of a martial disposition, and "signalized herself in
battle, and obtained a victory," as he guesses from the laurel wreath
around her bust on the coin; her name he believes to be Gaulish, and
"equivalent to what we now call Lucia," and that a regiment of soldiers
was under her command, after the fashion of "the present Czarina," the
celebrated Catherine of Russia.]

[Footnote 93: One of the most curious pictorial and antiquarian blunders
may be seen in Vallancey's _Collectanea_. He found upon one of the
ancient stones on the Hill of Tara an inscription which he read _Beli
Divose_, "to Belus, God of Fire;" but which ultimately proved to be the
work of some idler who, lying on the stone, cut upside down his name and
the date of the year, E. Conid, 1731; upon turning this engraving, the
fact is apparent.]


    Marriage is such a rabble rout;
    That those that are out, would fain get in;
    And those that are in, would fain get out.


Having examined some _literary blunders_, we will now proceed to the
subject of a _literary wife_, which may happen to prove one. A learned
lady is to the taste of few. It is however matter of surprise, that
several literary men should have felt such a want of taste in respect to
"their soul's far dearer part," as Hector calls his Andromache. The
wives of many men of letters have been dissolute, ill-humoured,
slatternly, and have run into all the frivolities of the age. The wife
of the learned Budæus was of a different character.

How delightful is it when the mind of the female is so happily disposed,
and so richly cultivated, as to participate in the literary avocations
of her husband! It is then truly that the intercourse of the sexes
becomes the most refined pleasure. What delight, for instance, must the
great Budæus have tasted, even in those works which must have been for
others a most dreadful labour! His wife left him nothing to desire. The
frequent companion of his studies, she brought him the books he required
to his desk; she collated passages, and transcribed quotations; the same
genius, the same inclination, and the same ardour for literature,
eminently appeared in those two fortunate persons. Far from withdrawing
her husband from his studies, she was sedulous to animate him when he
languished. Ever at his side, and ever assiduous; ever with some useful
book in her hand, she acknowledged herself to be a most happy woman. Yet
she did not neglect the education of eleven children. She and Budæus
shared in the mutual cares they owed their progeny. Budæus was not
insensible of his singular felicity. In one of his letters, he
represents himself as married to two _ladies_; one of whom gave him boys
and girls, the other was Philosophy, who produced books. He says that in
his twelve first years, Philosophy had been less fruitful than marriage;
he had produced less books than children; he had laboured more
corporally than intellectually; but he hoped to make more books than
men. "The soul (says he) will be productive in its turn; it will rise on
the ruins of the body; a prolific virtue is not given at the same time
to the bodily organs and the pen."

The lady of Evelyn designed herself the frontispiece to his translation
of Lucretius. She felt the same passion in her own breast which animated
her husband's, who has written, with such various ingenuity. Of Baron
Haller it is recorded that he inspired his wife and family with a taste
for his different pursuits. They were usually employed in assisting his
literary occupations; they transcribed manuscripts, consulted authors,
gathered plants, and designed and coloured under his eye. What a
delightful family picture has the younger Pliny given posterity in his
letters! Of Calphurnia, his wife, he says, "Her affection to me has
given her a turn to books; and my compositions, which she takes a
pleasure in reading, and even getting by heart, are continually in her
hands. How full of tender solicitude is she when I am entering upon any
cause! How kindly does she rejoice with me when it is over! While I am
pleading, she places persons to inform her from time to time how I am
heard, what applauses I receive, and what success attends the cause.
When at any time I recite my works, she conceals herself behind some
curtain, and with secret rapture enjoys my praises. She sings my verses
to her lyre, with no other master but love, the best instructor, for her
guide. Her passion will increase with our days, for it is not my youth
nor my person, which time gradually impairs, but my reputation and my
glory, of which, she is enamoured."

On the subject of a literary wife, I must introduce to the acquaintance
of the reader Margaret Duchess of Newcastle. She is known, at least by
her name, as a voluminous writer; for she extended her literary
productions to the number of twelve folio volumes.

Her labours have been ridiculed by some wits; but had her studies been
regulated, she would have displayed no ordinary genius. The
_Connoisseur_ has quoted her poems, and her verses have been imitated by

The duke, her husband, was also an author; his book on horsemanship
still preserves his name. He has likewise written comedies, and his
contemporaries have not been, penurious in their eulogiums. It is true
he was a duke. Shadwell says of him, "That he was the greatest master of
wit, the most exact observer of mankind, and the most accurate judge of
humour that ever he knew." The life of the duke is written "by the hand
of his incomparable duchess." It was published in his lifetime. This
curious piece of biography is a folio of 197 pages, and is entitled "The
Life of the Thrice Noble, High, and Puissant Prince, William Cavendish."
His titles then follow:--"Written by the Thrice Noble, Illustrious, and
Excellent Princess, Margaret Duchess of Newcastle, his wife. London,
1667." This Life is dedicated to Charles the Second; and there is also
prefixed a copious epistle to her husband the duke.

In this epistle the character of our Literary Wife is described with all
its peculiarities.

"Certainly, my lord, you have had as many enemies and as many friends as
ever any one particular person had; nor do I so much wonder at it,
since I, a woman, cannot be exempt from the malice and aspersions of
spiteful tongues, which they cast upon my poor writings, some denying me
to be the true authoress of them; for your grace remembers well, that
those books I put out first to the judgment of this censorious age were
accounted not to be written by a woman, but that somebody else had writ
and published them in my name; by which your lordship was moved to
prefix an epistle before one of them in my vindication, wherein you
assure the world, upon your honour, that what was written and printed in
my name was my own; and I have also made known that your lordship was my
only tutor, in declaring to me what you had found and observed by your
own experience; for I being young when your lordship married me, could
not have much knowledge of the world; but it pleased God to command his
servant Nature to endue me with a poetical and philosophical genius,
even from my birth; for I did write some books in that kind before I was
twelve years of age, which for want of good method and order I would
never divulge. But though the world would not believe that those
conceptions and fancies which I writ were my own, but transcended my
capacity, yet they found fault, that they were defective for want of
learning, and on the other side, they said I had pluckt feathers out of
the universities; which was a very preposterous judgment. Truly, my
lord, I confess that for want of scholarship, I could not express myself
so well as otherwise I might have done in those philosophical writings I
published first; but after I was returned with your lordship into my
native country, and led a retired country life, I applied myself to the
reading of philosophical authors, on purpose to learn those names and
words of art that are used in schools; which at first were so hard to
me, that I could not understand them, but was fain to guess at the sense
of them by the whole context, and so writ them down, as I found them in
those authors; at which my readers did wonder, and thought it impossible
that a woman could have so much learning and understanding in terms of
art and scholastical expressions; so that I and my books are like the
old apologue mentioned in Æsop, of a father and his son who rid on an
ass." Here follows a long narrative of this fable, which she applies to
herself in these words--"The old man seeing he could not please mankind
in any manner, and having received so many blemishes and aspersions for
the sake of his ass, was at last resolved to drown him when he came to
the next bridge. But I am not so passionate to burn my writings for the
various humours of mankind, and for their finding fault; since there is
nothing in this world, be it the noblest and most commendable action
whatsoever, that shall escape blameless. As for my being the true and
only authoress of them, your lordship knows best; and my attending
servants are witness that I have had none but my own thoughts, fancies,
and speculations, to assist me; and as soon as I set them down I send
them to those that are to transcribe them, and fit them for the press;
whereof, since there have been several, and amongst them such as only
could write a good hand, but neither understood orthography, nor had any
learning, (I being then in banishment, with your lordship, and not able
to maintain learned secretaries,) which hath been a great disadvantage
to my poor works, and the cause that they have been printed so false and
so full of errors; for besides that I want also skill in scholarship and
true writing, I did many times not peruse the copies that were
transcribed, lest they should disturb my following conceptions; by which
neglect, as I said, many errors are slipt into my works, which, yet I
hope, learned and impartial men will soon rectify, and look more upon
the sense than carp at words. I have been a student even from childhood;
and since I have been your lordship's wife I have lived for the most
part a strict and retired life, as is best known to your lordship; and
therefore my censurers cannot know much of me, since they have little or
no acquaintance with me. 'Tis true I have been a traveller both before
and after I was married to your lordship, and some times shown myself at
your lordship's command in public places or assemblies, but yet I
converse with few. Indeed, my lord, I matter not the censures of this
age, but am rather proud of them; for it shows that my actions are more
than ordinary, and according to the old proverb, it is better to be
envied than pitied; for I know well that it is merely out of spite and
malice, whereof this present age is so full that none can escape them,
and they'll make no doubt to stain even your lordship's loyal, noble,
and heroic actions, as well as they do mine; though yours have been of
war and fighting, mine of contemplating and writing: yours were
performed publicly in the field, mine privately in my closet; yours had
many thousand eye-witnesses; mine none but my waiting-maids. But the
great God, that hitherto bless'd both your grace and me, will, I
question not, preserve both our fames to after-ages.

                "Your grace's honest wife,
                    "and humble servant,
                        "M. NEWCASTLE."

The last portion of this life, which consists of the observations and
good things which she had gathered from the conversations of her
husband, forms an excellent Ana; and shows that when Lord Orford, in his
"Catalogue of Noble Authors," says, that "this stately poetic couple was
a picture of foolish nobility," he writes, as he does too often, with
extreme levity. But we must now attend to the reverse of our medal.

Many chagrins may corrode the nuptial state of literary men. Females
who, prompted by vanity, but not by taste, unite themselves to scholars,
must ever complain of neglect. The inexhaustible occupations of a
library will only present to such a most dreary solitude. Such a lady
declared of her learned husband, that she was more jealous of his books
than his mistresses. It was probably while Glover was composing his
"Leonidas," that his lady avenged herself for this _Homeric_ inattention
to her, and took her flight with a lover. It was peculiar to the learned
Dacier to be united to woman, his equal in erudition and his superior in
taste. When she wrote in the album of a German traveller a verse from
Sophocles as an apology for her unwillingness to place herself among his
learned friends, that "Silence is the female's ornament," it was a trait
of her modesty. The learned Pasquier was coupled to a female of a
different character, since he tells us in one of his Epigrams that to
manage the vociferations of his lady, he was compelled himself to become
a vociferator.--"Unfortunate wretch that I am, I who am a lover of
universal peace! But to have peace I am obliged ever to be at war."

Sir Thomas More was united to a woman of the harshest temper and the
most sordid manners. To soften the moroseness of her disposition, "he
persuaded her to play on the lute, viol, and other instruments, every
day." Whether it was that she had no ear for music, she herself never
became harmonious as the instrument she touched. All these ladies may be
considered as rather too alert in thought, and too spirited in action;
but a tame cuckoo bird who is always repeating the same note must be
very fatiguing. The lady of Samuel Clarke, the great compiler of books
in 1680, whose name was anagrammatised to "_suck all cream_," alluding
to his indefatigable labours in sucking all the cream of every other
author, without having any cream himself, is described by her husband as
entertaining the most sublime conceptions of his illustrious
compilations. This appears by her behaviour. He says, "that she never
rose from table without making him a curtsey, nor drank to him without
bowing, and that his word was a law to her."

I was much surprised in looking over a correspondence of the times, that
in 1590 the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, writing to the Earl of
Shrewsbury on the subject of his living separate from his countess, uses
as one of his arguments for their union the following curious one, which
surely shows the gross and cynical feeling which the fair sex excited
even among the higher classes of society. The language of this good
bishop is neither that of truth, we hope, nor certainly that of

"But some will saye in your Lordship's behalfe that the Countesse is a
sharpe and bitter shrewe, and therefore licke enough to shorten your
lief, if shee should kepe yow company, Indeede, my good Lord, I have
heard some say so; but if shrewdnesse or sharpnesse may be a juste cause
of separation between a man and wiefe, I thinck fewe men in Englande
would keepe their wives longe; for it is a common jeste, yet trewe in
some sense, that there is but one shrewe in all the worlde, and everee
man hath her: and so everee man must be ridd of his wiefe that wolde be
ridd of a shrewe." It is wonderful this good bishop did not use another
argument as cogent, and which would in those times be allowed as
something; the name of his lordship, _Shrewsbury_, would have afforded a
consolatory _pun_!

The entertaining Marville says that the generality of ladies married to
literary men are so vain of the abilities and merit of their husbands,
that they are frequently insufferable.

The wife of Barclay, author of "The Argenis," considered herself as the
wife of a demigod. This appeared glaringly after his death; for Cardinal
Barberini having erected a monument to the memory of his tutor, next to
the tomb of Barclay, Mrs. Barclay was so irritated at this that she
demolished his monument, brought home his bust, and declared that the
ashes of so great a genius as her husband should never be placed beside
a pedagogue.

Salmasius's wife was a termagant; Christina said she admired his
patience more than his erudition. Mrs. Salmasius indeed considered
herself as the queen of science, because her husband was acknowledged as
sovereign among the critics. She boasted that she had for her husband
the most learned of all the nobles, and the most noble of all the
learned. Our good lady always joined the learned conferences which he
held in his study. She spoke loud, and decided with a tone of majesty.
Salmasius was mild in conversation, but the reverse in his writings, for
our proud Xantippe considered him as acting beneath himself if he did
not magisterially call every one names!

The wife of Rohault, when her husband gave lectures on the philosophy of
Descartes, used to seat herself on these days at the door, and refused
admittance to every one shabbily dressed, or who did not discover a
genteel air. So convinced was she that, to be worthy of hearing the
lectures of her husband, it was proper to appear fashionable. In vain
our good lecturer exhausted himself in telling her, that fortune does
not always give fine clothes to philosophers.

The ladies of Albert Durer and Berghem were both shrews. The wife of
Durer compelled that great genius to the hourly drudgery of his
profession, merely to gratify her own sordid passion: in despair, Albert
ran away from his Tisiphone; she wheedled him back, and not long
afterwards this great artist fell a victim to her furious
disposition.[95] Berghem's wife would never allow that excellent artist
to quit his occupations; and she contrived an odd expedient to detect
his indolence. The artist worked in a room above her; ever and anon she
roused him by thumping a long stick against the ceiling, while the
obedient Berghem answered by stamping his foot, to satisfy Mrs. Berghem
that he was not napping.

Ælian had an aversion to the married state. Sigonius, a learned and
well-known scholar, would never marry, and alleged no inelegant reason;
"Minerva and Venus could not live together."

Matrimony has been considered by some writers as a condition not so well
suited to the circumstances of philosophers and men of learning. There
is a little tract which professes to investigate the subject. It has for
title, _De Matrimonio Literati, an coelibem esse, an verò nubere
conveniat_, i.e., of the Marriage of a Man of Letters, with an inquiry
whether it is most proper for him to continue a bachelor, or to marry?

The author alleges the great merit of some women; particularly that of
Gonzaga the consort of Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino; a lady of such
distinguished accomplishments, that Peter Bembus said, none but a stupid
man would not prefer one of her conversations to all the formal meetings
and disputations of the philosophers.

The ladies perhaps will be surprised to find that it is a question among
the learned, _Whether they ought to marry?_ and will think it an
unaccountable property of learning that it should lay the professors of
it under an obligation to disregard the sex. But it is very questionable
whether, in return for this want of complaisance in them, the generality
of ladies would not prefer the beau, and the man of fashion. However,
let there be Gonzagas, they will find converts enough to their charms.

The sentiments of Sir Thomas Browne on the consequences of marriage are
very curious, in the second part of his Religio Medici, sect, 9. When he
wrote that work, he said, "I was never yet once, and commend their
resolutions, who never marry twice." He calls woman "the rib and crooked
piece of man." He adds, "I could be content that we might procreate like
trees, without conjunction, or that there were any way to procreate the
world without this trivial and vulgar way." He means the union of sexes,
which he declares, "is the foolishest act a wise man commits in all his
life; nor is there anything that will more deject his cooled
imagination, when he shall consider what an odd and unworthy piece of
folly he hath committed." He afterwards declares he is not averse to
that sweet sex, but naturally amorous of all that is beautiful: "I could
look a whole day with delight upon a handsome picture, though it be but
of a horse." He afterwards disserts very profoundly on the music there
is in beauty, "and the silent note which Cupid strikes is far sweeter
than the sound of an instrument." Such were his sentiments when
youthful, and residing at Leyden; Dutch philosophy had at first chilled
his passion; it is probable that passion afterwards inflamed his
philosophy--for he married, and had sons and daughters!

Dr. Cocchi, a modern Italian writer, but apparently a cynic as old as
Diogenes, has taken the pains of composing a treatise on the present
subject enough to terrify the boldest _Bachelor_ of Arts! He has
conjured up every chimera against the marriage of a literary man. He
seems, however, to have drawn his disgusting portrait from his own
country; and the chaste beauty of Britain only looks the more lovely
beside this Florentine wife.

I shall not retain the cynicism which has coloured such revolting
features. When at length the doctor finds a woman as all women ought to
be, he opens a new string of misfortunes which must attend her husband.
He dreads one of the probable consequences of matrimony--progeny, in
which we must maintain the children we beget! He thinks the father gains
nothing in his old age from the tender offices administered by his own
children: he asserts these are much better performed by menials and
strangers! The more children he has, the less he can afford to have
servants! The maintenance of his children will greatly diminish his
property! Another alarming object in marriage is that, by affinity, you
become connected with the relations of the wife. The envious and
ill-bred insinuations of the mother, the family quarrels, their poverty
or their pride, all disturb the unhappy sage who falls into the trap of
connubial felicity! But if a sage has resolved to marry, he impresses on
him the prudential principle of increasing his fortune by it, and to
remember his "additional expenses!" Dr. Cocchi seems to have thought
that a human being is only to live for himself; he had neither heart to
feel, a head to conceive, nor a pen that could have written one
harmonious period, or one beautiful image! Bayle, in his article
_Raphelengius_, note B, gives a singular specimen of logical subtlety,
in "a reflection on the consequence of marriage." This learned man was
imagined to have died of grief, for having lost his wife, and passed
three years in protracted despair. What therefore must we think of an
unhappy marriage, since a happy one is exposed to such evils? He then
shows that an unhappy marriage is attended by beneficial consequences to
the survivor. In this dilemma, in the one case, the husband lives afraid
his wife will die, in the other that she will not! If you love her, you
will always be afraid of losing her; if you do not love her, you will
always be afraid of not losing her. Our satirical _celibataire_ is gored
by the horns of the dilemma he has conjured up.

James Petiver, a famous botanist, then a bachelor, the friend of Sir
Hans Sloane, in an album signs his name with this designation:--

    "From the Goat tavern in the Strand, London,
    Nov. 27. In the 34th year of my _freedom_,
    A.D. 1697."


[Footnote 94: Erroneous proper names of places occur continually in
early writers, particularly French ones. There are some in Froissart
that cannot be at all understood. Bassompierre is equally erroneous.
_Jorchaux_ is intended by him for _York House_; and, more wonderful
still, _Inhimthort_, proves by the context to be _Kensington_!]

[Footnote 95: Leopold Schefer, the German novelist, has composed an
excellent sketch of Durer's married life. It is an admirably philosophic
narrative of an intellectual man's wretchedness.]


Some authors excelled in this species of literary artifice. The Italian
Doni dedicated each of his letters in a book called _La Libraria_, to
persons whose name began with the first letter of the epistle, and
dedicated the whole collection in another epistle; so that the book,
which only consisted of forty-five pages, was dedicated to above twenty
persons. This is carrying literary mendicity pretty high. Politi, the
editor of the _Martyrologium Romanum_, published at Rome in 1751, has
improved on the idea of Doni; for to the 365 days of the year of this
Martyrology he has prefixed to each an epistle dedicatory. It is
fortunate to have a large circle of acquaintance, though they should not
be worthy of being saints. Galland, the translator of the Arabian
Nights, prefixed a dedication to each tale which he gave; had he
finished the "one thousand and one," he would have surpassed even the

Mademoiselle Scudery tells a remarkable expedient of an ingenious trader
in this line--One Rangouze made a collection of letters which he printed
without numbering them. By this means the bookbinder put that letter
which the author ordered him first; so that all the persons to whom he
presented this book, seeing their names at the head, considered they had
received a particular compliment. An Italian physician, having written
on Hippocrates's Aphorisms, dedicated each book of his Commentaries to
one of his friends, and the index to another!

More than one of our own authors have dedications in the same spirit. It
was an expedient to procure dedicatory fees: for publishing books by
subscription was then an art undiscovered. One prefixed a different
dedication to a certain number of printed copies, and addressed them to
every great man he knew, who he thought relished a morsel of flattery,
and would pay handsomely for a coarse luxury. Sir Balthazar Gerbier, in
his "Counsel to Builders," has made up half the work with forty-two
dedications, which he excuses by the example of Antonio Perez; but in
these dedications Perez scatters a heap of curious things, for he was a
very universal genius. Perez, once secretary of state to Philip II. of
Spain, dedicates his "Obras," first to "Nuestro sanctissimo Padre," and
"Al Sacro Collegio," then follows one to "Henry IV.," and then one still
more embracing, "A Todos." Fuller, in his "Church History," has with
admirable contrivance introduced twelve title-pages, besides the general
one, and as many particular dedications, and no less than fifty or sixty
of those by inscriptions which are addressed to his benefactors; a
circumstance which Heylin in his severity did not overlook; for "making
his work bigger by forty sheets at the least; and he was so ambitious of
the number of his patrons, that having but four leaves at the end of his
History, he discovers a particular benefactress to inscribe them to!"
This unlucky lady, the patroness of four leaves, Heylin compares to
Roscius Regulus, who accepted the consular dignity for that part of the
day on which Cecina by a decree of the senate was degraded from it,
which occasioned Regulus to be ridiculed by the people all his life
after, as the consul of half a day.

The price for the dedication of a play was at length fixed, from five to
ten guineas from the Revolution to the time of George I., when it rose
to twenty; but sometimes a bargain was to be struck when the author and
the play were alike indifferent. Sometimes the party haggled about the
price, or the statue while stepping into his niche would turn round on
the author to assist his invention. A patron of Peter Motteux,
dissatisfied with Peter's colder temperament, actually composed the
superlative dedication to himself, and completed the misery of the
apparent author by subscribing it with his name. This circumstance was
so notorious at the time, that it occasioned a satirical dialogue
between Motteux and his patron Heveningham. The patron, in his zeal to
omit no possible distinction that might attach to him, had given one
circumstance which no one but himself could have known.


        I must confess I was to blame,
        That one particular to name;
        The rest could never have been known
        _I made the style so like thy own_.


        I beg your pardon, Sir, for that.


        Why d----e what would you be at?
        I _writ below myself_, you sot!
        Avoiding figures, tropes, what not;
        For fear I should my fancy raise
        _Above the level of thy plays_!

Warton notices the common practice, about the reign of Elizabeth, of an
author's dedicating a work at once to a number of the nobility.
Chapman's Translation of Homer has sixteen sonnets addressed to lords
and ladies. Henry Lock, in a collection of two hundred religious
sonnets, mingles with such heavenly works the terrestrial composition of
a number of sonnets to his noble patrons; and not to multiply more
instances, our great poet Spenser, in compliance with this disgraceful
custom, or rather in obedience to the established tyranny of patronage,
has prefixed to the Faery Queen fifteen of these adulatory pieces, which
in every respect are the meanest of his compositions. At this period all
men, as well as writers, looked up to the peers as if they were beings
on whose smiles or frowns all sublunary good and evil depended. At a
much later period, Elkanah Settle sent copies round to the chief party,
for he wrote for both parties, accompanied by addresses to extort
pecuniary presents in return. He had latterly one standard _Elegy_, and
one _Epithalamium_, printed off with blanks, which by ingeniously
filling up with the printed names of any great person who died or was
married; no one who was going out of life, or was entering into it,
could pass scot-free.

One of the most singular anecdotes respecting DEDICATIONS in English
bibliography is that of the Polyglot Bible of Dr. Castell. Cromwell,
much to his honour, patronized that great labour, and allowed the paper
to be imported free of all duties, both of excise and custom. It was
published under the protectorate, but many copies had not been disposed
of ere Charles II. ascended the throne. Dr. Castell had dedicated the
work gratefully to Oliver, by mentioning him with peculiar respect in
the preface, but he wavered with Richard Cromwell. At the Restoration,
he cancelled the two last leaves, and supplied their places with three
others, which softened down the republican strains, and blotted
Oliver's name out of the book of life! The differences in what are now
called the _republican_ and the _loyal_ copies have amused the curious
collectors; and the former being very scarce, are most sought after. I
have seen the republican. In the _loyal_ copies the patrons of the work
are mentioned, but their _titles_ are essentially changed;
_Serenissimus_, _Illustrissimus_, and _Honoratissimus_, were epithets
that dared not shew themselves under the _levelling_ influence of the
great fanatic republican.

It is a curious literary folly, not of an individual but of the Spanish
nation, who, when the laws of Castile were reduced into a code under the
reign of Alfonso X. surnamed the Wise, divided the work into _seven
volumes_; that they might be dedicated to the _seven letters_ which
formed the name of his majesty!

Never was a gigantic baby of adulation so crammed with the soft pap of
_Dedications_ as Cardinal Richelieu. French flattery even exceeded
itself.--Among the vast number of very extraordinary dedications to this
man, in which the Divinity itself is disrobed of its attributes to
bestow them on this miserable creature of vanity, I suspect that even
the following one is not the most blasphemous he received. "Who has seen
your face without being seized by those softened terrors which made the
prophets shudder when God showed the beams of his glory! But as He whom
they dared not to approach in the burning bush, and in the noise of
thunders, appeared to them sometimes in the freshness of the zephyrs, so
the softness of your august countenance dissipates at the same time, and
changes into dew, the small vapours which cover its majesty." One of
these herd of dedicators, after the death of Richelieu, suppressed in a
second edition his hyperbolical panegyric, and as a punishment to
himself, dedicated the work to Jesus Christ!

The same taste characterises our own dedications in the reigns of
Charles II. and James II. The great Dryden has carried it to an
excessive height; and nothing is more usual than to compare the _patron_
with the _Divinity_--and at times a fair inference may be drawn that the
former was more in the author's mind than God himself! A Welsh bishop
made an _apology_ to James I. for _preferring_ the Deity--to his
Majesty! Dryden's extravagant dedications were the vices of the time
more than of the man; they were loaded with flattery, and no disgrace
was annexed to such an exercise of men's talents; the contest being who
should go farthest in the most graceful way, and with the best turns of

An ingenious dedication was contrived by Sir Simon Degge, who dedicated
"the Parson's Counsellor" to Woods, Bishop of Lichfield. Degge highly
complimented the bishop on having most nobly restored the church, which
had been demolished in the civil wars, and was rebuilt but left
unfinished by Bishop Hacket. At the time he wrote the dedication, Woods
had not turned a single stone, and it is said, that much against his
will he did something, from having been so publicly reminded of it by
this ironical dedication.


The "BOTANIC GARDEN" once appeared to open a new route through the
trodden groves of Parnassus. The poet, to a prodigality of IMAGINATION,
united all the minute accuracy of SCIENCE. It is a highly-repolished
labour, and was in the mind and in the hand of its author for twenty
years before its first publication. The excessive polish of the verse
has appeared too high to be endured throughout a long composition; it is
certain that, in poems of length, a versification, which is not too
florid for lyrical composition, will weary by its brilliance. Darwin,
inasmuch as a rich philosophical fancy constitutes a poet, possesses the
entire art of poetry; no one has carried the curious mechanism of verse
and the artificial magic of poetical diction to a higher perfection. His
volcanic head flamed with imagination, but his torpid heart slept
unawakened by passion. His standard of poetry is by much too limited; he
supposes that the essence of poetry is something of which a painter can
make a picture. A picturesque verse was with him a verse completely
poetical. But the language of the passions has no connexion with this
principle; in truth, what he delineates as poetry itself, is but one of
its provinces. Deceived by his illusive standard, he has composed a poem
which is perpetually fancy, and never passion. Hence his processional
splendour fatigues, and his descriptive ingenuity comes at length to be
deficient in novelty, and all the miracles of art cannot supply us with
one touch of nature.

Descriptive poetry should be relieved by a skilful intermixture of
passages addressed to the heart as well as to the imagination: uniform
description satiates; and has been considered as one of the inferior
branches of poetry. Of this both Thomson and Goldsmith were sensible. In
their beautiful descriptive poems they knew the art of animating the
pictures of FANCY with the glow of SENTIMENT.

Whatever may be thought of the originality of Darwin's poem, it had been
preceded by others of a congenial disposition. Brookes's poem on
"Universal Beauty," published about 1735, presents us with the very
model of Darwin's versification: and the Latin poem of De la Croix, in
1727, entitled "_Connubia Florum_," with his subject. There also exists
a race of poems which have hitherto been confined to _one subject_,
which the poet selected from the works of nature, to embellish with all
the splendour of poetic imagination. I have collected some titles.

Perhaps it is Homer, in his battle of the _Frogs and Mice_, and Virgil
in the poem on a _Gnat_, attributed to him, who have given birth to
these lusory poems. The Jesuits, particularly when they composed in
Latin verse, were partial to such subjects. There is a little poem on
_Gold_, by P. Le Fevre, distinguished for its elegance; and Brumoy has
given the _Art of making Glass_; in which he has described its various
productions with equal felicity and knowledge. P. Vanière has written on
_Pigeons_, Du Cerceau on _Butterflies_. The success which attended these
productions produced numerous imitations, of which several were
favourably received. Vanière composed three on the _Grape_, the
_Vintage_, and the _Kitchen Garden_. Another poet selected _Oranges_ for
his theme; others have chosen for their subjects, _Paper, Birds_, and
fresh-water _Fish_. Tarillon has inflamed his imagination with
_gunpowder_; a milder genius, delighted with the oaten pipe, sang of
_Sheep_; one who was more pleased with another kind of pipe, has written
on _Tobacco_; and a droll genius wrote a poem on _Asses_. Two writers
have formed didactic poems on the _Art of Enigmas_, and on _Ships_.

Others have written on moral subjects. Brumoy has painted the
_Passions_, with a variety of imagery and vivacity of description; P.
Meyer has disserted on _Anger_; Tarillon, like our Stillingfleet, on the
_Art of Conversation_; and a lively writer has discussed the subjects of
_Humour and Wit_.

Giannetazzi, an Italian Jesuit, celebrated for his Latin poetry, has
composed two volumes of poems on _Fishing_ and _Navigation_. Fracastor
has written delicately on an indelicate subject, his _Syphilis_. Le Brun
wrote a delectable poem on _Sweetmeats_; another writer on _Mineral
Waters_, and a third on _Printing_. Vida pleases with his _Silk-worms_,
and his _Chess_; Buchanan is ingenious with the _Sphere_. Malapert has
aspired to catch the _Winds_; the philosophic Huet amused himself with
_Salt_ and again with _Tea_. The _Gardens_ of Rapin is a finer poem than
critics generally can write; Quillet's _Callipedia_, or Art of getting
handsome Children, has been translated by Rowe; and Du Fresnoy at length
gratifies the connoisseur with his poem on _Painting_, by the
embellishments which his verses have received from the poetic diction of
Mason, and the commentary of Reynolds.

This list might be augmented with a few of our own poets, and there
still remain some virgin themes which only require to be touched by the
hand of a true poet. In the "Memoirs of Trevoux," they observe, in their
review of the poem on _Gold_, "That poems of this kind have the
advantage of instructing us very agreeably. All that has been most
remarkably said on the subject is united, compressed in a luminous
order, and dressed in all the agreeable graces of poetry. Such writers
have no little difficulties to encounter: the style and expression cost
dear; and still more to give to an arid topic an agreeable form, and to
elevate the subject without falling into another extreme.--In the other
kinds of poetry the matter assists and prompts genius; here we must
possess an abundance to display it."


Myles Davis's "ICON LIBELLORUM, or a Critical History Pamphlets,"
affords some curious information; and as this is a _pamphlet_-reading
age, I shall give a sketch of its contents.

The author observes: "From PAMPHLETS may be learned the genius of the
age, the debates of the learned, the follies of the ignorant, the
_bévues_ of government, and the mistakes of the courtiers. Pamphlets
furnish beaus with their airs, coquettes with their charms. Pamphlets
are as modish ornaments to gentlewomen's toilets as to gentlemen's
pockets; they carry reputation of wit and learning to all that make them
their companions; the poor find their account in stall-keeping and in
hawking them; the rich find in them their shortest way to the secrets of
church and state. There is scarce any class of people but may think
themselves interested enough to be concerned with what is published in
pamphlets, either as to their private instruction, curiosity, and
reputation, or to the public advantage and credit; with all which both
ancient and modern pamphlets are too often over familiar and free.--In
short, with pamphlets the booksellers and stationers adorn the gaiety of
shop-gazing. Hence accrues to grocers, apothecaries, and chandlers, good
furniture, and supplies to necessary retreats and natural occasions. In
pamphlets lawyers will meet with their chicanery, physicians with their
cant, divines with their Shibboleth. Pamphlets become more and more
daily amusements to the curious, idle, and inquisitive; pastime to
gallants and coquettes; chat to the talkative; catch-words to informers;
fuel to the envious; poison to the unfortunate; balsam to the wounded;
employ to the lazy; and fabulous materials to romancers and novelists."

This author sketches the origin and rise of pamphlets. He deduces them
from the short writings published by the Jewish Rabbins; various little
pieces at the time of the first propagation of Christianity; and notices
a certain pamphlet which was pretended to have been the composition of
Jesus Christ, thrown from heaven, and picked up by the archangel Michael
at the entrance of Jerusalem. It was copied by the priest Leora, and
sent about from priest to priest, till Pope Zachary ventured to
pronounce it a _forgery_. He notices several such extraordinary
publications, many of which produced as extraordinary effects.

He proceeds in noticing the first Arian and Popish pamphlets, or rather
_libels_, i. e. little books, as he distinguishes them. He relates a
curious anecdote respecting the forgeries of the monks. Archbishop Usher
detected in a manuscript of St. Patrick's life, pretended to have been
found at Louvain, as an original of a very remote date, several passages
taken, with little alteration, from his own writings.

The following notice of our immortal Pope I cannot pass over: "Another
class of pamphlets writ by Roman Catholics is that of _Poems_, written
chiefly by a Pope himself, a gentleman of that name. He passed always
amongst most of his acquaintance for what is commonly called a Whig; for
it seems the Roman politics are divided as well as popish missionaries.
However, one _Esdras_, an apothecary, as he qualifies himself, has
published a piping-hot pamphlet against Mr. Pope's '_Rape of the Lock_,'
which he entitles '_A Key to the Lock_,' wherewith he pretends to unlock
nothing less than a _plot_ carried on by Mr. Pope in that poem against
the last and this present ministry and government."

He observes on _Sermons_,--"'Tis not much to be questioned, but of all
modern pamphlets what or wheresoever, the _English stitched Sermons_ be
the most edifying, useful, and instructive, yet they could not escape
the critical Mr. Bayle's sarcasm. He says, 'République des Lettres,'
March, 1710, in this article _London_, 'We see here sermons swarm daily
from the press. Our eyes only behold manna: are you desirous of knowing
the reason? It is, that the ministers being allowed to _read_ their
sermons in the pulpit, _buy all they meet with_, and take no other
trouble than to read them, and thus pass for very able scholars at a
very cheap rate!'"

He now begins more directly the history of pamphlets, which he branches
out from four different etymologies. He says, "However foreign the word
_Pamphlet_ may appear, it is a genuine English word, rarely known or
adopted in any other language: its pedigree cannot well be traced higher
than the latter end of Queen Elizabeth's reign. In its first state
wretched must have been its appearance, since the great linguist John
Minshew, in his '_Guide into Tongues_,' printed in 1617, gives it the
most miserable character of which any libel can be capable. Mr. Minshew
says (and his words were quoted by Lord Chief Justice Holt), 'A
PAMPHLET, that is _Opusculum Stolidorum_, the diminutive performance of
fools; from [Greek: pan], _all_, and [Greek: plêtho], I _fill_, to wit,
_all_ places. According to the vulgar saying, all things are full of
fools, or foolish things; for such multitudes of pamphlets, unworthy of
the very names of libels, being more vile than common shores and the
filth of beggars, and being flying papers daubed over and besmeared with
the foams of drunkards, are tossed far and near into the mouths and
hands of scoundrels; neither will the sham oracles of Apollo be esteemed
so mercenary as a Pamphlet.'"

Those who will have the word to be derived from PAM, the famous knave of
LOO, do not differ much from Minshew; for the derivation of the word
_Pam_ is in all probability from [Greek: pan], _all_; or the _whole_ or
the _chief_ of the game.

Under this _first_ etymological notion of Pamphlets may be comprehended
the _vulgar stories_ of the Nine Worthies of the World, of the Seven
Champions of Christendom, Tom Thumb, Valentine and Orson, &c., as also
most of apocryphal lucubrations. The greatest collection of this first
sort of Pamphlets are the Rabbinic traditions in the Talmud, consisting
of fourteen volumes in folio, and the Popish legends of the Lives of the
Saints, which, though not finished, form fifty folio volumes, all which
tracts were originally in pamphlet forms.

The _second_ idea of the _radix_ of the word _Pamphlet_ is, that it
takes its derivations from [Greek: pan], _all_, and [Greek: phileo], _I
love_, signifying a thing beloved by all; for a pamphlet being of a
small portable bulk, and of no great price, is adapted to every one's
understanding and reading. In this class may be placed all stitched
books on serious subjects, the best of which fugitive pieces have been
generally preserved, and even reprinted in collections of some tracts,
miscellanies, sermons, poems, &c.; and, on the contrary, bulky volumes
have been reduced, for the convenience of the public, into the familiar
shapes of stitched pamphlets. Both these methods have been thus censured
by the majority of the lower house of convocation 1711. These abuses are
thus represented: "They have republished, and collected into volumes,
pieces written long ago on the side of infidelity. They have reprinted
together in the most contracted manner, many loose and licentious
pieces, in order to their being purchased more cheaply, and dispersed
more easily."

The _third_ original interpretation of the word Pamphlet may be that of
the learned Dr. Skinner, in his _Etymologicon Linguæ Anglicanæ_, that it
is derived from the Belgic word _Pampier_, signifying a little paper, or
libel. To this third set of Pamphlets may be reduced all sorts of
printed single sheets, or half sheets, or any other quantity of single
paper prints, such as Declarations, Remonstrances, Proclamations,
Edicts, Orders, Injunctions, Memorials, Addresses, Newspapers, &c.

The _fourth_ radical signification of the word Pamphlet is that
homogeneal acceptation of it, viz., as it imports any little book, or
small volume whatever, whether stitched or bound, whether good or bad,
whether serious or ludicrous. The only proper Latin term for a Pamphlet
is _Libellus_, or little book. This word indeed signifies in English an
_abusive_ paper or little book, and is generally taken in the worst

After all this display of curious literature, the reader may smile at
the guesses of Etymologists; particularly when he is reminded that the
derivation of _Pamphlet_ is drawn from quite another meaning to any of
the present, by Johnson, which I shall give for his immediate

PAMPHLET [_par un filet_, Fr. Whence this word is written anciently, and
by Caxton, _paunflet_] a small book; properly a book sold unbound, and
only stitched.

The French have borrowed the word _Pamphlet_ from us, and have the
goodness of not disfiguring its orthography. _Roast Beef_ is also in the
same predicament. I conclude that _Pamphlets_ and _Roast Beef_ have
therefore their origin in our country.

Pinkerton favoured me with the following curious notice concerning

"Of the etymon of _pamphlet_ I know nothing; but that the word is far
more ancient than is commonly believed, take the following proof from
the celebrated _Philobiblon_, ascribed to Richard de Buri, bishop of
Durham, but written by Robert Holkot, at his desire, as Fabricius says,
about the year 1344, (Fabr. Bibl. Medii Ævi, vol. i.); it is in the
eighth chapter.

"Sed, revera, libros non libras maluimus; codicesque plus dileximus quam
florenos: ac PANFLETOS exiguos phaleratis prætulimus palescedis."

"But, indeed, we prefer books to pounds; and we love manuscripts better
than florins; and we prefer small _pamphlets_ to war horses."

This word is as old as Lydgate's time: among his works, quoted by
Warton, is a poem "translated from a _pamflete_ in Frenshe."


Myles Davies has given an opinion of the advantages of Little Books,
with some humour.

"The smallness of the size of a book was always its own commendation;
as, on the contrary, the largeness of a book is its own disadvantage, as
well as the terror of learning. In short, a big book is a scare-crow to
the head and pocket of the author, student, buyer, and seller, as well
as a harbour of ignorance; hence the inaccessible masteries of the
inexpugnable ignorance and superstition of the ancient heathens,
degenerate Jews, and of the popish scholasters and canonists,
entrenched under the frightful bulk of huge, vast, and innumerable
volumes; such as the great folio that the Jewish rabbins fancied in a
dream was given by the angel Raziel to his pupil Adam, containing all
the celestial sciences. And the volumes writ by Zoroaster, entitled The
Similitude, which is said to have taken up no more space than 1260 hides
of cattle: as also the 25,000, or, as some say, 36,000 volumes, besides
525 lesser MSS. of his. The grossness and multitude of Aristotle and
Varro's books were both a prejudice to the authors, and an hindrance to
learning, and an occasion of the greatest part of them being lost. The
largeness of Plutarch's treatises is a great cause of his being
neglected, while Longinus and Epictetus, in their pamphlet Remains, are
every one's companions. Origen's 6000 volumes (as Epiphanius will have
it) were not only the occasion of his venting more numerous errors, but
also for the most part of their perdition.--Were it not for Euclid's
Elements, Hippocrates' Aphorisms, Justinian's Institutes, and
Littleton's Tenures, in small pamphlet volumes, young mathematicians,
fresh-water physicians, civilian novices, and _les apprentices en la ley
d'Angleterre_, would be at a loss and stand, and total disencouragement.
One of the greatest advantages the _Dispensary_ has over _King Arthur_
is its pamphlet size. So Boileau's Lutrin, and his other pamphlet poems,
in respect of Perrault's and Chapelain's St. Paulin and la Pucelle.
_These_ seem to pay a deference to the reader's quick and great
understanding; _those_ to mistrust his capacity, and to confine his time
as well as his intellect."

Notwithstanding so much may be alleged in favour of books of a small
size, yet the scholars of a former age regarded them with contempt.
Scaliger, says Baillet, cavils with Drusius for the smallness of his
books; and one of the great printers of the time (Moret, the successor
of Plantin) complaining to the learned Puteanus, who was considered as
the rival of Lipsius, that his books were too small for sale, and that
purchasers turned away, frightened at their diminutive size; Puteanus
referred him to Plutarch, whose works consist of small treatises; but
the printer took fire at the comparison, and turned him out of his shop,
for his vanity at pretending that he wrote in any manner like Plutarch!
a specimen this of the politeness and reverence of the early printers
for their learned authors; Jurieu reproaches Calomiès that he is _a
great author of little books_!

At least, if a man is the author only of little books, he will escape
the sarcastic observation of Cicero on a voluminous writer--that "his
body might be burned with his writings," of which we have had several,
eminent for the worthlessness and magnitude of their labours.

It was the literary humour of a certain Mæcenas, who cheered the lustre
of his patronage with the steams of a good dinner, to place his guests
according to the size and thickness of the books they had printed. At
the head of the table sat those who had published in _folio,
foliissimo_; next the authors in _quarto_; then those in _octavo_. At
that table Blackmore would have had the precedence of Gray. Addison, who
found this anecdote in one of the Anas, has seized this idea, and
applied it with his felicity of humour in No. 529 of the Spectator.

Montaigne's Works have been called by a Cardinal, "The Breviary of
Idlers." It is therefore the book for many men. Francis Osborne has a
ludicrous image in favour of such opuscula. "Huge volumes, like the ox
roasted whole at Bartholomew fair, may proclaim plenty of labour, but
afford less of what is _delicate_, _savoury_, and _well-concocted_, than

In the list of titles of minor works, which Aulus Gellius has preserved,
the lightness and beauty of such compositions are charmingly expressed.
Among these we find--a Basket of Flowers; an Embroidered Mantle; and a
Variegated Meadow.


In a religious book published by a fellow of the Society of Jesus,
entitled, "The Faith of a Catholic," the author examines what concerns
the incredulous Jews and other infidels. He would show that Jesus
Christ, author of the religion which bears his name, did not impose on
or deceive the Apostles whom he taught; that the Apostles who preached
it did not deceive those who were converted; and that those who were
converted did not deceive us. In proving these three not difficult
propositions, he says, he confounds "the _Atheist_, who does not believe
in God; the _Pagan_, who adores several; the _Deist_, who believes in
one God, but who rejects a particular Providence; the _Freethinker_, who
presumes to serve God according to his fancy, without being attached to
any religion; the _Philosopher_, who takes reason and not revelation for
the rule of his belief; the _Gentile_, who, never having regarded the
Jewish people as a chosen nation, does not believe God promised them a
Messiah; and finally, the _Jew_, who refuses to adore the Messiah in the
person of Christ."

I have given this sketch, as it serves for a singular Catalogue of

It is rather singular that so late as in the year 1765, a work should
have appeared in Paris, which bears the title I translate, "The
Christian Religion _proved_ by a _single fact_; or a dissertation in
which is shown that those _Catholics_ of whom Huneric, King of the
Vandals, cut the tongues, _spoke miraculously_ all the remainder of
their days; from whence is deduced the _consequences of this miracle_
against the Arians, the Socinians, and the Deists, and particularly
against the author of Emilius, by solving their difficulties." It bears
this Epigraph, "_Ecce Ego admirationem faciam populo huic, miraculo
grandi et stupendo_." There needs no further account of this book than
the title.


Authors of moderate capacity have unceasingly harassed the public; and
have at length been remembered only by the number of wretched volumes
their unhappy industry has produced. Such an author was the Abbé de
Marolles, otherwise a most estimable and ingenious man, and the
patriarch of print-collectors.

This Abbé was a most egregious scribbler; and so tormented with violent
fits of printing, that he even printed lists and catalogues of his
friends. I have even seen at the end of one of his works a list of names
of those persons who had given him books. He printed his works at his
own expense, as the booksellers had unanimously decreed this. Menage
used to say of his works, "The reason why I esteem the productions of
the Abbé is, for the singular neatness of their bindings; he embellishes
them so beautifully, that the eye finds pleasure in them." On a book of
his versions of the Epigrams of Martial, this critic wrote, _Epigrams
against Martial._ Latterly, for want of employment, our Abbé began a
translation of the Bible; but having inserted the notes of the
visionary Isaac de la Peyrere, the work was burnt by order of the
ecclesiastical court. He was also an abundant writer in verse, and
exultingly told a poet, that his verses cost him little: "They cost you
what they are worth," replied the sarcastic critic. De Marolles in his
_Memoirs_ bitterly complains of the injustice done to him by his
contemporaries; and says, that in spite of the little favour shown to
him by the public, he has nevertheless published, by an accurate
calculation, one hundred and thirty-three thousand one hundred and
twenty-four verses! Yet this was not the heaviest of his literary sins.
He is a proof that a translator may perfectly understand the language of
his original, and yet produce an unreadable translation.

In the early part of his life this unlucky author had not been without
ambition; it was only when disappointed in his political projects that
he resolved to devote himself to literature. As he was incapable of
attempting original composition, he became known by his detestable
versions. He wrote above eighty volumes, which have never found favour
in the eyes of the critics; yet his translations are not without their
use, though they never retain by any chance a single passage of the
spirit of their originals.

The most remarkable anecdote respecting these translations is, that
whenever this honest translator came to a difficult passage, he wrote in
the margin, "I have not translated this passage, because it is very
difficult, and in truth I could never understand it." He persisted to
the last in his uninterrupted amusement of printing books; and his
readers having long ceased, he was compelled to present them to his
friends, who, probably, were not his readers. After a literary existence
of forty years, he gave the public a work not destitute of entertainment
in his own Memoirs, which he dedicated to his relations and all his
illustrious friends. The singular postscript to his Epistle Dedicatory
contains excellent advice for authors.

"I have omitted to tell you, that I do not advise any one of my
relatives or friends to apply himself as I have done to study, and
particularly to the composition of books, if he thinks that will add to
his fame or fortune. I am persuaded that of all persons in the kingdom,
none are more neglected than those who devote themselves entirely to
literature. The small, number of successful persons in that class (at
present I do not recollect more than two or three) should not impose on
one's understanding, nor any consequences from them be drawn in favour
of others. I know how it is by my own experience, and by that of several
amongst you, as well as by many who are now no more, and with whom I was
acquainted. Believe me, gentlemen! to pretend to the favours of fortune
it is only necessary to render one's self useful, and to be supple and
obsequious to those who are in possession of credit and authority; to be
handsome in one's person; to adulate the powerful; to smile, while you
suffer from them every kind of ridicule and contempt whenever they shall
do you the honour to amuse themselves with you; never to be frightened
at a thousand obstacles which may be opposed to one; have a face of
brass and a heart of stone; insult worthy men who are persecuted; rarely
venture to speak the truth; appear devout, with every nice scruple of
religion, while at the same time every duty must be abandoned when it
clashes with your interest. After these any other accomplishment is
indeed superfluous."


The origin of the theatrical representations of the ancients has been
traced back to a Grecian stroller singing in a cart to the honour of
Bacchus. Our European exhibitions, perhaps as rude in their
commencement, were likewise for a long time devoted to pious purposes,
under the titles of Mysteries and Moralities. Of these primeval
compositions of the drama of modern Europe, I have collected some
anecdotes and some specimens.[96]

It appears that pilgrims introduced these devout spectacles. Those who
returned from the Holy Land or other consecrated places composed
canticles of their travels, and amused their religious fancies by
interweaving scenes of which Christ, the Apostles, and other objects of
devotion, served as the themes. Menestrier informs us that these
pilgrims travelled in troops, and stood in the public streets, where
they recited their poems, with their staff in hand; while their chaplets
and cloaks, covered with shells and images of various colours formed a
picturesque exhibition, which at length excited the piety of the
citizens to erect occasionally a stage on an extensive spot of ground.
These spectacles served as the amusements and instruction of the people.
So attractive were these gross exhibitions in the middle ages, that they
formed one of the principal ornaments of the reception of princes on
their public entrances.

When the Mysteries were performed at a more improved period, the actors
were distinguished characters, and frequently consisted of the
ecclesiastics of the neighbouring villages, who incorporated themselves
under the title of _Confrères de la Passion_. Their productions were
divided, not into acts, but into different days of performance, and they
were performed in the open plain. This was at least conformable to the
critical precept of that mad knight whose opinion is noticed by Pope. It
appears by a MS. in the Harleian library, that they were thought to
contribute so much to the information and instruction of the people,
that one of the Popes granted a pardon of one thousand days to every
person who resorted peaceably to the plays performed in the Whitsun week
at Chester, beginning with "The Creation," and ending with the "General
Judgment." These were performed at the expense of the different
corporations of that city, and the reader may smile at the ludicrous
combinations. "The Creation" was performed by the Drapers; the "Deluge"
by the Dyers; "Abraham, Melchisedech, and Lot," by the Barbers; "The
Purification" by the Blacksmiths; "The Last Supper" by the Bakers; the
"Resurrection" by the Skinners; and the "Ascension" by the Tailors. In
these pieces the actors represented the person of the Almighty without
being sensible of the gross impiety. So unskilful were they in this
infancy of the theatrical art, that very serious consequences were
produced by their ridiculous blunders and ill-managed machinery. The
following singular anecdotes are preserved, concerning a Mystery which
took up several days in the performance.

"In the year 1437, when Conrad Bayer, Bishop of Metz, caused the Mystery
of 'The Passion' to be represented on the plain of Veximel near that
city, _God_ was _an old gentleman_, named Mr. Nicholas Neufchatel, of
Touraine, curate of Saint Victory, of Metz, and who was very near
expiring on the cross had he not been timely assisted. He was so
enfeebled, that it was agreed another priest should be placed on the
cross the next day, to finish the representation of the person
crucified, and which was done; at the same time Mr. Nicholas undertook
to perform 'The Resurrection,' which being a less difficult task, he did
it admirably well."--Another priest, whose name was Mr. John de Nicey,
curate of Metrange, personated Judas, and he had like to have been
stifled while he hung on the tree, for his neck slipped; this being at
length luckily perceived, he was quickly cut down and recovered.

John Bouchet, in his "Annales d'Aquitaine," a work which contains many
curious circumstances of the times, written with that agreeable
simplicity which characterises the old writers, informs us, that in 1486
he saw played and exhibited in Mysteries by persons of Poitiers, "The
Nativity, Passion, and Resurrection of Christ," in great triumph and
splendour; there were assembled on this occasion most of the ladies and
gentlemen of the neighbouring counties.

We will now examine the Mysteries themselves. I prefer for this purpose
to give a specimen from the French, which are livelier than our own. It
is necessary to premise to the reader, that my versions being in prose
will probably lose much of that quaint expression and vulgar _naïveté_
which prevail through the originals, written in octo-syllabic verses.

One of these Mysteries has for its subject the election of an apostle to
supply the place of the traitor Judas. A dignity so awful is conferred
in the meanest manner; it is done by drawing straws, of which he who
gets the longest becomes the apostle. Louis Chocquet was a favourite
composer of these religious performances: when he attempts the
pathetic, he has constantly recourse to devils; but, as these characters
are sustained with little propriety, his pathos succeeds in raising a
laugh. In the following dialogue Annas and Caiaphas are introduced
conversing about St. Peter and St. John:----

    I remember them once very honest people. They have often brought
    their fish to my house to sell.

    Is this true?

    By God, it is true; my servants remember them very well. To live
    more at their ease they have left off business; or perhaps they were in
    want of customers. Since that time they have followed Jesus, that
    wicked heretic, who has taught them magic; the fellow understands
    necromancy, and is the greatest magician alive, as far as Rome itself.

St. John, attacked by the satellites of Domitian, amongst whom the
author has placed Longinus and Patroclus, gives regular answers to their
insulting interrogatories. Some of these I shall transcribe; but leave
to the reader's conjectures the replies of the Saint, which are not
difficult to anticipate.


     You tell us strange things, to say there is but one God in three


     Is it any where said that we must believe your old prophets (with
     whom your memory seems overburdened) to be more perfect than our

     PATHOCLUS. You must be very cunning to maintain impossibilities.
     Now listen to me: Is it possible that a virgin can bring forth a
     child without ceasing to be a virgin?


     Will you not change these foolish sentiments? Would you pervert us?
     Will you not convert yourself? Lords! you perceive now very clearly
     what an obstinate fellow this is! Therefore let him be stripped and
     put into a great caldron of boiling oil. Let him die at the Latin


     The great devil of hell fetch me if I don't Latinise him well.
     Never shall they hear at the Latin Gate any one sing so well as he
     shall sing.


     I dare venture to say he won't complain of being frozen.


     Frita, run quick; bring wood and coals, and make the caldron ready.


     I promise him, if he has the gout or the itch, he will soon get rid
     of them.

St. John dies a perfect martyr, resigned to the boiling oil and gross
jests of Patroclus and Longinus. One is astonished in the present times
at the excessive absurdity, and indeed blasphemy, which the writers of
these Moralities permitted themselves, and, what is more extraordinary,
were permitted by an audience consisting of a whole town. An extract
from the "Mystery of St. Dennis" is in the Duke de la Vallière's
"Bibliothèque du Théâtre François depuis son Origine: Dresde, 1768."

The emperor Domitian, irritated against the Christians, persecutes them,
and thus addresses one of his courtiers:----

    Seigneurs Romains, j'ai entendu
    Que d'un crucifix d'un pendu,
    On fait un Dieu par notre empire,
    Sans ce qu'on le nous daigne dire.

    Roman lords, I understand
    That of a crucified hanged man
    They make a God in our kingdom,
    Without even deigning to ask our permission.

He then orders an officer to seize on Dennis in France. When this
officer arrives at Paris, the inhabitants acquaint him of the rapid and
grotesque progress of this future saint:----

        Sire, il preche un Dieu à Paris
        Qui fait tout les mouls et les vauls.
        Il va à cheval sans chevauls.
        Il fait et defait tout ensemble.
        Il vit, il meurt, il sue, il tremble.
        Il pleure, il rit, il veille, et dort.
        Il est jeune et vieux, foible et fort.
        Il fait d'un coq une poulette.
        Il joue des arts de roulette,
        Ou je ne Sçais que ce peut être.

        Sir, he preaches a God at Paris
        Who has made mountain and valley.
        He goes a horseback without horses.
        He does and undoes at once.
        He lives, he dies, he sweats, he trembles.
        He weeps, he laughs, he wakes, and sleeps.
        He is young and old, weak and strong.
        He turns a cock into a hen.
        He knows how to conjure with cup and ball,
        Or I do not know who this can be.

Another of these admirers says, evidently alluding to the rite of

    Sire, oyez que fait ce fol prestre:
    Il prend de l'yaue en une escuele,
    Et gete aux gens sur le cervele,
    Et dit que partants sont sauvés!

    Sir, hear what this mad priest does:
    He takes water out of a ladle,
    And, throwing it at people's heads,
    He says that when they depart they are saved!

This piece then proceeds to entertain the spectators with the tortures
of St. Dennis, and at length, when more than dead, they mercifully
behead him: the Saint, after his decapitation, rises very quietly, takes
his head under his arm, and walks off the stage in all the dignity of

It is justly observed by Bayle on these wretched representations, that
while they prohibited the people from meditating on the sacred history
in the book which contains it in all its purity and truth, they
permitted them to see it on the theatre sullied with a thousand gross
inventions, which were expressed in the most vulgar manner and in a
farcical style. Warton, with his usual elegance, observes, "To those who
are accustomed to contemplate the great picture of human follies which
the unpolished ages of Europe hold up to our view, it will not appear
surprising that the people who were forbidden to read the events of the
sacred history in the Bible, in which they are faithfully and
beautifully related, should at the same time be permitted to see them
represented on the stage disgraced with the grossest improprieties,
corrupted with inventions and additions of the most ridiculous kind,
sullied with impurities, and expressed in the language and
gesticulations of the lowest farce." Elsewhere he philosophically
observes that, however, they had their use, "not only teaching the great
truths of scripture to men who could not read the Bible, but in
abolishing the barbarous attachment to military games and the bloody
contentions of the tournament, which had so long prevailed as the sole
species of popular amusement. Rude, and even ridiculous as they were,
they softened the manners of the people, by diverting the public
attention to spectacles in which the mind was concerned, and by creating
a regard for other arts than those of bodily strength and savage

_Mysteries_ are to be distinguished from _Moralities_, and _Farces_, and
_Sotties_. _Moralities_ are dialogues where the interlocutors
represented feigned or allegorical personages. _Farces_ were more
exactly what their title indicates--obscene, gross, and dissolute
representations, where both the actions and words are alike

The _Sotties_ were more farcical than farce, and frequently had the
licentiousness of pasquinades. I shall give an ingenious specimen of one
of the MORALITIES. This Morality is entitled, "The Condemnation of
Feasts, to the Praise of Diet and Sobriety for the Benefit of the Human

The perils of gormandising form the present subject. Towards the close
is a trial between _Feasting_ and _Supper_. They are summoned before
_Experience_, the Lord Chief Justice! _Feasting_ and _Supper_ are
accused of having murdered four persons by force of gorging them.
_Experience_ condemns _Feasting_ to the gallows; and his executioner is
_Diet_. _Feasting_ asks for a father-confessor, and makes a public
confession of so many crimes, such numerous convulsions, apoplexies,
head-aches, and stomach-qualms, &c., which he has occasioned, that his
executioner _Diet_ in a rage stops his mouth, puts the cord about his
neck, and strangles him. _Supper_ is only condemned to load his hands
with a certain quantity of lead, to hinder him from putting too many
dishes on table: he is also bound over to remain at the distance of six
hours' walking from _Dinner_ upon pain of death. _Supper_ felicitates
himself on his escape, and swears to observe the mitigated sentence.[97]

The MORALITIES were allegorical dramas, whose tediousness seems to have
delighted a barbarous people not yet accustomed to perceive that what
was obvious might be omitted to great advantage: like children,
everything must be told in such an age; their own unexercised
imagination cannot supply anything.

Of the FARCES the licentiousness is extreme, but their pleasantry and
their humour are not contemptible. The "Village Lawyer," which is never
exhibited on our stage without producing the broadest mirth, originates
among these ancient drolleries. The humorous incident of the shepherd,
who having stolen his master's sheep, is advised by his lawyer only to
reply to his judge by mimicking the bleating of a sheep, and when the
lawyer in return claims his fee, pays him by no other coin, is
discovered in these ancient farces. Bruèys got up the ancient farce of
the "_Patelin_" in 1702, and we borrowed it from him.

They had another species of drama still broader than Farce, and more
strongly featured by the grossness, the severity, and personality of
satire:--these were called _Sotties_, of which the following one I find
in the Duke de la Vallière's "Bibliothèque du Théâtre François."[98]

The actors come on the stage with their fools'-caps each wanting the
right ear, and begin with stringing satirical proverbs, till, after
drinking freely, they discover that their fools'-caps want the right
ear. They call on their old grandmother _Sottie_ (or Folly), who advises
them to take up some trade. She introduces this progeny of her fools to
the _World_, who takes them into his service. The _World_ tries their
skill, and is much displeased with their work. The _Cobbler_-fool
pinches his feet by making the shoes too small; the _Tailor_-fool hangs
his coat too loose or too tight about him; the _Priest_-fool says his
masses either too short or too tedious. They all agree that the _World_
does not know what he wants, and must be sick, and prevail upon him to
consult a physician. The _World_ obligingly sends what is required to a
Urine-doctor, who instantly pronounces that "the _World_ is as mad as a
March hare!" He comes to visit his patient, and puts a great many
questions on his unhappy state. The _World_ replies, "that what most
troubles his head is the idea of a new deluge by fire, which must one
day consume him to a powder;" on which the physician gives this

    Et te troubles-tu pour cela?
    Monde, tu ne te troubles pas
    De voir ce larrons attrapars
    Vendre et acheter benefices;
    Les enfans en bras des Nourices
    Estre Abbés, Eveques, Prieurs,
    Chevaucher tres bien les deux soeurs,
    Tuer les gens pour leurs plaisirs,
    Jouer le leur, l'autrui saisir,
    Donner aux flatteurs audience,
    Faire la guerre à toute outrance
    Pour un rien entre les chrestiens!

    And you really trouble yourself about this?
    Oh, _World!_ you do not trouble yourself about
    Seeing those impudent rascals
    Selling and buying livings;
    Children in the arms of their nurses
    Made Abbots, Bishops, and Priors,
    Intriguing with girls,
    Killing people for their pleasures,
    Minding their own interests, and seizing on what belongs to another,
    Lending their ears to flatterers,
    Making war, exterminating war,
    For a bubble, among Christians!

The _World_ takes leave of his physician, but retains his advice; and to
cure his fits of melancholy gives himself up entirely to the direction
of his fools. In a word, the _World_ dresses himself in the coat and cap
of _Folly_, and he becomes as gay and ridiculous as the rest of the

This _Sottie_ was represented in the year 1524.

Such was the rage for Mysteries, that René d'Anjou, king of Naples and
Sicily, and Count of Provence, had them magnificently represented and
made them a serious concern. Being in Provence, and having received
letters from his son the Prince of Calabria, who asked him for an
immediate aid of men, he replied, that "he had a very different matter
in hand, for he was fully employed in settling the order of a
Mystery--_in honour of God_."[99]

Strutt, in his "Manners and Customs of the English," has given a
description of the stage in England when Mysteries were the only
theatrical performances. Vol. iii, p. 130.

"In the early dawn of literature, and when the sacred Mysteries were the
only theatrical performances, what is now called the stage did then
consist of three several platforms, or stages raised one above another.
On the uppermost sat the _Pater Coelestis_, surrounded with his Angels;
on the second appeared the Holy Saints, and glorified men; and the last
and lowest was occupied by mere men who had not yet passed from this
transitory life to the regions of eternity. On one side of this lowest
platform was the resemblance of a dark pitchy cavern, from whence issued
appearance of fire and flames; and, when it was necessary, the audience
were treated with hideous yellings and noises as imitative of the
howlings and cries of the wretched souls tormented by the relentless
demons. From this yawning cave the devils themselves constantly ascended
to delight and to instruct the spectators:--to delight, because they
were usually the greatest jesters and buffoons that then appeared; and
to instruct, for that they treated the wretched mortals who were
delivered to them with the utmost cruelty, warning thereby all men
carefully to avoid the falling into the clutches of such hardened and
remorseless spirits." An anecdote relating to an English Mystery
presents a curious specimen of the manners of our country, which then
could admit of such a representation; the simplicity, if not the
libertinism, of the age was great. A play was acted in one of the
principal cities of England, under the direction of the trading
companies of that city, before a numerous assembly of both sexes,
wherein _Adam_ and _Eve_ appeared on the stage entirely naked, performed
their whole part in the representation of Eden, to the serpent's
temptation, to the eating of the forbidden fruit, the perceiving of, and
conversing about, their nakedness, and to the supplying of fig-leaves to
cover it. Warton observes they had the authority of scripture for such a
representation, and they gave matters just as they found them in the
third chapter of Genesis. The following article will afford the reader a
specimen of an _Elegant Morality_.


One of the most elegant Moralities was composed by Louise L'Abé; the
Aspasia of Lyons in 1550, adored by her contemporaries. With no
extraordinary beauty, she however displayed the fascination of classical
learning, and a vein of vernacular poetry refined and fanciful. To
accomplishments so various she added the singular one of distinguishing
herself by a military spirit, and was nicknamed Captain Louise. She was
a fine rider and a fine lutanist. She presided in the assemblies of
persons of literature and distinction. Married to a rope-manufacturer,
she was called _La belle Cordière_, and her name is still perpetuated by
that of the street she lived in. Her anagram was _Belle à Soy_.--But she
was _belle_ also for others. Her _Morals_ in one point were not correct,
but her taste was never gross: the ashes of her perishable graces may
preserve themselves sacred from our severity; but the productions of her
genius may still delight.

Her Morality, entitled "Débat de Folie et d'Amour--the Contest of _Love_
and _Folly_," is divided into five parts, and contains six mythological
or allegorical personages. This division resembles our five acts, which,
soon after the publication of this Morality, became generally practised.

In the first part, _Love_ and _Folly_ arrive at the same moment at the
gate of Jupiter's palace, to join a festival to which he had invited the
gods. _Folly_ observing _Love_ just going to step in at the hall, pushes
him aside and enters first. _Love_ is enraged, but _Folly_ insists on
her precedency. _Love_, perceiving there was no reasoning with _Folly_,
bends his bow and shoots an arrow; but she baffled his attempt by
rendering herself invisible. She in her turn becomes furious, falls on
the boy, tearing out his eyes, and then covers them with a bandage which
could not be taken off.

In the second part, _Love_, in despair for having lost his sight,
implores the assistance of his mother; she tries in vain to undo the
magic fillet; the knots are never to be unloosed.

In the third part, Venus presents herself at the foot of the throne of
Jupiter to complain of the outrage committed by _Folly_ on her son.
Jupiter commands _Folly_ to appear.--She replies, that though she has
reason to justify herself, she will not venture to plead her cause, as
she is apt to speak too much, or to omit what should be said. _Folly_
asks for a counsellor, and chooses Mercury; Apollo is selected by
Venus. The fourth part consists of a long dissertation between Jupiter
and _Love_, on the manner of loving. _Love_ advises Jupiter, if he
wishes to taste of truest happiness, to descend on earth, to lay down
all his majesty, and, in the figure of a mere mortal, to please some
beautiful maiden: "Then wilt thou feel quite another contentment than
that thou hast hitherto enjoyed: instead of a single pleasure it will be
doubled; for there is as much pleasure to be loved as to love." Jupiter
agrees that this may be true, but he thinks that to attain this it
requires too much time, too much trouble, too many attentions,--and
that, after all, it is not worth them.

In the fifth part, Apollo, the advocate for Venus, in a long pleading
demands justice against _Folly_. The Gods, seduced by his eloquence,
show by their indignation that they would condemn _Folly_ without
hearing her advocate Mercury. But Jupiter commands silence, and Mercury
replies. His pleading is as long as the adverse party's, and his
arguments in favour of _Folly_ are so plausible, that, when he concludes
his address, the gods are divided in opinion; some espouse the cause of
_Love_, and some, that of _Folly_. Jupiter, after trying in vain to make
them agree together, pronounces this award:----

"On account of the difficulty and importance of your disputes and the
diversity of your opinions, we have suspended your contest from this day
to three times seven times nine centuries. In the mean time we command
you to live amicably together without injuring one another. _Folly_
shall lead _Love,_ and take him whithersoever he pleases, and when
restored to his sight, the Fates may pronounce sentence."

Many beautiful conceptions are scattered in this elegant Morality. It
has given birth to subsequent imitations; it was too original and
playful an idea not to be appropriated by the poets. To this Morality we
perhaps owe the panegyric of _Folly_ by Erasmus, and the _Love and
Folly_ of La Fontaine.


I shall notice a class of very singular works, in which the spirit of
romance has been called in to render religion more attractive to certain
heated imaginations.

In the fifteenth century was published a little book of _prayers_,
accompanied by _figures_, both of a very uncommon nature for a religious
publication. It is entitled _Hortulus Animæ, cum Oratiunculis aliquibus
superadditis quæ in prioribus Libris non habentur_.

It is a small octavo _en lettres gothiques_, printed by John Grunninger,
1500. "A garden," says the author, "which abounds with flowers for the
pleasure of the soul;" but they are full of poison. In spite of his fine
promises, the chief part of these meditations are as puerile as they are
superstitious. This we might excuse, because the ignorance and
superstition of the times allowed such things: but the _figures_ which
accompany this work are to be condemned in all ages; one represents
Saint Ursula and some of her eleven thousand virgins, with all the
licentious inventions of an Aretine. What strikes the ear does not so
much irritate the senses, observes the sage Horace, as what is presented
in all its nudity to the eye. One of these designs is only ridiculous:
David is represented as examining Bathsheba bathing, while Cupid
hovering throws his dart, and with a malicious smile triumphs in his
success. We have had many gross anachronisms in similar designs. There
is a laughable picture in a village in Holland, in which Abraham appears
ready to sacrifice his son Isaac by a loaded blunderbuss; but his pious
intention is entirely frustrated by an angel urining in the pan. In
another painting, the Virgin receives the annunciation of the angel
Gabriel with a huge chaplet of beads tied round her waist, reading her
own offices, and kneeling before a crucifix; another happy invention, to
be seen on an altar-piece at Worms, is that in which the Virgin throws
Jesus into the hopper of a mill, while from the other side he issues
changed into little morsels of bread, with which the priests feast the
people. Matthison, a modern traveller, describes a picture in a church
at Constance, called the Conception of the Holy Virgin. An old man lies
on a cloud, whence he darts out a vast beam, which passes through a dove
hovering just below; at the end of a beam appears a large transparent
egg, in which egg is seen a child in swaddling clothes with a glory
round it. Mary sits leaning in an arm chair, and opens her mouth to
receive the egg.

I must not pass unnoticed in this article a production as extravagant in
its design, in which the author prided himself in discussing three
thousand questions concerning the Virgin Mary.

The publication now adverted to was not presented to the world in a
barbarous age and in a barbarous country, but printed at Paris in 1668.
It bears for title, _Dévote Salutation des Membres sacres du Corps de la
Glorieuse Vièrge, Mère de Dieu_. That is, "A Devout Salutation of the
Holy Members of the Body of the glorious Virgin, Mother of God." It was
printed and published with an approbation and privilege, which is more
strange than the work itself. Valois reprobates it in these just terms:
"What would Innocent XI. have done, after having abolished the shameful
_Office of the Conception, Indulgences, &c._ if he had seen a volume in
which the impertinent devotion of that visionary monk caused to be
printed, with permission of his superiors, Meditations on all the Parts
of the Body of the Holy Virgin? Religion, decency, and good sense, are
equally struck at by such an extravagance." I give a specimen of the
most decent of these _salutations_.

_Salutation to the Hair._

"I salute you, charming hair of Maria! Rays of the mystical sun! Lines
of the centre and circumference of all created perfection! Veins of gold
of the mine of love! Chains of the prison of God! Roots of the tree of
life! Rivulets of the fountain of Paradise! Strings of the bow of
charity! Nets that caught Jesus, and shall be used in the hunting-day of

_Salutation to the Ears._

"I salute ye, intelligent ears of Maria! ye presidents of the princes of
the poor! Tribunal for their petitions; salvation at the audience of the
miserable! University of all divine wisdom! Receivers general of all
wards! Ye are pierced with the rings of our chains; ye are impearled
with our necessities!"

The images, prints, and miniatures, with which the catholic religion has
occasion to decorate its splendid ceremonies, have frequently been
consecrated to the purposes of love: they have been so many votive
offerings worthy to have been suspended in the temple of Idalia. Pope
Alexander VI. had the images of the Virgin made to represent some of his
mistresses; the famous Vanozza, his favourite, was placed on the altar
of Santa, Maria del Popolo; and Julia Farnese furnished a subject for
another Virgin. The same genius of pious gallantry also visited our
country. The statuaries made the queen of Henry III. a model for the
face of the Virgin Mary. Hearne elsewhere affirms, that the Virgin Mary
was generally made to bear a resemblance to the queens of the age,
which, no doubt, produced some real devotion among the courtiers.

The prayer-books of certain pious libertines were decorated with the
portraits of their favourite minions and ladies in the characters of
saints, and even of the Virgin and Jesus. This scandalous practice was
particularly prevalent in that reign of debauchery in France, when Henry
III. held the reins of government with a loose hand. In a missal once
appertaining to the queen of Louis XII. may be seen a mitred ape, giving
its benediction to a man prostrate before it; a keen reproach to the
clergy of that day. Charles V., however pious that emperor affected to
be, had a missal painted for his mistress by the great Albert Durer, the
borders of which are crowded with extravagant grotesques, consisting of
apes, who were sometimes elegantly sportive, giving clysters to one
another, and in more offensive attitudes, not adapted to heighten the
piety of the Royal Mistress. This missal has two French verses written
by the Emperor himself, who does not seem to have been ashamed of his
present. The Italians carried this taste to excess. The manners of our
country were more rarely tainted with this deplorable licentiousness,
although I have observed an innocent tendency towards it, by examining
the illuminated manuscripts of our ancient metrical romances: while we
admire the vivid colouring of these splendid manuscripts, the curious
observer will perceive that almost every heroine is represented in a
state which appears incompatible with her reputation. Most of these
works are, I believe, by French artists.

A supplement might be formed to religious indecencies from the Golden
Legend, which abounds in them. Henry Stephens's Apology for Herodotus
might be likewise consulted with effect for the same purpose. There is a
story of St. Mary the Egyptian, who was perhaps a looser liver than Mary
Magdalen; for not being able to pay for her passage to Jerusalem,
whither she was going to adore the holy cross and sepulchre, in despair
she thought of an expedient in lieu of payment to the ferryman, which
required at least going twice, instead of once, to Jerusalem as a
penitential pilgrimage. This anecdote presents the genuine character of
certain _devotees_.

Melchior Inchoffer, a Jesuit, published a book to vindicate the miracle
of a _Letter_ which the Virgin Mary had addressed to the citizens of
Messina: when Naudé brought him positive proofs of its evident forgery,
Inchoffer ingenuously confessed the imposture, but pleaded that it was
done by the _orders_ of his _superiors_.

This same _letter_ of the Virgin Mary was like a _donation_ made to her
by Louis the Eleventh of the _whole county_ of Boulogne, retaining,
however, for _his own use the revenues_! This solemn act bears the date
of the year 1478, and is entitled, "Conveyance of Louis the Eleventh to
the Virgin of Boulogne, of the right and title of the fief and homage of
the county of Boulogne, which is held by the Count of Saint Pol, to
render a faithful account before the image of the said lady."

Maria Agreda, a religious visionary, wrote _The Life of the Virgin_. She
informs us that she resisted the commands of God and the holy Mary till
the year 1637, when she began to compose this curious rhapsody. When she
had finished this _original_ production, her confessor advised her to
_burn_ it; she obeyed. Her friends, however, who did not think her less
inspired than she informed them she was, advised her to re-write the
work. When printed it spread rapidly from country to country: new
editions appeared at Lisbon, Madrid, Perpignan, and Antwerp. It was the
rose of Sharon for those climates. There are so many pious absurdities
in this book, which were found to give such pleasure to the devout, that
it was solemnly honoured with the censure of the Sorbonne; and it spread
the more.

The head of this lady was quite turned by her religion. In the first six
chapters she relates the visions of the Virgin, which induced her to
write her life. She begins the history _ab ovo_, as it may be expressed;
for she has formed a narrative of what passed during the nine months in
which the Virgin was confined in the womb of her mother St. Anne. After
the birth of Mary, she received an augmentation of angelic guards; we
have several conversations which God held with the Virgin during the
first eighteen months after her birth. And it is in this manner she
formed a _circulating novel_, which delighted the female devotees of the
seventeenth century.

The worship paid to the Virgin Mary in Spain and Italy exceeds that
which is given to the Son or the Father. When they pray to Mary, their
imagination pictures a beautiful woman, they really feel a _passion_;
while Jesus is only regarded as a _Bambino_, or infant at the breast,
and the _Father_ is hardly ever recollected: but the _Madonna la
Senhora, la Maria Santa_, while she inspires their religious
inclinations, is a mistress to those who have none.

Of similar works there exists an entire race, and the libraries of the
curious may yet preserve a shelf of these religious _nouvellettes_. The
Jesuits were the usual authors of these rhapsodies. I find an account of
a book which pretends to describe what passes in Paradise. A Spanish
Jesuit published at Salamanca a volume in folio, 1652, entitled
_Empyreologia_. He dwells with great complacency on the joys of the
celestial abode; there always will be music in heaven with material
instruments as our ears are already accustomed to; otherwise he thinks
the celestial music would not be music for us! But another Jesuit is
more particular in his accounts. He positively assures us that we shall
experience a supreme pleasure in kissing and embracing the bodies of the
blessed; they will bathe in the presence of each other, and for this
purpose there are most agreeable baths in which we shall swim like fish;
that we shall all warble as sweetly as larks and nightingales; that the
angels will dress themselves in female habits, their hair curled;
wearing petticoats and fardingales, and with the finest linen; that men
and women will amuse themselves in masquerades, feasts, and
balls.--Women will sing more agreeably than men to heighten these
entertainments, and at the resurrection will have more luxuriant
tresses, ornamented with ribands and head-dresses as in this life!

Such were the books once so devoutly studied, and which doubtless were
often literally understood. How very bold must the minds of the Jesuits
have been, and how very humble those of their readers, that such
extravagances should ever be published! And yet, even to the time in
which I am now writing,--even at this day,--the same picturesque and
impassioned pencil is employed by the modern Apostles of Mysticism--the
Swedenborgians, the Moravians, the Methodists!

I find an account of another book of this class, ridiculous enough to be
noticed. It has for title, "The Spiritual Kalendar, composed of as many
Madrigals or Sonnets and Epigrams as there are days in the year;
written for the consolation of the pious and the curious. By Father G.
Cortade, Austin Preacher at Bayonne, 1665." To give a notion of this
singular collection take an Epigram addressed to a Jesuit, who, young as
he was, used to _put spurs under his shirt_ to mortify the outer man!
The Kalendar-poet thus gives a point to these spurs:--

    Il ne pourra done plus ni ruer ni hennir
    Sous le rude Eperon dont tu fais son supplice;
    Qui vit jamais tel artifice,
    De piquer un cheval pour le mieux retenir!


    Your body no more will neigh and will kick,
    The point of the spur must eternally prick;
    Whoever contrived a thing with such skill,
    To keep spurring a horse to make him stand still!

One of the most extravagant works projected on the subject of the Virgin
Mary was the following:--The prior of a convent in Paris had
reiteratedly entreated Varillas the historian to examine a work composed
by one of the monks; and of which--not being himself addicted to
letters--he wished to be governed by his opinion. Varillas at length
yielded to the entreaties of the prior; and to regale the critic, they
laid on two tables for his inspection seven enormous volumes in folio.

This rather disheartened our reviewer: but greater was his astonishment,
when, having opened the first volume, he found its title to be _Summa
Dei-paræ_; and as Saint Thomas had made a _Sum_, or System of Theology,
so our monk had formed a _System_ of the _Virgin_! He immediately
comprehended the design of our good father, who had laboured on this
work full thirty years, and who boasted he had treated _Three Thousand_
Questions concerning the Virgin! of which he flattered himself not a
single one had ever yet been imagined by any one but himself!

Perhaps a more extraordinary design was never known. Varillas, pressed
to give his judgment on this work, advised the prior with great prudence
and good-nature to amuse the honest old monk with the hope of printing
these seven folios, but always to start some new difficulties; for it
would be inhuman to occasion so deep a chagrin to a man who had reached
his seventy-fourth year, as to inform him of the nature of his favourite
occupations; and that after his death he should throw the seven folios
into the fire.


[Footnote 96: Since this article was written, many of these ancient
Mysteries and Moralities have been printed at home and abroad. Hone, in
his "Ancient Mysteries Described," 1825, first gave a summary of the
_Ludus Coventriæ,_ the famous mysteries performed by the trading
companies of Coventry; the entire series have been since printed by the
Shakspeare Society, under the editorship of Mr. Halliwell, and consist
of forty-two dramas, founded on incidents in the Old and New Testaments.
The equally famous _Chester Mysteries_ were also printed by the same
society under the editorship of Mr. Wright, and consist of twenty-five
long dramas, commencing with "The Fall of Lucifer," and ending with
"Doomsday." In 1834, the Abbotsford Club published some others from the
Digby MS., in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. In 1825, Mr. Sharp, of
Coventry, published a dissertation on the Mysteries once performed
there, and printed the Pageant of the Sheremen and Taylor's Company; and
in 1836 the Abbotsford Club printed the Pageant played by the Weavers of
that city. In 1836, the Surtees Society published the series known as
_The Towneley Mysteries,_ consisting of thirty-two dramas; in 1838, Dr.
Marriott published in English, at Basle, a selection of the most curious
of these dramas. In 1837, M. Achille Jubinal published two octavo
volumes of French "Mystères inédits du Quinzième Siècle." This list
might be swelled by other notes of such books, printed within the last
thirty years, in illustration of these early religious dramas.]

[Footnote 97: In Jubinal's _Tapisseries Anciennes_ is engraved that
found in the tent of Charles the Bold, at Nancy, and still preserved in
that city. It is particularly curious, inasmuch as it depicts the
incidents described in the Morality above-named.]

[Footnote 98: The British Museum library was enriched in 1845 by a very
curions collection of these old comic plays, which was formed about
1560. It consists of sixty-four dramas, of which number only five or six
were known before. They are exceedingly curious as pictures of early
manners and amusements; very simple in construction, and containing few
characters. One is a comic dialogue between two persons as to the best
way of managing a wife. Another has for its plot the adventure of a
husband sent from home by the seigneur of the village, that he may
obtain access to his wife; and who is checkmated by the peasant, who
repairs to the neglected lady of the seigneur. Some are entirely
composed of allegorical characters; all are broadly comic, in language
equally broad. They were played by a jocular society, whose chief was
termed Prince des Sots; hence the name Sotties given to the farces.]

[Footnote 99: The peasants of the Ober-Ammergau, a village in the
Bavarian Alps, still perform, at intervals of ten years, a long miracle
play, detailing the chief incidents of the Passion of our Saviour from
his entrance into Jerusalem to his ascension. It is done in fulfilment
of a vow made during a pestilence in 1633. The performance lasted twelve
hours in 1850, when it was last performed. The actors were all of the
peasant class.]


    ----BENTLEY, long to wrangling schools confined,
    And but by books acquainted with mankind----
    To MILTON lending sense, to HORACE wit,
    He makes them write, what never poet writ.

DR. BENTLEY'S edition of our English Homer is sufficiently known by
name. As it stands a terrifying beacon to conjectural criticism, I shall
just notice some of those violations which the learned critic ventured
to commit, with all the arrogance of a Scaliger. This man, so deeply
versed in ancient learning, it will appear, was destitute of taste and
genius in his native language.

Our critic, to persuade the world of the necessity of his edition,
imagined a fictitious editor of Milton's Poems: and it was this
ingenuity which produced all his absurdities. As it is certain that the
blind bard employed an amanuensis, it was not improbable that many words
of similar sound, but very different signification, might have
disfigured the poem; but our Doctor was bold enough to conjecture that
this amanuensis _interpolated_ whole verses of his own composition in
the "Paradise Lost!" Having laid down this fatal position, all the
consequences of his folly naturally followed it. Yet if there needs any
conjecture, the more probable one will be, that Milton, who was never
careless of his future fame, had his poem _read_ to him after it had
been published. The first edition appeared in 1667, and the second in
1674, in which all the faults of the former edition are continued. By
these _faults_, the Doctor means what _he_ considers to be such: for we
shall soon see that his "Canons of Criticism" are apocryphal.

Bentley says that he will _supply_ the want of manuscripts to collate
(to use his own words) by his own "SAGACITY," and "HAPPY CONJECTURE."

Milton, after the conclusion of Satan's speech to the fallen angels,
proceeds thus:--

    1. He spake: and to confirm his words out flew
    2. Millions of flaming _swords_, drawn from the thighs
    3. Of mighty cherubim: the sudden blaze
    4. Far round illumin'd hell; highly they rag'd
    5. Against the Highest; and fierce with grasped _arms_
    6. Clash'd on their sounding shields the din of war,
    7. Hurling defiance tow'rd the _Vault_ of heaven.

In this passage, which is as perfect as human wit can make, the Doctor
alters three words. In the second line he puts _blades_ instead of
_swords_; in the fifth he puts _swords_ instead of _arms_; and in the
last line he prefers _walls_ to _vault_. All these changes are so many
defoedations of the poem. The word _swords_ is far more poetical than
_blades_, which may as well be understood of _knives_ as _swords_. The
word _arms_, the generic for the specific term, is still stronger and
nobler than _swords_; and the beautiful conception of _vault_, which is
always indefinite to the eye, while the solidity of _walls_ would but
meanly describe the highest Heaven, gives an idea of grandeur and

Milton writes, book i. v. 63--

    No light, but rather DARKNESS VISIBLE
    Served only to discover sights of woe.

Perhaps borrowed from Spenser:--

    A little glooming light, much like a shade.
            _Faery Queene_, b. i. c. 2. st. 14.

This fine expression of "DARKNESS VISIBLE" the Doctor's critical
sagacity has thus rendered clearer:--

    No light, but rather A TRANSPICIUOUS GLOOM.

Again, our learned critic distinguishes the 74th line of the first

    As from the centre thrice to the utmost pole,

as "a vicious verse," and therefore with "happy conjecture," and no
taste, thrusts in an entire verse of his own composition--


Milton _writes_,

    Our torments, also, may in length of time
    Become our elements.    B. ii. ver. 274.

Bentley _corrects_--

    _Then, AS WAS WELL OBSERV'D_ our torments may
    Become our elements.

A curious instance how the insertion of a single prosaic expression
turns a fine verse into something worse than the vilest prose.

To conclude with one more instance of critical emendation: Milton says,
with an agreeable turn of expression--

    So parted they; the angel up to heaven,
    From the thick shade; and Adam to his bower.

Bentley "conjectures" these two verses to be inaccurate, and in lieu of
the last writes--


And then our erudite critic reasons! as thus:--

After the conversation between the Angel and Adam in the bower, it may
be well presumed that our first parent waited on his heavenly guest at
his departure to some little distance from it, till he began to take his
flight towards heaven; and therefore "sagaciously" thinks that the poet
could not with propriety say that the angel parted from the _thick
shade_, that is, the _bower_, to go to heaven. But if Adam attended the
Angel no farther than the door or entrance of the bower, then he
shrewdly asks, "How Adam could return to his bower if he was never out
of it?"

Our editor has made a thousand similar corrections in his edition of
Milton! Some have suspected that the same kind intention which prompted
Dryden to persuade Creech to undertake a translation of Horace
influenced those who encouraged our Doctor, in thus exercising his
"sagacity" and "happy conjecture" on the epic of Milton. He is one of
those learned critics who have happily "elucidated their author into
obscurity," and comes nearest to that "true conjectural critic" whose
practice a Portuguese satirist so greatly admired: by which means, if he
be only followed up by future editors, we might have that immaculate
edition, in which little or nothing should be found of the original!

I have collected these few instances as not uninteresting to men of
taste; they may convince us that a scholar may be familiarized to Greek
and Latin, though a stranger to his vernacular literature; and that a
verbal critic may sometimes be successful in his attempts on a _single
word_, though he may be incapable of tasting an _entire sentence_. Let
it also remain as a gibbet on the high roads of literature; that
"conjectural critics" as they pass may not forget the unhappy fate of

The following epigram appeared on this occasion:--


    Did MILTON'S PROSE, O CHARLES! thy death defend?
    A furious foe, unconscious, proves a friend;
    On MILTON'S VERSE does BENTLEY comment? know,
    A weak officious friend becomes a foe.
    While he would seem his author's fame to farther,
    The MURTHEROUS critic has avenged thy MURTHER.

The classical learning of Bentley was singular and acute; but the
erudition of words is frequently found not to be allied to the
sensibility of taste.[100]


[Footnote 100: An amusing instance of his classical emendations occurs
in the text of Shakspeare. [King Henry IV. pt. 2, act 1, sc. 1.] The
poet speaks of one who

    Drew Priam's curtain in the dead of night,
    And would have told him half his Troy was burn'd."

Bentley alters the first word of the sentence to a proper name, which is
given in the third book of the Iliad, and the second of the Æneid; and
reads the passage thus:--

    Drew Priam's curtain," &c.!]


When L'Advocat published his concise Biographical Dictionary, the
Jansenists, the methodists of France, considered it as having been
written with a view to depreciate the merit of _their_ friends. The
spirit of party is too soon alarmed. The Abbé Barral undertook a
dictionary devoted to their cause. In this labour, assisted by his good
friends the Jansenists, he indulged all the impetuosity and acerbity of
a splenetic adversary. The Abbé was, however, an able writer; his
anecdotes are numerous and well chosen; and his style is rapid and
glowing. The work bears for title, "Dictionnaire Historique, Littéraire,
et Critique, des Hommes Célèbres," 6 vols. 8vo. 1719. It is no unuseful
speculation to observe in what manner a faction represents those who
have not been its favourites: for this purpose I select the characters
of Fenelon, Cranmer, and Luther.

Of Fenelon they write, "He composed for the instruction of the Dukes of
Burgundy, Anjou, and Berri, several works; amongst others, the
Telemachus--a singular book, which partakes at once of the character of
a romance and of a poem, and which substitutes a prosaic cadence for

But several luscious pictures would not lead us to suspect that this
book issued from the pen of a sacred minister for the education of a
prince; and what we are told by a famous poet is not improbable, that
Fenelon did not compose it at court, but that it is the fruits of his
retreat in his diocese. And indeed the amours of Calypso and Eucharis
should not be the first lessons that a minister ought to give his
scholars; and, besides, the fine moral maxims which the author
attributes to the Pagan divinities are not well placed in their mouth.
Is not this rendering homage to the demons of the great truths which we
receive from the Gospel, and to despoil J. C. to render respectable the
annihilated gods of paganism? This prelate was a wretched divine, more
familiar with the light of profane authors than with that of the fathers
of the church. Phelipeaux has given us, in his narrative of Quietism,
the portrait of the friend of Madame Guyon. This archbishop has a lively
genius, artful and supple, which can flatter and dissimulate, if ever
any could. Seduced by a woman, he was solicitous to spread his
seduction. He joined to the politeness and elegance of conversation a
modest air, which rendered him amiable. He spoke of spirituality with
the expression and the enthusiasm of a prophet; with such talents he
flattered himself that everything would yield to him.

In this work the Protestants, particularly the first Reformers, find no
quarter; and thus virulently their rabid catholicism exults over the
hapless end of Cranmer, the first Protestant archbishop:--

"Thomas Cranmer married the sister of Osiander. As Henry VIII. detested
married priests, Cranmer kept this second marriage in profound secrecy.
This action serves to show the character of this great reformer, who is
the hero of Burnet, whose history is so much esteemed in England. What
blindness to suppose him an Athanasius, who was at once a Lutheran
secretly married, a consecrated archbishop under the Roman pontiff whose
power he detested, saying the mass in which he did not believe, and
granting a power to say it! The divine vengeance burst on this
sycophantic courtier, who had always prostituted his conscience to his

Their character of Luther is quite Lutheran in one sense, for Luther was
himself a stranger to moderate strictures:--

"The furious Luther, perceiving himself assisted by the credit of
several princes, broke loose against the church with the most
inveterate rage, and rung the most terrible alarum against the pope.
According to him we should have set fire to everything, and reduced to
one heap of ashes the pope and the princes who supported him. Nothing
equals the rage of this phrenetic man, who was not satisfied with
exhaling his fury in horrid declamations, but who was for putting all in
practice. He raised his excesses to the height by inveighing against the
vow of chastity, and in marrying publicly Catherine de Bore, a nun, whom
he enticed, with eight others, from their convents. He had prepared the
minds of the people for this infamous proceeding by a treatise which he
entitled 'Examples of the Papistical Doctrine and Theology,' in which he
condemns the praises which all the saints had given to continence. He
died at length quietly enough, in 1546, at Eisleben, his country
place--God reserving the terrible effects of his vengeance to another

Cranmer, who perished at the stake, these fanatic religionists proclaim
as an example of "divine vengeance;" but Luther, the true parent of the
Reformation, "died quietly at Eisleben:" this must have puzzled their
mode of reasoning; but they extricate themselves out of the dilemma by
the usual way. Their curses are never what the lawyers call "lapsed


It would be no uninteresting literary speculation to describe the
difficulties which some of our most favourite works encountered in their
manuscript state, and even after they had passed through the press.
Sterne, when he had finished his first and second volumes of Tristram
Shandy, offered them to a bookseller at York for fifty pounds; but was
refused: he came to town with his MSS.; and he and Robert Dodsley agreed
in a manner of which neither repented.

The Rosciad, with all its merit, lay for a considerable time in a
dormant state, till Churchill and his publisher became impatient, and
almost hopeless of success.--Burn's Justice was disposed of by its
author, who was weary of soliciting booksellers to purchase the MS., for
a trifle, and it now yields an annual income. Collins burnt his odes
after indemnifying his publisher. The publication of Dr. Blair's Sermons
was refused by Strahan, and the "Essay on the Immutability of Truth,"
by Dr. Beattie, could find no publisher, and was printed by two friends
of the author, at their joint expense.

"The sermon in Tristram Shandy" (says Sterne, in his preface to his
Sermons) "was printed by itself some years ago, but could find neither
purchasers nor readers." When it was inserted in his eccentric work, it
met with a most favourable reception, and occasioned the others to be

Joseph Warton writes, "When Gray published his exquisite Ode on Eton
College, his first publication, little notice was taken of it." The
Polyeucte of Corneille, which is now accounted to be his masterpiece,
when he read it to the literary assembly held at the Hotel de
Rambouillet, was not approved. Voiture came the next day, and in gentle
terms acquainted him with the unfavourable opinion of the critics. Such
ill judges were then the most fashionable wits of France!

It was with great difficulty that Mrs. Centlivre could get her "Busy
Body" performed. Wilks threw down his part with an oath of
detestation--our comic authoress fell on her knees and wept.--Her tears,
and not her wit, prevailed.

A pamphlet published in the year 1738, entitled "A Letter to the Society
of Booksellers, on the Method of forming a true Judgment of the
Manuscripts of Authors," contains some curious literary intelligence.

"We have known books, that in the MS. have been damned, as well as
others which seem to be so, since, after their appearance in the world,
they have often lain by neglected. Witness the 'Paradise Lost' of the
famous Milton, and the Optics of Sir Isaac Newton, which last, 'tis
said, had no character or credit here till noticed in France. 'The
Historical Connection of the Old and New Testament,' by Shuckford, is
also reported to have been seldom inquired after for about a
twelvemonth's time; however, it made a shift, though not without some
difficulty, to creep up to a second edition, and afterwards even to a
third. And which is another remarkable instance, the manuscript of Dr.
Prideaux's 'Connection' is well known to have been bandied about from
hand to hand among several, at least five or six, of the most eminent
booksellers, during the space of at least two years, to no purpose, none
of them undertaking to print that excellent work. It lay in obscurity,
till Archdeacon Echard, the author's friend, strongly recommended it to
Tonson. It was purchased, and the publication was very successful.
Robinson Crusoe in manuscript also ran through the whole trade, nor
would any one print it, though the writer, De Foe, was in good repute as
an author. One bookseller at last, not remarkable for his discernment,
but for his speculative turn, engaged in this publication. _This_
bookseller got above a thousand guineas by it; and the booksellers are
accumulating money every hour by editions of this work in all shapes.
The undertaker of the translation of Rapin, after a very considerable
part of the work had been published, was not a little dubious of its
success, and was strongly inclined to drop the design. It proved at last
to be a most profitable literary adventure." It is, perhaps, useful to
record, that while the fine compositions of genius and the elaborate
labours of erudition are doomed to encounter these obstacles to fame,
and never are but slightly remunerated, works of another description are
rewarded in the most princely manner; at the recent sale of a
bookseller, the copyright of "Vyse's Spelling-book" was sold at the
enormous price of £2200, with an annuity of 50 guineas to the author!


Whatever may be the defects of the "Turkish Spy," the author has shown
one uncommon merit, by having opened a new species of composition, which
has been pursued by other writers with inferior success, if we except
the charming "Persian Letters" of Montesquieu. The "Turkish Spy" is a
book which has delighted our childhood, and to which we can still recur
with pleasure. But its ingenious author is unknown to three parts of his

In Boswell's "Life of Johnson" is this dialogue concerning the writer of
the "Turkish Spy." "B.--Pray, Sir, is the 'Turkish Spy' a genuine book?
J.--No, Sir. Mrs. Mauley, in her 'Life' says, that _her father wrote the
two first volumes_; and in another book--'Dunton's Life and Errours,' we
find that the rest was _written_ by _one Sault_, at two guineas a sheet,
under the direction of Dr. Midgeley."

I do not know on what authority Mrs. Manley advances that her father was
the author; but this lady was never nice in detailing facts. Dunton,
indeed, gives some information in a very loose manner. He tells us, p.
242, that it is probable, by reasons which he insinuates, that _one
Bradshaw_, a hackney author, was the writer of the "Turkish Spy." This
man probably was engaged by Dr. Midgeley to translate the volumes as
they appeared, at the rate of 40s. per sheet. On the whole, all this
proves, at least, how little the author was known while the volumes were
publishing, and that he is as little known at present by the extract
from Boswell.

The ingenious writer of the Turkish Spy is John Paul Marana, an Italian;
so that the Turkish Spy is just as real a personage as Cid Hamet, from
whom Cervantes says he had his "History of Don Quixote." Marana had been
imprisoned for a political conspiracy; after his release he retired to
Monaco, where he wrote the "History of the Plot," which is said to be
valuable for many curious particulars. Marana was at once a man of
letters and of the world. He had long wished to reside at Paris; in that
emporium of taste and luxury his talents procured him patrons. It was
during his residence there that he produced his "Turkish Spy." By this
ingenious contrivance he gave the history of the last age. He displays a
rich memory, and a lively imagination; but critics have said that he
touches everything, and penetrates nothing. His first three volumes
greatly pleased: the rest are inferior. Plutarch, Seneca, and Pliny,
were his favourite authors. He lived in philosophical mediocrity; and in
the last years of his life retired to his native country, where he died
in 1693.

Charpentier gave the first particulars of this ingenious man. Even in
his time the volumes were read as they came out, while its author
remained unknown. Charpentier's proof of the author is indisputable; for
he preserved the following curious certificate, written in Marana's own

"I, the under-written John Paul Marana, author of a manuscript Italian
volume, entitled '_L'Esploratore Turco, tomo terzo_,' acknowledge that
Mr. Charpentier, appointed by the Lord Chancellor to revise the said
manuscript, has not granted me his certificate for printing the said
manuscript, but on condition to rescind four passages. The first
beginning, &c. By this I promise to suppress from the said manuscript
the places above marked, so that there shall remain no vestige; since,
without agreeing to this, the said certificate would not have been
granted to me by the said Mr. Charpentier; and for surety of the above,
which I acknowledge to be true, and which I promise punctually to
execute, I have signed the present writing. Paris, 28th September, 1686.


This paper serves as a curious instance in what manner the censors of
books clipped the wings of genius when it was found too daring or

These rescindings of the Censor appear to be marked by Marana in the
printed work. We find more than once chasms, with these words: "the
beginning of _this_ letter is wanting in the Italian translation; the
_original_ paper _being torn_."

No one has yet taken the pains to observe the date of the first editions
of the French and the English Turkish Spies, which would settle the
disputed origin. It appears by the document before us, to have been
originally _written_ in Italian, but probably was first _published_ in
French. Does the English Turkish Spy differ from the French one?[101]


The characters of these three great masters of English poetry are
sketched by Fuller, in his "Worthies of England." It is a literary
morsel that must not be passed by. The criticisms of those who lived in
or near the times when authors flourished merit our observation. They
sometimes elicit a ray of intelligence, which later opinions do not
always give.

He observes on SPENSER--"The many _Chaucerisms_ used (for I will not say
affected by him) are thought by the ignorant to be _blemishes_, known by
the learned to be _beauties_, to his book; which, notwithstanding, had
been more SALEABLE, if more conformed to our modern language."

On JONSON.--"His parts were not so ready _to run of themselves_, as able
to answer the spur; so that it may be truly said of him, that he had an
_elaborate wit_, wrought out by his own industry.--He would _sit silent_
in learned company, and suck in (_besides wine_) their several humours
into his observation. What was _ore_ in _others_, he was able to
_refine_ himself.

"He was paramount in the dramatic part of poetry, and taught the stage
an exact conformity to the laws of comedians. His comedies were above
the _Volge_ (which are only tickled with downright obscenity), and took
not so well at the _first stroke_ as at the _rebound_, when beheld the
second time; yea, they will endure reading so long as either ingenuity
or learning are fashionable in our nation. If his latter be not so
spriteful and vigorous as his first pieces, all that are old will, and
all who desire to be old should, excuse him therein."

On SHAKSPEARE.--"He was an eminent instance of the truth of that rule,
_poëta non fit, sed nascitur_; one is not made, but born a poet. Indeed
his _learning_ was but very little; so that as _Cornish diamonds_ are
not polished by any lapidary, but are pointed and smooth, even as they
are taken out of the earth, so _Nature_ itself was all the _art_ which
was used upon him.

"Many were the _wit-combats_ betwixt him and Ben Jonson, which two I
beheld like a _Spanish great galleon_ and an _English man of war_.
Master _Jonson_ (like the former) was built far higher in learning;
_solid_, but _slow_ in his performances. _Shakspeare_, with an English
man of war, lesser in _bulk_, but lighter in _sailing_, could _turn with
all tides_, and take advantage of _all winds_, by the quickness of his
wit and invention."

Had these "Wit-combats," between Shakspeare and Jonson, which Fuller
notices, been chronicled by some faithful _Boswell_ of the age, our
literary history would have received an interesting accession. A letter
has been published by Dr. Berkenhout relating to an evening's
conversation between our great rival bards, and Alleyn the actor. Peele,
a dramatic poet, writes to his friend Marlow, another poet. The Doctor
unfortunately in giving this copy did not recollect his authority.


"I never longed for thy companye more than last night: we were all very
merrye at the Globe, where Ned Alleyn did not scruple to affirme
pleasantly to thy friend WILL, that he had stolen his speech about the
qualityes of an actor's excellencye in Hamlet his Tragedye, from
conversations manyfold which had passed between them, and opinyons given
by Alleyn touchinge this subject. SHAKSPEARE did not take this talk in
good sorte; but JONSON put an end to the strife, by wittylie
remarking,--this affaire needeth no contention: you stole it from NED,
no doubt, do not marvel; have you not seen him act times out of number?"

This letter is one of those ingenious forgeries which the late George
Steevens practised on the literary antiquary; they were not always of
this innocent cast. The present has been frequently quoted as an
original document. I have preserved it as an example of _Literary
Forgeries_, and the danger which literary historians incur by such
nefarious practices.


[Footnote 101: Marana appears to have carelessly deserted his literary
offspring. It is not improbable that his English translators continued
his plan, and that their volumes were translated; so that what appears
the French original may be, for the greater part, of our own home
manufacture. The superiority of the first part was early perceived. The
history of our ancient Grub-street is enveloped in the obscurity of its
members, and there are more claimants than one for the honour of this
continuation. We know too little of Marana to account for his silence;
Cervantes was indignant at the impudent genius who dared to continue the
immortal Quixote.

The tale remains imperfectly told.

See a correspondence on this subject in the Gentleman's Magazine, 1840
and 1841.]


Ben Jonson, like most celebrated wits, was very unfortunate in
conciliating the affections of his brother writers. He certainly
possessed a great share of arrogance, and was desirous of ruling the
realms of Parnassus with a despotic sceptre. That he was not always
successful in his theatrical compositions is evident from his abusing,
in their title-page, the actors and the public. In this he has been
imitated by Fielding. I have collected the following three satiric odes,
written when the reception of his "_New Inn_, or _The Light Heart_,"
warmly exasperated the irritable disposition of our poet.

He printed the title in the following manner:--

"_The New Inn_, or _The Light Heart_; a Comedy never acted, but most
negligently played by some, the King's servants; and more squeamishly
beheld and censured by others, the King's subjects, 1629. Now at last
set at liberty to the readers, his Majesty's servants and subjects, to
be judged, 1631."

At the end of this play he published the following Ode, in which he
threatens to quit the stage for ever; and turn at once a Horace, an
Anacreon, and a Pindar.

"The just indignation the author took at the vulgar censure of his play,
begat this following Ode to himself:--

          Come, leave the loathed stage,
          And the more loathsome age;
      Where pride and impudence (in faction knit,)
          Usurp the chair of wit;
      Inditing and arraigning every day
          Something they call a play.
        Let their fastidious, vaine
        Commission of braine
    Run on, and rage, sweat, censure, and condemn;
    They were not made for thee,--less thou for them.

          Say that thou pour'st them wheat,
          And they will acorns eat;
      'Twere simple fury, still, thyself to waste
          On such as have no taste!
      To offer them a surfeit of pure bread,
          Whose appetites are dead!
        No, give them graines their fill,
        Husks, draff, to drink and swill.
    If they love lees, and leave the lusty wine,
    Envy them not their palate with the swine.

          No doubt some mouldy tale
          Like PERICLES,[102] and stale
      As the shrieve's crusts, and nasty as his fish--
          Scraps, out of every dish
      Thrown forth, and rak't into the common-tub,
          May keep up the play-club:
        There sweepings do as well
        As the best order'd meale,
    For who the relish of these guests will fit,
    Needs set them but the almes-basket of wit.

          And much good do't you then,
          Brave plush and velvet men
      Can feed on orts, and safe in your stage clothes,
          Dare quit, upon your oathes,
      The stagers, and the stage-wrights too (your peers),
          Of larding your large ears
        With their foul comic socks,
        Wrought upon twenty blocks:
    Which if they're torn, and turn'd, and patch'd enough
    The gamesters share your gilt and you their stuff.

          Leave things so prostitute,
          And take the Alcæick lute,
      Or thine own Horace, or Anacreon's lyre;
        Warm thee by Pindar's fire;
      And, tho' thy nerves be shrunk, and blood be cold,
        Ere years have made thee old,
      Strike that disdainful heat
      Throughout, to their defeat;
    As curious fools, and envious of thy strain,
    May, blushing, swear no palsy's in thy brain.[103]

            But when they hear thee sing
            The glories of thy King,
          His zeal to God, and his just awe o'er men,
    They may blood-shaken then,
      Feel such a flesh-quake to possess their powers,
          As they shall cry 'like ours,
        In sound of peace, or wars,
        No harp ere hit the stars,
    In tuning forth the acts of his sweet raign,
    And raising Charles his chariot 'bove his wain.'"

This Magisterial Ode, as Langbaine calls it, was answered by _Owen
Feltham_, author of the admirable "Resolves," who has written with great
satiric acerbity the retort courteous. His character of this poet should
be attended to:--


              Come leave this sawcy way
              Of baiting those that pay
          Dear for the sight of your declining wit:
              'Tis known it is not fit
            That a sale poet, just contempt once thrown,
              Should cry up thus his own.
            I wonder by what dower,
            Or patent, you had power
        From all to rape a judgment. Let't suffice,
        Had you been modest, y'ad been granted wise.

              'Tis known you can do well,
              And that you do excell
          As a translator; but when things require
              A genius, and fire,
          Not kindled heretofore by other pains,
              As oft y'ave wanted brains
            And art to strike the white,
            As you have levell'd right:
        Yet if men vouch not things apocryphal,
        You bellow, rave, and spatter round your gall.

              Jug, Pierce, Peek, Fly,[104] and all
              Your jests so nominal,
          Are things so far beneath an able brain,
              As they do throw a stain
          Thro' all th' unlikely plot, and do displease
              As deep as PERICLES.
            Where yet there is not laid
            Before a chamber-maid
        Discourse so weigh'd,[105] as might have serv'd of old
        For schools, when they of love and valour told.

              Why rage, then? when the show
              Should judgment be, and know-[106]
          ledge, there are plush who scorn to drudge
              For stages, yet can judge
          Not only poet's looser lines, but wits,
              And all their perquisits;
            A gift as rich as high
            Is noble poesie:
        Yet, tho' in sport it be for Kings to play,
        'Tis next mechanicks' when it works for pay.

              Alcæus lute had none,
              Nor loose Anacreon
          E'er taught so bold assuming of the bays
              When they deserv'd no praise.
          To rail men into approbation
              Is new to your's alone:
            And prospers not: for known,
            Fame is as coy, as you
        Can be disdainful; and who dares to prove
        A rape on her shall gather scorn--not love.

              Leave then this humour vain,
              And this more humourous strain,
          Where self-conceit, and choler of the blood,
              Eclipse what else is good:
          Then, if you please those raptures high to touch,
              Whereof you boast so much:
            And but forbear your crown
            Till the world puts it on:
        No doubt, from all you may amazement draw,
        Since braver theme no Phoebus ever saw.

To console dejected Ben for this just reprimand, Randolph, of the
adopted poetical sons of Jonson, addressed him with all that warmth of
grateful affection which a man of genius should have felt on the



          Ben, do not leave the stage
          Cause 'tis a loathsome age;
      For pride and impudence will grow too bold,
        When they shall hear it told
      They frighted thee; Stand high, as is thy cause;
          Their hiss is thy applause:
        More just were thy disdain,
        Had they approved thy vein:
    So thou for them, and they for thee were born;
    They to incense, and thou as much to scorn.


          Wilt thou engross thy store
          Of wheat, and pour no more,
      Because their bacon-brains had such a taste
        As more delight in mast:
      No! set them forth a board of dainties, full
          As thy best muse can cull
        Whilst they the while do pine
        And thirst, midst all their wine.
    What greater plague can hell itself devise,
    Than to be willing thus to tantalise?


          Thou canst not find them stuff,
          That will be bad enough
      To please their palates: let 'em them refuse,
        For some Pye-corner muse;
      She is too fair an hostess, 'twere a sin
          For them to like thine Inn:
        'Twas made to entertain
        Guests of a nobler strain;
    Yet, if they will have any of the store,
    Give them some scraps, and send them from thy dore.


          And let those things in plush
          Till they be taught to blush,
      Like what they will, and more contented be
        With what Broome[107] swept from thee.
      I know thy worth, and that thy lofty strains
          Write not to cloaths, but brains:
        But thy great spleen doth rise,
        'Cause moles will have no eyes;
    This only in my Ben I faulty find,
    He's angry they'll not see him that are blind.


          Why shou'd the scene be mute
          'Cause thou canst touch the lute
      And string thy Horace! Let each Muse of nine
        Claim thee, and say, th'art mine.
      'Twere fond, to let all other flames expire,
          To sit by Pindar's fire:
        For by so strange neglect
        I should myself suspect
    Thy palsie were as well thy brain's disease,
    If they could shake thy muse which way they please.


          And tho' thou well canst sing
          The glories of thy King,
      And on the wings of verse his chariot bear
        To heaven, and fix it there;
      Yet let thy muse as well some raptures raise
          To please him, as to praise.
        I would not have thee chuse
        Only a treble muse;
    But have this envious, ignorant age to know,
    Thou that canst sing so high, canst reach as low.


[Footnote 102: This play, Langbaine says, is written by Shakspeare.]

[Footnote 103: He had the palsy at that time.]

[Footnote 104: The names of several of Jonson's dramatis personæ.]

[Footnote 105: New Inn, Act iii. Scene 2.--Act iv. Scene 4.]

[Footnote 106: This break was purposely designed by the poet, to expose
that singular one in Ben's third stanza.]

[Footnote 107: His man, Richard Broome, wrote with success several
comedies. He had been the amanuensis or attendant of Jonson. The epigram
made against Pope for the assistance W. Broome gave him appears to have
been borrowed from this pun. Johnson has inserted it in "Broome's


It surprises one to find among the literary Italians the merits of
Ariosto most keenly disputed: slaves to classical authority, they bend
down to the majestic regularity of Tasso. Yet the father of Tasso,
before his son had rivalled the romantic Ariosto, describes in a letter
the effect of the "Orlando" on the people:--"There is no man of
learning, no mechanic, no lad, no girl, no old man, who is satisfied to
read the 'Orlando Furioso' once. This poem serves as the solace of the
traveller, who fatigued on his journey deceives his lassitude by
chanting some octaves of this poem. You may hear them sing these stanzas
in the streets and in the fields every day." One would have expected
that Ariosto would have been the favourite of the people, and Tasso of
the critics. But in Venice the gondoliers, and others, sing passages
which are generally taken from Tasso, and rarely from Ariosto. A
different fate, I imagined, would have attended the poet who has been
distinguished by the epithet of "_The Divine_." I have been told by an
Italian man of letters, that this circumstance arose from the relation
which Tasso's poem bears to Turkish affairs; as many of the common
people have passed into Turkey either by chance or by war. Besides, the
long antipathy existing between the Venetians and the Turks gave
additional force to the patriotic poetry of Tasso. We cannot boast of
any similar poems. Thus it was that the people of Greece and Ionia sang
the poems of Homer.

The Accademia della Crusca gave a public preference to Ariosto. This
irritated certain critics, and none more than Chapelain, who could
_taste_ the regularity of Tasso, but not _feel_ the "brave disorder" of
Ariosto. He could not approve of those writers,

    Who snatch a grace beyond the reach of art.

"I thank you," he writes, "for the sonnet which your indignation
dictated, at the Academy's preference of Ariosto to Tasso. This judgment
is overthrown by the confessions of many of the _Cruscanti_, my
associates. It would be tedious to enter into its discussion; but it was
passion and not equity that prompted that decision. We confess, that, as
to what concerns invention and purity of language, Ariosto has eminently
the advantage over Tasso; but majesty, pomp, numbers, and a style truly
sublime, united to regularity of design, raise the latter so much above
the other that no comparison can fairly exist."

The decision of Chapelain is not unjust; though I did not know that
Ariosto's language was purer than Tasso's.

Dr. Cocchi, the great Italian critic, compared "Ariosto's poem to the
richer kind of harlequin's habit, made up of pieces of the very best
silk, and of the liveliest colours. The parts of it are, many of them,
_more beautiful_ than in Tasso's poem, but the whole in Tasso is without
comparison more of a piece and better made." The critic was extricating
himself as safely as he could out of this critical dilemma; for the
disputes were then so violent, that I think one of the disputants took
to his bed, and was said to have died of Ariosto and Tasso.

It is the conceit of an Italian to give the name of _April_ to
_Ariosto_, because it is the season of _flowers_; and that of
_September_ to _Tasso_, which is that of _fruits_. Tiraboschi
judiciously observes that no comparison ought to be made between these
great rivals. It is comparing "Ovid's Metamorphoses" with "Virgil's
Æneid;" they are quite different things. In his characters of the two
poets, he distinguishes between a romantic poem and a regular epic.
Their designs required distinct perfections. But an English reader is
not enabled by the wretched versions of Hoole to echo the verse of La
Fontaine, "JE CHERIS L'Arioste et J'ESTIME le Tasse."

Boileau, some time before his death, was asked by a critic if he had
repented of his celebrated decision concerning the merits of Tasso,
which some Italians had compared with those of Virgil? Boileau had
hurled his bolts at these violators of classical majesty. It is supposed
that he was ignorant of the Italian language, but some expressions in
his answer may induce us to think that he was not.

"I have so little changed my opinion, that, on a _re-perusal_ lately of
Tasso, I was sorry that I had not more amply explained myself on this
subject in some of my reflections on 'Longinus.' I should have begun by
acknowledging that Tasso had a sublime genius, of great compass, with
happy dispositions for the higher poetry. But when I came to the use he
made of his talents, I should have shown that judicious discernment
rarely prevailed in his works. That in the greater portion of his
narrations he attached himself to the agreeable, oftener than to the
just. That his descriptions are almost always overcharged with
superfluous ornaments. That in painting the strongest passions, and in
the midst of the agitations they excite, frequently he degenerates into
witticisms, which abruptly destroy the pathetic. That he abounds with
images of too florid a kind; affected turns; conceits and frivolous
thoughts; which, far from being adapted to his Jerusalem, could hardly
be supportable in his 'Aminta.' So that all this, opposed to the
gravity, the sobriety, the majesty of Virgil, what is it but tinsel
compared with gold?"

The merits of Tasso seem here precisely discriminated; and this
criticism must be valuable to the lovers of poetry. The errors of Tasso
were national.

In Venice the gondoliers know by heart long passages from Ariosto and
Tasso, and often chant them with a peculiar melody. Goldoni, in his
life, notices the gondolier returning with him to the city: "He turned
the prow of the gondola towards the city, singing all the way the
twenty-sixth stanza of the sixteenth canto of the Jerusalem Delivered."
The late Mr. Barry once chanted to me a passage of Tasso in the manner
of the gondoliers; and I have listened to such from one who in his youth
had himself been a gondolier. An anonymous gentleman has greatly obliged
me with his account of the recitation of these poets by the gondoliers
of Venice.

There are always two concerned, who alternately sing the strophes. We
know the melody eventually by Rousseau, to whose songs it is printed; it
has properly no melodious movement, and is a sort of medium between the
canto fermo and the canto figurato; it approaches to the former by
recitativical declamation, and to the latter by passages and course, by
which one syllable is detained and embellished.

I entered a gondola by moonlight: one singer placed himself forwards,
and the other aft, and thus proceeded to Saint Giorgio. One began the
song: when he had ended his strophe the other took up the lay, and so
continued the song alternately. Throughout the whole of it, the same
notes invariably returned; but, according to the subject matter of the
strophe, they laid a greater or a smaller stress, sometimes on one, and
sometimes on another note, and indeed changed the enunciation of the
whole strophe, as the object of the poem altered.

On the whole, however, their sounds were hoarse and screaming: they
seemed, in the manner of all rude uncivilised men, to make the
excellency of their singing consist in the force of their voice: one
seemed desirous of conquering the other by the strength of his lungs,
and so far from receiving delight from this scene (shut up as I was in
the box of the gondola), I found myself in a very unpleasant situation.

My companion, to whom I communicated this circumstance, being very
desirous to keep up the credit of his countrymen, assured me that this
singing was very delightful when heard at a distance. Accordingly we got
out upon the shore, leaving one of the singers in the gondola, while the
other went to the distance of some hundred paces. They now began to sing
against one another; and I kept walking up and down between them both,
so as always to leave him who was to begin his part. I frequently stood
still, and hearkened to the one and to the other.

Here the scene was properly introduced. The strong declamatory, and, as
it were, shrieking sound, met the ear from far, and called forth the
attention; the quickly succeeding transitions, which necessarily
required to be sung in a lower tone, seemed like plaintive strains
succeeding the vociferations of emotion or of pain. The other, who
listened attentively, immediately began where the former left off,
answering him in milder or more vehement notes, according as the purport
of the strophe required. The sleepy canals, the lofty buildings, the
splendour of the moon, the deep shadows of the few gondolas that moved
like spirits hither and thither, increased the striking peculiarity of
the scene, and amidst all these circumstances it was easy to confess the
character of this wonderful harmony.

It suits perfectly well with an idle solitary mariner, lying at length
in his vessel at rest on one of these canals, waiting for his company or
for a fare; the tiresomeness of which situation is somewhat alleviated
by the songs and poetical stories he has in memory. He often raises his
voice as loud as he can, which extends itself to a vast distance over
the tranquil mirror; and, as all is still around, he is as it were in a
solitude in the midst of a large and populous town. Here is no rattling
of carriages, no noise of foot passengers; a silent gondola glides now
and then by him, of which the splashing of the oars is scarcely to be

At a distance he hears another, perhaps utterly unknown to him. Melody
and verse immediately attach the two strangers; he becomes the
responsive echo to the former, and exerts himself to be heard as he had
heard the other. By a tacit convention they alternate verse for verse;
though the song should last the whole night through, they entertain,
themselves without fatigue; the hearers, who are passing between the
two, take part in the amusement.

This vocal performance sounds best at a great distance, and is then
inexpressibly charming, as it only fulfils its design in the sentiment
of remoteness. It is plaintive, but not dismal in its sound; and at
times it is scarcely possible to refrain from tears. My companion, who
otherwise was not a very delicately organised person, said quite
unexpectedly, "E singolare come quel canto intenerisce, e molto più
quando la cantano meglio."

I was told that the women of Lido, the long row of islands that divides
the Adriatic from the Lagouns, particularly the women of the extreme
districts of Malamocca and Palestrina, sing in like manner the works of
Tasso to these and similar tunes.

They have the custom, when their husbands are fishing out at sea, to sit
along the shore in the evenings and vociferate these songs, and continue
to do so with great violence, till each of them can distinguish the
responses of her own husband at a distance.

How much more delightful and more appropriate does this song show itself
here, than the call of a solitary person uttered far and wide, till
another equally disposed shall hear and answer him! It is the expression
of a vehement and hearty longing, which yet is every moment nearer to
the happiness of satisfaction.

Lord Byron has told us that with the independence of Venice the song of
the gondolier has died away--

    In Venice Tasso's echoes are no more.

If this be not more poetical than true, it must have occurred at a
moment when their last political change may have occasioned this silence
on the waters. My servant _Tita_, who was formerly the servant of his
lordship, and whose name has been immortalised in the "Italy" of Mr.
Rogers, was himself a gondolier. He assures me that every night on the
river the chant may be heard. Many who cannot even read have acquired
the whole of Tasso, and some chant the stanzas of Ariosto. It is a sort
of poetical challenge, and he who cannot take up the subject by
continuing it is held as vanquished, and which occasions him no slight
vexation. In a note in Lord Byron's works, this article is quoted by
mistake as written by me, though I had mentioned it as the contribution
of a stranger. We find by that note that there are two kinds of Tasso;
the original, and another called the "_Canta alla Barcarola_," a
spurious Tasso in the Venetian dialect: this latter, however, is rarely
used. In the same note, a printer's error has been perpetuated through
all the editions of Byron; the name of _Barry_, the painter, has been
printed _Berry_.


Few philosophers were more deserving of the title than, Bayle. His last
hour exhibits the Socratic intrepidity with which he encountered the
formidable approach of death. I have seen the original letter of the
bookseller Leers, where he describes the death of our philosopher. "On
the evening preceding his decease, having studied all day, he gave my
corrector some copy of his 'Answer to Jacquelot,' and told him that he
was very ill. At nine in the morning his laundress entered his chamber;
he asked her, with a dying voice, if his fire was kindled? and a few
moments after he died." His disease was an hereditary consumption, and
his decline must have been gradual; speaking had become with him a great
pain, but he laboured with the same tranquillity of mind to his last
hour; and, with Bayle, it was death alone which, could interrupt the

The irritability of genius is forcibly characterised by this
circumstance in his literary life. When a close friendship had united
him to Jurieu, he lavished on him the most flattering eulogiums: he is
the hero of his "Republic of Letters." Enmity succeeded to friendship;
Jurieu is then continually quoted in his "Critical Dictionary," whenever
an occasion offers to give instances of gross blunders, palpable
contradictions, and inconclusive arguments. These inconsistent opinions
may be sanctioned by the similar conduct of a _Saint_! St. Jerome
praised Rufinus as the most learned man of his age, while his friend;
but when the same Rufinus joined his adversary Origen, he called him one
of the most ignorant!

As a logician Bayle had no superior; the best logician will, however,
frequently deceive himself. Bayle made long and close arguments to show
that La Motte le Vayer never could have been a preceptor to the king;
but all his reasonings are overturned by the fact being given in the
"History of the Academy," by Pelisson.

Basnage said of Bayle, that _he read much by his fingers_. He meant that
he ran over a book more than he read it; and that he had the art of
always falling upon that which was most essential and curious in the
book he examined.

There are heavy hours in which the mind of a man of letters is unhinged;
when the intellectual faculties lose all their elasticity, and when
nothing but the simplest actions are adapted to their enfeebled state.
At such hours it is recorded of the Jewish Socrates, Moses Mendelssohn,
that he would stand at his window, and count the tiles of his
neighbour's house. An anonymous writer has told of Bayle, that he would
frequently wrap himself in his cloak, and hasten to places where
mountebanks resorted; and that this was one of his chief amusements. He
is surprised that so great a philosopher should delight in so trifling
an object. This objection is not injurious to the character of Bayle;
it only proves that the writer himself was no philosopher.

The "Monthly Reviewer," in noticing this article, has continued the
speculation by giving two interesting anecdotes. "The observation
concerning 'heavy hours,' and the want of elasticity in the intellectual
faculties of men of letters, when the mind is fatigued and the attention
blunted by incessant labour, reminds us of what is related by persons
who were acquainted with the late sagacious magistrate Sir John
Fielding; who, when fatigued with attending to complicated cases, and
perplexed with discordant depositions, used to retire to a little closet
in a remote and tranquil part of the house, to rest his mental powers
and sharpen perception. He told a great physician, now living, who
complained of the distance of places, as caused by the great extension
of London, that 'he (the physician) would not have been able to visit
many patients to any purpose, if they had resided nearer to each other;
as he could have had no time either to think or to rest his mind.'"

Our excellent logician was little accustomed to a mixed society: his
life was passed in study. He had such an infantine simplicity in his
nature, that he would speak on anatomical subjects before the ladies
with as much freedom as before surgeons. When they inclined their eyes
to the ground, and while some even blushed, he would then inquire if
what he spoke was indecent; and, when told so, he smiled, and stopped.
His habits of life were, however, extremely pure; he probably left
himself little leisure "_to fall into temptation_."

Bayle knew nothing of geometry; and, as Le Clerc informs us,
acknowledged that he could never comprehend the demonstration of the
first problem in Euclid. Le Clerc, however, was a rival to Bayle; with
greater industry and more accurate learning, but with very inferior
powers of reasoning and philosophy. Both of these great scholars, like
our Locke, were destitute of fine taste and poetical discernment.

When Fagon, an eminent physician, was consulted on the illness of our
student, he only prescribed a particular regimen, without the use of
medicine. He closed his consultation by a compliment remarkable for its
felicity. "I ardently wish one could spare this great man all this
constraint, and that it were possible to find a remedy as singular as
the merit of him for whom it is asked."

Voltaire has said that Bayle confessed he would not have made his
Dictionary exceed a folio volume, had he written only for himself, and
not for the booksellers. This Dictionary, with all its human faults, is
a stupendous work, which must last with literature itself. I take an
enlarged view of BAYLE and his DICTIONARY, in a subsequent article.


M. Du Boulay accompanied the French ambassador to Spain, when Cervantes
was yet living. He told Segrais that the ambassador one day complimented
Cervantes on the great reputation he had acquired by his Don Quixote;
and that Cervantes whispered in his ear, "Had it not been for the
Inquisition, I should have made my book much more entertaining."

Cervantes, at the battle of Lepanto, was wounded, and enslaved. He has
given his own history in Don Quixote, as indeed every great writer of
fictitious narratives has usually done. Cervantes was known at the court
of Spain, but he did not receive those favours which might have been
expected; he was neglected. His first volume is the finest; and his
design was to have finished there: but he could not resist the
importunities of his friends, who engaged him to make a second, which
has not the same force, although it has many splendid passages.

We have lost many good things of Cervantes, and other writers, through
the tribunal of religion a