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Title: Gossip in a Library
Author: Gosse, Edmund, 1849-1928
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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_Northern Studies_. 1879.

_Life of Gray_. 1882.

_Seventeenth-Century Studies_. 1883.

_Life of Congreve_. 1888.

_A History of Eighteenth-Century Literature_. 1889

_Life of Philip Henry Gosse, F.R.S_. 1890.

_The Secret of Narcisse: a Romance_. 1892.

_Questions at Issue_. 1893.

_Critical Kit-Kats_. 1896.

_A Short History of Modern English Literature_. 1897.

_Life and Letters of John Donne_. 1899.

_Hypolympia_. 1901.

_French Profiles_. 1904.

_Life of Jeremy Taylor_. 1904.

_Life of Sir Thomas Browne_. 1905.

_Father and Son_. 1907.

_Life of Ibsen_. 1908.

_Two Visits to Denmark_. 1911.

_Collected Poems_. 1911.

_Portraits and Sketches_. 1912.






























  _O blessed Letters, that combine in one
  All ages past, and make one live with all:
  By you we doe conferre with who are gone,
  And the dead-living unto councell call:
  By you th' unborne shall have communion
  Of what we feele, and what doth us befall_.

_SAM. DANIEL Musophilus. 1602_.


It is curious to reflect that the library, in our customary sense,
is quite a modern institution. Three hundred years ago there were no
public libraries in Europe. The Ambrosian, at Milan, dates from 1608;
the Bodleian, at Oxford, from 1612. To these Angelo Rocca added his in
Rome, in 1620. But private collections of books always existed, and
these were the haunts of learning, the little glimmering hearths over
which knowledge spread her cold fingers, in the darkest ages of the
world. To-day, although national and private munificence has increased
the number of public libraries so widely that almost every reader is
within reach of books, the private library still flourishes. There
are men all through the civilised world to whom a book is a jewel--an
individual possession of great price. I have been asked to gossip
about my books, for I also am a bibliophile. But when I think of the
great collections of fine books, of the libraries of the magnificent,
I do not know whether I dare admit any stranger to glance at mine.
The Mayor of Queenborough feels as though he were a very important
personage till Royalty drives through his borough without noticing his
scarf and his cocked hat; and then, for the first time, he observes
how small the Queenborough town-hall is. But if one is to gossip about
books, it is, perhaps, as well that one should have some limits. I
will leave the masters of bibliography to sing of greater matters, and
will launch upon no more daring voyage than one _autour de ma pauvre

I have heard that the late Mr. Edward Solly, a very pious and
worshipful lover of books, under several examples of whose book-plate
I have lately reverently placed my own, was so anxious to fly all
outward noise that he built himself a library in his garden. I have
been told that the books stood there in perfect order, with the
rose-spray flapping at the window, and great Japanese vases exhaling
such odours as most annoy an insect-nostril. The very bees would come
to the window, and sniff, and boom indignantly away again. The silence
there was perfect. It must have been in such a secluded library that
Christian Mentzelius was at work when he heard the male book-worm flap
his wings, and crow like a cock in calling to his mate. I feel sure
that even Mentzelius, a very courageous writer, would hardly pretend
that he could hear such a "shadow of all sound" elsewhere. That is
the library I should like to have. In my sleep, "where dreams are
multitude," I sometimes fancy that one day I shall have a library in
a garden. The phrase seems to contain the whole felicity of man--"a
library in a garden!" It sounds like having a castle in Spain, or a
sheep-walk in Arcadia, and I suppose that merely to wish for it is to
be what indignant journalists call "a faddling hedonist."

In the meanwhile, my books are scattered about in cases in different
parts of a double sitting-room, where the cats carouse on one side,
and the hurdy-gurdy man girds up his loins on the other. A friend
of Boethius had a library lined with slabs of ivory and pale green
marble. I like to think of that when I am jealous of Mr. Frederick
Locker-Lampson, as the peasant thinks of the White Czar when his
master's banqueting hall dazzles him. If I cannot have cabinets of
ebony and cedar, I may just as well have plain deal, with common glass
doors to keep the dust out. I detest your Persian apparatus.

It is a curious reflection, that the ordinary private person who
collects objects of a modest luxury, has nothing about him so old as
his books. If a wave of the rod made everything around him disappear
that did not exist a century ago, he would suddenly find himself with
one or two sticks of furniture, perhaps, but otherwise alone with his
books. Let the work of another century pass, and certainly nothing
but these little brown volumes would be left, so many caskets full
of passion and tenderness, disappointed ambition, fruitless hope,
self-torturing envy, conceit aware, in maddening lucid moments, of its
own folly. I think if Mentzelius had been worth his salt, those ears
of his, which heard the book-worm crow, might have caught the echo of
a sigh from beneath many a pathetic vellum cover. There is something
awful to me, of nights, and when I am alone, in thinking of all the
souls imprisoned in the ancient books around me. Not one, I suppose,
but was ushered into the world with pride and glee, with a flushed
cheek and heightened pulse; not one enjoyed a career that in all
points justified those ample hopes and flattering promises.

The outward and visible mark of the citizenship of the book-lover is
his book-plate. There are many good bibliophiles who abide in the
trenches, and never proclaim their loyalty by a book-plate. They are
with us, but not of us; they lack the courage of their opinions; they
collect with timidity or carelessness; they have no need for the
morrow. Such a man is liable to great temptations. He is brought face
to face with that enemy of his species, the borrower, and dares not
speak with him in the gate. If he had a book-plate he would say, "Oh!
certainly I will lend you this volume, if it has not my book-plate in
it; of course, one makes a rule never to lend a book that has." He
would say this, and feign to look inside the volume, knowing right
well that this safeguard against the borrower is there already.
To have a book-plate gives a collector great serenity and
self-confidence. We have laboured in a far more conscientious spirit
since we had ours than we did before. A learned poet, Lord De Tabley,
wrote a fascinating volume on book-plates, some years ago, with
copious illustrations. There is not, however, one specimen in his book
which I would exchange for mine, the work and the gift of one of the
most imaginative of American artists, the late Edwin A. Abbey. It
represents a very fine gentleman of about 1610, walking in broad
sunlight in a garden, reading a little book of verses. The name is
coiled around him, with the motto, _Gravis cantantibus umbra_. I will
not presume to translate this tag of an eclogue, and I only venture to
mention such an uninteresting matter, that my indulgent readers may
have a more vivid notion of what I call my library. Mr. Abbey's fine
art is there, always before me, to keep my ideal high.

To possess few books, and those not too rich and rare for daily use,
has this advantage, that the possessor can make himself master of them
all, can recollect their peculiarities, and often remind himself of
their contents. The man that has two or three thousand books can be
familiar with them all; he that has thirty thousand can hardly have a
speaking acquaintance with more than a few. The more conscientious
he is, the more he becomes like Lucian's amateur, who was so much
occupied in rubbing the bindings of his books with sandal-wood and
saffron, that he had no time left to study the contents. After all,
with every due respect paid to "states" and editions and bindings and
tall copies, the inside of the volume is really the essential part of

The excuses for collecting, however, are more than satire is ready to
admit. The first edition represents the author's first thought; in it
we read his words as he sent them out to the world in his first heat,
with the type he chose, and with such peculiarities of form as he
selected to do most justice to his creation. We often discover little
individual points in a first edition, which never occur again. And if
it be conceded that there is an advantage in reading a book in the
form which the author originally designed for it, then all the other
refinements of the collector become so many acts of respect paid
to this first virgin apparition, touching and suitable homage of
cleanness and fit adornment. It is only when this homage becomes mere
eye-service, when a book radically unworthy of such dignity is too
delicately cultivated, too richly bound, that a poor dilettantism
comes in between the reader and what he reads. Indeed, the best of
volumes may, in my estimation, be destroyed as a possession by a
binding so sumptuous that no fingers dare to open it for perusal. To
the feudal splendours of Mr. Cobden-Sanderson, a tenpenny book in a
ten-pound binding, I say fie. Perhaps the ideal library, after all, is
a small one, where the books are carefully selected and thoughtfully
arranged in accordance with one central code of taste, and intended
to be respectfully consulted at any moment by the master of their
destinies. If fortune made me possessor of one book of excessive
value, I should hasten to part with it. In a little working library,
to hold a first quarto of _Hamlet_, would be like entertaining a
reigning monarch in a small farmhouse at harvesting.

Much has of late been written, however, and pleasantly written, about
the collecting and preserving of books. It is not my intention here to
add to this department of modern literature. But I shall select from
among my volumes some which seem less known in detail to modern
readers than they should be, and I shall give brief "retrospective
reviews" of these as though they were new discoveries. In other cases,
where the personal history of a well-known book seems worth detaching
from our critical estimate of it, that shall be the subject of my
lucubration. Perhaps it may not be an unwelcome novelty to apply to
old books the test we so familiarly apply to new ones. They will bear
it well, for in their case there is no temptation to introduce any
element of prejudice. Mr. Bludyer himself does not fly into a passion
over a squat volume published two centuries ago, even when, as in the
case of the first edition of Harrington's _Oceana_, there is such a
monstrous list of errata that the writer has to tell us, by way of
excuse, that a spaniel has been "questing" among his papers.

These scarce and neglected books are full of interesting things.
Voltaire never made a more unfortunate observation than when he
said that rare books were worth nothing, since, if they were worth
anything, they would not be rare. We know better nowadays; we know how
much there is in them which may appeal to only one man here and there,
and yet to him with a voice like a clarion. There are books that have
lain silent for a century, and then have spoken with the trumpet of a
prophecy. We shall disdain nothing; we shall have a little criticism,
a little anecdote, a little bibliography; and our old book shall
go back to the shelves before it has had time to be tedious in its


BRITAIN: _or a chorographical description of the most flourishing
Kingdomes, England, Scotland and Ireland, and the Ilands adioyning;
out of the depth of Antiquitie: beautified with Mappes of the severall
Shires of England; Written first in Latine by William Camden,
Clarenceux K. of A. Translated newly into English by Philémon Holland.
Londini, Impensis Georgii Bishop & Joannis Norton, M.DC.X_.

There is no more remarkable example of the difference between the
readers of our light and hurrying age and those who obeyed "Eliza and
our James," than the fact that the book we have before us at this
moment, a folio of some eleven hundred pages, adorned, like a fighting
elephant, with all the weightiest panoply of learning, was one of the
most popular works of its time. It went through six editions, this
vast antiquarian itinerary, before the natural demand of the vulgar
released it from its Latin austerity; and the title-page we have
quoted is that of the earliest English edition, specially translated,
under the author's eye, by Dr. Philémon Holland, a laborious
schoolmaster of Coventry. Once open to the general public, although
then at the close of its first quarter of a century, the _Britannia_
flourished with a new lease of life, and continued to bloom, like a
literary magnolia, all down the seventeenth century. It Is now
as little read as other famous books of uncompromising size. The
bookshelves of to-day are not fitted for the reception of these heroic
folios, and if we want British antiquities now, we find them in terser
form and more accurately, or at least more plausibly, annotated in the
writings of later antiquaries. Giant Camden moulders at his cave's
mouth, a huge and reverend form seldom disturbed by puny passers-by.
But his once popular folio was the life work of a particularly
interesting and human person; and without affecting to penetrate to
the darkest corners of the cavern, it may be instructive to stand a
little while on the threshold.

When this first English edition of the _Britannia_ was published,
Camden was one of the most famous of living English writers. For one
man of position who had heard of Shakespeare, there would be twenty,
at least, who were quite familiar with the claims of the Head-master
of Westminster and Clarenceux King-of-Arms. Camden was in his sixtieth
year, in 1610; he had enjoyed slow success, violent detraction, and
final triumph. His health was poor, but he continued to write history,
eager, as he says, to show that "though I have been a studious admirer
of venerable antiquity, yet have I not been altogether an incurious
spectator of modern occurrences." He stood easily first among the
historians of his time; he was respected and adored by the Court and
by the Universities, and that his fame might be completed by the
chrism of detraction, his popularity was assured from year to year by
the dropping fire of obloquy which the Papists scattered from their
secret presses. It had not been without a struggle that Camden had
attained this pinnacle; and the _Britannia_ had been his alpenstock.

This first English edition has the special interest of representing
Camden's last thoughts. It is nominally a translation of the sixth
Latin edition, but it has a good deal of additional matter supplied
to Philémon Holland by the author, whereas later English issues
containing fresh material are believed to be so far spurious. The
_Britannia_ grew with the life of Camden. He tells us that it was
when he was a young man of six-and-twenty, lately started on his
professional career as second master in Westminster School, that the
famous Dutch geographer, Abraham Ortelius, "dealt earnestly with me
that I would illustrate this isle of Britain." This was no light task
to undertake in 1577. The authorities were few, and these in the
highest degree occasional or fragmentary. It was not a question of
compiling a collection of topographical antiquities. The whole process
had to be gone through "from the egg."

As a youth at Oxford, Camden had turned all his best attention to this
branch of study, and what the ancients had written about England was
intimately known to him. Any one who looks at his book will see that
the first 180 pages of the _Britannia_ could be written by a scholar
without stirring from his chair at Westminster. But when it came to
the minute description of the counties there was nothing for it but
personal travel; and accordingly Camden spent what holidays he could
snatch from his labours as a schoolmaster in making a deliberate
survey of the divisions of England. We possess some particulars of one
of these journeys, that which occupied 1582, in which he started by
Suffolk, through Yorkshire, and returned through Lancashire. He was a
very rapid worker, he spared no pains, and in 1586, nine years after
Ortelius set him going, his first draft was issued from the press. In
later times, and when his accuracy had been cruelly impeached, he set
forth his claims to attention with dignity. He said: "I have in no
wise neglected such things as are most material to search and sift out
the truth. I have attained to some skill of the most ancient British
and Anglo-Saxon tongues; I have travelled over all England for the
most part, I have conferred with most skilful observers in each
county.... I have been diligent in the records of this realm. I have
looked into most libraries, registers and memorials of churches,
cities and corporations, I have pored upon many an old roll and
evidence ... that the honour of verity might in no wise be impeached."

It was no slight task to undertake such a work on such a scale. And
when the first Latin edition appeared, it was hailed as a first glory
in the diadem of Elizabeth. Specialists in particular counties found
that Camden knew more about their little circle than they themselves
had taken all their lives to learn. Lombard, the great Kentish
antiquary, said that he never knew Kent properly, till he read of it
in the _Britannia_. But Camden was not content to rest on his laurels.
Still, year by year, he made his painful journeys through the length
and breadth of the land, and still, as new editions were called forth,
the book grew from octavo into folio. Suddenly, about twelve years
after its first unchallenged appearance, there was issued, like a bolt
out of the blue, a very nasty pamphlet, called _Discovery of certain
Errors Published in the much-commended Britannia_, which created a
fine storm in the antiquarian teapot. This attack was the work of a
man who would otherwise be forgotten, Ralph Brooke, the York Herald.
He had formerly been an admirer of Camden's, his "humble friend,"
he called himself; but when Camden was promoted over his head to be
Clarenceux King-of-Arms, it seemed to Ralph Brooke that it became
his duty to denounce the too successful antiquary as a charlatan. He
accordingly fired off the unpleasant little gun already mentioned,
and, for the moment, he hit Camden rather hard.

The author of the _Britannia_, to justify his new advancement, had
introduced into a fresh edition of his book a good deal of information
regarding the descent of barons and other noble families. This was
York Herald's own subject, and he was able to convict Camden of
a startling number of negligences, and what he calls "many gross
mistakings." The worst part of it was that York Herald had privately
pointed out these blunders to Camden, and that the latter had said it
was too much trouble to alter them. This, at least, is what the enemy
states in his attack, and if this be true, it can hardly be doubled
that Camden had sailed too long in fair weather, or that he needed a
squall to recall him to the duties of the helm. He answered Brooke,
who replied with increased contemptuous tartness. It is admitted that
Camden was indiscreet in his manner of reply, and that some genuine
holes had been pricked in his heraldry. But the _Britannia_ lay high
out of the reach of fatal pedantic attack, and this little cloud over
the reputation of the book passed entirely away, and is remembered now
only as a curiosity of literature.

In the preface the author quaintly admits that "many have found a
defect in this work that maps were not adjoined, which do allure the
eyes by pleasant portraitures, ... yet my ability could not compass
it." They must, then, have been added at the last by a generous
afterthought, for this book is full of maps. The maritime ones are
adorned with ships in full sail, and bold sea-monsters with curly
tails; the inland ones are speckled with trees and spires and
hillocks. In spite of these old-fashioned oddities, the maps are
remarkably accurate. They are signed by John Norden and William Kip,
the master map-makers of that reign. The book opens with an account of
the first inhabitants of Britain, and their manners and customs; how
the Romans fared, and what antiquities they left behind, with copious
plates of Roman coins. By degrees we come down, through Saxons and
Normans, to that work which was peculiarly Camden's, the topographical
antiquarianism. He begins with Cornwall, "that region which, according
to the geographers, is the first of all Britain," and then proceeds to
what he calls "Denshire" and we Devonshire, a county, as he remarks,
"barbarous on either side."

With page 822 he finds himself at the end of his last English county,
Northumberland, looking across the Tweed to Berwick, "the strongest
hold in all Britain," where it is "no marvel that soldiers without
other light do play here all night long at dice, considering the side
light that the sunbeams cast all night long." This rather exaggerated
statement is evidently that of a man accustomed to look upon Berwick
as the northernmost point of his country, as we shall all do, no
doubt, when Scotland has secured Home Rule. We are, therefore, not
surprised to find Scotland added, in a kind of hurried appendix, in
special honour to James I and VI. The introduction to the Scottish
section is in a queer tone of banter; Camden knows little and cares
less about the "commonwealth of the Scots," and "withall will lightly
pass over it." In point of fact, he gets to Duncansby Head in
fifty-two pages, and not without some considerable slips of
information. Ireland interests him more, and he finally closes with a
sheet of learned gossip about the outlying islands.

The scope of Camden's work did not give Philémon Holland much
opportunity for spreading the wings of his style. Anxious to present
Camden fairly, the translator is curiously uneven in manner, now
stately, now slipshod, weaving melodious sentences, but forgetting to
tie them up with a verb. He is commonly too busy with hard facts to
be a Euphuist. But here is a pretty and ingenious passage about
Cambridge, unusually popular in manner, and exceedingly handsome in
the mouth of an Oxford man:

"On this side the bridge, where standeth the greater part by far of
the City, you have a pleasant sight everywhere to the eye, what of
fair streets orderly ranged, what of a number of churches, and of
sixteen colleges, sacred mansions of the Muses, wherein a number of
great learned men are maintained, and wherein the knowledge of the
best arts, and the skill in tongues, so flourish, that they may
rightly be counted the fountains of literature, religion and all
knowledge whatsoever, who right sweetly bedew and sprinkle, with most
wholesome waters, the gardens of the Church and Commonwealth through
England. Nor is there wanting anything here, that a man may require in
a most flourishing University, were it not that the air is somewhat
unhealthful, arising as it doth out of a fenny ground hard by. And
yet, peradventure, they that first founded a University in that place,
allowed of Plato's judgment. For he, being of a very excellent and
strong constitution of body, chose out the Academia, an unwholesome
place of Attica, for to study in, and so the superfluous rankness
of body which might overlay the mind, might be kept under by the
dis-temperature of the place."

The poor scholars in the mouldering garrets of Clare, looking over
waste land to the oozy Cam, no doubt wished that their foundress had
been less Spartan. Very little of the domestic architecture that
Camden admired in Cambridge is now left; and yet probably it and
Oxford are the two places of all which he describes that it would give
him least trouble to identify if he came to life again three hundred
years after the first appearance of his famous _Britannia_.


A MIRROR FOR MAGISTRATES: _being a true Chronicle Historie of the
untimely falles of such unfortunate Princes and men of note, as have
happened since the first entrance of Brute into this Iland, untill
this our latter Age. Newly enlarged with a last part, called_ A WINTER
NIGHTS VISION, _being an addition of such Tragedies, especially
famous, as are exempted in the former Historie, with a Poem annexed,
called_ ENGLAND'S ELIZA. _At London. Imprinted by Felix Kyngston_,

This huge quarto of 875 pages, all in verse, is the final form, though
far from the latest impression, of a poetical miscellany which had
been swelling and spreading for nearly sixty years without ever losing
its original character. We may obtain some imperfect notion of the
_Mirror for Magistrates_ if we imagine a composite poem planned by
Sir Walter Scott, and contributed to by Wordsworth and Southey, being
still issued, generation after generation, with additions by the
youngest versifiers of to-day. The _Mirror for Magistrates_ was
conceived when Mary's protomartyrs were burning at Smithfield, and it
was not finished until James I. had been on the throne seven years.
From first to last, at least sixteen writers had a finger in this pie,
and the youngest of them was not born when the eldest of them died.

It is commonly said, even by such exact critics as the late Dean
Church, that the _Mirror for Magistrates_ was planned by the most
famous of the poets who took part in its execution, Thomas Sackville,
Lord Buckhurst. If a very clever man is combined in any enterprise
with people of less prominence, it is ten to one that he gets all the
credit of the adventure. But the evidence on this point goes to prove
that it was not until the work was well advanced that Sackville
contributed to it at all. The inventor of the _Mirror for Magistrates_
seems, rather, to have been George Ferrers, a prominent lawyer and
politician, who was master of the King's Pastimes at the very close
of Henry VIII.'s reign. Ferrers was ambitious to create a drama in
England, and lacked only genius to be the British Aeschylus. The time
was not ripe, but he was evidently very anxious to set the world
tripping to his goatherd's pipe. He advertised for help in these
designs, and the list of persons he wanted is an amusing one; he was
willing to engage "a divine, a philosopher, an astronomer, a poet, a
physician, an apothecary, a master of requests, a civilian, a clown,
two gentlemen ushers, besides jugglers, tumblers, fools, friars, and
such others," Fortune sent him, from Oxford, one William Baldwin, who
was most of these things, especially divine and poet, and who became
Ferrers' confidential factotum. The master and assistant-master of
Pastimes were humming merrily on at their masques and triumphs, when,
the King expired. Under Queen Mary, revels might not flourish, but the
friendship between Ferrers and Baldwin did not cease. They planned a
more doleful but more durable form of entertainment, and the _Mirror
for Magistrates_ was started. Those who claim for Sackville the
main part of this invention, forget that he is not mentioned as a
contributor till what was really the third edition, and that, when the
first went to press, he was only eighteen years of age.

Ferrers well comprehended the taste of his age when he conceived the
notion of a series of poems, in which famous kings and nobles should
describe in their own persons the frailty and instability of worldly
prosperity, even in those whom Fortune seems most highly to favour.
One of the most popular books of the preceding century had been
Lydgate's version of Boccaccio's poems on the calamities of
illustrious men, a vast monody in nine books, all harping on that
single chord of the universal mutability of fortune. Lydgate's _Fall
of Princes_ had, by the time that Mary ascended the throne, existed
in popular esteem for a hundred years. Its language and versification
were now so antiquated as to be obsolete; it was time that princes
should fall to a more modern measure.

The first edition of Baldwin and Ferrers' book went to press early
in 1555, but of this edition only one or two fragments exist. It was
"hindered by the Lord Chancellor that then was," Stephen Gardiner, and
was entirely suppressed. The leaf in the British Museum is closely
printed in double columns, and suggests that Baldwin and Ferrers meant
to make a huge volume of it. The death of Mary removed the embargo,
and before Elizabeth had been Queen for many months, the second (or
genuine first) edition of the _Myrroure for Magistrates_ made its
appearance, a thin quarto, charmingly printed in two kinds of type.
This contained twenty lives--Haslewood, the only critic who has
described this edition, says _nineteen_, but he overlooked Ferrers'
tale of "Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester"--and was the work, so Baldwin
tells us, of seven persons besides himself.

The first story in the book, a story which finally appears at p. 276
of the edition before us, recounts the "Fall of Robert Tresilian,
Chief Justice of England, and other of his fellows, for misconstruing
the laws and expounding them to serve the Prince's affections, Anno
1388." The manner in which this story is presented is a good example
of the mode adopted throughout the miscellany. The corrupt judge and
his fellow-lawyers appear, as in a mirror, or like personages behind
the illuminated sheet at the "Chat Noir," and lamentably recount their
woes in chorus. The story of Tresilian was written by Ferrers, but the
persons who speak it address his companion:

  _Baldwin, we beseech thee with our names to begin_

--which support Baldwin's claim to be looked upon as the editor of the
whole book. It is very dreary doggerel, it must be confessed, but no
worse than most of the poetry indited in England at that uninspired
moment in the national history. A short example--a flower culled from
any of these promiscuous thickets--will suffice to give a general
notion of the garden. Here is part of the lament of "The Lord

  _Because my father Lord John Clifford died,
    Slain at St. Alban's, in his prince's aid,
  Against the Duke my heart for malice fired,
    So that I could from wreck no way be stayed,
    But, to avenge my father's death, assayed
  All means I might the Duke of York to annoy,
  And all his kin and friends for to destroy.

  This made me with my bloody dagger wound
    His guiltless son, that never 'gainst me stored;
  His father's body lying dead on ground
    To pierce with spear, eke with my cruel sword
    To part his neck, and with his head to board,
  Invested with a royal paper crown,
  From place to place to bear it up and down.

  But cruelty can never 'scape the scourge
    Of shame, of horror, or of sudden death;
  Repentance self that other sins may purge
    Doth fly from this, so sore the soul it slayeth;
    Despair dissolves the tyrant's bitter breath,
  For sudden vengeance suddenly alights
  On cruel deeds to quit their bloody spites_.

The only contribution to this earliest form of the _Mirror_ which is
attributed to an eminent writer, is the "Edward IV" of Skelton, and
this is one of the most tuneless of all. It reminds the ear of a
whining ballad snuffled out in the street at night by some unhappy
minstrel that has got no work to do. As Baldwin professes to quote
it from memory, Skelton being then dead, perhaps its versification
suffered in his hands.

This is not the place to enter minutely into the history of the
building up of this curious book. The next edition, that of 1563,
was enriched by Sackville's splendid "Induction" and the tale of
"Buckingham," both of which are comparatively known so well, and have
been so often reprinted separately, that I need not dwell upon them
here. They occupy pp. 255-271 and 433-455 of the volume before us. In
1574 a very voluminous contributor to the constantly swelling tide of
verse appears. Thomas Blener Hasset, a soldier on service in Guernsey
Castle, thought that the magisterial ladies had been neglected, and
proceeded in 1578 to sing the fall of princesses. It is needless to
continue the roll of poets, but it is worth while to point out the
remarkable fact that each new candidate held up the mirror to the
magistrates so precisely in the manner of his predecessors, that it
is difficult to distinguish Newton from Baldwin, or Churchyard from

Richard Niccols, who is responsible for the collection in its final
state, was a person of adventure, who had fought against Cadiz in the
_Ark_, and understood the noble practice of the science of artillery.
By the time it came down to him, in 1610, the _Mirror for Magistrates_
had attained such a size that he was obliged to omit what had formed
a pleasing portion of it, the prose dialogues which knit the tales in
verse together, such pleasant familiar chatter between the poets as
"Ferrers, said Baldwin, take you the chronicles and mark them as they
come," and the like. It was a pity to lose all this, but Niccols had
additions of his own verse to make; ten new legends entitled "A Winter
Night's Vision," and a long eulogy upon Queen Elizabeth, "England's
Eliza." He would have been more than human, if he had not considered
all this far more valuable than the old prose babbling in black
letter. This copy of mine is of the greatest rarity, for it contains
two dedicatory sonnets by Richard Niccols, one addressed to Lady
Elizabeth Clere and the other to the Earl of Nottingham, which seem to
have been instantly suppressed, and are only known to exist in this
and, I believe, one or two other examples of the book. These are,
perhaps, worth reprinting for their curiosity. The first runs as

  _My Muse, that whilom wail'd those Briton kings,
    Who unto her in vision did appear,
    Craves leave to strengthen her night-weathered wings
  In the warm sunshine of your golden Clere [clear];
  Where she, fair Lady, tuning her chaste lays
    Of England's Empress to her hymnic string
  For your affect, to hear that virgins praise,
    Makes choice of your chaste self to hear her sing,
  Whose royal worth, (true virtue's paragon,)
    Here made me dare to engrave your worthy name.
  In hope that unto you the same alone
    Will so excuse me of presumptuous blame,
      That graceful entertain my Muse may find
      And even bear such grace in thankful mind_.

The sonnet to the Earl of Nottingham, the famous admiral and quondam
rival of Sir Walter Raleigh, is more interesting:--

  _As once that dove (true honour's aged Lord),
    Hovering with wearied wings about your ark,
  When Cadiz towers did fall beneath your sword,
    To rest herself did single out that bark,
  So my meek Muse,--from all that conquering rout,
    Conducted through the sea's wild wilderness
  By your great self, to grave their names about
    The Iberian pillars of Jove's Hercules,--
  Most humbly craves your lordly lion's aid
    'Gainst monster envy, while she tells her story
  Of Britain's princes, and that royall maid
    In whose chaste hymn her Clio sings your glory,
  Which if, great Lord, you grant, my Muse shall frame
  Mirrors most worthy your renownèd name_.

But apparently the "great Lord" would not grant permission, and so the
sonnet had to be rigorously suppressed.

The _Mirror for Magistrates_ has ceased to be more than a curiosity
and a collector's rarity, but it once assumed a very ambitious
function. It was a serious attempt to build up, as a cathedral is
built by successive architects, a great national epic, the work of
many hands. In a gloomy season of English history, in a violent age
of tyranny, fanaticism, and legalised lawlessness, it endeavoured
to present, to all whom it might concern, a solemn succession of
discrowned tyrants and law-makers smitten by the cruel laws they had
made. Sometimes, in its bold and not very delicate way, the _Mirror
for Magistrates_ is impressive still from its lofty moral tone, its
gloomy fatalism, and its contempt for temporary renown. As we read its
sombre pages we see the wheel of fortune revolving; the same motion
which makes the tiara glitter one moment at the summit, plunges it at
the next into the pit of pain and oblivion. Steadily, uniformly, the
unflinching poetasters grind out in their monotonous rime royal
how "Thomas Wolsey fell into great disgrace," and how "Sir Anthony
Woodville, Lord Rivers, was causeless imprisoned and cruelly wounded";
how "King Kimarus was devoured by wild beasts," and how "Sigeburt, for
his wicked life, was thrust from his throne and miserably slain by a
herdsman." It gives us a strange feeling of sympathy to realise that
the immense popularity of this book must have been mainly due to the
fact that it comforted the multitudes who groaned under a harsh and
violent despotism to be told over and over again that cruel kings and
unjust judges habitually came at last to a bad end.


THE SHEPHEARDS HUNTING: _being Certain Eglogues written during the
time of the Authors Imprisonment in the Marshalsey. By George Wyther,
Gentleman. London, printed by W. White for George Norton, and are to
be sold at the signe of the red-Bull neere Temple-barre_. 1615.

If ever a man needed resuscitation in our antiquarian times it was
George Wither. When most of the Jacobean poets sank into comfortable
oblivion, which merely meant being laid with a piece of camphor in
cotton-wool to keep fresh for us, Wither had the misfortune to be
recollected. He became a byword of contempt, and the Age of Anne
persistently called him Withers, a name, I believe, only possessed
really by one distinguished person, Cleopatra Skewton's page-boy.
Swift, in _The Battle of the Books_, brings in this poet as the
meanest common trooper that he can mention in his modern army. Pope
speaks of him with the utmost freedom as "wretched Withers." It is
true that he lived too long and wrote too much--a great deal too
much. Mr. Hazlitt gives the titles of more than one hundred of his
publications, and some of them are wonderfully unattractive. I should
not like to be shut up on a rainy day with his _Salt upon Salt_, which
seems to have lost its savour, nor do I yearn to blow upon his _Tuba
Pacifica_, although it was "disposed of rather for love than money."
The truth is that good George Wither lost his poetry early, was an
upright, honest, and patriotic man who unhappily developed into a
scold, and got into the bad habit of pouring out "precautions,"
"cautional expressions," "prophetic phrensies," "epistles at random,"
"personal contributions to the national humiliation," "passages,"
"raptures," and "allarums," until he really became the greatest bore
in Christendom. It was Charles Lamb who swept away this whole tedious
structure of Wither's later writings and showed us what a lovely poet
he was in his youth.

When the book before us was printed, George Wither was aged
twenty-seven. He had just stepped gingerly out of the Marshalsea
Prison, and his poems reveal an amusing mixture of protest against
having been put there at all and deprecation of being put there again.
Let no one waste the tear of sensibility over that shell of the
Marshalsea Prison, which still, I believe, exists. The family of the
Dorrits languished in quite another place from the original Marshalsea
of Wither's time, although that also lay across the water in
Southwark. It is said that the prison was used for the confinement of
persons who had spoken lewdly of dignitaries about the Court. Wither,
as we shall see, makes a great parade of telling us why he was
imprisoned; but his language is obscure. Perhaps he was afraid to be
explicit. In 1613 he had published a little volume of satires, called
_Abuses stript and whipt_. This had been very popular, running into
six or seven editions within a short time, and some one in office, no
doubt, had fitted on the fool's cap. Five years later the poor poet
would have had a chance of being shipped straight off to Virginia, as
a "debauched person"; as it was, the Marshalsea seems to have been
tolerably unpleasant. We gather, however, that he enjoyed some
alleviations. He could say, like Leigh Hunt, "the visits of my friends
were the bright side of my captivity; I read verses without end, and
wrote almost as many." The poems we have before us were written in the
Marshalsea. The book itself is very tiny and pretty, with a sort
of leafy trellis-work at the top and bottom of every page, almost
suggesting a little posy of wild-flowers thrown through the iron bars
of the poet's cage, and pressed between the pages of his manuscript.
Nor is there any book of Wither's which breathes more deeply of the
perfume of the fields than this which was written in the noisome
seclusion of the Marshalsea.

Although the title-page assures us that these "eglogues" were written
during the author's imprisonment, we may have a suspicion that the
first three were composed just after his release. They are very
distinct from the rest in form and character. To understand them we
must remember that in 1614, just before the imprisonment, Wither had
taken a share with his bosom friend, William Browne, of the Inner
Temple, in bringing out a little volume of pastorals, called _The
Shepherd's Pipe_. Browne, a poet who deserves well of all Devonshire
men, was two years younger than Wither, and had just begun to come
before the public as the author of that charming, lazy, Virgilian poem
of _Britannia's Pastorals_. There was something of Keats in Browne, an
artist who let the world pass him by; something of Shelley in Wither,
a prophet who longed to set his seal on human progress. In the
_Shepherd's Pipe_ Willy (William Browne) and Roget (Geo-t-r) had been
the interlocutors, and Christopher Brooke, another rhyming friend, had
written an eclogue under the name of Cutty. These personages reappear
in _The Shepherd's Hunting_, and give us a glimpse of pleasant
personal relations. In the first "eglogue," Willy comes to the
Marshalsea one afternoon to condole with Roget, but finds him very
cheerful. The prisoner poet assures his friend that

  _This barren place yields somewhat to relieve,
  For I have found sufficient to content me,
  And more true bliss than ever freedom lent me_;

and Willy goes away, when it is growing dark, rejoiced to find that
"the cage doth some birds good." Next morning he returns and brings
Cutty, or Cuddy, with him, for Cuddy has news to tell the prisoner
that all England is taking an interest in him, and that this adversity
has made him much more popular than he was before. But Willy and
Cuddy are extremely anxious to know what it was that caused Roget's
imprisonment, and at last he agrees to tell them. Hitherto the poem
has been written in _ottava rima_, a form which is sufficiently
uncommon in our early seventeenth-century poetry to demand special
notice in this case. In a prose postscript to this book Wither tells
us that the title, _The Shepherd's Hunting_, which he seems to feel
needs explanation, is due to the stationer, or, as we should say now,
to the publisher. But perhaps this was an afterthought, for in the
account he gives to Willy and Cuddy he certainly suggests the title
himself. He represents himself as the shepherd given up to the
delights of hunting the human passions through the soul; the simile
seems a little confused, because he represents these qualities not
as the quarry, but as the hounds, and so the story of Actaeon is
reversed; instead of the hounds pursuing their master, the master
hunts his dogs. At all events, the result is that he "dips his staff
in blood, and onwards leads his thunder to the wood," where he is
ignominiously captured by his Majesty's gamekeeper. But the allegory
hardly runs upon all-fours.

The next "eglogue" represents again another visit to the prisoner, and
this time Willy and Cuddy bring Alexis with them; perhaps Alexis is
John Davies, of Hereford, another contributor to _The Shepherd's
Pipe_. Roget starts his allegory again, in the same mild, satiric
manner he had adopted, to his hurt, in _Abuses stript and whipt_.
Wither becomes quite delightful again, when cheerfulness breaks
through this satirical philosophy, and when he tells us:

  _But though that all the world's delight forsake me,
  I have a Muse, and she shall music make me;
  Whose aery notes, in spite of closest cages,
  Shall give content to me and after ages_.

They all felt certain of immortality, these cheerful poets of
Elizabeth and James, and Prince Posterity has seen proper to admit the
claim in more instances than might well have been expected.

But the delightful part of _The Shepherd's Hunting_ has yet to come.
With the fourth "eglogue" the caged bird begins to sing like a lark at
Heaven's gate, and it is the prisoned man--who ought to be in doleful
dumps--that rallies his free friend Browne on his low spirits. It is
time, he says, to be merry:

  _Coridon, with his bold rout,
  Hath already been about,
  For the elder shepherds' dole,
  And fetched in the summer pole;
  Whilst the rest have built a bower
  To defend them from a shower,
  Sealed so close, with boughs all green,
  Titan cannot pry between;
  Now the dairy-wenches dream
  Of their strawberries and cream,
  And each doth herself advance,
  To be taken in to dance_.

What summer thoughts are these to come from a pale prisoner in the hot
and putrid Marshalsea! They are either symptoms of acute nostalgia, or
proofs of a cheerfulness that lifts their author above a mortal pitch.
But Willy declines to join the Lady of the May at her high junketings;
he also has troubles, and prefers to whisper them through Roget's iron
bars. There are those who "my Music do contemn," who will none of the
poetry of Master William Browne of the Inner Temple. It is useless for
him to wrestle with brown shepherds for the

  _Cups of turnèd maple-root,
  Whereupon the skilful man
  Hath engraved the Loves of Pan_,

or contend for the "fine napkin wrought with blue," if those base
clowns called critics are busy with his detraction. But Roget
instructs him that Verse is its own high reward, that the songs of a
true poet will naturally arise like the moon out of and beyond all
racks of envious cloud, and that the last thing he should do is
to despair. He rises to his own greatest and best work in this
encouragement of a brother-poet, and no one who reads such noble
verses as these dare question Wither's claim to a _fauteuil_ in the
Academy of Parnassus:

  _If thy Verse do bravely tower
  As she makes wing, she gets power,
  Yet the higher she doth soar,
  She's affronted still the more;
  Till she to the highest hath past,
  Then she rests with Fame at last.
  Let nought therefore thee affright,
  But make forward in thy flight;
  For if I could match thy rhyme
  To the very stars I'd climb,
  There begin again, and fly
  Till I reached Eternity_.

In the fifth "eglogue" Roget and Alexis compare notes about their
early happiness in phrases of an odd commixture. The pastoral
character of the poetry has to be carried out, and so we read of how
Roget on a great occasion played a match at football, "having scarce
twenty Satyrs on his side," against some of "the best tried Ruffians
in the land." Great Pan presided at that match by the banks of Thames,
and though the satyrs and their laureate leader were worsted, the
moral victory, as people call it, remained with the latter. All this
is an allegory; and indeed we walk in the very shadow of innuendo all
through _The Shepherd's Hunting_.

The moral of the whole thing is that eternal ditty of tuneful youth:
All for Verse and the World well lost. The enemy is around them on
all sides, jailers of the Marshalsea and envious critics, the evil
shepherds that preside over grates of steel and noisome beds of straw,
but Youth has its mocking answer to all these:

  _Let them disdain and fret till they are weary!
  We in ourselves have that shall make us merry;
  Which he that wants and had the power to know it,
  Would give his life that he might die a poet_.

It was no small thing to be suffering for Apollo's sake in 1614.
Shakespeare might hear of it at Stratford, and talk of the prisoner
as he strolled with some friend on the banks of Avon. A greater than
Shakespeare--as most men thought in those days--Ben Jonson himself,
might talk the matter over "at those lyric feasts, Made at the Sun,
The Dog, the triple Tun"; for had not he himself languished in a
worse dungeon and under a heavier charge than Wither? To be
seven-and-twenty, to be in trouble with the Government about one's
verses, and to have other young poets, in a ferment of enthusiasm,
clinging like swallows to the prison-bars--how delicious a torment!
And to know that it will soon be over, and that the sweet, pure
meadows lie just outside the reek of Southwark, that summer lingers
still and that shepherds pipe and play, that Fame is sitting by her
cheerful fountain with a garland for the weary head, and that lasses,
"who more excell Than the sweet-voic'd Philomel," are ready to cluster
round the Interesting captive, and lead him away in daisy-chains--what
could be more consolatory! And we close the little dainty volume, with
its delicate perfume of friendship and poetry and hope.


DEATH'S DVELL; _or, A Consolation to the Soule, against the dying
Life, and living Death of the Body. Delivered in a Sermon at White
Hall, before the King's Maiesty, in the beginning of Lent_, 1630. _By
that late learned and Reverend Divine, John Donne, Dr. in Divinity, &
Deane of S. Pauls, London. Being his last Sermon, and called by his
Maiesties houshold The Doctor's owne Funerall Sermon. London, Printed
by Thomas Harper, for Richard Redmer and Benjamin Fisher, and are to
be sold at the signe of the Talbot in Alders-gate street. MDCXXXII_.

The value of this tiny quarto with the enormous title depends
entirely, so far as the collector is concerned, on whether or no it
possesses the frontispiece. So many people, not having the fear of
books before their eyes, have divorced the latter from the former,
that a perfect copy of _Death's Duel_ is quite a capture over which
the young bibliophile may venture to glory; but let him not fancy that
he has a prize if his copy does not possess the portrait-plate. One
has but to glance for a moment at this frontispiece to see that there
is here something very much out of the common. It is engraved in the
best seventeenth-century style, and represents, apparently, the head
and bust of a dead man wrapped in a winding-sheet. The eyes are shut,
the mouth is drawn, and nothing was ever seen more ghastly.

Yet it is not really the picture of a dead man: it represents the
result of one of the grimmest freaks that ever entered into a pious
mind. In the early part of March 1630 (1631), the great Dr. Donne,
Dean of St. Paul's, being desperately ill, and not likely to recover,
called a wood-carver in to the Deanery, and ordered a small urn, just
large enough to hold his feet, and a board as long as his body, to be
produced. When these articles were ready, they were brought into his
study, which was first warmed, and then the old man stripped off his
clothes, wrapped himself in a winding-sheet which was open only so far
as to reveal the face and beard, and then stood upright in the little
wooden urn, supported by leaning against the board. His limbs were
arranged like those of dead persons, and when his eyes had been
closed, a painter was introduced into the room and desired to make a
full-length and full-size picture of this terrific object, this solemn
theatrical presentment of life in death. The frontispiece of _Death's
Duel_ gives a reproduction of the upper part of this picture. It
was said to be a remarkably truthful portrait of the great poet and
divine, and it certainly agrees in all its proportions with the
accredited portrait of Donne as a young man.

It appears (for Walton's account is not precise) that it was after
standing for this grim picture, but before its being finished, that
the Dean preached his last sermon, that which is here printed. He had
come up from Essex in great physical weakness in order not to miss his
appointment to preach in his cathedral before the King on the first
Friday in Lent. He entered the pulpit with so emaciated a frame and a
face so pale and haggard, and spoke with a voice so faint and hollow,
that at the end the King himself turned to one of his suite, and
whispered, "The Dean has preached his own funeral sermon!" So, indeed,
it proved to be; for he presently withdrew to his bed, and summoned
his friends around to take a solemn farewell. He died very gradually
after about a fortnight, his last words being, not in distress or
anguish, but as it would seem in visionary rapture: "I were miserable
if I might not die." All this fortnight and to the moment of
his death, the terrible life-sized portrait of himself in his
winding-sheet stood near his bedside, where it could be the "hourly
object" of his attention. So one of the greatest Churchmen of the
seventeenth century, and one of the greatest, if the most eccentric,
of its lyrical poets passed away in the very pomp of death, on the
31st of March, 1631.

There was something eminently calculated to arrest and move the
imagination in such an end as this, and people were eager to read the
discourse which the "sacred authority" of his Majesty himself had
styled the Dean's funeral sermon. It was therefore printed in 1632. As
sermons of the period go it is not long, yet it takes a full hour to
read it slowly aloud, and we may thus estimate the strain which it
must have given to the worn-out voice and body of the Dean to deliver
it. The present writer once heard a very eminent Churchman, who was
also a great poet, preach his last sermon, at the age of ninety. This
was the Danish bishop Grundtvig. In that case the effort of speaking,
the extraction, as it seemed, of the sepulchral voice from the
shrunken and ashen face, did not last more than ten minutes. But the
English divines of the Jacobean age, like their Scottish brethren of
to-day, were accustomed to stupendous efforts of endurance from their
very diaconate.

The sermon is one of the most "creepy" fragments of theological
literature it would be easy to find. It takes as its text the words
from the sixty-eighth Psalm: "And unto God the Lord belong the issues
of death." In long, stern sentences of sonorous magnificence, adorned
with fine similes and gorgeous words, as the funeral trappings of a
king might be with gold lace, the dying poet shrinks from no physical
horror and no ghostly terror of the great crisis which he was himself
to be the first to pass through. "That which we call life," he says,
and our blood seems to turn chilly in our veins as we listen, "is but
_Hebdomada mortium_, a week of death, seven days, seven periods of our
life spent in dying, a dying seven times over, and there is an end.
Our birth dies in infancy, and our infancy dies in youth, and youth
and rest die in age, and age also dies and determines all. Nor do
all these, youth out of infancy, or age out of youth, arise so as a
Phoenix out of the ashes of another Phoenix formerly dead, but as a
wasp or a serpent out of a carrion or as a snake out of dung." We
can comprehend how an audience composed of men and women whose
ne'er-do-weel relatives went to the theatre to be stirred by such
tragedies as those of Marston and Cyril Tourneur would themselves
snatch a sacred pleasure from awful language of this kind in the
pulpit. There is not much that we should call doctrine, no pensive
or consolatory teaching, no appeal to souls in the modern sense. The
effect aimed at is that of horror, of solemn preparation for the
advent of death, as by one who fears, in the flutter of mortality, to
lose some peculiarity of the skeleton, some jag of the vast crooked
scythe of the spectre. The most ingenious of poets, the most subtle of
divines, whose life had been spent in examining Man in the crucible of
his own alchemist fancy, seems anxious to preserve to the very last
his powers of unflinching spiritual observation. The Dean of St.
Paul's, whose reputation for learned sanctity had scarcely sufficed
to shelter him from scandal on the ground of his fantastic defence of
suicide, was familiar with the idea of Death, and greeted him as a
welcome old friend whose face he was glad to look on long and closely.

The leaves at the end of this little book are filled up with two
copies of funeral verses on Dean Donne. These are unsigned, but we
know from other sources to whom to attribute them. Each is by an
eminent man. The first was written by Dr. Henry King, then the royal
chaplain, and afterward Bishop of Chichester, to whom the Dean had
left, besides a model in gold of the Synod of Dort, that painting of
himself in the winding-sheet of which we have already spoken. This
portrait Dr. King put into the hands of Nicholas Stone, the sculptor,
who made a reproduction of it in white marble, with the little urn
concealing the feet. This was placed in St. Paul's Cathedral, of which
King was chief residentiary, and may still be seen in the present
Cathedral King's elegy is very prosy in starting, but improves as it
goes along, and is most ingenious throughout. These are the words in
which he refers to the appearance of the dying preacher in the pulpit:

  _Thou (like the dying Swan) didst lately sing
  Thy mournful dirge in audience of the King;
  When pale looks, and weak accents of thy breath
  Presented so to life that piece of death,
  That it was feared and prophesied by all
  Thou thither cam'st to preach thy funeral_.

The other elegy is believed to have been written by a young man of
twenty-one, who was modestly and enthusiastically seeking the company
of the most famous London wits. This was Edward Hyde, thirty years
later to become Earl of Clarendon, and finally to leave behind him
manuscripts which should prove him the first great English historian.
His verses here bespeak his good intention, but no facility in

It was left for the riper disciples of the great divine to sing his
funerals in more effective numbers. Of the crowd of poets who attended
him with music to the grave, none expressed his merits in such
excellent verses or with so much critical judgment as Thomas Carew,
the king's sewer in ordinary. It is not so well known but that we
quote some lines from it:

                                     _The fire
  That fills with spirit and heat the Delphic choir,
  Which, kindled first by thy Promethean breath,
  Glow'd here awhile, lies quench'd now in thy death.
  The Muses' garden, with pedantic weeds
  O'erspread, was purg'd by thee, the lazy seeds
  Of servile imitation thrown away,
  And fresh invention planted; thou disdt pay
  The debts of our penurious bankrupt age_.

         *        *        *        *        *

                            _Whatsoever wrong
  By ours was done the Greek or Latin tongue,
  Thou hast redeem'd, and opened us a mine
  Of rich and pregnant fancy, drawn a line
  Of masculine expression, which, had good
  Old Orpheus seen, or all the ancient brood
  Our superstitious fools admire, and hold
  Their lead more precious than thy burnish'd gold,
  Thou hadst been their exchequer....
  Let others carve the rest; it will suffice
  I on thy grave this epitaph incise:--
  Here lies a King, that ruled as he thought fit
  The universal monarchy of wit;
  Here lies two Flamens, and both these the best,--
  Apollo's first, at last the True God's priest_.

There was no full memoir of Dr. Donne until it was the privilege of
the present writer, in 1900, to publish his Life and Letters in two
substantial volumes. Since then, in 1912, his Poetical Works have been
edited and sifted, with remarkable delicacy and judgment, by Professor
Grierson. It is now, therefore, as easy as it can be expected ever to
be to follow the career of this extraordinary man, with all its cold
and hot fits, its rage of lyrical amativeness, its Roman passion, and
the high and clouded austerity of its final Anglicanism. Donne is one
of the most fascinating, in some ways one of the most inscrutable,
figures in our literature, and we may contemplate him with instruction
from his first wild escapade into the Azores down to his voluntary
penitence in the pulpit and the winding-sheet.


THE HERBALL _or General Historie of Plantes. Gathered by John Gerarde,
of London, Master in Chirurgerie. Very much enlarged and amended by
Thomas Johnson, citizen and apothecarye of London. London, Printed by
Adam Islip, Joice Norton, and Richard Whitakers. Anno_ 1633.

The proverb says that a door must be either open or shut. The
bibliophile is apt to think that a book should be either little or
big. For my own part, I become more and more attached to "dumpy
twelves"; but that does not preclude a certain discreet fondness
for folios. If a man collects books, his library ought to contain a
Herbal; and if he has but room for one, that should be the best.
The luxurious and sufficient thing, I think, is to possess what
booksellers call "the right edition of Gerard"; that is to say, the
volume described at the head of this paper. There is no handsomer book
to be found, none more stately or imposing, than this magnificent
folio of sixteen hundred pages, with its close, elaborate letterpress,
its innumerable plates, and John Payne's fine frontispiece in
compartments, with Theophrastus and Dioscorides facing one another,
and the author below them, holding in his right hand the new-found
treasure of the potato plant.

This edition of 1633 is the final development of what had been a slow
growth. The sixteenth century witnessed a great revival, almost a
creation of the science of botany. People began to translate the great
_Materia Medica_ of the Greek physician, Dioscorides of Anazarba, and
to comment upon it. The Germans were the first to append woodcuts to
their botanical descriptions, and it is Otto Brunfelsius, in 1530, who
has the credit of being the originator of such figures. In 1554 there
was published the first great Herbal, that of Rembertus Dodonaeus,
body-physician to the Emperor Maximilian II., who wrote in Dutch. An
English translation of this, brought out in 1578, by Henry Lyte, was
the earliest important Herbal in our language. Five years later, in
1583, a certain Dr. Priest translated all the botanical works of
Dodonaeus, with much greater fulness than Lyte had done, and this
volume was the germ of Gerard's far more famous production. John
Gerard was a Cheshire man, born in 1545, who came up to London, and
practised there as a surgeon.

According to his editor and continuator, Thomas Johnson, who speaks of
Gerard with startling freedom, this excellent man was by no means well
equipped for the task of compiling a great Herbal. He knew so little
Latin, according to this too candid friend, that he imagined Leonard
Fuchsius, who was a German contemporary of his own, to be one of the
ancients. But Johnson is a little too zealous in magnifying his own
office. He brings a worse accusation against Gerard, if I understand
him rightly to charge him with using Dr. Priest's manuscript
collections after his death, without giving that physician the credit
of his labours. When Johnson made this accusation, Gerard had been
dead twenty-six years. In any case it seems certain that Gerard's
original _Herbal_, which, beyond question, surpassed all its
predecessors when it was printed in folio in 1597, was built up upon
the ground-work of Priest's translation of Dodonaeus. Nearly forty
years later, Thomas Johnson, himself a celebrated botanist, took up
the book, and spared no pains to reissue it in perfect form. The
result is the great volume before us, an elephant among books, the
noblest of all the English Herbals. Johnson was seventy-two years of
age when he got this gigantic work off his hands, and he lived eleven
years longer to enjoy his legitimate success.

The great charm of this book at the present time consists in the
copious woodcuts. Of these there are more than two thousand, each a
careful and original study from the plant itself. In the course of two
centuries and a half, with all the advance in appliances, we have not
improved a whit on the original artist of Gerard's and Johnson's time.
The drawings are all in strong outline, with very little attempt at
shading, but the characteristics of each plant are given with a truth
and a simplicity which are almost Japanese. In no case is this more
extraordinary than in that of the orchids, or "satyrions," as they
were called in the days of the old herbalist. Here, in a succession of
little figures, each not more than six inches high, the peculiarity of
every portion of a full-grown flowering specimen of each species is
given with absolute perfection, without being slurred over on the one
hand, or exaggerated on the other. For instance, the little variety
called "ladies' tresses" [_Spiranthes_], which throws a spiral head of
pale green blossoms out of dry pastures, appears here with small bells
hanging on a twisted stem, as accurately as the best photograph could
give it, although the process of woodcutting, as then practised
in England, was very rude, and although almost all other English
illustrations of the period are rough and inartistic. It is plain that
in every instance the botanist himself drew the form, with which he
was already intelligently familiar, on the block, with the living
plant lying at his side.

The plan on which the herbalist lays out his letterpress is methodical
in the extreme. He begins by describing his plant, then gives its
habitat, then discusses its nomenclature, and ends with a medical
account of its nature and virtues. It is, of course, to be expected
that we should find the line old names of plants enshrined in Gerard's
pages. For instance, he gives to the deadly nightshade the name,
which now only lingers in a corner of Devonshire, the "dwale." As an
instance of his style, I may quote a passage from what he has to say
about the virtues, or rather vices, of this plant:

"Banish it from your gardens and the use of it also, being a plant so
furious and deadly; for it bringeth such as have eaten thereof into a
dead sleep wherein many have died, as hath been often seen and proved
by experience both in England and elsewhere. But to give you an
example hereof it shall not be amiss. It came to pass that three boys
of Wisbeach, in the Isle of Ely, did eat of the pleasant and beautiful
fruit hereof, two whereof died in less than eight hours after they had
eaten of them. The third child had a quantity of honey and water mixed
together given him to drink, causing him to vomit often. God blessed
this means, and the child recovered. Banish, therefore, these
pernicious plants out of your gardens, and all places near to your
houses where children do resort."

Gerard has continually to stop his description that he may repeat to
his readers some anecdote which he remembers. Now it is how "Master
Cartwright, a gentleman of Gray's Inn, who was grievously wounded into
the lungs," was cured with the herb called "Saracen's Compound," "and
that, by God's permission, in short space." Now it is to tell us that
he has found yellow archangel growing under a sequestered hedge "on
the left hand as you go from the village of Hampstead, near London, to
the church," or that "this amiable and pleasant kind of primrose" (a
sort of oxlip) was first brought to light by Mr. Hesketh, "a diligent
searcher after simples," in a Yorkshire wood. While the groundlings
were crowding to see new plays by Shirley and Massinger, the editor of
this volume was examining fresh varieties of auricula in "the gardens
of Mr. Tradescant and Mr. Tuggie." It is wonderful how modern the
latter statement sounds, and how ancient the former. But the garden
seems the one spot on earth where history does not assert itself, and,
no doubt, when Nero was fiddling over the blaze of Rome, there were
florists counting the petals of rival roses at Paestum as peacefully
and conscientiously as any gardeners of to-day.

The herbalist and his editor write from personal experience, and this
gives them a great advantage in dealing with superstitions. If there
was anything which people were certain about in the early part of
the seventeenth century, it was that the mandrake only grew under a
gallows, where the dead body of a man had fallen to pieces, and that
when it was dug up it gave a great shriek, which was fatal to the
nearest living thing. Gerard contemptuously rejects all these and
other tales as "old wives' dreams." He and his servants have often
digged up mandrakes, and are not only still alive, but listened
in vain for the dreadful scream. It might be supposed that such a
statement, from so eminent an authority, would settle the point, but
we find Sir Thomas Browne, in the next generation, battling these
identical popular errors in the pages of his _Pseudodoxia Epidemica_.
In the like manner, Gerard's botanical evidence seems to have been of
no use in persuading the public that mistletoe was not generated out
of birdlime dropped by thrushes into the boughs of trees, or that its
berries were not desperately poisonous. To observe and state the truth
is not enough. The ears of those to whom it is proclaimed must be
ready to accept it.

Our good herbalist, however, cannot get through his sixteen hundred
accurate and solemn pages without one slip. After accompanying him
dutifully so far, we double up with uncontrollable laughter on p.
1587, for here begins the chapter which treats "of the Goose Tree,
Barnacle Tree, or the Tree bearing Geese." But even here the habit of
genuine observation clings to him. The picture represents a group of
stalked barnacles--those shrimps fixed by their antennae, which modern
science, I believe, calls _Lepas anatifera_; by the side of these
stands a little goose, and the suggestion of course is that the latter
has slipped out of the former, although the draughtsman has been far
too conscientious to represent the occurrence. Yet the letterpress is
confident that in the north parts of Scotland there are trees on which
grow white shells, which ripen, and then, opening, drop little living
geese into the waves below. Gerard himself avers that from Guernsey
and Jersey he brought home with him to London shells, like limpets,
containing little feathery objects, "which, _no doubt_, were the fowls
called Barnacles." It is almost needless to say that these objects
really were the plumose and flexible _cirri_ which the barnacles
throw out to catch their food with, and which lie, like a tiny
feather-brush, just within the valves of the shell, when the creature
is dead. Gerard was plainly unable to refuse credence to the mass of
evidence which presented itself to him on this subject, yet he closes
with a hint that this seems rather a "fabulous breed" of geese.

With the Barnacle Goose Tree the Herbal proper closes, in these quaint

"And thus having, through God's assistance, discoursed somewhat
at large of grasses, herbs, shrubs, trees and mosses, and certain
excrescences of the earth, with other things moe, incident to the
history thereof, we conclude, and end our present volume with this
wonder of England. For the which God's name be ever honoured and

And so, at last, the Goose Tree receives the highest sanction.


PHARAMOND; or, _The History of France. A New Romance. In four
parts. Written originally in French, by the Author of Cassandra and
Cleopatra: and now elegantly rendered into English. London: Printed by
Ja: Cottrell for Samuel Speed, at the Rain-Bow in Fleetstreet, near
the Inner Temple-Gate. (Folio_.) 1662.

There is no better instance of the fact that books will not live by
good works alone than is offered by the utterly neglected heroic
novels of the seventeenth century. At the opening of the reign of
Louis XIV. in France, several writers, in the general dearth of prose
fiction, began to supply the public in Paris with a series of long
romances, which for at least a generation absorbed the attention of
the ladies and reigned unopposed in every boudoir. I wonder whether my
lady readers have ever attempted to realise how their sisters of two
hundred years ago spent their time? In an English country-house of
1650, there were no magazines, no newspapers, no lawn tennis or
croquet, no afternoon-teas or glee-concerts, no mothers' meetings or
zenana missions, no free social intercourse with neighbours, none of
the thousand and one agreeable diversions with which the life of a
modern girl is diversified. On the other hand, the ladies of the house
had their needlework to attend to, they had to "stitch in a clout," as
it was called; they had to attend to the duties of a housekeeper,
and, when the sun shone, they tended the garden. Perhaps they rode
or drove, in a stately fashion. But through long hours they sat over
their embroidery frames or mended the solemn old tapestries which
lined their walls, and during these sedate performances they required
a long-winded, polite, unexciting, stately book that might be read
aloud by turns. The heroic novel, as provided by Gombreville,
Calprenède, and Mlle. de Scudéry supplied this want to perfection.

The sentiments in these novels were of the most elevated class, and
tedious as they seem nowadays to us, it was the sentiments, almost
more than the action, which fascinated contemporary opinion. Madame
de Sévigné herself, the brightest and wittiest of women, confessed
herself to be a fly in the spider's web of their attractions. "The
beauty of the sentiments," she writes, "the violence of the passions,
the grandeur of the events, and the miraculous success of their
redoubtable swords, all draw me on as though I were still a little
girl." In these modern days of success, we may still start to learn
that the Parisian publisher of _Le Grand Cyrus_ made 100,000 crowns
by that work, from the appearance of its first volume in 1649 to its
close in 1653. The qualities so admirably summed up by Madame de
Sévigné were those which appealed most directly to public feeling in
France. There really were heroes in that day, the age of chivalric
passions had not passed, great loves, great hates, great emotions of
all kinds, were conceivable and within personal experience. When La
Rochefoucauld wrote to Madame de Longueville the famous lines which
may be thus translated:

  _To win that wonder of the world,
       A smile from her bright eyes,
  I fought my King, and would have hurled
       The gods out of their skies_,

he was breathing the very atmosphere of the heroic novels. Their
extraordinary artificial elevation of tone was partly the spirit of
the age; it was also partly founded on a new literary ideal, the tone
of Greek romance. No book had been read in France with greater avidity
than the sixteenth-century translation of the old novel _Heliodorus_;
and in the _Polexandres_ and _Clélies_ we see what this Greek spirit
of romance could blossom into when grafted upon the stock of Louis

The vogue of these heroic novels in England has been misstated, for
the whole subject has but met with neglect from successive historians
of literature. It has been asserted that they were not read in England
until after the Restoration. Nothing is further from the truth.
Charles I. read _Cassandra_ in prison, while we find Dorothy Osborne,
in her exquisite letters to Sir William Temple, assiduously studying
one heroic novel after another through the central years of Cromwell's
rule. She reads _Le Grand Cyrus_ while she has the ague; she desires
Temple to tell her "which _amant_ you have most compassion for, when
you have read what each one says for himself." She and the King read
them in the original, but soon there arrived English translations
and imitations. These began to appear a good deal sooner than
bibliographers have been prepared to admit. Of the _Astrée_ of
D'Urfé--which, however, is properly a link between the _Arcadia_ of
Sidney and the genuine heroic novel--there was an English version
as early as 1620. But, of the real thing, the first importation was
_Polexandre_, in 1647, followed by _Cassandra_ and _Ibrahim_ in 1652,
_Artamenes_ in 1653, _Cleopatra_ in 1654-8, and _Clélie_ in 1655, all,
it will be observed, published in England before the close of the

Dorothy Osborne, who had studied the French originals, turned up her
nose at these translations. She says that they were "so disguised
that I, who am their old acquaintance, hardly knew them." They had,
moreover, changed their form. In France they had come out in an
infinite number of small, manageable tomes. For instance, Calprenède
published his _Cléopatre_ in twenty-three volumes; but the English
_Cleopatra_ is all contained in one monstrous elephant folio.
_Artamenes_, the English translation of _Le Grand Cyrus_, is worse
still, for it is comprised in five such folios. Many of the originals
were translated over and over again, so popular were they; and as the
heroic novels of any eminence in France were limited in number,
it would be easy, by patiently hunting the translations up in old
libraries, to make a pretty complete list of them. The principal
heroic novels were eight in all; of these there is but one, the
_Almahide_ of Mile, de Scudéry, which we have not already mentioned,
and the original publication of the whole school is confined within
less than thirty years.

The best master in a bad class of lumbering and tiresome fiction
was the author of the book which is the text of this chapter. La
Calprenède, whose full name was nothing less than Gautier de Costes de
la Calprenède, was a Gascon gentleman of the Guards, of whose personal
history the most notorious fact is that he had the temerity to marry
a woman who had already buried five husbands. Some historians relate
that she proceeded to poison number six, but this does not appear to
be certain, while it does appear that Calprenède lived in the married
state for fifteen years, a longer respite than the antecedents of
madame gave him any right to anticipate. He made a great fame with his
two huge Roman novels, _Cassandra_ and _Cleopatra_, and then, some
years later, he produced a third, _Pharamond_ which was taken out of
early French history. The translator, in the version before us, says
of this book that it "is not a romance, but a history adorned with
some excellent flourishes of language and loves, in which you may
delightfully trace the author's learned pen through all those
historians who wrote of the times he treats of." In other words, while
Gombreville--with his King of the Canaries, and his Vanishing Islands,
and his necromancers, and his dragons--canters through pure fairyland,
and while Mlle. de Scudéry elaborately builds up a romantic picture of
her own times (in _Clélie_, for instance, where the three hundred and
seventy several characters introduced are said to be all acquaintances
of the author), Calprenède attempted to produce something like a
proper historical novel, introducing invention, but embroidering it
upon some sort of genuine framework of fact.

To describe the plot of _Pharamond_, or of any other heroic novel,
would be a desperate task. The great number of personages introduced
in pairs, the intrigues of each couple forming a separate thread
wound into the complex web of the plot, is alone enough to make any
following of the story a great difficulty. On the fly-leaf of a copy
of _Cleopatra_ which lies before me, some dear lady of the seventeenth
century has very conscientiously written out "a list of the Pairs of
Lovers," and there are thirteen pairs. _Pharamond_ begins almost in
the same manner as a novel by the late Mr. G.P.R. James might. When
the book opens we discover the amorous Marcomine and the valiant
Genebaud sallying forth along the bank of a river on two beautiful
horses of the best jennet-race. Throughout the book all the men are
valiant, all the ladies are passionate and chaste. The heroes enter
the lists covered with rubies, loosely embroidered over surcoats
of gold and silk tissue; their heads "shine with gold, enamel and
precious stones, with the hinder part covered with an hundred plumes
of different colours." They are mounted upon horses "whose whiteness
might outvie the purest snow upon the frozen Alps." They pierce into
woodland dells, where they by chance discover renowned princesses,
nonpareils of beauty, in imminent danger, and release them. They
attack hordes of deadly pirates, and scatter their bodies along the
shore; and yet, for all their warlike fire and force, they are as
gentle as marmozets in a lady's boudoir. They are especially admirable
in the putting forth of sentiments, in glozing over a subtle
difficulty in love, in tying a knot of silk or fastening a lock of
hair to their bonnet. They will steal into a cabinet so softly that a
lady who is seated there, in a reverie, will not perceive them; they
are so adroit that they will seize a paper on which she has sketched
a couplet, will complete it, pass away, and she not know whence the
poetical miracle has come. In valour, in courtesy, in magnificence
they have no rival, just as the ladies whom they court are unique in
beauty, in purity, in passion, and in self-denial. Sometimes they
correspond at immense length; in _Pharamond_ the letters which pass
between the Princess Hunnimonde and Prince Balamir would form a small
volume by themselves, an easy introduction to the art of polite
letter-writing. Mlle. de Scudéry actually perceived this, and
published a collection of model correspondence which was culled bodily
from the huge store-house of her own romances, from _Le Grand Cyrus_
and _Clélie_. These interchanges of letters were kept up by the
severity of the heroines. It was not thought proper that the lady
should yield her hand until the gentleman had exhausted the resources
of language, and had spent years of amorous labour on her conquest.
When Roger Boyle, in 1654, published his novel of _Parthenissa_, in
four volumes, Dorothy Osborne objected to the ease with which the hero
succeeded; she complains "the ladies are all so kind they make no

This particular 1662 translation of _Pharamond_ appears to be
very rare, if not unique. At all events I find it in none of the
bibliographies, nor has the British Museum Library a copy of it. The
preface is signed J.D., and the version is probably therefore from
the pen of John Davies, who helped Loveday to finish his enormous
translation of _Cleopatra_ in 1665. In 1677 there came out another
version of _Pharamond_, by John Phillips, and this is common enough.
Some day, perhaps, these elephantine old romances may come into
fashion again, and we may obtain a precise list of them. At present no
corner of our literary history is more thoroughly neglected.[1]

[Footnote 1: Since this was written, a French critic of eminence,
M. Jusserand, has made (in _The English Novel in the Time of
Shakespeare_, 1890) a delightful contribution to this portion of our
literary history. The earlier part of the last chapter of that volume
may be recommended to all readers curious about the vogue of the
heroic novel. But M. Jusserand does not happen to mention _Pharamond_,
nor to cover the exact ground of my little study.]


In his _Ballad of the Book-Hunter_, Andrew Lang describes how, in
breeches baggy at the knees, the bibliophile hunts in all weathers:

  _No dismal stall escapes his eye;
    He turns o'er tomes of low degrees;
  There soiled romanticists may lie,
    Or Restoration comedies_.

That speaks straight to my heart; for of all my weaknesses the weakest
is that weakness of mine for Restoration plays. From 1660 down to 1710
nothing in dramatic form comes amiss, and I have great schemes, like
the boards on which people play the game of solitaire, in which space
is left for every drama needed to make this portion of my library
complete. It is scarcely literature, I confess; it is a sport, a long
game which I shall probably be still playing at, with three mouldy old
tragedies and one opera yet needed to complete my set, when the Reaper
comes to carry me where there is no amassing nor collecting. It would
hardly be credited how much pleasure I have drained out of these
dramas since I began to collect them judiciously in my still callow
youth. I admit only first editions; but that is not so rigorous as it
sounds, since at least half of the poor old things never went into a

As long as it is Congreve and Dryden and Otway, of course it is
literature, and of a very high order; even Shadwell and Mrs. Behn
and Southerne are literature; Settle and Ravenscroft may pass as
legitimate literary curiosity. But there are depths below this where
there is no excuse but sheer collectaneomania. Plays by people who
never got into any schedule of English letters that ever was planned,
dramatic nonentities, stage innocents massacred in their cradles, if
only they were published in quarto I find room for them. I am not
quite so pleased to get these anonymities, I must confess, as I am to
get a clean, tall _editio princeps_ of _The Orphan_ or of _Love for
Love_. But I neither reject nor despise them; each of them counts one;
each serves to fill a place on my solitaire board, each hurries
on that dreadful possible time coming when my collection shall be
complete, and I shall have nothing to do but break my collecting rod
and bury it fathoms deep.

A volume has just come in which happens to have nothing in it but
those forgotten plays, whose very names are unknown to the historians
of literature. First comes _The Roman Empress_, by William Joyner,
printed in 1671. Joyner was an Oxford man, a fellow of Magdalen
College. The little that has been recorded about him makes one wish to
know more. He became persuaded of the truth of the Catholic faith, and
made a voluntary resignation of his Oxford fellowship. He had to do
something, and so he wrote this tragedy, which he dedicated to Sir
Charles Sedley, the poet, and got acted at the Theatre Royal. The cast
contains two good actors' names, Mohun and Kynaston, and it seems that
it enjoyed a considerable success. But doubtless the stage was too
rough a field for the gentle Oxford scholar. He retired into a
sequestered country village, where he lingered on till 1706, when he
was nearly ninety. But Joyner was none of the worst of poets. Here is
a fragment of _The Royal Empress_, which is by no means despicably

       _O thou bright, glorious morning,
  Thou Oriental spring-time of the day,
  Who with thy mixed vermilion colours paintest
  The sky, these hills and plains! thou dost return
  In thy accustom'd manner, but with thee
  Shall ne'er return my wonted happiness_.

Through his Roman tragedy there runs a pensive vein of sadness, as
though the poet were thinking less of his Aurelia and his Valentius
than of the lost common-room and the arcades of Magdalen to be no more

Our next play is a worse one, but much more pretentious. It is the
_Usurper_, of 1668, the first of four dramas published by the Hon.
Edward Howard, one of Dryden's aristocratic brothers-in-law. Edward
Howard is memorable for a couplet constantly quoted from his epic poem
of _The British Princes_:

  _A vest as admired Vortiger had on,
  Which from a naked Pict his grandsire won_.

Poor Howard has received the laughter of generations for representing
Vortiger's grandsire as thus having stripped one who was bare already.
But this is the wickedness of some ancient wag, perhaps of Dryden
himself, who loved to laugh at his brother-in-law. At all events,
the first (and, I suppose, only) edition of _The British Princes_ is
before me at this moment, and the second of these lines certainly

_Which from this island's foes his grandsire won_.

Thus do the critics, leaping one after another, like so many sheep,
follow the same wrong track, in this case for a couple of centuries.
The _Usurper_ is a tragedy, in which a Parasite, "a most perfidious
villain," plays a mysterious part. He is led off to be hanged at last,
much to the reader's satisfaction, who murmurs, in the words of R.L.
Stevenson, "There's an end of that."

But though the _Usurper_ is dull, we reach a lower depth and muddier
lees of wit in the _Carnival_, a comedy by Major Thomas Porter, of
1664. It is odd, however, that the very worst production, if it be
more than two hundred years old, is sure to contain some little
thing interesting to a modern student. The _Carnival_ has one such
peculiarity. Whenever any of the characters is left alone on the
stage, he begins to soliloquise in the stanza of Gray's _Churchyard
Elegy_. This is a very quaint innovation, and one which possibly
occurred to brave Major Porter in one of the marches and
counter-marches of the Civil War.

But the man who perseveres is always rewarded, and the fourth play in
our volume really repays us for pushing on so far. Here is a piece of
wild and ghostly poetry that is well worth digging out of the Duke of
Newcastle's _Humorous Lovers_:

  _At curfew-time, and at the dead of night,
  I will appear, thy conscious soul to fright,
  Make signs, and beckon thee my ghost to follow
  To sadder groves, and churchyards, where we'll hollo
  To darker caves and solitary woods,
  To fatal whirlpools and consuming floods;
  I'll tempt thee to pass by the unlucky ewe,
  Blasted with cursèd droppings of mildew;
  Under an oak, that ne'er bore leaf, my moans
  Shall there be told thee by the mandrake's groans;
  The winds shall sighing tell thy cruelty,
  And how thy want of love did murder me;
  And when the cock shall crow, and day grow near,
  Then in a flash of fire I'll disappear_.

But I cannot persuade myself that his Grace of Newcastle wrote those
lines himself. Published in 1677, they were as much of a portent as a
man in trunk hose and a slashed doublet. The Duke had died a month or
two before the play was published; he had grown to be, in extreme old
age, the most venerable figure of the Restoration, and it is possible
that the _Humorous Lovers_ may have been a relic of his Jacobean
youth. He might very well have written it, so old was he, in
Shakespeare's lifetime. But the Duke of Newcastle was never a very
skilful poet, and it is known that he paid James Shirley to help him
with his plays. I feel convinced that if all men had their own,
the invocation I have just quoted would fly back into the works of
Shirley, and so, no doubt, would the following quaintest bit of
conceited fancy. It is part of a fantastical feast which Boldman
promises to the Widow of his heart:

  _The twinkling stars shall to our wish
  Make a grand salad in a dish;
  Snow for our sugar shall not fail,
  Fine candied ice, comfits of hail;
  For oranges, gilt clouds will squeeze;
  The Milky Way we'll turn to cheese;
  Sunbeams we'll catch, shall stand in place
  Of hotter ginger, nutmegs, mace;
  Sun-setting clouds for roses sweet,
  And violet skies strewed for our feet;
  The spheres shall for our music play,
  While spirits dance the time away_.

This is extravagant enough, but surely very picturesque. I seem to see
the supper-room of some Elizabethan castle after an elaborate
royal masque. The Duchess, who has been dancing, richly attired in
sky-coloured silk, with gilt wings on her shoulders, is attended to
the refreshments by the florid Duke, personating the river Thamesis,
with a robe of cloth of silver around him. It seems the sort of thing
a poet so habited might be expected to say between a galliard and a

At first sight we seem to have reached a really good rhetorical play
when we arrive at Bancroft's tragedy of _Sertorius_, published in
1679, and so it would be if Dryden and Lee had never written. But its
seeming excellence is greatly lessened when we recollect that _All for
Love_ and _Mithridates_, two great poems which are almost good
plays, appeared in 1678, and inspired our poor imitative Bancroft.
_Sertorius_ is written in smooth and well-sustained blank verse, which
is, however, nowhere quite good enough to be quoted. I suspect that
John Bancroft was a very interesting man. He was a surgeon, and his
practice lay particularly In the theatrical and literary world. He
acquired, it is said, from his patients "a passion for the Muses,"
and an inclination to follow in the steps of those whom he cured or
killed. The dramatist Ravenscroft wrote an epilogue to _Sertorius_, in
which he says that--

  _Our Poet to learnèd critics does submit,
  But scorns those little vermin of the pit,
  Who noise and nonsense vent instead of wit_,

and no doubt Bancroft had aims more professional than those of the
professional playwrights themselves. He wrote three plays, and lived
until 1696. One fancies the discreet and fervent poet-surgeon, laden
with his secrets and his confidences. Why did he not write memoirs,
and tell us what it was that drove Nat Lee mad, and how Otway really
died, and what Dryden's habits were? Why did he not purvey magnificent
indiscretions whispered under the great periwig of Wycherley, or
repeat that splendid story about Etheredge and my Lord Mulgrave? Alas!
we would have given a wilderness of _Sertoriuses_ for such a series of

The volume of plays is not exhausted. Here is Weston's _Amazon Queen_,
of 1667, written in pompous rhymed heroics; here is _The Fortune
Hunters_, a comedy of 1689, the only play of that brave fellow, James
Carlile, who, being brought up an actor, preferred "to _be_ rather
than to _personate_ a hero," and died in gallant fight for William
of Orange, at the battle of Aughrim; here is _Mr. Anthony_, a comedy
written by the Right Honourable the Earl of Orrery, and printed in
1690, a piece never republished among the Earl's works, and therefore
of some special interest. But I am sure my reader is exhausted, even
if the volume is not, and I spare him any further examination of
these obscure dramas, lest he should say, as Peter Pindar did of Dr.
Johnson, that I

  _Set wheels on wheels in motion--such a clatter!
  To force up one poor nipperkin of water;
  Bid ocean labour with tremendous roar
  To heave a cockle-shell upon the shore_.

I will close, therefore, with one suggestion to the special student
of comparative literature--namely, that it is sometimes in the minor
writings of an age, where the bias of personal genius is not strongly
felt, that the general phenomena of the time are most clearly
observed. _The Amazon Queen_ is in rhymed verse, because in 1667
this was the fashionable form for dramatic poetry; _Sertorius_ is
in regular and somewhat restrained blank verse, because in 1679 the
fashion had once more chopped round. What in Dryden or Otway might be
the force of originality may be safely taken as the drift of the age
in these imitative and floating nonentities.


The Lives of The Most Famous English Poets, _or the Honour of
Parnassus; in a Brief Essay of the Works and Writings of above Two
Hundred of them, from the Time of K. William the Conqueror, to the
Reign of His Present Majesty King James II. Written by William
Winstanley. Licensed June 16, 1686. London, Printed by H. Clark, for
Samuel Manship at the Sign of the Black Bull in Cornhil,_ 1687.

A maxim which it would be well for ambitious critics to chalk up on
the walls of their workshops is this: never mind whom you praise, but
be very careful whom you blame. Most critical reputations have struck
on the reef of some poet or novelist whom the great censor, in his
proud old age, has thought he might disdain with impunity. Who
recollects the admirable treatises of John Dennis, acute, learned,
sympathetic? To us he is merely the sore old bear, who was too stupid
to perceive the genius of Pope. The grace and discrimination lavished
by Francis Jeffrey over a thousand pages, weigh like a feather beside
one sentence about Wordsworth's _Excursion_, and one tasteless sneer
at Charles Lamb. Even the mighty figure of Sainte-Beuve totters at the
whisper of the name Balzac. Even Matthew Arnold would have been wiser
to have taken counsel with himself before he laughed at Shelley. And
the very unimportant but sincere and interesting writer, whose book
occupies us to-day, is in some respects the crowning instance of the
rule. His literary existence has been sacrificed by a single outburst
of petulant criticism, which was not even literary, but purely

The only passage of Winstanley's _Lives of the English Poets_ which
is ever quoted is the paragraph which refers to Milton, who, when it
appeared, had been dead thirteen years. It runs thus:

"_John Milton_ was one whose natural parts might deservedly give him a
place amongst the principal of our English Poets, having written
two Heroick Poems and a Tragedy, namely _Paradice Lost, Paradice
Regain'd_, and _Sampson Agonista_. But his Fame is gone out like a
Candle in a Snuff, and his Memory will always stink, which might have
ever lived in honourable Repute, had not he been a notorious Traytor,
and most impiously and villanously bely'd that blessed Martyr, King
_Charles_ the First."

Mr. Winstanley does not leave us in any doubt of his own political
bias, and his mode is simply infamous. It is the roughest and most
unpardonable expression now extant of the prejudice generally felt
against Milton in London, after the Restoration--a prejudice which
even Dryden, who in his heart knew better, could not wholly resist.
This one sentence is all that most readers of seventeenth-century
literature know about Winstanley, and it is not surprising that it has
created an objection to him. I forget who it was, among the critics of
the beginning of this century, who was accustomed to buy copies of the
_Lives of the English Poets_ wherever he could pick them up, and burn
them, in piety to the angry spirit of Milton. This was certainly more
sensible conduct than that of the Italian nobleman, who used to build
MSS. of Martial into little pyres, and consume them with spices, to
express his admiration of Catullus. But no one can wonder that the
world has not forgiven Winstanley for that atrocious phrase about
Milton's fame having "gone out like a candle in a snuff, so that his
memory will always stink." No, Mr. William Winstanley, it is your own
name that--smells so very unpleasantly.

Yet I am paradoxical enough to believe that poor Winstanley never
wrote these sentences which have destroyed his fame. To support my
theory, it is needful to recount the very scanty knowledge we possess
of his life. He is said to have been a barber, and to have risen by
his exertions with the razor; but, against that legend, is to be posed
the fact that on the titles of his earliest books, dedicated to public
men who must have known, he styles himself "Gent." The dates of his
birth and death are, I believe, a matter of conjecture. But the _Lives
of the English Poets_ is the latest of his books, and the earliest was
published in 1660. This is his _England's Worthies_, a group of what
we should call to-day "biographical studies." The longest and the most
interesting of these is one on Oliver Cromwell, the tone of which is
almost grossly laudatory, although published at the very moment
of Restoration. Now, it is a curious, and, at first sight, a very
disgraceful fact, that in 1684, when the book of _England's Worthies_
was re-issued, all the praise of republicans was cancelled, and abuse
substituted for it. And then, in 1687, came the _Lives of the
English Poets_, with its horrible attack on Milton. The character of
Winstanley seems to be as base as any on literary record. I have come
to the conclusion, however, that Winstanley was guilty, neither of
retracting what he said about Cromwell, nor of slandering Milton. The
black woman excused her husband for not answering the bell, "'Cause
he's dead," and the excuse was considered valid. I hope that when
these interpolations were made, poor Winstanley was dead.

Any one who reads the _Lives of the English Poets_ carefully, will be
impressed with two facts: first, that the author had an acquaintance
with the early versifiers of Great Britain, which was quite
extraordinary, and which can hardly be found at fault by our modern
knowledge; while, secondly, that he shows a sudden and unaccountable
ignorance of his immediate contemporaries of the younger school.
Except Campion, who is a discovery of our own day, not a single
Elizabethan or Jacobean rhymester of the second or third rank escapes
his notice. Among the writers of a still later generation, I miss no
names save those of Vaughan, who was very obscure in his own lifetime,
and Marvell, who would be excluded by the same prejudice which mocked
at Milton. But among Poets of the Restoration, men and women who were
in their full fame in 1687, the omissions are quite startling. Not a
word is here about Otway, Lee, or Crowne; Butler is not mentioned, nor
the Matchless Orinda, nor Roscommon, nor Sir Charles Sedley. A careful
examination of the dates of works which Winstanley refers to, produces
a curious result. There is not mentioned, so far as I can trace, a
single poem or play which was published later than 1675, although the
date on the title-page of the _Lives of the English Poets_ is 1687.
Rather an elaborate list of Dryden's publications is given, but it
stops at _Amboyna_ (1673). On this I think it is not too bold to
build a theory, which may last until Winstanley's entry of burial is
discovered in some country church, that he died soon after 1675. If
this were the case, the recantations in his _English Worthies_ of 1684
would be so many posthumous outrages committed on his blameless tomb,
and the infamous sentence about Milton may well have been foisted into
a posthumous volume by the same wicked hand. If we could think that
Samuel Manship, at the Sign of the Black Bull, was the obsequious
rogue who did it, that would be one more sin to be numbered against
the sad race of publishers.

In studying old books about the poets, it sometimes occurs to us to
wonder whether the readers of two hundred years ago appreciated the
same qualities in good verse which are now admired. Did the ringing
and romantic cadences of Shakespeare affect their senses as they do
ours? We know that they praised Carew and Suckling, but was it "Ask me
no more where June bestows," and "Hast thou seen the down in the air,"
which gave them pleasure? It would sometimes seem, from the phrases
they use and the passages they quote, that if poetry was the same
two centuries ago, its readers had very different ears from ours. Of
Herrick Winstanley says that he was "one of the Scholars of Apollo of
the middle Form, yet something above _George Withers_, in a pretty
Flowry and Pastoral Gale of Fancy, in a vernal Prospect of some Hill,
Cave, Rock, or Fountain; which but for the interruption of other
trivial Passages, might have made up none of the worst Poetick
Landskips," and then he quotes, as a sample of Herrick, a tiresome"
epigram," in the poet's worst style. This is not delicate or acute
criticism, as we judge nowadays; but I would give a good deal to meet
Winstanley at a coffee-house, and go through the _Hesperides_ with
him over a dish of chocolate. It would be wonderfully interesting to
discover which passages in Herrick really struck the contemporary
mind as "flowery," and which as "trivial." But this is just what all
seventeenth-century criticism, even Dryden's, omits to explain to us.
The personal note in poetical criticism, the appeal to definite taste,
to the experience of eye and ear, is not met with, even in suggestion,
until we reach the pamphlets of John Dennis.

The particular copy of Winstanley which lies before me is a valuable
one; I owe it to the generosity of a friend in Chicago, who hoards
rare books, and yet has the greatness of soul sometimes to part with
them. It is interleaved, and the blank pages are rather densely
inscribed with notes in the handwriting of Dr. Thomas Percy, the
poetical Bishop of Dromore. From his hands it passed into those of
John Bowyer Nichols, the antiquary. Percy's notes are little more than
references to other authorities, memoranda for one of his own useful
compilations, yet it is pleasant to have even a slight personal relic
of so admirable a man. Mr. Rivière has bound the volume for me, and
I suppose that poor rejected Winstanley exists nowhere else in so
elegant a shape.


HISTOIRE DE L'ACADEMIE FRANÇOISE: _avec un Abregé des Vies du Cardinal
de Richelieu, Vaugelas, Corneille, Ablancourt, Mezerai, Voiture,
Patru, la Fontaine, Boileau, Racine Et autres Illustres Academiciens
qui la Composent_.


It is not often, in these days, when the pastime of bibliography is
reduced to a science, that one is rewarded, as one so often was a
quarter of a century ago, by picking up an unregarded treasure on the
bookstalls. But the other day I really had a pleasant little "find,"
and it was the reward of virtue. It came of having a tender heart.
My eye caught what Mr. Austin Dobson would call "a dear and dumpy
twelve," lying open upon other books, face downward, in the most
ignominious posture. I saw at a glance, from the tooling on its faded
and half-broken back, that it was French and of the seventeenth
century, and that somebody had prized it once. I could read the
lettering _Académ. Franc_., and I gave the pence which were wanted
for it. It proved a most rewarding little volume. It was published
at The Hague in 1688, and it was a new edition of the _Histoire de
l'Académie Française_. A preface says that "for the honour of our
nation" (the French, presumably, not the Dutch), the publisher has
thought it proper to issue an edition "more correct and more elegant"
than has hitherto been seen, brought down to date with many new and
curious pieces. Among other things, the said publisher thinks that
"the English will not be displeased to see the Panegyric" of King
Louis XIV. "admirably rendered in their language by a Person of their
Nation." But what immediately caught my attention, and filled me with
delight, was an absolutely contemporary account, written specially for
this 1688 edition, of the great quarrel between the French Academy and
the Abbé Furetière. Of this I propose to speak to-day.

We live in an age of Dictionaries and Encyclopedias, which we look
upon as universal panaceas for culture. There was a similar rage for
dictionaries in France two hundred and fifty years ago. We may very
rapidly remind ourselves that the French Academy was constituted in
1634 with thirty-five members, who became the stationary and immortal
Forty in 1639. One of its original functions was the preparation of a
great Dictionary of the French language, under the special care of
the eminent grammarian, Vaugelas, who had through his lifetime
made collections--"various beautiful and curious observations," as
Pellisson calls them--towards a reasoned philological study of French.
The poet Chapelain was appointed a sort of general editor of the
projected Dictionary, which was solemnly started early in 1638. For
the next four years the Academicians were very active, spurred on by
Richelieu, but when, in 1642, the Cardinal died, their zeal relented,
and when, in 1650, Vaugelas's presence ceased to urge them forward, it
flagged altogether. Vaugelas died bankrupt, and his creditors seized
his writing-desks, the drawers of which contained a great part of the
MS. collections for the Dictionary. It was only after a lawsuit that
the Academy recovered those papers, and Mézeray was then set to
continue the editing of the work. Still twice a week the Academy met
to consult about the Dictionary, but so languidly and with so little
fire, that Boisrobert said that not the youngest of the Forty could
hope to live to print the letter G. As a matter of fact, not one of
those who started the Dictionary lived to see it published.

In this slow fashion, with long Rip Van Winkle slumbers and occasional
faint awakenings, the French Academy faltered on with fitful
persistence towards the completion of its famous Dictionary. But, as
I have said, it was a period of great enthusiasm about all such
summaries of knowledge, and Paris was thirsting for grammars,
lexicons, inventories of language and the like. The Academy insisted
that the world must wait for the approach of their vast and lumbering
machine; but meanwhile public curiosity was impatient, and all sorts
of brief and imperfect dictionaries were issued to satisfy it. The
publication of these spurious guides to knowledge infuriated the
Academy, until in 1674 the dog permanently occupied the manger by
inducing the King to issue a decree "forbidding all printers and
publishers to print any new dictionary of the French language, under
any title whatsoever, until the publication of that of the French
Academy, or until twenty years have expired since the proclamation of
the present decree." This cut the ground from under the feet of all
rivals, and the Academy could meet twice a week as before and mumble
its definitions with serene assurance. From this false security it was
roused by the incident which my "dumpy twelve" recounts.

It was from the very heart of their own body that the great attack
upon their privileges unexpectedly fell upon the Academicians. In 1662
they had elected (in the place of De Boissat, a very obscure original
member) the Abbé of Chalivoy, Antoine Furetière. This man, born in
Paris of poor parents in 1619, had raised himself to eminence as an
Orientalist and grammarian, and was welcomed among the Forty as likely
to be particularly helpful to them in their Dictionary work. He was
probably one of those men whose true character does not come out until
they attain success. But no sooner was Furetière an Immortal than he
began to distinguish himself in unanticipated ways. He proved himself
an adept in parody and satire, and so long as he contented himself
with laughing at people like Charles Sorel, the author of _Francion_,
who had no friends, the Academicians were calm and amused, But
Furetière was not merely the author of that extremely amusing medley,
_Le Roman Bourgeois_ (1666), which still holds its place in French
literature as a minor classic, but he was also a real student of
philology, and one of those who most ardently desired to see the
settlement of the canon of French language. It incensed him beyond
words that his colleagues dawdled so endlessly over their committees
and their definitions. He began to make collections of his own, no
doubt at first with the perfectly loyal intention of adding them to
the common store. Meanwhile he lashed the rest of the Academy with
his tongue. Other Academicians did this also, such men as Patru and
Boisrobert, but they had not Furetière's nasty way of putting things.
One perceives that about the year 1680 the sarcasms of Furetière had
really become something more than the rest of the Immortals could put
up with.

He delivered himself into their hands, and here my little volume takes
up the tale. On the 3rd of January, 1685, the French Academy met to
mourn the death of its most illustrious member, the great Pierre
Corneille, and to elect his younger brother to take his place. While
the members were chatting together their Librarian handed about among
them copies of a "privilege" which had just been obtained by the Abbé
Furetière to publish "a universal Dictionary containing generally all
French words, old as well as modern, and the terms employed in all
arts and sciences." So declares my little book; but it would seem
that the officers of the Academy at least a week earlier had their
attention drawn to what Furetière was doing. Perhaps it was not until
the election of Thomas Corneille that an opportunity occurred of
making the members generally aware of it. One wonders whether
Furetière himself was present on the 3rd of January; if so, what
puttings of periwigs together there must have been in corners, and
what taps of gold-headed canes on lace-frilled cuffs! It was felt, as
my little volume puts it, that "Monsieur the Abbé Furetière, being one
of the Forty Academicians, ought not to have been privately busying
himself on a work which he knew to be the principal occupation of the
whole Academy." It is surprising, in the face of the monopoly which
that body had secured, that Furetière was able to obtain a Privilege
for his own Dictionary, but in all probability, as he was one of the
Forty, the censors supposed that he was acting in concert with his

Then began a hue and cry with which the learned world of Paris rang
for months. Never was such a scandal, never such a rain of pamphlets
and lampoons on one side and the other. One has only to glance at the
contemporary portraits of Furetière to see that he was not the man to
yield a point; his wrinkled face looks the very mirror of sarcastic
obstinacy and brilliant ill-nature. The Academy, in solemn session,
appointed Regnier Desmarais, their secretary, to wait on the
Chancellor to demand the cancelling of Furetière's privilege. But the
Abbé had powerful friends also, and by their help the Chancellor's
action was delayed, while Furetière hurried out a specimen of his
work. He says in the preface that no author ever had a more pressing
need for the protection of a prince than he has who sees the labour
of years about to be sacrificed to the envy of others. He goes on to
explain that he has never dreamed of interfering with the work of the
Academy, for which he has the greatest possible respect, but that
he only hopes to render service to the public by supplementing its
labours. The Academy, in fact, had expressly declined to include in
its Dictionary the technical terms of art and science, and it is
particularly with these that Furetière is occupied. His answer to
those who accuse him of stealing from the unpublished _cahiers_ of the
Academy is the uniformity of his work from A to Z; whereas, if he had
stolen from his colleagues, he must have stopped at O-P, which was the
point they had reached in 1684.

The Academy was not pacified, and began to take counsel how they could
turn Furetière out of their body. There was no precedent for such
a degradation, but a parallel was sought for in the fact that the
Sorbonne had successfully ejected one of its most famous doctors,
Arnauld. Meanwhile the suit went on, the Thirty-nine versus the One.
Furetière is said to have bowed for a moment beneath the storm,
offering to blend his work in the general Dictionary of the Academy,
or to remove from it all words not admitted to deal technically with
art and science. But passion had gone too far, and on the 22nd of
January, 1685, at a general meeting, twenty Academicians being
present, Furetière was expelled from the body by a majority of
nineteen to one. It is believed that the one who voted for mercy was
the most illustrious of all, Racine. Boileau and Bossuet also defended
the Abbé, and when the matter became at last so serious that the King
himself was obliged to take cognisance of it, it was understood that
his sympathies also were with Furetière.

My little volume (written, I think, in 1687) does not know anything
about the expulsion, which was therefore probably secret. It says:
"As to Monsieur Furetière, he no longer puts in an appearance at
the meetings of the Academy, but it is not known whether any other
Academician is to be elected in his place." As a matter of fact, the
society hesitated to go so far as this, and the seat was left vacant.
Not for long, however; the unanimous rancour of so many men of
influence and rank had successfully ruined the fortune and broken
the spirit of the old piratical lexicographer. Before retiring into
private life, however, he poured out in his _Couches de l'Académie_
a torrent of poison, which was distilled through the presses of
Amsterdam in 1687. One of his earlier colleagues at the Academy
supplied the bankrupt man with the necessaries of life, until, on the
14th of May, 1688, probably just as the "dumpy twelve" was passing
through the press, he died in Paris like a rat in a hole. His
Dictionary, being suppressed in France, was edited, after his death,
in 1690, at The Hague and Rotterdam, and enjoyed a great success. We
learn from a letter of Racine to Boileau that in 1694 the publisher
ventured to offer a copy of a new edition of it to the King of France,
and that it was graciously received. If the poor old man could have
struggled on a little longer he might have lived to see himself become
fashionable and successful again.

With all his misfortunes he managed to beat the Academy, for that
body, in spite of its superhuman efforts, did not contrive to publish
its Dictionary till four years after the appearance of Furetière's.
The latter is a great curiosity of lexicography, a vast storehouse of
peculiar and rare information. It is always consulted by scholars, but
never without a recollection of the extraordinary struggle which its
author sustained, singlehanded, against the world, and in which he
fell, overpowered by numbers, only to triumph after all in the ashes
of his fame.


MISCELLANY POEMS. _With Two Plays. By Ardelia.

  I never list presume to Parnass hill,
  But piping low, in shade of lowly grove,
  I play to please myself, albeit ill.

Spencer Shep. Cal. June.

Manuscript in folio. Circa_ 1696.

There is no other book in my library to which I feel that I possess so
clear a presumptive right as to this manuscript. Other rare volumes
would more fitly adorn the collections of bibliophiles more learned,
more ingenious, more elegant, than I. But if there is any person in
the two hemispheres who has so fair a claim upon the ghost of Ardelia,
let that man stand forth. Ardelia was uncultivated and unsung when I
constituted myself, years ago, her champion. With the exception of a
noble fragment of laudation from Wordsworth, no discriminating praise
from any modern critic had stirred the ashes of her name. I made it
my business to insist in many places on the talent of Ardelia. I gave
her, for the first time, a chance of challenging public taste, by
presenting to readers of Mr. Ward's _English Poets_ many pages of
extracts from her writings; and I hope it is not indiscreet to say
that, when the third volume of that compilation appeared, Mr. Matthew
Arnold told me that its greatest revelation to himself had been the
singular merit of this lady. Such being my claim on the consideration
of Ardelia, no one will, I think, grudge me the possession of this
unknown volume of her works in manuscript. It came into my hands by
a strange coincidence. In his brief life of Anne Finch, Countess of
Winchilsea--for that was Ardelia's real name--Theophilus Gibber says,
"A great number of our authoress' poems still continue unpublished,
in the hands of the Rev. Mr. Creake." In 1884 I saw advertised, in an
obscure book-list, a folio volume of old manuscript poetry. Something
excited my curiosity, and I sent for it. It proved to be a vast
collection of the poems of my beloved Anne Finch. I immediately
communicated with the bookseller, and asked him whence it came. He
replied that it had been sold, with furniture, pictures and books, at
the dispersing of the effects of a family of the name of Creake. Thank
you, divine Ardelia! It was well done; it was worthy of you.

Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea, is not a commanding figure in
history, but she is an isolated and a well-defined one. She is what
one of the precursors of Shakespeare calls "a diminutive excelsitude."
She was entirely out of sympathy with her age, and her talent was
hampered and suppressed by her conditions. She was the solitary writer
of actively developed romantic tastes between Marvell and Gray, and
she was not strong enough to create an atmosphere for herself within
the vacuum in which she languished. The facts of her life are
extremely scanty, although they may now be considerably augmented
by the help of my folio. She was born about 1660, the daughter of a
Hampshire baronet. She was maid of honour to Mary of Modena, Duchess
of York, and at Court she met Heneage Finch, who was gentleman of
the bed-chamber to the Duke. They married in 1685, probably on the
occasion of the enthronement of their master and mistress, and when
the crash came in 1688, they fled together to the retirement of
Eastwell Park. They inhabited this mansion for the rest of their
lives, although it was not until the death of his nephew, in 1712,
that Heneage Finch became fourth Earl of Winchilsea. In 1713 Anne was
at last persuaded to publish a selection of her poems, and in 1720 she
died. The Earl survived her until 1726.

My manuscript was written, I think, in or about the year 1696--that
is to say, when Mrs. Finch was in retirement from the Court. She has
adopted the habit of writing,

  _Betrayed by solitude to try
  Amusements, which the prosperous fly_.

But her exile from the world gives her no disquietude. It seems almost
an answer to her prayer. Years before, when she was at the centre of
fashion in the Court of James II., she had written in an epistle to
the Countess of Thanet:

  _Give me, O indulgent Fate,
  Give me yet, before I die,
  A sweet, but absolute retreat,
  'Mongst paths so lost, and trees so high,
  That the world may ne'er invade,
  Through such windings and such shade,
  My unshaken liberty_.

This was a sentiment rarely expressed and still more rarely felt by
English ladies at the close of the seventeenth century. What their
real opinion usually was is clothed in crude and ready language by
the heroines of Wycherley and Shadwell. Like Lucia, in the comedy of
_Epsom Wells_, to live out of London was to live in a wilderness, with
bears and wolves as one's companions. Alone in that age Anne Finch
truly loved the country, for its own sake, and had an eye to observe
its features.

She had one trouble, constitutional low spirits: she was a terrible
sufferer from what was then known as "The Spleen." She wrote a long
pindaric Ode on the Spleen, which was printed in a miscellany in 1701,
and was her first introduction to the public. She talks much about
her melancholy in her verses, but, with singular good sense, she
recognised that it was physical, and she tried various nostrums.
Neither tea, nor coffee, nor ratafia did her the least service:

  _In vain to chase thee every art I try,
  In vain all remedies apply,
  In vain the Indian leaf infuse,
  Or the parched eastern berry bruise,
  Or pass, in vain, those bounds, and nobler liquors use_.

Her neurasthenia threw a cloud over her waking hours, and took sleep
from her eyelids at night:

  _How shall I woo thee, gentle Rest,
  To a sad mind, with cares oppress'd?
  By what soft means shall I invite
  Thy powers into my soul to-night?
  Yet, gentle Sleep, if thou wilt come,
  Such darkness shall prepare the room
  As thy own palace overspreads,--
  Thy palace stored with peaceful beds,--
  And Silence, too, shall on thee wait
  Deep, as in the Turkish State;
  Whilst, still as death, I will be found,
  My arms by one another bound,
  And my dull limbs so clos'd shall be
  As if already seal'd by thee_.

She tried a course of the waters at Tunbridge Wells, but without
avail. When the abhorred fit came on, the world was darkened to her.
Only two things could relieve her--the soothing influence of solitude
with nature and the Muses, or the sympathetic presence of her husband.
She disdained the little feminine arts of her age:

  _Nor will in fading silks compose
  Faintly the inimitable rose,
  Fill up an ill-drawn bird, or paint on glass
  The Sovereign's blurr'd and indistinguished face,
  The threatening angel and the speaking ass_.

But she will wander at sundown through the exquisite woods of
Eastwell, and will watch the owlets in their downy nest or
the nightingale silhouetted against the fading sky. Then her
constitutional depression passes, and she is able once more to be

  _Our sighs are then but vernal air,
  But April-drops our tears_,

as she says in delicious numbers that might be Wordsworth's own. In
these delightful moments, released from the burden of her tyrant
malady, her eyes seem to have been touched with the herb euphrasy,
and she has the gift, denied to the rest of her generation, of seeing
nature and describing what she sees. In these moods, this contemporary
of Dryden and Congreve gives us such accurate transcripts of country
life as the following:

  _When the loos'd horse now, as his pasture leads,
  Comes slowly grazing through the adjoining meads,
  Whose stealing face and lengthened shade we fear,
  Till torn-up forage in his teeth we hear;
  When nibbling sheep at large pursue their food,
  And unmolested kine rechew the cud:
  When curlews cry beneath the village-walls,
  And to her straggling brood the partridge calls_.

In Eastwell Park there was a hill, called Parnassus, to which she was
particularly partial, and to this she commonly turned her footsteps.

Melancholy as she was, however, and devoted to reverie, she could
be gay enough upon occasion, and her sprightly poems have a genuine
sparkle. Here is an anacreontic--written "for my brother Leslie
Finch"--which has never before been printed:

  _From the Park, and the Play,
  And Whitehall, come away
  To the Punch-bowl by far more inviting;
  To the fops and 'the beaux
  Leave those dull empty shows,
  And see here what is truly delighting.

  The half globe 'tis in figure,
  And would it were bigger,
  Yet here's the whole universe floating;
  Here's titles and places,
  Rich lands, and fair faces,
  And all that is worthy our doting.

  'Twas a world like to this
  The hot Grecian did miss,
  Of whom histories keep such a pother;
  To the bottom he sunk,
  And when he had drunk,
  Grew maudlin, and wept for another_.

At another point, Anne Finch bore very little likeness to her
noisy sisterhood of fashion. In an age when it was the height of
ill-breeding for a wife to admit a partiality for her husband, Ardelia
was not ashamed to confess that Daphnis--for so she styled the
excellent Heneage Finch--absorbed every corner of her mind that was
not occupied by the Muses. It is a real pleasure to transcribe, for
the first time since they were written on the 2nd of April, 1685,
these honest couplets:

  _This, to the crown and blessing of my life,
  The much-loved husband of a happy wife;
  To him whose constant passion found the art
  To win a stubborn and ungrateful heart;
  And to the world by tenderest proof discovers
  They err who say that husbands can't be lovers.
  With such return of passion as is due,
  Daphnis I love, Daphnis my thoughts pursue,
  Daphnis, my hopes, my joys are bounded all in you_!

Nearly thirty years later the same accent is audible, thinned a little
by advancing years, and subdued from passion to tenderness, yet as
genuine as at first. When at length the Earl began to suffer from the
gout, his faithful family songster recorded that also in her amiable
verse, and prayed that "the bad disease"

  _May you but brief unfrequent visits find
  To prove you patient, your Ardelia kind_.

No one can read her sensitive verses, and not be sure that she was the
sweetest and most soothing of bed-side visitants.

It was a quiet life which Daphnis and Ardelia spent in the recesses of
Eastwell Park. They saw little company and paid few visits. There
was a stately excursion now and then, to the hospitable Thynnes at
Longleat, and Anne Finch seldom omitted to leave behind her a metrical
tribute to the beauties of that mansion. They seem to have kept up
little connection with the Court or with London. There is no trace of
literary society in this volume. Nicholas Rowe twice sent down for
their perusal translations which he had made; and from another source
we learn that Lady Winchilsea had a brisk passage of compliments with
Pope. But these were rare incidents. We have rather to think of
the long years spent in the seclusion of Eastwell, by these gentle
impoverished people of quality, the husband occupied with his
mathematical studies, his painting, the care of his garden; the wife
studying further afield in her romantic reverie, watching the birds in
wild corners of her park, carrying her Tasso, hidden in a fold of her
dress, to a dell so remote that she forgets the way back, and has to
be carried home "in a Water-cart driven by one of the Underkeepers in
his green Coat, with a Hazle-bough for a Whip." It is a little
oasis of delicate and pensive refinement in that hot close of the
seventeenth century, when so many unseemly monsters were bellowing in
the social wilderness.


AMASIA: _or, The Works of the Muses. A Collection of Poems. In three
volumes. By Mr. John Hopkins. London: Printed by Tho. Warren,
for Bennet Banbury, at the Blue-Anchor, in the Lower-Walk of the
New-Exchange_, 1700.

It has often been remarked that if the author of the poorest
collection of minor verse would accurately relate in his quavering
numbers what his personal observations and adventures have been, his
book would not be entirely without value. But ninety-nine times out of
a hundred, this is precisely what he cannot do. His rhymes carry him
whither he would not, and he is lost in a fog of imitated phrases and
spurious sensations. The very odd and very rare set of three little
volumes, which now come before us, offer a curious exception to this
rule. The author of _Amasia_ was no poet, but he possessed the faculty
of writing with exactitude about himself. He prattled on in heroic
couplets from hour to hour, recording the tiny incidents of his life.
At first sight, his voluble miscellany seems a mere wilderness of tame
verses, but when we examine it closely a story gradually evolves. We
come to know John Hopkins, and live in the intimacy of his circle.
His poems contain a novelette in solution. So far as I can discover,
nothing whatever is known of him save what he reveals of himself, and
no one, I think, has ever searched his three uninviting volumes. In
the following paragraphs I have put together his story as it is to be
found in the pages of _Amasia_.

By a single allusion to the _Epistolary Poems_ of Charles Hopkins,
"very well perform'd by my Brother," in 1694, we are able to identify
the author of _Amasia_ with certainty. He was the second son of the
Right Rev. Ezekiel Hopkins, Lord Bishop of Derry. The elder brother
whom we have mentioned, Charles, was considerably his senior; for
six years the latter occupied a tolerably prominent place in London
literary society, was the intimate friend of Dryden and Congreve,
published three or four plays not without success, and possessed a
name which is pretty frequently met with in books of the time. But to
John Hopkins I have discovered scarcely an allusion. He does not seem
to have moved in his brother's circle, and his society was probably
more courtly than literary. If we may trust his own account the author
of _Amasia_ was born, doubtless at Londonderry, on the 1st of January,
1675. He was, therefore, only twenty-five when his poems were
published, and the exquisitely affected portrait which adorns the
first volume must represent him as younger still, since it was
executed by the Dutch engraver, F.H. van Hove, who was found murdered
in October, 1698.

Pause a moment, dear reader, and observe Mr. John Hopkins, _alias_
Sylvius, set out with all the artillery of ornament to storm the heart
of Amasia. Notice his embroidered silken coat, his splendid lace
cravat, the languishment of his large foolish eyes, the indubitable
touch of Spanish red on those smooth cheeks. But, above all
contemplate the wonders of his vast peruke. He has a name, be sure,
for every portion of that killing structure. Those sausage-shaped
curls, close to the ears, are _confidants_; those that dangle round
the temples, _favorites_; the sparkling lock that descends alone over
the right eyebrow is the _passagère_; and, above all, the gorgeous
knot that unites the curls and descends on the left breast, is aptly
named the _meurtrière_. If he would but turn his head, we should see
his _crèves-coeur_, the two delicate curled locks at the nape of his
neck. The escutcheon below his portrait bears, very suitably, three
loaded muskets rampant. Such was Sylvius, conquering but, alas! not to

The youth of John Hopkins was passed in the best Irish society. His
father, the Bishop, married--apparently in second nuptials, for John
speaks not of her as a man speaks of his mother--the daughter of the
Earl of Radnor. Lady Araminta Hopkins seems to have been a friend of
Isabella, Duchess of Grafton, the exquisite girl who, at the age of
five, had married a bridegroom of nine, and at twenty-three was left
a widow, to be the first toast in English society. The poems of John
Hopkins are dedicated to this Dowager-duchess, who, when they were
published, had already for two years been the wife of Sir Thomas
Hanmer. At the age of twelve, and probably in Dublin, Hopkins met the
mysterious lady who animates these volumes under the name of Amasia.
Who was Amasia? That, alas! even the volubility of her lover does
not reveal. But she was Irish, the daughter of a wealthy and perhaps
titled personage, and the intimate companion for many years of the
beautiful Duchess of Grafton.

Love did not begin at first sight. Sylvius played with Amasia when
they both were children, and neither thought of love. Later on, in
early youth, the poet was devoted only to a male friend, one Martin.
To him ecstatic verses are inscribed:

  _O Martin! Martin! let the grateful sound
  Reach to that Heav'n which has our Friendship crown'd,
  And, like our endless Friendship, meet no bound_.

But alas! one day Martin came back, after a long absence, and,
although he still

  _With generous, kind, continu'd Friendship burn'd_,

he found Sylvius entirely absorbed by Amasia. Martin knew better than
to show temper; he accepted the situation, and

      _the lov'd Amasia's Health flew round,
  Amasia's Health the Golden Goblets crown'd_.

Now began the first and happiest portion of the story. Amasia had no
suspicion of the feelings of the poet, and he was only too happy to be
permitted to watch her movements. He records, in successive copies of
verses, the various things she did. He seems to have been on terms of
delightful intimacy with the lady, and he calls all sorts of people of
the highest position to witness how he suffered. To Lady Sandwich are
dedicated poems on "Amasia, drawing her own Picture," on "Amasia,
playing with a Clouded Fan," on "Amasia, singing, and sticking pins in
a Red Silk Pincushion." We are told how Amasia "looked at me through a
Multiplying-Glass," how she was troubled with a redness in her eyes,
how she danced before a looking-glass, how her flowered muslin
nightgown (or "night-rail," as he calls it) took fire, and how, though
she promised to sing, yet she never performed. We have a poem on the
circumstance that Amasia, "having prick'd me with a Pin, accidentally
scratched herself with it;" and another on her "asking me if I slept
well after so tempestuous a night." But perhaps the most intimate of
all is a poem "To Amasia, tickling a Gentleman." It was no perfunctory
tickling that Amasia administered:

  _While round his sides your nimble Fingers played,
  With pleasing softness did they swiftly rove,
  While, at each touch, they made his Heart-strings move.
  As round his Breast, his ravish'd Breast they crowd,
  We hear their Musick when he laughs aloud_.

This is probably the only instance in literature in which a gentleman
has complacently celebrated in verse the fact that his lady-love has
tickled some other gentleman.

But this generous simplicity was not long to last. In 1690 Hopkins's
father, the Bishop, had died. We may conjecture that Lady Araminta
took charge of the boy, and that his home, in vacation time, was with
her in Dublin or London. He writes like a youth who has always been
petted; the _frou-frou_ of fine ladies' petticoats is heard in all his
verses. But he had no fortune and no prospects; he was utterly, he
confesses, without ambition. The stern papa of Amasia had no notion of
bestowing her on the penniless Sylvius, and when the latter began to
court her in earnest, she rebuffed him. She tore up his love-letters,
she teased him by sending her black page to the window when he was
ogling for her in the street below, she told him he was too young for
her, and although she had no objection to his addressing verses to
her, she gave him no serious encouragement. She was to be married, he
hints, to some one of her own rank--some rich "country booby."

At last, early in 1698, in company with the Duchess of Grafton, and
possibly on the occasion of the second marriage of the latter, Amasia
was taken off to France, and Hopkins never saw her again. A year later
he received news of her death, and his little romance was over. He
became ill, and Dr. Gibbons, the great fashionable physician of the
day, was called in to attend him. The third volume closes by his
summoning the faithful and unupbraiding Martin back to his heart:

  _Love lives in Sun-Shine, or that Storm, Despair,
  But gentler Friendship Breathes a Mod'rate Air_.

And so Sylvius, with all his galaxy of lovely Irish ladies, his
fashionable Muses, and his trite and tortured fancy, disappears into
thin air.

The only literary man whom he mentions as a friend is George Farquhar,
himself a native of Londonderry, and about the same age as Hopkins.
This playwright seems to be sometimes alluded to as Daphnis, sometimes
under his own name. Before the performance of _Love and a Bottle_,
Hopkins prophesied for the author a place where

  _Congreve, Vanbrook, and Wicherley must sit,
  The great Triumvirate of Comick Wit_,

and later on he thought that even Collier himself ought to commend the
_Constant Couple, or A Trip to the Jubilee_. At the first performance
of this play, towards the close of 1699, Hopkins was greatly perturbed
by the presence of a lady who reminded him of Amasia, and when he
visited the theatre next he was less pleased with the play. He had a
vague and infelicitous scheme for turning _Paradise Lost_ into rhyme.
These are the only traces of literary bias. In other respects Hopkins
is interested in nothing more serious than a lock of Amasia's hair;
the china cup she had, "round the sides of which were painted Trees,
and at the bottom a Naked Woman Weeping;" her box of patches, in which
she finds a silver penny; or the needlework embroidered on her gown.
When Amasia died there was no reason why Sylvius should continue to
exist, and he fades out of our vision like a ghost.


LOVE AND BUSINESS: _in a Collection of occasionary Verse and
epistolary Prose not hitherto published. By Mr. George Farquhar_. En
Orenge il n'y a point d'oranges. _London, printed for B. Lintott, at
the Post-House, in the Middle Temple-Gate, Fleet Street_. 1702.

There are some books, like some people, of whom we form an indulgent
opinion without finding it easy to justify our liking. The young man
who went to the life-insurance office and reported that his father
had died of no particular disease, but just of "plain death," would
sympathise with the feeling I mention. Sometimes we like a book, not
for any special merit, but just because it is what it is. The rare,
and yet not celebrated, miscellany of which I am about to write
has this character. It is not instructive, or very high-toned, or
exceptionally clever, but if it were a man, all people that are not
prigs would say that it was a very good sort of fellow. If it be, as
it certainly is, a literary advantage for a nondescript collection of
trifles, to reproduce minutely the personality of its writer, then
_Love and Business_ has one definite merit. Wherever we dip into its
pages we may use it as a telephone, and hear a young Englishman, of
the year 1700, talking to himself and to his friends in the most
unaffected accents.

Captain George Farquhar, in 1702, was four-and-twenty years of age.
He was a smart, soldier-like Irishman, of "a splenetic and amorous
complexion," half an actor, a quarter a poet, and altogether a very
honest and gallant gentleman. He had taken to the stage kindly enough,
and at twenty-one had written _Love and a Bottle_. Since then, two
other plays, _The Constant Couple_ and _Sir Harry Wildair_, had proved
that he had wit and fancy, and knew how to knit them together into
a rattling comedy. But he was poor, always in pursuit of that timid
wild-fowl, the occasional guinea, and with no sort of disposition to
settle down into a heavy citizen. In order to bring down a few brace
of golden game, he shovels into Lintott's hands his stray verses of
all kinds, a bundle of letters he wrote from Holland, a dignified
essay or discourse upon Comedy, and, with questionable taste perhaps,
a set of copies of the love-letters he had addressed to the lady
who became his wife. All this is not very praiseworthy, and as a
contribution to literature it is slight indeed; but, then, how genuine
and sincere, how guileless and picturesque is the self-revelation of
it! There is no attempt to make things better than they are, nor any
pandering to a cynical taste by making them worse. Why should he
conceal or falsify? The town knows what sort of a fellow George
Farquhar is. Here are some letters and some verses; the beaux at
White's may read them if they will, and then throw them away.

As we turn the desultory pages, the figure of the author rises before
us, good-natured, easygoing, high-coloured, not bad-looking, with an
air of a gentleman in spite of his misfortunes. We do not know
the exact details of his military honours. We may think of him as
swaggering in scarlet regimentals, but we have his own word for it
that he was often in _mufti_. His mind is generally dressed, he says,
like his body, in black; for though he is so brisk a spark in company,
he suffers sadly from the spleen when he is alone. We can follow him
pretty closely through his day. He is a queer mixture of profanity and
piety, of coarseness and loyalty, of cleverness and density; we do not
breed this kind of beau nowadays, and yet we might do worse, for this
specimen is, with all his faults, a man. He dresses carefully in the
morning, in his uniform or else in his black suit. When he wants to
be specially smart, as, for instance, when he designs a conquest at a
birthday-party, he has to ferret among the pawnbrokers for scraps of
finery, or secure on loan a fair, full-bottom wig. But he is not so
impoverished that he cannot on these occasions give his valet and his
barber plenty of work to do preparing his face with razors, perfumes
and washes. He would like to be Sir Fopling Flutter, if he could
afford it, and gazes a little enviously at that noble creature in his
French clothes, as he lounges luxuriantly past him in his coach with
six before and six behind.

Poor Captain Farquhar begins to expect that he himself will never be
"a first-rate Beau." So, on common mornings, a little splenetic, he
wanders down to the coffee-houses and reads the pamphlets, those which
find King William glorious, and those that rail at the watery Dutch.
He will even be a little Jacobitish for pure foppery, and have a fling
at the Church, but in his heart he is with the Ministry. He meets a
friend at White's, and they adjourn presently to the Fleece Tavern,
where the drawer brings them a bottle of New French and a neat's
tongue, over which they discuss the doctrine of predestination so
hotly that two mackerel-vendors burst in, mistaking their lifted
voices for a cry for fish. His friend has business in the city, and so
our poet strolls off to the Park, and takes a turn in the Mall with
his hat in his hand, prepared for an adventure or a chat with a
friend. Then comes the play, the inevitable early play, still, even
in 1700, apt to be so rank-lipped that respectable ladies could only
appear at it in masks. It was the transition period, and poor Comedy,
who was saying good-bye to literature, was just about to console
herself with modesty.

However, a domino may slip aside, and Mr. George Farquhar notices
a little lady in a deep mourning mantua, whose eyes are not to be
forgotten. She goes, however; it is useless to pursue her; but the
music raises his soul to such a pitch of passion that he is almost
melancholy. He strolls out into Spring Garden, but there, "with
envious eyes, I saw every Man pick up his Mate, whilst I alone walked
like solitary Adam before the Creation of his Eve; but the place was
no Paradise to me; nothing I found entertaining but the Nightingale."
So that in those sweet summer evenings of 1700, over the laced and
brocaded couples promenading in Spring Garden, as over good Sir Roger
twelve years later, the indulgent nightingale still poured her notes.
To-day you cannot hear the very bells of St. Martin's for the roar of
the traffic. So lonely, and too easily enamoured, George has to betake
himself to the tavern, and a passable Burgundy. There is no idealism
about him. He is very fit for repentance next morning. "The searching
Wine has sprung the Rheumatism in my Right Hand, my Head aches, my
Stomach pukes." Our poor, good-humoured beau has no constitution for
this mode of life, and we know, though happily he dreams not of it,
that he is to die before he reaches thirty.

This picture of Farquhar's life is nowhere given in the form just
related, but not one touch in the portrait but is to be found
somewhere in the frank and easy pages of _Love and Business_. The
poems are of their age and kind. There is a "Pindarick," of course; it
was so easy to write one, and so reputable. There are compliments in
verse to one of the female wits who were writing then for the stage,
Mrs. Trotter, author of the _Fatal Friendship_; there are amatory
explanations of all kinds. When he fails to keep an appointment with
a lady on account of the rain--for there were no umbrellas in those
days--he likens himself to Leander, wistful on the Sestian shore. He
is not always very discreet; Damon's thoughts when "Night's black
Curtain o'er the World was spread" were very innocent, but such as we
have decided nowadays to say nothing about. It was the fashion of the
time to be outspoken. There is no value, however, in the verse,
except that it is graphic now and then. The letters are much more
interesting. Those sent from Holland in the autumn of 1700 are very
good reading. I make bold to quote one passage from the first,
describing the storm he encountered in crossing. It depicts our hero
to the life, with all his inconsistencies. He says: "By a kind of
Poetical Philosophy I bore up pretty well under my Apprehensions;
though never worse prepared for Death, I must confess, for I think I
never had so much Money about me at a time. We had some Ladies aboard,
that were so extremely sick, that they often wished for Death, but
were damnably afraid of being drown'd. But, as the Scripture says,
'Sorrow may last for a Night, but Joy cometh in the Morning,'" and so
on. The poor fellow means no harm by all this, as Hodgson once said of
certain remarks of Byron's.

The love-letters are very curious. It is believed that the sequel of
them was a very unhappy marriage. Captain Farquhar was of a loving
disposition, and as inflammable as a hay-rick. He cannot have been
much more than twenty-one when he described what he desired in a wife.
"O could I find," he said--

  _O could I find (Grant, Heaven, that once I may!)
  A Nymph fair, kind, poetical and gay
  Whose Love should blaze, unsullied and divine.
  Lighted at first by the bright Lamp of mine.
  Free as a Mistress, faithful as a wife.
  And one that lov'd a Fiddle as her Life,
  Free from all sordid Ends, from Interest free,
  For my own Sake affecting only me,
  What a blest Union should our Souls combine!
  I hers alone, and she be only mine!_

It does not seem a very exacting ideal, but the poor poet missed it.
Whether Mrs. Farquhar loved a fiddle as her life is not recorded, but
she certainly was not free from all sordid ends and unworthy tricks.
The little lady in the mourning mantua soon fell in love with our
gallant spark, and when he made court to her, she represented herself
as very wealthy. The deed accomplished, Mrs. Farquhar turned out to be
penniless; and the poet, like a gentleman as he was, never reproached
her, but sat down cheerfully to a double poverty. In _Love and
Business_ the story does not proceed so far. He receives Miss Penelope
V----'s timid advances, describes himself to her, is soon as much in
love with his little lady as she with him, and is making broad demands
and rich-blooded confidences in fine style, no offence taken where
no harm is meant. In one of the letters to Penelope we get a very
interesting glance at a famous, and, as it happens, rather obscure,
event--the funeral of the great Dryden, in May 1700. Farquhar says:

"I come now from Mr. Dryden's Funeral, where we had an Ode in Horace
sung, instead of David's Psalms; whence you may find that we don't
think a Poet worth Christian Burial; the Pomp of the Ceremony was a
kind of Rhapsody, and fitter, I think, for Hudibras than him; because
the Cavalcade was mostly Burlesque; but he was an extraordinary Man,
and bury'd after an extraordinary Fashion; for I believe there was
never such another Burial seen; the Oration indeed was great and
ingenious, worthy the Subject, and like the Author [Dr. Garth], whose
Prescriptions can restore the Living, and his Pen embalm the Dead.
And so much for Mr. Dryden, whose Burial was the same with his
Life,--Variety, and not of a Piece. The Quality and Mob, Farce and
Heroicks, the Sublime and Ridicule mixt in a Piece, great Cleopatra in
a Hackney Coach."


Who was Ann Lang? Alas! I am not sure; but she flourished one hundred
and sixty years ago, under his glorious Majesty, George I., and I have
become the happy possessor of a portion of her library. It consists
of a number of cheap novels, all published in 1723 and 1724, when Ann
Lang probably bought them; and each carries, written on the back of
the title, "ann Lang book 1727," which is doubtless the date of her
lending them to some younger female friend. The letters of this
inscription are round and laboriously shaped, while the form is always
the same, and never "Ann Lang, her book," which is what one would
expect. It is not the hand of a person of quality: I venture to
conclude that she who wrote it was a milliner's apprentice or a
servant-girl. There are five novels in this little collection, and
a play, and a pamphlet of poems, and a bundle of love-letters, all
signed upon their title-pages by the Ouida of the period, the great
Eliza Haywood.

No one who has not dabbled among old books knows how rare have become
the strictly popular publications of a non-literary kind which a
generation of the lower middle class has read and thrown away. Eliza
Haywood lives in the minds of men solely through one very coarse and
cruel allusion to her made by Pope in the _Dunciad_. She was never
recognised among people of intellectual quality; she ardently desired
to belong to literature, but her wish was never seriously gratified,
even by her friend Aaron Hill. Yet she probably numbered more readers,
for a year or two, than any other person in the British realm. She
poured forth what she called "little Performances" from a tolerably
respectable press; and the wonder is that in these days her abundant
writings are so seldom to be met with. The secret doubtless is that
her large public consisted almost wholly of people like Ann Lang.
Eliza was read by servants in the kitchen, by seamstresses, by
basket-women, by 'prentices of all sorts, male and female, but mostly
the latter. For girls of this sort there was no other reading of a
light kind in 1724. It was Eliza Haywood or nothing. The men of the
same class read Defoe; but he, with his cynical severity, his absence
of all pity for a melting mood, his savagery towards women, was not
likely to be preferred by "straggling nymphs." The footman might read
_Roxana_, and the hackney-writer sit up after his toil over _Moll
Flanders_; there was much in these romances to interest men. But what
had Ann Lang to do with stories so cold and harsh? She read Eliza

But most of her sisters, of Eliza's great _clientèle_, did not know
how to treat a book. They read it to tatters, and they threw it away.
It may be news to some readers that these early novels were very
cheap. Ann Lang bought _Love in Excess_, which is quite a thick
volume, for two shillings; and the first volume of _Idalia_ (for Eliza
was Ouidaesque even in her titles) only cost her eighteen-pence. She
seems to have been a clean girl. She did not drop warm lard on the
leaves. She did not tottle up her milk-scores on the bastard-title.
She did not scribble in the margin "Emanuella is a foul wench." She
did not dog's-ear her little library, or stain it, or tear it. I owe
it to that rare and fortunate circumstance of her neatness that her
beloved books have come into my possession after the passage of so
many generations. It must be recollected that Eliza Haywood lived in
the very twilight of English fiction. Sixteen years were still to
pass, in 1724, before the British novel properly began to dawn in
_Pamela_, twenty-five years before it broke in the full splendour of
_Tom Jones_. Eliza Haywood simply followed where, two generations
earlier, the redoubtable Mrs. Aphra Behn had led. She preserved the
old romantic manner, a kind of corruption of the splendid Scudéry and
Calprenède folly of the middle of the seventeenth century. All that
distinguished her was her vehement exuberance and the emptiness of the
field. Ann Lang was young, and instinctively attracted to the study of
the passion of love. She must read something, and there was nothing
but Eliza Haywood for her to read.

The heroines of these old stories were all palpitating with
sensibility, although that name had not yet been invented to describe
their condition. When they received a letter beginning "To the divine
Lassellia," or "To the incomparable Donna Emanuella," they were
thrown into the most violent disorder; "a thousand different Passions
succeeded one another in their turns," and as a rule "'twas all too
sudden to admit disguise." When a lady in Eliza Haywood's novels
receives a note from a gentleman, "all her Limbs forget their
Function, and she sinks fainting on the Bank, in much the same posture
as she was before she rais'd herself a little to take the Letter." I
am positive that Ann Lang practised this series of attitudes in the
solitude of her garret.

There is no respite for the emotions from Eliza's first page to her
last. The implacable Douxmoure (for such was her singular name)
"continued for some time in a Condition little different from Madness;
but when Reason had a little recovered its usual Sway, a deadly
Melancholy succeeded Passion." When Bevillia tried to explain to her
cousin that Emilius was no fit suitor for her hand, the young lady
swooned twice before she seized Bevillia's "cruel meaning;" and
then--ah! then--"silent the stormy Passions roll'd in her tortured
Bosom, disdaining the mean Ease of raging or complaining. It was a
considerable time before she utter'd the least Syllable; and when she
did, she seem'd to start as from some dreadful Dream, and cry'd, 'It
is enough--in knowing one I know the whole deceiving Sex'"; and she
began to address an imaginary Women's Rights Meeting.

Plot was not a matter about which Eliza Haywood greatly troubled
herself. A contemporary admirer remarked, with justice:

  '_Tis Love Eliza's soft Affections fires;
  Eliza writes, but Love alone inspires;
  'Tis Love that gives D'Elmont his manly Charms,
  And tears Amena from her Father's Arms_.

These last-named persons are the hero and heroine of _Love in Excess;
or The Fatal Inquiry_, which seems to have been the most popular of
the whole series. This novel might be called _Love Through a Window_;
for it almost entirely consists of a relation of how the gentleman
prowled by moonlight in a garden, while the lady, in an agitated
disorder, peeped out of her lattice in "a most charming Dishabillée."
Alas! there was a lock to the door of a garden staircase, and while
the lady "was paying a Compliment to the Recluse, he was dextrous
enough to slip the Key out of the Door unperceived." Ann Lang!--"a
sudden cry of Murder, and the noise of clashing Swords," come none too
soon to save those blushes which, we hope, you had in readiness for
the turning of the page! Eliza Haywood assures us, in _Idalia_, that
her object in writing is that "the Warmth and Vigour of Youth may be
temper'd by a due Consideration"; yet the moralist must complain
that she goes a strange way about it. Idalia herself was "a lovely
Inconsiderate" of Venice, who escaped in a "Gondula" up "the River
Brent," and set all Vicenza by the ears through her "stock of
Haughtiness, which nothing could surmount." At last, after adventures
which can scarcely have edified Ann Lang, Idalia abruptly "remember'd
to have heard of a Monastery at Verona," and left Vicenza at break of
day, taking her "unguarded languishments" out of that city and out of
the novel. It is true that Ann Lang, for 2s., bought a continuation of
the career of Idalia; but we need not follow her.

The perusal of so many throbbing and melting romances must necessarily
have awakened in the breast of female readers a desire to see the
creator of these tender scenes. I am happy to inform my readers that
there is every reason to believe that Ann Lang gratified this innocent
wish. At all events, there exists among her volumes the little book of
the play sold at the doors of Drury Lane Theatre, when, in the summer
of 1724, Eliza Haywood's new comedy of _A Wife to be Lett_ was acted
there, with the author performing in the part of Mrs. Graspall. The
play itself is wretched, and tradition says that it owed what little
success it enjoyed to the eager desire which the novelist's readers
felt to gaze upon her features. She was about thirty years of age
at the time; but no one says that she was handsome, and she was
undoubtedly a bad actress, I think the disappointment that evening
at the Theatre Royal opened the eyes of Ann Lang. Perhaps it was the
appearance of Eliza in the flesh which prevented her old admirer from
buying _The Secret History of Cleomina, suppos'd dead_, which I miss
from the collection.

If Ann Lang lived on until the publication of _Pamela_--especially if
during the interval she had bettered her social condition--with
what ardour must she have hailed the advent of what, with all its
shortcomings, was a book worth gold. Perhaps she went to Vauxhall with
it in her muff, and shook it triumphantly at some middle-aged lady of
her acquaintance. Perhaps she lived long enough to see one great novel
after another break forth to lighten the darkness of life. She must
have looked back on the pompous and lascivious pages of Eliza Haywood,
with their long-drawn palpitating intrigues, with positive disgust.
The English novel began in 1740, and after that date there was always
something wholesome for Ann Lang and her sisters to read.


LES CHATS. _A Rotterdam, chez Jean Daniel Beman, MDCCXXVIII_.

An accomplished lady of my acquaintance tells me that she is preparing
an anthology of the cat. This announcement has reminded me of one of
the oddest and most entertaining volumes in my library. People who
collect prints of the eighteenth century know an engraving which
represents a tom-cat, rampant, holding up an oval portrait of a
gentleman and standing, in order to do so, on a volume. The volume
is _Les Chats_, the book before us, and the portrait is that of the
author, the amiable and amusing Augustin Paradis de Moncrif. He was
the son of English, or more probably of Scotch parents settled in
Paris, where he was born in 1687. All we know of his earlier years
is to be found in a single sparkling page of d'Alembert, who makes
Moncrif float out of obscurity like the most elegant of iridescent
bubbles. He was handsome and seductive, turned a copy of verses with
the best of gentlemen, but was particularly distinguished by the art
with which he purveyed little dramas for the amateur stage, then so
much in fashion in France. Somebody said of him, when he was famous
as the laureate of the cats, that he had risen in life by never
scratching, by always having velvet paws, and by never putting up his
back, even when he was startled. Voltaire called him "my very dear
Sylph," and he was the ideal of all that was noiseless, graceful,
good-humoured, and well-bred. He slipped unobtrusively into the French
Academy, and lived to be eighty-three, dying at last, like Anacreon,
in the midst of music and dances and fair nymphs of the Opera,
affecting to be a sad old rogue to the very last.

This book on Cats, the only one by which he is now remembered, was the
sole production of his lifetime which cost him any annoyance. He was
forty years of age when it appeared, and the subject was considered a
little frivolous, even for such a _petit conteur_ as Moncrif. People
continued to tease him about it, and the only rough thing he ever did
was the result of one such twitting. The poet Roy made an epigram
about "cats" and "rats," in execrable taste, no doubt; this stung our
Sylph to such an excess that he waited outside the Palais Royal and
beat Roy with a stick when he came out. The poet was, perhaps, not
much hurt; at all events, he had the presence of mind to retort,
"Patte de velours, patte de velours, Minon-minet!" It was six years
after this that Moncrif was elected into the French Academy, and
then the shower of epigrams broke out again. He wished to be made
historiographer; "Oh, nonsense," the wits cried, "he must mean
historiogriffe" and they invited him, on nights when the Academy met,
to climb on to the roof and miau from the chimneypots. He had the
weakness to apologise for his charming book, and to withdraw it from
circulation. His pastoral tales and heroic ballets, his _Zélindors_
and _Zéloïdes_ and _Erosines_, which to us seem utterly vapid and
frivolous, never gave him a moment's uneasiness. His crumpled
rose-leaf was the book by which his name lives in literature.

The book of cats is written in the form of eleven letters to Madame la
Marquise de B----. The anonymous author represents himself as too much
excited to sleep, after an evening spent in a fashionable house,
where the company was abusing cats. He was unsupported; where was
the Marquise, who would have brought a thousand arguments to his
assistance, founded on her own experience of virtuous pussies? Instead
of going to bed he will sit up and indite the panegyric of the feline
race. He is still sore at the prejudice and injustice of the people
he has just left. It culminated in the conduct of a lady who declared
that cats were poison, and who, "when pussy appeared in the room, had
the presence of mind to faint." These people had rallied him on the
absurdity of his enthusiasm; but, as he says, the Marquise well knows,
"how many women have a passion for cats, and how many men are women in
this respect."

So he starts away on his dissertation, with all its elegant pedantry,
its paradoxical wit, its genuine touches of observation and its
constant sparkle of anecdote. He is troubled to account for the
existence of the cat. An Ottoman legend relates that when the animals
were in the Ark, Noah gave the lion a great box on the ear, which made
him sneeze, and produce a cat out his nose. But the author questions
this origin, and is more inclined to agree with a Turkish Minister of
Religion, sometime Ambassador to France, that the ape, "weary of a
sedentary life" in the Ark, paid his attentions to a very agreeable
young lioness, whose infidelities resulted in the birth of a Tom-cat
and a Puss-cat, and that these, combining the qualities of their
parents, spread through the Ark _un esprit de coquetterie_--which
lasted during the whole of the sojourn there. Moncrif has no
difficulty in showing that the East has always been devoted to cats,
and he tells the story of Mahomet, who, being consulted one day on
a point of piety, preferred to cut off his sleeve, on which his
favourite pussy was asleep, rather than wake her violently by rising.

From the French poets, Moncrif collects a good many curious tributes
to the "harmless, necessary cat." I am seized with an ambition to put
some fragments of these into English verse. Most of them are highly
complimentary. It is true that Ronsard was one of those who could not
appreciate a "matou." He sang or said:

  _There is no man now living anywhere
    Who hates cats with a deeper hate than I;
  I hate their eyes, their heads, the way they stare,
    And when I see one come, I turn and fly_.

But among the _précieuses_ of the seventeenth century there was much
more appreciation. Mme. Deshoulières wrote a whole series of songs
and couplets about her cat, Grisette. In a letter to her husband,
referring to the attentions she herself receives from admirers, she

  _Deshoulières cares not for the smart
    Her bright eyes cause, disdainful hussy,
  But, like a mouse, her idle heart
    Is captured by a pussy_.

Much better than these is the sonnet on the cat of the Duchess of
Lesdiguières, with its admirable line:

  _Chatte pour tout le monde, et pour les chats tigresse_.

A fugitive epistle by Scarron, delightfully turned, is too long to be
quoted here, nor can I pause to cite the rondeau which the Duchess of
Maine addressed to her favourite. But she supplemented it as follows:

  _My pretty puss, my solace and delight,
  To celebrate thy loveliness aright
  I ought to call to life the bard who sung
  Of Lesbia's sparrow with so sweet a tongue;
  But 'tis in vain to summon here to me
  So famous a dead personage as he,
  And you must take contentedly to-day
  This poor rondeau that Cupid wafts your way_.

When this cat died the Duchess was too much affected to write its
epitaph herself, and accordingly it was done for her, in the following
style, by La Mothe le Vayer, the author of the _Dialogues_:

  _Puss passer-by, within this simple tomb
    Lies one whose life fell Atropos hath shred;
  The happiest cat on earth hath heard her doom,
    And sleeps for ever in a marble bed.
  Alas! what long delicious days I've seen!
    O cats of Egypt, my illustrious sires,
  You who on altars, bound with garlands green,
    Have melted hearts, and kindled fond desires,--
  Hymns in your praise were paid, and offerings too,
    But I'm not jealous of those rights divine.
  Since Ludovisa loved me, close and true,
    Your ancient glory was less proud than mine.
  To live a simple pussy by her side
  Was nobler far than to be deified_.

To these and other tributes Moncrif adds idyls and romances of his
own, while regretting that it never occurred to Theocritus to write a
_bergerie de chats_. He tells stories of blameless pussies beloved
by Fontanelle and La Fontaine, and quotes Marot in praise of "the
green-eyed Venus." But he tears himself away at last from all these
historical reminiscences, and in his eleventh letter he deals with
cats as they are. We hasten as lightly as possible over a story of the
disinterestedness of a feline Heloise, which is too pathetic for a
nineteenth-century ear. But we may repeat the touching anecdote of
Bayle's friend, Mlle. Dupuy. This lady excelled to a surprising
degree in playing the harp, and she attributed her excellence in this
accomplishment to her cat, whose critical taste was only equalled by
his close attention to Mlle. Dupuy's performance. She felt that she
owed so much to this cat, under whose care her reputation for skill on
the harp had become universal, that when she died she left him, in her
will, one agreeable house in town and another in the country. To this
bequest she added a revenue sufficient to supply all the requirements
of a well-bred tom-cat, and at the same time she left pensions to
certain persons whose duty it should be to wait upon him. Her ignoble
family contested the will, and there was a long suit. Moncrif gives
a handsome double-plate illustration of this incident. Mlle. Dupuy,
sadly wasted by illness, is seen in bed, with her cat in her arms,
dictating her will to the family lawyer in a periwig; her physician is
also present.

This leads me to speak of the illustrations to _Les Chats_, which
greatly add to its value. They were engraved by Otten from original
drawings by Coypel. In another edition the same drawings are engraved
by Count Caylus. Some of them are of a charming absurdity. One, a
double plate, represents a tragedy acted by cats on the roof of a
fashionable house. The actors are tricked out in the most magnificent
feathers and furbelows, but the audience consists of common cats.
Cupid sits above, with his bow and fluttering wings. Another plate
shows the mausoleum of the Duchess of Lesdiguières' cat, with a marble
pussy of heroic size, upon a marble pillow, in a grove of poplars.
Another is a medal to "Chat Noir premier, né en 1725," with the proud
inscription, "Knowing to whom I belong, I am aware of my value." The
profile within is that of as haughty a tom as ever shook out his
whiskers in a lady's boudoir.


POEMS ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS. _By Christopher Smart, A.M., Fellow of
Pembroke-Hall, Cambridge. London: Printed for the Author, by W.
Strahan; And sold by J. Newbery, at the Bible and Sun, in St. Paul's
Churchyard. MDCCLII_.

The third section of Robert Browning's _Parleyings with certain People
of Importance in their Day_ drew attention to a Cambridge poet of whom
little had hitherto been known, Christopher Smart, once fellow of
Pembroke College. It may be interesting, therefore, to supply some
sketch of the events of his life, and of the particular poem which
Browning has aptly compared to a gorgeous chapel lying perdue in
a dull old commonplace mansion. No one can afford to be entirely
indifferent to the author of verses which one of the greatest of
modern writers has declared to be unequalled of their kind between
Milton and Keats.

What has hitherto been known of the facts of Smart's life has been
founded on the anonymous biography prefixed to the two-volume Reading
edition of his works, published in 1791. The copy of this edition
in Trinity Library belonged to Dr. Farmer, and contains these words
in his handwriting: "From the Editor, Francis Newbery, Esq.; the
Life by Mr. Hunter." As this Newbery was the son of Smart's
half-brother-in-law and literary employer, it may be taken for granted
that the information given in these volumes is authoritative. We may
therefore believe it to be correct that Smart was born (as he himself
tells us, in _The Hop Garden)_ at Shipbourne, in Kent, on the 11th of
April 1722, that his father was steward to the nobleman who afterwards
became Earl of Darlington, and that he was "discerned and patronised"
by the Duchess of Cleveland. This great lady, we are left in doubt for
what reason, carried her complaisance so far as to allow the future
poet £40 a year until her death. In a painfully fulsome ode to another
member of the Raby Castle family, Smart records the generosity of the
dead in order to stimulate that of the living, and oddly remarks that

      _dignity itself restrains
  By condescension's silken reins,
  While you the lowly Muse upraise_.

Smart passed, already "an infant bard," from what he calls "the
splendour in retreat" of Raby Castle, to Durham School, and in his
eighteenth year was admitted of Pembroke Hall, October 30, 1739. His
biographer expressly states that his allowance from home was scanty,
and that his chief dependence, until he derived an income from his
college, was on the bounty of the Duchess of Cleveland.

From this point I am able to supply a certain amount of information
with regard to the poet's college life which is entirely new, and
which is not, I think, without interest. My friend Mr. R.A. Neil has
been so kind as to admit me to the Treasury at Pembroke, and in his
company I have had the advantage of searching the contemporary records
of the college. What we were lucky enough to discover may here be
briefly summarised. The earliest mention of Smart is dated 1740, and
refers to the rooms assigned to him as an undergraduate. In January
1743, we find him taking his B.A., and in July of the same year he
is elected scholar. As is correctly stated in his Life, he became
a fellow of Pembroke on the 3rd of July 1745. That he showed no
indication as yet of that disturbance of brain and instability of
character which so painfully distinguished him a little later on, is
proved by the fact that on the 10th of October 1745, Smart was chosen
to be Praelector in Philosophy, and Keeper of the Common Chest. In
1746 he was re-elected to those offices, and also made Praelector
in Rhetoric. In 1747 he was not chosen to hold any such college
situations, no doubt from the growing extravagance of his conduct.

In November 1747, Smart was in parlous case. Gray complains of his
"lies, impertinence and ingratitude," and describes him as confined to
his room, lest his creditors should snap him up. He gives a melancholy
impression of Smart's moral and physical state, but hastens to add
"not that I, nor any other mortal, pity him." The records of the
Treasury at Pembroke supply evidence that the members of the college
now made a great effort to restore one of whose talents it is certain
they were proud. In 1748 we find Smart proposed for catechist, a proof
that he had, at all events for the moment, turned over a new leaf.
Probably, but for fresh relapses, he would now have taken orders. His
allusions to college life are singularly ungracious. He calls Pembroke

      _this servile cell,
  Where discipline and dulness dwell_,

and commiserates a captive eagle as being doomed in the college courts
to watch

      _scholastic pride
  Take his precise, pedantic stride_;

words which painfully remind us of Gray's reported manner of enjoying
a constitutional. It is certain that there was considerable friction
between these two men of genius, and Gray roundly prophesied that
Smart would find his way to gaol or to Bedlam. Both alternatives of
this prediction were fulfilled, and in October, 1751, Gray curtly
remarks: "Smart sets out for Bedlam." Of this event we find curious
evidence in the Treasury. "October 12, 1751--Ordered that Mr. Smart,
being obliged to be absent, there will be allowed him in lieu of
commons for the year ended Michaelmas, 1751, the sum of £10." There
can be little question that Smart's conduct and condition became more
and more unsatisfactory. This particular visit to a madhouse was
probably brief, but it was possibly not the first and was soon
repeated; for in 1749 and 1752 there are similar entries recording the
fact that "Mr. Smart, being obliged to be absent," certain allowances
were paid by the college "in consideration of his circumstances." The
most curious discovery, however, which we have been able to make is
recorded in the following entry:

"Nov. 27, 1753.--Ordered that the dividend assigned to Mr. Smart be
deposited in the Treasury till the Society be satisfied that he has a
right to the same; it being credibly reported that he has been married
for some time, and that notice be sent to Mr. Smart of his dividend
being detained."

As a matter of fact, Smart was by this time married to a relative of
Newbery, the publisher, for whom he was doing hack work in London. He
had, however, formed the habit of writing the Seatonian prize poem,
which he had already gained four times, in 1750, 1751, 1752, and 1753.
He seems to have clutched at the distinction which he brought on
his college by these poems as the last straw by which to keep his
fellowship, and, singular to say, he must have succeeded; for on the
16th of January 1754, this order was recorded:

"That Mr. Smart have leave to keep his name in the college books
without any expense, so long as he continues to write for the premium
left by Mr. Seaton."

How long this inexpensive indulgence lasted does not seem to be known.
Smart gained the Seatonian prize in 1755, having apparently failed in
1754, and then appears no more in Pembroke records.

The circumstance of his having made Cambridge too hot to hold him
seems to have pulled Smart's loose faculties together. The next five
years were probably the sanest and the busiest in his life. He had
collected his scattered odes and ballads, and published them, with his
ambitious georgic, _The Hop Garden_, in the handsome quarto before
us. Among the seven hundred subscribers to this venture we find "Mr.
Voltaire, historiographer of France," and M. Roubilliac, the great
statuary, besides such English celebrities as Gray, Collins,
Richardson, Savage, Charles Avison, Garrick, and Mason. The kind
reception of this work awakened in the poet an inordinate vanity,
which found expression, in 1753, in that extraordinary effusion, _The
Hilliad_, an attempt to preserve Dr. John Hill in such amber as Pope
held at the command of his satiric passion. But these efforts, and an
annual Seatonian, were ill adapted to support a poet who had recently
appended a wife and family to a phenomenal appetite for strong waters,
and who, moreover, had just been deprived of his stipend as a fellow.
Smart descended into Grub Street, and bound himself over, hand and
foot, to be the serf of such men as the publisher Newbery, who was
none the milder master for being his relative. It was not long after,
doubtless, that Smart fell lower still, and let himself out on a lease
for ninety-nine years, to toil for a set pittance in the garrets of
Gardner's shop; and it was about this time, 1754, that the Rev. T.
Tyers was introduced to Smart by a friend who had more sympathy with
his frailties than Gray had, namely, Dr. Samuel Johnson.

After a world of vicissitudes, which are very uncomfortable reading,
about 1761 Smart became violently insane once more and was shut up
again in Bedlam. Dr. Johnson, commenting on this period of the poet's
life, told Dr. Burney that Smart grew fat when he was in the madhouse,
where he dug in the garden, and Johnson added: "I did not think he
ought to be shut up. His infirmities were not noxious to society. He
insisted on people praying with him; and I'd as lief pray with Kit
Smart as with any one else. Another charge was that he did not love
clean linen; and I have no passion for it." When Boswell paid Johnson
his memorable first visit in 1763, Smart had recently been released
from Bedlam, and Johnson naturally spoke of him. He said: "My poor
friend Smart showed the disturbance of his mind by falling upon his
knees and saying his prayers in the street, or in any other unusual
place." Gray about the same time reports that money is being collected
to help "poor Smart," not for the first time, since in January 1759,
Gray had written: "Poor Smart is not dead, as was said, and _Merope_
is acted for his benefit this week," with the _Guardian_, a farce
which Garrick had kindly composed for that occasion.

It was in 1763, immediately after Smart's release, that the now famous
_Song to David_ was published. A long and interesting letter in the
correspondence of Hawkesworth, dated October 1764, gives a pleasant
idea of Smart restored to cheerfulness and placed "with very decent
people in a house, most delightfully situated, with a terrace that
overlooks St. James's Park." But this relief was only temporary;
Smart fell back presently into drunkenness and debt, and was happily
relieved by death in 1770, in his forty-eighth year, at the close of a
career as melancholy as any recorded in the chronicles of literature.

Save for one single lyric, that glows with all the flush and bloom of
Eden, Smart would take but a poor place on the English Parnassus.
His odes and ballads, his psalms and satires, his masques and his
georgics, are not bad, but they are mediocre. Here and there the very
careful reader may come across lines and phrases that display the
concealed author of the _Song to David_, such as the following, from
an excessively tiresome ode to Dr. Webster:

  _When Israel's host, with all their stores,
  Passed through_ the ruby-tinctured crystal shores,
  The wilderness of waters and of land.

But these are rare. His odes are founded upon those of Gray, and the
best that can be said of them is that if they do not quite rise to the
frozen elegance of Akenside, they seldom sink to the flaccidity of
Mason. Never, for one consecutive stanza or stroke, do they approach
Collins or Gray in delicacy or power. But the _Song to David_--the
lyric in 516 lines which Smart is so absurdly fabled to have scratched
with a key on the white-washed walls of his cell--this was a portent
of beauty and originality. Strange to say, it was utterly neglected
when it appeared, and the editor of the 1791 edition of Smart's works
expressly omitted to print it on the ground that it bore too many
"melancholy proofs of the estrangement of Smart's mind" to be fit for
republication. It became rare to the very verge of extinction, and is
now scarcely to be found in its entirety save in a pretty reprint of
1819, itself now rare, due to the piety of a Rev. R. Harvey.

It is obvious that Smart's contemporaries and immediate successors
looked upon the _Song to David_ as the work of a hopelessly deranged
person. In 1763 poetry had to be very sane indeed to be attended to.
The year preceding had welcomed the _Shipwreck_ of Falconer, the year
to follow would welcome Goldsmith's _Traveller_ and Grainger's _Sugar
Cane_, works of various merit, but all eminently sane. In 1763
Shenstone was dying and Rogers was being born. The tidy, spruce, and
discreet poetry of the eighteenth century was passing into its final
and most pronounced stage. The _Song to David_, with its bold mention
of unfamiliar things, its warm and highly-coloured phraseology, its
daring adjectives and unexampled adverbs, was an outrage upon taste,
and one which was best accounted for by the tap of the forefinger
on the forehead. No doubt the poem presented and still may present
legitimate difficulties. Here, for instance, is a stanza which it is
not for those who run to read:

  _Increasing days their reign exalt,
  Nor in the pink and mottled vault
    The opposing spirits tilt;
  And, by the coasting reader spy'd,
  The silverlings and crusions glide
    For Adoration gilt_.

This is charming; but if it were in one of the tongues of the heathen
we should get Dr. Verrall to explain it away. Poor Mr. Harvey, the
editor of 1819, being hopelessly puzzled by "silverlings," the only
dictionary meaning of which is "shekels," explained "crusions" to be
some other kind of money, from [Greek: krousis]. But "crusions" are
golden carp, and when I was a child the Devonshire fishermen used to
call the long white fish with argent stripes (whose proper name, I
think, is the launce) a silverling. The "coasting reader" is the
courteous reader when walking along the coast, and what he sees are
silver fish and gold fish, adoring the Lord by the beauty of their
scales. The _Song to David_ is cryptic to a very high degree, but
I think there are no lines in it which patient reflection will not
solve. On every page are stanzas the verbal splendour of which no
lover of poetry will question, and lines which will always, to me
at least, retain an echo of that gusto with which I have heard Mr.
Browning's strong voice recite them:

  _The wealthy crops of whitening rice
  'Mongst thyine woods and groves of spice,
    For Adoration grow;
  And, marshall'd in the fencèd land,
  The peaches and pomegranates stand,
    Where wild carnations blow.

  The laurels with the winter strive;
  The crocus burnishes alive
    Upon the snow-clad earth;

         *       *       *       *       *

  For Adoration ripening canes
  And cocoa's purest milk detains
    The westering pilgrim's staff;
  Where rain in, clasping boughs inclos'd,
  And vines with oranges dispos'd,
    Embower the social laugh.

  For Adoration, beyond match,
  The scholar bulfinch aims to catch
    The soft flute's ivory touch;
  And, careless on the hazle spray,
  The daring redbreast keeps at bay
    The damsel's greedy clutch_.

To quote at further length from so fascinating, so divine a poem,
would be "purpling too much my mere grey argument." Browning's praise
ought to send every one to the original. But here is one more stanza
that I cannot resist copying, because it seems so pathetically
applicable to Smart himself as a man, and to the one exquisite poem
which was "the more than Abishag of his age":

  _His muse, bright angel of his verse,
  Gives balm for all the thorns that pierce,
    For all the pangs that rage;
  Blest light, still gaining on the gloom,
  The more than Michal of his bloom,
    The Abishag of his age_.


THE HISTORY OF POMPEY THE LITTLE; _or, the Life and Adventures of a
Lap-Dog. London: Printed for M. Cooper, at the Globe in Paternoster

In February 1751 the town, which had been suffering from rather a
dreary spell since the acceptable publication of _Tom Jones_, was
refreshed and enlivened by the simultaneous issue of two delightfully
scandalous productions, eminently well adapted to occupy the polite
conversation of ladies at drums and at the card-table. Of these one
was _The Memoirs of a Lady of Quality_, so oddly foisted by Smollett
into the third volume of his _Peregrine Pickle_. This was recognised
at once as being the work of the frail and adventurous Lady Vane,
about whom so many strange stories were already current in society.
The other puzzled the gossips much longer, and it seems to have been
the poet Gray who first discovered the authorship of _Pompey the
Little_. Gray wrote to tell Horace Walpole who had written the
anonymous book that everybody was talking about, adding that he had
discovered the secret through the author's own carelessness, three
of the characters being taken from a comedy shown him by a young
clergyman at Magdalen College, Cambridge. This was the Rev. Francis
Coventry, then some twenty-five years of age. The discovery of the
authorship made Coventry a nine-days' hero, while his book went into
a multitude of editions. It was one of the most successful _jeux
d'esprit_ of the eighteenth century.

The copy of the first edition of _Pompey the Little_, which lies
before me, contains an excellent impression of the frontispiece by
Louis Boitard, the fashionable engraver-designer, whose print of the
Ranelagh Rotunda is so much sought after by amateurs. It represents
a curtain drawn aside to reveal a velvet cushion, on which sits a
graceful little Italian lap-dog with pendant silky ears and sleek
sides spotted like the pard. This is Pompey the Little, whose life and
adventures the book proceeds to recount. "_Pompey_, the son of _Julio_
and _Phyllis_, was born A.D. 1735, at _Bologna_ in _Italy_, a place
famous for lap-dogs and sausages." At an early age he was carried
away from the boudoir of his Italian mistress by Hillario, an English
gentleman illustrious for his gallantries, who brought him to London.
The rest of the history is really a chain of social episodes, each
closed by the incident that Pompey becomes the property of some fresh
person. In this way we find ourselves in a dozen successive scenes,
each strongly contrasted with the others. It is the art of the author
that he knows exactly how much to tell us without wearying our
attention, and is able to make the transition to the next scene a
plausible one.

There is low life as well as high life in _Pompey the Little_,
sketches after Hogarth, no less than studies _à la_ Watteau. But the
high life is by far the better described. Francis Coventry was the
cousin of the Earl of that name, he who married the beautiful and
silly Maria Gunning. When he painted the ladies of quality at their
routs and drums, masquerades, and hurly-burlies, he knew what he was
talking about, for this was the life he himself led, when he was not
at college. Even at Cambridge, he was under the dazzling influence of
his famous and fashionable cousin, Henry Coventry, fellow of the
same college of Magdalen, author of the polite _Philémonto Hydaspes_
dialogues, and the latest person who dressed well in the University.
The embroidered coats of Henry Coventry, stiff with gold lace, his
"most prominent Roman nose" and air of being much a gentleman, were
not lost on the younger member of the family, who seems to paint him
slyly in his portrait of Mr. Williams.

The great charm of _Pompey the Little_ to contemporaries was, of
course, the fact that it was supposed to be a _roman à clef_. The
Countess of Bute hastened to send out a copy of it to her mother in
Italy, and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu did not hesitate to discover the
likenesses of various dear friends of hers. She found it impossible
to go to bed till she had finished it. She was charmed, and she tells
Lady Bute, what the curious may now read with great satisfaction, that
it was "a real and exact representation of life, as it is now acted
in London." What is odd is that Lady Mary identified, with absolute
complacency, the portrait of herself, as Mrs. Qualmsick, that
hysterical lady with whom "it was not unusual for her to fancy herself
a Glass bottle, a Tea-pot, a Hay-rick, or a Field of Turnips." Instead
of being angry, Lady Mary screamed with laughter at the satire of her
own whimsies, of how "Red was too glaring for her eyes; Green put her
in Mind of Willows, and made her melancholic; Blue remembered her of
her dear Sister, who had died ten Years before in a blue Bed." In
fact, all this fun seems, for the moment at least, to have cured the
original Mrs. Qualmsick of her whimsies, and her remarks on _Pompey
the Little_ are so good-natured that we may well forgive her for the
pleasure with which she recognised Lady Townshend in Lady Tempest and
the Countess of Orford in the pedantic and deistical Lady Sophister,
who rates the physicians for their theology, and will not be bled by
any man who accepts the doctrine of the immortality of the soul.

Coventry's romance does not deserve the entire neglect into which it
has fallen. It is sprightly and graceful from the first page to the
last. Not written, indeed, by a man of genius, it is yet the work of a
very refined observer, who had been modern enough to catch the tone of
the new school of novelists. The writer owes much to Fielding, who
yet does not escape without a flap from one of Pompey's silken ears.
Coventry's manner may be best exemplified by one of his own bright
passages of satire. This notion of a man of quality, that no place can
be full that is not crowded with people of fashion, is not new, but it
is deliciously expressed. Aurora has come back from Bath, and assures
the Count that she has had a pleasant season there:

"'You amaze me," cries the Count; 'Impossible, Madam! How can it be,
Ladies? I had Letters from Lord _Monkeyman_ and Lady _Betty Scornful_
assuring me that, except yourselves, there were not three human
Creatures in the Place. Let me see, I have Lady _Betty's_ Letter in my
Pocket, I believe, at this Moment. Oh no, upon Recollection, I put
it this morning into my Cabinet, where I preserve all my Letters of
Quality.' _Aurora_, smothering a Laugh as well as she could, said
she was extremely obliged to Lord _Monkeyman_ and Lady _Betty_, for
vouchsafing to rank her and her Sister in the Catalogue of human
Beings. 'But, surely,' added she, 'they must have been asleep, both
of them, when they wrote their Letters; for the _Bath_ was extremely
full,' 'Full!' cries the Count, interrupting her; "Oh, Madam, that is
very possible, and yet there might be no Company--that is, none of us;
Nobody that one knows. For as to all the Tramontanes that come by the
cross Post, we never reckon them as anything but Monsters in human
Shape, that serve to fill up the Stage of Life, like Cyphers in a
play. For Instance, you often see an awkward Girl, who has sewed a
Tail to a Gown, and pinned two Lappits to a Night-cap, come running
headlong into the Rooms with a wild, frosty Face, as if she was just
come from feeding Poultry in her Father's Chicken-Yard. Or you see a
Booby Squire, with a Head resembling a Stone ball over a Gate-post.
Now, it would be the most ridiculous Thing in Life to call such People
Company. 'Tis the Want of Titles, and not the Want of Faces, that
makes a Place empty.'"

There are indications, which I think have escaped the notice of
Goldsmith's editors, that the author of the _Citizen of the World_
condescended to take some of his ideas from _Pompey the Little_. In
Count Tag, the impoverished little fop who fancies himself a man
of quality, and who begs pardon of people who accost him in the
Park--"but really, Lady Betty or Lady Mary is just entering the
Mall,"--we have the direct prototype of Beau Tibbs; while Mr. Rhymer,
the starving poet, whose furniture consists of "the first Act of a
Comedy, a Pair of yellow Stays, two political Pamphlets, a plate of
Bread-and-butter, three dirty Night-caps, and a Volume of Miscellany
Poems," is a figure wonderfully like that of Goldsmith himself, as Dr.
Percy found him eight years later, in that "wretched, dirty room," at
the top of Breakneck Steps, Green Arbour Court. The whole conception
of that Dickens-like scene, in which it is described how Lady Frippery
had a drum in spite of all local difficulties, is much more in the
humour of Goldsmith than in that of any of Coventry's immediate

Strangely enough, in spite of the great success of his one book, the
author of _Pompey the Little_ never tried to repeat it. He became
perpetual curate of Edgware, and died in the neighbouring village of
Stanmore Parva a few years after the publication of his solitary book;
I have, however, searched the registers of that parish in vain for
any record of the fact. Francis Coventry had gifts of wit and
picturesqueness which deserved a better fate than to amuse a few
dissipated women over their citron-waters, and then to be forgotten.


THE LIFE OF JOHN BUNCLE, ESQ., _containing various observations and
reflections made in several parts of the world; and many extraordinary
relations. London: Printed for J. Noon, at the White Hart in
Cheapside, near the Poultry, MDCCLVI_.

[_Vol. II. London: Printed for J. Johnson and B. Davenport, at the
Globe, in Pater Noster Row, MDCCLXVI_.]

In the year 1756, there resided in the Barbican, where the great John
Milton had lived before him, a funny elderly personage called Mr.
Thomas Amory, of whom not nearly so much is recorded as the lovers of
literary anecdote would like to possess. He was sixty-five years
of age; he was an Irish gentleman of means, and he was an ardent
Unitarian. Some unkind people have suggested that he was out of his
mind, and he had, it is certain, many peculiarities. One was, that he
never left his house, or ventured into the streets, save "like a
but, in the dusk of the evening." He was, in short, what is called a
"crank," and he gloried in his eccentricity. He desired that it might
be written on his tombstone, "Here lies an Odd Man." For sixty years
he had made no effort to attract popular attention, but in 1755 he
had published a sort of romance, called _Memoirs of Several Ladies of
Great Britain_, and now he succeeded it by the truly extraordinary
work, the name of which stands at the head of this article. Ten years
later there would appear another volume of _John Buncle_, and then
Amory disappeared again. All we know is, that he died in 1788, at the
very respectable age of ninety-seven. So little is known about him,
so successfully did he hide "like a but" through the dusk of nearly a
century, that we may be glad to eke out the scanty information given
above by a passage of autobiography from the preface of the book
before us:

"I was born in London, and carried an infant to Ireland, where I
learned the Irish language, and became intimately acquainted with its
original inhabitants. I was not only a lover of books from the time
I could spell them to this hour, but read with an extraordinary
pleasure, before I was twenty, the works of several of the Fathers,
and all the old romances; which tinged my ideas with a certain piety
and extravagance that rendered my virtues as well as my imperfections
particularly mine.... The dull, the formal, and the visionary, the
hard-honest man, and the poor-liver, are a people I have had no
connection with; but have always kept company with the polite, the
generous, the lively, the rational, and the brightest freethinkers of
this age. Besides all this, I was in the days of my youth, one of the
most active men in the world at every exercise; and to a degree of
rashness, often venturesome, when there was no necessity for running
any hazards; _in diebus illis_, I have descended headforemost, from a
high cliff into the ocean, to swim, when I could, and ought, to have
gone off a rock not a yard from the surface of the deep. I have swam
near a mile and a half out in the sea to a ship that lay off, gone on
board, got clothes from the mate of the vessel, and proceeded with
them to the next port; while my companion I left on the beach
concluded me drowned, and related my sad fate in the town. I have
taken a cool thrust over a bottle, without the least animosity on
either side, but both of us depending on our skill in the small sword
for preservation from mischief. Such things as these I now call

If this is not a person of whom we would like to know more, I know not
what the romance of biography is. Thomas Amory's life must have been a
streak of crimson on the grey surface of the eighteenth century. It is
really a misfortune that the red is almost all washed off.

No odder book than _John Buncle_ was published in England throughout
the long life of Amory. Romances there were, like _Gulliver's Travels_
and _Peter Wilkins_, in which the incidents were much more incredible,
but there was no supposition that these would be treated as real
history. The curious feature of _John Buncle_ is that the story is
told with the strictest attention to realism and detail, and yet is
embroidered all over with the impossible. There can be no doubt that
Amory, who belonged to an older school, was affected by the form of
the new novels which were the fashion in 1756. He wished to be as
particular as Mr. Richardson, as manly as Captain Fielding, as breezy
and vigorous as Dr. Smollett, the three new writers who were all the
talk of the town. But there was a twist in his brain which made his
pictures of real life appear like scenes looked at through flawed

The memoirs of John Buncle take the form of an autobiography, and
there has been much discussion as to how much is, and how much is not,
the personal history of Amory. I confess I cannot see why we should
not suppose all of it to be invented, although it certainly is odd to
relate anecdotes and impressions of Dr. Swift, _à propos_ of nothing
at all, unless they formed part of the author's experience. For one
thing, the hero is represented as being born about thirteen years
later than Amory was--if, indeed, we possess the true date of our
worthy's birth. Buncle goes to college and becomes an earnest
Unitarian. The incidents of his life are all intellectual, until one
"glorious first of August," when he sallies forth from college with
his gun and dog, and after four hours' walk discovers that he has lost
his way. He is in the midst of splendid mountain scenery--which leads
us to wonder at which English University he was studying--and descends
through woody ravines and cliffs that overhang torrents, till he
suddenly comes in sight of a "little harmonic building that had every
charm and proportion architecture could give it." Finding one of the
garden doors open, and being very hungry, the adventurous Buncle
strolls in, and finds himself in "a grotto or shell-house, in which a
politeness of fancy had produced and blended the greatest beauties of
nature and decoration." (There are more grottoes in the pages of Amory
than exist in the whole of the British Islands.) This shell-house
opened into a library, and in the library a beauteous object was
sitting and reading. She was studying a Hebrew Bible, and making
philological notes on a small desk. She raised her eyes and approached
the stranger, "to know who I wanted" (for Buncle's style, though
picturesque, is not always grammatically irreproachable.)

Before he could answer, a venerable gentleman was at his side, to whom
the young sportsman confessed that he was dying of hunger and had
lost his way. Mr. Noel, a patriarchal widower of vast wealth, was
inhabiting this mansion in the sole company of his only daughter, the
lovely being just referred to. Mr. Buncle was immediately "stiffened
by enchantment" at the beauty of Miss Harriot Noel, and could not be
induced to leave when he had eaten his breakfast. This difficulty was
removed by the old gentleman asking him to stay to dinner, until the
time of which meal Miss Noel should entertain him. At about 10 A.M.
Mr. Buncle offers his hand to the astonished Miss Noel, who, with
great propriety, bids him recollect that he is an entire stranger to
her. They then have a long conversation about the Chaldeans, and the
"primaevity" of the Hebrew language, and the extraordinary longevity
of the Antediluvians; at the close of which _(circa_ 11.15 A.M.)
Buncle proposes again. "You force me to smile (the illustrious Miss
Noel replied), and oblige me to call you an odd compound of a man,"
and to distract his thoughts, she takes him round her famous grotto.
The conversation, all repeated at length, turns on conchology and on
the philosophy of Epictetus until it is time for dinner, when Mr.
Noel and young Buncle drink a bottle of old Alicant, and discuss the
gallery of Verres and the poetry of Catullus. Left alone at last,
Buncle still does not go away, but at 5 P.M. proposes for the third
time, "over a pot of tea." Miss Noel says that the conversation
will have to take some other turn, or she must leave the room. They
therefore immediately "consider the miracle at Babel," and the
argument of Hutchinson on the Hebrew word _Shephah_, until, while Miss
Noel is in the very act of explaining that "the Aramitish was the
customary language of the line of Shem," young Buncle _(circa_ 7.30)
"could not help snatching this beauty to my arms, and without thinking
what I did, impressed on her balmy mouth half a dozen kisses. This was
wrong, and gave offence," but then papa returning, the trio sat down
peacefully to cribbage and a little music. Of course Miss Noel is
ultimately won, and this is a very fair specimen of the conduct of the

A fortnight before the marriage, however, "the small-pox steps in, and
in seven days' time reduced the finest human frame in the universe to
the most hideous and offensive block," and Miss Harriot Noel dies. If
this dismal occurrence is rather abruptly introduced, it is because
Buncle has to be betrothed, in succession, to six other lively and
delicious young females, all of them beautiful, all of them learned,
and all of them earnestly convinced Unitarians. If they did not
rapidly die off, how could they be seven? Buncle mourns the decease of
each, and then hastily forms an equally violent attachment to another.
It must be admitted that he is a sad wife-waster. Azora is one of
the most delightful of these deciduous loves. She "had an amazing
collection of the most rational philosophical ideas, and she delivered
them in the most pleasing dress." She resided in a grotto within a
romantic dale in Yorkshire, in a "little female republic" of one
hundred souls, all of them "straight, clean, handsome girls." In this
glen there is only one man, and he a fossil. Miss Melmoth, who would
discuss the _paulo-post futurum_ of a Greek verb with the utmost care
and politeness, and had studied "the Minerva of Sanctius and Hickes'
Northern Thesaurus," was another nice young lady, though rather free
in her manner with gentlemen. But they all die, sacrificed to the
insatiable fate of Buncle.

Here the reader may like to enjoy a sample of Buncle as a philosopher.
It is a characteristic passage:

"Such was the soliloquy I spoke, as I gazed on the skeleton of John
Orton; and just as I had ended, the boys brought in the wild turkey,
which they had very ingeniously roasted, and with some of Mrs.
Burcot's fine ale and bread, I had an excellent supper. The bones of
the penitent Orton I removed to a hole I had ordered my lad to dig for
them; the skull excepted, which I kept, and still keep on my table for
a _memento mori_; and that I may never forget the good lesson which
the percipient who once resided in it had given. It is often the
subject of my meditation. When I am alone of an evening, in my closet,
which is often my case, I have the skull of John Orton before me, and
as I smoke a philosophic pipe, with my eyes fastened on it, I learn
more from the solemn object than I could from the most philosophical
and laboured speculations. What a wild and hot head once--how cold and
still now; poor skull, I say: and what was the end of all thy daring,
frolics and gambols--thy licentiousness and impiety--a severe and
bitter repentance. In piety and goodness John Orton found at last that
happiness the world could not give him."

Hazlitt has said that "the soul of Rabelais passed into John Amory."
His name was Thomas, not John, and there is very little that is
Rabelaisian in his spirit. One sees what Hazlitt meant--the voluble
and diffuse learning, the desultory thread of narration, the mixture
of religion and animalism. But the resemblance is very superficial,
and the parallel too complimentary to Amory. It is difficult to think
of the soul of Rabelais in connection with a pedantic and uxorious
Unitarian. To lovers of odd books, _John Buncle_ will always have a
genuine attraction. Its learning would have dazzled Dr. Primrose, and
is put on in glittering spars and shells, like the ornaments of the
many grottoes that it describes. It is diversified by descriptions of
natural scenery, which are often exceedingly felicitous and original,
and it is quickened by the human warmth and flush of the love
passages, which, with all their quaintness, are extremely human. It is
essentially a "healthy" book, as Charles Lamb, with such a startling
result, assured the Scotchman. Amory was a fervid admirer of
womankind, and he favoured a rare type, the learned lady who bears
her learning lightly and can discuss "the quadrations of curvilinear
spaces" without ceasing to be "a bouncing, dear, delightful girl," and
adroit in the preparation of toast and chocolate. The style of the
book is very careless and irregular, but rises in its best pages to an
admirable picturesqueness.


THE LIFE OF RICHARD NASH, ESQ.; _late Master of the Ceremonies at
Bath. Extracted principally from his Original Papers. The Second
Edition. London: J. Newbery._ 1762.

There are cases, not known to every collector of books, where it is
not the first which is the really desirable edition of a work, but the
second. One of these rare examples of the exception which proves
the rule is the second edition of Goldsmith's _Life of Beau Nash_.
Disappointment awaits him who possesses only the first; it is in the
second that the best things originally appeared. The story is rather
to be divined than told as history, but we can see pretty plainly
how the lines of it must have run. In the early part of 1762, Oliver
Goldsmith, at that time still undistinguished, but in the very act of
blossoming into fame, received a commission of fourteen guineas to
write for Newbery a life of the strange old beau, Mr. Nash, who had
died in 1761. On the same day, which was March 5th, he gave a receipt
to the publisher for three other publications, written or to be
written, so that very probably it was not expected that he should
immediately supply all the matter sold. In the summer he seems to have
gone down to Bath on a short visit, and to have made friends with
the Beau's executor, Mr. George Scott. It has even been said that he
cultivated the Mayor and Aldermen of Bath with such success that they
presented him with yet another fifteen guineas. But of this, in itself
highly improbable, instance of municipal benefaction, the archives of
the city yield no proof. At least Mr. Scott gave him access to Nash's
papers, and with these he seems to have betaken himself back to

It is a heart-rending delusion and a cruel snare to be paid for your
work before you accomplish it. As soon as once your work is finished
you ought to be promptly paid; but to receive your lucre one minute
before it is due, is to tempt Providence to make a Micawber of you.
Goldsmith, of course, without any temptation being needed, was
the very ideal Micawber of letters, and the result of paying him
beforehand was that he had, simply, to be popped into the mill by
force, and the copy ground out of him. It is evident that in the case
of the first edition of the _Life of Beau Nash_, the grinding process
was too mercifully applied, and the book when it appeared was short
measure. It has no dedication, no "advertisement," and very few
notes, while it actually omits many of the best stories. The wise
bibliophile, therefore, will eschew it, and will try to get the second
edition issued a few weeks later in the same year, which Newbery
evidently insisted that Goldsmith should send out to the public in
proper order.

Goldsmith treats Nash with very much the same sort of indulgent and
apologetic sympathy with which the late M. Barbey d'Aurevilly treats
Brummell. He does not affect to think that the world calls for a
full-length statue of such a fantastic hero; but he seems to
claim leave to execute a statuette in terracotta for a cabinet of
curiosities. From that point of view, as a queer object of _vertu_,
as a specimen of the _bric-à-brac_ of manners, both the one and the
other, the King of Beaux and the Emperor of Dandies, are welcome to
amateurs of the odd and the entertaining. At the head of Goldsmith's
book stands a fine portrait of Nash, engraved by Anthony Walker, one
of the best and rarest of early English line-engravers, after
an oil-picture by William Hoare, presently to be one of the
foundation-members of the Royal Academy, and now and throughout his
long life the principal representative of the fine arts at Bath. Nash
is here represented in his famous white hat--_galero albo_, as his
epitaph has it; the ensign of his rule at Bath, the more than coronet
of his social sway.

The breast of his handsome coat is copiously trimmed with rich lace,
and his old, old eyes, with their wrinkles and their crow's feet,
look demurely out from under an incredible wig, an umbrageous,
deep-coloured ramilie of early youth. It is a wonderfully
hard-featured, serious, fatuous face, and it lives for us under the
delicate strokes of Anthony Walker's graver. The great Beau looks as
he must have looked when the Duchess of Queensberry dared to appear
at the Assembly House on a ball night with a white apron on. It is a
pleasant story, and only told properly in our second edition. King
Nash had issued an edict forbidding the wearing of aprons. The Duchess
dared to disobey. Nash walked up to her and deftly snatched her apron
from her, throwing it on to the back benches where the ladies' women
sat. What a splendid moment! Imagine the excitement of all that
fashionable company--the drawn battle between the Majesty of Etiquette
and the Majesty of Beauty! The Beau remarked, with sublime calm, that
"none but Abigails appeared in white aprons." The Duchess hesitated,
felt that her ground had slipped from under her, gave way with the
most admirable tact, and "with great good sense and humour, begged his
_Majesty's_ pardon,"

Aprons were not the only red rags to the bull of ceremony. He was
quite as unflinching an enemy to top-boots. He had already banished
swords from the assembly-room, because their clash frightened the
ladies, and their scabbards tore people's dresses. But boots were not
so easily banished. The country squires liked to ride into the city,
and, leaving their horses at a stable, walk straight into the dignity
of the minuet. Nash, who had a genius for propriety, saw how hateful
this was, and determined to put a stop to it. He slew top-boots and
aprons at the same time, and with the shaft of Apollo. He indited a
poem on the occasion, and a very good example of satire by irony it
is. It is short enough to quote entire:


    _Come, one and all,
    To Hoyden Hall,
  For there's th' Assembly to-night.
    None but prude fools
    Mind manners and rules,
  We Hoydens do decency slight_.
  _Come, Trollops and Slatterns,
    Cocked hats and white aprons,
  This best our modesty suits;
    For why should not we
    In dress be as free
  As Hogs-Norton squires in boots?_

Why, indeed? But the Hogs-Norton squires, as is their wont, were not
so easily pierced to the heart as the noble slatterns. Nash turned
Aristophanes, and depicted on a little stage a play in which Mr.
Punch, tinder very disgraceful circumstances, excused himself for
wearing boots by quoting the practice of the pump-room beaux. This
seems to have gone to the conscience of Hogs-Norton at last; but what
really gave the death-blow to top-boots, as a part of evening dress,
was the incident of Nash's going up to a gentleman, who had made
his appearance in the ball-room in this unpardonable costume, and
remarking, "bowing in an arch manner," that he appeared to have
"forgotten his horse."

It had not been without labour and a long struggle that Nash had risen
to this position of unquestioned authority at Bath. His majestic rule
was the result of more than half a century of painstaking. He had been
born far back in the seventeenth century, so far back that, incredible
as it sounds, a love adventure of his early youth had supplied
Vanbrugh, in 1695, with an episode for his comedy of _Aesop_. But
after trying many forms of life, and weary of his own affluence, he
came to Bath just at the moment when the fortunes of that ancient
centre of social pleasure were at their lowest ebb. Queen Anne had
been obliged to divert herself, in 1703, with a fiddle and a hautboy,
and with country dances on the bowling-green. The lodgings were dingy
and expensive, the pump-house had no director, the nobility had
haughtily withdrawn from such vulgar entertainments as the city now
alone afforded. The famous and choleric physician, Dr. Radcliffe, in
revenge for some slight he had endured, had threatened to "throw a
toad into King Bladud's Well," by writing a pamphlet against the
medicinal efficacy of the waters.

The moment was critical; the greatness of Bath, which had been slowly
declining since the days of Elizabeth, was threatened with extinction
when Nash came to it, wealthy, idle, patient, with a genius for
organisation, and in half a century he made it what he left it when he
died in his eighty-ninth year, the most elegant and attractive of the
smaller social resorts of Europe. Such a man, let us be certain, was
not wholly ridiculous. There must have been something more in him than
in a mere idol of the dandies, like Brummell, or a mere irresistible
buck and lady-killer, like Lauzun. In these latter men the force
is wholly destructive; they are animated by a feline vanity, a
tiger-spirit of egotism. Against the story of Nash and the Duchess of
Queensberry, so wholesome and humane, we put that frightful anecdote
that Saint-Simon tells of Lauzun's getting the hand of another duchess
under his high heel, and pirouetting on it to make the heel dig deeper
into the flesh. In all the repertory of Nash's extravagances there is
not one story of this kind, not one that reveals a wicked force. He
was fatuous, but beneficent; silly, but neither cruel nor corrupt.

Goldsmith, in this second edition at least, has taken more pains
with his life of Nash than he ever took again in a biography. His
_Parnell_, his _Bolingbroke_, his _Voltaire_, are not worthy of his
name and fame; not all the industry of annotators can ever make them
more than they were at first--potboilers, turned out with no care or
enthusiasm, and unconscientiously prepared. But this subtle figure
of a Master of Ceremonial; this queer old presentment of a pump-room
king, crowned with a white hat, waiting all day long in his best at
the bow-window of the Smyrna Coffee-House to get a bow from that
other, and alas! better accredited royalty, the Prince of Wales; this
picture, of an old beau, with his toy-shop of gold snuff-boxes, his
agate-rings, his senseless obelisk, his rattle of faded jokes and
blunted stories--all this had something very attractive to Goldsmith
both in its humour and its pathos; and he has left us, in his _Life of
Nash_, a study which is far too little known, but which deserves to
rank among the best-read productions of that infinitely sympathetic
pen, which has bequeathed to posterity Mr. Tibbs and Moses Primrose
and Tony Lumpkin.


SOUTHAMPTON; _with Engravings, and an Appendix. London: Printed by
T. Bensley, for B. White and Son, at Horace's Head, Fleet Street.

It is not always the most confidently conducted books, or those
best preceded by blasts on the public trumpet, which are eventually
received with highest honours into the palace of literature. No more
curious incident of this fact is to be found than is presented by the
personal history of that enchanting classic, White's _Selborne_. If
ever an author hesitated and reflected, dipped his toe into the bath
of publicity, and hastily withdrew it again, loitered on the brink and
could not be induced to plunge, it was the Rev. Gilbert White. This
man of singular genius was not to be persuaded that the town would
tolerate his lucubrations. He was ready to make a present of them to
any one who would father them, he allowed his life to slip by until
his seventieth year was reached, before he would print them, and when
they appeared, he could not find the courage to put his name on the
title-page. Not one of his own titlarks or sedge-warblers could be
more shy of public observation. Even the fact that his own brother was
a publisher gave him no real confidence in printers' ink.

Gilbert White was already a middle-aged man when he was drawn into
correspondence by Thomas Pennant, a naturalist younger than himself,
who had undertaken to produce, in four volumes folio, a work on
_British Zoology_ for the production of which he was radically
unfitted. It has been severely, but justly, pointed out that wherever
Pennant rises superior, either in style or information, to his own
dead level of pompous inexactitude, he is almost certainly quoting
from a letter of Gilbert White's. Yet no acknowledgment of the
Selborne parson is vouchsafed; "even in the account of the
harvest-mouse," says Professor Bell, "there is no mention of its
discoverer." Nevertheless, so rudimentary was scientific knowledge
one hundred and thirty years ago, that Pennant's pretentious book was
received with acclamation. The patient man at Selborne sat and smiled,
even courteously joining with mild congratulations in the rounds of
applause. Fortunately Pennant did not remain his only correspondent.
The Hon. Daines Barrington was a man of another stamp, not profound,
indeed, but enthusiastic, a genuine lover of research, and a gentleman
at heart. He quoted Gilbert White in his writings, but never without
full acknowledgment. Other friends followed, and the recluse of
Selbourne became the correspondent of Sir Joseph Banks, of Dr.
Chandler, and of many other great ones of that day now decently

Meanwhile, he was growing old. Any sharp winter might have cut him
off, as he trudged along through the deep lanes of his rustic parish.
Early in 1770 Daines Barrington, tired of seeing his friend the mere
valet to so many other pompous intellects, had proposed to him to
"draw up an account of the animals of Selborne." Gilbert White put the
fascinating notion from him. "It is no small undertaking," he replied,
"for a man unsupported and alone to begin a natural history from his
own autopsia." Pennant seems to have joined in the suggestion of
Barrington, for White says (in a letter, dated July 19, 1771, which
did not see the light for more than a century after it was written):

"As to any publication in this way of my own, I look upon it with
great diffidence, finding that I ought to have begun it twenty years
ago; but if I was to attempt anything, it should be something of a
Nat: history of my native parish, an _Annus historico-naturalis_,
comprising a journal of one whole year, and illustrated with large
notes and observations. Such a beginning might induce more able
naturalists to write the history of various districts, and might in
time occasion the production of a work so much to be wished for, a
full and compleat nat: history of these kingdoms."

Three years later he was still thinking of doing something, but
putting off the hour of action. In 1776 he was suddenly spurred to
decide by the circumstance that Barrington had written to propose a
joint work on natural history. "If I publish at all," said Gilbert
White to his nephew, "I shall come forth by myself." In 1780 he is
still unready: "Were it not for want of a good amanuensis, I think I
should make more progress." He was now sixty years of age. Eight years
later he was preparing the Index, and at last, in the autumn of 1789,
the volume positively made its appearance, in the maiden author's
seventieth year. Few indeed, if any, among English writers of high
distinction, have been content to delay so long before testing the
popular estimate of their work. His book was warmly welcomed, but the
delightful author survived its publication less than four years, dying
in the parish which he was to make so famous. Gilbert White was, in a
very peculiar sense, a man of one book.

Countless as have been the reprints of _The Natural History of
Selborne_, its original form is no longer, perhaps, familiar to many
readers. The first edition, which is now before me, is a very handsome
quarto. Benjamin White, the publisher, who was the younger brother of
Gilbert, issued most of the standard works on natural history which
appeared in London during the second half of the century, and his
experience enabled him to do adequate justice to _The History of
Selborne_. The frontispiece is a large folding plate of the village
from the Short Lythe, an ambitious summer landscape, representing the
church, White's own house, and a few cottages against the broad sweep
of the hangar. On a terrace in the foreground are portrait figures of
three gentlemen standing, and a lady seated. Of the former, one is a
clergyman, and it has often been stated that this is Gilbert White
himself; erroneously, since no portrait of him was ever executed;[1]
the figure is that of the Rev. Robert Yalden, vicar of Newton-Valence.
The frontispiece is unsigned, and I find no record of the artist's
name. It is not to be doubted, however, that the original was painted
by Samuel Hieronymus Grimm, the Swiss water-colour draughtsman, who
sketched so many topographical views in the South of England.

[Footnote 1: That discovered in 1913 has yet to prove that it
represents Gilbert White in any way.]

The remaining illustrations to this first edition, are an oval
landscape vignette on the title-page, engraved by Daniel Lerpinière;
a full-page plate of some fossil shells; an extra-sized plate of
the _himantopus_ that was shot at Frensham Pond, straddling with
an immense excess of shank; and four engravings, now of remarkable
interest, displaying the village as it then stood, from various points
of view. They are engraved by Peter Mazell, after drawings of Grimm's,
and give what is evidently a most accurate impression of what Selborne
was a century ago. In these days of reproductions, it is rather
strange that no publisher has issued facsimiles of these beautiful
illustrations to the original edition of what has become one of the
most popular English works. For the use of book-collectors, I may go
on to say that any one who is offered a copy of the edition of _The
History of Selborne_ of 1789, should be careful to see that not merely
the plates I have mentioned are in their places, but that the engraved
sub-title, with a print of the seal of Selborne Priory, occurs
opposite the blank leaf which answers to page 306.

It is impossible for a bibliographer who writes on Gilbert White to
resist the pleasure of mentioning the name of his best editor and
biographer. It was unfortunate that Thomas Bell, who was born eight
months before the death of Gilbert White, and who, quite early in life
began to entertain an enthusiastic reverence for that writer, did
not find an opportunity of studying Selborne on the spot until the
memories of White were becoming very vague and scattered there. I
think it was not until about 1865 that, retiring from a professional
career, he made Selborne--and the Wakes, the very house of Gilbert
White--his residence. Here he lived, however, for fifteen years,
and here it was his delight to follow up every vestige of the great
naturalist's sojourn in the parish. White became the passion of
Professor Bell's existence, and I well recollect him when he was
eighty-five or eighty-six years of age, and no longer strong enough
in body to quit his room with ease, sitting in his arm-chair at the
bedroom window, and directing my attention to points of Whiteish
interest, as I stood in the garden below. It was as difficult for Mr.
Bell to conceive that his annotations of White were complete, as it
had been for White himself to pluck up courage to publish; and it was
not until 1877, when the author was eighty-five years of age, that his
great and final edition in two thick volumes was issued. He lived,
however, to be nearly ninety, and died in the Wakes at last, in the
very room, and if I mistake not, the very spot in the room, where his
idol had passed away in 1793.

As long as Professor Bell was alive the house preserved, in all
essentials, the identical character which it had maintained under its
famous tenant. Overgrown with creepers to the very chimneys, divided
by the greenest and most velvety of lawns from a many-coloured furnace
of flower-beds, scarcely parted by lush paddocks from the intense
green wall of the coppiced hill, the Wakes has always retained for my
memory an impression of rural fecundity and summer glow absolutely
unequalled. The garden seemed to burn like a green sun, with crimson
stars and orange meteors to relieve it. All, I believe, has since
then been altered. Selborne, they tell me, has ceased to bear any
resemblance to that rich nest in which Thomas Bell so piously guarded
the idea of Gilbert White. If it be so, we must live content with

  _The memory of what has been,
  And never more may be_.


and sold by John Raw; sold also by Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme,
Paternoster Row, London_. 1810.

It may be that, save by a few elderly people and certain lovers of
old _Gentleman's Magazines_, the broad anonymous quarto known as _The
Diary of a Lover of Literature_ is no longer much admired or even
recollected. But it deserves to be recalled to memory, if only in that
it was, in some respects, the first, and in others, the last of a long
series of publications. It was the first of those diaries of personal
record of the intellectual life, which have become more and more the
fashion and have culminated at length in the ultra-refinement of Amiel
and the conscious self-analysis of Marie Bashkirtseff. It was less
definitely, perhaps, the last, or one of the last, expressions of the
eighteenth century sentiment, undiluted by any tincture of romance,
any suspicion that fine literature existed before Dryden, or could
take any form unknown to Burke.

It was under a strict incognito that _The Diary of a Lover of
Literature_ appeared, and it was attributed by conjecture to various
famous people. The real author, however, was not a celebrated man. His
name was Thomas Green, and he was the grandson of a wealthy Suffolk
soap-boiler, who had made a fortune during the reign of Queen Anne.
The Diarist's father had been an agreeable amateur in letters, a
pamphleteer, and a champion of the Church of England against Dissent.
Thomas Green, who was born in 1769, found himself at twenty-five in
possession of the ample family estates, a library of good books, a
vast amount of leisure, and a hereditary faculty for reading. His
health was not very solid, and he was debarred by it from sharing the
pleasures of his neighbour squires. He determined to make books and
music the occupation of his life, and in 1796, on his twenty-seventh
birthday, he began to record in a diary his impressions of what he
read. He went on very quietly and luxuriantly, living among his books
in his house at Ipswich, and occasionally rolling in his post-chaise
to valetudinarian baths and "Spaws."

When he had kept his diary for fourteen years, it seemed to a
pardonable vanity so amusing, that he persuaded himself to give part
of it to the world. The experiment, no doubt, was a very dubious one.
After much hesitation, and in an evil hour, perhaps, he wrote: "I am
induced to submit to the indulgence of the public the idlest work,
probably, that ever was composed; but, I could wish to hope, not
absolutely the most unentertaining or unprofitable." The welcome his
volume received must speedily have reassured him, but he had pledged
himself to print no more, and he kept his promise, though he went on
writing his Diary until he died in 1825. His MSS. passed into the
hands of John Mitford, who amused the readers of _The Gentleman's
Magazine_ with fragments of them for several years. Green has had many
admirers in the past, amongst whom Edward FitzGerald was not the least
distinguished. But he was always something of a local worthy, author
of one anonymous book, and of late he has been little mentioned
outside the confines of Suffolk.

It would be difficult to find an example more striking than the _Diary
of a Lover of Literature_ of exclusive absorption in the world of
books. It opens in a gloomy year for British politics, but there is
found no allusion to current events. There is a victory off Cape
St. Vincent in February, 1797, but Green is attacking Bentley's
annotations on Horace. Bonaparte and his army are buried in the sands
of Egypt; our Diarist takes occasion to be buried in Shaftesbury's
_Enquiry Concerning Virtue_. Europe rings with Hohenlinden, but the
news does not reach Mr. Thomas Green, nor disturb him in his perusal
of Soame Jenyns' _View of Christianity_. The fragment of the _Diary_
here preserved runs from September 1796 to June 1800. No one would
guess, from any word between cover and cover, that these were not
halcyon years, an epoch of complete European tranquillity. War upon
war might wake the echoes, but the river ran softly by the Ipswich
garden of this gentle enthusiast, and not a murmur reached him through
his lilacs and laburnums.

I have said that this book is one of the latest expressions of
unadulterated eighteenth-century sentiment. For form's sake, the
Diarist mentions now and again, very superficially, Shakespeare,
Bacon, and Milton; but in reality, the garden of his study is bounded
by a thick hedge behind the statue of Dryden. The classics of Greece
and Rome, and the limpid reasonable writers of England from the
Restoration downwards, these are enough for him. Writing in 1800 he
has no suspicion of a new age preparing. We read these stately pages,
and we rub our eyes. Can it be that when all this was written,
Wordsworth and Coleridge had issued _Lyrical Ballads_, and Keats
himself was in the world? Almost the only touch which shows
consciousness of a suspicion that romantic literature existed, is a
reference to the rival translations of Burger's _Lenore_ in 1797. Sir
Walter Scott, as we know, was one of the anonymous translators; it
was, however, in all probability not his, but Taylor's, that Green
mentions with special approbation.

In one hundred years a mighty change has come over the tastes and
fashions of literary life. When _The Diary of a Lover of Literature_
was written, Dr. Hurd, the pompous and dictatorial Bishop of
Worcester, was a dreaded martinet of letters, carrying on the
tradition of his yet more formidable master Warburton. As people
nowadays discuss Verlaine and Ibsen, so they argued in those
days about Godwin and Horne Tooke, and shuddered over each fresh
incarnation of Mrs. Radcliffe. Soame Jenyns was dead, indeed, in the
flesh, but his influence stalked at nights under the lamps and where
disputants were gathered together in country rectories. Dr. Parr
affected the Olympian nod, and crowned or checkmated reputations. "A
flattering message from Dr. P----" sends our Diarist into ecstasies
so excessive that a reaction sets in, and the "predominant and final
effect upon my mind has been depression rather than elevation." We
think of

  _The yarns Jack Hall invented, and the songs Jem Roper sung.
  And where are now Jem Roper and Jack Hall?_

Who cares now for Parr's praise or Soame Jenyns' censure? Yet in our
Diarist's pages these take equal rank with names that time has spared,
with Robertson and Gibbon, Burke and Reynolds.

Thomas Green was more ready for experiment in art than in literature.
He was "particularly struck" at the Royal Academy of 1797 with a sea
view by a painter called Turner:

"Fishing vessels coming in with a heavy swell in apprehension of a
tempest, gathering in the distance, and casting as it advances a night
of shade, while a parting glow is spread with fine effect upon the
shore; the whole composition bold in design and masterly in execution.
I am entirely unacquainted with the artist, but if he proceeds as he
has begun, he cannot fail to become the first in his department."

A remarkable prophecy, and one of the earliest notices we possess of
the effect which the youthful Turner, then but twenty-two years of
age, made on his contemporaries.

As a rule, except when he is travelling, our Diarist almost entirely
occupies himself with a discussion of the books he happens to be
reading. His opinions are not always in concert with the current
judgment of to-day; he admires Warburton much more than we do, and
Fielding much less. But he never fails to be amusing, because so
independent within the restricted bounds of his intellectual domain.
He is shut up in his eighteenth century like a prisoner, but inside
its wall his liberty of action is complete. Sometimes his judgments
are sensibly in advance of his age. It was the fashion in 1798 to
denounce the Letters of Lord Chesterfield as frivolous and immoral.
Green takes a wider view, and in a thoughtful analysis points out
their judicious merits and their genuine parental assiduity. When
Green can for a moment lift his eyes from his books, he shows a
sensitive quality of observation which might have been cultivated to
general advantage. Here is a reflection which seems to be as novel as
it is happy:

"Looked afterwards into the Roman Catholic Chapel in Duke Street. The
thrilling tinkle of the little bell at the elevation of the Host
is perhaps the finest example that can be given of the sublime by
association--nothing so poor and trivial in itself, nothing so
transcendently awful, as indicating the sudden change in the
consecrated Elements, and the instant presence of the Redeemer."

Much of the latter part of the _Diary_, as we hold it, is occupied
with the description of a tour in England and Wales. Here Green is
lucid, graceful, and refined: producing one after another little
vignettes in prose, which remind us of the simple drawings of the
water-colour masters of the age, of Girtin or Cozens or Glover. The
volume, which opened with some remarks on Sir William Temple, closes
with a disquisition on Warton's criticism of the poets. The curtain
rises for three years on a smooth stream of intellectual reflection,
unruffled by outward incident, and then falls again before we are
weary of the monotonous flow of undiluted criticism. _The Diary of a
Lover of Literature_ is at once the pleasing record of a cultivated
mind, and a monument to a species of existence that is as obsolete as
nankeen breeches or a tie-wig.

Isaac D'Israeli said that Green had humbled all modern authors to the
dust, and that he earnestly wished for a dozen volumes of _The Diary_.
At Green's death material for at least so many supplements were placed
in the hands of John Mitford, who did not venture to produce them.
From January 1834 to May 1843, however, Mitford was incessantly
contributing to _The Gentleman's Magazine_ unpublished extracts from
this larger _Diary_. These have never been collected, but my friend,
Mr. W. Aldis Wright, possesses a very interesting volume, into which
the whole mass of them has been carefully and consecutively pasted,
with copious illustrative matter, by the hand of Edward FitzGerald,
whose interest in and curiosity about Thomas Green were unflagging.


PETER BELL: _A Tale in Verse, by William Wordsworth. London: Printed
by Strahan and Spottiswoode, Printers-Street: for Longman, Hurst,
Rees, Orme and Brown, Paternoster Row_. 1819.

None of Wordsworth's productions are better known by name than _Peter
Bell_, and yet few, probably, are less familiar, even to convinced
Wordsworthians. The poet's biographers and critics have commonly
shirked the responsibility of discussing this poem, and when the
Primrose stanza has been quoted, and the Parlour stanza smiled at,
there is usually no more said about _Peter Bell_. A puzzling obscurity
hangs around its history. We have no positive knowledge why its
publication was so long delayed; nor, having been delayed, why it was
at length determined upon. Yet a knowledge of this poem is not merely
an important, but, to a thoughtful critic, an essential element in the
comprehension of Wordsworth's poetry. No one who examines that body of
literature with sympathetic attention should be content to overlook
the piece in which Wordsworth's theories are pushed to their furthest

When _Peter Bell_ was published in April 1819, the author remarked
that it had "nearly survived its _minority_; for it saw the light in
the summer of 1798." It was therefore composed at Alfoxden, that
plain stone house in West Somersetshire, which Dorothy and William
Wordsworth rented for the sum of £23 for one year, the rent covering
the use of "a large park, with seventy head of deer."

Thanks partly to its remoteness from a railway, and partly also to
the peculiarities of its family history, Alfoxden remains singularly
unaltered. The lover of Wordsworth who follows its deep umbrageous
drive to the point where the house, the park around it, and the
Quantocks above them suddenly break upon the view, sees to-day very
much what Wordsworth's visitors saw when they trudged up from Stowey
to commune with him in 1797. The barrier of ancient beech-trees
running up into the moor, Kilve twinkling below, the stretch of fields
and woods descending northward to the expanse of the yellow Severn
Channel, the plain white façade of Alfoxden itself, with its easy
right of way across the fantastic garden, the tumultuous pathway down
to the glen, the poet's favourite parlour at the end of the house--all
this presents an impression which is probably less transformed,
remains more absolutely intact, than any other which can be identified
with the early or even the middle life of the poet. That William and
Dorothy, in their poverty, should have rented so noble a country
property seems at first sight inexplicable, and the contrast between
Alfoxden and Coleridge's squalid pot-house in Nether Stowey can never
cease to be astonishing. But the sole object of the trustees in
admitting Wordsworth to Alfoxden was, as Mrs. Sandford has discovered,
"to keep the house inhabited during the minority of the owner;" it was
let to the poet on the 14th of July 1797.

It was in this delicious place, under the shadow of "smooth Quantock's
airy ridge," that Wordsworth's genius came of age. It was during the
twelve months spent here that Wordsworth lost the final traces of the
old traditional accent of poetry. It was here that the best of the
_Lyrical Ballads_ were written, and from this house the first volume
of that epoch-making collection was forwarded to the press. Among the
poems written at Alfoxden _Peter Bell_ was prominent, but we hear
little of it except from Hazlitt, who, taken over to the Wordsworths
by Coleridge from Nether Stowey, was on a first visit permitted to
read "the sibylline leaves," and on a second had the rare pleasure
of hearing Wordsworth himself chant _Peter Bell_, in his "equable,
sustained, and internal" manner of recitation, under the ash-trees
of Alfoxden Park. I do not know whether it has been noted that the
landscape of _Peter Bell_, although localised in Yorkshire by the
banks of the River Swale, is yet pure Somerset in character. The poem
was composed, without a doubt, as the poet tramped the grassy heights
of the Quantock Hills, or descended at headlong pace, mouthing and
murmuring as he went, into one sylvan combe after another. To give it
its proper place among the writings of the school, we must remember
that it belongs to the same group as _Tintern Abbey_ and _The Ancient

Why, then, was it not issued to the world with these? Why was it
locked up in the poet's desk for twenty-one years, and shown during
that time, as we gather from its author's language to Southey, to
few, even of his close friends? To these questions we find no reply
vouchsafed, but perhaps it is not difficult to discover one. Every
revolutionist in literature or art produces some composition in which
he goes further than in any other in his defiance of recognised rules
and conventions. It was Wordsworth's central theory that no subject
can be too simple and no treatment too naked for poetic purposes. His
poems written at Alfoxden are precisely those in which he is most
audacious in carrying out his principle, and nothing, even of his, is
quite so simple or quite so naked as _Peter Bell_.

Hazlitt, a very young man, strongly prejudiced in favour of the new
ideas, has given us a notion of the amazement with which he listened
to these pieces of Wordsworth, although he was "not critically nor
sceptically inclined." Others, we know, were deeply scandalised. I
have little doubt that Wordsworth himself considered that, in 1798,
his own admirers were scarcely ripe for the publication of _Peter
Bell_, while, even so late as June 1812, when Crabb Robinson borrowed
the MS. and lent it to Charles Lamb, the latter "found nothing good in
it." Robinson seems to have been the one admirer of _Peter Bell_ at
that time, and he was irritated at Lamb's indifference. Yet his own
opinion became modified when the poem was published, and (May 3, 1819)
he calls it "this _unfortunate_ book."[1] In another place (June 12,
1820) Crabb Robinson says that he implored Wordsworth, before the book
was printed, to omit "the party in a parlour," and also the banging of
the ass's bones, but, of course, in vain.

[Footnote 1: The word _unfortunate_ is omitted by the editor,
Thomas Sadler, perhaps in deference to the feelings of Wordsworth's

In 1819 much was changed. The poet was now in his fiftieth year. The
epoch of his true productiveness was closed; all his best works,
except _The Prelude_, were before the public, and although Wordsworth
was by no means widely or generally recognised yet as a great poet,
there was a considerable audience ready to receive with respect
whatever so interesting a person should put forward. Moreover, a new
generation had come to the front; Scott's series of verse-romances was
closed; Byron was in mid-career; there were young men of extraordinary
and somewhat disquieting talent--Shelley, Keats, and Leigh Hunt--all
of whom were supposed to be, although characters of a very
reprehensible and even alarming class, yet distinctly respectful in
their attitude towards Mr. Wordsworth. It seemed safe to publish
_Peter Bell_.

Accordingly, the thin octavo described at the head of this chapter
duly appeared in April 1819. It was so tiny that it had to be eked out
with the Sonnets written to W. Westall's Views, and it was adorned
by an engraving of Bromley's, after a drawing specially made by
Sir George Beaumont to illustrate the poem. A letter to Beaumont,
unfortunately without a date, in which this frontispiece is discussed,
seems to suggest that the engraving was a gift from the artist to the
poet; Wordsworth, "in sorrow for the sickly taste of the public
in verse," opining that he cannot afford the expense of such a
frontispiece as Sir George Beaumont suggests. In accordance with these
fears, no doubt, an edition of only 500 was published; but it achieved
a success which Wordsworth had neither anticipated nor desired. There
was a general guffaw of laughter, and all the copies were immediately
sold; within a month a ribald public received a third edition, only to
discover, with disappointment, that the funniest lines were omitted.

No one admired _Peter Bell_. The inner circle was silent. Baron Field
wrote on the title-page of his copy, which now belongs to Mr. J. Dykes
Campbell, "And his carcass was cast in the way, and the Ass stood by
it." Sir Walter Scott openly lamented that Wordsworth should exhibit
himself "crawling on all fours, when God has given him so noble a
countenance to lift to heaven." Byron mocked aloud, and, worse than
all, the young men from whom so much had been expected, _les
jeunes feroces_, leaped on the poor uncomplaining Ass like so many
hunting-leopards. The air was darkened by hurtling parodies, the
arrangement of which is still a standing _crux_ to the bibliographers.

It was Keats's friend, John Hamilton Reynolds, who opened the attack.
His parody _(Peter Bell: a Lyrical Ballad_. London, Taylor and Hessey,
1819) was positively in the field before the original. It was said, at
the time, that Wordsworth, feverishly awaiting a specimen copy of his
own _Peter Bell_ from town, seized a packet which the mail brought
him, only to find that it was the spurious poem which had anticipated
Simon Pure. _The Times_ protested that the two poems must be from the
same pen. Reynolds had probably glanced at proofs of the genuine poem;
his preface is a close imitation of Wordsworth's introduction, and the
stanzaic form in which the two pieces are written is identical. On the
other hand, the main parody is made up of allusions to previous poems
by Wordsworth, and shows no acquaintance with the story of _Peter
Bell_. Reynolds's whole pamphlet--preface, text, and notes--is
excessively clever, and touches up the bard at a score of tender
points. It catches the sententious tone of Wordsworth deliciously, and
it closes with this charming stanza:

  _He quits that moonlight yard of skulls,
  And still he feels right glad, and smiles
  With moral joy at that old tomb;
  Peter's cheek recalls its bloom,
  And as he creepeth by the tiles,
  He mutters ever--"W.W.
  Never more will trouble you, trouble you_."

_Peter Bell the Second_, as it is convenient, though not strictly
accurate, to call Reynold's "antenatal Peter," was more popular than
the original. By May a third edition had been called for, and this
contained fresh stanzas and additional notes.

Another parody, which ridiculed the affection for donkeys displayed
both by Wordsworth and Coleridge, was called _The Dead Asses: A
Lyrical Ballad_; and an elaborate production, the author of which I
have not been able to discover, was published later on in the year,
_Benjamin the Waggoner_ (Baldwin, Craddock and Joy, 1819), which,
although the title suggests _The Waggoner_ of Wordsworth, is entirely
taken up with making fun of _Peter Bell_. This parody--and it is
certainly neither pointless nor unskilful--chiefly deals with the
poet's fantastic prologue. Then, no less a person than Shelley,
writing to Leigh Hunt from Florence in November of the same year,
enclosed a _Peter Bell the Third_ which he desired should be printed,
yet in such a form as to conceal the name of the author. Perhaps Hunt
thought it indiscreet to publish this not very amusing skit, and it
did not see the light till long after Shelley's death. Finally, as
though the very spirit of parody danced in the company of this strange
poem, Wordsworth himself chronicled its ill-fate in a sonnet imitated
from Milton's defence of "Tetrachordon," singing how, on the
appearance of _Peter Bell_,

                   _a harpy brood
  On Bard and Hero clamourously fell_.

Of the poem which enjoyed so singular a fate, Lord Houghton has
quietly remarked that it could not have been written by a man with a
strong sense of humour. This is true of every part of it, of the stiff
and self-sufficient preface, and of the grotesque prologue, both of
which in all probability belong to 1819, no less than of the story
itself, in its three cantos or parts, which bear the stamp of Alfoxden
and 1798. The tale is not less improbable than uninteresting. In the
first part, a very wicked potter or itinerant seller of pots, Peter
Bell, being lost in the woodland, comes to the borders of a river, and
thinks to steal an ass which he finds pensively hanging its head over
the water; Peter Bell presently discovers that the dead body of the
master of the ass is floating in the river just below. (The poet, as
he has naively recorded, read this incident in a newspaper.) In the
second part Peter drags the dead man to land, and starts on the ass's
back to find the survivors. In the third part a vague spiritual
chastisement falls on Peter Bell for his previous wickedness. Plot
there is no more than this, and if proof were wanted of the inherent
innocence of Wordsworth's mind, it is afforded by the artless
struggles which he makes to paint a very wicked man. Peter Bell has
had twelve wives, he is indifferent to primroses upon a river's brim,
and he beats asses when they refuse to stir. This is really all the
evidence brought against one who is described, vaguely, as combining
all vices that "the cruel city breeds."

That which close students of the genius of Wordsworth will always turn
to seek in _Peter Bell_ is the sincere sentiment of nature and the
studied simplicity of language which inspire its best stanzas. The
narrative is clumsy in the extreme, and the attempts at wit and
sarcasm ludicrous. Yet _Peter Bell_ contains exquisite things. The
Primrose stanza is known to every one; this is not so familiar:

  _The dragon's wing, the magic ring,
  I shall not covet for my dower.
  If I along that lowly way
  With sympathetic heart may stray
  And with a soul of power_.

Nor this, with its excruciating simplicity, its descriptive accent of

  _I see a blooming Wood-boy there,
  And, if I had the power to say
  How sorrowful the wanderer is,
  Your heart would be as sad as his
  Till you had kiss'd his tears away!

  Holding a hawthorn branch in hand,
  All bright with berries ripe and red;
  Into the cavern's mouth he peeps--
  Thence back into the moonlight creeps;
  What seeks the boy?--the silent dead!_

It is when he wishes to describe how Peter Bell became aware of the
dead body floating under the nose of the patient ass that Wordsworth
loses himself in uncouth similes. Peter thinks it is the moon, then
the reflection of a cloud, then a gallows, a coffin, a shroud, a stone
idol, a ring of fairies, a fiend. Last of all the poet makes the
Potter, who is gazing at the corpse, exclaim:

  _Is it a party in a parlour?
  Cramm'd just as they on earth were cramm'd--
  Some sipping punch, some sipping tea,
  But, as you by their faces see,
  All silent and all damned!_

So deplorable is the waggishness of a person, however gifted, who has
no sense of humour! This simile was too much for the gravity even of
intimate friends like Southey and Lamb, and after the second edition
it disappeared.


THE FANCY: _A Selection from the Poetical Remains of the late Peter
Corcoran, of Gray's Inn, student at law. With a brief Memoir of his
life. London: printed for Taylor & Hessey, Fleet Street_. 1820.

The themes of the poets run in a very narrow channel. Since the old
heroic times when the Homers and the Gunnlaugs sang of battle with the
sleet of lances hurtling around them, a great calm has settled down
upon Parnassus. Generation after generation pipes the same tune of
love and Nature, of the liberal arts and the illiberal philosophies;
the same imagery, the same metres, meander within the same polite
margins of conventional subject. Ever and anon some one attempts to
break out of the groove. In the eighteenth century they made a valiant
effort to sing of The Art of Preserving Health, and of The Fleece and
of The Sugar-Cane, but the innovators lie stranded, like cumbrous
whales, on the shore of the ocean of Poesy. Flaubert's friend, Louis
Bouilhet, made a inartful attempt to tune the stubborn lyre to music
of the birthday of the world, to battles of the ichthyosaurus and the
plesiosaurus, to loves of the mammoth and the mastodon. But the public
would have none of it, though ensphered in faultless verso, and the
poets fled back to their flames and darts, and to the primrose at the
river's brim. There is, however, something pathetic, and something
that pleasantly reminds us of the elasticity of the human intellect in
these failures; and the book before us is an amusing example of such
eccentric efforts to enlarge the sphere of the poetic activity.

This little volume is called _The Fancy_, and it does not appear to me
certain that the virtuous American conscience know what that means. If
the young ladies from Wells or Wellesley inquire ingenuously, "Tell us
where is Fancy bred?" we should have to reply, with a jingle, In the
fists, not in the head. The poet himself, in a fit of unusual candour,

  _Fancy's a term for every blackguardism_,

though this is much too severe. But rats, and they who catch them,
badgers, and they who bait them, cocks, and they who fight them, and,
above all, men with fists, who professionally box with them, come
under the category of the _Fancy_. This, then, is the theme which the
poet before us, living under the genial sway of the First Gentleman of
Europe, undertook to place beneath the special patronage of Apollo.
The attractions, however, of _The Learned Ring_, set all other
pleasures in the shade, and the name, Peter Corcoran, which is a
pseudonym, is, I suppose, chosen merely because the initials are
those of the then famous Pugilistic Club. The poet is, in short, the
laureate of the P.C., and his book stands in the same relation to
_Boxiana_ that Campbell's lyrics do to Nelson's despatches. To
understand the poet's position, we ought to be dressed as he was; we

        _to wear a tough drab coat
  With large pearl buttons all afloat
  Upon the waves of plush; to tie
  A kerchief of the king-cup die
  (White-spotted with a small bird's eye)
  Around the neck,--and from the nape
  Let fall an easy> fan-like cape_,

and, in fact, to belong to that incredible company of Corinthian Tom
and Jerry Hawthorn over whom Thackeray let fall so delightfully the
elegiac tear.

Anthologies are not edited in a truly catholic spirit, or they would
contain this very remarkable sonnet:


  "_None but himself can be his parallel."

  With marble-coloured shoulders,--and keen eyes,
    Protected by a forehead broad and white--
    And hair cut close lest it impede the sight,
  And clenchèd hands, firm, and of punishing size,--
  Steadily held, or motion'd wary-wise
    To hit or stop,--and kerchief too drawn tight
    O'er the unyielding loins, to keep from flight
  The inconstant wind, that all too often flies,--
  The Nonpareil stands! Fame, whose bright eyes run o'er
    With joy to see a Chicken of her own.
    Dips her rich pen in_ claret_,