« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
77. SOUTHEY, with all his faults, is certainly a man of genius, and most truly a poet. There might be passages selected from his works, which would yield to none within the whole compass of English poetry. His invention is ever new, his fancy ever on the wing, and with magic hand he raises around him the iris, the rose, and the jasmin in regions, which had hitherto been resigned to hopeless sterility. But there appears such a perpetual strain after novelty ; his imagination sometimes indulges itself in such contortions and grimaces, and his most “ doleful matter" is sometimes “ so merrily set down," that he exposes himself, and justly too, to the pity of the judicious, and the sneer and witticism of the “ mousing owls” of literature.
78. Dryden's VIRGIL. In the ninth pastoral we meet with the following couplet:
“Here, where the lab'rer's hands have form'd a bower
Of wreathing trees, in singing waste an hour." LINE 84. Why Dryden represented Lycidas entreating Mæris to “ waste" an hour in singing, it is difficult to conceive. Virgil's Lycidas was not guilty of this incivility. “ Hic, Mæri, canamus,” can never mean, « in singing waste an hour ;" and I should hardly have expected this censure upon music from the author of “ALEXANDER's Feast.”
“ Rest here thy weary limbs." This is doubtless to help out the line, for there is nothing answering to it in Virgil. See Ecl. ix. l. 60. The whole of this passage is far more accurately rendered by Ring :
“ Here let us sit, and tune our vocal strains,
We've day before us yet, to reach the town."
" Qui Nomentum urbem, qui rosea rura Velini." En. b. vii. 1. 712.
Dryden at first gave“ rosy fields." A prósodist perhaps corrected him, by shewing that the first syllable is long, and rosea means dewy. . It is often printed as a proper name; Rosea rura Velini.
Dryden no doubt deserved that encomium which Pope bestowed on him, of producing “ the most noble and spirited translation he knew in any language." It was however a hurried performance; and, like everything of Dryden's, it indicates a writer impatient of labour. Had he proceeded in the work with greater deliberation, his version might have been inore equal, but probably not more brilliant; less deficient in harmony, but more uniformly interesting. Though versification since the time of Dryden has become more correct, yet he has scarcely been surpassed as a poet. For all his faults he affords a recompense. When he does not please the ear, he delights the imagination, and captivates the mind.
79. Hours OF STUDY. The student, wlio wishes to learn from the example of great scholars, what distribution of his time will insure the most rapid acquisition of knowledge, will be sadly perplexed by the contradictory habits of moderns equally illustrious. Gibbon was a decided enemy both to nocturnal and antelucane studies; yet we find he wrote the last words of his history between the hours of eleven and twelve at night. “ It was on the day, or rather night, of the 27th of June, 1787, between the hours of eleven and twelve, that I wrote the last lines of the last page, in a summer house in my garden. After laying down my pen, I took several turns in a berceau, or covered walk of acacias, which commands a prospect of the country, the lake, and the mountains. The air was temperate, the sky was serene, the silver orb of the moon . was reflected from the waters, and all nature was silent. I will not dissemble the first emotions of joy on recovery of my freedom, and, perhaps, the establishment of my fame. But my pride was soon humbled, and a sober melancholy was spread over my mind, by the idea that I had taken an everlasting leave of an old and agreeable companion, and that whatsoever might be the future date of my history, the life of the historian must be short and precarious.” Gibbon's Miscellaneous Works, vol. i. p. 255.
Gibbon's time, however, was in general most exactly appropriated within the limits of the natural day.
Johnson, on the contrary, except when compiling his dictionary, seems never to have assigned an hour to any thing. He was trembling in bed till noon day, and sipping tea till midnight.
Milton is an authority on both sides, or rather on neither. In his youth, he studied late at night; but afterwards changed his hours, and always went to bed at nine. See p. 431, third edit. of Dr. Syminons's very able Life of Millon.
Gilbert Wakefield, (“one of the best scholars produced by my own country in my own age.” Dr. Parr. See Wakefield's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 449, ed, 1804.) who probably read more Greek and Latin than any man of his years, (for he died at forty-five) used commonly to trim his morning lamp before the sun, and even asserts that it is indispensable to literary proficiency. But Sir William Jones, whose learning was almost as extensive as the diffusion of the solar light, was as punctual as the daily return of that luminary, and equal as its daily circuit at the equator in the distribution of his hours of study.
The application of Castellanus was most extraordinary. He scarcely slept three hours a night; he used to lay himself down on the ground, without any other pillow than his night-gown, in which he wrapped up his head ; and as soon as he waked, he run with the utmost eagerness to his books. He never dined; but took a piece of bread at eight in the morning, and supped at five in the afternoon. See Gallandius's Life of Castellanus.
M. D’Ablancourt for three years devoted from twelve to fifteen hours a day in study. See his Life in the second volume of Patru's Works.
“ Happy are those,” exclaims the indefatigable and philosophic Bayle, “ who are strong enough to study fourteen or fifteen hours a day, without being ever out of order!"
80. Pope's VERSIFICATION. Warton, in his notes on Pope's Pastorals, says there is only one false rhyme in them, and that is in part i. lines 35, 36. 'I took the pains to note five more, viz. part i. lines 9, 10, 85, 86; part iv. lines 19, 20, 37, 38, 56, 57.
81. Storks. The inhabitants of Fez believe storks to be men from some distant islands, who at certain seasons of the year assume the shape of these birds, that they may visit Barbary, and return at a certain time to their own country, where they resume their human form. In consequence of this belief, there is a hospital at Fez, possessing large funds bequeathed for the express purpose of assisting and nursing sick storks, and of burying them when dead. See the Travels of Ali Bez, 2 vols. 4to. 1816.
These birds are very great favorites with the Mahometans, in consequence of their destroying the locusts, which they do in great quantities. They visit Turkey annually, in vast numbers, about the middle of Marclr, and always in the night. Early in October they take their departure in the same manner, so that no one can tell from whence they come, or whither they go. See vol. i. p. 125, Macgill's
Travels in Turkey; p. 64, Jackson's Account of Morocco; p. 411, quarto ed. Dr. Shaw's Travels; and p. 32 of Hasselquist's Travels, for some curious particulars concerning storks. This bird has long been remarkable for its love to its parents, whom it never forsakes, but tenderly feeds and cherishes when they have become.old, and unable to provide for themselves. Bochart (Hieroz, book, ic ch. xix. p. 82, v. 3) has collected a variety of passages from the ancients in confirmation of this curious and pleasing zoological fact. Its very name in Hebrew 177'DN signifies mercy or piety.
“ The stork's an emblem of true piety;
Ere he was fit to fly." Plutarch (p. 637, Bollands Translation), in enumerating the benefits conferred on man by the stork, mentions, among other things, that of its killing toads and serpents. Linnæus, however, expressly states, that though they eat frogs, they avoid toads. The same remark is made by that eminent naturalist, Sir John Hill. See No. 171 of the “ Inspector.”
82. POPULATION. It is curious to observe the different proportion of inhabitants distributed to the different quarters of the world. It is undoubtedly a general rule, that the mild and temperate climates, bordering on the tropics, have a more compact population than the rest of the world; but the causes why countries which are separated only by a mountain, or a river, or an imaginary line of latitude, differ so much in their comparative population, are more evanescent, and must be sought in circumstances which at first appear unimportant. Few minds are capable of detecting and demonstrating these causes; but, any one who will take the trouble to
calculate, may see that the following statement is correct, although almost every one will be astonished at the disproportion between the spare population of Iceland, and the multitudes which throng the little island of Malta.
Upon an equal space where one man subsists in Iceland, three men subsist in Norway ; fourteen in Sweden; thirty-six in Turkey; fifty-two in Poland; sixty-three in Spain; ninety-nine in Ireland; one hundred and fourteen in Switzerland; one hundred and twentyseven in Germany; one hundred and fifty-two in England; one hundred and fifty-three in France; one hundred and seventy-two in Italy; one hundred and ninety-two in Naples; two hundred and twenty-four in Holland; one thousand one hundred and three in Malta.
83. How TO PUNISH AN ALDERMAN. In Strype's Stow, vol. ii. p. 238, is the following extract from the City Records :-“ Nicholas Whyfford, an Alderman, having neglected to line his cloak, which he ought to use in the procession,-therefore it is adjudged by the court, that the Lord Mayor and Aldermen shall all breakfast with him! This penalty is awarded on him as a punishment for his covet. ousness."
THE SPIRIT'S SONG.
It is the merry month of May,
And nature smiles where'er you rove;
And ev'ry zephyr teems with love.
By all the babbling world unseen,
While May-buds bloom, and leaves are green.
May is, indeed, a merry month—with us, the most pleasant in the year. Nature wears her sweetest smile, and a blissful sunshine seems to settle on the heart; primroses and violets (it is true) have passed away, but are now succeeded by more lasting flowers. The ancients painted May with a lovely aspect, in a robe of white and green, embroidered with daffodils and hawthorn; on his head a garland of white and damask roses, holding a lute in one hand, and a nightingale on the finger of the other. How truly emblematical of this harmonious month!
I have somewhere read too, that Harpocrates (the God of Silence) received from Cupid (bless his little busy Godhead) a present of a beautiful rose, the first that ever bloomed, to engage the former not to discover any of the affaires d'amour of his celestial mamma, Madame Venus. Whether that rose was of the red or damask tint, I have not discovered in my researches; from this circumstance, however, arose the custom of placing roses in rooms of mirth and entertainment, that under the assurance thereof, the guests might be induced to lay aside all constraint, and speak and act what they pleased. For the same reason, I suppose, they were placed in our courts of law, where we may see them at the present day. How often have I in my younger days (sub-Rosa) divulged to one pair of listening ears, what might have set a world in arms! Who, indeed, has not loved a pretty girl “ under the rose ?" Yes, roses have raised factions under the happy reign of George the Fourth to as great a height, in the courts of love, as when the houses of York and Lancaster patronized the rival flowers. Often have I watched the opening rose-buds which were to form a nosegay for one, whose smiles and cheering looks would keep it spring-time ever; how anxiously have I observed the progress towards maturity of a flower destined to live its brief time in the bosom of innocency! How have I longed for the time of presentation, when a playful refusal should give me the assurance of a more willing acceptance, accompanied, perhaps, by the permission of placing the flowers in her waist- and then the look of satisfaction when love had fixed them there--the all-approving smile which more than repaid the attention; and though last, not least, the regretful resignation at evening of the dying flowers to the hands which reared them, on the promise of a sweeter bouquet to-morrow, to be accepted by one of whom it may be said,