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Hence, viper thoughts, that coil around my mind,
Reality's dark dream!
Which long has raved unnoticed. What a scream
Bare craig, or mountain-tairn*, or blasted tree,
Methinks were fitter instruments for thee,
Thou Actor, perfect in all tragic sounds!
What tell'st thou now about?
'Tis of the rushing of a host in rout,
And all that noise, as of a rushing crowd,
A tale of less affright,
And tempered with delight,
'Tis of a little child
Upon a lonesome wild,
'Tis midnight, but small thoughts have I of sleep:
And may this storm be but a mountain birth,
With light heart may she rise,
Gay fancy, cheerful eyes,
O simple spirit, guided from above,
* Tairn is a small lake, generally if not always applied to the lakes up in the mountains, and which are the feeders of those in the valleys. This address to the Storm-wind will not appear extravagant to those who have heard it at night, and in a mountainous country.
10.-APOPHTHEGMS.-I. [An Apophthegm is, properly speaking, a pithy saying. An Aphorism is a precept, or rule of practice. Plutarch made a collection of Apopthegms which are for the most part what we call Anecdotes. Lord Bacon's collection of Apophthegms is almost wholly of the same character. In a preface to this collection our great English philosopher writes as follows:
“Julius Cæsar did write a collection of apophthegms, as appears in an epistle of Cicero: I need say no more for the worth of a writing of that nature. It is pity his work is lost, for I imagine they were collected with judgment and choice; whereas that of Plutarch and Stobæus, and much more the modern ones, draw much of the dregs. Certainly they are of excellent use. They are mucrones verborum, pointed speeches. Cicero prettily calls them salinas, salt pits, that you may extract salt out of and sprinkle it where you will. They serve to be interlaced in continued speech. They serve to be recited, upon occasions, of themselves. They serve, if you take out the kernel of them and make them your own. I have, for my recreation in my sickness, fanned the old, not omitting any because they are vulgar (common), for many vulgar ones are excellent good; nor for the meanness of the person, but because they are dull and flat, and adding many new, that otherwise would have died."
We shall devote a few “Half-hours' to this amusing branch of literature, selecting, without chronological order from many books :-)
DESIRE OF KNOWLEDGE.—Dr. Johnson and I [Boswell] took a sculler at the Temple Stairs, and set out for Greenwich. I asked him if he really thought a knowledge of the Greek and Latin languages an essential requisite to a good education. Johnson. “Most certainly, sir ; for those who know them have a very great advantage over those who do not. Nay, sir, it is wonderful what a difference learning makes upon people even in the common intercourse of life, which does not appear to be much connected with it.” “And yet,” said I, “people go through the world very well, and carry on the business of life to good advantage, without learning." Johnson. Why, sir, that may be true in cases where learning cannot possibly be of any use ; for instance, this boy rows us as well without learning as if he could sing the song of Orpheus to the Argonauts, who were the first sailors.” He then called to the boy, “What would you give, my lad, to know about the Argonauts ?” “Sir," said the boy, “I would give what I have.” Johnson was much pleased with his answer, and we gave him a double fare. Dr. Johnson then turning to me, “Sir,” said he, “ a desire of knowledge is the natural feeling of mankind; and every human being, whose mind is not debauched, will be willing to give all that he has, to get knowledge.”—BOSWELL. Life of Johnson.
DECAYED GENTRY.—It happened in the reign of King James, when Henry, Earl of Huntingdon, was Lieutenant of Leicestershire, that a labourer's son of that country was pressed into the wars; as I take it to go over with Count Mansfeldt. The old man at Leicester requested his son might be discharged, as being the only staff of his age, who by his industry maintained him and his mother. The carl demanded his
name, which the man for a long time was loth to tell (as suspecting it a fault for so poor a man to confess the truth), at last he told his name was Hastings.
“ Cousin Hastings,” said the earl, “ we cannot all be top branches of the tree, though we all spring from the same root; your son, my kinsman, shall not be pressed !” So good was the meeting of modesty in a poor, with courtesy in an honourable person, and gentry I believe in both. And I have reason to believe, that some who justly hold the surnames and blood of Bohuns, Mortimers, and Plantagenets (though ignorant of their own extractions), are hid in the heap of common people, where they find that under a thatched cottage, which some of their ancestors could not enjoy in a leaded castle-contentment, with quiet and security.---FULLER. Worthies.- Art. of ShireReeves or Shiriffes.
GOLDSMITH.—Colonel O’Moore, of Cloghan Castle in Ireland, told me an amusing instance of the mingled vanity and simplicity of Goldsmith, which (though, perhaps,
coloured a little, as anecdotes too oftcu are) is characteristic at least of the opinion which his best friends entertained of Goldsmith. One afternoon, as Colonel O’Moore and Mr. Burke were going to dine with Sir Joshua Reynolds, they observed Goldsmith (also on his way to Sir Joshua's) standing near a crowd of people, who were staring and shouting at some foreign women in the windows of one of the houses in Lcicester Square. “Observe Goldsmith,” said Mr. Burke to O'Moore, “and mark what passes between him and me by and by at Sir Joshua's.” They passed on, and arrived before Goldsmith, who came soon after, and Mr. Burke affected to receive him very coolly. This seemed to vex poor Goldsmith, who begged Mr. Burke would tell him how he had the misfortune to offend him. Burke appeared very reluctant to speak ; but, after a good deal of pressing, said “that he was really ashamed to keep up an intimacy with one who could be guilty of such monstrous indiscretions as Goldsmith had just exhibited in the square.” Goldsmith, with great earnestness, protested he was unconscious of what was meant. “Why,” said Burke, “did you not exclaim, as you were looking up at those women, What stupid beasts the crowd must be for staring with such admiration at those painted Jezebels; while a man of your talents passed by unnoticed ?" Goldsmith was horror-struck, and said, “Surely, surely, my dear friend, I did not say so ?” “Nay,” replied Burke, “if you had not said so, how should I have known it ? " “That's true," answered Goldsmith, with great humility : “I am very sorry-it was very foolish : I do recollect that something of the kind passed through my mind, but I did not think I had uttered it.”—Notes in Croker's edition of Boswell's Johnson.
ILLUSTRIOUS PRISONERS. —Queen Elizabeth, the morrow of her coronation, went to the chapel ; and in the great chamber, Sir John Rainsforth, set on by wiser men (a knight that had the liberty of a buffoon), besought the queen aloud—“That now this good time, when prisoners were delivered, four prisoners, amongst the rest, mought likewise have their liberty who were like enough to be kept still in hold.” The queen asked, “who they were ?” and he said “Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, who had long been imprisoned in the Latin tongue, and now he desired they mought go abroad among the people in English.” The queen answered, with a grave countenance, “ It were good, Rainsforth, they were spoken with themselves, to know of them whether they would be set at liberty ?”—Bacon.
CANNING AND THE AMBASSADOR.—What dull coxcombs your diplomatists at home generally are ! I remember dining at Mr. Frere's once in company with Canning and a few other interesting men.
Just before dinner Lord called on Frere, and asked himself to dinner. From the moment of his entry he began to talk to the whole party, and in French—all of us being genuine English—and I was told his French was execrable. He had followed the Russian army into France, and seen a good deal of the great men concerned in the war; of none of those things did he say a word, but went on, sometimes in English and sometimes in French, gabbling about cookery and dress, and the like. At last he paused for a little—and I said a few words, remarking how a great image may be reduced to the ridiculous and contemptible by bringing the constituent parts into prominent detail, and mentioned the grandeur of the deluge and the preservation of life in Genesis and the Paradise Lost, and the ludicrous effect produced by Drayton's description in his Noah's Flood :
“And now the beasts are walking from the wood,
And to the Ark brings on the fair-eyed cow," &c.
lately scen of Noah's Ark, and said the animals were all marching two and two, the little ones first, and that the elephants came last in great majesty and filled up the foreground. “Ah ! no doubt, my lord,” said Canning ; “your elephants, wise fellows ! staid behind to pack up their trunks !” This floored the ambassador for half an hour.–COLERIDGE. Table Talk.
HENRY MARTIN.—His speeches in the house were not long, but wondrous poignant, pertinent, and witty. He was exceedingly happy in apt instances; he alone had sometimes turned the whole house. Making an invective specch one time against old Sir Henry Vane, when he had done with him he said, But for young Sir Harry Vane—and so sat him down. Several cried out—"What have you to say to young Sir Harry ?” He rises up: Why, if young Sir Harry lives to be old, he will be old Sir Harry! and so sat down, and set the whole house a laughing, as he oftentimes did. Oliver Cromwell once in the house called him jestingly or scoffingly, Sir Harry Martin. H. M. rises and bows, “I thank your majesty, I always thought when you were king that I should be knighted.” A godly member made a motion to have all profane and unsanctified persons expelled the house. H. M. stood up and moved that all fools should be put out likewise, and then there would be a thin house. He was wont to sleep much in the house (at least dog-sleep); Alderman Atkins made a motion that such scandalous members as slept and minded not the business of the house should be put out. H. M. starts up—“Mr. Speaker, a motion has been made to turn out the Nodders ; I desire the Noddees may also be turned out.”—AUBREY'S MSS.
THE DESOLATION OF TYRANNY.—The Khaleefeh, 'Abd El-Melik, was, in the beginning of his reign, an unjust monarch. Being, one night, unable to sleep, he called for a person to tell him a story for his amusement. “O Prince of the Faithful,” said the man thus bidden, “ there was an owl in El-Mósil, and an owl in El-Basrah ; and the owl of El-Mósil demanded in marriage, for her son, the daughter of the owl of El-Basrah : but the owl of El-Basrah said, 'I will not, unless thou give me as her dowry, a hundred desolate farms.' “That I cannot do,' said the owl of ElMósil, at present; but if our sovereign (may God, whose name be exalted, preserve him !) live one year, I will give thee what thou desirest.'”__ This simple fable sufficed to rouse the prince from his apathy, and he thenceforward applied himself to fulfil the duties of his station.—LANE. Notes to Arabian Nights.
PERFECTION.—A friend called on Michael Angelo, who was finishing a statue ; some time afterwards he called again ; the sculptor was still at his work ; his friend, looking at the figure, exclaimed, You have been idle since I saw you last ; By no means, replied the sculptor, I have retouched this part, and polished that; I have softened this feature, and brought out this muscle ; I have given more expression to this lip and more energy to this limb: Well, well, said his friend, but all these are trifles ; It may be so, replied Angelo, but recollect that trifles make perfection, and that perfection is no trifle.--Couron. Lacon.
CIVIL WAR.—When the civil wars broke out, the Lord Marshall had leave to go beyond sea. Mr. Hollar went into the Low Countries, where he stayed till about 1649. I remember he told me, that when he first came into England (which was a serene time of peace) that the people, both poor and rich, did look cheerfully, but at his return, he found the countenances of the people all changed, melancholy, spiteful, as if bewitched.-AUBREY'S MSS.
WALLER. — As his disease increased upon Waller, he composed himself for his departure ; and calling upon Dr. Birch to give him the Holy Sacrament, he desired his children to take it with him, and made an earnest declaration of his faith in Christianity. It now appeared what part of his conversation with the great could be remembered with delight. He related that, being present when the Duke of Buckingham talked profanely before King Charles, he said to him, "My Lord, I am
a great deal older than your Grace, and have, I believe, heard more arguments for atheism than ever your Grace did; but I have lived long enough to see there is nothing in them, and so I hope your Grace will.”—DR. JOHNSON. Life of Waller.
JOHN KEMBLE.—I always had a great liking—I may say, a sort of nondescript reverence—for John Kemble. What a quaint creature he was ! I remember a party, in which he was discoursing in his measured manner after dinner, when the servant announced his carriage. He nodded, and went on. The announcement took place twice afterwards ; Kemble each time nodding his head a little more impatiently, but still going on. At last, and for the fourth time, the servant entered, and said, “Mrs. Kemble says, Sir, she has the rheumatise and cannot stay." “ Add ism!” dropped John, in a parenthesis, and proceeded quietly in his harangue.
Kemble would correct any body at any time, and in any place. Dear Charles Matthews-a true genius in his line, in my judgment—told me he was once performing privately before the king. The king was much pleased with the imitation of Kemble, and said, “I liked Kemble very
much. He was one of my earliest friends. I remember once he was talking, and found himself out of snuff. I offered him my box. He declined taking any—'he, a poor actor, could not put his fingers into a royal box.' I said, 'take some, pray; you will obleege me?' Upon which Kemble replied, 'It would become your royal mouth better to say, oblige me;' and took a pinch.”
!"_COLERIDGE. Table Talk. THE INVENTOR OF THE STOCKING FRAMES.—Mr. William Lee, A. M., was of Oxon (I think Magdalen Hall). He was the first inventor of the weaving of worsted stockings by an engine of his contrivance. He was Sussex man born, or else lived there. He was a poor curate, and, observing how much pains his wife took in knitting a pair of stockings, he bought a stocking and a half, and observed the contrivance of t'ie stitch, which he designed in his loom, which (though some of the instruments of the engine be altered) keeps the same to this day. He went into France, and there died before his loom was made there. So the art was not long since in no part of the world but England. Oliver, Protector, made an act that it should be felony to transport this engine. This information I took from a weaver (by this engine), in Pear-poole Lane, 1656. Sir J. Hoskyn, Mr. Stafford Tyndale, and I, went purposely to see it.--AUBREY'S MSS.
SAINT BARTHOLOMEW.— The deputies of the reformed religion, after the massacre that was upon St. Bartholomew's day, treated with the king and queen-mother, and some other of the council for a peace. Both sides were agreed upon the articles. The question was, upon the security of performance. After some particulars propounded and rejected, the queen-mother said, "Why, is not the word of a king sufficient security ? " One of the deputies answered, “No, by Saint Bartholomew, madam."--BACON.
THE AGE BEFORE NEWSPAPERS.—I am so put to it for something to say, that I would make a memorandum of the most improbable lie that could be invented by a viscountess dowager; as the old duchess of Rutland does when she is told of some strange casualty, “ Lucy, child, step into the next room and set that down.”—“Lord, Madam !” says Lady Lucy, “it can't be true !”—“Oh, no matter, child; it will do for news into the country next post.”—HORACE WALPOLE.
BURNING OF WICKLIFFE'S BODY BY ORDER OF THE COUNCIL OF CONSTANCE.Hitherto [A. D. 1428] the corpse of John Wickliffe had quietly slept in his grave about forty-one years after his death, till his body was reduced to bones, and his bones almost to dust. For though the earth in the chancel of Lutterworth, in Leicestershire, where he was interred, hath not so quick a digestion with the earth of Aceldama, to consume flesh in twenty-four hours, yet such the appetite thereof, and all other English graves, to leave small reversions of a body after so many years