Page images

Hamburgh. He had not, however, passed many weeks from the night of the murder, before, one day, in the crowded street, he heard his name called by a voice familiar to him; he turned short round, and saw the face of his victim looking at him with a fixed eye. From that moment he had no peace ; at all hours, in all places, and amidst all companies, however engaged he might be, he heard the voice, and could never help looking round; and, whenever he so looked round, he always encountered the same face staring close upon him. At last, in a mood of desperation, he had fixed himself face to face, and eye to eye, and deliberately drawn the phantom visage as it glared upon him ; and this was the picture so drawn. The Italian said he had struggled long, but life was a burden which he could now no longer bear ; and he was resolved, when he had made money enough to return to Rome, to surrender himself to justice, and expiate his crime on the scaffold. He gave the finished picture to my father, in return for the kindness which he had shown him.”– COLERIDGE. Table Talk.

King James mounted his horse one time, who formerly used to be very sober and quiet, but then began to bound and prance. • The de’il o' my saul, sirrah,” says he,

an you be not quiet l’se send you to the five hundred kings in the lower House of Commons; they'll quickly tame you.”—L'ESTRANGE.

THE SAFEST LENDERS.—The Lord Bacon was wont to commend the advice of the plain old man at Buxton, that sold besoms ; a proud lazy young fellow came to him for a besom upon trust ; to whom the old man said, “Friend, hast thou no money? borrow of thy back, and borrow of thy belly ; they'll ne'er ask thee again, I shall be dunning thee every day.”— BACON.

MEMORY.—Memory, of all the powers of the mind, is the most delicate, and frail; it is the first of our faculties that age invades. Seneca, the father, the rhetorician, confesseth of himself, he had a miraculous one, not only to receive, but to hold. I myself could, in my youth, have repeated all that ever I had made, and so continued till I was past forty; since, it is much decayed in me. Yet I can repeat whole books that I have read, and poems of some selected friends, which I have liked to charge my memory with. It was wont to be faithful to me, but shaken with age now, and sloth, which weakens the strongest abilities, it may perform somewhat, but cannot promise much. By exercise it is to be made better, and serviceable. Whatsoever I pawned with it while I was young and a boy, it offers me readily, and without stops : but what I trust to it now, or have done of later years, it lays up more negligently, and oftentimes loses ; so that I receive mine own (though frequently called for) as if it were new and borrowed. Nor do I always find presently from it what I seek ; but while I am doing another thing, that I laboured for will come: and what sought with trouble, will offer itself when I am quiet. Now in some men I have found it as happy as nature, who, whatsoever they read or pen, they can say without book presently; as if they did then write in their mind. And it is more a wonder in such as have a swift style, for their memories are commonly slowest ; such as torture their writings, and go into council for every word, must needs fix somewhat, and make it their own at last, though but through their own vexation.—BEN JONSON. TREASON.-John Thelwall had something very good about him.

We were once sitting in a beautiful recess in the Quantocks, when I said to him, “Citizen John. this is a fine place to talk treason in !” “Nay! citizen Samuel,” replied he, “it is rather a place to make a man forget that there is any necessity for treason !"COLERIDGE. Table Talk.

DANGER.—A notorious rogue, being brought to the bar, and knowing his case to be desperate, instead of pleading, he took to himself the liberty of jesting, and thus said, “I charge you, in the king's name, to seize and take away that man (meaning the judge) in the red gown, for I go in danger because of him."-BACON.

BEGGING A Fool.-[One of the abuses of old times was that the king, who had the custody of lunatics, entrusted the keeping of the rich unfortunates to avaricious courtiers, who thus acquired additional means of private extravagance.]

The Lord North begged old Bladwell for a fool (though he could never prove him so), and having him in his custody as a lunatic, he carried him to a gentleman's house one day that was a neighbour. The Lord North and the gentleman retired awhile to private discourse, and left Bladwell in the dining-room, which was hung with a fair hanging. Bladwell walked up and down, and viewing the imagery spied a fool at last in the hanging, and without delay draws his knife, flies at the fool, cuts him clean out, and lays him on the floor. My lord and the gentleman coming in again, and finding the tapestry thus defaced, he asks Bladwell what he meant by such a rude, uncivil act ; he answered, “Sir, be content, I have rather done you a courtesy than a wrong, for if ever my Lord North had seen the fool there, he would have begged him, and so you might have lost your whole suit.”—L'ESTRANGE, Anecdotes and Traditions.

TOBACCO.—Sir Walter Raleigh was the first that brought tobacco into England, and into fashion. In our part of North Wilts—Malmesbury hundred—it came first into fashion by Sir Walter Long. They had first silver pipes. The ordinary sort made use of a walnut-shell and a straw. I have heard my grandfather Lyte say, that one pipe was handed from man to man round the table. Sir W. R. standing in a stand at Sir Ro. Poyntz's park at Acton, took a pipe of tobacco, which made the ladies quit it till he had done. Within these thirty-five years 'twas scandalous for a divine to take tobacco. It was sold then for its weight in silver. I have heard some of our old yeomen neighbours say, that when they went to Malmesbury or Chippenham market, they culled out their biggest shillings to lay in the scales against the tobacco; now, the customs of it are the greatest his majesty hath.—AUBREY.

THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD. “I received one morning a message from poor Goldsmith that he was in great distress, and, as it was not in his power to come to me, begging that I would come to him as soon as possible. I sent him a guinea, and promised to come to him directly. I accordingly went as soon as I was dressed, and found that his landlady had arrested him for his rent, at which he was in a violent passion. I perceived that he had already changed my guinea, and had got a bottle of madeira and a glass before him : I put the cork into the bottle, desired he would be calm, and began to talk to him of the means by which he might be extricated. He then told me that he had a novel i eady for the press, which he produced to me. I looked into it, and saw its merit ; told the landlady I should soon return; and having gone to a bookseller, sold for sixty pounds. brought Goldsmith the money, and he discharged his rent, not without rating his landlady in a high tone for having used him so ill.—JOHNSON, in Boswell.

CANDOUR.—Marivaux, a celebrated French writer of romances, who flourished in the first half of the last century, having one day met with a sturdy beggar, who asked charity of him, he replied, “My good friend, strong and stout as you are, it is a shame that

you do not go to work.” “ Ah master,” said the beggar,“ if you did but know how lazy I am." “Well,” replied Marivaux, “I see thou art an honest fellow, here is half-a-crown for you.”_SEWARD's Anecdotes.

AMBITION.—Cineas was an excellent orator and statesman, and principal friend and counsellor to Pyrrhus ; and falling in inward talk with him, and discerning the king's endless ambition, Pyrrhus opened himself unto him, that he intended first a war upon Italy, and hoped to achieve it ; Cineas asked him, “Sir, what will you do then ?” “Then,” said he, we will attempt Sicily.” Cineas said, “ Well, sir, what then ? " Said Pyrrhus, “ If the gods favour us, we may conquer Africa and Carthage.” “What thon, sir ?" saith Cineas. “Nay, then,” saith Pyrrhus, “we may take our rest, and

[ocr errors]

“ A pretty

sacrifice and feast every day, and make merry with our friends,” Alas, sir," said Cineas, “ may we not do so now, without all this ado ?"_BACON.

OBSERVATION.—A dervise was journeying alone in a desert, when two merchants suddenly met him ; “ You have lost a camel,” said he, to the merchants.

“ Indeed we have,” they replied, “Was he not blind in his right eye, and lame in his left leg ?" said the dervise. “ He was,” replied the merchants. “Had he not lost a front tooth ?" said the dervise. “He had,” rejoined the merchants. “ And was he not loaded with honey on one side, and wheat on the other ?” “Most certainly he was,” they replied ; " and as you bave seen him so lately, and marked him so particularly, you can, in all probability, conduct us unto him." “My friends," said the dervise, “I have never seen your camel, nor ever heard of him, but from you.” story, truly," said the merchants; “but where are the jewels which formed a part of his cargo ?” “I have neither seen your camel, nor your jewels,” repeated the dervise. On this they seized his person, and forthwith hurried him before the cadi, where, on the strictest search, nothing could be found upon him, nor could any evidence whatever be adduced to convict him, either of falsehood or of theft. They were then about to proceed against hiro as a sorcerer, when the dervise, with great calmness, thus addressed the court:-“I have been much amused with your surprise, and own that there has been some ground for your suspicions ; but I have lived long, and alone ; and I can find ample scope for observation, even in a desert. I knew that I had crossed the track of a camel that had strayed from its owner, because I saw no mark of any human footstep on the same route ; I knew that the animal was blind in one eye, because it had cropped the herbage only on one side of its path ; and I perceived that it was lame in one leg, from the faint impression which that particular foot had produced upon the sand; I concluded that the animal had lost one tooth, because, wherever it had grazed, a small tuft of herbage had been left uninjured in the centre of its bite. As to that which formed the burthen of the beast, the busy ants informed me that it was corn on the one side, and the clustering flies that it was honey on the other.”—COLTON. Lacon.


G. CAMPBELL. [THE following illustration of the inferiority in subject-matter and style of the Koran of Mohammed, as compared with the Bible, is not given as a paper for Sunday reading, but as a specimen of a book which contains a number of similar stories, in connection, indeed, with many things that are in a higher spirit. The passage which we subjoin occurs in a note to Dr. George Campbell's · Dissertation on Miracles. This learned Scotch divine was Principal of Marischal College, Aberdeen. He was the author also of a valuable work, “The Philosophy of Rhetoric. George Campbell was born in 1709, and died in 1796.]

I hardly think that we can have a more striking proof of the prejudices of modern infidels, than in their comparing this motley composition, the Koran, to the writings of the Old and New Testament. Let the reader but take the trouble to peruse the history of Joseph by Mahomet, which is the subject of a very long chapter, and to compare it with the account of that patriarch given by Moses, and if he doth not perceive at once the immense inferiority of the former, I shall never, for my part, undertake by argument to convince him of it. To me it appears even almost incredible, that the most beautiful and most affecting passages of Holy Writ should have been so wretchedly disfigured by a writer, whose intention, we are certain, was not to burlesque them. But that every reader may be qualified to form some notion of this miracle of a book, I have subjoined a specimen of it, from the chapter of the Ant : where we are informed particularly of the cause of the visit which the queen of Sheba (there called Saba) made to Solomon, and of the occasion of her conversion from idolatry. I have not selected this passage on account of any specia' futility to be found in it, for the like absurdities may be observed in every page of the performance; but I have selected it because it is short, and because it contains a distinct story, which bears some relation to a passage of scripture. I use Mr. Sale's version, which is the latest, and the most approved, omitting only, for the sake of brevity, such supplementary expressions as have been, without necessity, inserted by the translator.

“Solomon was David's heir ; and he said, 'O men, we have been taught the speech of birds, and have had all things bestowed on us ; this is manifest excellence.' And his armies were gathered together to Solomon, consisting of genii, and men, and birds; and they were led in distinct bands, until they came to the valley of ants. An ant said, 'O ants, enter ye into your habitations, lest Solomon and his army tread you under foot, and perceive it not.' And he smiled, laughing at her words, and said, 'O Lord, excite me, that I may be thankful for thy favour, wherewith thou hast favoured me and my parents ; and that I may do that which is right and well pleasing to thee; and introduce me, through thy mercy, among thy servants the righteous.' And he viewed the birds, and said, What is the reason that I see not the lapwing? Is she absent Verily I will chastise her with a severe chastisement, or I will put her to death ; unless she bring me a just excuse.' And she tarried not long, and said, 'I have viewed that which thou hast not viewed ; and I come to thee from Saba, with a certain piece of news. I found a woman to reign over them, who is provided with every thing, and hath a magnificent throne. I found her and her people to worship the sun, besides God: and Satan hath prepared their works for them, and hath turned them aside from the way (wherefore they are not directed), lest they should worship God, who bringeth to light that which is hidden in heaven and earth, and knowing whatever they conceal, and whatever they discover. God! there is no God but he ; the lord of the magnificent throne.' He said, “We shall see whether thou hast spoken the truth, or whether thou art a liar. Go with this my letter, and cast it down to them; then turn aside from them, and wait for their answer.' The queen said, 'O nobles, verily an honourable letter hath been delivered to me; it is from Solomon, and this is the tenour thereof. In the name of the most merciful God, rise not up against me : but come and surrender yourselves to me. She said, “O nobles, advise me in my business. I will not resolve on any thing, till ye be witnesses hereof.' They answered, “We are endued with strength, and endued with great prowess in war; but the command appertaineth to thee : see, therefore, what thou wilt command.' She said, 'Verily, kings, when they enter a city, waste the same, and abase the most powerful of the inhabitants thereof; and so will these do. But I will send gifts to them ; and will wait for what those who shall be sent shall bring back.' And when the ambassador came to Solomon, the prince said, “Will ye present me with riches ? Verily that which God hath given me is better than what he hath given you: but ye glory in your gifts. Return to your people. We will surely come to them with forces which they shall not be able to withstand ; and we will drive them out humbled, and they shall be contemptible.' And Solomon said, 'O nobles, which of you will bring me her throne, before they come and surrender themselves to me?' A terrible genius answered, 'I will bring it thee before thou arise from thy place.' And one, with whom was the knowledge of the Scripture, said, 'I will bring it to thee in the twinkling of an eye.' And when So omon saw it placed before him, he said, 'This is a favour of my Lord, that he may make trial of me, whether I will be grateful, or whether I will be ungrateful; and he who is grateful, is grateful to his own advantage ; but if any shall be ungrateful, verilý my Lord is self-sufficient and munificent.' And he said, “Alter her throne, that she may not know it, to the end we may see whether she be directed, or whether she be of those who are not directed.' And. when she was come, it was said, 'Is thy throne like this ?' She answered, as though it were the same. And we have had knowledge bestowed on us before this, and have been resigned. But that which she worshipped besides God, had turned her aside, for she was of an unbelieving people. It was said to her, 'Enter the palace.

' And when she saw it, she imagined it to be a great water, and she discovered her legs. Solomon said, 'Verily this is a palace, evenly floored with glass. She said,

O Lord, verily I have dealt unjustly with my own soul; and I resign myself, together with Solomon, to God, the Lord of all creatures.'”

Thus poverty of sentiment, monstrosity of invention, which always betokens a distempered not a rich imagination, and, in respect of diction, the most turgid verbosity, so apt to be mistaken by persons of a vitiated taste for true sublimity, are the genuine characteristics of the book. They appear almost in every line. The very titles and epithets assigned to God are not exempt from them. The Lord of the daybreak, the Lord of the magnificent throne, the King of the day of judgment, &c. They are pompous and insignificant. If the language of the Koran, as the Mahometans pretend, is indeed the language of God, the thoughts are but too evidently the thoughts of

The reverse of this is the character of the Bible. When God speaks to men, it is reasonable to think that he addresses them in their own language. In the Bible you will see nothing inflated, nothing affected in the style. The words are human, þut the sentiments are divine. Accordingly, there is perhaps no book in the world, as hath been often justly observed, which suffers less by a literal translation into any other language.



MACAULAY. [The Right Hon. Thomas Babington Macaulay, is the son of Mr. Zachary Macaulay, a leader amongst that distinguished band to whom we owe the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Mr. T. B. Macaulay received his collegiate education at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he acquired a great reputation, and upon entering Parliament soon obtained a leading position amongst the orators of the most critical assembly in the world. He was subsequently appointed to a high legal office in India, and, after an absence from England of a few years, returned to take up a distinguished place as a parliamentary speaker. Mr. Macaulay's writings have a wide popularity. His ‘Lays of Ancient Rome' are amongst the most brilliant of modern poetical productions; his “Essays from the Edinburgh Review, collected in three volumes, from that influential Journal, attained a success far higher than any other contributions to the periodical works of our day; and his ‘History' has had a popular reception almost unexampled. His style as a prose writer is distinguished from that of all his contemporaries by its epigrammatic point. It is always clear and uninvolved; every sentence tells. But style alone would not command the admiration which these writings excite, if they were not also full of matter. The resources of the most extensive reading are here displayed without ostentation, in the happiest illustrations and analogies. Mr. Macaulay is certainly the most attractive of modern English essayists and historians.]

Johnson grown old—Johnson in the fulness of his fame and in the enjoyment of a competent fortune-is better known to us than any other man in history. Every thing about him, his coat, his wig, his figure, his face, his scrofula, his St. Vitus's dance, his rolling walk, his blinking eye, the outward signs which too clearly marked his approbation of his dinner, his insatiable appetite for fish sauce and veal-pie with plums, his inextinguishable thirst for tea, his trick of touching the posts as he walked, his mysterious practice of treasuring up scraps of orange-peel, his morning slumbers, his midnight disputations, his contortions, his mutterings, his gruntings, his puffings, his vigorous, acute, and ready eloquence, his sarcastic wit, his vehemence, his insolence, his fits of tempestunus rage, his queer inmates, old Mr. Levett and blind Mrs. Williams, the cat Hodge and the negro Frank,—all are as familiar to us

« EelmineJätka »