« EelmineJätka »
the days of good Queen Anne and the Ger-This, again, has escaped Mr. Booth, though man Georges. Dr. (afterwards Sir John) he has given his readers another, on the subHill, one of those universal geniuses whom ject of Sir Richard's unfortunate poem of the public is apt to mistrust, is the hero of “ Job”.
-a kind of poetical paraphrase of the some of the best of these medical squibs. lIe Scripture original : wrote plays as well as prescriptions.
“ Poor Job lost all the comforts of his life, “ For physic and farces, his equal there scarce is; Yet Job blest Heaven ; and Job again was blest ;
And hardly saved a potsherd and a wife ; His farces are physic, his physic a farce is.”
His virtue was assayed, and bore the test. There is a little series of epigrams upon him But,—had Heaven's wrath poured out its fiercest which we cannot resist quoting here from
vial Mr. Booth’s book, though they must be al- The patient man had yielded to the trial ;
Had he been thus burlesqued, -without denial, ready old acquaintances (as most of the best His pious spouse, with Blackmore on her side, epigrams are) to all whose reading is not Must have prevailed-Job had blasphemed and
died. wholly of a modern kind. Some of the wits of the Literary Club, of which Garrick, John- We do not know where the compiler got this son, Burke, etc., were members, began upon from, nor does he give any author's name: the unlucky physician as follows :
there were a whole volley of contemporary “Thou essence of dock, and valerian, and sage, squibs flying about the head of this unfortuAt once the disgrace and the pest of your age, nate translator, who had got himself into bad The worst that we wish thee, for all thy sad odor with the licentious wits of his day by crimes,
employing his pen against the immoralities Is to take thine own physic, and read thine own rhymes.”'
of the stage.
This drew upon him the wrath
of Dryden, Sedley, Swift, and others; and To which is replied, by a sort of semi-chorus his reputation has suffered rather unfairly of the members, –
in consequence; for the jests against his pro“ The wish should be in form reversed, fessional skill were unfounded, whatever may To suit the Doctor's erimes ;
be thought of his poetry. A volume was acFor if he takes the physic first, He'll never read his rhymes.”
tually published in 1700, in which the squibs
upon him were all collected under the title Dr. Hill himself is supposed to rejoin in an- of " Commendatory Poems, etc.” Here is swer) and if it were really his, the doctor another of them which we have met with, as would have had the best of it),
good, perhaps, also anonymous :“Whether gentlemen scribblers or poets in jail ; " When Job contending with the devil I saw, Your impertinent wishes shall certainly fail
It did my wonder, but not pity, draw; I'll take neither essence, nor balsam of honey, For I concluded that, without some trick, Do you take the physic, and I'll take the money.” A saint, at any time, could match O!! Nick. The anonymous quatrain on Dr. John Lett- I mean his wife, with her infernal clack ;
Next came a fiercer fiend upon his backsom, the Quaker, is one of the very best of But still I did not pity him, as knowing punning epigrams; its brevity may excuse A crab-tree cudgel soon would send her going. its reappearance here :
But when this quack engaged with Job I spied, “If anybody comes to I,
Why, Heaven have mercy on poor Job, I cried ;
The quack will compass with his murdering pen,
And on a dungbill leave poor Job again ;
And make the saint against his will blaspheme.” Sir Richard Blackmore, like Hill, was ambitious to combine poetry with physic; and
Coleridge's epigram upon Job's wife is was dealt with no less severely by the popu- printed in the book before us, and is perhaps lar weapon. An anonymous octrain (of
less generally known than some others :which the first six lines are weak) ends “ Sly Beelzebub took all occasions with this climax, which reads much better To try Job's constancy and patience ; alone :
He took his honors, took his health,
He took his children, took his wealth, “ Such shoals of readers thy d-d fustian kills, His camels, horses, asses, cows, Thou’lt scarce leave one alive to take thy pills.” Still, the sly devil did not take his spouse.
“ But Heaven, that brings out good from evil, “ Mr. Parker made the case darker, And loves to disappoint the devil,
Which was dark enough without ; Had predetermined to restore
Mr. Cooke quoted his book, Twofold of all Job had before
And the Chancellor said I doubt.'» His children, camels, asses, cows ;
Short-sighted devil, not to take his spouse!” Of course the chancellor was Lord Eldon. The germ
of this lies where very many good But the editor should have given the sequel. things lie unsuspected, and are occasionally
His lordship soon after decided a case against dug out and made use of with very little ac
Rose, and, looking waggishly at him, said, knowledgement–in the writings of St. Au-" In this case, Mr. Rose, the chancellor does
not doubt!' Mr. Booth has omitted one (or gustine; and has been used by Donne in one of his remarkable sermons, where Coleridge
rather two) of the very best epigrams which probably found it. The old divine's - im- touch upon the gentleinen of the long robe. prorement” of the passage beats any epi- and they have certainly appeared more than
We thought the lines were very well known, gram that ever was founded on it:66. Misericordem putatis Diabolum,', says the Gate of the Inner Temple” :
once in print, as a proposed “Inscription for that father, qui ei reliquit uxorem?' Do you think that Job lighted upon a merciful “ As by the Templars' holds you go, and good-natured devil, or that Job was be The Horse and Lamb, displayed holden to the Devil for this that he left him In emblematic figures, show his wife? · Noverat per quam deceperat Adam,' The merits of their trade. says he ; “suam reliquit adjutricem, non ma
“ That clients may infer from thence rito consolationem; he left Job a helper, but How just is their professiona helper for his own ends." *
The Lamb sets forth their innocence, We must have done with the physicians,
The Horse their expedition. only quoting some more recent lines, neat but “O happy Britons ! happy isle !' not over complimentary, upon the trio who
Let foreign nations say,
Where you get justice without guile, were in attendance on poor George III. :
And law without delay.” “ The king employs three doctors daily,
The reply is equally good :
“Deluded men, these holds forego, Baillie, Willis, and Heberden ;
Nor trust such cunning elves; But doubtful which most sure to kill is,
These artful emblems serve to show Baillie, Heberden, or Willis.”
Their clients not themselves. Law escapes these satiric rhymers better “ 'Tis all a trick ; these are but shams than physic. No doubt the lawyers were able
By which they mean to cheat you ;
But have a care-for you're the Lambs, to hold their own against the world in this
And they the wolves that eat you. as in other inatters. Two or three clever things of Sir George Rose are given in Mr.
“ Nor let the hope of no delay
To these their courts misguide you ; Booth's book; but there are, we suspect, "Tis you're the showy Horse, and they some still better in private circulation, per The jockeys that would ride you." haps rather too personal on contemporaries to be suitable for publication. The following their butts in at least as great abundance as
The universities have had their wits and though it deals with names well known at the bar, is good-humored enough as well as
the courts of law. Especially was this likely clever. It purports to be « The History of to be the case in a society like Oxford, which
maintained upon its staff, for many years, a a Case shortly reported by a Master in Chan
sort of licensed jester, under the name Terre
Filius, whose office was, at the “ Bachelor's - Mr. Leach made a speech,
Commencement," to satirize, with the most Angry, neat, but wrong ; Mr. Hart, on the other part,
unbounded license, all the recognized authorWas prosy, dull, and long.
ities. We feel sure that the Oxford social “ Mr. Bell spoke very well,
records might have supplied a collector of Though nobody knew what about; this literary smallware with some very tolerMr. Trower talked for an hour,
able specimens : and we hardly think that Sat down fatigued and hot.
Mr. Booth can have availed himself as fully * Donne's Works, vol. iii. p. 332 (Alford's Edition). as he might have done of the current witti
cisms of his own University of Cambridge. “Oxford, no doubt you wish me well,
I can't, alas ! be D. C. L.
Because of L. S. D.” have had that upon Hermann's scholarship, in the English dress which the professor gave This, again, on a proposal to lower the uniit:
versity charges upon degrees conferred by "The Germans in Greek
what is termed " accumulation ” (i.e., when Are sadly to seek ;
two steps are taken at once), is remarkably Not five in five-score,
“ Oxford, beware of over-cheap degrees,
Nor lower too much accumulators' fees ;
Lest-unlike Goldsmith’s ‘ land to ills a prey'Of Oxford epigramıs, we have a single mod- Men’ should • accumulate,' and wealth de ern specimen, by a living professor of well cay.”? known conversational powers, and a more All these are, we believe, from the same ancient one, we suppose by a wit of the same “ well-known hand,” as the old collectors college, on Dr. Evans (he was Bursar of St. would have phrased it; flashes of the pleasJohn's, as the editor should have explained) ant humor which, in all generations, has cutting down a row of fine trees there : marked the lighter hours of scholars. As
these are the latest, so the following is among “ Indulgent Nature on each kind bestows
the earliest which has come down to us : it A secret instinct to discern its foes ; The goose, a silly bird, avoids the fox; will be found amongst the epigrams of John Lambs fly from wolves, and sailors steer from Heywood, of Broadgate Hall (now Pembroke rocks ;
College), circa 1550. He is said to have been Evans the gallows as his fate foresees, And bears the like antipathy to trees.”
the only person who could draw a smile from
gloomy Queen Mary. So far as the point of These, with Dean Aldrich’s “ Five Reasons the epigram is concerned, it might have been for Drinking,” are all that he has gathered written yesterday. from the banks of Isis. There must surely be others of modern date current in the Ox- To house them no door i’ the citie is meete ;.
“ Alas! poor fardingales must lie i’ the streete, ford Common-Rooms, which might have been Synce at our narrow doors they in cannot win, recovered, without much trouble, for a pub- Send them to Oxforde, at Broadgate to get in.' lication like this, and which would have been
The following can scarcely be reckoned better worth printing than some which have amongst collegiate witticisms, its birth havfound a place there. We subjoin two or ing been extra-academic. It is given by the three which may be new to non-academical editor with just enough of its history to give readers. It was suggested, some little time
it interest :-a course which, if adopted in the ago, to alter the cut of the commoners' gowns case of some other epigrams in the book, -proverbially ugly. This produced the fol- would have well repaid in value the addition lowing :
to its bulk :“Our gownsmen complain ugly garments oppress
“ George II. having sent a regiment of We feel for their wrongs, and propose to re-dress horse to Oxford, and at the same time a col
lection of books to Cambridge, Dr. Trapp
wrote the following epigram :An alteration having been made in the statu
66Our royal master saw with heedful eyes tory exercises for divinity degrees, by which
The wants of his two Universities ; two theological essays were required in future Troops he to Oxford sent, as knowing why, from the candidates, the following was circu- That learned body wanted loyalty : lated in “ congregation” :
But books to Cambridge gave, as well discerning
That that right loyal body wanted learning.' “ The title D.D. 'tis proposed to convey
To an A double S for a double S A.” “ An epigram which Dr. Johnson, to show The honorary degree of D.C.L. having been prevailed at Cambridge, was fond of quoting;
his contempt of the Whiggish notions which declined by a distinguished officer, on account but having done so in the presence of Sir of the heavy fees at that time demanded, his William Browne, the physician, was anrefusal was thus set forth :
swered by him thus ::
"The king to Oxford sent his troop of horse, remember Addington's short-lived Adminis
For Tories own no argument but force ; tration all the better, if we chance to associate With equal care to Cambridge books he sent,
with it the witty French epitaph suggested For Whigs allow no force but argument.'
for him,6 Johnson did Sir William the justice
“Ministre soi-disant, Medecin malgre lui.” to say, ' It was one of the happiest extemporaneous productions he ever met with ; : It would be very easy to add to the few given though he once comically confessed that he in this little book. That of the Anti-Jacobin, hated to repeat the wit of a Whig urged in on the Paris “ Loan upon England,” should support of Whiggism.'
at least have found a place :This book is poor, too, in those scholastic
“ The Paris cits, a patriotic band, epigrams of which a good many were in cir- Advance their cash on British freehold land ; culation in more scholarly days. We have, But let the speculating rogues beware ; indeed, Porson’s upon poor Dido Di-do- They've bought the skin—but who's to kill the dum,”—which is rather schoolboyish, after all; but there is a much better one upon the The times that followed the Revolution of same lady, which we remember to have seen 1688 were perhaps the great age of what we somewhere in print, with the name of the re- may call historical epigrams. The bitterness puted author :
of political hostility found vent in satirie “ Virgil, whose magic verse enthralls
verse, as well as in other less harmless outlets ; (And where is poet greater ?),
and those who concealed their Orange or JacSometimes his wandering hero calls obite feelings from motives of self-interest, Now Pius, and now Pater ;
often indulged themselves with handing about “ But when, prepared the worst to brave
this kind of political weapon, which was (An action that must pain us),
sometimes claimed by the authors in safer He leads fair Dido to the cave,
days. William on the one hand, and good He calls him · Dux Trojanus.'
Queen Anne on the other, were unfailing “ Why did the poet change the word ? subjects. But the epigrams of that day had The reason plain is, sure ;
more rancor than wit; and even in the best, Pius Æneas' were absurd, And · Pater ' premature.'
their coarseness generally forbids quotation.
Swift's were, of course, the wittiest, and the Some sort of historical arrangement of epi- least decent. None were so happy, and few grams might (like a good collection of carica- so delicate, as that little epigram of his in tures) throw an amusing light upon contem
prose, when it was suggested for the new porary history; and we should like to see a king's coronation motto, “ Recepi, non rapui,” careful collection attempted on this principle. and the dean rejoined that he supposed the One of the best of these quasi-historical jeux translation was, 6. The receiver is as bad as d'esprit in the collection before us is new to the thief.” The Duke of Marlborough with us, and may be so to many of our readers :
his wavering allegiance, his penurious habits, “ON THE ROYAL MARRIAGE ACT, PASSED 1772. and his uxorious fondness for his termagant " Quoth Dick to Tom, 'This Act appears
Sarah, came in for a large share of this quesAbsurd, as I'm alive :
tionable literary homage. Swift's epitaph To take the crown at eighteen years, upon him (Booth, p. 58) is too long for quoThe wife at twenty-five.
tation, and there are more serious objections “ The mystery how shall we explain ? to some others which do not want for point. For sure, as well 'twas said,
His new palace of Blenheim was ridiculed in Thus early if they're fit to reign, They must be fit to wed.'
strings of couplets, bad and good. One of
the best is not in this collection ; on the high « Quoth Tom to Dick, Thou art a fool,
arch built over the little brook in the park,And little know'st of Life ; Alas! 'tis easier far to rule
“ The lofty arch his high ambition shows ; A kingdom than a wife.'”
The stream an emblem of his bounty flows." These kind of gatherings, trifling as they In order to understand the violence displayed are, are pleasant dalliance for the student of in the language of some of these effusions, it is national history, and may even help to im- necessary to understand thoroughly the relapress the dry facts upon his memory. We tions between the parties, and the provocation
which has been sometimes given. An epi- quite a different thing as Mr. Booth observes ; gram on Lord Cadogal by Bishop Atterbury, it was merely an inscription, usually short, given in the collection before us, will strike inasmuch as it was to be engraved on an althe reader as mere rabid abuse, unless he re- tar, temple, or monumental tablet; and far members the circumstances which called it from being bitter or personal, it was usually forth which should certainly have accompa- laudatory or simply commemorative. The nied it by way of explanation. It ends well-known inscription at Thermopylæ was thus :
one of the earliest and best which have come * Ungrateful to th' ungrateful men he grew by- down to us : “Go, traveller, tell it in Sparta A bold, bad, boisterous, blustering, bloody that we lie here in obedience to her laws." booby.
Even when the Greeks extended the term Atterbury had been imprisoned in the Tower to something more like our modern use of it on a very well-founded charge of treason. -a few short pithy verses with some special Such cases were embarrassing to the ruling point in view-they did not consider that a powers; and in the royal drawing-room the sting was any necessary part of it. Few question had been mooted, “ What was to be of the Greek epigrams, except the latest, are done with the man?” Cadogan was present, satirical. But the Roman satirists adopted and replied, “ Throw him to the lions." the form, and degraded the use, in which our The brutality of the suggestion may excuse English writers have followed them. But the Bishop's retaliation.
though popular to a certain extent in our A contemporary epitaph on Bishop Burnet minor literature, the epigram is not a thorshows how the rancorous spirit of party pur- oughly English thing: it hardly suits the sued the dead with a bitterness which is really genius of the language. The Greek, the borrible, even if we charitably hope it was Latin, and even the French, preserve its meant half for jest :
point and neatness in a degree which our “ If Heaven is pleased when sinners cease to sin, brevity, the Attic salt, the neat turn of the
writers can rarely imitate.
The Spartan If Hell is pleased when sinners enter in, If men are pleased at parting with a knave, Latin distich, are of the very elements of its Then all are pleased—for Burnet's in his grave.” excellence ; though there seems no need for
Perhaps the best of the Jacobite epigrams quite so strict a limitation as Boileau's—un is one which Mr. Booth has not given :
bon mot de deux rimes orné." The Romans “God bless the King ! God bless the Faith's gave it the most pungency; but for simple Defender!
clegance it has never been surpassed in its The devil take the Pope and the Pretender ! natural home, the Greek. Mr. Booth in this Who the Pretender is, and who the King collection gives a good many translations God bless us all ! is quite another thing."
from the Greek anthology--not always of the The modern definition of an epigrain im- best specimens to be found there ; though plies that it should have a spice of malice. nothing can be more beautiful than this free We have adopted the Roman notion of it, version by Lord Nugent, fully worthy of the contained in the Latin distich which the edi- original :tor takes as the motto for his preface.
• I loved thee beautiful and kind, “Omne epigramma sit instar apis ; sit aculeus
And plighted an eternal vow ; illi,
So altered are thy face and mind, Sint sua mella, sit et corporis exigui."
"Twere perjury to love thee now.” Of which he adds a rather washy translation, Or this again, which has no author's name, and which is perhaps rather difficult to trans
-On a statue of Niobe": late ; sooner than risk the attempt ourselves, “To stone the gods have changed her ;—but in we will give one which we find in an old miscellany, and which is at least more con
The sculptor's art gave her to breathe again.” cise than Mr. Booth's :
But comparatively few of us are aware of the “ The qualities three in a bee that we meet,
extent of the obligations in this way to the In an epigram never should fail ;
Greek writers, of whom the very names are The body should always be litde and sweet, lost. Many which pass as English originals And a sting should be left in its tail.”
in this collection, as in others, are really only But the original meaning of an epigram is adaptations of the classical Greek idea. How