« السابقةمتابعة »
Mark's church, one of the fairest and best furnisht that a man shall see; in it lies the treasure so much spoken of all the world ouer; the same consisteth of certaine verie rich Ornaments of that church, of Pearles in number foureteen, not polished; twelue golden crownes with which, in times past, they used to decke and set foorth twelue women. But on a day as they were solemnizing that pompe, it happened that certain Theeues took and carried away those women with their crownes, who, being afterwards rescued and recouered, their husbands gave and dedicated these crowns to Saint Mark, and built a chappell, into which the lords of the councell enter once euerie yeare, namely, the day of the recoverie of the women." In a little Italian booke, setting out the memorable things of Venice, wee read that among the riches of this Treasure there is also the Duke's Cap, made not long ago, which is estimated at above two hundred thousand crowns. This treasure hath been made vp into such a heape, partly by the spoile of Constantinople, at such time as the French and the Venetians ouercame it, and of other cities conquered, and partly by presents giuen to that commonwealth by diuers princes. There be some that tell an old fable, that this treasure was brought to Venice by foure riche merchants, two of which thinking it vnfit the treasure should haue so many owners, resolved to poison the other two, which two (not knowing the determination of their companions) purposed the same likewise of their part, so that they were poisoned all foure, and died without heires; whereupon, the Seigniorie of Venice seazed on all the wealth which they had left; and this (they say) is signified by the four Images of porphirie that stand by the great gate of the common palace embracing one another. This the Author of that little booke saith. This treasure they vse to set out at shew euery yeare at certaine solemne feasts, upon the great Altar in St Mark's church; and I doe not think that in all those countries which we call Christendom, there is any so rich, although that of St Denys, in France, be very faire, marucilous rare, and of greate value.
it is no matter, and goes on, And, to crown the business, it perhaps proves to be a story the company hath heard fifty times before; or, at best, some insipid adventure of the relater.
Another general fault in conversation is, that of those who affect to talk of themselves. Some, without any ceremony, give you the history of their lives; will relate the annals of their diseases, with the several symptoms and circumstances of them: will enumerate the hardships and injustice they have suffered in court, in parliament, in love, or in law. Others are more dexterous, and with great art will lie on the watch to hook in their own praise. They will call a witness to remember they always foretold what would happen in such a case, but none would believe them; they advised such a man from the beginning, and told him the consequences just as they happened; but he would have his own way. Others make a vanity of telling their faults; they are the strangest men in the world, they cannot dissemble; they own it is a folly; they have lost abundance of advantages by it; but if you would give them the world, they cannot help it; there is something in their nature that abhors insincerity and constraint; with many other insufferable topics of the same altitude.
SPECIMENS OF CELEBRATED AUTHORS.
SWIFT. (SECOND SPECIMEN.)
His Admirable Essay on Conversation.
I HAVE observed few obvious subjects to have been so seldom, or at least so slightly handled, as this; and, indeed, I know few so difficult to be treated as it ought, nor yet upon which there seemeth so much to be said.
Most things pursued by men for the happiness of public or private life, our wit or folly have so refined that they seldom exist but in idea; a true friend, a good marriage, a perfect form of government, with some others, require so many ingredients so good in their several kinds, and so much niceness in mixing them, that for some thousands of years men have despaired of reducing their schemes to perfection. But, in conversation it is, or might be, otherwise; for here we are only to avoid a multitude of errors, which, although a matter of some difficulty, may be in any man's power, for want of which it remaineth as mere an idea as the other. Therefore, it seemeth to me that the truest way to understand conversation is, to know the faults and errors to which it is subject, and from thence every man to form maxims to himself whereby it may be regulated; because it requireth few talents to which most men are not born, or at least may not acquire without any great genius or study. For nature hath left every man a capacity of being agreeable, though not of shining in company; and there are an hundred men sufficiently qualified for both, who by a very few faults, that they might correct in half an hour, are not so much as tolerable.
I was prompted to write my thoughts on this subject by mere indignation, to reflect that so useful and innocent a pleasure, so fitted for every period and condition of life, and so much in all men's power, should be so much neglected and abused.
And in this discourse, it will be necessary to note those errors that are obvious, as well as others which ́are seldom observed; since there are few so obvious or acknowledged, into which most men, some time or other, are not apt to run.
For instance: nothing is more generally exploded than the folly of talking too much; yet I rarely remember to have seen five people together where some one among them hath not been predominant in that kind, to the great constraint and disgust of all the rest. But, among such as deal in multitudes of words, none are comparable to the sober deliberate talker, who proceedeth with much thought and caution, maketh his preface, brancheth out into several digressions, findeth a hint that putteth him in mind of another story, which he promiseth to tell you when this is done; cometh back regularly to his subject; cannot call to mind some person's name, holdeth his head, complaineth of his memory; the company all this while in suspense; at length says,
Of such mighty importance every man is to himself, and ready to think he is to others, without once making this casy and obvious reflexion, that his affairs can have no more weight with other men, than theirs have with him; and how little that is, he is sensible enough.
Where company hath met, I often have observed two persons discover, by some accident, that they were bred together at the same school or university; after which the rest are condemned to silence, and to listen while these two are refreshing each other's memory with the arch tricks and passages of themselves and comrades.
I know a great officer of the army, who will sit for some time with a supercilious and impatient silence, full of anger and contempt for those who are talking, at length of a sudden demand audience, decide the matter in a short dogmatical way; then withdraw within himself again, and vouchsafe to talk no more, until his spirits circulate again to the same point.
There are some faults in conversation which none are so subject to as the men of wit, nor ever so much as when they are with each other. If they have opened their mouths without endeavouring to say a witty thing, they think it so many words lost. It is a torment to the hearers as much as to themselves, to see them upon the rack for invention, and in perpetual constraint with so little success. They must do something extraordinary, in order to acquit themselves, and answer their character, else the standers by may be disappointed, and be apt to think them only like the rest of mortals. I have known two men of wit industriously brought together, in order to entertain the company, where they have made a very ridiculous figure, and provided all the mirth at their own expense.
I know a man of wit* who is never easy but where he can be allowed to dictate and preside; he neither expecteth to be informed or entertained, but to display his own talents. His business is to be good company, and not good conversation; and therefore he chuseth to frequent those who are content to listen, and profess themselves his admirers. And, indeed, the worst conversation I ever remember to have heard in my life, was that at Will's Coffee House, where the wits (as they were called) used formerly to assemble; that is to say, five or six men who had writ plays, or at least prologues, or had share in a miscellany, came hither, and entertained one another with their trifling composures, in so important an air, as if they had been the noblest efforts of human nature, or that the fate of kingdoms depended on them; and they were usually attended with an humble audience of the young students from the inns of court, or of the universities, who, at due distance, listened to these oracles, and returned home with great contempt for their law and philosophy, their heads filled with trash, under the name of politeness, criticism, and belles-lettres.
By these means, the poets, for many years past, were all over-run with pedantry. For, as I take it, the word is not properly used; because pedantry is the too frequent or unseasonable obtruding our own knowledge in common discourse, and placing too great a value upon it; by which definition men of the court or the army may be as guilty of pedantry as a philosopher or a divine; and it is the same vice in women, when they are over-copious upon the subject of their petticoats, or their fans, or their china. For which reason, although it be a piece of prudence, as well as good manners, to put men upon talking on subjects they are best versed in, yet that is a liberty a wise man could hardly take; because, besides the imputation of pedantry, it is what he would never improve by.
persons of the first quality, and usually sent for at every meeting to divert the company; against which I have no objection. You go there as to a farce or a puppet-show; your business is only to laugh in season, either out of inclination or civility, while the merry companion is acting his part. It is a business he has undertaken, and we are to suppose he is paid for his day's work. I only quarrel, when, in select and private meetings, where men of wit and learning are invited to pass an evening, this jester should be admitted to run over his circle of tricks, and make the whole company unfit for any other conversation, besides the indignity of confounding men's talents at so shameful a rate.
This great town is usually provided with some player, mimic, or buffoon, who hath a general reception at the great tables; familiar and domestic with
* Probably Addison.-ED.
Raillery is the finest part of conversation; but as it is our usual custom to counterfeit and adulterate whatever is too dear for us, so we have done with this, and turned it all into what is generally called repartee, or being smart; just as when an expensive fashion cometh up, those who are not able to reach it content themselves with some paltry imitation. It now passeth for raillery to run a man down in discourse, to put him out of countenance and make him ridiculous, sometimes to expose the defects of his person or understanding; on all which occasions he is obliged not to be angry, to avoid the imputation of not being able to take a jest. It is admirable to observe one who is dexterous at this art, singling out a weak adversary, getting the laugh on his side, and then carrying all before him. The French, from whom we borrow the word, have a quite different idea of the thing, and so had we in the polite age of our fathers. Raillery was to say something that at first appeared a reproach or reflexion, but by some turn of wit, unexpected and surprising, ended always in a compliment, and to the advantage of the person it was addressed to. And surely one of the best rules in conversation is, never to say a thing which any of the company can reasonably wish we had rather left unsaid; nor can there anything be well more contrary to the ends for which people meet together, than to part unsatisfied with each other or themselves.
There are two faults in conversation which appear very different, yet arise from the same root, and are equally blameable; I mean an impatience to interrupt others, and the uneasiness of being interrupted ourselves. The two chief ends of conversation are to entertain and improve those we are among, or to receive those benefits ourselves, which whoever will consider, cannot easily run into either of these two errors; because when any man speaketh in company, it is to be supposed that he doth it for his hearer's sake, and not his own; so that common discretion will teach us not to force their attention if they are not willing to lend it; nor, on the other side, to interrupt him who is in possession, because that is the grossest manner to give the preference to our own good sense.
There are some people whose good manners will not suffer them to interrupt you; but, what is almost as bad, will discover abundance of impatience, and lie upon the watch until you have done, because they have started something in their own thoughts which Meantime they are so they long to be delivered of. far from regarding what passes, that their imaginations are wholly turned upon what they have in reserve, for fear it should slip out of their memory; and thus they confine their invention, which might otherwise range over a hundred things full as good, and that might be much more naturally introduced.
There is a sort of rude familiarity, which some people, by practising among their intimates, have introduced into their general conversation, and would have it pass for innocent freedom or humour, which is a dangerous experiment in our northern climate, where all the little decorum and politeness we have are purely forced by art, and are so ready to lapse into barbarity. This, among the Romans, was the raillery of slaves, of which we have so many instances in Plautus. It seemeth to have been well introduced among us by Cromwell, who, by preferring the scum of the people, made it a court-entertainment, of which I have heard many particulars, and considering all things were turned upside down, it was reasonable and judicious: although it was a piece of policy found out to ridicule a point of honour in the other extreme, when the smallest word misplaced among gentlemen ended in a duel.
There are some men excellent at telling a story, and provided with a plentiful stock of them, which they can draw out upon occasion in all companies; and, considering how long conversation runs now among us, it is not altogether a contemptible talent. However, it is subject to two unavoidable defects; frequent repetition, and being soon exhausted, so that whoever valueth this gift in himself, hath need of a good memory, and ought frequently to shift his company, that he may not discover the weakness of his fund; for those who are thus endowed, have seldom any other revenue, but live upon the main stock.
Great speakers in public are seldom agreeable in private conversation, whether their faculty be natural, or acquired by practice and often-venturing. Na tural elocution, although it may seem a paradox,
usually springeth from a barrenness of invention and of words, by which men who have only one stock of notions upon every subject, and one set of phrases to express them in, swim upon the superficies, and offer themselves upon every occasion; therefore, men of much learning, and who know the compass of a language, are generally the worst talkers on a sudden, until much practice hath inured and emboldened them, because they are confounded with plenty of matter, variety of notions, and of words which they cannot readily choose, but are perplexed and entangled by too great a choice, which is no disadvantage in private conversation; where, on the other side, the talent of haranguing is of all others the most insupportable.
Nothing hath spoiled men more for conversation than the character of being wits; to support which, they never fail of encouraging a number of followers and admirers, who lift themselves in their service, wherein they find their accounts on both sides by pleasing their mutual vanity. This hath given the former such an air of superiority, and made the latter so pragmatical, that neither of them are well to be endured. I say nothing here of the state of dispute and contradiction, telling of lies, or of those who are troubled with the disease called the wandering of the thoughts, that they are never present in mind at what passeth in discourse; for whoever labours under any of these possessions, is as unfit for conversation as a madman in Bedlam.
I think I have gone over most of the errors in conversation that have fallen under my notice to memory, except some that are merely personal, and others too gross to need exploding, such as lewd or profane talk; but I pretend only to treat the errors of conversation in general, and not the formal subjects of discourse, which would be infinite. Thus we see how human nature is most debased by the abuse of that faculty, which is held the great distinction between men and brutes; and how little advantage we make of that which might be the greatest, most lasting, and the most innocent as well as useful pleasure of life. In default of which we are forced to take up with those poor amusements of dress and visiting; or the more pernicious ones of play, drink, and vicious amours, whereby the nobility and gentry of both sexes are entirely corrupted both in body and mind, and have lost all notions of love, honour, friendship, generosity, which, under the name of fopperies, have been for some time laughed out of doors.
This degeneracy of conversation, with the pernicious consequences thereof upon our humours and dispositions, hath been owing, among other causes, to the custom arisen, for some time past, of excluding women from any share in our society, farther than in parties at play or dancing, or in the pursuit of an I take the highest period of politeness in England, (and it is of the same date in France) to have been the peaceable part of King Charles the First's reign; and from what we read of those times, as well as from the accounts I have formerly met with from some who lived in that court, the methods then used for raising and cultivating conversation were altogether different from ours; several ladies whom we find celebrated by the poets of that age, had assemblies at their houses, where persons of the best understanding, and of both sexes, met to pass the evenings in discoursing upon whatever agreeable subjects were occasionally started; and although we are apt to ridicule the sublime platonic notions they had, or personated, in love and friendship, I conceive their refinements were grounded upon reason, and that a little grain of romance is no ill ingredient to preserve and exalt the dignity of human nature, without which it is apt to degenerate into everything that is sordid, vicious, and low. If there were no other use in the conversation of ladies, it is sufficient that it would lay a restraint upon those odious topics of immodesty and indecencies, into which the rudeness of our northern genius is so apt to fall. And therefore, it is observable in those sprightly gentlemen about town, who are so very dexterous at entertaining a vizored mask in the park or the playhouse, that, in the company of ladies of virtue and honour, they are silent and disconcerted, and out of their element.
There are some people who think they sufficiently acquit themselves, and entertain their company with the relating of facts of no consequence, nor at all out of the road of such common incidents as happen every day; and this I have observed more frequently among the Scots than any other nation, who are very careful not to omit the minutest circumstances of time or place; which kind of discourse, if it were not a little relieved by the uncouth terms and phrases, as well as accent and gesture, peculiar to that country, would be hardly tolerable. It is not a fault in company to talk much; but to continue it long is certainly one; for, if the majority of those who are got together be naturally silent or cautious, the conversation will flag, unless be often renewed by one among them, who can start new subjects, provided he doth not dwell upon them, but leaveth room for answers and replies.
THE FALL OF THE RHINE AT
[FROM the Travels of Count Frederick Stolberg, translated by Holcroft. The reader having lately seen accounts of the Rhine from the pen of an English lady, may like to have a taste of it from a native German. Stolberg was an enthusiast of the Klopstock school, and became a Catholic. He and his brother Christian were both distinguished among the German literati. Of this family was the consort of Prince Charles Edward, the last Pretender, the lady who, after his death, is understood, we believe, to have been privately married to the celebrated dramatic poet, Alfieri.]
The Rhine near Schaffhausen is very beautiful, and flows over beds of rocks. In former times there certainly were warehouses here, for merchandize, brought down the stream from Bunden, Lindau, Constance, and other parts. The goods were unloaded here because of its vicinity to the fall of the Rhine. From these the town took its name. In the Switzerland, Swabian, and Austrian districts, the word Schaffen signifies to buy and sell.
In the afternoon we visited the fall of the Rhine.
Oh, that I could give you an idea of this spectacle! But description, imagery, recollection itself, all sink under the task. I saw it three times, and my astonishment at the last time was as great as at the first. It amazed me now, when a man, as much as it had done when I was a youth.
I appear to have said something, and yet I have said nothing, when I relate, that the broad stream, among bold cliffs, overgrown with trees, collects its waters in a prodigious mass; which, though dis. turbed here and there, rises in circles of translucent green; and with thundering din, and raging impetuosity, dividing itself into three unequal cataracts, dashes headlong against the rock below; that daringly resists the ungovernable fury of the torrent. Daring, and dignified; yet not unchastized; as the deep cavities in its bed, and its perforated sides, too plainly show.
On the lowest of these high shores, to the right of the waterfall, in the territory of Schaffhausen, stands a thread-mill. Opposite to this, in the district of the Canton of Zurich, and on a very high rock, the castle of Laufen is built.
A stranger is first taken beside the thread mill; where he is suddenly surprised; and his astonishment pleasingly yet terribly excited. He is then led by a small winding path round the foot of the hill, to a circular basin of the stream; and, being there placed opposite to the waterfall, he learns, that the cataract, at which he has been amazed, is formed only by the shores and a rock that projects out of the stream, which constitutes about a fifth part of the waterfall.
between its rocky shores and three insulated cliffs. Here he perceives the whole stream compressed He is then taken into a small boat, passes the cataract on the dancing waves, and is landed on the side of Zurich. Here, below the castle of Lanfer, is a scaffolding built over the waterfall. You are obliged to wait some short time, till a small door is opened; the key of which is kept in the castle; standing immediately over the stream, and listening to its thunder. gulph. The imagination, overpowered, is dreadfully You then look down upon the terrific persuaded that it shall be hurried into the deep. No possible idea can be formed of the force of the water;
or of the resistless violence with which it rushes. The poet Leng standing here, struck his thigh, and exclaimed, Hier ist eine Wasserhölle! (Here's a water-hell!)
After a fall thus rapid, the water is projected back to a great height, forming a cloud, white and dense as the smoke of a forge, which conceals all beyond it. Every bush on the rocky shores is dripping; when froth and the rising vapours. the sun shines, the colours of the rainbow play in the
No spectacle of nature ever so fixed and seized upon my mind as this. My Sophia trembled and turned pale. My young son gazed in silent admiration at the stream; for the clouds of spray, concealing all around, it was the only visible object. We stood motionless, in a fearful, yet holy trance. seemed as if I infinitely felt the præsens numen; the divinity, present and active. While recollecting the manifest omnipotence of God, I was overpowered with the sensation of his all-merciful love. It appeared as if the glory of the Lord passed before me; and I scarcely could forbear falling on my face and exclaiming "Oh, Lord God, how gracious and benevolent art thou!"
We had proceeded a considerable way on our return, before we broke silence. It was not till our strong feelings began to cool that we had a transient recollection of the philosopher, who, while beholding the fall of the Rhine, asked, with cold apathy, “Of
what utility is this?" A philosopher will answer, when a sage will be silent," Man, my good sir lives not on bread alone. He has more dignified wants. While with trembling rapture he glances at nature in all her greatness, he can connect the utility of a thread-mill with the sublimity of a cataract.”
Pride and Stinginess.-No association is more common than pride and stinginess. We take from nasaries, what we lavish upon opinion. ture from real pleasures, nay from the stock of necesOne man adorns his palace at the expense of his kitchen; another prefers a fine service of plate to a good dinner; a third makes a sumptuous entertainment, and starves himself the rest of the year. When I see a side-board richly decorated, I expect the wine to be very indifferent. How often in the country, when we breathe the fresh morning air, are we tempted by the prospect of a fine garden! We rise early, and by walking gain a keen appetite, which makes us wish for breakfast. Perhaps the domestic is out of the way, or provisions are wanting, or the lady has not given her orders, and you are tired to death with waiting. Sometimes people prevent your desires, and make you a very pompous offer of everything, upon condition that you accept of nothing. You must fast till three o'clock, or breakfast with the tulips. I remember to have walked in a very beauextremely fond of coffee, never drank any but when tiful park, which belonged to a lady, who, though it was at a very low price; yet she very liberally allowed her gardener a salary of a thousand crowns. For my part, I should chuse to have tulips less finely variegated, and to drink coffee whenever my appetite called for it.. Rousseau.
CORDIAL thanks to the Greenock Intelligencer. We are glad also to see that we are not unwelcome to the abundant and most miscellaneous pages of the Liverpool Albion.
The Musings on a Stone are highly creditable to the writer's youth; but somewhat too young at present for our columns. G. F.'s compositions do him equal credit on another score, not rendering them, however, available for our purposes.
Could Christie's Will be shortened?
The Proprietor of the Hall of Universal Information gives us capital reason for attending to his instruction, in saying that he likes us, and has our Journal regularly lying on his table; but we fear he would bring the formidable foot of the Stamp Office upon us.
We were unable to attend to J. N. at the moment, but will diligently consider his letter. Also the communications of J. D. and D. G. W. R. next
The letter of Mr W. L. R. was as welcome to us, as he will see his verses were. We shall not fail to notice the subject he mentions.
We shall duly consider the commendations of W. Gy, who has our best thanks.
We should like to have found room for the facetious legalities of our friend John Capias (whether he intended them for publication or not) but fear that some of our readers would take them for another and a too-long advertisement of our Supplements. He is informed that three of the Supplements have now been published, and are to be had at all the usual places.
If the correspondent who sent us an extract from our columns, accompanied with the mention of a late eminent poet, is an honest man, we are sorry both for the mistake under which he labours, and for the deduction which he implies from it. It has been contradicted repeatedly, especially by the Editor; and as to what bitterness might still remain from his treatment by the critics, our correspondent overlooks the whole tone of this Journal, and the objects which it manifestly has in view. Besides, we have thoroughly discussed the spirit of that matter elsewhere, and distinctly settled it on a footing, which would have been approved by the excellent and generous poet himself.
An extract from the "Parterre" next week.
We were not aware of the welcome loan of the "Mirror of the Month" till just before the receipt of the second letter.
The verses sent us by J. S. do not do so much justice to his talent as his prose.
Squalliana Freckle should turn her fancy to plea
LONDON: Published by H. HOOPER, 13, Pall Mall East. From the Steam-Press of C. & W. REYNELL, Little Pulteney-street.
TO ASSIST THE ENQUIRING, ANIMATE THE STRUGGLING, AND SYMPATHIZE WITH ALL
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 1, 1834.
THE word Fairy, in the sense of a little miniature being, is peculiar to this country, and is a southern appellation applied to a northern idea. It is the Fee and Fata of the French and Italians; who mean by it an imaginary lady of any sort, not of necessity small, and generally of the human size. With us, it is the Elf of our northern ancestors, and means exclusively the little creature inhabiting the woods and caverns, and dancing on the grass.
The progress of knowledge, which humanizes everything, and enables our fancies to pick and choose, has long rendered the English fairy a harmless being, rarely seen of eye, and known quite as much, if not more, through the pleasant fancies of the poets, than the earthier creed of the common people. In Germany also, the Fairy is said to have become a being almost entirely benevolent. But among our kinsmen of the north, the Swedes and Danes, and especially the insular races of Iceland and Rugen, the old opinions appear to be in force; and, generally speaking, the pigmy world may be divided into four classes.
First, the White or Good Fairies, who live above
ground, dancing on the grass, or sitting on the leaves of trees the Fairy of our poets. They are fond of sun-shine, and are etherial little creatures.
Second, the Dark or Under-ground Fairies (the Dwarfs, Trolls, and Hill-folk of the continent), an irritable race, workers in mines and smithies, and doing good or evil offices, as it may happen.
Third, the House or Homestead Fairy, our Puck, Robin Goodfellow, Hobgoblin, &c. (the Nis of Denmark and Norway, the Kobold of Germany, the Brownie of Scotland, and Tomtegubbe, or Old Man of the House in Sweden). He is of a similar temper, but good upon the whole, and fond of cleanliness, rewarding and helping the servants for being tidy, and punishing them for the reverse.
And fourth, the Water-Fairy, the Kelpie of Scotland, and Nick, Neck, Nickel, Nickar, and Nix, of other countries, the most dangerous of all, appearing like a horse, or a mermaid, or a beautiful girl, and enticing people to their destruction. He is supposed by some, however, not to do it out of ill-will, but in order to procure companions in the spirits of those who are drowned.
All the Fairies have qualities in common; and for the most part, eat, drink, marry, and are governed like human beings; and all without exception are thieves, and fond of power. In other words, they are like the human beings that invented them. They do the same good and ill offices, are subject to the same passions, and are called guid folk and good neighbours, out of the same feelings of fear or gratitude. The better sort dress in gay clothes of green, and are handsome; the more equivocal are ugly, big-nosed little knaves, round-eyed and humpbacked, like Punch, or the figures in caricatures. The latter dress in red or brown caps, which they have a great dread of losing, as they must not rest till they get another; and the Hill-folk among them are great enemies to noise. They keep their promises, because if they did not, the Rugen people say they would be changed into reptiles, beetles, and other ugly creatures, and be obliged to wander in that shape many years. The ordinary German Kobold, or House Goblin, delights in a mess of [From the Steam-Press of C. & W. REYNELL, Little Pulteney-street.]
grits or water gruel, with a lump of butter in it.
Then to the spicy nut-brown ale,
This gigantifying of Robin Goodfellow is a sin against the true Fairy religion; but a poet's sins are apt to be too agreeable not to be forgiven. The
friar with his lantern, is the same Robin, whose
pranks he delighted to record even amidst the stately
solemnities of Paradise Lost,-philosophizing upon the nature of the Ignis Fatuus, that he might have an excuse for bringing him in.
Lead then, said Eve. He, leading, swiftly roll'd In tangles, and made intricate seem straight, To mischief swift. Hope elevates, and joy Brightens his crest; as when a wandering fire, Compact of unctuous vapour, which the night Condenses, and the cold environs round, Kindled through agitation to a flame, Which oft, they say, some evil spirit attends, Hovering and blazing with delusive light, Misleads the amaz'd night-wanderer from his way To bogs and mires, and oft through pond or pool; There swallow'd up and lost, from succour far. So glister'd the dire Snake.
We have remarked more than once, that the belief in supernatural existences round about us is indigenous to every country, and as natural as fears and hopes. Climate and national character modify it; parts of it may be borrowed; a people may abound in it at one time, and outgrow the abuse of it in another; but wherever human nature is to be found, either in a state of superstitious ignorance, or of imaginative knowledge, there the belief will be found with it, modified accordingly.
We shall not trouble ourselves, therefore, with attempting to confine the origin of the Fairies to this or that region. A bird, a squirrel, a voice, a tree nodding and gesticulating in the wind, was sufficient to people every one of them with imaginary beings. But creeds may oust creeds or alter them, as invaders alter a people; and there are two circumstances in the nature of the popular Fairy, assignable to that northern mythology, to which the belief itself has
Robin Goodfellow,' says Warton, who is here made a gigantic spirit, fond of lying before the fire, and called the lubbar-fiend, seems to be confounded with the sleepy giant mentioned in Beaumont and Fletcher's Knight of the Burning Pestle, Act iii, Sc. 1, vol. vi, p. 411, edit. 1751. There is a pretty tale of a witch that had the devil's mark about her, God bless us, that had a giant to her son that was called "Lob-lye-by-the-fire." Todd's Milton, vol. vi, p. 96. Burton, in a passage subsequently quoted, tells us, in speaking of these fairies, that there is "a bigger kind of them, called with us Hob-goblins and Robin Goodfellows, that would in those superstitious times grinde corne for a messe of milke, cut wood, or do any manner of drudgery worke." Melanch. part i, sec. 2, p. 42, edit. 1632. The Ligness arose probably out of the super-human labour; but, though Milton has made fine use of the lubbar-fiend with his "hairy strength," it is surprising he should have sacrificed the greater wonder of the little potent fairy to that of a giant.
PRICE THREE HALFPENce.
been traced: we mean, the smallness of its stature, and the supposition at one time prevailing, that it was little better than a devil. It is remarkable also, that inasmuch as the northern mythology is traceable to the Eastern invaders of Europe, our Fairies may have issued out of those same mountains of Caucasus, the great Kaf, to which we are indebted for the Peries and Genii. The Pygmies were supposed by the ancients to people the two ends of the earth, northern and southern, where the growth of nature was faint and stunted. In the north they were inhabitants of India, the cranes their enemies being Scythians in the other quarters, they were found by Hercules in the desert, where they assailed him with their bows and arrows, as the Lilliputians did Gulliver, and were carried off by the smiling demigod, in the skin of his lion. Odin, the supposed Scythian or Tartar, is thought to have been the importer of the northern fables. His wandering countrymen, of the crane region, may have a nigher personal acquaintance with the little people of the north, than is supposed. In the tales now extant among the Calmue Tartars, and originating it seems in Thibet, men
tion is made of certain little children encountered by a wandering Khan in a wood, and quarrelling about
an invisible cup." The Khan tricks them of it in good swindling style; and proceeding onwards meets with certain Tchadkurs or evil spirits, quarrelling about some "boots of swiftness," of which he beguiles them in like manner. *
These may be chance coincidences; but these fictions are not of so universal a nature as most; and we cannot help regarding them as corroborations of the Eastern rise of our fablers of the north. We take this opportunity, before we proceed, of noticing another remarkable circumstance in the history of popular fictions; which is, that it is doubtful whether the Greeks had any little beings in their mythology. They regarded the Pygmies as a real people, and never seem to have thought of giving them a lift into although the Spaniards have a house-spirit which they the supernatural. And it may be observed, that call Duende, and Tasso, in the fever of his dungeon, was haunted with a Folletto, which is the Follet or Lutin of the French, it does not appear that these southern spirits are of necessity small; still less have those sunny nations any embodied system of fairyism. Their Fairies are the enchantresses of romance. Little spirits appear to be of the country of little people, commented on by their larger neighbours. It is true that little shapes and shadows, are seen in all countries: but the general tendency of fear is to magnify. Particular circumstances must have created a spirit a once petty and formidable.
We are of opinion, with the author of the Fairy Mythology, that the petty size of the household idols of antiquity argues nothing conclusive respecting the size of the beings they represented. Besides, they were often large as well as small, though the more domestic of them, or those that immediately presided over the hearth, were of a size suitable to convenience. The domestic idols of all nations have probably been small, for the like reason.
* See an excellent article in the "Quarterly Review," entitled Antiquities of Nursery Literature. Of similar merit and probably by the same band (which we presume to be that of Mr Southey) is another on the Popular Mythology of the Middle Ages. We cannot refer to the volume, our copy happening to form part of a selection which we made some years ago from a bundle of the two reigning Reviews.
in countries were other circumstances disposed the
In the Edda, or northern Pantheon, the dwarfs are described as a species of beings bred in the dust of the earth, like maggots in a carcase. It was indeed," says the Edda, "in the body of the Giant Ymer, that they were engendered and first began to move and live. At first they were only worms; but by order of the gods, they at length partook both of human shape and reason; nevertheless, they always dwell in subterranean caverns and among rocks."
Whether the Lares were supposed to be of greater stature or not by the learned, it is not impossible that the constant sight of the little images generated a corresponding notion of the originals. The best argument against the smallness of these divinities is, that there is no mention of it in books; and yet the only passage we remember to have met with, implying any determinate notion of stature, is in favour of the little. We here give it, out of an old and not very sage author.
"After the victory had and gotten against the Gethes, the Emperor Domitian caused many shewes and triumphs to be made, in signe and token of joy; and amongst others hee invited publickly to dine with him, all sorts of persons, both noble and unnoble, but especially the Senators and Knights of Rome, to whom he made a feast in this fashion. Hee had caused a certaine house of al sides to bee painted black, the pavement thereof was black, so likewise were the hangings, or seelings, the roofe and the wals also black; and within it hee had prepared very low room, not unlike a hollow vault or cell, ful of emptie siedges or seats. Into this place he caused the Senators and Knights, his ghests, to be brought, without suffering any of their pages or attendants to enter in with them. And first of all he caused a little square piller to be set near to every one of them, upon the which was written the partie's name sitting next it; by which there hanged also a lamp burning before each seat, in such sort as is used in sepulchers. After this, there comes into this melancholicke and dark place a number of yong pages, with great joy and merriment, starke naked, and spotted or painted all over with a die or colour as blacke as inke: who, resembling these spirits called Manes, and such like idols, did leape and skip round about those Senators and Knights, who, at this unexpected accident, were not a little frighted and afraid. After which, those pages set them down at their feete, against each of them one, and there stayed, whilste certaine other persons (ordayned there of purpose) did execute with great solemnity all those ceremonies that were usually fit and requisit at the funeralls and exequies of the dead. This done, there came in others, who brought and served in, in black dishes and platters, divers meats and viands, all coloured black, in such sort that there was not any one in the place but was in great doubt what would become of him, and thought himself utterly undone, supposing he should have his throat cut, onely to give pleasure and content to the Emperour. Besides, there was kept the greatest silence that could be imagined. And Domitian himself being present, did nothing else but (without ceasing) speake and talke unto them of murthers, death, and tragedies. In the end, the Emperour having taken his pleasure of them at the full, he caused their pages and lackies, which attended them without the gates, to come in unto them, and so sent them away home to their own houses, some in coches, others in horselitters, guided and conducted by strange and unknown persons, which gave them as great cause of fear as their former entertainment. And they were no sooner arrived everyone to his own house, and had scant taken breath from the feare they had conceived, but that one of their servants came to tell them, that there were at the gates certaine which came to speake with them from the Emperour. God knows how this message made them stirre, what excessive lamenta tions they made, and with how exceeding feares they were perplexed in their minds; there was not any, no, not the hardiest of them all, but thought that hee was sent for to be put to death. But to make short, those which were to speake with them from the Emperour, came to no other purpose but to bring them either a little piller of silver, or some such like vessel or piece of plate (which had beene set before them at the time of their entertainment); after which, everyone of them had also sent unto him, for a present from the Emperour, one of those pages that had counterfeyted those Manes or Spirits at the banquet, they being first washed and cleansed before they were presented unto them.”
Spirits of old could become small; but we read of none that were essentially little except the fairies. It was a Rabbinical notion, that angelical beings could render themselves as small as they pleased; a fancy of which Milton has not scrupled to avail himself in his Pandemonium.* It was proper enough to the idea of a being made of thought or fire; though one would think it was easier to make it expand like the genius when let loose, than be contracted into the jar or vial in the first instance. But if spirits went in and out of crevices, means, it was thought, must be taken to enable them to do so; and this may serve to account for the fairies themselves,
Milton's reduction of the size of his angels is surely a superfluity, and diminishes the grandeur of their meeting. It was one of the rare instances (theology apart) in which his learning betrayed his judgment.
Upon this passage, M. Mallet says (under correc-
human shape, remarkable for their riches, their indus-
When Christianity came into the north, these little people, who had formed part of the national faith, were converted by the ordinary process into devils; but the converts could never heartily enter into the notion. Accordingly in spite of the endeavours of the clergy (which it is said, have been more or less exerted in vain to this day), a sort of half and
* Northern Antiquities, translated from Monsieur Mallet's Introduction à l'Histoire de Dannemarc, &c. vol. ii. p. 42.
half case was made out for them; and the inhabitants of several northern countries are still of opinion that elves may be saved, and that it is cruel to tell them otherwise. An author quoted in the Fairy Mythology, (vol. i. p. 136,) has a touching theory on this subject. We are informed in that work, "that the common people of Sweden and thereabouts believe in an intermediate class of elves who, when they shew themselves, have a handsome human form, and the idea of whom is connected with a deep feeling of melancholy, as if bewailing a half-quenched hope of redemption."- "Afzelius is of opinion," says a note on the passage, "that the superstition on this point is derived from the time of the introduction of Christianity into the north, and expresses the sympathy of the first converts with their forefathers, who died without a knowledge of the Redeemer, and lay bound in heathen earth, and whose unhappy spirits were doomed to wander about these lower regions, or sigh within their mounds, till the great day of redemption."
Our old prose writers scarcely ever mention the Fairies without letting us see how they were confounded with devils, and yet distinguished from them. "Terrestrial devils," says Burton, "are those Lares, Genii, Faunes, Satyrs, Wood-nymphs, Foliots, Fairies, Robin Goodfellowes, &c. which as they are most conversant with men, so they do them the most harm. Some think it was they alone that kept the heathen people in awe of old, and had so many idols and temples erected to them. Of this range was Dagon among the Philistines, Bel among the Babylonians, Astarte among the Sydonians, Baal among the Samaritans, Isis and Osiris among the Egyptians, &c. Some put our Fairies into this rank, which have been in former times adored with much superstition, with sweeping their houses, and setting of a pail of water, good victuals, and the like, and then they should not be pinched, but find money in their shoes, and be fortunate in their enterprises. These are they that dance on greens and heaths, as Lavater thinks with Tritemius, and as Olaus Magnus adds, leave that green circle which commonly we find in plains and fields, which others hold to proceed from a meteor falling, or some accidental rankness of the ground; so Nature sports herself; they are someHierom times seen by old women and children. Pauli, in his description of the city of Bercino (in Spain), relates how they have been familiarly seen near that town, about fountains and hills. Giraldus Cambrensis gives instance in a monk in Wales that was so deluded. Paracelsus reckons up many places in Germany, where they do usually walk in little courts some two foot long."
"Our mothers' maids have so frayed us," says gallant Reginald Scot, "with Bul-beggars, Spirits, Witches, Urchens, Elves, Hags, Fairies, Satyrs, Pans, Fauns, Syrens, Kit with the Canstik, Tritons, Centaurs, Dwarfs, Giants, Imps, Calcars, Conjurors, Nymphes, Changelings, Incubus, Robin Goodfellows, the Spoon, the Mare, the Man in the Oak, the Hellwain, the Fire-drake, the Puckle, Tom Thumb, Hobgoblin, Tom Tumbler, Boneless, and other such Bugs, that we are afraid of our own shadows: insomuch that some never fear the devil but in a dark night; and then a polled sheep is a perilous beast, and many times is taken for our Father's soul, especially in a churchyard, where a right hardy man heretofore scant durst pass by night but his hair would stand upright."†
In consequence of this opinion in the popular Mythology, the merry and human-like Fairies during a degrading portion of the history of Europe, were made tools of, in common with all that was thought diabolical, to worry and destroy thousands of miserable people; but it is more than pleasant,—it is deeply interesting to an observer, to see what an instinctive impulse there is in human beings to resist
There is a personage in Eastern history, who appears to have been of kin to this grim phenomenon. He was a sorcerer of the name of Setteiah. He is described as having his head in his bosom, and as being destitute of bone in every part of his body, with the exception of his skull and the ends of his fingers. It was only when he was in a rage that he could sit up, anger having the effect of swelling him; but he could at no time be made to stand on his feet. When it was necessary to move him from place to place, they folded him like a mantle; and when there was occasion to consult him in the exercise of his profession, it was the practice to roll him backwards and forwards on the floor, like a churning-skin, till the answer was obtained, See Major Price's Essay towards the History of Arabia antecedent to the Birth of Mohammed, p. 196.
+ The list of the unclean spirits in Middleton's tragicomedy of the Witch, is closely copied from the passage in Reginald Scot.-See the Speech of Hecate.
Urchins, elves, hags, satires, pans, fauns, silence.
pure source, till its arrival at its melancholy "slough of Despond."
the growth of the worst part of superstition, and vindicate nature and natural piety. Do but save mankind from taking intolerance for God's will, and exalting the impatience of being differed with into a madness, and you may trust to the natural good-humour of the best of their opinions, for as favourable a view as possible of all with which they can sympathise. Even their madness in that respect is but a perversion of their natural wish to be liked and agreed with. The first thing that men found out in behalf of the Fairies, was that they were a good deal like themselves: the next was to think well of them upon the whole, rather than ill and when Reginald Scot and others helped us out of this cloud of folly about witchcraft, the Fairies became brighter than before. In England, the darker notions of them almost entirely disappeared with the bigotries in church and state; and at the call of the poets, they came and adorned the books that had done them service, and became synonimous with pleasant fancies.
This subject will be concluded next week.
To the Editor of the London Journal.
I KNOW of no object that makes me more melancholy than "Ballad Singers." Many and many a time have I stood and contemplated an individual, or a group of them, till my heart ached; and quite as often have I hurried past them, absolutely dreading the feelings they would create. In the world there is not a being more in love with song than I am-of song, that outflowing of the spirit, in which unassisted words are too weak to express all the heart feels; that divine voice which Burns sought for and found in the lovely scenes of nature, in the murmuring stream, the air-waved trees, the warble of birds, nay, in the springing flower, the dew-spangled herbage; that refined feeling which, floating on the breath of melody to the heart of hearts, carries with it a power to awaken some of the purest and most exalted sensations our being is capable of. The force of poetry, of painting, of eloquence, is great; but, clothe the beauty of verse in the appropriate notes of melody, and nothing can exceed the stirring of the best elements within us. We ascribe song to the angels; we believe it to be the most acceptable mode of addressing the Deity; and the history of the world shews its various people breathing their most ennobling feelings, whether of devotion, love, or patriotism, in the shape of song.
And of all songs I love a ballad-the delightful mixture of sense with melody, which, passing through the ear to the heart, not only conveys pleasure of the most thrilling kind, but leaves us in that mood best suited to the exercise of individual friendship, or good-will to our fellow men. And yet nothing inspires me with a more melancholy feeling than the sight of Ballad Singers. It is not that their notes are "out of tune and harsh;" it is not the vulgar twang that affects me; these only reach and offend my ear'tis the singers-'tis the ideas I attach to song that distress me. I see a poor, emaciated woman, with such remains of beauty as tell me she once might be deemed, by some happy lover, "fairest of the fair." I think of the hours in which she first exercised that talent by which she is now endeavouring to gain a morsel of bread to support her attenuated frame, or perhaps some disabled husband or sick child. I think of the delight with which her parents hailed the first attempts of a voice still good-of the applause that attended her song in her cheerful family meetings as she grew up-of the blush that mantled on her brow when first pressed to sing before the youth she most wished to please; and now, I see the downcast look, the labouring breast, the pallid cheek; and I hear the notes falling like drops of lead,-heavy, dull, trembling; the voice attempts to sing, but the heart is frozen, the music will not flow!
I once stood and listened to a street Ballad Singer of this, or rather of a superior kind, till I fancied I could trace her very history through all its windings; from its bright, sparkling start into light at its
She was tall, with noble features, a dark complexion, and the largest hazel-eye I ever saw; or, perhaps, it was her wasted cheek that made it appear so her mass of coal-black hair was immense. Her voice was sound, rich and full, and the depression of spirits under which she evidently laboured, to me, gave additional effect to the ballad she was singing. It was Carter's" O Nanny, wilt thou gang wi' me:" and never did I hear that most beautiful of all ballads better sung. But I would not hear her again! Her language was good, nay polished; her expression shewed not only a feeling heart, but a cultivated understanding. "Poor girl! Poor girl!" I exclaimed, as I turned from her; "sad has been thy fall; but thou art like the fabled Philomela, thou art melodious even after ruin!"
I walked on briskly, as if to get rid of the feelings she had raised; but it would not do: the melancholy fall of her full eye, the tones of her voice which, though rich, flowed with no free course, still possessed me.
I had passed on, upon her coming to the
"And when thy own true love shall die," absolutely fearing that her singing of that fine verse would make a fool of me in the public street. "Perhaps,” said I," thou wast born of gentle blood, thy mind has been cultivated, thy very air tells of better days." Fancy was awakened, and ere I got home, had painted her history. Her life, compared with her present state, appeared like the dancing of some bright stream on into the Dead Sea! Methought I saw her on her father's lawns, sporting in the frolic of childhood, listening to the warblers of the blooming shrubs, and soon endeavouring to vie with them in their wood-notes wild. I fancied the nascent talent observed and cultivated. I saw her grow up the pride of her mother, the paragon of her musical instructor, and the delight of the drawing-room. More than that, I saw the open window, still so nearly darkened by the intruding honey-suckle as almost to exclude the glimpses of the moon; and I heard the rich, round melody of her voice come gushing from amidst the flowers, and the song was love, and the arm of love encircled her waist, and the ear of love drank in intoxicating draughts of rapture! And now, the stately form was bent; the eye, though still beautiful, was like arch-angel fallen, shorn of its beams; and that voice which had made her pride, though yet breathing melody, came forth with an effort which said that the song sprang not from the heart. I shall never forget her Madonna face, nor her voice; and never since has Lord Herbert's kind compliment to the beautiful nun appeared extravagant.
The vulgar herd of singing sailors,—sailors who, in the words of Dibdin, never "knew stem from the stern of the ship,”— —are not my Ballad Singers; their bellowing and state of demi-nudity make no impression upon me; but there is yet another class, which, though perhaps equally impostors with these, I never listen to without pain. I mean the poor children, who, encircling some tattered man or woman, join with their treble voices in the tuneless ditty. There was a wretched man who sang about the streets of London for years, with a dreadfully hollow voice, appearing to rise from a stomach to which food had long been a stranger, who was always surrounded by half a dozen of the poorest squalid little creatures; and yet they sang, or attempted to sing with all their might, though their cheeks were pinched by famine, and their uncovered little toes were smarting with the cold mud of the street. Reader! if thou hast, like me, some little darling Ellen, whose prattle sounds in thine ear like sweetest melody, O never pass such a group with closed hands! They may be hired, they may be impostors, but they are children, they are helpless, and they look hungry! W. R.
AN AGED POET AND HIS YOUNG ENTHUSIAST. [From the "Characteristics of Goethe," translated by Mrs Austen.]
WHEN Pope was a boy, he was taken, at his desire, to "have a look" at Dryden, and was gratified accordingly, by having his illustrious predecessor shewn to him as he sat in a coffee-house. not help regretting that the old poet could not have been made aware of the young one. A similar feeling comes over us in reading the following letter, for though there is perhaps a little overconsciousness in it, and protestations of self-insignificance hardly natural, it is difficult not to expect that the writer will turn out an eminent man.
"With what animation and enthusiasm Goethe's aspect, (says the furnisher of the letter), even at a very advanced period of his life, inspired the young, may be seen in the following very remarkable letter of a boy of sixteen :
Weimar, February 22, 1822.
DEAREST FRIEND, I should have written to you long ago, but I delayed from time to time, because I would not write till I had seen Goethe, for a glimpse of whom I had so longing a desire.
'For two months I walked past his house every day; but in vain. It was indeed a great delight to me even to see his daughter-in-law with her lovely children at the window; but I wanted to see Goethe himself. One Sunday I had been taking a walk; my way home lay at the back of Goethe's house, by his garden. The garden gate stood open, and curiosity Goethe was not in the garden; but tempted me in. in a short time I saw his servant come in. I shut. the garden gate for fear the man should see me.
'As I was thinking afterwards very sadly how all my endeavours to see Goethe had failed, I suddenly remarked another garden gate which likewise stood open; and as I entered at it I soon perceived that this was the neighbour's garden, the wall of which abutted on Goethe's, so that the walks of both were clearly to be seen from it. The circumstance was so propitious that I suddenly took courage, and asked the man to whom this house belonged, whether Goethe often walked in his garden, and at what time of day? He answered, every day, when the weather was fine: the hour, however, was not always the same—that often at ten o'clock, if the sun was out, the Geheimrath (Privy Councillor) was there; but that about noon, especially, he loved to be in his garden. The old gentleman held, as it seemed, with the hottest of the sunshine.
'Hereupon I questioned the good neighbour far ther, to see how he stood disposed, and whether he for half an hour, that I might see and watch the would give me permission to visit his garden daily great poet-the man whom I so deeply reverenced.
He answered me, quite indifferently, "Why not? -he could have no objection." It is, however, wonderful, dear friend, that people must pay a guilder to see a tiger, a bear, or a wild cat, while the sight of a Great Man, the rarest thing of the world, is to be had for nothing! I went home full of joy, and that night could not close my eyes.
It seemed to me as if I, little dwarf as I was, had suddenly, through this hope of seeing a Great Man, grown a hand's breadth at least. The morning I thought would never come; the night seemed to me as long as a week, and longer. At length day broke, and brought the loveliest spring weather. When I saw the sunshine, I thought this is a fine day for Goethe; and I was not mistaken.
It was past ten when I reached the garden. He was there already, walking up and down. My heart beat violently. When I saw him, I thought I beheld Faust and Gretchen in one person, at once so gentle and so majestic did he look! I had my eyes ever fixed on him, that I might stamp his features well on my heart. And thus did I look at him a whole hour by the clock, with keen unaverted eyes, deed, he lost nothing. When I had thus, as it were, without his being once aware of me, by which, inlost myself in him, he gave me the slip, and went into the house again, and up stairs into his study, which is quite separate, with windows looking into a back court.
Dearest friend, be well assured, Goethe's greatness manifests itself in his whole form and aspect. He is still hale and active as a man of forty. His majestic gait, his straight and lofty forehead, the noble form of his head, his fiery eye, arched noseall about him cries aloud, Faust, Margaret, Götz, Iphigenia, Tasso, and I know not what besides. Never did I see so handsome and vigorous a man of so advanced an age.
• I see him, when the weather is fine, daily in his garden; and that is as great a delight and amusement to me as it is to others to look at busts, and fine pictures, and beautiful engravings. You may