Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

for, indeed, I had most of them out of prison. There's but a shirt and a half in all my company ; and the half-shirt is two napkins, tacked together, and thrown over the shoulders like a herald's coat without sleeves !”

An old schoolfellow of ours (who, by the way, was more fond of quoting Falstaff than any other of Shakspeare's characters) used to be called upon for a story, with a view to a joke of this sort, it being an understood thing that he had a privilege of exaggeration, without committing his abstract love of truth. The reader knows the old blunder attributed to Goldsmith about a dish of green peas. Somebody had been applauded in company for advising his cook to take some ill-dressed peas to Hammersmith, “because that was the way to Turn'em Green;" upon which Goldsmith is said to have gone and repeated the pun at another table in this fashion :-“John should take those peas, I think, to Hammersmith.” “Why so, Doctor?” " Because that is the way to make 'em green.” Now, our friend would give the blunder with this sort of additional dressing. sight of the dishes of vegetables, Goldsmith, who was at his own house, took off the covers, one after another, with great anxiety, till he found that peas were among them ; upon which he rubbed his hands with an air of infinite and prospective satisfaction. “You are fond of peas, sir ?' said one of the company.

“Yes, sir,' said Goldsmith, particularly so. them all the year round. I mean, sir, every day in the season. I do not think there is anybody so fond of peas as I am.' 'Is there any particular reason, Doctor,' asked a gentleman present, 'why you like peas so much, beyond the usual one of their agreeable taste?' 'No, sir, none whatsoever ;-none, I assure you.' (Here Goldsmith showed a great wish to impress this fact on his guests). “I never heard any particular encomium or speech about them from any one else ; but they carry their own eloquence with them. They are things, sir, of infinite taste.' (Here a laugh, which put Goldsmith in additional spirits) 'But, bless me!' he exclaimed, looking narrowly

66 At

I eat

into the peas, 'I fear they are very ill done. They are absolutely yellow instead of green' (here he put a strong emphasis on green), 'and, you know, peas should be emphatically green. Greenness in a pea is a quality as essential as whiteness in a lily. The cook has quite spoilt them ; but I'll give the rogue a lecture, gentlemen, with your permission.' Goldsmith then rose and rang the bell violently for the cook, who came in, ready booted and sp ed. "Ha!' exclaimed Goldsmith, 'those boots and spurs are your salvation, you knave. Do you know, sir, what you have done ?' “No, sir.' "Why, you have made the peas yellow, sir. Go instantly, and take 'em to Hammersmith. ‘To Hammersmich, sir ? ' cried the man, all in astonishment, the guests being no less so. 'Please, sir, why am I to take 'em to Hammersmith ?' Because, sir,' and here Goldsmith looked round with triumphant anticipation, that is the way to render those peas green !'

There is a very humorous piece of exaggeration in “ Butler's Remains," a collection, by-the-bye, well worthy of “ Hudibras," and, indeed, of more interest to the general reader. Butler is defrauded of his fame with readers of taste who happen to be no politicians, when“ Hudibras” is printed without this appendage. The piece we allude to is a short description Holland :

A country that draws fisty foot of water,
In which men live as in the hold of Nature ;
And when the sea does in upon them break,
And drowns a province, does but spring a leak,

That feed, like cannibals, on other fishes,
And serve their cousin-germans up in dishes.
A land that rides at anchor, and is moord,

In which they do not live, but go aboard." We do not know, and perhaps it would be impossible to discover, whether Butler wrote his minor pieces before those of the great patriot Andrew Marvell, who rivalled him in wit, and excelled him in poetry. Marvell, though born later, seems to have been known earlier as an author. He was certainly known publicly before him. But in the political poems of Marvell there

is a ludicrous “Character of Holland,” which might be pro-
nounced to be either the copy or the original of Butler's, if in
those anti-Batavian times the Hollander had not been baited
by all the wits; and were it not probable that the unwieldy
monotony of his character gave rise to much the same ludic-
rous imagery in many of their fancies. Marvell's wit has the
advantage of Butler's, not in learning or multiplicity of contrasts
(for nobody ever beat him there), but in a greater variety of
them, and in being able, from the more poetical turn of his
mind, to bring graver and more imaginative things to wait
upon his levity.
He thus opens the battery upon our amphibious neighbour :-

“Holland, that scarce deserves the name of land,
As but the off-scouring of the British sand;
And so much earth as was contributed
By English pilots when they heav'd the lead,
Or what by the ocean's slow alluvion fell,
Of shipwreck'd cockle and the mussel-shell.

Glad then, as miners who have found the ore,
They, with mad labour,* fish'd the land to shore ;
And dived as desperately for each piece
Of earth, as if 't had been of ambergreece ;
Collecting anxiously small loads of clay,
Less than what building swallows bear away;
Or than those pills which sordid beetles rowl,

Transfusing into them their dunghill soul.”
He goes on in a strain of exquisite hyperbole :-

“How did they rivet with gigantic piles
Thorough the centre their new-catchéd miles ;
And to the stake a struggling country bound,
Where barking waves still bait the forced ground;
Building their wat'ry Babel far more high
To reach the sea, than those to scale the sky.
Yet still his claim the injured ocean lay'd,
And oft at leap-frog o'er their steeples play'd;,
As if on purpose it on land had come
To show them what's their Mare Liberum.f

"Dryden afterwards, of fighting for gain, in his song of “Come, if you dare”:

“The Gods from above the mad labour behold.” † A Free Ocean.

A daily deluge over them does boil ;
The earth and water play at level-coyl.
The fish oft-times the burgher dispossess'd,
And sat, not as a meat, but as a guest :
And oft the Tritons, and the Sea-nymphs, saw
Whole shoals of Dutch served up for cabillau.
Or, as they over the new level ranged,
For pickled herring, pickled Heeren changed.
Nature, it seem'd, ashamed of her mistake,
Would throw their land away at duck-and-drake :
Therefore, Necessity, that first made kings,
Something like government among them brings:
For as with Pigmys, who best kills the crane,
Among the hungry he that treasures grain,
Among the blind the one-eyed blinkard reigns,
So rules among the drownéd he that drains.
Not who first sees the rising sun commands ;
But who could first discern the rising lands.
Who best could know to pump an earth so leak,
Him they their lord and country's father speak.
To make a bank was a great plot of state ;-
Invent a shovel, and be a magistrate."

We can never read these or some other ludicrous verses of Marvell, even when by ourselves, without laughter; but we must curtail our self-indulgence for the present.

FATAL MISTAKE OF NERVOUS DISORDERS

FOR INSANITY.

OME affecting catastrophes in the public papers induce us

to say a few words on the mistaken notions which are so

often, in our opinion, the cause of their appearance. It is much to be wished that some physician, truly so called, and philosophically competent to the task, would write a work on this subject. We have plenty of books on symptoms and other alarming matters, very useful for increasing the harm already existing. We believe, also, there are some works of a different kind, if not written in direct counteraction ; but the learned authors are apt to be so prodigiously grand and etymological in their title-pages, that they must frighten the general understanding with their very advertisements.

There is this great difference between what is generally understood by the word insanity, and the nervous or melancholy disorders, the excess of which is so often confounded with it. Insanity is a consequence of malformation of the in, and is by no means of necessity attended with melancholy, or even illhealth. The patient, in the very midst of it, is often strong, healthy, and even cheerful. On the other hand, nervous disorders, or even melancholy in its most aggravated state, is nothing but the excess of a state of stomach and blood, extremely common. The mind, no doubt, will act upon that state and exasperate it ; but there is great reaction between mind and body; and as it is a common thing for a man in an ordinary

« AnteriorContinuar »