« AnteriorContinuar »
it, that he gave Cæsar the preference to all mankind, only on account of that accomplishment !
Let critics say what they will, I will venture to affirm, that pupping, of all arts and sciences, is the most extraordinary : for all others are circumscribed by certain bounds; but this alone is found to have no limits, because to excel herein requires a more extensive knowledge of all things. A pupner must be a man of the greatest natural abilities, and of the best accomplishments : his wit must be poignant and fruitful, his understanding clear and distinct, his imagination delicate and cheerful; he must have an extraordinary elevation of soul, far above all mean and low conceptions : and these must be sustained with a vivacity fit to express bis ideas, with that grace and beauty, that strength and sweetness, which become sentiments so truly noble and sublime.
And now, lest I should be suspected of imposing upon my reader, I must entreat him to consider how high Plato has carried his sentiments of this art (and Plato is allowed by all men to have seen farther into heaven than any heathen either before or since.) Does not he say positively, in his Cratylus, “ Jocos et Dii amant," the gods themselves love punning ? Which I am apt to believe, from Homer's o'r ECTOS géaws, unextinguished laughter, because there is no other motive could cause such continued merriment among the gods.
As to the antiquity of this art, Buxtorf proves it to be very early among the Chaldeaps ; which apy one may see at large, who will read what he says upon the word Pun, « Vocula est Chaldæis familiarissima," &c. “ It is a word that is most frequently in use among the Chaldæans; who were first instructed in the methods of punning by their magi, and gained such reputation, that Ptolemæus Philopunnæus sent for six of those
learned priests, to propagate their doctrine of pups in six of his principal cities ; which they did with such success, that his majesty ordered, by public edict, to have a full collection of all the puns made within his domivions for three years past ; and this collection filled one large apartment of his library, having this following remarkable inscription over the door, 'Idlechov turns, * The shop of the soul's physic."*
Some authors, but upou what grounds is uncertain, will have Pao, who, in the Eolic dialect, is called Pun, to be the author of puns, because they say, Pan being the god of universal pature, and punding free of all languages, it is highly probable that it owes its first origin, as well as name, to this god: others again attribute it to Janus, and for this reason-Janus had two faces, and of consequence, they conjectured every word he spoke had a double meaning. But, however, I give little credit to these opinions, which I am apt to believe were broached in the dark and fabulous ages of the world; for I doubt, before the first Olympiad, there can be no great dependence upon profane history:
I am much more inclined to give credit to Buxtorf; por is it improbable that Pythagoras, who spent twentyeight years at Ægypt in his studies, brought this art, together with some arcana of philosophy, into Greece; the reason for which might be, that philosophy and punding were a mutual assistance to each other: “for, says he, puns are like so many torch-lights in the head; that give the soul a very distinct view of those images, which she before seemed to grope after as if she had been imprisoned in a dungeon.” From whence he looked upon puns to be so sacred, and had such a regard to them, that he
* Vide Joseph. Bengor. Chronic. in Edit. Georg. Homedidæ. Seriem Godoliæ Tradit. Hebraic. Corpus Paradoseon Titulo Megill.Cri. 8. Chronic. Samarit. Abulphetachi. Megillat. Taanit.
left a precept to his disciples, forbidding them to eat beans, because they were called io Greek wúvros. « Let Me not,” says he,“ one grain of the seed of beans be lost; ke but preserve and scatter them over all Greece, that both our gardens and our fields may flourish with a vegetable, which, on account of its name, not only brings an honours to our country, but, as it disperses its effluvia in the air, edhe may also by a secret impulse prepare the soul for pupuing, which I esteem the first and great felicity of life.”
This art being so very well recommended by so great a man, it was not long before it spread through all Greece, and at last was looked upon to be such a necessary accomplishment, that no person was admitted to a feast who was not first examined; and if he were found igno- lingin rant of punning he was dismissed with 'Exès 50%€, Beera tarika 201, “Hence, ye profane."
If any one doubts the truth of what I say, let him rich is consult the apophthegms of Plutarch, who, after he had ze vlas passed several encomiums upon this art, gives some account of persons eminent in it; among which (to shorten my preface) 1 choose one of the most illustrious examples, the red and will entertain the courteous reader with the following story:"King Philip had his collar-bone broken in a battle, and his physician expecting money of him every visit, the king reproved him with a pun, saying, he had the key in his own hands." For the word xdeeis, in the original, signifies both a key and collar-bone.*
We have also several puns recorded in Diogenes Laertius's “ Lives of the Philosophers," and those made by the wisest and gravest men among them, even by Diogenes the cypic, who, although pretending to withstand the irresistible charms of punning, was cursed with the Dame of an Abhorrer, yet, in spite of all his ill-nature
| Quinc rere dic
m to ex and affectation (for he was a tub-preacher) he made so . "Ie excellent a pun, that Scaliger said, “ he would rather
be lat have been author of it, than king of Navarre.” The hat belte story is as follows: Didymus (not Didymus the comegetable mentator upon Horner, but a famous rake among the. boog ladies at Athens) having taken in hand to cure a virgin's
the ai eye that was sore, had this caution given him by Diopune genes, " Take care you do not corrupt your pupil.”
The word rope, signifying both the pupil of the eye and so gres
It would be endless to produce all the authorities Ealy a that might be gathered, from Diodorus Siculus, Herodoa fex tus, Proconosius, Bergæus, Dionysius Halicarnassensis, digne Lycophron, Pindar, Apollonius, Menander, Aristophanes, e Corinthus Cous, Nondus, Demosthenes, Euripides,
Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle, &c.; from every one of et bán which I should have produced some quotatious, were it
vot that we are so unfortunate in this kingdom pot to have Greek types sufficient for such an undertaking it for want of which I have been put to the necessity, in the word zopol, of writing an alpha for an eta.
However, I believe it will not be amiss to bring some tile, few testimonies, to show in what great esteem the art of Esit , punning was among the most refined wits at Rome, and
that in the most polite ages, as will appear from the following quotations.
Quinctilian says, “Urbanitas est virtus quædam, in breve dictum, verum sensu duplici coacta, et apta ad delectandos homines,” &c. Thus translated, “Pupning is a virtue, comprised in a short expression, with a double meaning, and fitted to delight the ladies.”
* See Laertius.
+ Though it is no uncommon thing for a country printer to be without Greek types, this could scarcely be a serious complaiat at Dublin in 1719. N.
Institut. Orator. lib. vi. p. 265,
Omnia enim lepidi magis ad mirantur, aunántque
All men of mirth and sense admire and love
From word to word th' ambiguous sense is play'd ;
Ciona, give me the man, when all is done,
Petronius likewise will tell you,
Dicta, sales, risus, urbana crepundia vacum,
Jokes, repartees, and laugh, and pun polite;