Imagens da página

I knew thee when that tongue was sweeter,

Or sweeter seem'd to be ;
When music to thy touch came fleeter,

Or so it seemed to me.
It was ere fashion's flattery

Had hung upon thy song,
'Twas when you wished for only me,

Nor sought the applauding throng.
'Twas when those notes to me had grown

Not all indifferent;
'Twas when the magic of thy tone

With love alone was blent.
I care not that thy song sound well,

Like what I once adored;
If once the heart I had rebel-

I would not be its lord.
Thy heart so clear-tby faith so free-

These wove my spirit's net;
Thy beauty's iris fades to me,
When truth, its sun, is set.

C. But
(Blackwood's Edin. Mag.



From unpublished Manuscripts. It is pleasant and instructive too to take a peep into the study of a celebrated author, and watch the process by which he arrives at celebrity; to mark the first draft of a work, and trace the various alterations and polishings which it undergoes before it is deemed worthy of meeting the eye of the great world. Where excellence has been attained, the labour has in general not been slight, nor the time short. Inspiration descends in the likeness of a dove only upon the heads of a very few of the favoured of heaven: the greater part of those whose eyes and resolutions are fixed on performing something deserving of praise, must supply its place by silent toil and unceasing diligence. Of the latter class was Samuel Butler, a great quantity of whose unpublished manuscripts are now in our possession, from which we are able to trace the mode of composition which he practised. Butler's progress was by “ toilsome steps and slow;" although he was one of the wittiest, he was also one of the most learned of authors: he had not only read every thing which was commonly read by the philosophers and poets of his time, but he had deviated into all the obscure corners and by-ways of literature, and devoured whatever was strange or fantastical, learned or ridiculous. The extent of his knowledge was only equalled by the keenness of his observation, and the brilliancy of his wit. He had an eye for every thing whimsical or singular, the most exquisite perception of the resemblances and differences of things; his comparisons are uncommon, and his combinations surprising. Of these characteristics, the manuscripts

afford abundant examples. They are partly in prose and partly in
verse, and are generally written in a distinct and particularly small
hand. They appear to have been his common place books, in which
he registered such thoughts as flitted across his mind; the prose
and poetry are separate, and are divided into separate heads, such
as Religion, Law, Physic, Chemistry, Astrology, &c. The poeti-
cal common-place book, to which our attention in this paper is par-
ticularly directed, consists of a collection of detached thoughts and
comparisons arranged under the above heads, and sometimes con-
tinued for many pages together, and written consecutively, but
without order and connexion. Though put down quite at random,
the thoughts and illustrations are, when taken separately, perfect
in themselves. It is remarkable that many of them are repeated
in the same or in different pages, and some of them which appear
to have been special favourites several times. They are, however,
seldom varied from what appears to have been his first conception
of them. Butler's observation was naturally turned to those things
which occupied the attention of the nation at that time; religion, go-
vernment, and law are the subjects on which he has chiefly com-
mented in the manuscripts under consideration. Those are varied
with witty remarks on astrology, physic, &c. Many thoughts, and
some whole paragraphs with different degrees of alteration, and some-
times with none, have been transferred from the common-place
books into Hudibras. Indeed, Hudibras seems actually to have
grown out of these very books; in Hudibras the narrative is a
mere accident introduced for the purpose of enlivening the satire.
Butler's design was to satirize the absurdities of the theology of
the day, the follies of credulous ignorance, the Charlatanism of
crafty roguery, and the abuses of government. On these subjects
he has a great variety of remarks and similitudes in his common-
place books, both in prose and verse; and these polished, and am-
plified, and thrown into the shape of a narrative, make up the ex-
traordinary poem of Hudibras. A few extracts from the manu-
scripts are subjoined, partly on account of their peculiarity, and
partly as specimens of his mode of composition.
The following lines are taken from the part entitled Law.

For breaking of the laws of the land, at least,
Is more than half the public interest,
That might as prudently have ne'er been made
As punctually by every one obey'd;
For then they would but signify all one,
In wise and cautious governments, with none;
For what but breaking of the law supports
The necessary dignity of courts;
That but for murders, felony's, and stealths,
Would be no real parts of commonwealths;
For how could justice bear the vast expense,
If none should dare to give the laws offence.
For numbers may t'infinity be grown,
But never be diminish'd below one.
Without the tale of numbers birds are wont
To keep of time an exquisite account:

Can cast up all their reckonings, how long
They are to sit before they hatch their young;
And all that time can tell at what o'clock
The hen's expected to relieve the cock,
To recreate his weariness, and when
He is to do the same thing for the hen.
Time allows the shortest measure,
And deals with falsest weights in pleasure :
Steals th' idle and itself away,
And is the greatest cheat in play.
Time made truth, like El'nor at Queen Hythe,
Sink under ground for fear to spoil his scythe;
For though at once it mow down age and youth,

It turns edge when it ventures upon truth. Some other couplets are distinguished by the curious manner in which opposite things are brought together, and some by the singularity of the rhyme. We add a few examples.

For to hang oneself is counted no disgrace,
But to be bang'd by others vile and base.

A Papist
Is but an ignorant implicit atheist,
That thinks to be religious without piety,
And eats instead of worshipping the deity.
As salt rusts iron and steel, so too much wit
Debases valour when they chance to meet.
That could discover only by the smoke
Tobacco-stoppers of the royal oak.
The ancient Jews did mourn in sack-cloth,
As modern Christians do in black cloth.
So he that had been cur'd by flies that got
By chance into the medicine and the pot;
But when the dose was spent: he sent for more
With those black creatures in it he took before ;
For men are brought to worse distresses,
By catching physic than diseases;
And therefore commonly recover
As soon as Doctors give them over.
Those pigs the devil did possess,
Mistook themselves for porpoises ;
And run into the sea to find,
And mix with others of their kind.

The following are specimens of the manner in which the Common-place Book is composed.

As no edge is accounted sharp and keen,
That by the subtlest eye is to be seen,
So no wit for acute should be allow'd,
That's plain and easy to be understood.
The one half of mankind has been begot
Against the other half's design or thought;
As Pliny's partridges are say'd to tread
Another covey flying o'er its head.
For lesser balances are found to go
More accurately than great ones, and more true;
As single drops will mollify a stone,
Which mighty showers fall in vain upon.

So the blind moor that smelling to a clod,
Led on the caravan an unknown road.
Or the aged minister, that with a pair
Of spectacles could read the common prayer,
But could remember not one word, when those
He us'd to read it with were off his nose.
The Goth and Vandal, and the savage Hun,
Did learning less hurt than itself has done ;
For ignorance, like desperate diseases,
Still stupifies the part on which it seizes.
The greatest cheats are us'd in public stocks,
And dullest errors in th' account of books;
For books were made for men, not men for books.
No more than meat was made for dressing-cooks,
Are commonly the by-blows of an author.
Not one in forty has an honest mother;
For most men grow the worse the more they read,
As elks (they say) go backwards when they feed;
For all a pedant's art lies in his terms,
As conjurers and witches in their charms,
That use t observe the greatest complaisance
To the outward forms of things and circumstance;
Resolve the difficult'st of all book cases,
Only by proper or improper phrases.
Affect a nasty mien, and, out of pride,
Neglect themselves and all the world beside ;
As if it were an argument of virtue
And judgment to be slovenly and dirty.
From whence it's evident the greatest fools
Hlave not been changed ith'cradle; but the schools
And stationers that only deal in books
Are found to be the greatest knaves and rooks.
For smatrers grow more arrogant and pert
The less they truly understand an art;
For some are still most constantly employ'd
In doing what they study to avoid.
For mankind naturally resents the need
Of nothing more than what they are forbid.
For to consider's nothing but to prune ;
All that's superfluous is over done ;
And not impertinently to add more
To what was too extravagant before.
And therefore a judicious author's blots
Are more ingenious than his first free thoughts.
And those that understand are modester
In telling truth, than pedants when they err,
Are most severe themselves to all they write,

As candles tremble when they give us light. Several parts of the above extracts are distinguished by the peculiar aptness and novelty which characterize Hudibras, and are not unworthy of the pen of Butler. They are also deserving of notice, as showing, in some measure, the manner in which he composed. He seems to have considered these books as mere depositaries of his loose thoughts, which he has heaped together without care or selection, reserving the classification of them to such times as he should have occasion to bring them into actual use. They are written as fairly out as they could be, without blot or obliteration, and, to the eye, have the appearance of a series of regular poems, instead of paragraphs, which have no mutual dependence or connexion. We shall give more of them.

Literary Intelligence,

Mr. MʻPhun, we understand, intends giving as a frontispiece to his next volume of the Glasgow Mechanics' Magazine, a highly finished portrait of Professor Anderson, the original founder of Mechanics' Institutions. This engraving is from a very scarce etching in the possession of Alexander MʻGrigor, Esq. of Kernock, in which, it is said, the likeness of thewenerable Doctor is remarkably well preserved.

New Editions. The following whimsical law-suit is at present the subject of much conversation in Paris:-A dramatic author, Mr. C. B. sold to a publisher an edition of one of his last comedies, for 1,500 francs. The publisher, however, find. ing the work go off heavily, by dint of a new title-page converted the copies of the first edition, which remained on his hands, into a second, and even a third edition. The author has brought his action against the publisher, and nobody can guess how the matter will be decided.

The encouragement given to oriental literature in France, becomes every day more extensive, the vast stores of the royal library, so rich in oriental literature, are to be explored anew, and those MSS. deemed worthy of impression are to be printed at the public expense.

The governments of Europe vie with each other in seconding this impulse. The King of Prussia has founded an university at Bonn, which is devoted to the study of the Asiatic languages; the King of Bavaria, the Duke of Gotha, and the King of Denmark, have sent into Asia and into Africa in search of manuscripts; Holland brings forth successors to the Schultens, and Russia is lavish in its encouragements and rewards to genius.

After mentioning these facts, a report by the keeper of the seals in Paris, proceeds: “Would it not be possible, after the model of the great Byzantian collection, and the compilations of the councils, and of the historians of France, which were formerly executed at the royal press, to undertake the formation of a collection of the principal oriental works, to be published under the auspices of your Majesty? It would be very easy for the royal press* to complete the execution of this enterprise, without any interruption in the usual course of its proceedings, or even without its causing any material expense.”

A decree has since been issued, containing regulations for the accomplishment of the project.

Mr. Bentley, a member of the Asiatic Society, has in the press, we understand, “ An Historical View of the Hindu Astronomy,” from the earliest dawn of that sci. ence in India, down to the present time.

Preparing for publication, Remains of the Rev. Christian Frederick Schwartz, Missionary in India; consisting of lis Letters and Journals; with a Sketch of his Life.

Select Specimens of English Prose and Poetry, from the Age of Elizabeth to the present l'ime, including, in a moderate size, considerable portions of those authors who have had a decided influence over our language and literature; to which will be added, Introductory Essays, by the Rev. Geo. Walker, Head-master of the Leeds Grammar-school, in two volumes, duodecimo, are nearly ready for publication.

Mr. C. A. Elton, author of Specimens of the Classic Poets, has in the press a History of the Roman Emperors, from the Accession of Augustus to the Fall of the last Constantine.

Sketches, Political, Geographical, and Statistical, of the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata, &c., will soon be published.

The Second Correspondence of Madame de Maintenon, and the Princess des Ursines, from the original letters, in the possession of the Duke de Choiseul, is in the press; and stated to contain a more interesting account of the political transactions and secret intrigues of the Court of Louis XIV. than any other hitherto published.

The royal press was founded by Francis the First, and has since that era greatly contributed to the adrancement of learning.-Ed. L. G.

« AnteriorContinuar »