The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction
Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Allen Siddle and PG Distributed Proofreaders
THE MIRROR OF LITERATURE, AMUSEMENT, AND INSTRUCTION.
VOL. XIX. NO. 538.] SATURDAY, MARCH 17, 1832. [PRICE 2_d_.
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE ARBALEST, OR CROSS-BOW.]
THE ARBALEST, OR CROSS-BOW.
The Bow would appear to have been in most ancient nations the principal
implement of war; and to keep alive this "mystery of murder," archery, or
the art of shooting with a bow and arrow, seems to have been a favourite
pastime in days of peace. In no country, however, has archery been more
encouraged than in this island; wherefore the English archers became the
best in Europe, and procured many signal victories. Tributary as have been
the bow and arrow to some of the brightest scenes in our history, it is
not surprising that its exercise should have become cherished among us as
an amusement. Strutt tells us that in the early ages of chivalry, the
usage of the bow was considered as an essential part of the education of a
young man who wished to make a figure in life. Hence the long-bow and
cross-bow have been and are playthings in the hands of youth; and would
that they had only been the toys of the playground instead of leading men
to slaughter each other for the costly toys of the game of life. It is
chiefly to the use of the cross-bow that we propose to confine ourselves
upon the present occasion.
The arbalest, or cross-bow, was not only much shorter than the long-bow,
but fastened also upon a stock, and discharged by means of a catch or
trigger, which Mr. Strutt reasonably enough thinks gave rise to the lock
on the modern musket. The old logicians illustrate the distinction in
their quaintest fashion. Bayle, explaining the difference between
testimony and argument, uses this laconic simile, "Testimony is like the
shot of a long-bow, which owes its efficacy to the force of the shooter;
argument is like the shot of the cross-bow, equally forcible, whether
discharged by a dwarf or a giant."
The arbalest is said by some writers to be of Italian origin. Verstegan
says it was introduced here by the Saxons, but was neglected till again
brought into use by William the Conqueror, at the battle of Hastings. No
mention is made of bowmen among the troops of Harold; but we read that the
Norman army was fronted by "footmen clothed in light armour, worn over a
gilted cassock, and bearing either long-bows or steel cross-bows." Harold
himself had his eye struck by an arrow, notwithstanding which he continued
to fight at the head of his army. Cross-bows were afterwards prohibited by
the second Lateran Council, anno 1139, as hateful to God, and unfit to be
used among Christians; in consequence whereof they were laid aside till
the reign of Richard the First, who again introduced them, and was himself
killed by an arrow or quarrel, discharged from a cross-bow at the siege of
the Castle of Chalus.
Cross-bows shot darts called quarrels, or _quarreaux_, or _quadrels_, and
in English _bolts_: they were headed with solid, square pyramids of iron,
and sometimes trimmed with brass instead of feathers. According to Sir
John Smith a cross-bow would kill point blank 60 yards, and if elevated
above 160. There was an officer styled _Balistrarius Regius_; and several
estates were held by the service of delivering a cross-bow and thread to
make the string, when the king passed through certain districts. These you
will find in Blount's Tenures and Jacob's Law Dictionary.
We find that the pay of a cross-bowman, in the reign of Edward II., was
sixpence _per diem_. Few notices of archery are, however, upon record
till an order by Edward III. in the 15th year of his reign, to the
sheriffs of most of the English counties, to provide bows and arrows for
the intended war against France: these orders, however, relate to the
long-bow. In the famous battle of Crecy, fought in 1346, our chroniclers
state that we had 2,800 archers, who were opposed to about the same number
of the French; which, together with a circumstance to be immediately
mentioned, seems to prove that by this time we used the long-bow whilst
the French archers shot with the arbalest. The circumstance alluded to is
as follows:--Previously to the engagement there fell a heavy rain, which
is said to have much damaged the bows of the French, or rather the strings
of them. Now, the long-bow, when unstrung, may be conveniently covered, so
as to prevent the rain injuring it; nor is there scarcely any addition to
the weight from a case; whereas the arbalest is of a most inconvenient
form to be sheltered from the weather. It is also stated that, at Crecy,
"the Genoese archers, fatigued by their heavy cross-bows, in a sultry and
tempestuous march, rushed forward with loud cries to attack the English
bowmen, who were the strength of Edward's army. These last stood still;
even on the second charge they stirred not one foot! When they got within
shot of their foes, they let fly their arrows so quickly that they came
like snow. The Genoese fled, and some of the heavy-armed troops were
involved in their confusion." At Crecy the English ascribed their victory
to their archers. The battle of Poictiers, fought in 1356, was gained by
the same means. In 1417, Henry V. attributed his splendid victory at
Agincourt to the archers, and directed the sheriffs of many counties to
pluck from every goose six wing-feathers for the purpose of improving
arrows, which were to be paid for by the King. In 1421, though the French
had been defeated at Crecy, Poictiers, and Agincourt, by the English
archers, yet they still continued the use of the cross-bow; for which
reason Henry V., as Duke of Normandy, confirms the charters and privileges
of the _balistarii_, who had been long established as a fraternity in his
city of Rouen.
We now meet with several enactments by Edward IV. for the appointment of
bowmen with the long-bow; but we pass over these and other records to the
19th year of the reign of Henry VII., who forbade the use of the cross-bow,
because "the long-bow had been much used in this realme, whereby honour
and victory had been gotten against outward enemies, the realm greatly
defended, and much more the dread of all Christian princes by reason of
the same." Statutes for the promotion of archery with the long-bow are now
very frequent; but the cross-bow is proscribed in the same proportion: and,
in the time of Henry VIII. a penalty of ten pounds was inflicted on every
one who kept a cross-bow in his house.
Though archery continued to be encouraged by the king and legislature for
more than two centuries after the first knowledge of the effects of
gunpowder, yet by the latter end of the reign of Henry VIII., it seems to
have been partly considered as a pastime.
From this period we pass to the date of the annexed CUTS, for which we are
indebted to the research of an ingenious Correspondent, with the
antiquarian subscription of "JONATHAN OLDBUCK," who appends to his
sketches the following historical notice:
"After the destruction of the Spanish Armada, fears being entertained lest
the King of Spain should (out of revenge) send an emissary to attempt the
life of Queen Elizabeth, a number of noblemen of the Court formed
themselves into a body guard for the protection of her person, and under
the denomination of the 'Companie of Liege Bowmen of the Queene,' had many
privileges conferred upon them. The famous Dudley, Earl of Leicester, was
captain of this company, which was distinguished by the splendour of its
uniform and accoutrements. Upon the accession of James I. the company was
disbanded, although those who composed it retained the privileges which
had been conferred upon them by Elizabeth. Upon the breaking out of the
Civil wars Charles reorganized this bodyguard which attended him against
the Parliamentary forces, and afterwards emigrated with Charles II. At the
Restoration this company was maintained, and under the title of 'Royal
Company of Archers' received a new Charter, being the origin of the
present 'Royal Artillery Company' of London. About the time of the
institution of the Liege Bowmen of the Queen, a new kind of cross-bow was
constructed in Holland, by one Vander Foheman, having many advantages over
the old one. This he brought to England and it was purchased and adopted
by the Company.
"An ARBALEST of Foheman's construction, bearing the date 1579, 3 feet 3
inches long, exquisitely carved out of black oak, is now in the possession
of A. Nossoc, Esq., the proprietor of a rare and valuable collection of
paintings by ancient masters. By this gentleman's kindness I have been
able to take a sketch of it, a copy of which I enclose. In these
instruments the impulse is not communicated to the arrow directly by the
string, but by means of a movable iron bridge, placed behind the string. I
subjoin outlines of the arrow used with this kind of bow, and also of its
"The end (_a_) of the arrow, Fig. 1., was placed against a small square
plate of metal (_a_) of the bridge, and the other end of the arrow rested
on the steel bow. The string pulled upon the hook, (_d_) Fig. 2, and the
end (_c_) acting with a lever advantage communicated its impulse to the
bridge, (_b_) against which was placed the arrow. The figure 3 will
explain the rest of the contrivance, (_f_) being a spring to keep the
"The wooden part of the arbalest is beautifully carved with figures; its
front extremity is a lion's head holding in its mouth an acorn originally
of gold, for which a wooden one is substituted, as is the round stock at
the other extremity which was of silver; its lower side has a figure of
Bellona, a terminus, &c., carved out of it; its upper, a sphynx, head of
Medusa, leaves, and numerous other ornaments upon it; the sides are also
beautifully carved, and two steel escutcheons on its sides before the
bridge have engraved on them a trophy, and two roses.
"As these cross-bows are now extremely rare, I should feel gratified if
any correspondent could inform me whether an arbalest of this description
is preserved in the Tower, or in any public or private collection of
ancient armour; and whether it was used by the Company of Archers after
The _Steel Bow_ is of the shape annexed, _Fig. 5_, being a resting-place
for the fore end of the arrow.
We may here add that the _Cross-bow_ was also called a _Steel-bow_,
because the horns were usually made with steel; and others were called
_Stone-bows_ because they were modified to the purpose of discharging
stones. The cross-bow makers used to exercise themselves in shooting at
the popinjay, or artificial parrot, in a field called Tassal Close in
London, from the number of thistles growing there, now called the Old
The following description of an archer, his bow, and accoutrements, is
given in a MS. written in the time of Queen Elizabeth. "Captains and
officers should be skilful of that most noble weapon, and to see that
their soldiers according to their draught and strength have good bowes,
well nocked, well strynged, every strynge whippe in their nocke, and in
the myddes rubbed with wax, braser, and shuting glove, some spare strynges
trymed as aforesaid, every man one shefe of arrows, with a case of leather
defensible against the rayne, and in the same fower and twentie arrowes,
whereof eight of them should be lighter than the residue, to gall or
astoyne the enemye with the hail-shot of light arrows, before they shall
come within the danger of the harquebuss shot. Let every man have a
brigandine, or a little cote of plate, a skull or hufkyn, a mawle of leade
of five foote in lengthe, and a pike, and the same hanging by his girdle,
with a hook and a dagger; being thus furnished, teach them by musters to
marche, shoote, and retire, keepinge their faces upon the enemy's. Sumtyme
put them into great nowmbers, as to battell apparteyneth, and thus use
them often times practised, till they be perfecte; ffor those men in
battel ne skirmish can not be spared. None other weapon maye compare with
the same noble weapon."
Even in Elizabeth's reign the bow was thought to be more advantageous than
the musket; because the latter was at that period very cumbrous, and
unskilful in contrivance, while archery had been carried to the highest
perfection. Mr. Grose tells us that an archer could formerly shoot six
arrows in the time necessary to charge and discharge a musket; and, as a
specimen of the aim to be taken, even in modern days, a practised bowman
has been known to shoot twelve arrows in a minute, into a circle not
larger than the circumference of a man's hat, at the distance of forty
 Notes by Mr. Grose, the antiquarian, in _Selections from Gentleman's
Magazine_, vol. i. In the _Archaeologia_. vol. vi. we find it stated
that "Artillery (_artillerie_) is a French term signifying _Archery_,
as the king's _bowyer_ is in that language styled _artillier du roy;_
and from that nation the English seem to have learnt at least the
 Hist. England, by Sir James Mackintosh, vol. i.
 Dated from Clarence-terrace, Regent's-park.
 Vide Grose on Ancient Armour. D'Alembert, Encyclopedie. Art. Arbalette.
 Maitland's London.
* * * * *
THE GIPSEY FORTUNE-TELLER.
(_For the Mirror_.)
Augur only happy days,
Gipsey, when thy glancing eye,
Fain would dart its piercing rays,
Through her future destiny.
Life is yet without a shade,
She has gathered flowers alone;
Tell her not, that roses fade,
When the ardent summer's gone.
Sully not her early dream,
With reality's cold hue,
Let her morning brighter seem,
Glittering with the early dew.
Tell her not, that clouds o'ershading,
Rainbows bright will darkly cover;
Tell her not, that quickly fading,
"All that's bright!" ere noon is over.
Tell her not of memory's tear,
And affection's broken chain;
Tell her not, that every year,
Brings but sorrow, care, and pain!
Soon the mist will roll away,
And the soft enchantment fly:
Gipsey, hasten on thy way,
Ne'er unrol her destiny!
Tell her, if thou wilt, that never,
'Neath the skies may be her home,
And if thou that _hope_ hadst ever,
Tell her of a world to come!
* * * * *
THE BRITISH INSTITUTION.
(_From a Correspondent_.)
The admirers of modern painting invariably anticipate much delight prior
to the opening of the Exhibition at this institution, and their hopes in
the present instance have not been disappointed, as there certainly is a
fine display of talent in almost every department of the art. There are
nearly six hundred works.
No. 1. Portsmouth, from the King's Bastion; painted by command of his
Majesty, by Clarkson Stanfield.
5. The Falconer; a brilliant little picture by A. Fraser.
6. Sabrina, from Milton's Comus; Mr. Etty delineates the female form with
peculiar accuracy and delicacy, and in the subject before us he has
displayed his usual ability.
28. A Lady of Rank of the fifteenth century taking the Veil; a work of
considerable promise by a young artist--S. A. Hart.
30. The Rick Side; beautifully executed by T. Woodward.
47. A Man saved from Shipwreck; this is an interesting subject by Charles
Hancock. _Apropos_, this gentleman paints much in the fascinating manner
of Mr. Landseer.
61. Entrance to a Village; painted from nature in a pleasing style by C.R.
75. Interior of a Highlander's House; E. Landseer, R.A.
248. Distant View of Goderich Church; Copley Fielding.
337. The Recruit; by H. Liversege. The principal group in this picture is
treated in the following way: around a table are seated four persons,
among whom are two soldiers--being the recruiting sergeant with one of his
party. The recruit, a rustic looking youth, has a good deal of expression
in his countenance; he seems extremely doubtful concerning the step he has
taken, while an interesting young woman, apparently his sister, is fondly
endeavouring to dissuade him from it. The sergeant complacently smokes his
pipe, and smiles at her solicitude. This is, perhaps, the most unaffected
picture in the whole collection, being a remarkably modest representation
of nature. The composition is good, and the freedom and delicacy of the
execution stands unrivalled.
386. Hunt the Slipper; A.E. Chalon, R.A. In this picture several figures
are introduced _seriatim_, engaged at this old English, but now rather
unfashionable, game. A little too much vulgarity is displayed, though in
other respects the performance is highly praiseworthy.
413. Love the best Physician; painted at Paris by Monsieur Destouches.
Although we disapprove of the colouring and some parts of the execution of
this work, the subject is very interesting. A young man of fortune, who
had fallen in love with a beautiful young girl, becomes sick in
consequence of his hopeless passion. The physicians appear to have
rendered him no service, and as a last alternative, his friends prevail on
the girl to visit him, accompanied by her parents. The deep blushes with
which her face is suffused, and her downcast eyes, indicate the violent
agitation of her frame; while the sick man, having raised himself in bed,
stretches out his arms, and eagerly feasts his eyes on the charming object
of his love.--G.W.N.
* * * * *
SPIRIT OF THE PUBLIC JOURNALS.
SCIENCE OF BURIAL.
(_From a piquant, rambling paper in Fraser's Magazine_.)
We arrived at Otaheite just in time to witness the funeral ceremonies of
the pious chief Omaree. He was lying in state at his house above the
harbour where we landed, and we were invited to assist at the obsequies.
His _viscera_ were removed, and his _remains_, properly speaking, were
laid on an elegant palanquin or hanging bier, highly perfumed; around
which, and through the apartment, odorous oils were burning. Several of
his old friends came to see him, and complimented him highly on the state
of his looks and his good condition in various respects. They presented
him with numerous and tasteful gifts, which they assured him were sincere
tokens of their esteem, and hoped he would accept them as such. Omaree
replied by the mouth of an old priest who acted as master of the
ceremonies--assuring the good company, in return, that he was "as well as
could be expected," felt particularly flattered by the kind attentions of
his friends and visiters, and hoped they would make themselves quite at
home. "By the hand of my body," exclaimed the captain, sitting down to a
bowl of fresh Palmetto wine, and lighting a pipe at the foot-lights, "this
is the _dacentest_ wake I ever came across out of Ireland! Noble sir, your
good health and snug lying to you!"
After a conversation with Omaree on various interesting topics, his
friends and family proposed taking him to see his property in another part
of the island: he gratefully assented to the proposition, and requested
the good company to avoid fatiguing themselves by travelling too rapidly,
as he was in no hurry to leave them. He was then borne in state for some
miles, preceded by dancers, singers, knuckle-drummers, strewers of flowers
and leaves, &c., to a pretty spot by the sea-side, where he had lately
made a tobacco-plantation, and which, he remarked, "would be scarce worth
the plucking, as he had not been able to attend to it of late;--however,
he hoped his venerable and disinterested friend and spiritual comforter,
the priest, would accept the crop, such as it was, as a slight testimony
of his eternal gratitude." Hereupon the crowd clapped their hands with
delight, the singers shouted, the drummers thumped, and the dancers
vaulted their admiration of the piety and generosity of Omaree.
Here he was placed in an easy sitting posture, in a commodious arm-chair
that commanded a view of the plantation and the Pacific; where, sheltered
from the meridian sun by a lofty arbour of the climbing _cobea_ and wild
vine tastefully trained through a cluster of cocoa-palms, he was invited
to witness a dramatic representation containing incidents which they knew
his memory reverted to with pride and pleasure. This drama, in which a
great company of performers took part, was carried on with much taste and
spirit. The old priest undertook to translate the most interesting
passages for my edification (still acting as the mouthpiece of his
deceased friend), with the exception of a few "love-passages," as Queen
Elizabeth would have called them, the import of which was sufficiently
perspicuous without verbal comment.
Whilst remaining at Hayti, I took an excursion, on foot and alone, through
the mountains one day, to visit this interesting spot. The ascent to the
cavern was steep and toilsome. I was obliged frequently to change my
course, and pursue a more lengthened route than what my eye had
anticipated; but at length I reached the place, and, pausing a few minutes
to rest after my weary journey, struck a light, and, with lantern in hand,
entered the awful cave. A large stone had been so placed within the
entrance that it might have served for a stopper occasionally. Even in its
withdrawn position I passed it with difficulty. "Now," I exclaimed, "I
shall behold with my own eyes the aboriginal style of burial in these
sacred and almost inaccessible recesses, which that unsatisfactory
historian, Ferdinand Colon, was too lazy to inspect with his own eyes, and
which his father had never seen in all his hunting-matches. Indeed, I don't
think his blood-hounds could climb the ascent to this cave." As I entered,
I felt myself treading on bones! I looked around the narrow chamber of
death, and every where bones--human bones covered the rocky floor; but no
sign of art or trace of religious obsequies rewarded my scrutiny. "Bless
me!" said I, "what a journey I have had for nothing! This is merely the
ordinary HOTTENTOT-HOLE style, with a stone instead of a thorn-bush to
exclude wild beasts!" So I hastened forth, blaming the easy credulity that
drank in traditionary tales of aboriginal tombs. At the entrance I found a
negro standing, leaning on his musket; a brace of pistols were stuck in
his girdle, and a sword hung by his side. I was rather startled, for the
man possessed a fierce and threatening aspect, and I was perfectly
defenceless. Nevertheless there was are air of manly dignity about him
which assured me that he was not likely to be unnecessarily savage. _"Qui
vive?"_ demanded he, sternly. I explained my views in coming to this
secluded spot. He unbent his dark brow on hearing that I was an Englishman.
"Behold that noble expanse!" said he, changing his tone and language
together. "The guileless race whose bones whiten this rocky den once
ranged over that lovely landscape in peace and freedom. The white savages
came, and were received as brethren. They threw off the mask, and repaid
friendship and love with bonds and tortures. The red man was too innocent,
and too ignorant, and too feeble, to co-exist under the same sky with the
cunning and ferocious white demon--and he retired to his caves to die! His
race is extinct, for _he knew not the use of arms_!" He clasped his musket
to his breast with emotion, and remained silent. "Who are you that feel so
much for the exterminated Haytians?" I inquired. "Their avenger!" he
replied, "and the champion of a darker race whose wrongs can never have
vengeance enough. Christophe!"
* * * * *
"You shall see the '_Dead men's feast_,'" said Logan. I followed him in
silence, till we reached the southern bank of the Ohio, not far from his
own residence. The tribe was seated in a beautiful and secluded _prairie_,
that just afforded a vista of the river through the cypress swamp between.
A number of men and women seemed busily engaged in the decoration of
others with belts, beads, and brilliant-coloured garments; and these
latter seemed passive or asleep. Logan laid down the load he carried in
his blanket, and unwrapped the burden that had so long attracted my
attention. "'Tis my grandsire!" said he: "he has only been two years
buried:--I have brought him far. Aid me to cleanse the brave old limbs and
skull from these worms, that his spirit may rejoice over the feast with
his red children. Haste! my father yonder is painted and dressed already."
* * * * *
Before I quitted Kentucky, I made a point of visiting the celebrated and
immense nitre caverns or catacombs of the limestone region. Here I found
the mummies of the pigmy race that once inhabited the gigantic valley of
the Mississippi, adorned with strings of shell-wampum and turkeys'
feathers--seated in death like the ancient Naso-menes, grinning at me with
their long _inhuman_ fore-teeth--and came out as wise as I went in.
* * * * *
"O," said the captain, "a burial in Canada is no trifle in winter. Just
before you arrived, our drummer died, and we mustered spades, picks, and
shovels, to dig a grave for him; but the ground was one rock every where,
and after trying twenty places we found--that we had spoiled our tools. It
took the armourer next day to steel them all. The third day we got down
four inches and a half, in the softest soil we could find; but it would
only grind up pinch by pinch. The fourth day the armourer was at work
again. The fifth day the whole company turned out in a rage with the
ground, and having got under the frost in some degree, sunk the grave full
nine inches more. This night another soldier, a corporal, died; and his
comrades were almost dead with disappointment and vexation. The bodies
would keep in the frost very well; but we had not a spare room in the
barrack, and their comrades wanted to get them out of the way of a wedding.
Well, sir, the sixth day I divided the garrison in two, and set them at
separate graves; but, unluckily, they drank to keep up their spirits in
the battle with the frost, and fought about the corporal's right of
priority, and the freezing point of brandy. Worst of all, they forgot to
cover the new picked surfaces with straw and blankets, so that when they
came in the morning the points of attack were as invulnerable as ever. In
despair they buried both in one grave--the corporal undermost--without
further efforts to attain a decent depth. As to six feet, it was quite
unfathomable. They heaped all the stones they could loosen over the bodies,
and the chaplain read prayers at last, after a 'week's preparation' and
suspense, 'snow to snow, and ice to ice.' That night a herd of wolves
came prowling by, and carried the corporal and drummer along with them.
The fifer--an Irish rascal--was laughing heartily the whole week; and it
was he set up the corporal's claim to the deep grave, to have his joke out.
When all was over, the sergeant reported him to me, for bragging 'that he
could have buried them six feet deep himself in two hours, and have
covered them up so _nately_ after, that the devil couldn't stick a tooth
in them; but he had kept the secret to be revenged of the corporal, who
had 'listed him one day,' and of the drummer who had 'flogged him.'
'Please your honour,' said he, when called before me, 'I was _sartain_ you
wished to find work for us this _cowld_ weather, and it wouldn't become
_me_ to say what your honour knew as well as myself--that a rousing fire
would soften any frost; and sure, only I know you compassionated the poor
starving wolves, I'd have thrown a few buckets of water through the
grave-stones, and clinched 'em as tight as the bars of Newgate.'"
The fertilizing properties of an individual in the _chemical_ stage of his
existence, seem only to have been fully recognised since the memorable
battle of Waterloo; the fields of which now annually wave with luxuriant
corn-crops, unequalled in the annals of "the old prize-fighting ground of
Flanders." I have no doubt, however, that the cerealia of _La Belle
Alliance_ would have been much more nutritive if the top-dressing which
the plain received during the three days of June, 1815, had not been
robbed of its stamina by London dentists, who carried off the soldiers'
teeth in hogsheads; and by Yorkshire bone-grubbers, who freighted several
transports with the skeletons of regiments of troopers, as well as
troop-horses, to be ground to dust in Kingston-upon-Hull, and drilled with
turnip seed in the chalky districts of the North and West Ridings of
Yorkshire. The corn of Waterloo is thus cheated of its phosphate of lime;
but the spirits of Cyrus the Great and Numa the Wise, who had a fair
knowledge of the fructifying capabilities of the "human form divine," must
rejoice in beholding how effectually the fertilizing dust pushes the young
Globes, Swedes, and Tankards into their rough leaves, that bid defiance to
that voracious "Yorkshire bite" _the turnip fly_.
* * * * *
ANGEL OF WELCOME.
Hail, new-waked atom of the Eternal Whole,
Young voyager upon Time's rapid river!
Hail to thee, Human Soul,
Hail, and for ever!
CHORUS OF CHERUBIM.
A life has just begun!
A life has just begun!
Another soul has won
The glorious spark of being!
Pilgrim of life all hail!
He who at first called forth,
From nothingness the earth;
Who piled the mighty hills, and dug the sea,
Who gave the stars to gem
Night like a diadem,
Thou little child, made thee!
Young creature of the earth,
Fair as its flowers, though brought in sorrow forth,
Hail, all hail.
ANGEL OF WELCOME.
The Heavens themselves shall vanish as a scroll;
The solid Earth dissolve; the Sun grow pale,
But thou, oh Human Soul,
Shalt be immortal. Hail!
CHORUS OF CHERUBIM.
A life has just begun!
A life has just begun!
Another soul has won
The glorious spark of being!
Oh young immortal, hail!
He before whom are dim
Seraph and cherubim;
Who gave the archangels strength and majesty,
Who sits upon Heaven's throne,
The Everlasting One,
Oh blessed child, made thee!
Fair creature of the earth,
Heir of immortal life, though mortal in thy birth,
Hail, all hail.
DIRGE OF DEATH.
ANGEL OF DEPARTURE.
Shrink not, oh Human Spirit,
The Everlasting Arm is strong to save.
Look up--look up, frail nature, put thy trust
In Him who went down mourning to the dust,
And overcame the grave.
CHORUS OF MINISTERING SPIRITS.
'Tis nearly done,
Life's work is nearly done,
Watching and weariness and strife.
One little struggle more,
One pang and it is o'er,
Then farewell life.
Farewell, farewell, farewell.
Kind friends, 'tis nearly past,
Come, come and look your last.
Sweet children, gather near,
And that last blessing hear,--
See how he loved you, who departeth now.
And, with thy trembling step, and pallid brow,
Oh most beloved one
Whose breast he leant upon,
Come, faithful unto death,
And take his latest breath.
ANGEL OF DEPARTURE.
Hail, disenthralled spirit;
Thou that the wine-press of the field hast trod:
On, blest Immortal, on, through boundless space,
And stand with thy Redeemer face to face,
And bow before thy God.
CHORUS OF MINISTERING SPIRITS.
'Tis done--'tis done;
Life's weary work is done;
Now the glad spirit leaves the clay,
And treads with winged ease
The bright acclivities
Of Heaven's crystalline way;
Joy to thee, Blessed one.
Lift up, lift up thine eyes,
Yonder is Paradise;
And this fair shining band
Are spirits of thy land;
And these, that throng to meet thee, are thy kin,
Who have awaited thee, redeemed from sin.
Bright spirit, thou art blest.
This city's name is Rest;
Here sin and sorrow cease,
And thou hast won its peace,
Joy to thee, Blessed One.
_New Monthly Magazine_.
* * * * *
NOTES OF A READER.
Mr. Allan Cunningham has completed his fifth volume of the _Lives of the
most eminent British Painters, Sculptors, and Architects_. It contains
Jameson, Ramsey, Romney, Runciman, Copley, Mortimer, Raeburn, Hoppner,
Owen, Harlow, and Bonington; all sketched in the author's most felicitous
style. The memoir of Bonington is of peculiar interest, since all our
readers must recollect the premature death of that promising artist. Mr.
Cunningham observes of his last days:
"I know not whether Bonington was at all aware in these days that a
visible decay had come upon him, and that in the regretful opinion of many
he was a man marked out for an early grave: whatever he might feel or
surmise, he said nothing, but continued to employ his pencil with all the
ardour of the most flourishing health. He rose early and studied late; nor
did he allow any piece to go hastily from his hand. The French, who are
quick in discerning and generous in acknowledging merit, not only
applauded his works from the outset, but watched his progress and
improvement, and eagerly compared the marine paintings of the young
Englishman with the standard works of the artists of their own country.
M. Gros, who, it seems, had for some unrecorded reason closed his _atelier_
against him, was so touched by his fine works, that he ere long recalled
him with commendations; and, in the presence of his pupils, said, he
considered it an honour to have him in his studio. A more moderate style
of rapture was to be expected from his own countrymen; nevertheless, cold
as English approbation of talent may seem, his works were welcomed here as
few works of art have been welcomed. His extreme modesty was somewhat
against his success: he was fearful of being thought presuming and forward;
and has been known to shrink from introductions to men of rank and talent,
from a doubt of his own deservings. A letter to me from Mrs. Forster, a
lady distinguished by her own talent as well as from being the daughter of
Banks the sculptor, contains the following passage:--'When Bonington
visited England, in 1827, I gave him a letter of introduction to Sir
Thomas Lawrence, but he returned to Paris without having delivered it. On
my inquiring why he had not waited on the President, he replied,--"I don't
think myself worthy of being introduced to him yet, but after another year
of hard study I may be more deserving of the honour." The following spring
he went to London with his pictures; those which brought him such well
merited fame. He carried a letter from me to Sir Thomas, which he
presented, and was received into his friendship; but, alas! it was of
short duration; for the great success of his works, the almost numberless
orders which he received for pictures and drawings, together with
unremitting study, brought on a brain fever, from which he recovered only
to sink in a rapid decline.' All other accounts concur with that of Mrs.
Forster, in attributing his illness to the accumulation of pressing
commissions: he viewed the amount with nervous dismay; he became deeply
affected; his appetite failed; his looks denoted anguish of body and mind;
a quick and overmastering consumption left him strength scarcely
sufficient to bring him to London, where he arrived about the middle of
September, 1828. The conclusion of his career was thus related to Mrs.
Forster by Sir Thomas Lawrence:--'Your sad presage has been too fatally
verified; the last duties have just been paid to the lamented Mr.
Bonington. Except in the case of Mr. Harlow, I have never known, in my own
time, the early death of talent so promising, and so rapidly and obviously
improving. If I may judge from the later direction of his studies, and
from remembrance of a morning's conversation, his mind seemed expanding in
every way, and ripening into full maturity of taste and elevated judgment,
with that generous ambition which makes confinement to lesser departments
in the art painfully irksome and annoying.
"But the fair guerdon when we hope to find
Comes the blind Fury with th' abhorred shears,
And slits the thin-spun life'"
Having not quite finished his 27th year, he died calmly on the 23rd of
September, 1828, and was interred in the vault of St. James's Church,
Pentonville, in the presence of Lawrence, and Howard, and Robson, and the
Rev. J.T. Judkin,--himself a skilful painter--an ardent admirer and
"Bonington was tall, well, and even to appearance, strongly formed. 'His
countenance,' says the French biographer, 'was truly English; and we loved
him for his melancholy air, which became him more than smiles.' The memory
of his person will soon wear away; but it will fare otherwise with his
fame. He lived long enough to assert his title to a high place amongst
English landscape-painters, and had produced works which bid fair to be
ranked permanently with the foremost. They are not numerous, but for that
very reason they will, perhaps, be the more prized. A series of engravings
amounting to some four and twenty, has been published by Carpenter, from
pictures of this artist, some in his own possession, some in the galleries
of the Marquess of Lansdown, the Duke of Bedford, and other patrons of art.
The best of these are the landscapes; and of the landscapes, the worthiest
are of mingled sea and land--pieces distinguished by great picturesque
beauty, and singular grace of execution. His practice was to sketch in the
outline and general character, and then make accurate studies of the local
light-and-shade, and colour. His handling was delicate and true, and his
colouring clear and harmonious. It cannot, however, be denied, that he
wants vigour and breadth; that his more poetic scenes are too light and
slim; and his express copies from nature too literal and real. He was a
softer sort of Gainsborough, with more than his grace, and with not a
little of his taste for scattering happy and characteristic groups among
landscape scenes--but, it must be added, with only a far-off approach, to
the strength of that great master. That, had his life been prolonged, he
would have risen to very high distinction, cannot be doubted. It was his
generous dream, we are told, to acquire a competency by painting
commissions, and then dedicate his time and pencil to historical
compositions,--a dream which many artists have dreamed; but his works have
little of the epic in them. Nature gave him good advice, when she directed
his steps to the surf-beat shore, and bade him paint the swelling tide,
the busy boats, fishermen drying their nets, and the sea-eagle looking
from the rock upon his wide and, to him, fruitful dominion."
* * * * *
MISS KEMBLE'S TRAGEDY.
I passed him with his train,
The gathering crowd thronging and clamouring
Around him, stunning him with benedictions,
And stifling him with love and fumes of garlic;
He, with the air he knows so well to don,
With cap in hand, and his thick chestnut hair
Fann'd from his forehead, bowing to his saddle,
Smiling and nodding, cursing at them too
For hindering his progress--while his eye,
His eagle eye, well versed in such discernment,
Roved through the crowd; and ever lighted where
Some pretty ancle, clad in woollen hose,
Peeped from beneath a short round petticoat,
Or where some wealthy burgher's buxom dame,
Decked out in all her high-day splendour, stood
Showing her gossips the gold chain, which lay
Cradled upon a bosom, whiter far
Than the pure lawn that kerchieft it.
Had a limner's hand
Traced such a heavenly brow, and such a lip,
I would have sworn the knave had dreamt it all
In some fair vision of some fairer world.
See how she stands, all shrined in loveliness;
Her white hands clasped; her clustering locks thrown back
From her high forehead; and in those bright eyes
Tears! radiant emanations! drops of light!
That fall from those surpassing orbs as though
The starry eyes of heaven wept silver dew.
A BETROTHED LOVER'S FAREWELL.
Ay; but ere I go, perchance for ever, lady,
Unto the land, whose dismal tales of battles,
Where thousands strew'd the earth, have christen'd it
The Frenchman's grave; I'd speak of such a theme
As chimes with this sad hour, more fitly than
Its name gives promise. There's a love, which born
In early days, lives on through silent years,
Nor ever shines, but in the hour of sorrow,
When it shows brightest: like the trembling light
Of a pale sunbeam, breaking o'er the face
Of the wild waters in their hour of warfare.
Thus much forgive; and trust, in such an hour,
I had not said e'en this, but for the hope
That when the voice of victory is heard
From the fair Tuscan valleys, in its swell
Should mournful dirges mingle for the dead,
And I be one of those who are at rest,
You may chance recollect this word, and say,
That day, upon the bloody field, there fell
One who had loved thee long, and loved thee well.
A MONK'S CURSE.
Hear me, thou hard of heart:
They who go forth to battle, are led on
With sprightly trumpets and shrill clam'rous clarions!
The drum doth roll its double notes along,
Echoing the horses' tramp; and the sweet fife
Runs through the yielding air in dulcet measure,
That makes the heart leap in its case of steel;
Thou--shalt be knell'd unto thy death by bells,
Pond'rous and brazen-tongued, whose sullen toll
Shall cleave thine aching brain, and on thy soul
Fall with a leaden weight: the muffled drum
Shall mutter round thy path like distant thunder:
'Stead of the war-cry, and wild battle roar,--
That swells upon the tide of victory,
And seems unto the conqueror's eager ear
Triumphant harmony of glorious discords:
There shall be voices cry, Foul shame on thee;
And the infuriate populace shall clamour
To heaven for lightnings on thy rebel head.
* * * * *
SUPERSTITIONS, FABLES, &c. RELATIVE TO ANIMALS.
(_For the Mirror_.)
A superstition prevails both in England and Scotland (Qu. Are Wales and
Ireland excepted?) that _Goats_ are never to be seen for twenty-four hours
together, owing to their paying Satan a visit once during that period, to
have their beards combed; indeed, since the classical representations of
Pan and the satyrs, from whose semi-brutal figures we derive our own
superstitious idea of the form of the evil one, goats, rams, and pongos
have shared with serpents and cats the obloquy of being in a manner his
animal symbols. The offensive smell of this animal is thus accounted for
by the natives of South Guinea:--
Having requested a female deity to allow them to use an aromatic ointment
which she used, the enraged goddess rubbed them with one of a very
different description, and the smell of this has been ever since retained
by the descendants of the presumptuous offenders.
We may here remark, that of late years some doubts have arisen, and not
without foundation, respecting the wholesomeness of goats' milk, hitherto
believed to be, in many respects, superior even to that of the cow. The
goat was much venerated by the ancient Egyptians, and never sacrificed,
because Pan was represented with the legs and feet of that animal, but the
Greeks destroyed it on account of its cropping the vines.
Few animals have been the cause, perhaps, of so many superstitions as the
common domestic _Cat_; most of them are too well known here to require
repetition, but the still prevalent, popular prejudice that this creature
sucks the breath of sleepers, especially children, and thereby kills them,
has been signally refuted by modern naturalists, who observe, that even if
it were capable of drawing a person's breath thus, the construction of its
mouth renders it impossible to impede the respiration of the slumberer
through mouth and nostrils at the same time; this vulgar superstition
probably arose from cats liking to lie warm, and nestling consequently in
beds, cribs, and cradles. To dream of cats is considered unlucky, denoting
treachery and quarrels on the part of friends. Cats, from no apparent
cause, seeming shy, agitated, and traversing the house uttering cries, as
if alarmed, is believed to forbode sudden and causeless strife between the
members of the families with whom they reside. That the breath of these
animals is poisonous, that they can play with serpents and remain
uninjured, whilst their fur communicates the infection of the venom of
those reptiles, that they lend themselves readily to infernal agents and
purposes, that certain portions of their bodies possess magical properties
and were efficacious in the preparation of charmed potions, and that they
are partly supernatural creatures, endowed with a power of bringing good
or evil fortune upon their possessors, with other facts just as credible,
was once devoutly believed by the illiterate, as it is partially at this
_Dogs_ are generally supposed to possess the faculty of beholding spirits
when they are invisible to mortals, and of foretelling death by lamentable
howls. It is lucky to be followed by a strange dog. The Welch believe in
the apparition of certain spirits under the form of hunting dogs, which
they call dogs of the sky (cwn wybir, or cwn aunwy:) they indicate the
death of a relation or friend of the person to whom they appear, but
though generally accompanied by fire, are innocuous. The tradition of the
Spectre Hound of Peel Castle (Isle of Man) or _Manthe Doog_, is well
known. The religious superstition of Mahommedans lead them to consider the
dog as an unclean animal; but the dog of the Seven Sleepers, according to
a tale in the Koran, is, say the faithful, the only animal admitted into
heaven. A more sweet and soothing creed is held by "the untutored Indian,"
who believes that the faithful companion of his laborious mortal career
will accompany him into the everlasting regions; and, indeed, the idea
that animals possess actually an inferior soul, and that, maltreated as
they are on earth, they too have their appropriate heaven, has by many
been considered a speculation less superstitious than truly philosophical.
The miraculous circumstance of Balaam's _Ass_ being empowered to behold
that startling apparition which his rider's eyes were holden so that he
could not see, may have originated the superstition that animals behold
spirits when they are invisible to man. _Horses_, from frequently starting
at no apparent cause, have thus been placed amongst the seers. In the
Highlands it is deemed lucky to meet a horse; but, according to Virgil,
the sight of one of these animals was ominous of war, the reason for which
may be found in a horse being as a martial animal dedicated to the god of
war. The Persians, Armenians, and other ancient nations sacrificed horses
to the sun. Tacitus says the Suevi maintained white horses in the several
woods at the public charge, to draw omens from them; and there are to this
day vestiges in England of some superstition relative to white horses, and
of supposed Danish origin.
The _Hyaena_ has been the subject of strange fables: its neck was supposed
to be jointless, consisting but of one bone, and considered of great
efficacy in magical preparations; and the Arabs to this day, when they
kill this fierce animal, bury its head, lest it should be made the element
of some charm against them. It was believed to possess the power of
changing its sex annually; to be able to fascinate shepherds by its eyes
and render them motionless, and its cognomen, "_Laughing_" is, of course,
derived from the idea of its being able to imitate the human voice.
The ancients believed that if a man encountered a _Wolf_, and the animal
first fixed its eyes upon him, he was deprived for ever of the power of
speech: connected with these ferocious brutes is the fearful superstition
of the _Lycanthropos_, _Were-wulf, _Loup-garou,_ or _Man-wolf_. "These
_were-wolves_," says Verstegan, "are certain sorcerers, who having
anointed their bodies with an ointment they make by the instinct of the
devil, and putting on a certain enchanted girdle, do not only unto the
view of others seem as wolves, but to their own thinking have both the
shape and nature of wolves so long as they wear the said girdle; and they
do dispose themselves as very wolves, in worrying, and killing, and waste
of human creatures." The Germans had a similar superstition regarding
wolves, and the same respecting the wild boar; and with these let us
compare the British belief, that warlocks and weird women possess the
power of transforming themselves into hares, cats, &c.
_Swine_, which are strangely uneasy in or against tempestuous weather, are
believed to see the wind. In some parts of Great Britain it is a popular
belief that, on commencing a journey, if a sow and pigs be met it will
prove successful, but if a sow only crosses the road, the traveller, if he
cannot pass, must ride round about it, otherwise ill luck will attend him.
(_To be continued_.)
 Much of the ill-treatment of the Cat has arisen from its being
invariably the attendant of reputed Witches. (_See page 174, of the
present Sheet_.) In later times the practice of such cruelties may be
referred to the vituperations of naturalists: surely Buffon is among
them. We are happy to see that our Correspondent, M.L.B. writes in the
kindlier spirit towards the poor, persecuted Cat.--ED.M.
* * * * *
THE SELECTOR; AND LITERARY NOTICES OF _NEW WORKS_.
ADVENTURES OF A YOUNGER SON.
We continue our extracts from this extraordinary work.
"Madagascar is one of the largest and most fertile islands in the world;
nearly nine hundred miles in length, and three hundred and fifty in its
greatest breadth. There is a chain of glorious mountains, winding through
its entire length, of varied height, whence many large and navigable
rivers take their source. The interior of this vast island, and its
inhabitants, are little known; but those parts on the coast which, at that
time and afterwards, I have frequently visited, give abundant indications
that nature has here scattered her riches with no stinting hand. Nothing
seems wanting but knowledge to place this magnificent island in the
foremost rank of great and powerful empires. When I was there, the line,
distinguishing the man from the animal, was hardly visible."
"It is worthy of remark that, regarding climate, this island has a
peculiarity I never remember to have found in any other in India. Other
islands are comparatively cool and pleasant on the coasts, and close and
unhealthy in the interior, unless on the heights. Here it is reversed: the
entire coast is so scorchingly hot, and the air so bad, that at Port
St. Louis, and other places round, no one dares venture out in the daytime
during six months of the year, as he may be almost certain of having a
sun-stroke, which occasions a brain-fever, the malignant fever, cholera
morbus, or dysentery; while, at the same period, in the interior,
particularly on the windward side, the air is temperate and salubrious.
For six months in the year, from November to April, the town of St. Louis
is insufferably and noxiously hot; scarcely any one but the slaves could
be induced to remain there, the free inhabitants departing for the
interior. Then again, the dry months at Port St. Louis are the rainy ones
in the central parts; and, whilst the fiercest hurricanes are raging on
the coast, a few miles in-land all is calm and sunshine. I have repeatedly
witnessed this; and it is strange in so small an island."
"De Ruyter now came up, and we suddenly stood on the elevated plain,
called Vacois, in the centre of the island. Our ascent had been very
abrupt, winding, and rugged. Before us, in the middle of the plain, on
which we now rode, was the pyramidical mountain, _Piton du Milieu_.
Inclining to our right was the port and town of St. Louis. To the south
were large plains, in rich vegetation, divided by a fine river, with one
solitary hill. To the north were other plains, inclining to the sea, white
as if the briny waters had recently receded from them, and only partially
cultivated with sugar-canes, indigo, and in the marshy spots, with rice.
From south to east it was volcanic and mountainous, with jungle and
ancient forests. The north-east was, for the most part, level. The plain,
where we were, was full of little sheets of deep water, forming themselves
into pretty lakes; which, overflowing during the heavy rains, at times
made the plain swampy, and ever overgrown with canes, reeds, and gigantic
grass. Such was the diversified and beautiful scenery now disclosed, as
the sun, having risen above the mountain in the east, dissipated the
yellow mists, and laid bare the hitherto obscured beauties of this divine
island, like a virgin unrobed for bathing."
"We alighted under the shade of a group of the rose-apple trees, which
seemed to have drawn a charmed circle round a solitary oak, on the brink
of a lake, clear as a diamond, and apparently of amazing depth, the golden
Chinese fish sporting on its surface, and green, yellow, and blue
dragon-flies darting here and there above it. The modest wood-pigeon and
dove, disturbed in their morning ablutions, flew away to the woods. The
gray partridge ran into the vacour, which stood in thick lines on the
brink, impenetrable from its long fibrous leaves, standing out like a
phalanx of lances. The water-hens dived, and the parrots chattered on the
trees, as if they had been peopled with scolding married women; whilst the
sluggish baboon sat, with portly belly, gormandizing with the voracity and
gravity of a monk, regardless of all but the stuffing of his insatiable
maw with bananas."
"We were told that there were, in this lake, prawns as big as lobsters,
and eels of incredible size, from fifteen to twenty feet long. The two
principal rivers took their rise from this plain, augmenting in their
course by the tribute of an infinity of streamlets; till swollen into bulk
and strength, like two rival monarchs, they ran parallel for a awhile,
trying to outvie each other in pomp and velocity, springing over their
rocky beds. After some distance they separated to the right and left, and
passed through their different districts, to pay, in their turn, tribute
to the mightier ocean."
"We left the lake on our right, skirted the base of _Piton du Milieu_,
over a volcanic soil of pulverized cinders, and, by gentle descents,
proceeded towards the south. Again we were among mountains, passing green
lawns, and marshes overgrown with vitti-vert, (which is used for
thatching,) fern, marsh mallows, waving bamboos, and wild tobacco. We saw
plantations of the manioc, (bread-fruit,) maize, sweet potatoes, the
cotton-tree, the sugar-cane, coffee, and cloves. Then we crossed rocky
channels of clear rippling water, hedged by dwarf oaks and the
dusky-coloured olive, underneath which flourished the dark-green fig-tree,
with its strawberry-red marrowy fruit, bared by the bursting of its
emerald-green rind. Here the majestic palmiste towered grandly alone,
crowned with its first, tardy, and only fruit; and when deprived of that
diadem, like earthly monarchs, it perishes. We penetrated the wild native
woods, where grew the iron-wood tree, the oak, the black cinnamon, the
apple, the acacia, the tamarind, and the nutmeg. Our path was arched by
wild vines, jessamine, and a multitude of deep scarlet-blossomed creepers,
so thickly interlaced in their living cordage, that neither sun nor storm
could penetrate them; or if a wandering beam found entrance through the
thick natural trellice-work, it was only enough to cover some little tuft
of violets or strawberries, its own offspring, growing up in its genial
warmth with a strength and vigour pre-eminent amidst the pale and sickly
brood of the neglected children of the shade. Nothing I had ever imagined
of the loveliness of nature equalled the reality of these scenes."
_Coffee in the East_.
"On entering the zennanah, the old governante, Kamalia, having counted us
on her four skinny fingers, proceeded to fulfil that sacred rite, never
omitted in the east, of presenting refreshments; without the heartless and
niggardly-ceremony of appealing to the guests, as is wont in Europe, to
learn whether they will take them or not, looking on those who receive
them with an evil eye. I followed Kamalia to know how the genuine oriental
coffee is made. Good mussulmans can alone make good coffee; for, being
interdicted from the use of ardent spirits, their palate is more exquisite
and their relish greater."
"Thus it is:--A bright charcoal fire was burning in a small stove. She
first took, for four persons, four handsful of the small, pale, mocha
berry, little bigger than barley. These had been carefully picked and
cleaned. She put them into an iron vessel, where, with admirable quickness
and dexterity, they were roasted till their colour was somewhat darkened,
and the moisture not exhaled. The over-roasted ones were picked out, and
the remainder, while very hot, put into a large wooden mortar, where they
were instantly pounded by another woman. This done, Kamalia passed the
powder through a camel's-hair cloth; and then repassed it through a finer
cloth. Meanwhile a coffee-pot, containing exactly four cups of water, was
boiling. This was taken off, one cup of water poured out, and three cups
full of the powder, after she had ascertained its impalpability between
her finger and thumb, were stirred in with a stick of cinnamon. When
replaced on the fire on the point of over-boiling, it was taken off, the
heel of the pot struck against the hob, and again put on the fire. This
was repeated five or six times. I forgot to mention she added a very
minute piece of mace, not enough to make its flavour distinguishable; and
that the coffee-pot must be of tin, and uncovered, or it cannot form a
thick cream on the surface, which it ought to do. After it was taken, for
the last time, from the fire, the cup of water, which had been poured from
it, was returned. It was then carried into the room, without being
disturbed, and instantly poured into the cups, where it retained its rich
cream at the top."
"Thus made, its fragrance filled the room, and nothing could be more
delicious to the palate. So far from its being a long and tedious process,
as it may appear in narrating, old Kamalia allowed herself only two
minutes for each person; so that from the time of her leaving the room to
her return, no more than eight minutes had elapsed."
To interesting sketches we can only add a scene of sea sport off Fort
Rotterdam, at Macassar, an island between Java and Borneo; shaped like a
huge tarantula, a small body, with four disproportionately long legs,
which stretch into the sea in narrow and lengthened peninsulas. The locale
"My hawk-eyed Arab now pointed out to me a line of dark spots, moving
rapidly in the water, rounding the arm of the sea, and entering the great
bay. At first I thought they were canoes capsized, coming in keel
uppermost; but the Arab declared they were sharks, and said, 'The bay is
called Shark's Bay; and their coming in from the sea is an infallible sign
of bad weather.' A small pocket-telescope convinced me they were large
blue sharks. I counted eight; their fins and sharp backs were out of the
water. After sailing majestically up the great bay till they came opposite
the mouth of a smaller one, they turned towards it in a regular line; one
the largest I had seen any where, taking the lead, like an admiral. He had
attained the entrance, with the other seven following, when some monsters
arose from the bottom, near the shore, where he had been lurking, opposed
his further progress, and a conflict instantly ensued. The daring
assailant I distinguished to be a sword-fish, or sea-unicorn, the
knight-errant of the sea, attacking every thing in its domain; his head is
as hard and as rough as a rock, out of the centre of which grows
horizontally an ivory spear, longer and far tougher than any warrior's
lance; with this weapon he fights. The shark, with a jaw larger and
stronger than a crocodile's, with a mouth deeper and more capacious,
strikes also with his tail, in tremendous force and rapidity, enabling him
to repel any sudden attack by confusing or stunning his foe, till he can
turn on his back, which he is obliged to do ere he can use his mouth. This
wily and experienced shark, not daring to turn and expose his more
vulnerable parts to the formidable sword of his enemy, lashed at him with
his heavy tail, as a man uses a flail, working the water into a syllabub.
Meanwhile, in honour, I suppose, or in the love of fair play, his seven
compatriot sharks stood aloof, lying to with their fins, in no degree
interfering in the fray. Frequently I could observe, by the water's
eddying in concentric ripples, that the great shark had sunk to the bottom,
to seek refuge there, or elude his enemy by beating up the sand; or, what
is more probable, by this manoeuvre to lure the sword-fish downwards,
which, when enraged, will blindly plunge its armed head against a rock, in
which case its horn is broken; or, if the bottom is soft, it becomes
transfixed, and then would fall an easy prey. De Ruyter, while in a
country vessel, had her struck by one of these fish, (perhaps mistaking
her for a whale, which, though of the same species, it often attacks,)
with such velocity and force, that its sword passed completely through the
bow of the vessel: and, having been broken by the shock, it was with great
difficulty extracted. It measured seven feet; about one foot of it, the
part attached to the head, was hollow, and the size of my wrist; the
remainder was solid, and very heavy, being indeed the exquisite ivory of
which the eastern people manufacture their beautiful chess-men. But to
return to our sea-combat, which continued a long time, the shark evidently
getting worsted. Possibly the bottom, which was clear, was favourable for
his enemy; whose blow, if he succeeds in striking while the shark is
descending, is fatal. I think he had struck him, for the blue shark is
seldom seen in shoal or discoloured water; yet now he floundered on
towards the bottom of the bay, madly lashing the water into foam, and
rolling and pitching like a vessel dismasted. For a few minutes his
conqueror pursued him, then wheeled round and disappeared; while the shark
grounded himself on the sand, where he lay writhing and lashing the shore
feebly with his tail. His six companions, with seeming unconcern, wore
round, and slowly moving down the bay, returned by the outlet at which
they had entered. Hastening down to the scene of action, I saw no more of
them. My boat's crew were assembled at the bottom of the bay, firing
muskets at the huge monster as he lay aground; before I could join them,
he was despatched, and his dead carcass laid on the beach like a stranded
vessel. Leaving him and them, I ran along the beach for half a mile to
regain Zela's tent."
* * * * *
(_From Howell's Letters, 1647_.)
We need not cross the sea for examples of this kind, we have too many (God
wot) at home: King James a great while was loth to believe there were
witches; but that which happened to my Lord Francis of Rutland's children,
convinced him, who were bewitched by an old woman that was servant at
Belvoir Castle, but being displeased, she contracted with the devil, who
conversed with her in form of a cat, whom she called Rutterkin, to make
away those children, out of mere malignity, and thirst of revenge.
* * * * *
A RICH MAN.
"Among the many and various hospitals," says Sir William Temple, "that are
every man's curiosity and talk, that travels their country, I was affected
with none more than that of the aged seamen at Enchuysen, which is
contrived, finished, and ordered, as if it were done with a kind of
intention of some well-natured man, that those who had been their whole
lives in the hardships and incommodities of the sea, should find a retreat
with all the eases and conveniences that old age is capable of feeling and
enjoying. And here I met with the _only_ rich man that I ever saw in my
life--for one of these old seamen entertaining me a good while with the
plain stories of his fifty years voyages and adventures, while I was
viewing the hospital and the church adjoining; I gave him, at parting, a
piece of their coin, about the value of a crown; he took it and smiled,
and offered it me again; but when I refused it, he asked me 'What he
should do with money?' I left him to overcome his modesty as he could; but
a servant coming after me, saw him give it to a little girl that opened
the church door, as she passed by him; which made me reflect upon the
fantastic calculation of riches and poverty that is current in the world,
by which a man that wants a million, is a prince; he that wants but a
groat is a beggar; and this was a poor man that wanted nothing at all."
* * * * *
_Nicknames_.--John Magee, formerly the printer of the _Dublin Evening
Post_, was full of shrewdness and eccentricity. Several prosecutions were
instituted against him by the government, and many "keen encounters of the
tongue" took place on these occasions between him and John Scott, Lord
Clonmel, who was at the period Chief Justice of the King's Bench. In
addressing the court in his own defence, Magee had occasion to allude to
some public character, who was better known by a familiar designation. The
official gravity of Clonmel was disturbed; and he, with bilious asperity
reproved the printer, by saying,--"Mr. Magee, we allow no nicknames in
this court." "Very well, _John Scott_," was the reply.
* * * * *
_A Village Hampden_.--In the churchyard of one of the parishes of Walsall,
Staffordshire, is the following epitaph on a person named Samuel Wilks,
who appears, like other persons of his name, to have been a great stickler
for the rights of the people:--"Reader, if thou art an inhabitant of the
Foreign of Walsall, know that the dust beneath thy feet was imprisoned in
thy cause, because he refused to incorporate the poor-rates of the Foreign
of Walsall and those of the Borough of Walsall. His resistance was
successful. Reader, the benefit is thine."
* * * * *
_Difference between a Town and a Village_.--The other night it was warmly
contested in the Reform debate in the House of Commons, whether Bilston
and Sedgeley, in Staffordshire, were towns or villages. Mr. Croker spoke
of the "village of Bilston," and the "rural district of Sedgeley," but Sir
John Wrottesley maintained that the right hon. gentleman would find
nothing in Bilston that would give him any idea of sweet Auburn. "He would
find a large market-town in the parish of Wolverhampton, filled not with
trees and waving foliage, but with long chimneys and smoking steam-engines.
The time was also beyond his memory when Sedgeley was a rural district.
The right hon. gentleman would find there no mossy fountains, no bubbling
brooks; the only thing at all like them which he could find there would be
the torrents of boiling water which the steam-engines perpetually
* * * * *
_Dutch Disgust_.--You might seek through all London to find such a piece
of furniture as a spitting-box. A Dutchman who was very uncomfortable for
the want of one, declared, with great indignation, that an Englishman's
only spitting-box was his stomach.
* * * * *
_Awkward Honour_.--A medical gentleman has written a letter to Sir Henry
Halford on Cholera, in which he takes to himself the credit of being "the
first to discover the disease, and _communicate it to the public_." The
public is much obliged to him.--_Globe_.
* * * * *
_Newspapers_.--We wish Lieutenant Drummond would calculate the miles of
newspaper columns which every club-haunter daily swallows, and the price
he pays for the same to the proprietaries and the revenue.--_Examiner_.
* * * * *
_Scandal_.--The tell-tale trumpery and eaves-dropping with which the "Tour
of a German Prince" is trickseyed out, reminds us of an observation by
Lady Morgan: "Admit these fellows into your house, and the only return
they will make you is to put you in their book."
* * * * *
_Yorkshire Fun_.--The assizes and the theatre always open together at York,
and it is common to hear the Tykes say, "Eh, lad, ther'l be fun next week;
t'pla'ctors is cuming, and t'men's to be hung all at t'syame time."--
* * * * *
_Ancient Drunkenness in London_.--Andrews in his _History of Great
Britain_, says, "In the 16th century drinking had its votaries in
abundance. Much time was spent by the citizens of London at their numerous
taverns." In the country, if a bitter writer of the time, (Stub's
_Anatomie of Abuse_,) may find credit, every public-house was crowded from
morn till night with determined drunkards. Camden, who also allows the
increase of drunkenness among the English, imputes it to their familiarity
with the Flemings in the Low Country wars.
* * * * *
The taverns of London were many and much frequented. An old bard has
favoured us with a list of them in _Newes from Bartholomew Fayre_, a black
letter poem, the title page of which is torn off, viz.
"There hath been great sale and utterance of wine,
Besides beere, and ale, and ipocras fine,
In every country, region, and nation,
But chiefly in Billingsgate, at the Salutation;
And the Bore's Head, near London Stone,
The Swan at Dowgate, a taverne well known;
The Mitre in Cheape; and then the Bull Head,
And many like places that make noses red;
Th' Bore's Head in Old Fish Street, Three Crowns in the Vintry,
And now, of late, St. Martin's in the Sentree;
The Windmill in Lothbury; the Ship at th' Exchange,
King's Head in New Fish Street, where roysters do range;
The Mermaid in Cornhill, Red Lion in the Strand,
Three Tuns, Newgate Market; Old Fish Street, at the Swan."
The first drinking song that appeared in the English tongue is connected
with _Gammer Gurton's Needle_, and was published in 1551.
* * * * *
_Governesses_.--A lady wrote to her son, requesting him to look out for a
lady, such as she described, and such as is ordinarily expected in a
governess, that is to say, all accomplished, with the disposition of an
angel. The gentleman wrote back that he had long been looking out for such
a person, and that when he found her, he should not recommend her for a
governess, but take her for a wife.--_New Monthly Mag_.
_Counterfeit Kings_.--In the infancy of the Roman Empire, we find a
counterfeit Agrippa, after him a counterfeit Nero; and before them two
counterfeit Alexanders, in Syria. But never was a nation so troubled with
these mock kings as England; a counterfeit Richard II. being made in the
time of Henry IV.; a counterfeit Mortimer in the time of Henry VI.; a
counterfeit Duke of York; a counterfeit Earl of Warwick under Henry VII.;
and a counterfeit Edward VI. under the reign of Queen Mary; and a
counterfeit Protector, in Oliver Cromwell.
* * * * *
_Reading at Meals, &c._--Lectores, among the Romans, were servants in
great men's houses, who were employed in reading while their masters were
at supper. They were called by the Greeks, Anagnostae. Acroama, was a name
given by the Romans to amusing tales, which they recited at their repasts.
The Emperor Severus read himself at table. Atticus never supped without
reading. Charlemagne had the histories and acts of ancient kings read to
him at table. This was a relic of the ancient Greeks, who had the praises
of great men and heroes sung to them while at table. Celsus tells us,
reading is bad, especially after supper, for those whose heads are weak;
but he recommends reading with an audible voice, for such as have weak
* * * * *
_Epigrams from the French._
"On peut, en vous voyant, devenir infidele
Mais c'est pour la derniere fois."
"At sight of thee--each lover false might prove,
But having seen--no other e'er could love."
"Ce monde est plein de fous--et qui n'en veut pas voir
Doit se renfermer seul, et casser son miroir."
"With fools the world abounds--who would their presence shun
Must break his mirror--or he'll there see one."
* * * * *
_Printed and Published by J. LIMBIRD, 143, Strand, (near Somerset House,)
London; sold by ERNEST FLEISCHER, 626, Mew Market, Leipsic; G.G. BENNIS,
55, Rue Neuve, St. Augustin, Paris; and by all Newsmen and Booksellers._
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