The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, Vol. 10,
THE MIRROR OF LITERATURE, AMUSEMENT, AND INSTRUCTION.
VOL. 10, NO. 286.] SATURDAY, DECEMBER 8, 1827. [PRICE 2d.
* * * * *
[Illustration: Caxton's House in the Almonry, Westminster.]
To expatiate on the advantages of printing, at this time of day, would
be "wasteful and ridiculous excess." We content ourselves with the
comparison of Dryden's
"Long trails of light descending down."
In a retrospective glance at our previous volumes (for can the
phrenologists tell us of a head capacious enough to contain their
exhaustless variety?) our readers will perceive that, from time to
time, sundry "accounts" of the origin and progress of printing have
been inserted in the MIRROR; and though we are not vain enough to
consider our sheet as the "refined gold, the lily, the violet, the
ice, or the rainbow," of the poet's perfection, yet in specimens of
the general _economy of the art_, the long-extended patronage of the
public gives us an early place.
With an outline of the life of CAXTON our readers must be already
familiar; but we wish them to consider the above accurate
representation of the FIRST ENGLISH PRINTER'S RESIDENCE as antecedent
to a _Memoir of Caxton_, in which it will be our aim to concentrate,
in addition to biographical details, many important facts from the
testimony of antiquarians; for scarcely a volume of the _Archaeologia_
has appeared without some valuable communication on Caxton and his
In the meantime we proceed with the _locale_ of Caxton's house,
situate on the south-west of Westminster Abbey, where was formerly the
eleemosynary, or almonry, where the alms of the abbots were
distributed. Howell in his _Londinopolis_, describes this as "the spot
where the abbot of Westminster permitted Caxton to set up his press in
the _Almonry_, or Ambry," the former of which names is still retained.
This is confirmed by Newcourt, in his _Repertorium_, who says, "St.
Anne's, an old chapel, over against which the Lady Margaret, mother to
king Henry VII., erected an alms-house for poor women, which is now
turned into lodgings for singing-men of the college. The place wherein
this chapel and alms-house stood was called the Eleemosinary, or
Almonry, now corruptly called the Ambry, (Aumbry,) for that the alms
of the abbey were there distributed to the poor; in which the abbot of
Westminster erected the first press for book-printing that was in
England, about the year of Christ 1471, and where WILLIAM CAXTON,
citizen and mercer of London, who first brought it into England,
practised it." Here he printed _The Game and Play of the Chesse_, said
to be the first book that issued from the press in this country.
Hence, according to Mr. M'Creery, the intelligent author of "The
Press," a poem, "the title of _chapel_ to the internal regulations of
a printing-office originated in Caxton's exercising the profession in
one of the chapels in Westminster Abbey, and may be considered as an
additional proof, from the antiquity of the custom, of his being the
first English printer."
Every lover of science, on approaching this spot, will feel himself on
holy ground, however the idle and incurious of our metropolis may
neglect the scite, or be ignorant of its identity. We are there led
into an eternity of reflection and association of ideas; but lest
human pride should be too fondly feasted in the retrospect, the
hallowed towers of the abbey, seen in the distance, serve to remind us
of the imperial maxim, that "art is long, and life but short."
[Footnote 1: See MIRROR, vol 3, p 194--vol 5. p 311.]
[Footnote 2: We requote this passage from Mr. M'Creery, as it has
already appeared in vol. 5; and in vol. 3, a correspondent denies that
the first English book was printed at Westminster; but we are disposed
to think that an impartial examination of the testimonies on each side
of the controversy will decide in favour of Caxton.]
* * * * *
TEA.--ITS INTRODUCTION INTO ENGLAND.
(A correspondent, who signs _M.M.M._ informs us that the article sent
to us by _P.T.W_. and inserted in No. 280 of the MIRROR, was copied
verbatim from the _Imperial Magazine_, a work which we seldom see, and
consequently we had no opportunity of ascertaining the origin of our
correspondent's paper. It seemed to us a good _cyclopaedian_ article
on the subject, and we accordingly admitted it. We now subjoin
In addition to what has been said in the article upon tea, (by
_P.T.W._) allow me to remark (and which I do not recollect ever to
have seen noticed in any work upon the subject) that the seed is
contained in _two_ vessels, the outer one varying in shape,
triangular, long, and round, according to the number which it contains
of what may be termed inner vessels. The outer vessel of a triangular
shape, measures, from the base to the apex about three quarters of an
inch, and is of a dark brown colour, approaching to black, and thick,
strong, and rough in texture; within this is another vessel,
containing the kernel; this inner vessel is of a light brown colour,
thin, and brittle, in shape, seldom perfectly round, but mostly flat
on one side: there are three of them in a triangular seed vessel, two
in a long one, and one in that which is round. The kernel is of a
brown colour, and in taste very bitter. In no other species of teas
than Bohea, is the large kind of seed found, which is probably owing
to that species being gathered last or in autumn. There is a _small_
seed found mixed with the Congou kind of teas, about the size of a
pea, which is in every respect similar to the large, except in size.
This seed was evidently not permitted to ripen, but the calyx of the
flower connected with the peduncle is quite perfect. The Twankey
species are of the same appearance, all of which I have had ample
opportunity of inspecting.
As an appendage to this note, we are induced to quote the following
pleasant page from _Time's Telescope_ for 1828; and we take this
opportunity of reminding our readers that our customary Supplementary
sheet, containing the spirit of this and other popular Annual Works
will be published with our next Number.
From a single sheet found in Sir Hans Sloane's library, in the British
Museum, and printed by Mr. Ellis in his Original Letters, _Second
Series_, it appears that tea was known in England in the year 1657,
though not then in general use. The author of this paper says, "That
the vertues and excellencies of this leaf and drink are many and
great, is evident and manifest by the high esteem and use of it
(especially of late years) among the physicians and knowing men in
France, Italy, Holland, and other parts of Christendom; _and in_
ENGLAND it hath been sold in the leaf for _six pounds_, and sometimes
for TEN _pounds_ the pound weight, and in respect of its former
scarceness and dearness, it hath been only used as a regalia in high
treatments and entertainments, and presents made thereof to princes
and grandees, till the year 1657."
Secretary Pepys, in his Diary, vol. i. p. 76, without saying where he
had his drink, makes the following entry:--"Sept. 25th, 1660. I did
send for a cup of tea (a China drink) of which I never had drunk
before, and went away."
In a letter from Mr. Henry Savill to his uncle, Secretary Coventry,
dated from Paris, Aug. 12, 1678, and printed by Mr. Ellis, the writer,
after acknowledging the hospitalities of his uncle's house, quaintly
observes, "These, I hope, are the charms that have prevailed with me
to remember (that is to trouble) you oftener than I am apt to do other
of my friends, whose buttery-hatch is not so open, _and who call for_
TEA instead of pipes and bottles after dinner; _a base unworthy Indian
practice_, and which I must ever admire your most Christian family for
not admitting. The truth is, all nations have grown so wicked as to
have some of these filthy customs." In 1678, the year in which the
above letter is dated, the East India Company began the importation of
tea as a branch of trade; the quantity received at that time amounting
to 4,713 lbs. The importation gradually enlarged, and the government,
in consequence, augmented the duties upon tea. By the year 1700, the
importation of tea had arrived at the quantity of 20,000 lbs. In 1721,
it exceeded a million of pounds. In 1816, it had arrived at 86,234,380
lbs. Something more than thirty millions of pounds is probably the
present average of importation: some allowance must be made for tea
damaged and spoiled upon the passage.--See more on this subject, well
worthy of perusal, in Mr. Ellis's Letters, _Second Series_, vol. iv.
pp. 57, et seq.
* * * * *
FROM L'ADONE OF MARINO.
_(For the Mirror.)_
Like some lone Pilgrim in the dusky night,
Seeking, through unknown paths, his doubtful way,
While thick nocturnal vapours veil his sight
From yawning chasms, that 'neath his footsteps lay;
Sudden before him gleams the forked light!
Dispels the gloom, yet fills him with dismay.
His trembling steps he then retraces back,
And seeks again the well-known beaten track.
* * * * *
(_For the Mirror_.)
The first couple of these animals which were carried to Cuyaba sold
for a pound of gold. There was a plague of rats in the settlement, and
they were purchased as a speculation, which proved an excellent one.
Their first kittens produced thirty _oilavas_ each; the new generation
were worth twenty; and the price gradually fell as the inhabitants
were stocked with these beautiful and useful creatures. Montengro
presented to the elder Almagro the first cat which was brought to
South America, and was rewarded for it with six hundred _pesos_.
* * * * *
THE DEATH OF KING JOHN.
_Extracted from an old black-letter volume, entitled "The Abridgment
of the Acts and Monuments of Martyrs, from the earliest period of
Christian suffering to the time of Queen Elizabeth, our gracious lady,
now reigning," printed in her reign_.
(_For the Mirror_.)
In the yeere 1216, king John was poisoned, as most writers testify, at
Swinsted Abbey, by a monk of that abbey, of the order of Cistersians,
or S. Bernard's brethren, called Simon of Swinsted. The monk did first
consult with his abbot, shewing him what he minded to do, alleging for
himself the prophecy of Caiphas, 11th of John, saying, it is better
that one man die, than the whole people perish. I am well content,
saith he, to lose my life, and so become a martyr, that I may utterly
destroy this tyrant. With that the abbot did weep for gladness, and
much commended his fervent zeal. The monk then being absolved of his
abbot for doing this fact, went secretly into the garden, on the back
side, and finding there a most venomous toad, did so prick him and
press him with his penknife, that hee made him vomite all the poison
that was within him; this done, he conveyed it into a cup of wine, and
with a flattering and smiling countenance he sayeth to the king, "If
it shall please your princely majesty, here is such a cup of wine as
you never drank better in your lifetime. I trust this wassall shall
make all England glad," and with that he drank a great draught
thereof, and the king pledged him; the monk then went out of the house
to the back, and then died, his bowels gushing out of his belly, and
had continually from henceforth three monks to sing mass for him,
confirmed by their general charter. The king, within a short space
after, feeling great grief in his body, asked for Simon, the monk;
answer was made he was dead. "Then God have mercy on me," said the
king; so went he to Newark-upon-Trent, and there died, and was buried
in the cathedral church at Worster, in 1216, the 19th day of October,
after having been much fered with the clergy 18 years, 6 months, and a
* * * * *
(_For the Mirror_.)
Near the border between the parishes of Maxton and Ancrum is a bridge,
called Lilliard Edge, formerly Anerum moor, where a battle was fought
between the Scots and English soon after the death of king James V.,
who died in the year 1542. When the Earl of Arran was regent of
Scotland, Sir Ralph Rivers and Sir Bryan Laiton came to Jedburgh with
an army of 5,000 English to seize Merse and Teviotdale in the name of
Henry VIII., then king of England, who died not long after, in the
year 1547. The regent and the Earl of Angus came with a small body of
men to oppose them. The Earl of Angus was greatly exasperated against
the English, because some time before they had defaced the tombs of
his ancestors at Melrose, and had done much hurt to the abbey there.
The regent and the Earl of Angus, without waiting the arrival of a
greater force, which was expected, met the English at Lilliard Edge,
where the Scots obtained a great victory, considering the inequality
of their number. A young woman of the name of Lilliard fought along
with the Scots with great courage; she fell in the battle, and a
tombstone was erected upon her grave on the field where it was fought.
Some remains of this tombstone are still to be seen. It is said to
have contained the following inscription:--
"Fair maiden Lilliard lies under this stane;
Little was her stature, but great was her fame.
On the English lads she laid many thumps,
And when her legs were off she fought on her stumps."
* * * * *
BOOKS AND BOOKWORMS.
(_For the Mirror_.)
Books were anciently made of plates of copper and lead, the bark of
trees, bricks, Stones, and wood. Josephus speaks of two columns, the
one of stone, the other of brick, on which the children of Seth wrote
their inventions and astronomical discoveries. Porphyry mentions some
pillars, preserved in Crete, on which the ceremonies observed by the
Corybantes in their sacrifices were recorded. The leaves of the
palm-tree were used, and the finest and thinnest part of the bark of
such trees as the lime, the ash, the maple, and the elm; from hence
comes the word _liber_, which signifies the inner bark of the trees;
and as these barks are rolled up, in order to be removed with greater
ease, these rolls were called _volumen_, a volume, a name afterwards
given to the like rolls of paper or parchment. By degrees wax, then
leather, were introduced, especially the skins of goats and sheep, of
which at length parchment was prepared; also linen, then silk, horn,
and lastly paper. The rolls or volumes of the ancients were composed
of several sheets, fastened to each other, rolled upon a stick, and
were sometimes fifty feet in length, and about a yard and a half wide.
At first the letters were only divided into lines, then into separate
words, which, by degrees, were noted with accents, and distributed by
points, and stops into periods, paragraphs, chapters, and other
divisions. In some countries, as among the orientals, the lines began
from the right, and ran to the left; in others, as in northern and
western nations, from the left to the right; others, as the Grecians,
followed both directions alternately, going in the one and returning
in the other.
In the Chinese books, the lines run from top to bottom. Again, the
page in some is entire and uniform; in others, divided into columns;
in others, distinguished into text and notes, either marginal or at
the bottom; usually it is furnished with signatures and catch-words,
also with a register to discover whether the book be complete. The
Mahometans place the name of God at the beginning of all their books.
The word _book_ is derived from the Saxon _boc_, which comes from the
northern _buech_, of _buechans_, a beech, or _service-tree_, on the
bark of which our ancestors used to write. A very large estate was
given for one on Cosmography by king Alfred. About the year 1400, they
were sold from 10_l_. to 30_l_. a piece. The first printed one was
the Vulgate edition of the Bible, 1462; the second was _Cicero de
Officiis_, 1466. Leo I. ordered 200,000 to be burnt at Constantinople.
In the suppressed monasteries of France, in 1790, there were found
4,104,412 volumes; nearly one-half were on theology. The end of the
book, now denoted by _finis_, was anciently marked with a <, called
_coronis_, and the whole frequently washed with an oil drawn from
cedar, or citron chips strewed between the leaves, to preserve it from
Thus far books; now for the _bookworms_. Anthony Magliabecchi, the
notorious bookworm, was born at Florence in 1633; his passion for
reading induced him to employ every moment of his time in improving
his mind. By means of an astonishing memory and incessant application,
he became more conversant with literary history than any man of his
time, and was appointed librarian to the grand duke of Tuscany. He has
been called a living library. He was a man of a most forbidding and
savage aspect, and exceedingly negligent of his person. He refused to
be waited upon, and rarely took off his clothes to go to bed. His
dinner was commonly three hard eggs, with a draught of water. He had a
small window in his door, through which he could see all those who
approached him; and if he did not wish for their company, he would not
admit them. He spent some hours in each day at the palace library; but
is said never in his life to have gone farther from Florence than to
Pratz, whither he once accompanied Cardinal Norris to see a
manuscript. He died at the age of 81, in the year 1714. In the present
age we have _bookworms_, who wander from one bookstall to another, and
there devour their daily store of knowledge. Others will linger at the
tempting window filled with the "_twopenny_," and read all the open
pages; then pass on to another of the same description, and thus enjoy
literature by the way of _Cheapside_.
* * * * *
MIDNIGHT--A TOUCH AT THE EPIC.
(_For the Mirror_.)
"The iron tongue of midnight hath toll'd twelve."
Amid the pauses of the midnight storm,
When all without is cold, within all warm!
Amid the pauses of the midnight blast,
When ev'ry bolt and ev'ry sleeper's fast!
In that dire hour, when graves give up their dead,
And men for once agree in their pursuit--a bed!
When heroes, statesmen, senators, and kings,
Lords, and et ceteras of meaner things,
Forget the road to fortune--or to jail,
And Morpheus all their equal guardian hail!
When each forgets each 'vantage or mishap.
And all are equal in one common nap!
At that dread hour...
_Carshalton_ W. P----n.
* * * * *
(_For the Mirror_.)
Since lately we have had a great deal of prevarication in our courts
of justice about receiving the oaths of deists, &c., I have thought it
meet to furnish the MIRROR with an account of the first usage of the
words, "So help me God." The word oath is a corruption of the Saxon
_eoth_. An oath is called corporal, because the person making an
affidavit lays his hand upon a part of the scriptures.
At the conclusion of the oath the above words are used, which may
perhaps have originated in the very ancient manner of trial by battle
in this country, when the appellee, laying his right hand on the book,
takes the appellant by the right hand with his left, and maketh oath
as follows:--"Hear this, thou who callest thyself _John_ by the name
of baptism, whom I hold by thy hand, that falsely upon me thou hast
lied; and for this thou liest, that I who call myself _Thomas_ by the
name of baptism, did not feloniously murder thy father, _W._ by name,
_so help me God_." (Here he kisses the book, and concludes,)--"And
this I will defend against thee by my body, as this court shall
award." And the appellant is thus sworn also.
Here, it may be observed also, the true foundation of the word _lie_,
being esteemed still so great an affront above all others, as whenever
it is pronounced to cause "an immediate affray and bloodshed."
I have seen people sworn in poetry; and certain it is, that in many
countries in Europe the making of oaths differs. I have some curious
specimens of ancient oaths, some in Latin prose, others in poetry.
Lord Chief Justice Coke was so strict with regard to the receiving of
oaths, that when at Cambridge Summer Assizes, upon a trial of felony,
he said, "in case of trespass, although it be only to the value of
_twopence_, no evidence shall be given to the jury _but upon oath_,
much less where _the life of a man is in question_." An action may be
brought on the case upon a man calling another a _perjured_ man,
because it shall be intended to be contrary to his oath in a judicial
* * * * *
_From the Younger Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, upon his death bed, to
the Rev. Dr. W.----_.
Dear Doctor,--I always looked upon you as a man of true virtue, and
know you to be a person of sound understanding; for however I may have
acted in opposition to the principles of religion, or the dictates of
reason, I can honestly assure you I had always the highest veneration
for both. The world and I may now shake hands, for I dare affirm that
we are heartily weary of one another. Oh, doctor, what a prodigal have
I been of that most valuable of all possessions, time. I have
squandered it away with a profusion unparalleled; and now that the
enjoyment of a few days would be worth a hecatomb of worlds, I cannot
flatter myself with a prospect of half a dozen hours. How despicable,
my dear friend, is that man who never prays to his God but in the time
of distress. In what manner can he supplicate that omnipotent Being in
his affliction with reverence, whom in the tide of his prosperity he
never remembered with dread! Don't brand me with infidelity, my dear
doctor, when I tell you I am almost ashamed to offer up my petitions
at the throne of grace, or of imploring that divine mercy in the next
world, which I have so scandalously abused in this! Shall ingratitude
to man be looked upon as the blackest of crimes, and not ingratitude
to God? Shall an insult offered to the king be looked upon in the most
offensive light, and yet no notice be taken when the King of kings is
treated with indignity and disrespect. The companions of my former
libertinism would scarcely believe their eyes, my dear doctor, was you
to show them this epistle. They would laugh at me as a dreaming
enthusiast, or pity me as a timorous wretch who was shocked at the
appearance of futurity. But whoever laughs at me for being right, or
pities me for being sensible of my errors, is more entitled to my
compassion than my resentment. A future life may very well strike
terror into any man who has not acted well in this life; and he must
have an uncommon share of courage indeed who does not shrink at the
presence of his God. You see, my dear doctor, the apprehension of
death will soon bring the most profligate to a proper use of their
understanding. To what a situation am I now reduced? Is this odious
little hut a suitable lodging for a prince? or is this anxiety of my
mind becoming the characteristic of a Christian? From my rank and
fortune I might have expected affluence to wait on my life, from my
religion and understanding, peace to smile upon my end; instead of
which I am afflicted with poverty, and haunted with remorse, despised
by my country, and I fear forsaken by my God! There is nothing so
dangerous, my dear doctor, as extraordinary abilities. I cannot be
accused of vanity now, by being sensible I was once possessed of
uncommon qualifications, more especially as I sincerely regret that I
was ever blest with any at all. My rank in life made these
accomplishments still more conspicuous; and, fascinated with the
general applause which they procured, I never considered about the
proper means by which they should be displayed; hence, to purchase a
smile from a blockhead I despised, have I frequently treated the
virtuous with disrespect, and sported with the Holy Name of heaven to
obtain a laugh from a parcel of fools, who were entitled to nothing
but my contempt. Your men of wit, my dear doctor, generally look upon
themselves as discharged from the duties of religion, and confine the
doctrines of the Gospel to people of meaner understandings; it is a
sort of derogation, in their opinion, to comply with the rules of
Christianity, and reckon that man possessed of a narrow genius who
studies to be good. What a pity that the Holy Writings are not made
the criterion of true judgment! or that any one should pass for a fine
gentleman in this world, but he that seems solicitous about his
happiness in the next. My dear doctor, I am forsaken by all my
acquaintance, utterly neglected by the friends of my bosom and the
dependants of my bounty. But no matter; I am not now fit to converse
with the first, and have no ability to serve the latter. Let me not be
cast off wholly, however, by the good. Favour me with a visit, dear
doctor, as soon as possible. Writing to you gives me some ease,
especially upon a subject I could talk of for ever. I am of opinion
this is the last visit I shall ever solicit from you. My distemper is
powerful. Come and pray for the departing spirit of the unhappy
* * * * *
The Sketch Book.
* * * * *
THE PHANTOM HAND.
I see a hand you cannot see,
Which beckons me away!
In a lonely part of the bleak and rocky coast of Scotland, there dwelt
a being, who was designated by the few who knew and feared him, the
Warlock Fisher. He was, in truth, a singular and a fearful old man.
For years he had followed his dangerous occupation alone; adventuring
forth in weather which appalled the stoutest of the stout hearts that
occasionally exchanged a word with him, in passing to and fro in their
mutual employment. Of his name, birth, or descent, nothing was known;
but the fecundity of conjecture had supplied an unfailing stock of
_materiel_ on these points. Some said he was the devil incarnate;
others said he was a Dutchman, or some other "far-away foreigner," who
had fled to these comparative solitudes for shelter, from the
retribution due to some grievous crime; and all agreed, that he was
neither a Scot nor a true man. In outward form, however, he was still
"a model of a man," tall, and well-made; though in years, his natural
strength was far from being abated. His matted black hair, hanging in
elf-locks about his ears and shoulders, together with the perpetual
sullenness which seemed native in the expression of features neither
regular nor pleasing, gave him an appearance unendurably disgusting.
He lived alone, in a hovel of his own construction, partially scooped
out of a rock--was never known to have suffered a visitor within its
walls--to have spoken a kind word, or done a kind action. Once,
indeed, he performed an act which, in a less ominous being, would have
been lauded as the extreme of heroism. In a dreadfully stormy morning,
a fishing-boat was seen in great distress, making for the shore--there
were a father and two sons in it. The danger became imminent, as they
neared the rocky promontory of the fisher--and the boat upset. Women
and boys were screaming and gesticulating from the beach, in all the
wild and useless energy of despair, but assistance was nowhere to be
seen. The father and one of the lads disappeared for ever; but the
younger boy clung, with extraordinary resolution, to the inverted
vessel. By accident, the Warlock Fisher came to the door of his hovel,
saw the drowning lad, and plunged instantaneously into the sea. For
some minutes he was invisible amid the angry turmoil; but he swam like
an inhabitant of that fearful element, and bore the boy in safety to
the beach. From fatigue or fear, or the effects of both united, the
poor lad died shortly afterwards; and his grateful relatives
industriously insisted, that he had been blighted in the grasp of his
Towards the end of autumn, the weather frequently becomes so broken
and stormy in these parts, as to render the sustenance derived from
fishing extremely precarious. Against this, however, the Warlock
Fisher was provided; for, caring little for weather, and apparently
less for life, he went out in all seasons, and was known to be absent
for days, during the most violent storms, when every hope of seeing
him again was lost. Still nothing harmed him: he came drifting back
again, the same wayward, unfearing, unhallowed animal. To account for
this, it was understood that he was in connexion with smugglers; that
his days of absence were spent in their service--in reconnoitring for
their safety, and assisting their predations. Whatever of truth there
might be in this, it was well known that the Warlock Fisher never
wanted ardent spirits; and so free was he in their use and of tobacco,
that he has been heard, in a long and dreary winter's evening,
carolling songs in a strange tongue, with all the fervour of an
inspired bacchanal. It has been said, too, at such times he held
strange talk with some who never answered, deprecated sights which no
one else could see, and exhibited the fury of an outrageous maniac.
It was towards the close of an autumn day, that a tall young man was
seen surveying the barren rocks, and apparently deserted shores, near
the dwelling of the fisher. He wore the inquiring aspect of a
stranger, and yet his step indicated a previous acquaintance with the
scene. The sun was flinging his boldest radiance on the rolling ocean,
as the youth ascended the rugged path which led to the Warlock
Fisher's hut. He surveyed the door for a moment, as if to be certain
of the spot; and then, with one stroke of his foot, dashed the door
inwards. It was damp and tenantless. The stranger set down his bundle,
kindled a fire, and remained in quiet possession. In a few hours the
fisher returned. He started involuntarily at the sight of the
intruder, who sprang to his feet, ready for any alternative.
"What seek you in my hut?" said the Fisher.
"A shelter for the night--the hawks are out."
"Who directed you to me?"
"Never saw you with my eyes--shiver me! But never mind, you look like
the breed--a ready hand and a light heel, ha! All's right--tap your
No sooner said than done. The keg was broached, and a good brown basin
of double hollands was brimming at the lips of the Warlock Fisher. The
stranger did himself a similar service, and they grew friendly. The
fisher could not avoid placing his hand before his eyes once or twice,
as if wishful to avoid the keen gaze of the stranger, who still plied
the fire with fuel and his host with hollands. Reserve was at length
annihilated, and the fisher jocularly said--
"Well, and so we're old acquaintance, ha?"
"Ay," said the young man, with another searching glance. "I was in
doubt at first, but _now_ I'm certain."
"And what's to be done?" said the Fisher.
"An hour after midnight you must put me on board -----'s boat, she'll
be abroad. They'll run a light to the masthead, for which you'll
steer. You're a good hand at the helm in a dark night and a rough
sea," was the reply.
"How, if I will not?"
"Then--_your life or mine!"_
They sprang to their feet simultaneously, and an immediate encounter
"Psha!" said the Fisher, sinking on his seat, "what madness this is!
I was a thought warm with the liquor, and the recollections of past
times were rising on my memory. Think nothing of it. I heard those
words once before," and he ground his teeth in rage--"Yes, once--but
in a shriller voice than your's! Sometimes, too, the bastard rises to
my view; and then I smite him so--bah! give us another basin-full!" He
stuck short at vacancy, snatched the beverage from the stranger, and
drank it off. "An hour after midnight, said ye?"
"Ay--you'll see no bastards then!"
"Worse--may be--worse!" muttered the Fisher, sinking into abstraction,
and glaring wildly on the flickering embers before him.
"Why, how's this?" said the stranger. "Are your senses playing bo-peep
with the ghost of some pigeon-livered coast captain, eh? Come, take
another pull at the keg, to clear your head-lights, and tell us a bit
of your ditty."
The Fisher took another draught, and proceeded--
"About five-and-twenty years ago, a stranger came to this hut--may the
curse of God annihilate him!--"
"Amen to that," said the young man.
"He brought with him a boy and a girl, a purse of gold, and ---- the
arch fiend's tongue, to tempt me! Well, it was to take these children
out to sea--upset the boat--and lose them!"--
"And you did so!" interrupted the stranger.
"I tried--but listen. On a fine evening, I took them out: the sun sunk
rapidly, and I knew by the freshening of the breeze, there would be a
storm. I was not mistaken. It came on even faster than I wished. The
children were alarmed--the boy, in particular, grew suspicious; he
insisted that I had an object in going out so far at sun-set. This
irritated me,--and I rose to smite him, when the fair girl interposed
her fragile form between us. She screamed for mercy, and clung to my
arm with the desperation of despair. _I could not shake her off_! The
boy had the spirit of a man; he seized a piece of spar, and struck me
on the temples. 'How, you villain!' said he, 'your life or mine!' At
that moment the boat upset, and we were all adrift. The boy I never
saw again--a tremendous sea broke between us--but the wretched girl
clung to me like hate! Damnation!--her dying scream is ringing in my
ears like madness! I struck her on the forehead, and she sank--all but
her hand, one little, white hand would not sink! I threw myself on my
back, and struck at it with both my feet--and then I thought it sunk
for ever. I made the shore with difficulty, for I was stunned and
senseless, and the ocean heaved as if it would have washed away the
mortal world--and the lightnings blazed as if all hell had come to
light the scene of warfare! I have never since been on the sea at
midnight, but that hand has followed or preceded me; I have never
----." Here he sank down from his seat, and rolled himself in agony
upon the floor.
"Poor wretch!" muttered the stranger, "what hinders now my long-sought
vengeance? Even with my foot--but thou shalt share my murdered
"A shot is fired--look out for the light!" said the young man.
The Fisher went to the door; but suddenly started back, clasping his
hands before his face.
"Fire and brimstone! there it is again!" he cried.
"What?" said his companion, looking cooly round him.
"That infernal hand! Lightnings blast it!--but that's impossible," he
added, in a fearful under-tone, which sounded as if some of the eternal
rocks around him were adding a response to his imprecations--"_that's_
impossible! It is a part of them--it has been so for years--darkness
could not shroud it--distance could not separate it from my burning
eye-balls!--awake, it was there--asleep, it flickered and blazed before
me!--it has been my rock a-head through life, and it will herald me to
hell!" So saying, he pressed his sinewy hands upon his face, and buried
his head between his knees, till the rock beneath him seemed to shake
with his uncontrollable agony.
"Again it beckons me!" said he, starting up--"ten thousand fires are
blazing in my heart--in my brain!--where, _where_ can I be worse?
Fiend, I defy thee!"
"I see nothing," said his companion, with unalterable composure.
"You see nothing!" thundered the Fisher, with mingling sarcasm and
fury--"look _there_." He snatched his hand, and pointing steadily into
the gloom, again murmured, "Look there! look there!"
At that moment the lightning blazed around with appalling brilliancy;
and the stranger saw a small white hand, pointing tremulously upwards.
"I saw it there," said he, "but it is not _hers_! Infatuated,
abandoned villain." he continued, with irrepressible energy, "it is
not my sister's hand--no! it is the incarnate fiend's who tempted you,
and who now waves you to perdition--begone together!"
He aimed a dreadful blow at the astonished Fisher, who instinctively
avoided the stroke. Mutually wound up to the highest pitch of anger,
they grappled each the other's throat, set their feet, and strained
for the throw, which was inevitably to bury both in the wild waves
beneath. A faint shriek was heard, and a gibbering, as of many voices,
came fluttering around them.
"Chatter on!" said the Fisher, "he joins you now!"
"Together--it will be together!" said the stranger, as with a last
desperate effort he bent his adversary backward from the betling
cliff. The voice of the Fisher sounded hoarsely in execration, as they
dashed into the sea together; but what he said was drowned in the
hoarser murmur of the uplashing surge! The body of the stranger was
found on the next morning, flung far up on the rocky shore--but that
of the murderer was gone for ever!
The superstitious peasantry of the neighbourhood still consider the
spot as haunted; and at midnight, when the waves dash fitfully against
the perilous crags, and the bleak winds sweep with long and angry moan
around them, they still hear the gibbering voices of the fiends, and
the mortal execrations of the Warlock Fisher!--but, after that fearful
night, no man ever saw THE PHANTOM HAND!--_Literary Magnet_.
* * * * *
ARCANA OF SCIENCE.
All the elephants which were exported from Point de Galle were caught
in ancient, as well as in modern times, in that tract of country which
extends from Matura to Tangcolle, in the south of Ceylon, and which,
from its being famous for its elephants in his days, is described by
Ptolemy in the map he made of Ceylon sixteen hundred years ago as the
_elephantum pascua_. The trade in elephants from Ceylon, which used to
be lucrative, is now completely annihilated, in consequence of all the
petty Rajahs, Foligars, and other chiefs in the southern peninsula of
India, who used formerly to purchase Ceylon elephants as a part of
their state, having lost their sovereignties, and being therefore no
longer required to keep up any state of this description. A gentleman
who has a plantation at Candy, it is understood, recently introduced
the use of elephants, in ploughing, with great advantage.--_Trans.
* * * * *
_The Fennecous Cerdo_.
[Illustration: Fennecous Cerdo.]
This beautiful and extraordinary animal, or at least one of its genus,
was first made known to European naturalists by Bruce, who received it
from his dragoman, whilst consul general at Algiers. It is frequently
met with in the date territories of Africa, where the animals are
hunted for their skins, which are afterwards sold at Mecca, and then
exported to India. Bruce kept his animal alive for several months, and
took a drawing of it in water colours, of the natural size, a copy of
which, on transparent paper, was clandestinely made by his servant.
Mr. Brander, into whose hands the _Fennecus_ fell after Bruce left
Algiers, gave an account of it in "Some Swedish Transactions," but
refused to let the figure be published, the drawing having been
unfairly obtained. Bruce asserts that this animal is described in
many Arabian books, under the name of _El Fennec_, which appellation
he conceives to be derived from the Greek word for a palm or
The favourite food of Bruce's Fennec was dates or any sweet fruit; but
it was also very fond of eggs; when hungry it would eat bread,
especially with honey or sugar. His attention was immediately
attracted if a bird flew near him, and he would watch it with an
eagerness that could hardly be diverted from its object; but he was
dreadfully afraid of a cat. Bruce never heard that he had any voice.
During the day he was inclined to sleep, but became restless and
exceedingly unquiet as night came on. The above Fennec was about ten
inches long, the tail five inches and a quarter, near an inch of it on
the tip, black. The colour of the body was dirty white, bordering on
cream colour; the hair on the belly rather whiter, softer and longer
than on the rest of the body. His look was sly and wily; he built his
nest on trees, and did not burrow in the earth.
Naturalists, especially those of France, were long induced to suspect
the truth of Bruce's description of this animal; but a specimen from
the interior of Nubia, and preserved in the museum at Frankfort, has
recently been engraved; and thus the matter nearly settled by the
animal belonging to the genus _Canis_, and the sub genus _Vulpes_; the
number of teeth and form, being precisely the same as the fox, which
it also resembles in its feet, number of toes, and form of tail.
For the above engraving we are indebted to the Appendix to the
important and interesting Travels of Messrs. Denham and Clapperton. It
is therein described as generally of a white colour, inclining to
straw yellow; above, from the occiput to the insertion of the tail it
is light rufous brown, delicately pencilled with fine black lines,
from thinly scattered hairs tipped with black; the exterior of the
thighs is lighter rufous brown; the chin, throat, belly, and interior
of the thighs and legs are white, or cream colour. The nose is
pointed, and black at the extremity; above, it is covered with very
short, whitish hair inclining to rufous, with a small irregular rufous
spot on each side beneath the eyes; the whiskers are black, rather
short and scanty; the back of the head is pale rufous brown. The ears
are very large, erect, and pointed, and covered externally with short,
pale, rufous brown hair; internally, they are thickly fringed on the
margin with long grayish white hairs, especially in front; the rest of
the ears, internally, is bare; externally, they are folded or plaited
at the base. The tail is very full, cylindrical, of a rufous brown
colour, and pencilled with fine black lines like the back. The fur is
very soft and fine; that on the back, from the back to the insertion
of the tail, as well as that on the upper part of the shoulder before,
and nearly the whole of the hinder thigh, is formed of tri-coloured
hairs, the base of which is of a dark lead colour, the middle white,
and the extremity light rufous brown.
[Footnote 3: We did not know that such unpleasantries as Chancery
injunctions were part of African law; perhaps sand may not be removed
from the desert "without leave of the trustees," like scrapings from
A beautiful and perfect fossil of the sea turtle has recently been
discovered in an extensive stratum of limestone, four fathoms water,
called the Stone Ridge, about four miles off Harwich harbour. It is
incrusted in a mass of ferruginous limestone, and weighs 180 lbs.
A gentleman of Staffordshire recommends the preservation of apples for
winter store, packed in banks or hods of earth like potatoes.--
_Communication to the Horticultural Society_.
_Uses of Seals_.
The benefits which the inhabitants of frigid regions derive from seals,
are far too numerous and diversified to be particularized, as they
supply them with almost all the conveniences of life. We, on the
contrary, so persecute this animal, as to destroy hundreds of thousands
annually, for the sake of the pure and transparent oil with which the
seal abounds; 2ndly, for its tanned skin, which is appropriated to
various purposes by different modes of preparation; and thirdly, we
pursue it for its close and dense attire. In the common seal, the hair
of the adult is of one uniform kind, so thickly arranged and imbued
with oil, as to effectually resist the action of water; while, on the
contrary, in the antarctic seals the hair is of two kinds: the longest,
like that of the northern seals; the other, a delicate, soft fur,
growing between the roots of the former, close to the surface of the
skin, and not seen externally; and this beautiful fur constitutes an
article of very increasing importance in commerce; but not only does the
clothing of the seal vary materially in colour, fineness, and commercial
situation, in the different species, but not less so in the age of the
animal. The young of most kinds are usually of a very light colour, or
entirely white, and are altogether destitute of true hair, having this
substituted by a long and particularly soft fur.--_Quarterly Journal_.
_Method of cutting Glass_.
If a tube, or goblet, or other round glass body is to be cut, a line
is to be marked with a gun flint having a sharp angle, an agate, a
diamond, or a file, exactly on the place where it is to be cut. A long
thread covered with sulphur is then to be passed two or three times
round the circular line, and to be inflamed and burnt; when the glass
is well heated some drops of cold water are to be thrown on it, when
the piece will separate in an exact manner, as if cut with scissors.
It is by this means that glasses are cut circularly into thin bands,
which may either be separated from, or repose upon each other, at
pleasure, in the manner of a spring---_From the French_.
_Preservation of Skins_.
A tanner at Tyman, in Hungary, uses with great advantage the
pyroligueous acid, in preserving skins from putrefaction, and in
recovering them when attacked. They are deprived of none of their
useful qualities if covered by means of a brush with the acid, which
they absorb very readily.--_Quarterly Journal_.
_Organic Remains in Sussex_.
A short time since, the entire skeleton of a stag, of very large size,
was dug up by some labourers, in excavating the bed of the river Ouse,
near Lewes, in Sussex. The remains were found imbedded in a layer of
sand, beneath the alluvial blue clay, forming the surface of the
valley. The horns were in the highest state of preservation, and had
seven points, like the American deer. The greater part of the skeleton
was destroyed by the carelessness of the workmen; but a portion,
including the horns, has been preserved in the collection of Mr.
Mantell, near Lewes.
Mr. Bullock, in his Travels, (just published) relates that he saw near
New Orleans, "what are believed to be the remains of a stupendous
crocodile, and which are likely to prove so, intimating the former
existence of a lizard at least 150 feet long; for I measured the right
side of the under jaw, which I found to be 21 feet along the curve;
and 4 feet 6 inches wide: the others consisted of numerous vertebrae,
ribs, femoral bones, and toes, all corresponding in size to the jaw;
there were also some teeth: these, however, were not of proportionate
magnitude. These remains were discovered, a short time since, in the
swamp, near Fort Philip; and the other parts of the mighty skeleton,
are, it is said, in the same part of the swamp."
Sir Kenelm Digby was a mere quack; but he was the son of an earl, and
related to many noble families. His book on the supposed sympathetic
powder, which cured wounds at any distance from the sufferer, is the
standard of his abilities. This powder was Roman vitriol pounded. From
this wild work, we, however learn, that the English routine of
agriculture in his time was--1st. year, barley; 2nd. wheat; 3rd.
beans; 4th. fallow.--_Pinkerton_.
Thought, comprising its enumerated constituents and detailed process,
is the most perfect and exalted elaboration of the human mind, and
when protracted is a painful exertion; indeed, the greater portion of
our species reluctantly submit to the toil and lassitude of
reflection; but from laziness, or incapacity, and perhaps in some
instances from diffidence, they suffer themselves to be directed by
the opinions of others. Hence has arisen the swarm of critics and
reviewers, those clouds that obscure the fair light that would beam on
the mind of man, by his individual reflection, and through his
existence degrade him, by a submission to assumed authority;--a
voluntary blindness, that excludes him from the observation of nature,
and through indolence and credulity render his noblest faculties
feeble, assenting, and lethargic; and delude him to barter the
inheritance of his intellect for a mess of pottage.--_Dr.
* * * * *
SPIRIT OF THE PUBLIC JOURNALS.
* * * * *
MUNCHAUSEN RIDE THROUGH EDINBURGH.
We were sitting rather negligently on an infernal animal, which, up to
that day, had seemed quiet as a lamb--kissing our hand to Mrs.
Davison, then Miss Duncan, and in the blaze of her fame, when a
Highland regiment, no doubt the forty-second, that had been trudging
down the Mound, so silently that we never heard them, all at once, and
without the slightest warning, burst out, with all their bag-pipes,
into one pibroch! The mare--to do her justice--had been bred in
England, and ridden, as a charger, by an adjutant to an English
regiment. She was even fond of music--and delighted to prance behind
the band--unterrified by cymbals or great drum. She never moved in a
roar of artillery at reviews--and, had the Castle of Edinburgh--Lord
bless it--been self-involved, at that moment, in a storm of thunder
and lightning, round its entire circle of cannon, that mare would not
so much as have pricked up her ears, whisked her tail, or lifted
a hoof. But the pibroch was more than horse-flesh and blood could
endure--and off we two went like a whirlwind. Where we went--that is
to say, what were the names of the few first streets along which
we were borne, is a question which, as a man of veracity, we must
positively decline answering. For some short space of time, lines of
houses reeled by without a single face at the windows--and these,
we have since conjectured, might be North and South Hanover street,
and Queen-street. By and by we surely were in something like a
square--could it be Charlotte-square?--and round and round it we
flew--three, four, five, or six times, as horsemen do at the
Caledonian amphitheatre--for the animal had got blind with terror, and
kept viciously reasoning in a circle. What a show of faces at all the
windows then! A shriek still accompanied us as we clattered, and
thundered, and lightened along; and, unless our ears lied, there were
occasional fits of stifled laughter, and once or twice a guffaw; for
there was now a ringing of lost stirrups--and much holding of the
mane. One complete round was executed by us, first on the shoulder
beyond the pommel; secondly, on the neck; thirdly, between the ears;
fourthly, between the forelegs, in a place called the counter, with
our arms round the jugular veins of the flying phenomenon, and our
toes in the air. That was, indeed, the crisis of our fever, but we
made a wonderful recovery back into the saddle--righting like a boat
capsized in a sudden squall at sea--and once more, with accelerated
speed, away past the pillared front of St. George's church!
The castle and all its rocks, in peristrephic panorama, then floated
cloud-like by--and we saw the whole mile-length of Prince's-street
stretched before us, studded with innumerable coaches, chaises,
chariots, carts, wagons, drays, gigs, shandrydans, and wheel-barrows,
through among which we dashed, as if they had been as much
gingerbread--while men on horseback were seen flinging themselves off,
and drivers dismounting in all directions, making their escape up
flights of steps and common stairs--mothers or nurses with broods of
young children flying hither and thither in distraction, or standing
on the very crown of the causeway, wringing their hands in despair.
The wheel-barrows were easily disposed of--nor was there much greater
difficulty with the gigs and shandrydans. But the hackney-coaches
stood confoundedly in the way--and a wagon, drawn by four horses, and
heaped up to the very sky with beer-barrels, like the Tower of Babel
or Babylon, did indeed give us pause--but ere we had leisure to
ruminate on the shortness of human life, we broke through between the
leaders and the wheels with a crash of leathern breeching, dismounted
collars, riven harness, and tumbling of enormous horses that was
perilous to hear; when, as Sin and Satan would have it--would you
believe it?--there, twenty kilts deep at the least, was the same
accursed Highland regiment, the forty-second, with fixed bayonets, and
all its pipers in the van, the pibroch yelling, squeaking, squealing,
grunting, growling, roaring, as if it had only that very instant
broken out--so, suddenly to the right--about went the bag-pipe-haunted
mare, and away up the Mound, past the pictures of Irish Giants--Female
Dwarfs--Albinos--an Elephant endorsed with towers--Tigers and Lions of
all sorts--and a large wooden building, like a pyramid, in which there
was the thundering of cannon--for the battle, we rather think, of
Camperdown was going on--the Bank of Scotland seemed to sink into
the NorLoch--one gleam through the window of the eyes of the
Director-General--and to be sure how we did make the street-stalls of
the Lawn-market spin! The man in St. Giles's steeple was playing his
one o'clock tune on the bells, heedless in that elevation of our
career--in less than no time John Knox, preaching from a house
half-way down the Canongate, gave us the go-by--and down through one
long wide sprawl of men, women, and children we wheeled past the
Gothic front, and round the south angle of Holyrood, and across the
King's-park, where wan and withered sporting debtors held up their
hands and cried, Hurra--hurra--hurra--without stop or stay, up the
rocky way that leads to St. Anthony's Well and Chapel--and now it was
manifest that we were bound for the summit of Arthur's Seat. We hope
that we were sufficiently thankful that a direction was not taken
towards Salisbury Crags, where we should have been dashed into many
million pieces. Free now from even the slightest suburban impediment,
obstacle, or interruption, we began to eye our gradually rising
situation in life--and looking over our shoulder, the sight of city
and sea was indeed magnificent. There in the distance rose North
Berwick Law--but though we have plenty of time now for description, we
had scant time then for beholding perhaps the noblest scenery in
Scotland. Up with us--up with us into the clouds--and just as St.
Giles's bells ceased to jingle, and both girths broke, we crowned the
summit, and sat on horseback like king Arthur himself, eight hundred
feet above the level of the sea!
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
John Leland, the father of the English antiquaries, was born in
London, about the end of the reign of Henry VII. He was a pupil to
William Lily, the celebrated grammarian--the first head master of St.
Paul's school; and by the kindness and liberality of a Mr. Myles, he
was sent to Christ's college. Cambridge. From this university he
removed to All Souls, Oxford, where he paid particular attention to
the Greek language. He afterwards went to Paris, where he cultivated
the acquaintance of the principal scholars of the age, and could
probably number among his correspondents the illustrious names of
Buddoeus, Erasmus, the Stephani, Faber, and Turnebus; in this city he
perfected himself in the knowledge of the Latin and Greek tongues,
to which he afterwards added that of several modern languages. On
his return to England he took orders, and was appointed one of the
chaplains to Henry VIII., who gave him the rectory of Popelay, in the
marshes of Calais, appointed him his library keeper, and conferred
on him the title of Royal Antiquary, which no other person in this
kingdom, before, or after possessed. In this character his majesty
in 1533 granted him a commission, empowering him to search after
England's antiquities, and peruse the libraries of all cathedrals,
abbeys, priories, colleges, &c., as also all the places wherein
records, writings, and whatever else was lodged that related to
antiquity. "Before Leland's time," says Hearne, in his preface to the
_Itinerary_, "all the literary monuments of antiquity were totally
disregarded; and the students of Germany apprised of this culpable
indifference, were suffered to enter our libraries unmolested, and to
cut out of the books deposited there whatever passages they thought
proper, which they afterwards published as relics of the ancient
literature of their own country."
In this research Leland was occupied above six years in travelling
through England, and in visiting all the remains of ancient buildings
and monuments of every kind. On its completion, he hastened to the
metropolis, to lay at the feet of his sovereign the result of his
labours, which he presented to Henry, under the title of a "New Year's
Gift," in which he says, "I have so traviled yn your dominions
booth by the se costes and the midle partes, sparing nother labor nor
costes, by the space of these vi. yeres paste, that there is almoste
nother cape, nor bay, haven, creke or peers, river or confluence of
rivers, breches, watchies, lakes, meres, fenny waters, montagnes,
valleis, mores, hethes, forestes, chases wooddes, cities, burges,
castelles, principale manor placis, monasteries, and colleges, but I
have seene them; and notid yn so doing a hole worlde of thinges very
At the dissolution of the monasteries, Leland made application to
Secretary Cromwell, to entreat his assistance in getting the MSS. they
contained sent to the king's library. In 1542 Henry presented him with
the valuable rectory of Hasely, in Oxfordshire; the year following he
preferred him to a canonry of King's college, now Christchurch,
Oxford, and about the same time collated him to a prebend in the
church of Sarum. As his duties in the church did not require much
active service, he retired with his collections to his house in
London, where he sat about digesting them, and preparing the
publication he had promised to the world; but either his intense
application, or some other cause, brought upon him a total derangement
of mind, and after lingering two years in this state, he died on the
18th of April, 1552.
The writings of Leland are numerous; in his lifetime he published
several Latin and Greek poems, and some tracts on antiquarian
subjects. His valuable and voluminous MSS., after passing through many
hands, came into the Bodleian library, furnishing very valuable
materials to Stow, Lambard, Camden, Burton, Dugdale, and many other
antiquaries and historians. Polydore Virgil, who had stolen from them
pretty freely, had the insolence to abuse Leland's memory--calling him
"a vain glorious man." From these collections Hall published, in 1709,
"Commentarii de Scriptoribus Brittanicis." "The Itinerary of John
Leland, Antiquary," was published by the celebrated Hearne, at Oxford,
in nine volumes, 8vo., 1710, of which a second edition was printed in
1745, with considerable improvements and additions. The same editor
published "Joannis Lelandi Antiquarii de Rebus Brittanicis
Collectanea." in six volumes, Oxon. 1716, 8vo.
[Footnote 4: This was published by Bale in 1549, 8vo.]
* * * * *
THE SELECTOR AND LITERARY NOTICES OF _NEW WORKS_.
* * * * *
[In a recent Number of the MIRROR we quoted from Mr. Montgomery's
_Pelican Island_ a beautiful description of the formation of coral
reefs or rocks; and we are now induced to resume our extracts from
this soul stirring poem, with the following description of the process
by which these reefs or rocks become beautiful and picturesque
islands. Mr. Montgomery's poetical talent is altogether of the highest
order, or, to use a familiar phrase, his _Pelican Island_ is "a gem of
the first water." How exquisite is the following picture of creation!]
Here was the infancy of life, the age
Of gold in that green isle, itself new-born,
And all upon it in the prime of being,
Love, hope, and promise, 'twas in miniature
A world unsoil'd by sin; a Paradise
Where Death had not yet enter'd; Bliss had newly
Alighted, and shut close his rainbow wings,
To rest at ease, nor dread intruding ill.
Plants of superior growth now sprang apace,
With moon-like blossoms crown'd, or starry glories;
Light flexible shrubs among the greenwood play'd
Fantastic freaks,--they crept, they climb'd, they budded,
And hung their flowers and berries in the sun;
As the breeze taught, they danced, they sung, they twined
Their sprays in bowers, or spread the ground with net-work.
Through the slow lapse of undivided time,
Silently rising from their buried germs,
Trees lifted to the skies their stately heads,
Tufted with verdure, like depending plumage,
O'er stems unknotted, waving to the wind:
Of these in graceful form, and simple beauty,
The fruitful cocoa and the fragrant palm
Excell'd the wilding daughters of the wood,
That stretch'd unwieldy their enormous arms,
Clad with luxuriant foliage, from the trunk,
Like the old eagle, feather'd to the heel;
While every fibre, from the lowest root
To the last leaf upon the topmost twig,
Was held by common sympathy, diffusing
Through all the complex frame unconscious life.
Such was the locust with its hydra boughs,
A hundred heads on one stupendous trunk;
And such the mangrove, which, at full-moon flood,
Appear'd itself a wood upon the waters,
But when the tide left bare its upright roots,
A wood on piles suspended in the air;
Such too the Indian fig, that built itself
Into a sylvan temple, arch'd aloof
With airy aisles and living colonnades,
Where nations might have worshipp'd God in peace.
From year to year their fruits ungather'd fell;
Not lost, but quickening where they lay, they struck
Root downward, and brake forth on every hand,
Till the strong saplings, rank and file, stood up,
A mighty army, which o'erran the isle,
And changed the wilderness into a forest.
All this appear'd accomplish'd in the space
Between the morning and the evening star:
So, in his third day's work, Jehovah spake,
And Earth, an infant, naked as she came
Out of the womb of chaos, straight put on
Her beautiful attire, and deck'd her robe
Of verdure with ten thousand glorious flowers,
Exhaling incense; crown'd her mountain-heads
With cedars, train'd her vines around their girdles,
And pour'd spontaneous harvests at their feet.
Nor were those woods without inhabitants
Besides the ephemera of earth and air;
--Where glid the sunbeams through the latticed boughs,
And fell like dew-drops on the spangled ground,
To light the diamond-beetle on his way;
--Where cheerful openings let the sky look down
Into the very heart of solitude,
On little garden-pots of social flowers,
That crowded from the shades to peep at daylight;
--Or where unpermeable foliage made
Midnight at noon, and chill, damp horror reign'd
O'er dead, fall'n leaves and slimy funguses;
--Reptiles were quicken'd into various birth.
Loathsome, unsightly, swoln to obscene bulk,
Lurk'd the dark toad beneath the infected turf;
The slow-worm crawl'd, the light cameleon climb'd,
And changed his colour as his pace he changed;
The nimble lizard ran from bough to bough,
Glancing through light, in shadow disappearing;
The scorpion, many-eyed, with sting of fire,
Bred there,--the legion-fiend of creeping things;
Terribly beautiful, the serpent lay,
Wreath'd like a coronet of gold and jewels,
Fit for a tyrant's brow; anon he flew
Straight as an arrow shot from his own rings,
And struck his victim, shrieking ere it went
Down his strain'd throat, that open sepulchre.
Amphibious monsters haunted the lagoon;
The hippopotamus, amidst the flood,
Flexile and active as the smallest swimmer;
But on the bank, ill balanced and infirm,
He grazed the herbage, with huge, head declined,
Or lean'd to rest against some ancient tree.
The crocodile, the dragon of the waters,
In iron panoply, fell as the plague,
And merciless as famine, cranch'd his prey,
While, from his jaws, with dreadful fangs all serried,
The life-blood dyed the waves with deadly streams.
The seal and the sea-lion, from the gulf
Came forth, and couching with their little ones.
Slept on the shelving rocks that girt the shores,
Securing prompt retreat from sudden danger;
The pregnant turtle, stealing out at eve,
With anxious eye, and trembling heart, explored
The loneliest coves, and in the loose warm sand
Deposited her eggs, which the sun hatch'd:
Hence the young brood, that never knew a parent,
Unburrow'd and by instinct sought the sea;
Nature herself, with her own gentle hand,
Dropping them one by one into the flood,
And laughing to behold their antic joy,
When launch'd in their maternal element.
The vision of that brooding world went on;
Millions of beings yet more admirable
Than all that went before them now appear'd;
Flocking from every point of heaven, and filling
Eye, ear, and mind, with objects, sounds, emotions
Akin to livelier sympathy and love
Than reptiles, fishes, insects, could inspire;
--Birds, the free tenants of land, air, and ocean,
Their forms all symmetry, their motions grace;
In plumage delicate and beautiful,
Thick without burthen, close as fishes' scales,
Or loose as full-blown poppies to the breeze;
With wings that might have had a soul within them,
They bore their owners by such sweet enchantment;
--Birds, small and great, of endless shapes and colours,
Here flew and perch'd, there swam and dived at pleasure;
Watchful and agile, uttering voices wild
And harsh, yet in accordance with the waves
Upon the beech, the winds in caverns moaning,
Or winds and waves abroad upon the water.
Some sought their food among the finny shoals,
Swift darting from the clouds, emerging soon
With slender captives glittering in their beaks;
These in recesses of steep crags constructed
Their eyries inaccessible, and train'd
Their hardy broods to forage in all weathers;
Others, more gorgeously apparell'd, dwelt
Among the woods, on Nature's dainties feeding,
Herbs, seeds, and roots; or, ever on the wing,
Pursuing insects through the boundless air:
In hollow trees or thickets these conceal'd
Their exquisitely woven nests; where lay
Their callow offspring, quiet as the down
On their own breasts, till from her search the dam
With laden bill return'd, and shared the meal
Among the clamorous suppliants, all agape;
Then, cowering o'er them with expanded wings,
She felt how sweet it is to be a mother.
Of these, a few, with melody untaught,
Turn'd all the air to music within hearing,
Themselves unseen; while bolder quiristers
On loftier branches strain'd their clarion-pipes,
And made the forest echo to their screams
Discordant,--yet there was no discord there,
But temper'd harmony: all tones combining,
In the rich confluence often thousand tongues,
To tell of joy and to inspire it. Who
Could hear such concert, and not join in chorus?
Not I;--sometimes entranced, I seem'd to float
Upon a buoyant sea of sounds: again
With curious ear I tried to disentangle
The maze of voices, and with eye as nice
To single out each minstrel, and pursue
His little song through all its labyrinth,
Till my soul enter'd into him, and felt
Every vibration of his thrilling throat,
Pulse of his heart, and flutter of his pinions.
Often, as one among the multitude,
I sang from very fulness of delight;
Now like a winged fisher of the sea,
Now a recluse among the woods,--enjoying
The bliss of all at once, or each in turn.
* * * * *
RAPIDS OF NIAGARA.
The Rapids begin about half a mile above the cataract; and although
the breadth of the river might at first make them appear of little
importance, a nearer inspection will convince the stranger of their
actual size, and the terrific danger of the passage. The inhabitants
of the neighbourhood regard it as certain death to get once involved
in them; and that, not merely because all escape from the cataract
would be hopeless, but because the violent force of the water among
the rocks in the channel, would instantly dash the bones of a man in
pieces. Instances are on record of persons being carried down by the
stream; indeed there was an instance of two men carried over in March
last; but no one is known to have ever survived. Indeed, it is very
rare that the bodies are found; as the depth of the gulf below the
cataract, and the tumultuous agitation of the eddies, whirlpools, and
counter currents, render it difficult for any thing once sunk to rise
again; while the general course of the water is so rapid, that it is
soon hurried far down the stream. The large logs which are brought
down in great numbers during the spring, bear sufficient testimony to
these remarks. Wild ducks, geese, &c. are frequently precipitated over
the cataract, and generally re-appear either dead, or with their legs
or wings broken. Some say that water-fowl avoid the place when able to
escape, but that the ice on the shores of the river above often
prevents them from obtaining food, and that they are carried down from
mere inability to fly; while others assert that, they are sometimes
seen voluntarily riding among the rapids, and, after descending
half-way down the cataract, taking wing, and returning to repeat their
dangerous amusement.--_American Work_.
* * * * *
Sir Knight, heed not the clarion's call,
From hill, or from valley, or turretted hall;
Cease, holy Friar, cease for awhile
The anthem that swells through the fretted aisle;
Forester bold, to the bugle's sound
Listen no longer, though gaily wound,
But haste to the bridal, haste away,
Where love's rebeck is tuned to a sweeter lay.
Sir Knight, Sir Knight, no longer twine
The laurel-leaf o'er that bold brow of thine;
Friar, to-day from thy temples tear
The ivy garland that sages wear;
To-day, bold Forester, cast aside
Thy oak-leaf crown, the woodland's pride,
And bind round your brows the myrtle gay,
While the rebeck resounds love's sweetest lays.
Sir Knight, urge not now the gallant steed
O'er the plains that to honour and glory lead;
Friar, forget thy order's vow,
And pace not the gloomy cloisters now.
Chase no longer with bow and with spear,
Forester bold, the dappled deer,
But tread me a measure as light and gay
As ever kept lime to the rebeck's lay.
_Neele's Romance of History_.
* * * * *
"I am but a _Gatherer_ and disposer of other men's stuff."--_Walton_.
* * * * *
Sterne pitied the man who could travel from Dan to Beersheba, and say
all "was barren:" however delighted travellers or tourists may be on
their journey, it is surprising how few details are preserved in their
memory. This occasioned Dr. Johnson to remark, in his "Tour to the
Hebrides," how much the lapse even "of a few hours takes from the
certainty of knowledge, and the distinctness of imagery;" and that
"those who trust to memory what cannot be safely trusted but to the
eye, must tell by guess, what a few hours before they had known with
certainty." We were never more convinced of the importance of these
observations than after our first visit to the dock-yard, at
Portsmouth. In collating some little memoranda made on the spot, we
referred to our party, (_seven_ in number) on our return to the inn,
for the _extent_ of the dock-yard: not one of them could give a
correct answer, though all had just heard it detailed and explained
with accuracy. Dr. Kitchener may well recommend tourists to walk about
with note-books in their hands! and such inadvertence as the preceding
almost warrants the oddity of his suggestion.
* * * * *
MOTTOES FOR DECANTER LABELS.
Arridet PORTus? subeat non causa doloris.
SumebatiS HERI? non dolor est hodie.
Hic liquor est molLIS BONus, aptus ad omnia laeta.
Oppida ne CALCA VALLAta ad praelia, quoerens, Sisonitum capias ecce tibi
Dum lucet CLARE Te magis iste trahat.
* * * * *
Dr. Gregory, father of the late celebrated professor in Edinburgh,
when a student in a part of Germany where _malaria_ prevailed, from
being a philosopher and living low, _drinking only water_, was seized
with intermittent fever, when his jolly companions, who ate and drank
freely, escaped. If brandy or other stimulants are taken previous to
exposure to malaria, intermittent fever is generally prevented. Such
are the opinions of the doctor, and if Dr. Macculloch be right, we
suggest the establishment of a brandy vault at each angle of the
parks, that every passenger may prepare himself.
* * * * *
When the late Lord Howe was a captain, a lieutenant, not remarkable
for courage or presence of mind in dangers (common fame had brought
some imputation upon his character) ran to the great cabin and
informed his commander that the ship was on fire near the gun-room.
Soon after this he returned exclaiming, "You need not be afraid as the
fire is extinguished." "_Afraid!_" replied Captain H. a little
nettled, "how does a man _feel_, Sir, when he is afraid? I need not
ask how he _looks_."
* * * * *
We frequently find backgammon boards with backs lettered as if they
were two folio volumes. The origin of it was thus; Eudes, bishop of
Sully, forbade his clergy to play at chess. As they were resolved not
to obey the commandment, and yet dared not have a chess-board seen in
their houses or cloisters, they had them bound and lettered as books,
and played at night, before they went to bed, instead of reading the
New Testament or the Lives of the Saints; and the monks called the
draft or chess-board their _wooden gospels_. They had also drinking
vessels bound to resemble the breviary, and were found drinking, when
it was supposed they were at prayer.--_Literary Gazette_.
* * * * *
LOVE OF THE COUNTRY.
Country people will tell you that they like the country, and detest
the town, although their enjoyments are of a kind which may be
obtained in far greater perfection in the latter than in the former.
The only person I ever knew who was honest in this respect, was a
gentleman, the possessor of a beautiful seat, in a beautiful country,
when he avowed his opinion, that there was "no garden like
Covent-garden, and no flower like a cauliflower."
* * * * *
The _Morning Chronicle_, Nov. 20, in noticing the funeral of the late
Mr. Sale, says, "At a little after three o'clock, the body of the
lamented gentleman entered the church."
* * * * *
LIMBIRD'S EDITION OF THE BRITISH NOVELIST, Publishing in Monthly
Parts, price 6d. each.--Each Novel will be complete in itself, and may
be purchased separately.
_The following Novels are already Published:_
Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield 0 10
The Mysteries of Udolpho 3 6
Mackenzie's Man of Feeling 0 6
Rasselas 0 8
Paul and Virginia 0 6
The Old English Baron 0 8
The Castle of Otranto 0 8
The Romance of the Forest 1 8
Almoran and Hamet 0 6
Elizabeth, or the Exiles of Siberia 0 6
Nature and Art 0 8
The Italian 2 0
A Simple Story 1 4
The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne 0 6
Sicilian Romance 1 0
The Man of the World 1 0
Zelaco, by Dr. Moore 2 0
Joseph Andrews 1 6
Humphry Clinker 1 8
Edward, by Dr. Moore 2 6
* * * * *
_Published by J. LIMBIRD, 143, Strand, London, and Sold by all
Booksellers and Newsmen_.
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