« PreviousContinue »
on which I was perched on the discovery of so extraordinary a volume. I saw that these books were taken care of, so I did not much like to ask whether they would part with them. After walking about the monastery with the monks, as I was going away the agoumenos said he wished he had anything which he could present to me as a memorial of my visit to the convent of St. Paul. On this a brisk fire of reciprocal compliments ensued, and I observed that I should like to take a
a book. 'Oh! by all means!' he said; 'we make no use of the old books, and should be glad if you would accept one.' We returned to the library; and the agoumenos took one out at a hazard, as you might take a brick or a stone out of a pile, and presented it to me. Quoth I,
'If you don't care what book it is that you are so good as to give me let me take one which pleases me; and, so saying, I took down the illuminated folio of the Bulgarian Gospels, and I could hardly believe I was awake when the agoumenos gave it into my hands. Perhaps the greatest piece of impertinence of which I was ever guilty was when I asked to buy another; but that they insisted upon giving me also; so I took the other two copies of the Gospels mentioned above, all three as freewill gifts. I felt almost ashamed at accepting these two last books; but who could resist it, knowing that they were utterly valueless to the monks, and were not saleable in the bazaar at Constantinople, Smyrna, Salonica, or any neighbouring city?" &c.
We must now reluctantly conclude our learned pilgrimage, and dismount from the faithful mule who has so patiently carried us and our learned satchels from cell to cell; we have had good assurance, from experience, that those calm monastic solitudes are not without their substantial comforts and blessings; but, while Bacchus and Ceres do not withhold their liberal hands, it would appear that as yet Venus, more coy or more cautious, has not directed her doves to these retreats.
"The same evening I got back to my comfortable room at Xeropotamo, and did ample justice to a good meagre dinner after the heat and fatigues of the day. A monk had arrived from one of the outlying farms, who could speak a little Italian; he was deputed to do the honours of the house, and accordingly dined with
He was a magnificent-looking man of thirty or thirty-five years of age, with large eyes and long black hair and beard. As we sat together in the evening in the ancient room, by the light of one dim brazen lamp, with deep shades thrown across his face and figure, I thought he would have made an admirable study for Titian, or Sebastian del Piombo. In the course of conversation I found that he had learnt Italian from another monk, having never been out of the peninsula of Mount Athos. His parents, and most of the other inhabitants of the village where he was born, somewhere in Roumelia-but its name or exact position he did not knowhad been massacred during some revolt or disturbance, so he had been told, but he
remembered nothing about it: he had been educated in a school in this or one of the other monasteries, and his whole life had been passed upon the Holy Mountain; and this, he said, was the case with very many other monks. He did not remember his mother, and did not seem quite sure that he ever had one; he had never seen a woman, nor had he any idea what sort of things women were or what they looked like. He asked me whether they resembled the pictures of the Panagia, the Holy Virgin, which hang in every church. Now those who are conversant with the peculiar conventional representations of the Blessed Virgin in the pictures of the Greek Church, which are all exactly alike, stiff, hard, and dry, without any appearance of life or emotion, will agree with me that they do not afford a very favourable idea of the grace or beauty of the fair sex; and that there was a difference of appearance between black women, Circassians, and those of other nations, which was, however, difficult to describe to one who had never seen a lady of any race. He listened
angelic expression, so much to be admired in the works of Beato Angelico, Giovanni Bellini, and other early Italian masters, are not to be found. The more exalted and
refined feeling which prompted these sublime works, seems never to have existed in the Greek Church, which goes on century after century, even to the present time, using the same conventional stiff forms, so that to the unpractised eye there would be considerable difficulty in discovering the difference between a Greek picture of a saint of the ninth century from one of the nineteenth." See p. 300.
with great interest, while I told him that all women were not exactly like the pictures he had seen; but I did not think it charitable to carry on the conversation further, although the poor monk seemed to have a strong inclination to know more of that interesting race of beings from whose society he had been so entirely de
barred. I often thought afterwards of the singular lot of this manly and noble-looking monk, whether he is still a recluse, either in the monastery or in his mountain farm, with its little moss-grown chapel as ancient as the days of Constantine; or whether he has gone out into the world and mingled in its pleasures and its cares," &c. thought that it was only in an en
This is a strange story, for we
Prospero.-Fatally beauteous, and have killing eyes.
Of the unblemished honour which you taught me.
"MARSHAL Saxe married a lady he had no violent attachment to, only because her Christian name was Victoire. Nor did she conquer him at last; they lived ill together, and parted."
Gallantry.-I had once an opportunity, not actually of seeing, but of knowing with certainty, a most congenial occasion on which it was exerted by a man little known as a saint or hero, and whose character could scarce be made of consequence to his contemporaries, even by giving an example of such gallant manner as would have immortalized a Greek or Roman warrior. Mr. P———, then, was passenger on board a British vessel wrecked on the Grippers. The ship was sinking, and its long-boat filling apace—one other person could alone be admitted, while the cockswain kept his pistol primed to shoot if more than one should attempt to enter. P was ready; but a gentleman standing near him on the deck, feeble and sickly, wept bitterly from anguish at seeing his wretched life devoted to destruction. 'Take my place, sir,' says Mr. P——; ‘I believe I can swim a little,'--and actually pushed his willing friend into the boat, committing himself to the fury of the waves."
"Hurry-Richardson calls hurry a female word, and perhaps women do
make use of it oftener than men. They consider it as synonymous with agitation, and say they have a hurry of spirits."
“Disannul is a favourite word among the vulgar here in England, who misapply it comically enough. I asked the late Lord Halifax's gardener for a walk and summer house I used to see
at Horton: There was such a walk once (replied the man); but my Lord disannulled it.""
"Of the word persevering I find the most elegant example in the Preface to Jacob Bryant's Book of Mythology. 'We are often (says he), by the importunity of a persevering writer, teased into an unsatisfactory compliance, and yield a painful assent; but upon closing the volume our scruples return, and we relapse into doubt and darkness. Such is not his own mode of convincing however. His treatise on the Authenticity of Scripture and the Truth of our Holy Religion,' can find no rival nearer than Grotius; whilst our English dissertator ought to be neglected by no rank or condition of men who esteem sound learning, revere piety, or wish for clear information."
"Dr. Johnson said, no man was ever persuaded to give a vote contrary to
"Ostentation.-I have seen this instance of folly (of an Athenian, who to show that he had sacrificed an ox stuck up his head and horns in front of his house), surpassed by an acquaintance of my own, whose ostentation, combined with vanity and lying, prompted him to purchase pea-hulls of the great fruiterers early in April, at eighteen pence the basket, only to fling before his door, that those who passed through Parliament Street to the House of Commons might be led to think he had been eating green peas at a guinea the pint."
"I recollect but one passage where pace is made poetical, and that is in Hawksworth's beautiful Ode upon Life,
where the shadows rise.
Ah! my future self I trace,
“Dr. Johnson used always to say there was a sex in words. If so, the word parts has belonged by custom immemorial to the men, and accomplishments to the ladies."
"I may tell my readers how one of his (Hutton's) female missionaries for North America replied to Dr. Johnson, who, asking if she was not fearful of her health in those cold countries, received for answer, Why, sir, I am devoted to the service of my Saviour; and, whether that may be best or most usefully carried on here or on the coast of Labrador, it is Mr. Hutton's business to settle. I will do my part, either in a brick house or a snow house, with equal alacrity; for you know it is the same thing with regard to my own soul."
"I well remember one day at Sir Joshua Reynolds's house some gentlemen coming in with a foreigner to show him the pictures; and, pointing
out Johnson's, when he asked whose was that? Johnson the philosopher,' says one of the company; 'Johnson the great writer,' cries another, interrupting him; our famous author, sir,' said the master of the house. 'N'est ce pas le poete?' inquired our visitant. When the doctor came in, half an hour after, I asked him which he loved best of his panegyrists. 'I love none of the rogues,' replied he, merrily; and am only sorry it was not Reynolds who called me the poet. That dog of a Frenchman took it for Ben's portrait, I am afraid.'"
"I find it skilful and acute to dig out declarations of something to come from Lacey's Warnings or Fleming's curious Sermon,* which, instead of being considered as an attempt to explain the prophecies of St. John's Apocalypse, is now half looked up to as being in its own self prophetic,-a mistake which would have grieved, not flattered, the ingenious author, whose skill in calculation deserves much respect, and whose prediction respecting the fate of France has been surprisingly verified, as all Europe must allow." (This was written in 1794.)
"Primate — archbishop-metropolitan. After this and out of this (metropolitan) came the word metrocomia, or principal borough, having other boroughs or villages under its jurisdiction, as I understood Dr. Johnson, who was zealous in his wishes to fix that distinction upon Southwark, but never could possess himself of facts. He said, however, the still remaining title of rural dean in our language was a remnant of the old chorepiscopus."
"The Fable of the Bees,' written to prove that private vices are public benefits, is of a most pernicious tendency indeed; for there is little need of inducement to vice or dissipation, and the idea that such are beneficial to the state affords shelter to wickedness under the mask of patriotism. The best way of answering Mandeville is to show that he has artfully omitted
*The Rod or the Sword, a Discourse
from Ezekiel, chap. xxi. 13. 8vo. 1793. Applied to the trial, condemnation, and execution of Louis XVI.
drawing the line between competence and luxury, &c. Much of Law's Serious Call is written in the Mandevillian spirit, and, though done with a better spirit, is likely enough to produce somewhat of a similar effect."
"Give me two shirts this morning,' said King Charles when he went to execution, for I perceive the weather is unusually cold, and, if I am seen to sharer from the sense of it, these rascals will try to make mankind believe I shook for fear of them.”
"Dr. Johnson, who asserts that a quibble was to Shakspere the fatal Cleopatra for which he lost the world, and was content to lose it, detested punning, yet always celebrated a reply in which the play of words was certainly all the merit. I never heard it but from him, who told me that a lawyer, when desired by his opposite counsel to produce a precedent in answer to that which he alleged from Burn, suddenly replied, 'I can quote instantly an opinion to the contrary, and quote it from Kill Burn too.'"
"Doctor Leigh,† the aged Master of Baliol, in his very last hours, hearing people round his head whispering one another how such a friend was married the day before, said in a faint voice,
He used to eat eggs for supper every night, so I hope he'll find this yoke sit as easy."
"All the vis comica of Ben Jonson's plays consists in the gratification of our spleen by seeing men foiled, chiefly
* Mrs. Piozzi's is a perfectly just criticism on Mandeville's reasoning. Adam Smith says, "The great fallacy of Mandeville's book is to represent every passion as wholly vicious which is so in any degree or in any direction."-See Moral Sentiments, chap. IV. sect. vii. part 2. We could fill a page by only referring to the answers which this book of Mandeville's has called forth from the time of Warburton and Justin down to Mackintosh and Whateley. On the very different work, Law's Serious Call, see Boswell's Johnson, vol. i. p. 69, 137; and vol. ix. p. 153.-ED.
†Theophilus Leigh, D.D. Vice-Chancellor 1737-40.
with the assistance of their own avarice or other vicious appetites, till artful knaves, knowing how to stimulate the same, dupe them into idiotism; while, on the other hand, his spirit of poetical justice satisfies at last our honest indignation, by exhibiting the punishment of those who take advantage of their neighbours' weakness, to compensate for the defect in their own strength; as no man sure is much less wise than he who is but just cunning enough to trick his empty, unsuspicious neighbour."
"Dryden was a mighty reader of Spanish literature.”
"While we are inclined to admire Shakspere's astonishing powers of invention, we admire Waller's ingenuity, displayed in several little poems with wonderful dexterity and neatness. Witness the Girdle, the Marriage of the Dwarfs, and the Lady who Sings the Song he wrote, with two or three more."
"Some pretty unowned verses on the death of Dr. Franklin being in my possession, but never printed to my knowledge, shall close this article.
Like a Newton sublimely he soared To a summit before ne'er attained; New regions of science explored,
And the palm of philosophy gained.
From a spark which he brought from the skies
Had he wisely but learn'd to pursue
The bright track for his talents design'd, What a tribute of praise had been due To the teacher and friend of mankind.
But to covet political fame
Was in him a degrading ambition,"Twas a spark that from Lucifer came, And first kindled the blaze of sedition.
May not Candour then write on his urnHere, alas lies a noted inventor, Whose fame up to heaven should burn, But, inverted, descends to the centre?
"The famous Christopher Smart, who was both a wit and a scholar, and visited as such while under confinement for madness, would never have had a commission of lunacy taken out against him had he managed with equal ingenuity to a friend of Mrs. Piozzi's, who for ten years durst never eat an apple lest it should make him drunk, but, assigning no reason for his forbearance, the oddity escaped notice; for Smart's melancholy showed itself only in a preternatural excitement to prayer, which he held it as a duty not to control or repress, taking au pied de la lettre our Saviour's injunction to pray without ceasing, so that, beginning by regular addresses at stated times to the Almighty, he went on to call his friends from their dinners, or beds, or places of recreation, whenever that impetus towards prayer pressed upon his mind. In every other transaction of life no man's wits could be more regular than those of Smart, for this prevalence of one idea pertinaciously keeping the first place in his head had in no sense, except in what immediately related to itself, perverted his judgment at all; his opinions were unchanged as before, nor did he seem more likely to fall into a state of distraction than any other man; less so, perhaps, as he calmed every violent start of passion by prayer."
"When the faux Martin Guerre came to France from India, and took possession of the house, lands, wife, &c. of a man whom he strongly resembled, and who by four or five years of absence from his family was so forgotten by them that neither brother nor sisters found out the imposture,-their caresses and obedience, the rents and profits, were all intended for the person of another man, and were only paid to him by a fatal but innocent mistake. But when a jury condemned a man wholly unconcerned in the business to suffer for a crime one of themselves had committed, nor ever found out that good evidence was wanting to prove his guilt till the real perpetrator of the murder owned it himself in private to the judge, they acted
with too little caution, and have been always justly censured for the error. The facts are all acknowledged ones."
"We know almost the street a man resides in in London-at least the company he has kept by a peculiar strain of discourse, which, though endurable enough as long as the talk is serious, relapses into wretchedness the moment a jest is attempted. I have heard Dr. Johnson say there was such a thing as a city voice-a city laugh there is, that's certain, different from that of the people who inhabit, and have from their youth inhabited, the court end of the town."
"'Tis strange when onomancy was so much regarded as it was in Rome, that a man should ever have been tempted to give his son an unlucky one. Yet we find Livy calling 'Atrius Umber, abominandi ominis nomen,' and the name Lyco was as unpleasant to Plautus. Edmund Smith, ever attentive to antiquity, keeps that name for the betrayer of Hippolytus in his Phædra, I remember; and there has always been a good hope going with a name, however such fancies may be disclaimed. Why else do Romanists still call their sons Evangelista or Natale? Nothing can be more senseless, -scarcely anything more absurd,except christening a baby Giam-battista, as they do in all parts of Italy for ever, without reflecting that he might as rationally be called Charlemagne or Alexander the Great, these being merely appellations that agreed only with the fortunate individuals on whom they were first bestowed; and I remember Dr. Johnson reprimanding a lady of his and my acquaintance for baptising her daughter Augusta.' The truth is, the Puritans who to obtain heaven for their young give the names of Hold-the-faith, or Stand-fast, are wiser than these; and a gentleman of undoubted veracity told me once of a pious friend he had who promised if his wife brought him a daughter that year, in which he received some signal mercy from heaven, that he would in gratitude call the girl Mesopotamia.” (To be continned.)