Dedication, vi: And Wordsworth has his place in the Excise.
Wordsworth's place may be in the Customs — it is, I think, in that or the Excise — besides another at Lord Lonsdale's table, where this poetical charlatan and political parasite licks up the crumbs with a hardened alacrity; the converted Jacobin having long subsided in the the clownish sycophant of the worst prejudices of the aristocracy.
Dedication, xi: And heartless daughters—worn—and pale—and poor.
'Pale, but not cadaverous:' — Milton's two elder daughters are said to have robbed him of his books, besides cheating and plaguing him in the economy of his house, &c. &c. His feelings on such an outrage, both as a parent and a scholar, must have been singularly painful. Hayley compares him to Lear. See part third, Life of Milton, by W. Hayley (or Hailey, as spelt in the edition before me.)
Dedication, xi: The intellectual eunuch Castlereagh?
Would he subside into a hackney Laureate —
A scribbling, self-sold, soul-hired, scorn'd Iscariot?
I doubt if 'Laureate' and Iscariot' be good rhymes, but must say, as Ben Jonson did to Sylvester, who challanged him to rhyme with —
I, John Sylvester,
Lay with your sister.
Jonson answered — 'I, Ben Jonson, lay with your wife.' Sylvester answered, — 'That is not rhyme.' — 'No,' said Ben Jonson; 'but it is true.'
Dedication, xv: Eutropius of its many masters, — blind
For the character of Eutropius, the eunuch and minister at the court of Arcadius, see Gibbon.
Dedication, xvii: Is it not so, my Tory, Ultra-Julian?
I allude not to our friend Landor's hero, the traitor Count Julian, but to Gibbon's hero, vulgarly yclept, 'The Apostate.'
Canto I, xvii: Save thine "incomparable oil", Macassar
Description des vertus incomparables de l'Huile de Macascar. — See the Advertisement.
Canto I, xxxv: As Numa's (who as also named Pompilius).
--- primus qui legibus urbem
Fundabit, curibus parvis et paupere terrâ
Missus in imperius magnum. — Virg.
Canto I, xliv: They only add them all in an appendix.
Fact! There is, or was, such an edition, with all the obnoxious epigrams of Martial placed by themselves at the end.
Canto I, xlvii: Which make the reader envy his transgressions.
See his Confessions, I.i.c.ix. By the representation which Saint Augustine gives of himself in his youth, it is easy to see that he was what we should call a rake. He avoided the school as the plague; he loved nothing but gaming and public shows, he robbed his father of everything he could find; he invented a thousand lies to escape the rod, which they were obliged to make use of to punish his irregularities.
Canto I, lxiv: ('Twas snow that brought St. Anthony to reason).
For the particulars of St. Anthony's recipe for hot blood in cold weather, see Mr. Alban Butler's 'Lives of the Saints.'
Canto I, lxxxvi: In feelings quick as Ovid's Miss Medea,
See Ovid. de Art. Amand. l. ii.
Canto I, lxxxviii: The bard I quote from does not sing amiss
Campbell's Gertrude of Wyoming — (I think) — the opening of Canto Second — but quote from memory.
Canto I, cxlviii: Was it for this that no Cortejo e'er…
The Spanish 'Cortejo' is much the same as the Italian 'Cavalier Servente.'
Canto I, xxlviii: Who took Algiers, declares I used him vilely?
Donna Julia here made a mistake. Count O'Reilly did not take Algiers — but Algiers very nearly took him: he and his army and fleet retreated with great loss, and not much credit, from that city, in the year 1775.
Canto I, ccxvi: My days of love are over; me no more…
Me nec femina, nec puer
Jam, nec spes animi credula mutui,
Nec certare juvat mero;
Nec vincire novis tempora floribus. — Hor.
Canto II, vii: Excepting the Venetian Fazzioli.
Fazzioli — literally, the little handkerchiefs — the veils most availing of St. Mark.
Canto II, lxxxiii: Remember Ugllino condescends.
Quondò ebbe detto ciò, con occhi torti
Riprese il teschio misero co' denti,
Che furo all' osso, come d'un can forti.
Canto III, x: Dante…
Dante calls his wife, in the 'Inferno', 'la fiera moglie.'
Canto III, x: Milton,…
Milton's first wife ran away from him within the first month. If she had not, what would John Milton have done?
Canto III, xlv: For none likes more to hear himself converse
Rispone allor' Margutte, a dir tel tosto,
Io non credo piu al nero ch' all' azzurro:
Ma nel cappone, olesso, o vuogli arrosto,
E credo alcuna volta anco nel burro;
Nella cervigia, e quando io n' ho nel mosto,
E molto più nell' espro che il mangurro;
Ma sopra tutto nel bon vino ho fede,
E credo che sia salvo chi gli crede. —
Pulci , Morgante Maggiore. ca. 18. st. 151.
Canto III, lxxi: That e'er by precious metal was held in.
The dress is Moorish, and the bracelets and bar are worn in the manner described. The reader will perceive hereafter, that as the mother of Haidée was of Fez, her daughter wore the garb of the country.
Canto III, lxxii: A like gold bar above her instep roll'd.
The bar of gold above the instep is a mark of sovereign rank in the women of the families of the deys, and is worn as such by their female relatives.
Canto III, lxxiii: Her person if allow'd at large to run.
This is no exaggeration: there were four women whom I remember to have seen, who possessed their hair in thie profusion; of these, three were English, the other was a Levantine. Their hair was of that length and quantity, that, when let down, it almost entirely shaded the person, so as nearly to render dress a superfluity. Of these, only one had dark hair; the Oriental had, perhaps, the lightest colour of the four.
Canto III, 'The Isles of Greece' 2: Than your sires' "Islands of the Blest."
The [blessed isles] of the Greek poets were supposed to have been the Cape de Verd islands or the Canaries.
Canto III, 'The Isles of Greece' 4: And when the sun set where were they?
Deep were the groans of Xerxes, when he saw
This havoc; for his seat, a lofty mound
Commanding the wide sea, o'erlook'd the hosts.
With rueful cries he rent his royal robes,
And through his troops embattled on the shore
Gave signal of retreat; then started wild
And fled disorder'd. — Æschylus.
Canto III, 'The Isles of Greece' 16: There swan-like, let me sing and die.
Soph. Ajax, v. 1217.
Canto III, xci: For the first Mrs. Milton left his house.
See Johnson's Life of Milton.
Canto III, c: Can sneer at him who drew "Achitophel!"
'The verses of Dryden, once highly celebrated, are forgotten.' — Mr. W. Wordsworth's Preface .
Canto III, cviii: Ah! surely nothing dies but something mourns.
Era gia l' ora che volge 'l disio,
A' naviganti, e' ntenerisce il cuore,
Lo di ch' han detto a' dolci amici a dio;
E che lo nuovo peregrin' d' amore
Punge se ode Squilla di lontano,
Che paia 'l giorno pianger che si muore.
— Dante's Purgatory , canto viii.
This last line is the first of Gray's Elegy, taken by him [not] without acknowledgment.
Canto III, cix: Some hands unseen strewed flowers upon his tomb
See Suetonius for this fact.
Canto IV, xii: "Whom the gods love die young," was said of yore
See Herodotus (Cleobis and Biton). The sentiment is in a fragment of Meander.
Canto IV, lix: A vein had burst, and her sweet lips' pure dyes.
This is no very uncommon effect of the violence of conflicting and different passions. The Doge Francis Foscari, on his deposition in 1457, hearing the bells of St. Mark announce the election of his successor, 'Mourut subitement d'une hémorragie causée par une veine qui s'éclata dans sa poitrine,' (see Sismondi and Daru, vols. i. and ii.) at the age of eighty years, when 'Who would have thought the old man had so much blood in him?' Before I was sixteen years of age, I was witness to a melancholy instance of the same effect of mixed passions upon a young person, who, however, did not die in consequence, at that time, but fell a victim some years afterwards to a seizure of the same kind, arising from causes intimately connected with agitation of mind.
Canto IV, lxxx: But sold by the impresario at no high rate.
This is a fact. A few years ago a man engaged a company for some foreign theatre, embarked them at an Italian port, and carrying them to Algiers, sold them all. One of the women, returned from her captivity, I heard sing by a strange coincidence, in Rossini's opera of "L'Italian in Algieri," at Venice, in the beginning of 1817.
Canto IV, lxxxvi: From all the Pope makes yearly 'twould perplex.
It is strange that it should be the Pope and the Sultan who are the chief encouragers of this branch of trade — women being prohibited as singers at St. Peter's, and not deemed trustworthy as guardians of the harem.
Canto V, iii: Sprinkled with palaces; the Ocean stream…
This expression of Homer has been much criticised. It hardly answers to our Atlantic ideas of the ocean, but is sufficiently applicable to the Hellespont, and the Bosphorus, with the Ægean intersected with islands.
Canto V, v: 'Tis a grand sight from off "the Giant's Grave"
The 'Giant's Grave' is a height on the Asiatic shore of the Bosphorus, much frequented by holiday parties; like Harrow and Highgate.
Canto V, xxxi: Of food I think with Philip's son, or rather…
See Plutarch in Alex., Q. Curt. Hist. Alex., and Sir Richard Clayton's "Critical Inquiry into the Life of Alexander the Great."
Canto V, xxxiii: Stretch'd in the street, and scarce able to pant.
The assassination alluded to took place on the 8th of December, 1820, in the streets of Ravenna, not a hundred paces from the residence of the writer. The circumstances were as described.
Canto V, xl: Wond'ring what next, till the caïque was brought.
The light and elegant wherries plying about the quays of Constantinople are so called.
Canto V, xliv: From Saint Bartholomew we have saved our skin.
St. Bartholomew is said to have been flayed alive.
Canto V, liii: Prepared for supper with a glass of rum.
In Turkey nothing is more common than for the Mussulmans to take several glasses of strong spirits by way of appetizer. I have seen them take as many as six of raki before dinner, and swear that they dined the better for it: I tried the experiment, but fared like the Scotchman, who having heard that the birds called kittiwakes were admirable whets, ate six of them, and complained that 'he was no hungrier than when he began.'
Canto V, lv: Splendid but silent, save in one , where a dropping…
A common furniture. I recollect being received by Ali Pacha, in a large room, paved with marble, containing a marble basin, and a fountain playing in the centre, &c. &c.
Canto V, lx: And calumniated queen Semiramis.
Babylon was enlarged by Nimrod, strengthened and beautified by Nabuchadonosor, and rebuilt by Semiramis.
Canto V, lxxxvii: The gate so splendid was in all its features.
Features of a gate — a ministerial metaphor: 'the feature upon which this question hinges.' See the 'Fudge Family,' or hear Castlereagh.
Canto V, xcii: A good deal practised here upon occasion.
A few years ago the wife of Muchtar Pacha complained to his father of his son's supposed infidelity: he asked with whom, and she had the barbarity to give in a list of the twelve handsomest women in Yanina. They were seized, fastened in sacks, and drowned in the lake the same night. One of the guards who was present informed me, that not one of the victims uttered a cry, or showed a symptom of terror at so sudden a 'wrench from all we know, all we love.'
Canto V, cvi: Though on more thorough-bred or fairer fingers…
There is nothing, perhaps, more distinctive of birth than the hand. It is almost the only sign of blood which aristrocracy can generate.
Canto V, cxlvii: Save Solyman, the glory of their line.
It may not be unworthy of remark, that Bacon, in his essay on 'Empire,' hints that Solyman was the last of his line; on what authority, I know not. These are his words: — 'The destruction of Mustapha was so fatal to Solyman's line, as the succession of the Turks from Solyman until this day is suspected to be untrue, and of strange blood; for that Selymus the second was thought to be suppositious.' But Bacon, in his historical authorities, is often inaccurate. I could give half-a-dozen instances from his Apophthegms only.
Bacon's Apophthegms. Observations.
Michael Angelo, the famous painter, painting in the Pope's chapel the portraiture of hell and damned souls, made one of the damned souls so like a cardinal that was his enemy, as everybody at first sight knew it; whereupon the cardinal complained to Pope Clement, humbly praying it might be defaced. The Pope said to him, Why, you know very well I have power to deliver a soul out of purgatory, but not out of hell.
This was not the portrait of a cardinal, but of the Pope's master of the ceremonies.
Alexander, after the battle of Branicum, had very great offers made him by Darius. Consulting with his captains concerning them, Parmenio said, Sure, I would accept of these offers, if I were as Alexander. Alexander answered, So would I, if I were as Parmenio.
It was after the battle of Issus and during the siege of Tyre, and not immediately after the passage of the Granicus, that this is said to have occurred.
Antigonus, when it was told him that the enemy had such volleys of arrows that they did hide the sun, said, That falls out well, for it is hot weather, and so we shall fight in the shade.
This was not said by Antigonus, but by a Spartan, previously to the battle of Thermopylæ.
There was a philosopher that disputed with Adrian the Emperor, and did it but weakly. One of his friends that stood by afterwards said unto him, Methinks you were not like yourself last day, in argument with the Emperor: I could have answered better myself. Why, said the philosopher, would you have me contend with him that commands thirty legions?
This happened under Augustus Cæsar, and not under the reign of Adrian.
There was one that found a great mass of money, digging underground in his grandfather's house, and being somewhat doubtful of the case signified it to the emperor that he had found such treasure. The emperor made a rescript thus: Use it. He writ back again, that the sum was greater than his state of condition could use. The emperor writ a new rescript thus: Abuse it.
This happened to the father of Herodes Atticus, and the answer was made by the Emperor Nerva, who deserved that his name should have been stated by the 'greatest — wisest — meanest of mankind.'
One of the seven was wont to say, that laws were like cobwebs: where the small flies were caught, and the great break through.
This was said by Anacharsis the Scythian, and not by a Greek.
An orator of Athens said to Demosthenes, The Athenians will kill you if they wax mad. Demosthenes replied, And they will kill you if they be in good sense.
This was not said by Demosthenes, but to Demosthenes by Phocian .
There was a philosopher about Tiberius that, looking into the nature of Caius, said of him, That he was mire mingled with blood.
This was not said of Caius (Caligula, I presume, is intended by Caius), but of Tiberius himself.
There was a king of Hungary took a bishop in battle, and kept him prisoner: whereupon the Pope writ a monitory to him, for that he had broken the privilege of holy church, and taken his son: the king sent an embassage to him, and sent withal the armour wherein the bishop was taken, and this only in writing — Vide num hæc sit vestis filii tui? Know now whether this be thy son's coat?
This reply was not made by a king of Hungary, but sent by Richard the First, Coeur de Lion, of England, to the Pope with the breast-plate of the bishop of Beauvais.
Demetrius, king of Macedon, had a petition offered him divers times by an old woman, and answered he had no leisure; whereupon the woman said aloud, Why then give over to be king.
This did not happen to Demetrius, but to Philip, King of Macedon.
Having stated that Bacon was frequently incorrect in his citations from history, I have thought it necessary in what regards so great a name (however trifling), to support the assertion by such facts as more immediately occur to me. They are but trifles, and yet for such trifles a school-boy would be whipped (if still in the fourth form); and Voltaire for half-a-dozen similar errors has been treated as a superficial writer, notwithstanding the testimony of the learned Warton: —
Voltaire, a writer of much deeper research than is imagined, and the first who has displayed the literature and customs of the dark ages with any degree of penetration and comprehension.
For another distinguished testimony to Voltaire's merits in literary research, see also Lord Holland's excellent Account of the Life and Writings of Lope de Vega, vol i p. 215, edition of 1817.
Voltaire has even been termed a 'shallow fellow,' by some of the same school who call Dryden's Ode 'A drunken song;' — a school (as it is called, I presume, from their education being still incomplete) the whole of whose filthy trash of Epics, Excursions, &c. &c. &c., is not worth the two words in Zaïre, 'Vous pleurez,' or a single speech of Tancred: — a school, the apostate lives of whose renagadoes, with their tea-drinking neutrality of morals, and their convenient treachery of politics — in the record of their accumulated pretences to virtue can produce no actions (were all their good deeds drawn up in array) to equal or approach the sole defence of the family of Calas, by that great and unqualified genius — the universal Voltaire.
I have ventured to remark on these little inaccuracies of 'the greatest genius that England, or perhaps any other country, ever produced,' merely to show our national injustice in condemning generally the greater genius of France for such inadvertencies as these, or which the highest of England has been no less guilty. Query, was Bacon's a greater intellect than Newton?
Being in the humour of criticism, I shall proceed, after having ventured upon the slips of Bacon, to touch upon one or two as trifling in the edition of the British Poets, by the justly celebrated Campbell. But I do this in good will, and trust it will be so taken. If anything could add to my opinion of the talents and true feelings of tht gentleman, it would be his classical, honest, and triumphant defence of Pope, against the vulgar cant of the day, and its existing Grub Street.
The inadvertencies to which I allude are —
Firstly, in speaking of Anstey, whom he accuses of having taken 'his leading characters from Smollet, Anstey's Bath Guide was published in 1766. Smollett's Humphrey Clinker (the only work of Smollett's from which Tabitha, &c. &c. could have been taken) was written during Smollett's last residence at Leghorn in 1770 — 'Argal,' if there has been any borrowing, Anstey must be the creditor, and not the debtor. I refer Mr. Campbell to his own data in his Lives of Smollett and Antsey.
Secondly, Mr. Campbell says in the Life of Cowper (note to page 358, vol. vii.) that he knows not to whom Cowper alludes in these lines, —
Nor he who, for the bane of thousands born,
Built God a church, and laugh'd his word to scorn.'
The Calvinist meant Voltaire, and the church of Ferney, with its inscription, 'Deo erexit Voltaire.'
Thirdly, in the life of Burns, Mr. Campbell quotes Shakespeare thus, —
To gild refined gold, to paint the rose,
Or add fresh perfume to the violet.'
This version by no means improves the original, which is as follows —
To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet, &c. — King John.
A great poet quoting another should be correct; he should also be accurate, when he accuses a Parnassian brother of that dangerous charge of 'borrowing:' a poet had better borrow anything (excepting money) than the thoughts of another — they are always sure to be reclaimed; but it is very hard, having been the lender, to be denounced as the debtor, as is the case of Anstey versus Smollett.
As there is 'honour amongst thieves,' let there be some amongst poets, and give each his due, — none can afford to give it more than Mr. Campbell himself, who, with a high reputation for originality, and a fame which cannot be shaken, is the only poet of the times (except Rogers) who can be reproached (and in him it is indeed a reproach) with having written too little.
Ravenna, Jan. 5, 1821.
Canto VI, i: "Which, taken at the flood," — you know the rest…
See Shakspeare, Julius Cæsar, act iv, sc. iii.
Canto VI, vii: Who lent his lady to his friend Hortensius.
Cato gave up his wife, Martia, to his friend Hortensius; but, on the death of the latter, took her back again. This conduct was ridiculed by the Romans, who observed, that Martia entered the house of Hortensius very poor, but returned to the bed of Cato loaded with treasures. — Plutarch.
Canto VI, xiii: "Highland welcome" all the wide world over.
Canto VI, xvii: In his monastic concubine of snow;
"The blessed Francis, being strongly solicited one day by the emotions of the flesh, pulled off his clothes and scourged himself soundly: being after this inflamed with a wonderful fervour of mind, he plunged his naked body into a great heap of snow. The devil, being overcome, retired immediately, and the holy man returned victorious into his cell." — See Butler's Lives of the Saints.
Canto VI, xxvii: The tyrant's "wish, that mankind only had…"
Caligula — See Suetonius. "Being in a rage at the people, for favouring a party in the Circensian games in opposition to him, he cried out, 'I wish the Roman people had but one neck'."
Canto VI, xxix: He went forth with the lovely Odalisques.
The ladies of the seraglio.
Canto VI,xxxvi: Who with the brightest Georgians might compare.
"It is in the adjacent climates of Georgia, Mingrelia, and Circassia, that nature has placed, at least to our eyes, the model of beauty, in the shape of limbs, the colour of the skin, the symmetry of the features, and the expression of the countenance: the men are formed for action, the women for love." — Gibbon
Canto VI, xxxix: They would prefer to Padisha or Pacha.
Padisha is the Turkish title of the Grand Signior.
Canto VI, lxxv: A "wood obscure," like that where Dante found…
"Nell' mezzo del' cammin' di nostra vita
Mi ritrovai per una selva oscura," &c. — Inferno
Canto VII, li: Was teaching his recruits to use a bayonet.
Fact: Souwarrow did this in person.
Canto VIII, viii: All sounds it pierceth, "Allah! Allah! Hu!"
Allah Hu! Is properly the war-cry of the Musulmans, and they dwell on the last syllable, which gives it a wild and peculiar effect.
Canto VIII, ix: Carnage, (so Wordwworth tells you) is God's daughter.
But Thy most dreaded instrument
In working out a pure intent,
In man array'd for mutual slaughter;
Yea, Carnage is thy daughter!
— Wordsworth's Thanksgiving Ode.
Canto VIII, xviii: Was printed Grove, though his name was Grose.
A fact: see the Waterloo Gazettes. I recollect remarking at the time to a friend: — "There is fame! a man is killed, his name is Grose, and they print it Grove." I was at college with the deceased, who was a very amiable and clever man, and his society in great request for his wit, gaity, and 'Chansons â boire.'
Canto VIII, xxiii: The antiquarians who can settle time…
See General Valencey and Sir Lawrence Parsons.
Canto VIII, xxv: 'Tis pity "that such meaning should pave hell."
The Portuguese proverb says, that "hell is paved with good intentions."
Canto VIII, xxxiii: By thy humane discovery, Friar Bacon!
Gunpowder is said to have been discovered by this friar.
Canto VIII, xcvii: That you and I will win St. George's collar.
A Russian military order.
Canto IX, i: Humanity would rise, and thunder "Nay!"
Query, Ney? — Printer's Devil.
Canto IX, v: And "Europe's Liberator" — still enslaved.
Vide Speeches in Parliament, after the battle of Waterloo.
Canto IX, xix: "But heaven," as Cassio says, "is above all."
Canto IX, xxvii: I've heard them in the Ephesian ruins howl…
In Greece I never saw or heard these animals; but among the ruins of Ephesus I have heard them by hundreds.
Canto IX, xxxiii: Because he could no more digest his dinner.
He was killed in a conspiracy, after his temper had been exasperated by his extreme costivity to a degree of insanity.
Canto IX, xlvii: And had just buried the fair-faced Lanskoi.
He was the grande passion of the grande Catherine. See her Lives under the head of 'Lanskoi.'
Canto IX, xlix: Bid Ireland's Londonderry's Marquess show…
This was written long before the suicide of that person.
Canto IX, lv: Oh thou "tetterima cause" of all "belli" …
Hor. Sat. lib i, sat. iii
Canto IX, lxiii: "A man" (as Giles says): for though she would widow all…
"His fortune swells him, it is rank, he's married." — Sir Giles Overreach; Massinger's New Way to Pay Old Debts.
Canto IX, lxxix: Of several ribands, and some thousand peasants.
A Russian estate is always valued by the number of the slaves upon it.
Canto X, xiii: Would scarcely join again the "reformadoes…"
"Reformers," or rather "Reformed." The Baron Bradwardine, in Waverly, is authority for the word.
Canto X, xv: The endless soot bestows a tint far deeper…
Query, suit? — Printer's Devil.
Canto X, xviii: The Dee, the Don, Balgounie's brig's black wall…
The brig of Don, near the "auld toun" of Aberdeen, with its one arch, and its black deep salmon-stream below, is in my memory as yesterday. I still remember, though perhaps I may misquote, the awful proverb which made me pause to cross it, and yet lean over it with childish delight, being an only son, at least by the mother's side. The saying as recollected by me was this, but I have never heard or seen it since I was nine years of age: —
Brig of Balgounie, black's your wa',
Wi a wife's ae son, and a mear's ae foal,
Doun ye shall fa'!
Canto X, xxv: With his Agrarian laws, the high estate…
Tiberius Gracchus, being tribune of the people, demanded in their name the execution of the Agrarian law; by which all persons possessing above a certain number of acres were to be deprived of the surplus for the benefit of the poor citizens.
Canto X, xxxiv: Oh for a forty-parson power to chant…
A metaphor taken from the 'forty-horse power' of a steam-engine. That mad wag the Reverend Sydney Smith, sitting by a brother clergyman at dinner, observed afterwards, that his dull neighbour had a "twelve parson-power" of conversation.
Canto X, xxxvi: To strip the Saxons of their hydes, like tanners.
I believe a hyde of land to be a legitimate word, and, as such, subject to the tax of a quibble.
Canto X, xlix: Was given to her favourite, and now bore his.
The empress went to the Crimea, accompanied by the emperor Joseph, in the year — I forget which.
Canto X, lviii: Which gave her dukes the graceless name of "Biron."
In the Empress Anne's time, Biren, her favourite, assumed the name and arms of the "Birons" of France, which families are yet extant with that of England. There are still the daughters of Courtland of that name; one of them I remember seeing in England in the blessed year of the Allies (1814) — the Duchess of S. — to whom the English Duchess of Somerset presented me as a namesake.
Canto X, lxii: The greatest number flesh hath ever known.
St. Ursula and her eleven thousand virgins were still extant in 1816, and may be so yet, as much as ever.
Canto XI, xix: …and so knowing?
The advance of science and of language had rendered it unnecessary to translate the above true and good English, spoken in its original purity by the select mobility and their patrons. The following is a stanza of a song which was very popular, at least in my early days: —
On the high toby-spice flash the muzzle,
In spite of each gallows old scout;
If you at the spellken can't hustle,
You'll be hobbled in making a Clout.
Then your Blowing will wax gallows haughty, When she hears of your scaly mistake,
She'll surely turn snitch for the forty —
That her Jack may be regular weight.
If there be any gemman so ignorant as to require a traduction, I refer them to my old friend and corporeal pastor and master, John Jackson, Esq., Professor of Pugilism; who, I trust, still retains the strength and symmetry of his model of a form, together with his good-humour and athletic as well as mental accomplishments.
Canto XI, xxix: St James's Palace and St. James's "Hells."
"Hells," gaming-houses. What their number may now be, in this life, I know not. Before I was of age I knew them pretty accurately, both "gold" and "silver." I was once nearly called out by an acquaintance, because when he asked me where I thought that his soul would be found hereafter, I answered, "In Silver Hell."
Canto XI, xliii: Spirit would name, and therefore even I won't anent…
"Anent" was a Scotch phrase meaning "concerning" — "with regard to:" it has been made English by the Scotch novels; and, as the Frenchman said, "if be not, ought to be" English.
Canto XI, xlix: The milliners who furnish "drapery Misses."
"Drapery Misses." — This term is probably anything now but a mystery. It was, however, almost so to me when I first returned from the East in 1811-1812. It means a pretty, a high-born, a fashionable young female, well instructed by her friends, and furnished by her milliner with a wardrobe upon credit, to be repaid, when married, by the husband. The riddle was first read to me by a young and pretty heiress, on my praising the "drapery" of the "untochered" but "pretty virginities" (like Mrs. Anne Page) of the then day, which has now been some years yesterday; she assured me that the thing was common in London; and as her own thousands, and blooming looks, and rich simplicity of array, put any suspicion in her own case out of the question, I confess I gave some credit to the allegation. If necessary, authorities might be cited, in which case I could quote both "drapery" and the wearers. Let us hope, however, that it is now obsolete.
Canto XI, lx: 'Tis strange the mind, that fiery particle…
Divinæ particulum auræ.
Canto XI, lxv: And Centaur Nessus garb of mortal clothing…
Illita Nesseo tibi texta veneno. — Ovid, Epist. ix.
Canto XI, lxxii: In mind, a sort of sentimental bogle…
Scotch for goblin.
Canto XII, v: Who rouse the shirtless patriots of Spain?
Canto XII, xix: And Mitford in the nineteenth century…
See Mitford's Greece. "Græcia Verax." His great pleasure consists in praising tyrants, abusing Plutarch, spelling oddly, and writing quaintly; and what is strange, after all his is the best modern history of Greece in any language, and he is perhaps the best of all modern historians whatsoever. Having named his sins, it is but fair to state his virtues — learning, labour, research, wrath, and partiality. I call the latter virtues in a writer, because they make him write in earnest.
Canto XII, xxxvii: A hazy widower turn'd of forty's sure…
This line may puzzle the commentators more than the present generation.
Canto XII, lxxiii: Like Russians rushing from hot baths to snows…
The Russians, as it is well known, run out from their hot baths to plunge into the Neva; a pleasant practical antithesis, which it seems does them no harm.
Canto XII, lxxxii: Which flash'd as far as where the musk-bull browses.
For a description and print of this inhabitant of the polar region and native country of the Auroræ Boreales, see Parry's Voyage in search of a North-west Passage.
Canto XII, lxxxvi: As Philip's son proposed to do with Athos.
A sculptor projected to hew Mount Athos into a statue of Alexander, with a city in one hand, and, I believe, a river in his pocket, with various other similar devices. But Alexander's gone, and Athos remains. I trust ere long to look over a nation of freemen.
Canto XIII, xxvi: Also there bin another pious reason…
With everything that pretty bin,
My lady sweet, arise. — Shakespeare
Canto XIII, xlv: They and their bills, "Arcadians both," are left…
Canto XIII, lxxi: Or wilder group of savage Salvatore's.
Canto XIII, lxxii: His bell-mouth'd goblet makes me feel quite Danish…
If I err not, "your Dane" is one of Iago's catalogue of nations "exquisite in their drinking."
Canto XIII, lxxviii: Even Nimrod's self might leave the plains of Dura…
Canto XIII, lxxxii: And shine the very Siria of the spheres…
Siria, i.e. bitch-star.
Canto XIII, xcvi: "That Scriptures out of church are blasphemies."
"Mrs. Adams answered Mr. Adams, that it was blasphemous to talk of Scripture out of church." This dogma was broached to her husband — the best Christian in any book. — See Joseph Andrews.
Canto XIII, cvi: Should have a hook, and a small trout to pull it.
It would have taught him humanity at least. This sentimental savage, whom it is a mode to quote (amongst the novelists) to show their sympathy for innocent sports and old songs, teaches how to sew up frogs, and break their legs by way of experiment, in addition to the art of angling, the cruelest, the coldest, and the stupidest of pretended sports. They may talk about the beauties of nature, but the angler merely thinks of his dish of fish; he has no leisure to take his eyes from off the streams, and a single bite is worth to him more than all the scenery around. Besides some fish bite best on a rainy day. The whale, the shark, and the tunny fishery have somewhat of noble and perilous in them; even net fishing, trawling, &c., are more humane and useful. But angling! — No angler can be a good man.
"One of the best men I ever knew — as humane, delicate-minded, generous, and excellent a creature as any in the world, — was an angler: true, he angled with painted flies, and would have been incapable of the extravagances of I. Walton."
The above addition was made by a friend in reading over the MS.: — "Audi alteram partem." — I leave it to counterbalance my own observation.
Canto XIV, xxxiii: And never craned, and made but few faux pas"…
Craning. — "To crane" is, or was, an expression used to denote a gentleman's stretching out his neck over a hedge, "to look before he leaped:" — a pause in his "vaulting ambition," which in the field doth occasion some delay and execration in those who may be immediately behind the equestrian sceptic. "Sir, if you don't choose to take the leap, let me!" — was a phrase which generally sent the aspirant on again; and to good purpose: for though "the horse and rider" might fall, they made a gap through which, and over him and his steed, the field might follow.
Canto XIV, xxxv: Ask'd next day, "If men ever hunted twice."
See his Letters to his Son.
Canto XIV, xlviii: Go to the coffee-house, and take another.
In Swift's or Horace Walpole's letters I think it is mentioned that somebody, regretting the loss of a friend, was answered by an universal Pylades: "When I lose one, I go to Saint James' Coffee-house, and take another." I recollect having heard an anecdote of the same kind. Sir W. D. was a great gamester. Coming in one day to the club of which he was a member, he was observed to look melancholy. "What is the matter, Sir William?" cried Hare, of facetious memory. "Ah!" replied Sir W., "I have just lost poor Lady D." — Lost! What at? Quinze or Hazard? was the consolatory rejoinder of the querest.
Canto XIV, lix: And I refer you to wise Oxenstiern.
The famous Chancellor Oxenstiern said to his son, on the latter expressing his surprise upon the great effects arising from petty causes in the presumed mystery of politics: "You see by this, my son, with how little wisdom the kingdoms of the world are governed."
Canto XIV, lxxv: Or Swiss Rousseau, cry "Voilà la Pervenche!"
See "La Nouvelle Héloïse."
Canto XIV, lxxvii: "Beatus ille procul!" from negotiis…
Epod. Od. ii.
Canto XV, xviii: Great Socrates? And thou, Diviner still…
As it is necessary in these times to avoid ambiguity, I say that I mean, by "Diviner still," Christ. If ever God was man — or man God — he was both. I never arraigned his creed, but the use, or abuse — made of it. Mr. Canning one day quoted Christianity to sanction negro slavery, and Mr. Wilberforce had little to say in reply. And was Christ crucified that black men might be scourged? If so, he had better been born a Mulatto, to give both colours an equal chance of freedom, or at least salvation.
Canto XV, xxxv: When Rapp the Harmonist embargo'd marriage…
This extraordinary and flourishing German colony in America does not entirely exclude matrimony, as the "Shakers" do; but lays such restriction upon it as prevents more than a certain quantum of births within a certain number of years; which births (as Mr. Hulme observes) generally arrive "in a little flock like those of a farmer's lambs, all within the same month perhaps." These Harmonists (so called from the name of the settlement) are represented as a remarkably flourishing, pious, and quiet poeple. See the various recent writers on America.
Canto XV, xxxviii: Nor canvass what "so eminent a hand" meant."
Jacob Tonson, according to Mr. Pope, was accustomed to call his writers "able pens," "persons of honour," and especially "eminent hands." Vide Correspondence, &c. &c.
Canto XV, xlix: Of Brutus at the pageant of Tiberius.
See Tacitus, b. vi.
Canto XV, lxvi: (There's fame) — young partridge fillets, deck'd with truffles
A dish "à la Lucullus." This hero, who conquered the East, has left his more extended celebrity to the transplantation of cherries (which he first brought into Europe), and the nomenclature of some very good dishes: — and I am not sure that (barring indigestion) he has not done more service to mankind by his cookery that by his conquests. A cherry-tree may weigh against a bloody laurel: besides, he has contrived to earn celebrity from both.
Canto XV, lxviii: There's pretty picking in those "petite puits."
"Petits puits d'amour garnis des confitures." — a classical and well-known dish for part of the flank of a second course.
Canto XV, lxxxvi: Observe; for that with me's a "sine quâ."
Subauditur "non;" omitted for the sake of euphony.
Canto XV, xcii: It makes my blood boil like the springs of Hecla…"
Hecla is a famous hot-spring in Iceland.
Canto XV, xciv: Shall "fool me to the top up of my bent."
Hamlet, Act iii. sc. 2.
Canto XV, xcvi: Like those of the philosopher of Malmsbury.
Hobbes: who, doubting of his own soul, paid that compliment to the souls of other poeple as to decline their visits, of which he had some apprehension.
Canto XVI, i: To draw the bow, to ride, and speak the truth.
Canto XVI, ii: For this effect defective comes by cause…
Hamlet, Act ii. sc. 2.
Canto XVI, x: If from a shell-fish or from cochineal.
The composition of the old Tyrian purple, whether from a shell-fish, or from cochineal, or from kermes, is still an article of dispute; and even its colour — some say purple, others scarlet: I say nothing.
Canto XVI, xliii: Was much consoled by his own repartee.
I think that it was a carpet on which Diogenes trod, with — "Thus I trample on the pride of Plato!" — "With greater pride," as the other replied. But as carpets are meant to be trodden upon, my memory probably misgives me, and it might be a robe, or tapestry, or a tablecloth, or some other expensive and uncynical piece of furniture.
Canto XVI, xlv: To soothe our ears, lest Italy should fall.
I remember that the mayoress of a provincial town, somewhat surfeited with a similar display from foreign parts, did rather indecoriously break through the applause of an intelligent audience — intelligent, I mean, as to music — for the words, besides being in recondite languages (it was some years before the peace, ere all the world had travelled, and while I was a collegian), were sorely disguised by the performers; — this mayoress, I say, broke out with "Rot your Italianos! for my part, I loves a simple ballat!" Rossini will go a good way to bring most people to the same opinion, some day. Who would imagine that he was to be the successor of Mozart? However, I state this with diffidence, as a liege and loyal admirer of Italian music in general, and much of Rossini's; but we may say, as the connoisseur did of painting, in "The Vicar of Wakefield," "that the picture would be better painted if the painter had taken more pains."
Canto XVI, lix: For Gothic daring shown in English money.
"Ausu Romano ære Veneto" is the inscription (and well inscribed in this instance) on the sea walls between the Adriatic and Venice. The walls were a republican work of the Venetians; the inscription, I believe, imperial; and inscribed by Napoleon the First. It is time to continue to him that title — there will be a second by and by. "Spes altera mundi," if he live; let him not defeat it like his father. But, in any case, he will be preferable to Imbeciles. There is a glorious field for him, if he know how to cultivate it.
Canto XVI, lx: "Untying" squires "to fight against the churches."
I conjure you, by that which you profess
(Howe'er you come to know it), answer me:
Though ye untie the winds, let them fight
Against the churches. — Macbeth.
Canto XVI, lxxv: And champion him to the utmost" — he would keep it…
Rather than so, come, fate, into the list,
And champion me to the utterance. — Macbeth.
Canto XVI, xcvii: They err — 't is merely what is call'd mobility…
In French, "mobilité." I am not sure that mobility is English; but it is expressive of a quality which rather belongs to other climates, though it is sometimes seen to a great extent in our own. It may be defined as an excessive susceptibility of immediate impressions — at the same time without losing the past; and is, though sometimes apparently useful to the possessor, a most painful and unhappy attribute.
Canto XVI, cii: Draperied her form with curious felicity!
"Curiosa felicitas." — Petronius Arbiter.
Canto XVI, cxiv: A noise like to wet fingers drawn on glass…
See the account of the ghost of the uncle of Prince Charles of Saxony, raised by Schroepfer — "Karl — Karl — was willst du mit mir?"
Canto XVI, cxx: Should cause more fear than a whole host's identity.
Have struck more terror to the soul of Richard,
Than can the substance of ten thousand soldiers, &c. — Richard III.
Canto XVII, iii: A human (what the Italians nickname) "Mule"!
The Italians, at least in some parts of Italy, call bastards and foundlings the mules — why, I cannot see, unless they mean to infer that the offspring of matrimony are asses.