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ambition, or rather my instinct, led me to emulate the Bentleys, the Stevenses, and the Burmans, those universal geniuses, who threw the light of their erudition into the most tenebrous holes and corners of their author's obscurity.
No sooner, then, had I attained the qualification of Dominus on the College boards, than I plunged deep into criticism, and determined to give my days and nights to the illustration of some learned author. The classic “world was all before me where to choose;" but the choice was not easy. An esteemed author was not upon any terms to be had, who was not already so towsled and mumbled by the critics, as not to leave a "sed" or a “que” to the ingenuity of the present day; while an obscure and valueless writer would plunge his commentator into his own obscurity, and effectually impede him in his flight to immortality. For, though a commentator is intrinsically more worthy than his original, as the precious gums and essences are more valuable than the lifeless mass they embalm, still it is vain to comment, when men will not read. The old stock of authors was exhausted ; the new discoveries of unrolled Pompeian MSS. and of Palimpsestic parchments had not yet furnished fresh matter of research : and I was upon the point of abandoning my schemes, and of embarking in some of the less useful walks of life-wasting my hours in chemistry or, natural philosophy=when chance put into my hands, from among the MSS: of Trinity College, Cambridge, an invaluable and inedited fragment of Greek poetry, of which I shall only say, that it is the original of the celebrated English poem, which begins
“ Three children sliding on the ice," and which has been translated by some vile plagiary, and passed, unacknowledged in the literary world, as his own.
As your lady readers do not understand Greek, I shall quote in what follows the English version alone. But, for the benefit of the learned, I shall throw the Greek text into a note.*
No sooner was I in possession of this treasure, than I set about illustrating it; and having arranged the text to my own satisfaction, I enriched it, during the course of thirty years exclusive application, with a series of illustrations which leave little or nothing to desire.
* Κρυσταλλοπηκτους τριπτυχοι κοροι ροας
Ωρα, θερους, ψαιροντες ευταρσοις ποσι,
Τοις πασιν, ευσφας εν δoμoις φυλασσετε. This beautiful morceau has been attributed to Professor Porson ; but if the internal evidence of style did not prove its antiquity, the parchment and character of the MS, at least assign it six centuries of existence.
The precise number of volumes the work will occupy I am not prepared exactly to state ; but the extent may be guessed with some approximation towards accuracy by any one acquainted with the manner in which such subjects are usually handled, when he shall have perused the sketch which I propose now to lay before your readers of that portion of my labours which is as yet ready for the press.
PROGRAM. The first line of this wonderfully philosophic and profound specimen of Pythagorean lore (for such it is) embraces a great variety of subjects for elucidation, of which I propose to treat in the order of their occurrence.
“ Three (1) children (2) sliding (3) on the ice (4)." (1) THREE.—Beginning at the beginning, I propose to enter at large upon the consideration of the number three, which, from the remotest antiquity, has obtained a mysterious and recondite signification; as is abundantly proved (omitting other instances) by the three heads of Cerberus ; the triple goddess Diana; Isis, Osiris, and Horus; the three wise men of the East; the three dynasties, and three consuls of France; the rule of three; the three dimensions of matter; the three angles of a triangle; the three Fates; the three witches in Macbeth ; the three estates of the realm ; the "three jolly pidgeons ;" Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego; and the Three Gentlemen of Verona. I have diligently collated the
poets for their use of this number ; such as the « Ter conatu loqui,” “ Trois fois heureur,” and “ Thrice to thine, thrice to mine, and thrice again to make up nine;" which last quotation introduces a few parenthetic observations on the multiples of three, and of that odd fraction the circulating decimal .g—which at the same time is, and is not, one. In reference also to the “ triple tree,” I have read through a most voluminous collection of the last speeches of the most celebrated “patibulaires," from which the reader will find copious extracts. I have also a word or two, en passant, on Mr. Canning's “ Loves of the Triangles," a new translation of the Welsh Triads, and a critical history of the Three per cents. distinguishing the Consols from the Reduced, with a table of interest, a memoir of the house of Rothschild, notices of inscriptions in the grand livre of France, an engraving of Cobbett's gridiron, and a “Catalogue Raisonnée" of the authors on the great question of currency.
(2) CHILDREN.-On this word will be noted, inter alia, the Abbé Quillet's Callipædia; the Pædotrophia of St. Marthe, physician to Henry III. of France; the Cyropædia of Xenophon; Fenelon's Telemachus; and the Chevalier Ramsay's Travels of Cyrus. Notices will be given, likewise, of Peter the Wild Boy, and other wild children ; of Les enfuns trouvés, and foundling hospitals of most European nations ; the Garry Owen boys; the Bluecoat boys; the children in the wood ; the young
Roscius and Miss Clara Fisher; the Lancastrian system ; Pestalozzi and Fellenburg; the “Cosi al egro" of Tasso, which he stole from Lucretius-a theft the less excusable as Lucretius has twice repeated the simile, totidem verbis, to mark it the more certainly as his
In order more completely to illustrate this portion of the text,
I shall give remarks on second childhood, or old age; remarks on Shakspeare's and Churchill's ages of man, the golden age, the Augustan age, the middle ages ; Lord Byron's " Age of Bronze," with an original treatise on the use and abuse of that happy exordium,“ In this (as the case may be) learned, pious, sceptical, revolutionary, or degenerate age.”
(3) SLIDING.-Upon sliding I shall introduce a dissertation on the antiquity of the practice, and an inquiry into the invention of scates ; a secret history of sliding panels and doors covered with tapestry, taken from the most approved and authorized novels; observations on sliding rules, sliding boys, avalanches, and " versi sdruccioli !” notes on eels, sophists, political rats, and other slippery animals ; including memoirs of Ch--br-nd, the B—m family, and Mother L some account of the slips at the theatres, and in the dock-yards, lapsus linguæ, the slips of my aunt Dinah not original (Sterne's plagiarism), on backslidings and “ faux pas" in general, with an account of the newest method of soaping a pig's tail.
(4) Ice. This is a word of much obscurity, and requires ample illustration. I shall notice only a few of the points which will be touched upon in this part of my work. The chemical history of ice, with the most approved theory of heat ; on icebergs, glaciers, and voyages to the North Pole; memoirs of the Humane Society, and lives of persons drowned in the Serpentine; on ice-creams, Romani punch (glacé), French dramatic poetry, iced champaigne, artificial frigorific mixtures, the late Lord Londonderry's speeches in Parliament, &c. &c. with a new receipt for making cool-cup; account of a burning-glass of ice; the ice palace on the Neva, and Moore's Holy Alliance; the burning of Moscow, the retreat through Russia, and the surgical treatment of frost-bitten limbs; on the Iceni, or men of Kent, an excursus.
The second line of this extraordinary poem furnishes no less occasion for research than the first.
“ All on (5) a summer's (6) day (7)." (5) ALL ON.-Rise, progress, and fall of this phrase in English poetry, with philological researches, and etymologies; the “ tractutus de omnibus rebus et quibusdam aliis ;" the inscriptions “put on" and “put off," on our way-sides, mistaken by foreigners for a remnant of Catholic superstition, and supposed to refer to the hat; spirituous compound called “ All sorts” not to be confounded with omnium or scrip; “All the talents;" “ All Lombard-street to an egg-shell ;" treatise on the use of “On," in epitaphs and epigram writing; outline of modern On-tology; memoirs of Tommy On-slow; “On, Stanley, on !" stolen from the “en avant" of the French, &c. &c.
(6) SUMMER.-I shall here touch on Thomson's and Delille's Seasons, with citations from all known poets, descriptive of the four quarters of the year; on seasoning, with anecdotes of the cook's oracles, Le Cuisinier François, L'Almanach des Gourmands, and a life of Hannah Glasse ; notes on Bologna sausages, " jambon de Westphalie," partridge pye, &c. &c. That highly seasoned dish, a mock pig, will introduce an inquiry into the antiquity of sucking-pigs, with the whole
law of tithes : Esau's sale of his estate for a mess of pottage typical of modern Amphitryonism; Lucullus's hall of Apollo; Apicius, Sir W.C---s, &c. &c.; of speaking in season and out of season ; of seizin and livery, with notices of the lives of John Doe and Richard Roe.
(7) Day.—Distinction between an astronomical and natural day; rent-day, pay-day, and “le quart d'heur de Rabelais ;" the day of judgment; on wedding and birth-days, and the different modes of keeping them, and on Burns' “ Allhallow Eve;" on daybooks and ledgers ; on lack-a-day, well-a-day, and on “ Daylight," a term in symposiacs. Michael Angelo's “ Day" and " Night" in the Chiesa di San Lorenzo in Florence; on Day and Martin's blacking, and the Dey of Algiers ; Beaumarchais' Follies of a Day, or “La Folle journée ; Mr. Day and “Sandford and Merton;" a fair day and a “ day after the fair;" meteorological remarks on the weather ; on daily journals with distinctive characters, and (obiter) of the weekly press ; Exammer and John Bull; Saxons did not reckon by days, and why? Daisy, or day's eye, (the Bellis perennis of Linnæus,) not to be confounded with dandelion; Burns' beautiful ode on it; on turning night into day, and on settling-days at the Stock Exchange; on lame ducks; on saints' days, days of yore, and the “golden days of good Queen Bess.” On night; poetical descriptions ; Gherardo da Notte; of midnight, and incidentally) of ghosts and witches, with true histories; Hogarth's “ Night;" Mr. Knight's peas; his improver engravings ; of the Knights Templars, of Knight the actor, and of Peg Nicholson's Knights; of Moore's Almanack, Poor Robin, the Zodiac of Tentyra, and of Bullock's Museum,
Such, Mr. Editor, is a brief outline of my first three volumes, embracing, as you will perceive, the first two lines of the fragment. These I propose to publish, statim, as a sample of the whole, with title-pages, indexes, dedication, laudatory verses, and testimonies of authors; a treatise on the art of criticism, engraved portraits of the three children, ichnography of the icepool, and a facsimile of each of the young 'gentlemen's hand-writing; taken from an old slate found in a neglected corner of the Rev. Timothy Twig-their-bottom's far-famed “ seminary:" likewise the original music of the song, supposed to be either by Birde, or by Locke, the composer of the music of Macbeth; engraved specimens of the title-pages of various editions, and conjectural emendations of doubtful passages.
If this first specimen meet with the desired success, the rest will be immediately forthcoming, as I have only to search the Vatican and Bodleian libraries, and the Bibliothèque du Roi at Paris, to complete the work.
Your making this prospectus known through the medium of your invaluable Miscellany will much oblige
Your obedient and very humble Servant,
Julius Cæsar SCALIGER GRUB, M.A. & F.R.S,
No. 4.–With reference to the principles of the Beautiful in that Art.
These guides * we intend to follow faithfully and strictly in our remarks on the fourth and last point to be considered in vocal composition, viz. verbal expression. Under character we understood the general nature and feeling which pervades a poem in toto. Verbal expression regards the appropriate musical utterance of every successive sentence in a poetical text. It might aptly be termed musical diction ; its functions are quite similar to those of declamation in oratory.
Correctness of verbal expression is a most important requisite in vocal composition; and yet, strange to tell, it is more or less neglected by the greater part of composers, nay it is scarcely dreamed of by many. Hundreds are quite satisfied if they have devised an air of agreeable melody and harmony, tolerably corresponding with the metre of the text. The words are held so cheap that some vocal composers, rather than lose the momentary inspiration of a motivo, are in the habit of storing them up ready made against any poetry that subsequent chance may throw into their way. No wonder, then, that the fit often should resemble that of a Monmouth-street suit. In this manner the musical annals of England point out a whole, and indeed a favourite opera, composed about twenty years ago, the greater part of the music of which was ready made before the words were thought of.
Some of these latitudinarian vocalists may ask, perchance,- What does it matter whether
“Darest thou thus upbraid a lover?” be set one way or another, so that the musical phrase run smooth and tasteful ? and we may be called upon to prove altogether that there exist any laws for verbal expression, and that those laws rest upon solid and not imaginary grounds.
We accept the challenge! There does exist a law, one law only; it is in few words :
“Sing as thou speakest!” All the varied and manifold inflexions of the voice employed by a good speaker, its alternate ascent and descent, its emphases, its louder intonations, and softer under-tones, not only lie within the reach of Music, but derive additional and higher charms from that art.
A text, which is to be set to music, ought, therefore, first of all to be rehearsed with appropriate and correct enunciation and declamation; the composer ought to watch scrupulously the alternate rising and falling of the voice, and especially to mark those words which require peculiar stress of elocution. All these peculiarities his melody ought to imitate as much as possible. But in what manner is this imitation to be effected ?
Upon ascent and descent we need not waste words. They are produced in Music precisely as in common parlance, subject, however, to the general laws of melody and musical metre. The near affinity between declamation and Music is illustrated by the well-known story of the Roman orator, who placed a slave with a flute behind the rostrum, in order to be guided by musical aid in the modulation of his voice. But
* Nature and an attentive observation of mankind. VOL. VIU. NO. XXXI.