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scene; but it evinces the ignorance of such an obscure individual as to the causes and motives of the act. History must pause for better testimony than any as yet before the world, before it records, with certainty, the particulars of the burning of Moscow.*
The mind can make
I love at times to be
And thought reality;
It is a joy the dwelling then
On visions of the past,
That time hath not o'ercast-
The stately dames of yore,
The bard or troubadour;
And find in vision warm
Before the winged storm,
To glance the ancient hall,
To dance and festival,
Swept in its pride along,
Of love or battle-song;
And see him awful rise,
Who paid the sacrifice
The burning of Moscow not being regarded by the natives as an act of patriot. ism, which they could not feel, and the destruction of the wounded Russians, of whom between twenty and thirty thousand were in the city, (half of whom perished in the flames, who might have been previously removed,) may account for the wish of Rostopchin to conceal bis participation in the affair.
or life to freedom's holy laws,
Where thousands lay before,
And hear the wild uproar;
(For fools may style them so)
From perish'd scenes below,
My solace, and beguile
With şad attractive smile,
MY BOOKS.NO. I.
The Menagiana. To the Editor of the New Monthly Magazine. Sirg-I am one of those inveterate lovers of reading, who take a poet to bed with them, and stick a book up against the castors at din
I devour poetry, biography, romances, novels, voyages and travels, nay, metaphysics and little children's books. The metaphysics are my experimental eating. Little children's books are my gingerbread; and I think I like it as well as ever I did. Did you ever read Mrs. Leicester's School ? If that is not excellent home-made, then bath my palate become sophisticate.
Poetry is my wine and fruit. I linger over it, and love to take it in a bower betwixt dinner and tea. Biography is what I like next, unless I am in a course of novel and romance reading ; during which I look upon that other reality as a secondary thing. I may say, that poetry and romance are my passion ; biography my friendship; and French wit my fine acquaintance.
I think I hear a lady ask, how it is I can be so fond of poetry and romance, which include so much about love and the fair sex, if I am such a shameless old bachelor as to be wedded to nothing but my books, morning, noon, and night. Sir, I did not say I was an old bachelor. I did not say any thing about that part of my condition, bachelor or not: but this I say, that the lady's question refutes itself; and that I could not love such books so well, if my love of books, enormous as it is, were not less than my regard for those fair subjects. I will ask the lady a question. Did she never take a poet to—(Be quiet, Wilkins, I am not going to say any thing wrong)-Did she never take a poet under her pillow to bed with her? If not, let her ask the opinion of any fair friend who has.
No, Sir : I am none of Peter Bayle, who declined a beauty with a fortune, because he had no time to spare from his lucubrations. Idle bookworm! He might have bought libraries with the fortune, and perused her loving face between whiles, instead of hankering after his Laises and his Lamias. Willingly do I give up his learning and immortality for the sake of an inglorious nibbling at his folios, followed by a liberty to amuse myself all over the rest of the house, “ up-stairs, down stairs, and in my lady's chamber.” Decius Mus was not more devoted in his way; nor could have died with greater pleasure in the cause. If I should prefer breathing my last sigh with my head on a book, rather than on a beloved shoulder, it would only be to spare the latter the pain of my departure.
I have particular reasons, Mr. Editor, why I think you are bound to agree with me in this matter; but I will not enter upon them. A favourite poem of mine, with a lady and a book in it, could explain them ; bui I fear to trench upon the coy dignities of your office.
- Higher of an Editor by far,
And with mysterious reverence I deem I hope you will find as much reason to acquiesce in a thought which struck me the other day, while turning over a New Monthly Magazine with one hand, and holding a volume of Menage in the other. Your publication is abundant in original articles, and has sometimes enongh learning in one of them to sprinkle a whole volume with scholarship. But I think it would not be amiss (and other readers of the Magazine are of the same opinion) if you took off some of the objections which you appear to have against certain commoner and more triffling evidences of reading, such as might form something of a gossiping link between this erudition and the very lightest articles. I allude to passages from curious books ; criticisms of a similar nature to the annotations of Warton and Heyne ; translations of rare or diverting subjects from any language, not excepting French ; and, in short, all kinds of resort to other sources of amusement, not strictly original, provided something original be added. Care should be taken to adapt it to all tastes that are worth consulting, those of the learned, and those that happen to be destitute of learning. A true scholar need not be told, that among
the latter are many that would have relished him to the height, if they had had his opportunities. On this account, no apology would be necessary for translating quotations, even from the most popular languages, French itself. Time was when it was as common for a Greek or Latin scholar to be incapable of understanding a joke in the language of our neighbours, as it is for a reader of French not to be able to laugh with Plautus or Hierocles. I do not read Spanish or German; and I feel myself disobliged, when an author calls upon me for my admiration of a good thing in one of those tongues, if he leaves me without explaining it. The modesty of the compliment is equivocal, and does not incite me to deserve it. How does he know but what I am a clerk in a counting-house, who have not leisure to acquire German? or an apprentice, who could relish his author's wit, though not in a jargon? or an author myself, equally full of occupation and bad health, and no more able to put another language into my head, than another head-ache ?
Perhaps, Sir, I have been fancying objections to articles of this kind, without foundation. At all events, I send you a specimen for your opinion; and shall be glad to think I have been talking superfluously, by seeing its insertion. In that case, I will follow it up with others, upon subjects a little more original. The Menagiana are perhaps more known among us at present by name, than any other way, common as they once were among scholars. I confess, for my part, whose scholarship is a great deal more mischievous than any thing else, and just fitted for the humble ambition of this endeavour, that I found in the book less of what is commonly met with, than I expected. The fashion of quoting Menage has been long extinct. It went out with the perukes that began in his time. There is a fashion in learning as in every thing else. Men wear their Greek and Latin differently, as well as their hats.
Part of “ the prosperity of a jest” lying in the time and manner of it, and in other
“Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious joke," it is as well to bear in mind, that Menage was in the habit of keeping open house, for his friends to drop in and chat, and that these ana of the French Varro were collected viva voce accordingly. They are genuine talk, like those of Selden and Johnson. We are to imagine a knot of French wits and scholars of the age of Louis XIVth, with their paternal old wag in the midst of them.
Somebody saying, that to write well, either in verse or prose, it was necessary to consult one's ear, “ True,” said M. Guiot, “provided it's
a good one."
A Gascon, who was on ill terms with the Bishop of Bazas, swore he would never pray to God in that diocese. One day passing a river, and being in danger, the boatman said that nothing remained for him but to address himself to God. “Well,” said the Gascon, are we out of the diocese of Bazas ?"
Favoriti, secretary of the late Pope, reading some briefs to his Holiness, and explaining them in Italian, the good Father wept for joy, and exclaimed, “What will posterity say of us, when they see our beautiful Latin ?"
Mons. D. burying his wife five hours after her decease, they told bim the body was not yet cold. “Nonsense,” said he ; " do what I tell you. She's dead enough."*
Poor Nuns.-M. le Camus, Bishop of Bellay, preaching at Nôtre Dame, prefaced his sermon with the following announcement:-"Gentlemen, your charity is requested for a young lady, who is not rich enough to make a vow of poverty." • M. d'Arfine, whose father was a grocer, (in French, epicier, spicer,) was for playing the great man. He had a motto painted for a
* This was, of course, a fiction. The jo was on the unfeelingness of the man who bad married a very old woman for money. They said he had married a dead body to live by it.
devotional subject — Respice finem (Consider your end.) Somebody took away the first and last letters, and left it Epic fine (Fine spice).*
The Duke of Orleans was in the garden of the Luxembourg when it was very hot. The sun beat directly on the heads of his courtiers, who were uncovered. M. de Bautru, who was present, observed, that princes did not love their friends. The Duke said, the reproach could not attach to him, for he loved them very much. 6 Your Highness must love them boiled then," returned Bautru, “or, at least, well roasted.”+
M. Toinard said, that the reason why people did not return borrowed books, was, that they could more easily retain the contents than remember them.
M. de M. was shewn the fine church of Coutances. “Lord !" says he,“ was it made here?”
Every body weeping at a pathetic sermon, except a countryman, he was asked the reason. “ Sir,” said he “I am not of this parish.”
The spirit that walketh at noon is Hunger. I A certain bishop going to take leave of Madame the Countess de V., whom he was in love with, expressed his regret at being absent from her, though for a short time. "Well, sir," said the lady,“ pray let the time be as short as possible ; for a mistress, you know, is a living that compels the incumbent to residence."
In the last will and testament left by M. de Langre, was the following item—“ To my Maître-d’hotel I leave nothing, because he has been eighteen years in my service.” In another, he bequeathed a hundred crowns to whoever should write his epitaph. Some one produced the following, which is one of the best I ever read :
" Monsieur de Langre est mort testateur olographe ;
Et vous me promettez, si j'en fais l'epitaphe,
Payez ; le voila fait."
This reminds me of a couple of epigrams once handed about on a similar occasion :
“ Tom wond what the king means, when
• My lords and gentlemen :'
“ Tom loves the grossest lord that is,
And thinks no peer a proser ;,
His father was a grosser."
t Ha! C. have you been here among your old books ? C. was plagued by a foolish woman to know whether he loved children. “Yes, Madam," said he ; " boiled.”
A proper discovery for a sedentary man of letters, tormented between the want of food and the fear of indigestion,