Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

The proverbial royal memory for names and faces is traced by one philosophic essayist to that peculiar feeling of ownership, which a king has in a sense in which no commoner can have it; every individual in the largest crowd is to the king something, as being his subject. “There are such things as arbitrary memories, which store up everything; but the common experience is that we must establish a relation with a face and a name before we can retain it, and that this connection, even with large numbers, has a surprisingly quickening effect.” Thus, when a head master knows his hundreds of boys, and a parson every face of his flock, it is well said to be more a sign of relation to a chargel than an exercise of mere memory. The old

who had been previously indicated, and claim old acquaintance with him, and ask after his old father, and remind him of Aboukir or the Alps, and end by throwing a cordon and cross round the fascinated soldier's neck.

1 Mr. Rogers, in Human Life, devotes an emphatic parenthesis, in one line, to a household characteristic of Lord William Russell-

“ The lowliest servant calling by his name.” It is a pleasant trait in Myra, of the Waterdale Neighbours, that she always took care to learn people's names, and to call them by name, especially when speaking to those poorer than herself. “ All manner of commanders—from Marlborough to Claverhouse [though one hardly sees the point of the comprehension, be it chronological or what else it may]—are reported to have secured the favour and affection of their soldiers by always taking care to remember a man's name, and to call him by it.” Shakspeare's Faulconbridge satirizes the opposite method, when, on his sudden elevation, he adopts a vapouring style, and rehearses his future treatment of his fellows, de haut en bas

“And if his name be George, I 'll call him Peter:

For new made honour doth forget men's names;
'T is too respective, and too sociable,

For your conversion,” or changed condition. Shakspeare's Coriolanus might have been a more popular candidate, could he have condescended not only to men of low estate, but to a knowledge of their names. It may be taken for an incidental illustration of his haughty neglect of such trivialities, that when he specially requests Cominius to give freedom to a poor man who had used him kindly in Corioli, and the request is at once granted, for the life of him Caius Marcius cannot recall the name of the man in whom he is interested, his sometime host.

Lart. Marcius, his name?
Cor.

By Jupiter, forgot :
I am weary; yea, my memory is tired," etc.
Varnhagen von Ense notes this among other characteristic memorabilia of

squire in Tylney Hall, who can call over fifty couple of hounds at sight, and have every one of them at the tip of his tongue, and some of them not the easiest to remember, thinks it very strange that of the human acquaintance who crowd in upon him at a family crisis, he can't "give their own names to one half of the pack,” for the life of him. The defect is felt to be a serious one ; for, in society, to be miscalled is, in most cases, to be more or less slighted, vulgarised, and therefore affronted.

The most congenial of Roger Ascham's biographers, in his account of that Mr. Elmer of whom Lady Jane Grey speaks so affectionately (a “little great man” whose name is variously written Elmer, Aylmer, or, according to his own signature, Ælmer), is scrupulous to style him Ælmer throughout,—“for it is a point of conscience with me to spell good men's names as they chose to spell them themselves.” Chateaubriand said one day to M. de Marcellus, then his secretary in London, “ Je ne sache rien qui soit plus désobligeant pour un homme du

Richter : “Jean Paul made us laugh heartily by offering to give me a letter of introduction to one of his dearest friends, at least so he called him, at Stuttgart, but he was obliged to let me go without it, as he could not recollect his friend's name.”

1 It is all very well for Bishop Percy to say, as he does in a letter to Hume, that “as to the orthography of a name, it is after all not worth a moment's consideration.” This might apply to the days when heterography was less the exception than the rule, and when every man not only spelled his own name as he pleased, but varied the spelling as he pleased. Later days have seen a change; and it has been justly said to be dangerous now to hint to a Mr. Smythe, still more to an East-Saxon Smijth, his identity with Smith; or to have correspondents whose eponymous patriarch bore the name of Philip, when you are sure to make a deadly enemy if you put in an l or a p too much or too little. The late Bishop Copleston, of Llandaff, receiving, as he must often have done, a letter in which a second p was inserted into his name, made that transgression the text of a little homily to the young friend who was with him at the time,-declaring that he could not recommend a better habit to a young man (like him) entering the world in good society, than to ascertain the exact prefix, spelling, and pronunciation of every man's name with whom he had to do—such, that is, as the man and his family choose habitually to adopt : Depend upon it, that people in general infer a sort of ócywpia from such lapses; as if you took so little interest in their identity, as to forget the minor characteristics of it.” Dr. Johnson, in his anxiety to escape the common fault of mistaking surnames, when we hear them carelessly uttered for the first time, used not only to pronounce them slowly and distinctly, but to take the trouble of spelling them. In one of his letters to Boswell, he thus refers to little Miss

monde que de mal prononcer et surtout de mal écrire son nom; car c'est l'humilier dans le fort de sa vanité.”l

That Thessalian minister of whom Pyrrhus testified, saying, that the tongue of Cineas had won him more battles than his own sword, was gifted with a perception so quick, and a memory so keen, that scarcely had he arrived in Rome when he could call every senator by name, and address every one according to his character. It was to the boast of that Appius who piqued himself on knowing all who frequented the Forum by name that Scipio made his celebrated reply, that he knew few of his fellowcitizens by name, but had taken care that all should know him.

Veronica : “I hope she knows my name, and does not call me Fohnston.Mr. Landor, in his Pentameron, makes Petrarch beg Boccaccio to be assured that never would he have addressed a high dignitary until he had ascertained his appellation : " for nobody ever quite forgave, except in the low and ignorant, a wrong pronunciation of his name; the humblest being of opinion that they have one of their own, and one both worth having and worth knowing. Even dogs, they observe, are not miscalled.” Horace purposely irritates the crusty Arnolphe, in Molière, by blundering over his name; and so does Bacurius with the hectoring Bessus, in Beaumont and Fletcher. “I will be called Grahame,” says Nigel to the Templar who is conducting him to Alsatia as a hiding-place; "it was my mother's name.” “Grime, repeats the Templar, “will suit Alsatia well enough; both a grim and grimy place of refuge.” “I said Grahame, sir, not Grime,” interposes Nigel, laying an emphasis on the vowel—for few Scotsmen, by Scott's own testimony, understand raillery upon the subject of their names. He makes his vulgar widow in St. Ronan's Well an adept in mispronunciation of proper names: witness the changes rung by Mrs. Blower on Dr. Quackleben's patronymic; Keekerben she miscalls him, and Cocklehen, and Kittleben, and Kickalpin, and Kickleshin,-all at one afternoon's tea. No wonder Mr. Winterblossom thinks the doctor ought to be willing to change (as she seems to wish) the widow's name, for “she has changed his name six times in the five minutes that I stood within hearing of them." Nor are her variations yet exhausted; for she styles him Dr. Cacklehen, and Kittlehen, and Kickerben, before she has done with him, or we with her. So is Mrs. Nickleby seized on occasion with a forgetfulness of Smike's real name, and an irresistible tendency to call him, for instance, Mr. Slammons ; which fact she explains by the remarkable similarity of the two names in point of sound, both beginning with an S and including an M. . i The Mrs. Tomkinson of one of Miss Eden's stories is more than a little affronted by Lord Eskdale's calling her Mrs. Tomkins. “How very uncivil !” she reflects, as soon as he is gone; “I hate to be called out of my name.” Nor does she fail to recur to the grievance, and to harp on that one jarring string. There is int he same tale a well practised M.P., who " had the knack of remembering private histories and family connections and who was strong in his recollection of Christian names.”

Trajan was studious in learning the names of officers and soldiers in distant garrisons. Hadrian is said to have recalled the well known feat of Miltiades; and throughout his life he never once forgot the face or name of any veteran soldier whom he had ever had occasion to notice, no matter under what remote climate, or under what difference of circumstances.1

A RIGHT ROYAL ENDING.

1 CHRONICLES xxix. 28. D AVID the son of Jesse reigned over all Israel, and the

time that he reigned was forty years. “And he died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour; and Solomon his son reigned in his stead.”

It was a right royal ending for the man after God's own heart. Surely none the less, but all the more, if it wear an earthly crown and have worn it well, is the hoary head a crown of glory, when found in the way of righteousness. David's way of life was fallen into the sere and yellow leaf; and he had that “which should accompany old age,-as honour, love, obedience, troops of friends." To lack these is bitter; and the felt want of them constitutes a main part of the common bitterness of old age. Ooßôv ympas, ou yàp èpxetai uóvov, says

It is the boast of Longfellow's Captain of Plymouth:

“And, like Cæsar, I know the name of each of my soldiers.” No great feat, the size of Miles Standish's army considered. Better entitled to brag is the Roman lieutenant, Petreius, commemorated by Cicero in Ben Jonson, “These thirty years so conversant in the army, As he knows all the soldiers by their names.” Again, the Sejanus of Jonson

“Is heard to court the soldier by his name.”
And to some purpose; witness this outburst of military admiration :-
" 2 Trib. By Mars, he has my lives,

Were they a million, for this only grace.
Lac. Ay, and to name a man !
Lat. As he did me!

And me!
Lat. Who would not spend his life and fortunes

To purchase but the look of such a lord ?”

Min.

the Greek proverb : account old age a thing to be dreaded, for it comes not alone. It comes as a negative quantity, bringing all sorts of privations with it. It tends to isolate a man, and make more or less a shelved solitary of him, just when solitude becomes least welcome, unless in exceptional cases, and to exceptional natures. For, in the judgment of one who speaks with authority to and for the mass of mankind, solitude is surely for the young, who have time before them for the execution of schemes, and who can therefore take delight in thinking. “It is hard to conceive that the old, whose thoughts have all been thought out, should ever love to live alone.” When the author of the Last Chronicle of Barset pictures poor old Mr. Harding left alone l in a large house—he, too, a man who did not love solitude—this compensatory glimpse is allowed us of the meek and venerable ex-warden's grateful review of so long and tranquil a life. Had not the world and all in it been good to him ; had he not children who loved him, who had done him honour, who had been to him a crown of glory, never a mark for reproach ; had not the lines fallen to him in very pleasant places; was it not his happy fate to go and leave it all amidst the good words and kind loving cares of devoted friends ? “Whose latter days had ever been more blessed than his? And for the future — ? It was as he thought of this that that smile came across his face,—as though it were already the face of an angel. And then he muttered to himself a word or two. ' Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace. Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace.”

To grow old with good sense, and a good friend, was the wish of Thales; Pope's ? accomplished St. John was for adding,

1 “Non qui soletur, non qui lubentia tarde

Tempora narrando fallat, amicus adest.”—Ovid. 2 The Odysseus for whom Pope is responsible, comfortably assures his aged sire :

" Age so advanced may some indulgence claim,
Sost sleep, fair garments, and the joys of wine,

These are the rights of age, and should be thine."
There is a reverend doctor mentioned, not by name, in the Autobiography

« НазадПродовжити »