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“ ALIENA NEGOTIA CENTUM." - Horat,
To the Editor of the New Monthly Magazine. SIR,--Having for some time past observed in new works upon the various branches of natural history and other scientific pursuits, the constant demand for new appellations and terms, many of which evidently appear to have cost the authors infinite labour, and to have occupied an undue proportion of their valuable time, in their researches in dictionaries and lexicons for the purpose of forming the same,-in order to obviate such inconvenience for the future, I beg leave to offer myself to the notice of the scientific world as a poeisthalogist, or, as we should express it in the barbarous and uncultivated language in which it is our misfortune to utter our ideas," a maker of words;" and shall be happy to supply them at per dozen, according to the language they may be required in.
I would also state, that the subject had long engaged my most serious attention; and the result of a very long and close application has led to the discovery and production of a language at once sonorous and expressive, and which combines simplicity, conciseness, and lucidity, with the utmost precision of meaning, and is besides so peculiar, that it admits of incorporation into any language whatever; in short, it may be considered as the ne plus ultra of scientific language. In corroboration of which, I have subjoined a specimen from a new edition in English of a British Flora, of which I have the honour of superintending the publication, under the auspices of " The Association for Promoting the Diffusion of Scientific Unintelligibility among the Scavengers, Costermongers, and other Operatives of this vast Metropolis "—the first number of which, price One Farthing, will be ready on the 1st of April, 1834. It will be seen in this, that in conformity with the now universal and exceedingly commendable practice of altering the old names, I have assumed the same privilege, and doubt not but that I shall be considered as having greatly improved the same, both in sound and expressiveness.
BOUTYRODEPAS. BUTTERCUP, Vulg. Synom. Ranunculus, Lin., Juss., Smith, Hooker, and everybody else. Poter Hesepalated-nonmakroteratedrated. Flophyllens. Heate or Iodate--Melitopoilepismedrated. Omegrostamenated. Spermisdochions Oönated Subsynthlebomenated - Orismezantoakonated and Strongulatocephalated – Rizadesmated.
By way of contrast to the elegant simplicity of the above, I give a learned professor's description of this genus, whose descriptions I have generally followed, both in this and other instances.
Ranunculus, Lin. Calyx of 5 Sepals, not elongated at the base. Petals 5-10 with a nectariferous scale at the base. Stamens numerous, cariopsides ovate, somewhat compressed, ending in a short horn or mucro, arranged in a globular or cylindrical head, root fascicled.
I have also to inform you, that I am closely engaged upon what I propose calling “ The Universal Polyglotto Scientifico Tongue,” being a compilation of terms, compounded upon peculiar principles, and of the most select description and varied sound, from the most sonorous words and syllables in the Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Sanscrit, Hindustani, Persian, Coptic, German, Dutch, French, and Italian languages; and I confidently flatter myself, that it will be most eagerly bought up by the scientific world in general, and more especially by naturalists, as it will ensure a constant and plentiful supply of words of almost every possible sound, and of a variety the most recherché; and should this not be sufficient to afford the requisite number of new, elegant, and appropriate appellations, which the present very improved state of science renders so imperatively necessary, I shall have no objection, for a reasonable consideration, to undertake a course of study for the purpose of incorporating the various branches of the Celtic, the original and Anglo-American dialects; and the richly emphatic figures of speech of the native and emancipated" Niggers, with the same which, when expressed in a universal character, formed from that of the Chinese, grafted upon the hieroglyphics of the ancient Egyptians and Mexicans, combined with the mystical alphabets of the Gnostic and Rosicrucian philosophers, cannot fail in having the effect of rendering this language as universal, erudite, unique, and unintelligible, as the most fastidious of modern philosophers can desire.-I am, Sir, with the utmost respect, your very obedient servitor,
Hans ANTOINE GIUSEPPE HALI EBN SPITJABBER,
Philological Professor to the A.P.D.S.U. Philological Coffee-shop, Musty Court, Rag Fair.
A NONSENSE PROLOGUE. A WELL-KNOWN dramatist having hazarded an opinion that the constant habit of getting words by heart (as in the case of an actor), although it improved the memory, tended to render certain other faculties of the mind less acute; his position being disputed, he undertook to give unquestionable proof of its truth. The following prologue, therefore, was composed, and given to one of the most sensible and judicious actors on the stage; and, although it does not contain two intelligible lines, he actually, in the usual course of his professional duties, learnt it by heart. This fact, however, does not prove the correctness of the position : 'Your true no-meaning puzzles more than wit; and, led away by the smooth flow of the verses, and the occurrence of images and expressions, the commonplaces of prologues in general,- perplexed, also, by the occasional glimmerings of something, resembling sense,-it is scarcely to be wondered at that any one should have fallen into the snare.
As for the prologue itself, considering the utter uselessness of even the most sensible and dull of this species of composition, the soft-sounding nonsense of the present, aided by the solemn suit of black and the impressive cocked-hat, might just as well be delivered whenever such an appendage to a play may be required.
When first the Stage, by rigid Fancy reared,
But cold and cheerless, in refulgent night,
O! might our Bard, whose trembling bark to-night
Conversations of Lord Byron with the Countess of Blessington.
London. 1834. 8vo. 1 vol. These Conversations having so recently appeared in the pages of the “ New Monthly Magazine," renders anything like a critical or extended notice of them, now that they are collected into a volume, a very delicate and somewhat hazardous expedient; we shall, therefore, decline the attempt. Self-praise is no recommendation; and were we to assume the air of an impartial severity, we should be laughed at for our ridiculous affectation. The truth is, we were happy to possess, in any form, literary treasures, the intrinsic and the adventitious value of which we had sagacity enough to perceive the moment we understood the source from whence they would be derived, and the subject of inexhaustible interest to which they referred. We are happy to know that public opinion coincides with our own, and that Lady Blessington's addenda to the former notices of Lord Byron are considered as far more characteristic, and as throwing far more light upon the real sentiments and disposition, of the noble poet than even the productions of those who had undertaken the ambitious task of writing his memoirs, or the more questionable one of attempting his life. Byron was, after all, a very ordinary personage. Allowing the transcéndency of his poetical genius, he cannot be ranked among the great men of his species, whatever may have been his relative importance as compared with those of his time. That he has created a deeper interest towards himself than, probably, any former writer, may be accounted for from the state of society when he commenced his career—the peculiar class to which he belonged-the remarkable and sometimes mysterious circumstances in his life which brought him so strangely before the public—the apparent noble sacrifice which he made of himself on the altar of freedom and the violent collision produced by his works between the great parties in politics and religion which, on their first appearance, divided the civilized world. Lady Blessington has made the most of her subject; and if we are sometimes offended with Byron, we are always charmed with her. On occasions when he appears anything but amiable, when something absolutely repulsive makes us shrink from a nearer acquaintance with the perverseness of his wayward nature, she contrives to bring him off with the best grace imaginable, without compromising her own sense of justice, or sacrificing, to an affected candour, her love of truth and virtue. But even Lady Blessington finds it impossible to make a great man of her hero. He is clever-he talks with vivacity-is frequently piquant-sometimes startling and paradoxical-occasionally grave and severe; but never serious-never in earnest. You can never judge of him by what he says, or by what he appears. The weakness of the spoiled child of literature, as well as of the nursery, is apparent in every mood which he assumes. But. the vice of his character is insincerity, and the form of it that which he denounces so perpetually in his confidential and more public writings--CANT. Yes, we repeat it, there is no writer, no man of his age, more directly chargeable with this despicable abuse of human confidence and goodness than Lord Byron. If ever he was truly himself it was when he was theoretically decrying the opinions which he really entertained, or practically belying the virtues to which he was naturally inclined; or committing the vices to which he had no other propensity than was induced by the knowledge that they would make him the talk and the wonder of the world. He frequently indulged the cant of misanthropy, when his heart really felt the slightest appeal to its compassion; he would disparage Christianity, sneer at all future hope, and treat the notion of another life with scorn, and all the while tremble in secret at the apprehension of the terrors which death might disclose. He did not hate his enemies with half
Jan.-VOL. XL. NO. CLVII.
the malignity which he pretended. His friends he allured into his confidence, and betrayed them the next moment to derision and contempt; and as for his love, it was neither the impulse of passion nor the generosity of esteem; he intrigued by means of money, and married for the sake of it; and in the particular instance where the liuson might have been attributed to attachment, he takes pains to prove that, on his part at least, it was the mere indulgence of pride or vanity, or of something even less pardonable.
The numberless pens that have been employed in giving sketches and characters of Lord Byron and his works, all written under the influence of greater or less advantages, have furnished us with nothing contradictory of this, which we have assumed as the single governing principle of his moral nature; in these conversations it is perpetually seen. Whether a larger experience, the fruit of a longer life, and a more intimate acquaintance with the better portion of mankind, would have improved him
into a being that all might admire, and safely trust, and highly esteem, and which would have rendered his biography an instructive portraiture of all that is great, and noble, and virtuous, it is not for us to divine. Had his mother been a Lady Blessington, or had this highly-gifted woman, or such an one, stood in a still more endearing relation to him, and at an early period of his life, we believe that both his character and his fame, his genius and its influence, would have reflected nothing but honour on his country, and that his aristocratic birth and dignity, even in his own estimation, would have been among the meanest of his distinctions.
From the intimacy which subsisted between the fair reporter of these conversations and the noble poet, we have some confidence in believing her assertion, “ that there was that in Byron which would have yet nobly redeemed the errors of his youth and the misuse of his genius, had length of years been granted him;" though we frankly confess no indications of this happy tendency appear in any view we have been permitted to take of his Lordship through the representations of those who have undertaken to make him known to the world. He broke down in the cause of Greece: the struggle upon which he was about to enter, had he survived it, we fear, would only have added to his chagrin, and mortified his self-love. But it is in vain to speculate on what might have been,--we only know what was ; and we deeply regret that a man," whose productions have formed an epoch in the literature of his country," should have exhibited so little in his conduct to entitle him to their just esteem. As a poet, we are not insensible to his merits ; but have been struck with the application, both to the man and the writer, of the following passage, descriptive of a namesake, in the pages of our immortal dramatist, the unrivalled delineator of human nature, under every form in which it has appeared :
“ Oft have I heard of you, my Lord Biron,
Before I saw you; and the world's large tongue
Love's Labour Lost. Pindar, in English Verse. By the Rev. Henry Francis Cary, A.M. This version of Pindar is neither introduced by a preface nor accompanied by notes; all that we are permitted to know about it is, that it is the work of the translator of the “ Inferno." The just fame acquired by that undertaking, it might have been presumed, would ensure a favourable reception to any similar one by the same writer; yet we do not like presumption, though it may sometimes be excused. By the appearance of it in the present instance, Mr. Cary does not defy criticism; he only silently disdains it. Of all the Greek writers, Pindar is least understood in a lan
guage different from his own. Poetry of the highest order is untranslate able: it is impossible to convey its sublimity, or to reveal its exquisite touches of beauty: We may recognise the form and the dress; but where is the living spirit? In the opinion of Horace, Pindar soared far above the reach of imitation; and he who cannot approach the original in its divine and glorious conceptions, must for ever despair of conveying any adequate impression of them by merely translating the language which is essential to their very existence. Thus, in the work before us we have the subjects of the original, the metaphors by which they are illustrated, the deeds celebrated, and some of its noble thoughts, which glimmer rather than blaze upon us; but we cannot say that this is Pindar,—not Pindar according to the fine and glowing description of the Roman bard, beginning with the well-known line
“ Pindarum quisquis studet æmulari;" and which is thus given by Mr. West, as introductory to his own version of the old Grecian, and which obtained considerable celebrity in its day :
“ He who aspires to reach the towering height
Of matchless Pindar's heaven-ascending strain,
Like him who, falling, named th' Icarian main.
Or sudden cataracts of melting snow,
And foams and thunders o'er the vales below,-
Whether, with lawless, dithyrambric rage,
Or in more ordered verse, sublimely sage,
The valiant champion and the rapid steed,
Triumphant bear Olympia's olive meed !
He mingles soft his elegiac song;
Of some disastrous bridegroom, fair and young ;
His airy way the Theban swan pursues,
While, wond'ring at his flight, my timorous muse
Each fragrant offspring of the dewy field,
Solicitous ber honeyed dome to build,
She toils with humble sweets her mansion new to rear."