« AnteriorContinuar »
song*. There were also the busts of Plato, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Anaxagoras, Democritus, and other wise men, who diffused the light of knowledge over Greece. But the figure which particularly affected Combabus, was a funeral genius, under the form of a beautiful boy, standing erect, his eyes closed with an air of languor between death and sleep, his legs gracefully crossed at the ancles, his hands meeting above the head, and his back resting against a pine tree, the branches of which were spread above him, as if to cast their funereal shade upon the tranquillity of his eternal reposet.
Having satisfied himself with the contemplation of these objects, Combabus turned to the books. He took up Homer the first in order, and, after looking over some passages with a familiar eye,
laid aside the volume with the care of one intending to resume it. Plato, Aristotle, Anaxagoras he restored to their places after a passing glance. Combabus had not yet reached the age of philosophy. Amongst the dramatic poets he seemed to regard Æschylus with more admiration than sympathy, and had scarcely read a scene when he abruptly laid down the book. Sophocles and Euripides detained him longer. He took up and read in them alternately, with the lingering indecision of equal admiration. Pursuing his survey, he was surprised to find no books on medicine, and thought the exclusion strange. Happening, however, to look into an obscure corner, he beheld a heap of books carelessly piled, and overstrown with withered plants and flowers, which Erasistratus had thrown aside after having examined or applied their medicinal qualities. This piled lumber consisted of books of medicine and poetry—the former chiefly written by women of Greece. It was singular that the Greek ladies gave themselves up to the healing art, when their practising it was forbidden by usage and the laws. The comic poets ascribed it to their love of contradiction. “Give them," said these latter, “ leave and encouragement to pursue the study of the healing art, and you will not have one medical treatise written by a woman in ten Olympiads.” But the comic poets have ever been remarked for the slanderous malice of their tongues. This predilection for medical studies should rather be referred to the humanity of the sex, which would seek the means of assuaging the sufferings and sustaining the infirmities of mankind, in spite of injustice and unkindness. Poetry, however, formed the larger portion of the pile ; and although Combabus had passed his life in reading, yet these neglected geniuses were as new to him as if they had never existed. Mournful destiny for men who set such a value on themselves, and were indeed the heads and limbs of schools in their day! Once in every body's hands - but now in nobody's, or only in those of some rustic re
These figures were probably parts of a group of the Muses frequently represented on ancient sarcophagi with (somewhat strangely) Bacchants, Satyrs, and Sileni, on the covercles, in all the wild intoxication of feasting. One of these sarcophagi, with the above basso-rilievos in perfect preservation, was discovered in the vicinity of Rome about the beginning of the last century, and is to be seen, I believe, in the Vatican. (Trans.)
+ This figure is also common in rilievo upon ancient sarcoplagi; and the French possess a precious and admired antique, which agrees with the above precisely in description. It is known by the name of genie funèbre. In this personification may be seen that characteristic trait of Greek imagination, which, ever studious of the beautiful, arrayed in beauty even the gloom and ghastliness of death. (Trans.)
* * * * * * * *
turning in the evening from the market of Athens, with his half de cad's provision of fish, figs, and bacon. Combabus had the curiosity to look through several. A brief notice of these, though so utterly forgotten, may not be without interest, as illustrating the ephemeral successes of shallow pretension, and the capricious delirations of poetical taste. * * * *
[Here there is again a great chasm in the manuscript. It may well be called a hiatus valde deflendus.]
This assurance was delightful to Combabus; yet so far from rendering his thoughts steady or his mind at ease, it gave new activity to his imagination. Rapt wholly in his own reveries, he scarcely spoke a word intelligibly to Erasistratus ; and the philosopher with equal wisdom and good-nature left him to himself. They met once more at the physician's evening repast. It was short and frugal, consisting of some cakes, fresh eggs, fruit, the gentle wine of Thasos perfumed with rose leaves, and diluted with water from a cool and limpid spring, which Erasistratus had consecrated to the genii of Health and Temperance, who, according to the religion of the Syrians, were the children of Nature. The repast being concluded, a damsel who tended and consoled the
advanced age of Erasistratus, like the Hecamede of aged Nestor-like her blooming in youth, in innocence, and in the luxuriant abundance of golden-curled hair (see Homer), appeared before them. She conducted Combabus to the door of the apartment in which he was to sleep, and having presented him with some laurel leaves, wished him happy dreams. Combabus having put on a snowwhite robe left upon his couch by “Hecamede of abundant tresses, (so she was called by Erasistratus) placed the leaves of the prophetic plant (laurel] above his head, and lay down to rest.
As well might one strive to fix the fluctuations of surface, and the changes of hue and shade, on the bosom of the ocean beneath the passing clouds, as to fix the visions that fitted round him in his sleep. One only was of a painful nature, and, alas ! it alone left any distinct impression on his memory. He beheld the Apellean Venus in animated divinity, presenting to him a golden cup, which he was dying with desire to drink of, but which some invisible sorcery kept ever from his lips. The lovely vision, seeing his despair, dropped a tear into the cup, and let it fall from her hand, and the fancied noise awoke Combabus, exhausted and agitated. He soon, however, relapsed into a more profound sleep, to the enjoyment of which we will leave him for a while.
Southward, to find a happier clime,
Cover the earth, and thistles yield to thyme,
'Ευπλόκαμος Εκαμηδη. ΗοΜ.
Took up his distant dwelling,
When tired with selling,
And purchased bricks and mortars,
And then sat down for life
Idle—he took no wife
That none, except his countrymen, possest,
He oft advanced his purse and interest ;
Suffer'd the cholic,
He rose that he might hobble to a doctor For some advice to cure his bowels sick,
And save bis corpse and cash from priest and proctor. Two Esculapians practised in the place, He sought the nearest out to tell his case,
Regain his ease, and set at rest his doubt.
But stared at finding all the door about
Despatched to their repose
Scarce gaining time to make their wills:
To seek the other son of cataplasms,
And this assuredly
Where two poor ghosts stood miserably chill-
Errors might happen sore against the will,
From oversight the best might twice be caught“ I'll venture in, and get a little ease
From these cursed pains that on my vitals seize."
But when he rose to go away
Assured him that for inany a day
LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS OF LONDON.
« The City of London, that is to me so dear and sweet, in which I was forthgrown; and more kindly love bave I to that place, than any other on earth."
Chaucer. I am never tired of walking in London. Whether I perambulate the broad pavement of Oxford-street, steal cautiously through the perilous passes of the Seven Dials, thread the mazes of oxen and sheep in Smithfield, or jostle rich city merchants on Cornhill, I never fail in finding an infinite fund of interest and amusement.
But let me give some account of my second peregrination. It was a clear autumn morning as I passed through the massy archway of Lincoln's Inn, and traversed the venerable square so rich with a thousand legal associations. The doors of the hall in which Bacon and Clarendon, and Shaftesbury, delivered their judgments, were open, and I stepped in. I am not, thank Heaven! versed in the intricacies of equity; but I could not help feeling a sentiment of the highest veneration, as I stood where the powerful intellects of the country had for ages displayed their powers. Upon the ancient wainscot was emblazoned many a noble escutcheon, and many an illustrious name, upon which the sun seemed glad to shed his rays, enriched and glowing with the various tints of the stained windows through which they passed. As I gazed on these memorials of ancient genius, I recalled the men whose names they commemorated; and first, with a stately and very measured step, came the lord keeper Hatton. Alas! the voice of Mr. Hart, moving, I think he said, to dissolve an injunction, at the same time, dissolved my vision.
In proceeding on towards Portugal-street, I passed the ViceChancellor's court, which, like America, is not old enough to possess any recollections. At the corner of Portugal-street, opposite to the shop of Messrs. Clarke, well stored with ponderous tomes of law, stands the modern Wills's -how changed from the Wills's of ancient days ! but of that anon. Upon turning a corner, I emerged into the prodigious area of Lincoln's Inn Fields. To all who love virtue and honour, and freedom, this is indeed holy ground! From the centre of this square the pure and noble spirit of William Lord Russell fled to Heaven. How closely has the memory of this undaunted patriot, and his high-minded lady, entwined itself with the affections of every true English heart! The account of Lord Russell's last moments, as given by Burnet, is, perhaps, one of the most affecting biographical sketches in the language. How hard it is to refrain from tears when we find Lady Russell repressing hers, lest they should embitter the few remaining hours of her husband's life! Of his execution a very detailed account is given, from which I will transcribe a few particulars which enrich this place with the most interesting associations : “ He went into his coach with great cheerfulness; Dr. Tillotson and Dr. Burnet accompanied him. As they were going, he looked about him, and knew several persons. Some he saw staring on him who knew him, and did not put off their hats. He said there was great joy in some, but that did not touch him so much as the tears he observed in the eyes of others, for that, he said, made him tender. He sung within himself as he went along; and Dr. Burnet asking him what he was singing, he said it was the 119th Psalm,—but he should sing better very soon. As the carriage turned into Little Queen-street, he said, “I have often turned to the other hand with great comfort, but now I turn to this with greater.' As he said this, he looked towards his own house, and Dr. Tillotson saw a tear drop from his eye. Just as they were entering Lincoln's Inn Fields, he said, “This has been to me a place of sinning, and God now makes it the place of my punishment.' He wondered to see so great a crowd assembled. He had before observed that it rained, and said to his companions, · This rain may do you hurt that are bareheaded. He then knelt down, and prayed three or four mi-, nutes by himself. When that was done, he took off his coat and waistcoat; he had brought a night-cap in his pocket, fearing his servant might not get up to him. He undressed himself; and took off his cravat, without the least change of countenance. Just as he was going down to the block, some one called out to make a lane, that the Duke of Albemarle might see; upon which he looked full that way. Dr. Burnet had advised him not to turn about his head, when it was once on the block, and not to give a signal to the executioner. These directions he punctually attended to.
When he had lain down,' says Dr. Burnet, I once looked at him, and saw no change in his looks; and though he was still lifting up his hands, there was no trembling, though in the moment in which I looked, the executioner happened to be laying his axe to his neck, to direct him to take aim: I thought it touched him, but am sure he seemed not to mind it. The executioner, at two strokes, cut off his head.”
The politician, as he passes through Lincoln's-Inn-fields, will recognize the immense mansion of the Duke of Newcastle : and the historian will remark the long line of buildings which were formerly the residence of the French embassage, of which the relies of the fleur-de-lys, which are still to be seen on the fronts, bear sufficient testimony. It was, I presume, to some mansion in this neighbourhood, that Pope's town-mouse invited his country-cousin.
Away they come, through thick and thin,
Grotesco roofs, and stucco floors. The windings of a few narrow streets and passages led me to Russell-street, Covent-garden, where “Wills’s ” formerly stood. The age of coffee-houses is at length passed: they are no longer the resort of all the great, the learned and the witty. Time was, when in some favourite haunt the genius of the metropolis would assemble, and “shine a constellation, such as might well dazzle our weak modern vision. Were I possessed of that fabled art—the power of summoning to my presence the illustrious dead, whose mortal part the tomb has long since claimed, but whose noble memories still flourish greenly, I know not if I could assemble a worthier company than that of the wits, who at various periods have held their meetings within the walls of the