Obrázky stránek

No. 59.

have been the Inventions of such Authors as were often Tuesday, Masters of Great Learning but no Genius. May 8, 1711,

In my last Paper I mentioned some of those false Wits among the Ancients, and in this shall give the Reader two or three other Species of them, that flourished in the same early Ages of the World. The first I shall produce are the Lipogrammatists or Letter-droppers of Antiquity, that would take an exception, without any Reason, against some particular Letter in the Alphabet, so as not to admit it once into a whole Poem, One Tryphiodorus was a great Master in this kind of Writing. He composed an Odissey or Epick Poem on the Adven tures of Ulysses, consisting of four and twenty Books, having entirely banished the letter A from his first Book, which was called Alpha (as Lucus a non lucendo) because there was not an Alpha in it. His second Book was inscribed Beta, for the same Reason, In short, the Poet excluded the whole four and twenty Letters in their turns, and shewed them, one after another, that he could do his Business without them,

It must have been very pleasant to have seen this Poet avoiding the reprobate Letter, as much as another would a false Quantity, and making his Escape from it through the several Greek Dialects, when he was pressed with it in any particular Syllable. For the most apt and elegant Word in the whole Language was rejected, like a Diamond with a Flaw in it, if it appeared blemished with a wrong Letter. I shall only observe upon this Head, that if the Work I have here mentioned had been now extant, the Odissey of Tryphiodorus, in all probability, would have been oftner quoted by our learned Pedants, than the Odissey of Homer. What a perpetual Fund would it have been of obsolete Words and Phrases, unusual Barbarisms and Rusticities, absurd Spellings and complicated Dialects? I make no Question but it would have been looked upon as one of the most valuable Treasuries of the Greek Tongue,

I find likewise among the Ancients that ingenious kind of Conceit, which the Moderns distinguish by the Name of a Rebus, that does not sink a Letter but a whole Word, by substituting a Picture in its place.



When Cæsar was one of the Masters of the Roman No. 59, Mint, he placed the Figure of an Elephant upon the Tuesday, Reverse of the Publick Mony; the Word Caesar signify May 8, ing an Elephant in the Punick Language. This was artificially contrived by Caesar, because it was not lawful for a private Man to stamp his own Figure upon the Coin of the Commonwealth. Cicero, who was so called from the Founder of his Family, that was marked on the Nose with a little Wenn like a Vetch (which is Cicer in Latin) instead of Marcus Tullius Cicero, ordered the Words Marcus Tullius with the Figure of a Vetch at the end of 'em to be inscribed on a Publick Monument. This was done probably to shew that he was neither ashamed of his Name or Family, notwithstanding the Envy of his Competitors had often reproached him with both. In the same manner we read of a famous Building that was marked in several Parts of it with the Figures of a Frog and a Lizard; Those Words in Greek having been the Names of the Architects, who by the Laws of their Country were never permitted to inscribe their own Names upon their Works. For the same Reason it is thought, that the Forelock of the Horse in the Antique-Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius, represents at a distance the Shape of an Owl, to intimate the Country of the Statuary, who, in all probability, was an Athenian. This kind of Wit was very much in Vogue among our own Country-men about an Age or two ago, who did not practise it for any oblique Reason, as the Ancients above-mentioned, but purely for the sake of being Witty, Among innumerable Instances that may be given of this Nature, I shall produce the Device of one Mr. Newberry, as I find it mentioned by our learned Camden in his Remains. Mr. Newberry, to represent his Name by a Picture, hung up at his Door the Sign of a Yew-tree, that had several Berries upon it, and in the midst of them a great golden N hung upon a Bough of the Tree, which by the help of a little false Spelling made up the Word New-berry.

I shall conclude this Topick with a Rebus, which has been lately hewn out in Free-stone, and erected over two of the Portals of Blenheim House, being the Figure of a


No. 59.

monstrous Lion tearing to Pieces a little Cock. For the Tuesday, better understanding of which Device, I must acquaint May 8, my English Reader that a Cock has the Misfortune to be 1711. called in Latin by the same Word that signifies a French Man, as a Lion is the Emblem of the English Nation. Such a Device in so noble a Pile of Building looks like a Punn in an Heroick Poem; and I am very sorry the truly ingenious Architect would suffer the Statuary_to blemish his excellent Plan with so poor a Conceit: But I hope what I have said will gain Quarter for the Cock, and deliver him out of the Lion's Paw,

I find likewise in ancient Times the Conceit of making an Eccho talk sensibly, and give rational Answers, If this could be excusable in any Writer, it would be in Ovid, where he introduces the Eccho as a Nymph, before she was worn away into nothing but a Voice. The learned Erasmus, tho' a Man of Wit and Genius, has composed a Dialogue upon this silly kind of Device, and made use of an Eccho who seems to have been a very extraordinary Linguist, for she answers the Person she talks with in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, according as she found the Syllables which she was to repeat in any of those learned Languages. Hudibras, in Ridicule of this false kind of Wit, has described Bruin bewailing the Loss of his Bear to a solitary Eccho, who is of great use to the Poet in several Disticks, as she does not only repeat after him, but helps out his Verse, and furnishes him with Rhymes.

He rag'd, and kept as heavy a Coil as
Stout Hercules for loss of Hylas;
Forcing the Vallies to repeat
The Accents of his sad Regrets

He beat his Breast, and tore his Hair,
For Loss of his dear Crony Bear,

That Eccho from the hollow Ground
His doleful Wailings did resound
More wistfully, by many times,

Than in small Poets Splay-foot Rhymes,
That make her, in their rueful Stories,
To answer to Int'rogatories,

And most unconscionably depose

Things of which She nothing knows :

And when she has said all she can say,

·No. 60,

'Tis wrested to the Lover's Fancy,
Quoth he, O whither, wicked Bruin,
Art thou fled to my
Eecho, Ruin?

I thought th' hadst scorn'd to budge a Step
For Fear. (Quoth Eccho) Marry guep,
Am not I here to take thy Part!

Then what has quell'd thy stubborn Heart?
Have these Bones rattled, and this Head
So often in thy Quarrel bled?

Nor did I ever winch or grudge it,

For thy dear Sake? (Quoth she) Mum budget,
Think'st thou 'twill not be laid i' th' Dish
Thou turn'dst thy Back? Quoth Eccho, Pish,
To run from those th' hadst overcome
Thus cowardly? Quoth Eccho, Mum,
But what a vengeance makes thee fly
From me too, as thine Enemy?
Or if thou hadst no Thought of me,
Nor what I have endur'd for Thee,
Yet Shame and Honour might prevail
To keep thee thus from turning Tail:

For who wou'd grudge to spend his Blood in
His Honour's Cause? Quoth she, A Pudding.


Wednesday, May 9,

Hoc est quod palles? Cur quis non prandeat, hoc est?



Per. Sat. 3, EVERAL kinds of false Wit that vanished in the refined Ages of the World, discovered themselves again in the Times of Monkish Ignorance,

As the Monks were the Masters of all that little Learn/ ing which was then extant, and had their whole Lives entirely disengaged from Business, it is no Wonder that several of them, who wanted Genius for higher Perfor mances, employed many Hours in the Composition of such Tricks in Writing as required much Time and little Capacity, I have seen half the Eneid turned into Latin Rhymes by one of the Beaux Esprits of that dark Age; who says in his Preface to it, that the AEneid wanted nothing but the Sweets of Rhyme to make it the most perfect Work in its kind. I have likewise seen an Hymn in Hexameters to the Virgin Mary, which filled a whole Book, tho' it consisted but of the eight following Words ;


No. 59.
May 8,

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Tot, tibi, sunt, Virgo, dotes, quot, sidera, Coelo,

Thou hast as many Virtues, O Virgin, as there are Stars in

The Poet rung the Changes upon these eight several Words,
and by that Means made his Verses almost as numerous
as the Virtues and the Stars which they celebrated. It is
no Wonder that Men who had so much Time upon their
Hands, did not only restore all the antiquated Pieces
of false Wit, but enriched the World with Inventions of
their own. It was to this Age that we owe the Production
of Anagrams, which is nothing else but a Transmutation
of one Word into another, or the turning of the same Set
of Letters into different Words; which may change Night
into Day, or Black into White, if Chance, who is the
Goddess that presides over these Sorts of Composition,
shall so direct. I remember a witty Author, in Allusion
to this kind of Writing, calls his Rival, who (it seems) was
distorted, and had his Limbs set in Places that did not
properly belong to them, The Anagram of a Man.

When the Anagrammatist takes a Name to work upon, he considers it at first as a Mine not broken up, which will not shew the Treasure it contains till he shall have spent many Hours in the Search of it: For it is his Business to find out one Word that conceals it self in another, and to examine the Letters in all the Variety of Stations in which they can possibly be ranged. I have heard of a Gentleman who, when this Kind of Wit was in fashion, endeavoured to gain his Mistress's Heart by it. She was one of the finest Women of her Age, and known by the Name of the Lady Mary Boon. The Lover not being able to make any thing of Mary, by certain Liberties indulged to this kind of Writing converted it into Moll; and after having shut him self up for half a Year, with indefatigable Industry produced an Anagram. Upon the presenting it to his Mistress, who was a little vexed in her Heart to see her self degraded into Moll Boon, she told him, to his infinite Surprize, that he had mistaken her Sirname, for that it was not Boon but Bohun.

-Ibi omnís

Effusus labor


« PředchozíPokračovat »