« PředchozíPokračovat »
wager, the stranger thought that the surest way to win it, was to offend him downright, and therefore he asked him insolently to his face, " Art thou a Prince of Israel?" Hillel replied in the affirmative.
Well, then," replied the stranger, “ Heaven forbid there should be
many more such princes as thou !" “ Wherefore ?" said Hillel, but still speaking with a smile. “ Because---because---I have lost " 400 shekels by thee;' and thereupon he related to him the whole adventure. Thy gold,” said Hillel, smiling, “ is not entirely lost; “ the result will teach thee more prudence for the future, not to wager “ so indiscreetly. Better it is that thou shouldst lose thy money, than “ Hillel his temper."
THE ABBE MEZZOFANTI. There are phenomena among mankind quite as inexplicable as those of the material world. Mezzofanti is one of them. He is Librarian and Professor of Oriental Languages in the University of Bologna. As Abbe, he every day reads the service of the Mass, which is in Latin; and without ever having been beyond the walls of Bologna, he is acquainted with other languages to a number that seems almost incredible. The Baron von Zach relates of him in his astronomical correspondence.
“In our first interview, he addressed me in an HUNGARIAN, and paid his respects in the best MagyARISCHEN dialect, in a compliment “ so elegantly worded, as to cause in me po slight surprise. He then
spoke to me in GERMAN, first in Saxon, then in the Austrian, then • in the Swalian idioms, and in all with a correctness and precision " that increased my astonishment to the highest. In addition, this “ extraordinary man spoke English with Captain Smyth, Polisi and “ Russian with Count Wolkonsky. At dinner at the Cardinal Legate “ Spina, 1 sat near him. After I had conversed with him some time, “ in many languages, all of which he spoke better than I, it occurred “ to me, suddenly to address him in WallachiAN. Without hesita“ tion, and without ever appearing to notice my change of language, “ he answered me in the same idiom with such fluency, that I was
obliged to say, 'Gently, gentiy, Mr. L'Abbe, not so fast!' I had “not spoken myself in this language for fourteen years, although I “ had understood it perfectly in my youth, when I served with my “ Hungarian regiment. The Professor was, however, far more fluent “ than 1; and in this part of the conversation I discovered that he “ spoke another language, which I had never been able to learn,
although I had often tried, and had had so many more opportunities " than he---I mean, The Gipsy Dialect. But how could a man who “ had never left his native town, instruct himself in a language which “is not written, nor to be found in any printed book in the world? “During the war in Italy, an Hungarian regiment was stationed at “ Bologna, among whom the Professor discovered a gipsy; he “ made him his teacher, and learned with his ordinary facility a
language which appears an unintelligible patois, from the source of “ that of the Indian Parias. And in what manner did he speak all “ these languages? Prince Wolkonsky gave this testimony as to the “ Russian--- he wished his son, who was travelling with him, could “ speak it as well. Captain Smyth said, “The Professor speaks
• English inore correctly than I, who have corrupted mine hy
mixing with Irish, Scotch, and foreigners of all nations. The * Professor speaks it so accurately, that it is evident he is a master of the language.'
The Baron, von Zach having introduced a countryman to him, the Professor conversed with him in German. The stranger afterwards asked the Baron, how it happened that a German was made a Professor at an Italian University? Bohemian, who conversed with Mezzofanti in his mother tongue, told us, that had he not known the Professor to be an Italian, he should have taken him for a Bohemian. The wonder becomes still greater when we reflect how difficult it must be to an Italian, whose language is so particularly soft and mellifluous, to speak such harsh languages as the English, the German, the Polish, and the Russian.
TO A LADY.
“ That touching and unearthly charm, Where early death has set its seal." Knight's QUAR. MAG.
Thy step is measured by the beating heart,
Thy voice is passion's choaking sigh, thy form
Too like a temple, radiant with the flame,
We hardly dare thy destiny deplore ;
And lose our pity, learning to adore ;
bo Tute hoc intriste, omne tibi exedendum est." TERENT.
Every bird must hatch its own egg.
Are you married or single, reader? You must be either one or the other; and, married or unmarried, you will suit my purpose, and, perhaps, I may contrive to suit yours, which is, doubtless, to he amused. If I happen to enter into an anticipation of what you have realized, you will not be displeased, perhaps, to find some congeniality in our minds; if on the contrary, you and I shall be still better friends. I hate raising expectations; and, for this reason,
always knock gently at the doors of my acquaintances, for fear they should anticipate some lordly stranger; therefore, that you may not imagine that I am going to do what I have not the least idea of, I will tell you what, in my anticipations, I shall not anticipate. I shall not enter into anticipations of the grave--the sensations we feel at the sound of this word, are by no means agreeable to our life-loving nature. Besides, it is no easy matter to talk of circling turfs and wreathed willows, of scattered roses and luxurious worms, of timecrusted monuments and chilly vaults, of --but I am already belying my promise. I shall not describe anticipations of a new poem; an epic from Southey; a tale from Barry Cornwall; a pun from Rogers, or a witticism from Jerdan; a new comedy at either of the “ · Rival Houses;" a novel from Colburn, or a decided cause in Chancery. Each, and all, of these, are but melancholy visions, either disappointing if realized, or never likely to be so. Still less shall I anticipate that Joseph Hume will make to night less than twenty speeches in the House of Commons; that the Morning Herald will contain a well-written “ leader," or the Times a bad one; that the Reviewer in the “ Sun” will learn to distinguish between an imitation and an original; or, that the now glorious weather will continue unchanged till I have finished this article. I will touch only on probable events.
A Letter. -Ten thousand blessings on that man's head who invented letters! and twice twenty more on his head who invented writing. Familiar advantages are generally understood: thus it is with writing; it is such an optional and common thing, that we never pay it the respect of pausing to admire the pleasures and gratification which it imparts. What can be imagined (when we revolve the matter) more delightful than our capability to cheat distance of separation and absence of forgetfulness? What more convenient than to fold up our minds in a sheet of paper, and send them for the inspection of those friends, to whom thousands of intervening miles prevent our personally unfolding it? Letters are our ambassadors: they represent ourselves—aye, and in the noblest way too. Through thein we hold a correspondence with the Nabobs of India; we may travel the world by their conveyances; hint to distant uncles the propriety of securing a will; blow up a well-bred scoundrel, and supply our families with jokes sufficient to keep them laughing till
The rag-man, the goose, the ink-merchant, the postoffice, postman, the mail-coachman, &c., &c., it is true, conspire in our service with these letters themselves, and all deserve a separate meed of praise; but let them wait, I cannot now bestow it.
“ There is a letter in the candle” for the next week, I anticipate. From whom will it come? from what part of England ? what will it contain ? good or bad news ?-It is impossible for me to answer these questions, and hence my mind will experience a constant jolt between hope and dread. How will the sound of the postman's distant rap thrill all my nerves, and startle up my cogitations ! I throw down my book, pull out the small drawer of my writing-desk, unburden my purse of a shilling, approach the window, and strain my sight in
vain down the crooked street, to catch a blessed view of the postman's red-coat-pshaw! he has left my street for another. By and bye comes the town postman, half-splitting my street door with the short duplicate of his thundering momento: full of the idea of the general post, I gently open the door of my study, prick up my ears to hear the servant's approach-she is not coming it seems- I give my bell an awakening touch that sets half a dozen more to accompany its chiming ding ding. The domestic drops her spoon in her dripping pan, terrified at the sounds, treads on a kitten's tail as she fies through the door way, gallops up stairs like one of Ducrow's horses, bruises her shins over the coal scuttle on the landing place, and then opening my door with a face writhing like a clown's, moans out, “ Did you ring, sir?”—“ Where's my letter?"-"Your letter, sir, “ 'twas the tax-gatherer !" Oh! oh! Maddened with disappointment, and still more maddened at my unnecessary anger, I turn round on my chair, mutter “nthe tax-gatherer,” ferret the hobs with my shoes, and whistle, by way of mockery, at my own caprice. “Go to “ bed, Tom.” Has the reader ever realized this, or any thing like it? happier he if he has not !
Of course, while anticipating a letter, the eagerness to receive it, increases as the disappointment lengthens. Fancies pile on fancies, and suspicions conjure themselves into a shadowy existence. Perhaps the person from whom you expect it, is dead and buried.-drowned or suffocated---or, what you think almost as mortifying, he has forgotten you.
“ It is very strange I don't hear from him,” is the usual family speech at meal-time. Your sisters, if they are partial to teasing, will not fail to pat you on the shoulder, and say with soft impertinence---" Poor boy, he shall have a letter;" while your father will lay his knife and fork down very ceremoniously, fix his eyes steadily on your face, and then gravely remark, “ I tell you “ what, Bob, since you are so anxious to have a letter, why not write
one to yourself ?” How then will his eyes be half-concealed with the merry motion of their lids at this juvenile sally ?---Poor disappointed man, I pity you, for let the would-be stoics prate as they please,
“ These little things are great to little men." I can easily imagine you continually listening to the sound of the street door knocker, putting eternal meaningless questions to all the servants, and seizing hold of every bit of paper, that at the room's length appears in the corresponding shape of a letter. With what feverish anxiousness do you await the postman's hours, fancy the clink of each heel on the pavement to be his, and open your sittingroom door at the least sound in the passage! Perhaps you will enjoy “ a brown study” for the first hour after breakfast; the second in measuring your room with Bombastes-like strides--and then the postman's hour is arrived.-Well, you are in your arm-chair, and your watch is this moment making its appearance from your fob« Fifteen minutes past one-surely I have made a mistake the time “ must be past.” “What a dreadful hubbub your bell has created
below : I can almost hear it dinging in my ear: but here's the footman—" Pray, Thomas, is the postman gone by yet?”—“ The post“ man!” replies Thomas, with a stare.-_ Yes, the postman.” You growl in a lion-rage.---" Is the postman gone by, I say?" Thomas stares still more widely; then answers with a soft voice, mingling anger at your anger, with triumph at your disappointment--" This "hour ago, sir!" Now, my dear sir, after this excruciating endurance, if I were by you, I should recommend a cold bath, if it were summer, or a walk in your garden at any time of the year.- Woe be to dog or cat that you meet as you descend your stairs !
This continuance of “the hope deferred,” which maketh the “ heart sick,” will perhaps last a few days longer. At last, on a cer. tain day, after you have walked the streets in a demi-sulky gloominess of thought, and Aung envious glances at every letter you behold in a casual stranger's hand, you will return home little improved in temper--knock impatiently at the door-Thomas is shaving in his garret-knock harder-here he is, quite out of breath, and his eyes anticipating your anticipation :-“There's a letter for you, sir, up
stairs." Yes, I can see you plain enough; the letter is come at last, and now, as you walk with attempted composure up stairs, you feel an approaching shame for betraying such anxiety for a letter. Thus you determine not to evince much perturbating delight in the presence of your family. That's right-you shut the door with much philosophical composure.—What! even your gloves off, and no demand for the letter! Why, if I were there, I should read it with my hat on.---Oh, now I hear you, with some trepidation, say, “ Anne, “ where's my letter ?"---“ Your letter, Bob !---Oh, by-the-bye, there is one for you.
The servant took it in: I have it not.” Poor sufferer ! you will lose your letter, now, if not very scrutinous. After a half-an-hour's search in every corner of your domain, your temper begins to rise, and with somewhat tumid cheeks, you persist in telling your said sister, that you are certain she has your letter : with one sweep you unload the table of all her silks, ruffles, and serpent-winding ribbons; in performing this angry operation, you fortunately upset her work-box, and there, under its pressure, has calmly slumbered your epistle !! “ Tush,” you will remark---" tush.” And there you are, seated on your sofa, with your back shaped into an inclined plane, your eye-brows fitfully knitting and relaxing, and your fidgetty fingers puzzled with the seal. Still methinks you are disappointed with the hand-writing ; however, the letter is opened--your mother has laid aside her spectacles, hoping to hear its contents---your playful sister's needle is stuck contentedly in her muslin, and she too hopes to know its contents.---“ No good news, I fear : let me see---A bill, as I am a sinful descendant of Adam : “ Robert Imagination, Esq.
To Timothy Wellfit.