網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

one to reflect. "The History of the Life and Adventures of Mr. Duncan Campbell; a gentleman who, though deaf and dumb, writes down any stranger's name at first sight; with their future contingencies of fortune. Now living in Exeter-Court, over against the Savoy in the Strand." Mr. Duncan Campbell was the archimposter in the magic line of his day. All that table-turning, hat-spinning, spirit-rapping, and Mormonism are to us, was Mr. Duncan Campbell to the addled-pates of his generation. At every drum in the fashionable world ladies spoke in ecstacies of "that duck of a Mr. Duncan Campbell," how he knew every thing, was a medium, and a gentleman by birth, and how no one of ordinary sagacity doubted his powers. Defoe, in his "Life and Adventures," of course declared his belief in the fellow; a book exposing the man's tricks would not have sold. Steele mentioned this Campbell in the Tatler; and Eliza Heywood, (the authoress of "Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy," "The Fruitless Enquiry," and "Betsey ThoughtBetsey Thoughtless,") wrote a work similar to Defoe's, called "A Spy on the Conjurer; Memoirs of the Famous Mr. Duncan Campbell." Have any of the readers of these pages perused Eliza Heywood's other works-her "Letters on all occasions lately passed between persons of distinction," of which Letter IV. is entitled "Sarpedon to the ever-upbraiding Myrtilla," and XI. "The repenting Aristus to the cruel, but most adorable Panthea," and XLIV. "Bellisa to Philemon, on perceiving a decay of his affection?" It the ladies are ignorant of this literature, let them be advised and remain in their ignorance.

Smollett pursued a better course with regard to the "famous Mr. Campbell," in making him the object of laughter and the source of instruction to the town under the name of Cadwallader. But then Smollett was a long age posterior to Defoe.

Similar to the "Life of Duncan Campbell," was Defoe's sketch of "Dickory Crouke, The Dumb Philosopher," &c. &c. Alas! alas! and it was only for a morsel of bread.

We have stated our thanks are due to Defoe for giving the English novel, graphic descriptions, and quick, pointed conversations. In one of the

qualities of a novelist he was unaccountably deficient-not even coming up to his precursor Mrs. Behn. Το the construction or the most vague conception of a plot he seems to have been quite inadequate. This may be accounted for partly by the fact that, from abstaining on religious grounds from the theatres, his mind had not been duly educated in this most difficult department of his art; and partly by the rapidity with which his "histories" were evolved. Whatever may be the cause of the fault, that it exists few will be so rash as to question. All Defoe's novels, long as they are, are but a string of separate anecdotes related of one person, but having no other connection with each other. In no one of them are there forces at work that necessitate the conclusion of the story at a certain point. One meets with no mystery, no denouement in them. They go on and on, (usually at a brisk pace, with abundance of dramatic positions) till it apparently strikes the author he has written a good bookful, and then he winds up with a page and a half of "so he lived happily all the rest of his days;" intermixed with some awkward moralizing by way of apology for the looseness of the bulk of the work. For example, "Roxana" might as well have been twice or half as long as it is.

One feature more of Defoe as a no-
velist. May he not be regarded as
the first English writer of prose-fic-
tion who pointed out the field of his-
tory to imaginative literature? His
"Journal of the Plague Year;" his
"Memoirs of a Cavalier ;" and "The
Memoirs of an English Officer who
served in the Dutch War in 1672, to
the peace of Utrecht in 1713, &c. &c.
By Captain George Carlton," were
the pioneers of that army of which
the Waverley Novels form the main
body. The great Earl of Chatham
used, before he discovered it to be a
fiction, to speak of the "Memoirs of a
Cavalier" as the best account of the
civil wars extant. And of " Captain
Carleton" there is the following anec-
dote in Boswell's Johnson.
best account of Lord Peterborough
that I have happened to meet with is
in Captain Carleton's Memoirs.'
Carleton was descended of an officer
who had distinguished himself at the

The

6

siege of Derry. He was an officer, was so much pleased with it that he and, what was rare at that time, had sat up till he read it through, and some knowledge of engineering, found in it such an air of truth that Johnson said he had never heard of he could not doubt its authenticity ; the book.

Lord Elliot had a copy at adding, with a smile, in allusion to Port Elliot; but, after a good deal Lord Elliot's having recently been of inquiry, procured a copy in Lon- raised to the peerage, I did not don, and sent it to Johnson, who think a young lord could have mentold Sir Joshua Reynolds that he tioned to me a book in the English was going to bed when it came, but history that was not known to me.'

THE PLANTS OF THE SUPERSTITIONS.

In the early ages men were more but to pluck his object from the face impressed by the productions of the of the ground ; the mineralogist found earth in her vegetable, than in her much more labour in his pursuit. mineral kingdom. They seem to have The qualities of herbs and flowers been more botanists, florists, herbalists, were easily extracted, and needed but than geologists and mineralogists. “small appliances and means to The beauty and grace of flowers and boot ;" but to procure medicaments trees attracted and inspired the poet, from metal and mineral required the emblematist, and the lover, who some skill and learning, besides scienfound in leaf and blossom similies, tific apparatus. Solomon, the wisest types, and metaphors, which they of kings, wrote of “trees, from the did not see in stones or mineral masses. cedar-tree that is in Lebanon, even The writings of the olden times are unto the hyssop that springeth out of more abounding in floral than in the wall :" it is likely that his treageological or metallic allusions: Pliny tise was a pharmacopeia ; in fact such wrote more largely of the vegetable is the opinion of the learned Rabbi, world than of the other portions of Moses Bar Nachman (Nachmanides). inanimate nature : Virgil and Co- Among the rural population in all lumella sang of the green things. As nations we still find extant ungrafor the games, the festivals, the sacri- duated doctors (and doctresses) who fices, the marriages, the funerals of practise their leech-craft solely by the ancients, were they not garlanded the means of herbs. In foreign counfrom end to end with flowers and tries, beyond the limits of Europe, sprays, buds and boughs ? *“Sine the descendants of the aborigines Cerere et Libero friget Venus ;"—aye, possess much valuable and recondite and sine Flora too: for did not the in formation with respect to the nabrows and the fane of Venus Ama- tive botany, which would be an acquisithusia look more beautiful entwined tion to various branches of art and with flowers ? And the corn of Ceres, science. and the wine of Liber Pater, that Among the children of the vegetable sustained the charms of Venus, they creation, some for their grace and also came from the vegetable realm. beauty, like the myrtle, rose, forget

To this realm, too, was Esculapius me-not, &c., have been dedicated to indebted : the most ancient pharma- the affections ;t others, for their copeias were furnished from plants qualities medicinal or noxious, (qualiand herbs. Men discovered the vir- ties sometimes merely imaginary), betues of herbs that grew on the surface came objects of veneration, or of of the earth before their eyes, far superstitious belief. Herbs thought more readily than they could learn to be beneficial were consecrated by the properties of crude minerals hid- the heathen to their superior diviniden in the earth. The herbalist had ties (and by the early Christians to

• Terence.

† See “ Flowers of the Affections." --Dublin L'niversity Magazine, No. ccxlix., Septem

ber, 1853.

[ocr errors]

the saints). Plants of a baneful na- Druids, who used it in their sacred ture were dedicated to the gloomy ceremonies ; they gathered it with deities, and to witches, and formed solemn rites at the rising of the great necessary ingredients in unholy spells Dog-star, when neither sun nor moon and incantations. Narcotic herbs was above the earth to look inquisithat occasioned trances and strange tively upon their operations. They dreams, and plants that, like the “in- described a circle round it three times, sane root” of Shakespeare, caused and then looking westwards, they delirium, whose ravings superstition dug it up with a sword ; and strewed received as oracular, and whose visions honey-combs upon the spot where it as supernatural, were fitting materials had grown, as a compensation to the for sorcery. Even the Laurel, the earth for the treasure they had taken. glossy perennial laurel, the favorite The sun-worshippers in the east also of Apollo for his lost Daphne's sake, held it in their hands during their the crown of the victor and the bard, devotions. saw its bright leaves degraded to dark Among the Greeks and Romans rites on account of its supposed deli- the Vervain was used in religious rium-exciting powers when chewed ceremonies, and in incantations. The by the Pythoness. Theocritus in his Romans called it herba sacra, and second Idyl,“The Incantation,” makes used it in casting lots and drawing of his sorceress say : “Delphis atilicts omens; and also in aspersions and me; I burn this laurel against Del- lustral rites. It was sent as a gift phis, and as it crackles intiamed, and among the Romans on their New suddenly burns up, so that no cinder Year's day, as emblematic of good of it appears, so may the flesh of wishes and good fortune. The Roman Delphis consume in the flame."* heralds, when they went to offer peace

The plants and herbs of the super- to a city, carried a sprig of Vervain stitions were of two kinds, the good in their hands, both on account of its and the evil; the former held in the being the symbol of peace, and of its veneration of respect, the latter in the supposed peace-making virtues. But veneration of fear.

when a herald was sent to demand In the ancient world the most from the enemy the restitution of esteemed and holy, perhaps, of all things that had been carried away by plants was the VERVAIN® (Verbena force, it was thought necessary to officinalis,) the llicrobotane, or holy select for that occasion a sprig of herb of Dioscorides. It was believed Vervain growing within the enclosure to cure no less than thirty maladies, of the capitol ; and the herald was among which were gout, palsy,dropsy, called V'erbenarius. jaundice, tertian and quartan argues,

Since the Christian era the Vervain inveterate headaches, &c. ; but that has been venerated from a tradition for which it was most valued was that our Lord once trod upon it, and not its physical, but its supposed that it was thenceforward endowed moral quality of supernaturally dis- with antidotal virtues against the bite posing to peace, of reconciling enemies, of serpents and venomous reptiles. and of causing a favourable feeling The root is still worn in some parts of towards those persons who carried it Europe as a cure for scrofula, and about them, (and surely those who as a charm against ague. The shepwould not avail themselves of such herds in the south of France still bean easy mode of conciliating others, lieve the Vervain endowed with magimust have been strange misanthropes, cal qualities. and very fond of strife).

It has a square stalk, jagged opIt was highly venerated by the posite leaves, and a spike of pale lilac

* Δελφις εμανιασεν' εγω δ' επι Δελφιδι δαφναν
Αιθω’ χ'ως αυτα κακεει, μεγα καππυρισασα,
Κηξαπινης αφθη κ' ουδε σπoδoν ειδομες αυτας
Ουτω του και Δελφις ενι φλογι σαρκαμαθυνοι.
† Affer aquam, et molli cinge hæc altaria vittâ,

Verbenas que adole pingues, et mascula thura
Conjugis ut magicis sanos avertere sacris.
Experiar sensus.-- Virgil, Eclog. viii.

"Freedom and peace!" thus chaunt your happy voices,

Ye soaring birds! and thine, oh wilding bee!

At that glad sound e'en the lone rock rejoices,

And bids the echoes answer, "peaceful! free!"

Scorn comes not there the gentle heart to wither;

Nor Malice, forcing bitter tears to flow;

Pride, Jealousy, Injustice climb not thither,

Too steep the heights, their haunts lie far below.

'Twas on the mountains, safely sped by heaven,

The storm-tost ark at length found place of rest:

To Moses' longing eyes the view was given

Of promis'd Canaan from a mountain's crest.

How beautiful the mountains' verdure pressing

The feet of Him who peace, glad tidings, brought*

How dear the Mount where words replete with blessing The Prince of Peace to crowding hearers taught!

Mountains, be glad in your surpassing glory!

Before you richest plains their vaunts

must cease:

For oft the pen inspir'd of sacred story Hath writ on your ennobled summits "Peace !"

ST. JOHN'S WORT (Hypericum perforatum) is so handsome a wild flower that it finds a place in many gardens, where it is very showy with its broad, glossy, bright green leaves, its starlike bright yellow corolla, and the inner circle of fine golden threads, like a halo of sun-beams. On account of the brightness of its hue, and of its being sometimes phosphorescent, it was dedicated to St. Jolin the Baptist, because he is called in Scripture a burning and a shining light." was gathered on St. John's Eve by the rustics, and worn, along with

66

It

flowers; and is commonly found throughout Europe, especially near habitations; it is said to be never met with farther than a quarter of a mile from a house-hence, being so easy of acquisition, it was called "Simpler's (ie. Herbalist's) Joy."

Sorrowful to say, but easily to be credited, this plant of peace and goodwill is not indigenous in Ireland; had it but been so, how many factionfights it might have saved in the good old days of the "Black Hens and Magpies, the Gows and Poleens, and the Caravats and Shanavests"-not to speak of the nobler feuds of the O'Briens and O'Flaherties, the Desmonds and the Butlers. But let us take comfort: our florists have introduced into Irish gardens many of the Vervain species, the beautiful foreign Verbenas of various colours. Let us hope that these exotics have something of the ancient tranquillizing nature of their great ancestor, the sacred Vervain: and truly it seems as though it were so, for the factions have nearly died out, and contested elections are greatly tamed down.

Beside the Vervain as the symbol of peace, we will place the tribute of an appropriate lay:

PEACE UPON THE MOUNTAINS.

M. E. M.

Would'st thou seek Peace? Up! hie
thee to the mountains,
Far above human passions, toil, and

strife:

Up to the rivers' springs! those rockborn fountains,

Emblems of all that's bright, pure,
free, in life.

Up to the mountains! there dwells
Peace, united
With Solitude and Freedom, triad
blest!

There morning earliest comes, with
gaze delighted;

There linger long the sunbeams of the
West.

Untrampled there are nature's flow'rets
springing;

There flow the streams, unsullied, un-
confin'd;

Nor taint nor din from distant cities
bringing,
There musically breathes the healthful
wind.

* Isaiah, lii., 7.

THE DEAD SOLDIER.

II.

III.

Vervain, in wreaths upon their martial herb, and a symbol of war, heads, as they danced round the bon- we must give it a military dirge : fires that custom still kindles in his honour (and which, after all, are but a continuance of the old Celtic Beltane fires), and the Saint's votaries threw Translated from the German of John Gabriel bunches of St. John's Wort into the

Seidl. flames, praying that the succeeding

Auf ferner fremder Aue, twelve months miglit be more fertile,

da liegt ein todter Soldat. abundant, and happy than the preceding

1. It was also called Fuga Demonum, for its imaginary power in banishing In a far foreign country evil spirits. In France and Germany There lay a soldier dead; the peasants gather it on the saint's

Forgotten, unrewarded, day (June 25th), and hang it up over Though brave he fought and bled. their doors and windows to keep away Satan and his imps, and to preserve the houses from lightning and tempest. Cattle that have grazed on And Gen'rals deck'd with crosses the track of the fairies are supposed

Rode past ; 'twas grand to viewliable to a grievous disorder, of which They thought not, "he who yonder they can only be cured by eating a

Lies low, earn'd honours too." handful of St. John's Wort, pulled at twelve o'clock on the saint's night. In Scotland it is esteemed as a pre

And there o'er many fallen servative from magic and witchcraft ;

Were wailings sad to hear ; and especially from the arts of the

But for the humble Soldier dairy witches, who spoil the milk,

None had a word or tear. and steal the butter of their neighbours.

It was considered an emblem of war, from the minute perforations, fancied to resemble small spear

Yet in his home far distant, wounds, that may be seen on all the

There sat in evening's glow green leaves when held up to the

His father, much misgiving, light; and from the circumstance

And cried, “He's dead, I know !" that its filaments yield, when bruised, a resinous juice, reddish like blood : hence one of its names is Androsamum (Avopos aipa), man's blood. “It “ Heaven help us !" sobb'd the mo

ther ; is,” says the old herbalist Culpepper, a singular wound herb,” 7. e.,

“ 'Twas shown us long before : beneficial in curing wounds.

“ The clock stopp'd at eleven, A small species of St. John's Wort,

“ And struck the hours no more." exactly resembling the foregoing, but not perforated, grows wild very commonly in the south of Ireland. Dried, and used with alum, it dyes wool A pale maid through the twilight yellow.

Looks out with tearful eyeThere is a species larger than the “ What though the grave may hold perforated St. John's Wort, which is

thee, dedicated to St. Peter, as greater than

To me thou ne'er cans't die !" St. John the Baptist, and is called St. Peter's Wort (Hypericum quadrangulum). It is identical with St. John's flower, except that the upper And thus, in sight of Heaven, part of the stem is square, and that Those three were weeping all, the young

IV.

V.

[ocr errors]

VI.

shoots are of a more vivid For their own poor dead Soldier, red.

As fast as tears could fall. As St. John's Wort is accounted a

VII.

« 上一頁繼續 »