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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-
siege of Derry. He was an officer, and, what was rare at that time, had some knowledge of engineering. Johnson said he had never heard of the book. Lord Elliot had a copy at Port Elliot; but, after a good deal of inquiry, procured a copy in London, and sent it to Johnson, who told Sir Joshua Reynolds that he was going to bed when it came, but
was so much pleased with it that he sat up till he read it through, and found in it such an air of truth that he could not doubt its authenticity; adding, with a smile, in allusion to Lord Elliot's having recently been raised to the peerage, I did not think a young lord could have mentioned to me a book in the English history that was not known to me.'"
THE PLANTS OF THE SUPERSTITIONS.
IN the early ages men were more impressed by the productions of the earth in her vegetable, than in her mineral kingdom. They seem to have been more botanists, florists, herbalists, than geologists and mineralogists. The beauty and grace of flowers and trees attracted and inspired the poet, the emblematist, and the lover, who found in leaf and blossom similies, types, and metaphors, which they did not see in stones or mineral masses. The writings of the olden times are more abounding in floral than in geological or metallic allusions: Pliny wrote more largely of the vegetable world than of the other portions of inanimate nature: Virgil and Columella sang of the green things. As for the games, the festivals, the sacrifices, the marriages, the funerals of the ancients, were they not garlanded from end to end with flowers and sprays, buds and boughs? *"Sine Cerere et Libero friget Venus;"-aye, and sine Flora too: for did not the brows and the fane of Venus Amathusia look more beautiful entwined with flowers? And the corn of Ceres, and the wine of Liber Pater, that sustained the charms of Venus, they also came from the vegetable realm.
To this realm, too, was Esculapius indebted the most ancient pharmacopeias were furnished from plants and herbs. Men discovered the virtues of herbs that grew on the surface of the earth before their eyes, far more readily than they could learn the properties of crude minerals hidden in the earth. The herbalist had
but to pluck his object from the face of the ground; the mineralogist found much more labour in his pursuit. The qualities of herbs and flowers were easily extracted, and needed but "small appliances and means boot" but to procure medicaments from metal and mineral required some skill and learning, besides scientific apparatus. Solomon, the wisest of kings, wrote of "trees, from the cedar-tree that is in Lebanon, even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall" it is likely that his treatise was a pharmacopeia; in fact such is the opinion of the learned Rabbi, Moses Bar Nachman (Nachmanides). Among the rural population in all nations we still find extant ungraduated doctors (and doctresses) who practise their leech-craft solely by the means of herbs. In foreign countries, beyond the limits of Europe, the descendants of the aborigines possess much valuable and recondite in formation with respect to the native botany, which would be an acquisition to various branches of art and science.
Among the children of the vegetable creation, some for their grace and beauty, like the myrtle, rose, forgetme-not, &c., have been dedicated to the affections ;+ others, for their qualities medicinal or noxious, (qualities sometimes merely imaginary), became objects of veneration, or of superstitious belief. Herbs thought to be beneficial were consecrated by the heathen to their superior divinities (and by the early Christians to
+ See "Flowers of the Affections."--Dublin University Magazine, No. ecxlix., September, 1853.
the saints). Plants of a baneful nature were dedicated to the gloomy deities, and to witches, and formed necessary ingredients in unholy spells and incantations. Narcotic herbs that occasioned trances and strange dreams, and plants that, like the "insane root" of Shakespeare, caused delirium, whose ravings superstition received as oracular, and whose visions as supernatural, were fitting materials for sorcery. Even the Laurel, the glossy perennial laurel, the favorite of Apollo for his lost Daphne's sake, the crown of the victor and the bard, saw its bright leaves degraded to dark rites on account of its supposed delirium-exciting powers when chewed by the Pythoness. Theocritus in his second Idyl, "The Incantation," makes his sorceress say: "Delphis afflicts me; I burn this laurel against Delphis, and as it crackles inflamed, and suddenly burns up, so that no cinder of it appears, so may the flesh of Delphis consume in the flame."*
The plants and herbs of the superstitions were of two kinds, the good and the evil; the former held in the veneration of respect, the latter in the veneration of fear.
In the ancient world the most esteemed and holy, perhaps, of all plants was the VERVAIN (Verbena officinalis,) the Ilierobotane, or holy herb of Dioscorides. It was believed to cure no less than thirty maladies, among which were gout, palsy, dropsy, jaundice, tertian and quartan argues, inveterate headaches, &c. ; but that for which it was most valued was not its physical, but its supposed moral quality of supernaturally disposing to peace, of reconciling enemies, and of causing a favourable feeling towards those persons who carried it about them, (and surely those who would not avail themselves of such an easy mode of conciliating others, must have been strange misanthropes, and very fond of strife).
It was highly venerated by the
Druids, who used it in their sacred ceremonies; they gathered it with solemn rites at the rising of the great Dog-star, when neither sun nor moon was above the earth to look inquisitively upon their operations. They described a circle round it three times, and then looking westwards, they dug it up with a sword; and strewed honey-combs upon the spot where it had grown, as a compensation to the earth for the treasure they had taken. The sun-worshippers in the east also held it in their hands during their devotions.
Among the Greeks and Romans the Vervain was used in religious ceremonies, and in incantations.+ The Romans called it herba sacra, and used it in casting lots and drawing of omens; and also in aspersions and lustral rites. It was sent as a gift among the Romans on their New Year's day, as emblematic of good wishes and good fortune. The Roman heralds, when they went to offer peace to a city, carried a sprig of Vervain in their hands, both on account of its being the symbol of peace, and of its supposed peace-making virtues. But when a herald was sent to demand from the enemy the restitution of things that had been carried away by force, it was thought necessary to select for that occasion a sprig of Vervain growing within the enclosure of the capitol; and the herald was called Verbenarius.
Since the Christian era the Vervain has been venerated from a tradition that our Lord once trod upon it, and that it was thenceforward endowed with antidotal virtues against the bite of serpents and venomous reptiles. The root is still worn in some parts of Europe as a cure for scrofula, and as a charm against ague. The shepherds in the south of France still believe the Vervain endowed with magical qualities.
It has a square stalk, jagged opposite leaves, and a spike of pale lilac
Δελφις εμ' ανασεν' εγω δ' επι Δελφίδι δαφναν Αιθως χως αυτα κακέει, μεγα καππυρίσασα, Κηξαπίνης αφθη κ' ουδε σποδον είδομές αυτας Ουτω τοι και Δελφις ενι φλογι σαρκ' αμαθυνοι.
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.
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 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.
"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.
* Isaiah, lii., 7.
Vervain, in wreaths upon their heads, as they danced round the bonfires 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 bunches of St. John's Wort into the flames, praying that the succeeding twelve months might be more fertile, abundant, and happy than the preceding.
It was also called Fuga Demonum, for its imaginary power in banishing evil spirits. In France and Germany the peasants gather it on the saint's day (June 25th), and hang it up over 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 the track of the fairies are supposed liable to a grievous disorder, of which they can only be cured by eating a handful of St. John's Wort, pulled at twelve o'clock on the saint's night.
In Scotland it is esteemed as a preservative from magic and witchcraft; and especially from the arts of the dairy witches, who spoil the milk, and steal the butter of their neighbours.
It was considered an emblem of war, from the minute perforations, fancied to resemble small spear wounds, that may be seen on all the green leaves when held up to the light; and from the circumstance that its filaments yield, when bruised, a resinous juice, reddish like blood: hence one of its names is Androsamum (Avopos aia), man's blood. "It is," says the old herbalist Culpepper, "a singular wound herb," i. e., beneficial in curing wounds.
A small species of St. John's Wort, exactly resembling the foregoing, but not perforated, grows wild very commonly in the south of Ireland. Dried, and used with alum, it dyes wool yellow.
There is a species larger than the perforated St. John's Wort, which is dedicated to St. Peter, as greater than 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 part of the stem is square, and that the young shoots are of a more vivid red.
As St. John's Wort is accounted a
martial herb, and a symbol of war, we must give it a military dirge :
THE DEAD SOLDIER.
Translated from the German of John Gabriel Seidl.
Auf ferner fremder Aue, da liegt ein todter Soldat.
In a far foreign country
And Gen'rals deck'd with crosses
Rode past; 'twas grand to viewThey thought not, "he who yonder Lies low, earn'd honours too."
And there o'er many fallen
Were wailings sad to hear; But for the humble Soldier None had a word or tear.
Yet in his home far distant,
There sat in evening's glow His father, much misgiving, And cried," He's dead, I know!"
"Heaven help us !" sobb'd the mother;
""Twas shown us long before : "The clock stopp'd at eleven,
"And struck the hours no more."
A pale maid through the twilight Looks out with tearful eye"What though the grave may hold thee,
To me thou ne'er cans't die !"
And thus, in sight of Heaven,
Those three were weeping all, For their own poor dead Soldier, As fast as tears could fall.