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Sicily, under a good government, might be rendered one of the finest, most productive and commercial countries in the world; but, according to our author, all is now wretchedness and misery. The roads are scarcely passable, even for mules, though no country has better materials, and great sums are levied every year for keeping them in repair, but these, instead of being applied to this purpose, are squandered upon
favorites and spies. Agriculture and commerce are both nego lected, and labor under the most oppressive restrictions.
“Nature is left to herself; no renovation of seed, or assistance to the ground, which, however, is naturally rich; law badly admninistered; the civil, criminal, and minor jurisdictions, bad as can be conceived. The clergy are as despotic as they dare bé; but yoing down, yet still very powerful and profligate-any thing my be had or done in Sicily for money."
In a country of which it can be said, " to paint Sicily properly, it is enough to say, every thing is as it ought not to be," the moral portrait must wear a sombre hue; and such is its distinguishing characteristic. For Lieut. Gen. C. observes,
“That truth, morality, and even hospitality, are out of the Sicilian catalogue. Amongst the better orders, virtue is not respected, morals and even appearances are set at defiance. The higher classes are so far depraved, as not even to mind them." vol. ii. p. 89.
« With the middle and lower orders, though a man will be jealous of his wife, he will not hesitate to sell his sister or his daughter
. The lower Sicilians are also an abstemious people; they do with little food
, but eat any thing, even to the intestines of every animal killed.” vol. í.
“Their great faults arise from their government-ground by oppres sion, and ill-treated, they are dirty in the extreme, indelicate, and ready to sell themselves from their poverty. Most of the peasantry hare arms-a man would not stir three miles without his musket. No individual ever mounts his mule to go a mile from his house without his arms. Whether, like the Turks, they go armed to the plough, I really never thonght of inquiring. If forced to give an opinion, I should certainly say yes; but at all events, if they have not the musket with the plough, I am positive it is at no great distance, and most of them carry poniards and stilettos." vol. j. p. 91.
The litigious disposition of the Sicilians is strongly exemplified in the following sentences.
“Notaries are in astonishing abundance. Such is the Sicilian distrust of each other, that they will not have the smallest transaction without : notary, except in the public market. Ii a man buys any thing considerable at a shop, or has any payment to make, a notary must be employed to witness the transaction, and the receipt for the payment.” vol. ii. . 95.
Art. IV. The Flowers of Wit, or a choice collection of Bon
Mots, both ancient and modern; with Biographical and
The most e disastrous of our school days seemed to return in all their hor
rors. We looked again at the title page to see, if by some mistake, the bookseller had not sent us a new Greek Grammar. But on turning to the introduction, we discovered a solution of our difficulties, and found that the production before us was no laughing matter. Our readers cannot imagine our chagrin for they are not reviewers.
The reverend author (now we have read his book we can speak of him with all due gravity) has, we find, included in his idea of wit good things of every description, from puns to dying exhortations. We do not wish to say much about his definition of wit_“ wit is much the same talent as genius." From the examples, however, which he produces, it is plain that many of them are a very different kind of article from that which mankind in general would agree to regard as witty. Extraordinary wit is always genius, but extraordinary genius is not always wit. The excellence of Mr.. Grattan's character of Lord Chatham, of the replies of Thales, and of the sayings of Anacharsis, does not surely arise from their wit. We might as well call Venice Preserved a witty tragedy, or Mr. Kett's Elements of
general Knowledge” a ludicrous performance. Such a misapplication of terms never could come within his intention. He has, we suspect, been misled by the scholastic nature of his pursuits, and, as sometimes happens, carries the dialect of the college into the club room. On this ground we forgive him ; and we own that when a serious divine comes up to one smiling,
or trying to smile, one ought not to be severe. We proceed to the more agreeable statements of his merits.
And in the first place, we must state, that this seems the most pure of all collections of this description. It might be read aloud without offending the chastest ears. There is not in it a vestige of that double entendre which is perhaps more pernicious from the flimsy veil with which it is covered. All the gratification to be derived from this book is unmixed. And to have made men happier without making them worse, is to have become a benefactor of the species.
Another peculiar advantage of Mr. Kett's work is of no small importance. His jests are not likely to be too often repeated. Few things of the kind are more annoying than to hear half the contents of a new collection of witticisms retailed by some gentleman who bears the reputation of a wag, under pretence that the circumstances occurred among his own acquaintance. This will not do here. The words of Aristides, Augustus, and the sages of Greece, will not suit the mouth of every modern talker. The magnanimous resolutions and exploits of ancient heroes will be mere jargon at a civic feast. In truth, most of the jokes with which Mr. Kett treats us, are too venerable to be lightly repeated.
VOLTAIRE. " The following was the most apt and brilliant allusion be ever made. It would perhaps he difficult in all the annals of wit to find an instance that surpasses it. Voltaire said many flattering things of a celebrated writer, probably Boileay. He set, however, a much higher value upon his · Art of Poetry,' than upon his “Poems;' “He resembles Moses," said Voltaire, “ who pointed out the promised land to others, but never reached it himself.”
“He was the grand corruptes of the French; and with all his pretended freedom of expression, he flattered every king and every vice of his age. He knew not how to strike at superstition without wounding, morality unlike Hercules, who transfixed the Centaur without hur:ing the beautiful Deianira. With his eternul sardunic smile, he has bequeathed us a shameful pyrrhonism and a cruel levity, which make us glide alike over virtues and vices." (Nouveau Tableau de Paris, par Mercier.)
SIR ROBERT WALPOLE. “ One day in the house of commons, a speaker in opposition to ministry and famous for bis long harangues, had been upon his legs nearly two hours, inveighing against sir Robert's picasures. He was silenced for several days, by sir Robert selling the following story. “A sbort time ago,” said the premier, “ I was travelling in the west of England with two ladies and a gentleman. Our carriage was in very good repair, the roads were very smooth, and the coachman was an expert driver. One of the ladies, however, appeared to be greatly terrified, crying out every minute, we should be overturned, or, the carriage would cerdginly break down. This language she held for several miles, whilst
I endeavoured to prevail upon her to lay aside her apprehensions, assuring her that we were in no danger whatever, that we were travelling in the greatest security imaginable, and that all her fears were entirely groundless. At length the gentleman, her brother, burst into a violent laugh, saying, his sister knew perfectly well we were safe, but having a melodious voice, and a fuency of words, she was very fond of hearing herself talk :" and sir Robert concluded with observing, “ that several gentlemen in the opposition exactly resembled the lady he had mentioned; for though they must be convinced that the state vehicle was in perfectly good repair, and was well conducted, yet they were so fond of hearing themselves harangue, that they seized every opportunity of indulging their loquacity, at the expense of their judgment."
BOTANY BAY. “ Some years ago, one of the convicts in Botany Bay wrote a farce, which was acted with great applause at the theatre in Port-Jackson. The noted Barrington furnished the prologue, which he ended with these lines:
“ True patriots we; for be it understood,
CLASSICAL APPLICATIONS. “Two Oxford scholars being at a loss for amusement, one said to the other“ Suppose we can verses." "No," said his companion, “for I should think that as dry work as chopping logic. Suppose we repeat, in the alternate style of Virgil's shepherds, all the ingenious applications we can recollect of passages in the Classics that have been made to modern subjects." Agreed," said the other, “ provided we do not alter the original text, nor pilfer from Jortin or Beresford.”
A. It was aptly said of a barber shaving, as Virgil said of a flying dove,
Mobilitate viget, viresque acquirit eundo.
Tentonda dia est, qua me quoqne possim
Tollere humo, victorque virum volitare per ora. B. George Huddesford prefixed this niotto to his verses on a favorite
Mi-cat inter omnes. A. If it be fair play to assail me with a pun, take another in return. A friend of ours not long ayo gave wine to a party. They expressed their dislike of his port; so he told them, if they would have patience, he would go to his cellar and fetch them some wine they would like better. After they had waited some time, he returned with some claret, which they pronounced to be excellent. A wag who was present said, “Our host reminds me of old Fabius Maxinus, who
“.....Cunctando restituit rem :
Ergo magisque magisque viri nunc gloria claret." B. Tom Warton prefixed this motto to his Companion to the Guide and Guide to the Companion :'
Tu mihi dux comiti, tu comes ipsa duci.
were laid Tom Warton was the author of it. The sceptics lost their bets, for it occurs in Ovid's Epistle of Hypermnestra to Lynceus.
A. If you quote mottos, I will pay you in your own coin.
Malone published a pamphlet to prove that the manuscripts produced by Ireland and attributed to Shakespeare were gross forgeries. Malone inserted in his title-page at part of the description which Virgil gave of the impious Salmoneus, and applied it to Ireland with singular felicity:
Demens, qui nimbos et non imitabile fulmen,
Are et cornipedum sonitu simulárat equorun! B. Dr. Joseph Warton made a good hit, when he heard that John the Painter was going to be executed on board the Arethusa frigate. “John, said the doctor, “inay adopt the invocation of Virgil:
Extremum hunc, Arethusa, mihi concede laborem." A. Felix Vaughan, an able barrister, was supposed to be implicated with Horne Tooke, Hardy, and others, who were afterwards tried for high treason. This matter was canvassed by the privy-council; and when it was ascertained that Felix Vaughan had cautiously stopped sbort of the risks which others had run, Mr. Dundas exclaimed,
Felix, quem fuciunt aliena pericula cautum ! B. You recollect to whom Tibullus addressed the following beautiful lines. Louis Racine may be said to have consecrated them; he was a pious Catholic, and applied them to his crucifix.
Te spectem suprema mihi cum venerit hora,
Te teneam moriens deficiente manu. A. I have kept back the application of a passage, as my corps de reserve, which I think will put you hors de combat. It is unquestionably the happiest allusion I ever met with.
You have doubtless heard of the famous cardinal Poole, archbishop of Canterbury. Sandolet, a learned man, advised him to apply bimself to the philosophy of the ancients, giving it the preference to all other studies. “At the period,” said the cardinal, “ when the world was obo scured by the darkness of Paganism, the philosophy you recommend did certainly excel all other pursuits; but since the mists of igporance have been cleared away by the bright beams of the Gospel, Cbristian knowledge, derived from the study of the holy Scriptures, has justly gained the preference; in short, the Pagan philosophy you so much admire is now exactly as l'enedos was described by Virgil:
.. Notissima fuma
Nunc tantùm sinus, et stutio malefida carinis."
If Count Zenobio's “fondness for Bonaparte” (vol. ii. p. 103) be meant ironically, the jest will not be felt by every reader.
On the whole we think favorably of this publication; and recommend it as well calculated to afford rational amusement, with improvement of both an intellectual and a moral kind.