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Item of the Day: Plinie’s Naturall Historie (1601)

Full Title:

The Historie of the World. Commonly called, the Naturall Historie of C. PLINIUS SECUNDUS. Translated into English by Philemon Holland Doctor of Physicke. Printed in London by Adam Islip, 1601.

Excerpt from the Eighth Booke, Chap. XVI. “Of Lions.”

The Lions are then in their kind most strong and courageous, when the haire of their main or coller is so long, that it covereth both necke and shoulders. and this commeth to them at a certaine age, namely, to those that are engendered by Lions indeed. For such as have Pards to their sires, never have this ornament, no more than the Lionesse. These Lionesses are very letcherous, and this is the very cause that the Lions are so fell and cruell. This, Affricke knoweth best, and seeth most: and especially in time of a great drought, when for want of water, a number of wild beasts resort by troups to those few rivers that be there, and meet together. And hereupon it is, that so many strange shaped beasts, of a mixt and mungrell kind are there bred, whiles the males either perforce, or for pleasure, leape and cover the females of all sorts. From hence it is also, that the Greekes have this common proverbe, That Affricke evermore bringeth forth some new and strange thing or other. The Lion knoweth by sent and smell of the Pard, when the Lionesse his mate hath plaied false, and suffered her selfe to be covered by him: and presently with all his might and maine runneth upon her for to chastise and punish her. And therefore when the Lionesse hath done a fault that way, shee either goeth to a river, and washeth away the strong and ranke savour of the Pard, or els keepeth aloofe, and followeth the Lion farre off, that hee may not catch the said smell. I see it is a common received opinion, that the Lionesse bringeth forth young but once in her lie, for that her whelpes in her kinling; teare her belly with their nailes, and make themselves roume that way. Aristotle writeth otherwise, a man whom I cannot name, but with great honour and reverence, and whome in the historie and report of these matters I meane for the most part to follow. And in very truth king Alexander the great, of an ardent desire that he had to know the natures of all living creatures, gave this charge to Aristotle, a man singular and accomplished in all kind of science and learning, to search into this matter, and to set the same downe in writing: and to this effect commanded certaine thousands of men, one or other, throughout all the tract, as well of Asia as Greece, to give their attendance, & obey him: to wit, all Hunters, Faulconers, Fowlers, and Fishers, that lived by those professions. Item, all Forresters, Park-keepers, and Wariners: all such as had the keeping of heards and flockes of cattell: of bee-hives, fish-pooles, stewes, and ponds: as also those that kept up foule, tame or wild, in mew, those that fed poultrie in barton or coupe: to the end that he should be ignorant of nothing in this behalfe, but be advertised by them, according to his commission, of all things in the world. By his conference with them, he collected so much, as thereof he compiled those excellent bookes de Annimalibus, i. of Living creatures, to the number of almost fiftie. Which being couched by me in a narrow roume, and breefe Summarie, which the addition also of some things els which he never knew, I beseech the readers to take in good worth: and for the discoverie and knowledge of all Natures workes, which that most noble & famous king that ever was desired so earnestly to know, to make a short start abroad with mee, and in a breefe discourse by mine owne paines and diligence digested, to see all. To return now unto our former matter. That great Philosopher Aristotle therfore reporteth, that the Lionesse at her first litter bringeth forth five whelpes, and every yeare after, fewer by one: and when she commeth to bring but one alone, she giveth over, and becommeth barren. Her whelpes at the first are without shape, like small gobbets of flesh, no bigger than weasels. When they are sixe months old, they can hardly go; and for the two first, they stirre not a whit. Lions there be also in Europe (onely betweene the rivers Achelous and Nestus) and these verily be farre stronger than those of Affricke or Syria. Moreover, of Lions there be two kinds: the one short, well trussed and compact, with more crisp and curled maines, but these are timerous and but cowards to them that have long and plaine haire; for thsoe passe not for any wounds whatsoever. The Lions lift up a legge when they pisse, as dogges doe: and over and besides that, they have a strong and stinking breath, their very bodie also smelleth ranke. Seldome they drinke, and eat but each other day: and if at any time they feed till they be full, they will abstaine from meat three daies after. In their feeding, whatsoever they can swallow without chawing, down it goes whole: and if they find their gorge and stomack too full, and not able indeed to receive according to their greedie appetite, they thrust their pawes downe their throats and with their crooked clees fetch out some of it againe, to the end they should not be heavie and slow upon their fulnesse, if haply they be put to find their feet and flie. Mine author Aristotle saith moreover, that they live verie long: and he prooveth it by this argument, That many of them are found toothles for very age. Polybius who accompanied [Scipio] Æmylianus in his voyage of Affrick, reporteth of them, That when they be grown aged, they will prey upon a man: the reason is, because their strength will not hold out to pursue in chase other wild beasts. Then, they come about the cities and good towns of Affrick, lying in await for their prey, if any folk come abroad: & for that cause, he saith, that whiles he was with Scipio he saw some of them crucified & hanged up, to the end that upon the sight of them, other Lions should take example by them, and be skared from doing the like mischiefe. The Lion alone of all wild beasts is gentle to those that humble themselves unto him, and will not touch any such upon their submission, but spareth what creature soever lieth prostrate before him. As fell and furious as hee is otherwhiles, yet he dischargeth his rage upon men, before that he setteth upon women, and never preyeth upon babes unlesse it be for extreame hunger. They are verily persuaded in Libya, that they have a certaine understanding, when any man doth pray or entreat them for any thing. I have hard it reported for a truth, by a captive woman of Getulia (which being fled was brought home againe to her master) That shee had pacified the violent furie of many Lions within the woods and forrests, by faire language and gentle speech; and namely, that for to escape their rage, she hath been so hardie as to say, shee was a sillie woman, a banished fugitive, a sickely, feeble, and weake creature, an humble suiter and lowly supplicant unto him the noblest of all other living creatures, the soveraigne and commaunder of all the rest, and that shee was too base and not worthie that his glorious majestie should prey upon her. Many and divers opinions are currant, according to the sundrie occurrences that have hapned, or the inventions that mens wits have devised. As touching this matter, namely, that savage beasts are dulced and appeased by good words and faire speech: as also that fell serpents may bee trained and fetched out of their holes by charmes, yea and by certaine conjurations and menaces restrained and dept under for a punishment: but whether it be true or no, I see it is not yet by any man set downe and determined. To come againe to our Lions: the signe of their intent and disposition, is their taile; like as in horses, their ears: for these two marks and tokens, certainly hath Nature given to the most couragious beasts of all others, to know their affections by: for when the Lion stirreth not his taile, hee is in a good mood, gentle, mild, pleasantly disposed, and as if hee were willing to be plaied withall; but in that fit he is seldome seene: for lightly hee is alwaies angrie. At the first, when hee entreth into his choller, hee beateth the ground with his taile: when hee groweth into greater heats, he flappeth and jerketh his sides and flanks withall, as it were to quicken himselfe, and stirre up his angry humor. His maine strength lieth in his breast: hee maketh not a wound (whether it be by lash of taile, scratch of claw, or print of tooth) but the bloud that followeth, is black.

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Filed under 1600's, Explorations, Geography, Greek/Roman Translations, Hard Science, History, Natural Science, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt

Item of the Day: Gordon’s Sallust (1744)

Full Title:

The Works of Sallust, Translated into English. With Political Discourses upon that Author. To which is added, a Translation of Cicero’s Four Orations Against Catiline. [Trans. T. Gordon.] Printed in London for T. Woodward, and J. Peele, sold by J. Osborn at the Golden Bell in Pater-noster Row, 1744.

From the translator’s Introduction:

An able Writer not only gives, but enforces, his own Meaning: His Manner is as significant as his Words, and therefore becomes Part of his Sentiments. It is thus in Speaking as well as Writing: The liveliest Speech in the World, rehearsed by a heavy Man, will sound heavily. What moved, and fired, and charmed the Audience, out of one Mouth, would put them to Sleep out of another. An Oration of Demosthenes, repeated like a Lease by a Clerk; or one of Cicero‘s, pronounced by a Pedant; instead of Rage and Terror, would rouse Laughter and Impatience.

Who can discover the Ardour and Vivacity of Horace, in the Version of Monsieur D’Acier? Yet D’Acier knew, as well as any Man, the Meaning of every Word in Horace, with all his Figures, Allusions, and References.

Plutarch, the entertaining judicious Plutarch, is a dry Writer, as translated by the same D’Acier, though accurately translated: Plutarch, translated by Amyot, is an entertaining, a pleasing Author: Yet, in Amyot‘s Translation, there are numberless Mistakes: A French Critic, and a very learned Man, Monsieur Meziriac, reckons them at Two thousand, all very gross ones. D’Acier‘s is an exact Translation of Plutarch‘s Words: Amyot is a Copy of Plutarch himself; resembles his Author, and writes as well. Amyot is a Genius: D’Acier is a learned Man.

I am much concerned to see so learned and useful a Writer as Plutarch, make so ill a Figure in English: Most of his Lives are poorly Englished; nor is bad Language the worst Fault: They are full of egregious Blunders. Several of them are ill translated from Amyot, by such as understood not French. Many of the instructive Pieces, called his Morals, have fared as ill. A good Translation of all his Works would be a valuable Performance.

Who would not rather read a Discourse of Archbiship Tillotson‘s upon any ordinary Subject, though ever so full of Inaccuracies, than a learned Dissertation of the correct Mr. Thomas Hearn on the best Subject?

I doubt no Work of Genius can be well translated, but by an Author of Genius; and therefore, there can never be many tolerable Translations in the World. Cicero, in translating the noblest Greek Writers, has excelled them all: Cicero was a good Translator, because he was a great Genius.

Terence is only a Translator; but he had fine Taste, Politeness, and Parts, and a Genius for Comedy and genteel Conversation. This was his great Qualification: His Knowlege of the two Languages only helped him to shew it. He might have had great Skill in both, without success, or Fame, as a Comic Poet. Terence translated Comedy with Applause, becasue he had a fine Genius for Comedy. He himself is shamefully travestied by Sir Roger L’Estrange, and Dr. Echard, and much gross Ribaldry fathered upon so pure and polite a Writer.

Mr. Hobbes has translated the Historian Thucydides well; for Mr. Hobbes had equal Talents for History: But he has ill translated Homer, though he well understood Homer; for he had not equal Talents for Poetry. Mr. Dryden, with all his Faults, and many unwarrantable Freedoms, has mad a fine Translation of Virgil, because he was as great a Poet as Virgil; indeed, a great and various Poet: We have Poems of his, such as, I think, Virgil could not write; one Ode particularly, equal, if not superior, to any in Antiquity.

Many of the Speeches and brightest Passages in Lucan, are rendered by Mr. Row with an equal Force, in a Language so unequal, because he had a Genius as warm and poetical as Lucan; though Lucan, with infinite Sinkings, has infinite Elevation, and many glorious Lines.

I have often wished, that such a fine Genius as Dr. Burnet of the Charter-house, had translated Livy. He had grave and grand Conceptions, with harmonious flowing Periods, equal to those of the great Roman Historian. Sir Walter Raleigh would have still done it better, as he was a wonderful Master of such Subjects, and wonderfully qualified to represent them. Many Parts of his History of the World are hardly to be matched, never to be exceeded; particularly his Relation of the second Punic War; where he recounts the Conduct of the Roman and Carthaginian Commonwealths, and of their several Commanders, especially of Hannibal, with surprising Capacity, Clearness, and Force.

There occurs to me one Passage out of the English Livy, which will shew what Justice we have done that noble and elegant Writer. A great Officer says to a Roman General in the Field, (I think he calls him Sir, too) ‘Whilst you stand Shilly-shally here, as a Man may say, the Enemy will tread upon your Toes.’ Could a Groom of that General have used meaner Language to a Fellow Groom? I give the Passage upon Memory—-The Words are either Shilly-shally, or with your Hands in your Pockets, or both.

A Writer of Genius, translated by one who has none, or a mean one, will appear meanly. Even the Meaning of every Word may be conveyed, yet the Meaning of the Writer missed or mangled. It is in Translating, as in Painting: Where the Air, the Spirit, and Dignity of the Original are wanting, Resemblance is wanting. To be able to translate, a Man must be able to do something like what he translates.

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Filed under 1740's, Greek/Roman Translations, Oratory, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt, Roman Empire

Item of the Day: Cobden’s Sermon on Chastity (1749)

Printed in:

Sylvanus Urban, Gent., Editor. The Gentleman’s Magazine for March 1749. Printed by Edward Cave. Volume 19, 1750.

EXTRACT from a famed Sermon, preached before the King at St James‘s, on Dec. 11 1748, by Edw. Cobden, D.D. Archdeacon of London, and Chaplain in ordinary to his Majesty.

The Dr entitles his Sermon, A PERSUASIVE TO CHASTITY, and advertises the reader, that, it having given occasion to some unjust censures, he thought proper to publish it, hoping that nothing in the sentiment or expression, will be found unworthy of the sacred function of a preacher of the gospel, or of the serious attention of a christian assembly.

GEN. xxxix. 9. How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against GOD?

THESE words express the utmost abhorrence of the sin to which Joseph was tempted by his perfidious mistress; and what I intend from them, and from the example of his faithful conduct, is, a dissuasive from the sins of immodesty; which are risen, perhaps, to a greater height, and spread to a wider extent than was ever known in former ages.

It would not become me to mention some of those monstrous and unnatural obscenities with which our land hath been stained: they would be offensive, indeed, to the ears of a modest heathen. I shall therefore only insist on two, which are plainly and frequently condemned in scripture; nor any where more expressly than in these words: Whoremongers and adulterers GOD will judge. Heb. xiii. 4.

The heinous guilt and destructive consequences of adultery, appear so shocking at first sight, even to reason, unassisted by revelation, that, however frequent the commission of it may be, yet few, I am persuaded, are so hardened and irrational as to become advocates for it. But single persons are too apt to imagine that all obligations of chastity are confined to the marriage vow. —-Thus Abimelech thought it no crime to take Sarah for his concubine, when he imagined she was espoused to no other person: but no sooner was he informed of her being Abraham‘s wife, than he rejected his first design with abhorrence and disdain. But whatever notions the heathen world might have of these matters, we, who have received the more pure and perfect law of the gospel, are sufficiently and clearly instructed to avoid impurity of every kind.

If we consider fornication with the unprejudiced eye of reason, before the passions have corrupted the judgment, I am persuaded there are few sins which people condemn more in their own breasts; which they commit at first with more reluctance and recoilings of conscience; and which, upon cool reflection, fills them with more horror and keener censures of their own conduct. And, would a man give himself leave to reflect upon the irreparable injury done to the unhappy female partner in the iniquity, it would open such a scene of misery to his view, as would be sufficient to check the most inflamed appetite of the most abandoned libertine.—Alas! that virgin innocence, which was once her comfort and her glory, which was her brightest ornament, and most valuable dowry, is lost, irrecoverably lost; and *shame, guilt and sorrow are to be her continual attendants. The person who has been the occasion of her ruin, will hardly (tho’ obliged to it in duty) deal with her upon terms of honour. And who else will venture to take her for a companion for life, and believe she can be faithful to him, after having been thus flase to herself? ‘Tis well is she does not endeavour to screen herself from censure, by the commission of a more dreaful sin in the murder of a spurious infant; and discard the bowels of a mother, to avoid the scandal of being known to be one. The best and wisest course indeed she can take, is, to endeavour to wash away the stain she has contracted, with the tears of unfeigned repentance, and to take off her reproach in the eyes of the world, by giving the regularity of her future conduct, as an evidence fo the sincerity of her contrition. Would to God this method were, after so unhappy a step, more frequently taken! but alas! it is too often far otherwise. It is to be feared the first breach of chastity will be followed with a train of others, and that she will proceed on in iniquity, till she becomes totally abandoned: a situation almost as miserable in this present life, as that which these unhappy criminals must expect in the next. There is no reflecting on so wretched an object, without the deepest compassion for her miser, as well as the utmost detestation of her guilt. For however light these afflictions may be made of in the seat of the scorner, and however the lascivious debauchee may flatter himself that there was no injury done, because there was no violence used, as she was consenting, perhaps, to her own ruin: Alas! that very consent is the sting of her afflictions: and if his brutal appetites had not effaced every sentiment of humanity in his breast, he could not think of these things without a bleeding heart. Exceeding barbarous therefore and wicked must they be, who, for the sake of gratifying a low and vile inclination, shall tempt and persuade a thoughtless young creature, in an unguarded hour, to an act which is attended with such a train of miseries, and which so evidently leads to her absolute destruction. It is to be considered likewise, that young persons are the property of their parents; and let any man who has the least remains of reason and humanity, tho’ he should be void of all principles of religion, lay his hand upon his heart, and make the case of such a parent his own. Let him consider what indignation, what anguish he himself should feel under the weight of so afflicting, so irreparable an injury. Few parents, I am persuaded, but would rather, much rather, follow their children to the grave, than see them thus forfeit their own peace an happiness, and bring such an indelible stain of infamy upon their family.

But if the sensual libertine is regardless of the afflictions of others, yet, as honour is his boast, and pleasure his pursuit, he cannot, surely, be unaffected with what concerns the dignity of his nature, and the happiness of his life. Let him consider, then, that unrestrained and criminal indugencies of this kind peculiarly enervate the body, and debase the mind, and bring him upon a level brute beasts, that have no understanding: Reason, which was intended by the gracious creator to direct and govern in the human frame, is, by these practices, enslaved to the tyranny of the most contemptible of the passions. When men are given over to vile affections, their understandings become darkened; and it is seldom that they ever again recover the proper government of themselves. The insatiable appetite still rages through all the infirmities of a distemper’d body, and is not extinguished even by old age: If indeed (which is very uncommon) they should happen to arrive at that period.

The Preacher proceeds to display the sacred obligations of matrimony, and the cruel injustice of endeavouring to break them; and shows the turpitude of uncleanness and adultery, with such elegance, that we must copy the whole, or injure his arguments.

* Of this wretched state, a most lively and striking picture is exhibited in Roderick Random, which we have here copied as a warning to one sex, and a remonstrance against t’other.

Miss Williams, who had been betray’d into a course of vice, by the fraud and cruelty of a man of pleasure, is introduced relating the story of her own misfortunes:

“I have often seen (said she) while I strolled about the streets at midnight, a number of naked wretches reduced to rags and filth, huddled together like swine, in the corner of a dark alley; some of whom, but eighteen months before, I had known the favourites of the town, rolling in affluence, and glittering in all the pomp of equipage and dress.”

—And indeed the gradation is easily conceived; the most fashionable woman of the town is as liable to contagion, as one in a much humbler sphere; she infects her admirers, her situation is publick, she is avoided, neglected, unable to support her usual appearance, which however she strives to maintain as long as possible; her credit fails, she is obliged to retrench and become a night-walker, her malady gains ground, her complexion fades, she grows nauseous to every body, finds herself reduced to a starving condition, is tempted to pick pockets, is detected, committed to Newgate, where she remains in a miserable condition, ’till she is discharged because the plaintiff will not appear to prosecute her. No body will afford her lodging, the symptoms of her distempter are grown outrageous, she sues to be admitted into an hospital, where she is cured at the expence of her nose; she is turned out naked into the streets, depends on the addresses of the canaille, is fain to allay the rage of hunger and cold with gin, degenerates into a state of brutal insensibility, rots and dies upon a dunghill.—

“Miserable wretch that I am! perhaps the same horrors are decreed for me!—”

Some strokes of this kind appear also in Tom Jones, and in Mrs Philips‘s Apology.—Indeed as this subject is capable of very high colouring, almost every writer has exercised upon it his skill in painting. However, the loose images in these pieces perhaps incite to vice more strongly than the contrast figures alarm us into virtue.

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Filed under 1740's, Oratory, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt, Religion

Item of the Day: Harris’s Hermes (1751)

Full Title:

Hermes: Or, a Philosophical Inquiry Concerning Language and Universal Grammar, by James Harris. Printed in London by H. Woodfall, for J. Nourse oppostie to Catherine-street, and P. Vaillant facing Southampton-street, in the Strand. 1751.

From the Preface:

THE chief End, proposed by the Author of this Treatise in making it public, has been to excite his Readers to curiosity and inquiry; not to teach them himself by prolix and formal Lectures, (from the efficacy of which he has little expectation,) but to induce them, if possible, to become Teachers to themselves, by an impartial use of their own understandings. He thinks nothing more absurd than the common notion of Instruction, as if Science were to be poured into the Mind, like water into a cistern, that passively waits to receive all that comes. The growth of Knowlege he rather thinks to resemble the growth of Fruit; however external causes may in some degree co-operate, ’tis the internal vigour, and virtue of the tree, that must ripen the juices to their just maturity.

This then, namely, the exciting men to inquire for themselves into subjects worth of their contemplation, this the Author declares to have been his first and principal motive for appearing in print. Next to that, as he has always been a lover of Letters, he would willingly approve his studies to the liberal and ingenuous. He has particularly named these, in distinction to others; because, as his studies were never prosecuted with the least regard to lucre, so they are no way calculated for any lucrative End. The liberal therefore and ingenuous, (whom he has mentioned already,) are those, to whose perusal he offers what he has written. Should they judge favourably of his attempt, he may not perhaps hesitate to confess,

Hoc juvat et melli est.——-

For tho’ he hopes, he cannot be charged with the foolish love of vain Praise, he has no desire to be thought indifferent, or insensible to honest Fame.

From the influence of these sentiments, he has endeavoured to treat his subject with as much order, correctness, and perspicuity as in his power; and if he has failed, he can safely say, (according to the vulgar phrase,) that the failure has been his misfortune, and not his fault. He scorns those trite and contemptible methods of anticipating a pardon for a bad performance, that “it was the hasty fruits of a few idle hours; written merely for private amusement; never revised; published against consent, at the importunity of friends, copies (God knows how) having by stealth gotten abroad;” with other stale jargon of equal falshood and inanity. May we not ask such Prefacers, If what they allege be true, what has the world to do with them and their crudities?

As to the Book itself, it can say this in its behalf, that it does not merely confine itself to what its title promises, but expatiates freely into whatever is collateral; aiming on every occasion to rise in its inquiries, and to pass, as far as possible, from small matters to the greatest. Nor is it formed merely upon sentiments that are now in fashion, or supported only by such authorities as are modern. Many Authors are quoted, that now a-days are but little studied; and some perhaps, whose very names are hardly known.

The Fate indeed of antient Authors (as we have happened to mention them) is not unworthy of our notice. A few of them survive in the Libraries of the learned, where some venerable Folio, that still goes by their name, just suffices to give them a kind of nominal existence. The rest have long fallen into a deeper obscurity, their very names, when mentioned, affecting us as little, as the names, when we read them, of those subordinate Heroes,

Alcandrumque, Haliumque, Noemonaque, Prytanimque.

Now if an Author, not content with the more eminent of antient Writers, should venture to bring his reader into such company as these last, among people (in the fashionable phrase) that no body knows; what usage, what quarter can he have reason to expect?—Should the Author of these speculations have done this, (and ’tis to be feared he has) what method had he best take in a circumstance so critical?—Let us suppose him to apologize in the best manner he can, and in consequence of this, to suggest as follows—

He hopes there will be found a pleasure in the contemplation of antient sentiments, as the view of antient Architecture, tho’ in ruins, has something venerable. Add to this, what from its antiquity is but little known, has from that very curcumstance the recommendation of novelty; so that here, as in other instances, Extremes may be said to meet. Farther still, as the Authors, whom he has quoted, lived in various ages, and in distant countries; some in the full maturity of Grecian and Roman Literature; some in its declension; and others in periods still more barbarous, and depraved; it may afford perhaps no unpleasing speculation, to see how the SAME REASON has at all times prevailed; how there is ONE TRUTH, like one Sun, taht has enlightened human Intelligence through every age, and saved it from the darkness both of Sophistry and Error.

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Filed under 1750's, Language, Philosophy, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt

Item of the Day: Thomson’s Seasons (1774)

Full Title:

The Seasons. By James Thomson. To which is prefixed, The Life of the Author, by Patrick Murdoch, D.D. Printed in London for W. Strahan, J. & F. Rivington, W. Owen, W. Johnston, T Longman, T. Caslon, G. Kearsly, T. Davies, T. Becket, T. Cadell, T. Lowndes, Richardson & Richardson, and H. Baldwin, 1774.

Excerpt from “Summer”:

FROM brightening fields of ether fair disclos’d,
Child of the Sun, refulgent SUMMER comes,
In pride of youth, and felt thro’ Nature’s depth:
He comes attended by the sultry hours,
And ever-fanning breezes, on his way;
While, from his ardent look, the turning SPRING
Averts her blushful face; and earth, and skies,
All-smiling, to his hot dominion leaves.

HENCE, let me haste into the mid-wood shade,
Where scarce a sun-beam wanders thro’ the gloom;
Of haunted stream, that by the roots of oak
Rools o’er the rocky channel, lie at large,
And sing the glories of the circling year.

COME, Inspiration! from thy hermit-seat,
By mortal seldom found: may Fancy dare,
From thy fix’d serious eye, and raptur’d glance
Shot on surrounding Heaven, to steal one look
Creative of the Poet, every power
Exalting to an ecstasy of soul.

AND thou, my youthful Muse’s early friend,
In whom the human graces all unite:
Pure light of mind, and tenderness of heart:
Genius, and wisdom; the gay social sense,
By decency chastis’d; goodness and wit,
In seldom-meeting harmony combin’d;
Unblemish’d honour, and an active zeal
For BRITAIN’s glory, Liberty, and Man:
O DODINGTON! attend my rural song;
Stoop to my theme, inspirit every line,
And teach me to deserve thy just applause.

WITH what an awful world-revolving power
Were first the unwieldy planets launch’d along
Th’ illimitable void! Thus to remain,
Amid the flux of many thousand years,
That oft has swept the toiling race of Men,
And all their labour’d monuments away,
Firm, unremitting, matchless, in their course;
To the kind-temper’d change of night and day,
And of the seasons ever stealing round,
Minutely faithful: Such TH’ ALL PERFECT HAND!

WHEN now no more th’ alternate Twins are fir’d,
And Cancer reddens with the solar blaze,
Short is the doubtful empire of the night;
And soon, observant of approaching day,
The meek-ey’d Morn appears, mother of dews,
At first faint-gleaming in the dappled east:
Till far o’er ether spreads the widening glow;
And, from before the lustre of her face,
White break the clouds away. With quickened step,
Brown Night retires: Young Day pours in apace,
And opens all the lawny prospect wide.
The dripping rock, the mountain’s misty top
Swell on the sight, and brighten with the dawn.
Blue, thro’ the dusk, the smoaking currents shine;
And from the bladed field the fearful hare
Limps, awkward: while along the forest-glade
The wild deer trip, and often turning gaze
At early passenger. Music awakes
The native voice of undissembled joy;
And thick around the woodland hymns arise.
Rous’d by the cock, the soon-clad shepherd leaves
His mossy cottage, where with Peace he dwells;
And from the crowded fold, in order, drives
His flock, to taste the verdure of the morn.

FALSELY luxurious, will not Man awake;
And, springing from the bed of sloth, enjoy
The cool, the fragrant, and the silent hour,
To meditation due and sacred song?
For is there aught in sleep can charm the wise?
To lie in dead oblivion, losing half
The fleeting moment of too short a life;
Total extinction of th’ enlightened soul!
Or else to feverish vanity alive,
Wildered, and tossing thro’ distempered dreams?
Who would in such a gloomy state remain
Longer than Nature craves; when every Muse
And every blooming pleasure wait without,
To bless the wildly devious morning walk?

BUT yonder comes the powerful King of Day,
Rejoicing in the east. The lessening cloud,
The kindling azure, and the mountain’s brow
Illum’d with fluid gold, his near approach
Betoken glad. Lo; now, apparent all,
Aslant the dew-bright earth, and coloured air,
He looks in boundless majesty abroad;
And sheds the shining day, that burnish’d plays
On rocks, and hills, and towers, and wandering dreams,
High-gleaming from afar. Prime chearer Light!
Of all material beings first, and best!
Efflux devine,! Nature’s resplendent robe!
Without whose vesting beauty all were wrapt
In unessential gloom; and thou, O Sun!
Soul of surrounding worlds! in whom best seen
Shines out thy Maker! may I sing of thee?

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Filed under 1770's, Poetry, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt

Item of the Day: Twain’s Tramp Abroad (1880)

Full Title:

A Tramp Abroad; Illustrated by W. Fr. Brown, True Williams, B. Day and other artists–with also three or four pictures made by the author of this book, without outside help; in all Three hundred and twenty-eight illustrations. By Mark Twain, (Samuel Clemens.) (Sold by subscription only.) Printed in Hartford, Conn. by the American Publishing Company, 1880.

Chapter I

One day it occurred to me that it had been many years since the world had been afforded the spectacle of a man adventurous enough to undertake a journey through Europe on foot. After much thought, I decided that I was a person fitted to furnish to mankind this spectacle. So I determined to do it. This was in March, 1878.

I looked about me for the right sort of person to accompany me in the capacity of agent, and finally hired a Mr. Harris for this service.

It was also my purpose to study art while in Europe. Mr. Harris was in sympathy with me in this. He was as much of an enthusiast in art as I was, and not less anxious to learn to paint. I desired to learn the German language; so did Harris.

Toward the middle of April we sailed in the Holsatia, Capt. Brandt, and had a very pleasant trip indeed.

After a brief rest at Hamburg, we made preparations for a long pedestrian trip southward in the soft spring weather, but at the last moment we changed the program, for private reasons, and took the express train.

We made a short halt at Frankfurt-on-the-Main, and found it an interesting city. I would have like to visit the birthplace of Guttenberg, but it could not be done, as no memorandum of the site of the house has been kept. So we spent an hour at the Goethe mansion instead. The city permits this house to belong to private parties, instead of gracing and dignifying herself with the honor of possessing and protecting it.

Frankfort is one of the sixteen cities which have the distinction of being the place where the following incident occurred. Charlemagne, while chasing the Saxons, (as he said,) or being chased by them, (as they said,) arrived at the bank of the river at dawn, in a fog. The enemy were either before him or behind him; but in any case he wanted to get across, very badly. He would have given anything for a guide, but none was to be had. Presently he saw a deer, followed by her young, approach the water. He watched her, judging that she would seek a ford, and he was right. She waded over, and the army followed. So a great Frankish victory or defeat was gained or avoided; and in order to commemorate that episode, Charlemagne commanded a city to be built there, which he named Frankfort,–the ford of the Franks. None of the other cities where this event happened were named from it. This is good evidence that Frankfort was the first place it occurred at.

Frankfort has another distinction,–it is the birthplace of the German alphabet: or at least of the German word for alphabet,–Buchstaben. They say that the first movable types were made on birch sticks,–Buchstabe,–hence the name.

I was taught a lesson in political economy in Frankfort. I had brought from home a box containing a thousand very cheap cigars. By way of experiment, I stepped into a little shop in a queer old back street, took four gaily decorated boxes of wax matches and three cigars, and laid down a silver piece worth 48 cents. The man gave me 43 cents change.

In Frankfort everybody wears clean clothes, and I think we noticed that this strange thing was the case in Hamburg too, and in the villages along the road. Even in the narrowest and poorest and most ancient quarters of Frankfort neat and clean clothes were the rule. The little children of both sexes were nearly always nice enough to take into a body’s lap. And as for the uniforms of the soldiers, they were newness and brightness carried to perfection. One could never detect a smirch or a grain of dust upon them. The street car conductors and drivers wore pretty uniforms which seemed to be just out of the bandbox, and their manners were as fine as their clothes.

In one of the shops I had the luck to stumble upon a book which has charmed me nearly to death. It is entitled “The Legends of the Rhine from Basle to Rotterdam, by F.J. Kiefer; Translated by L.W. Garnham, B.A.”

All tourists mention the Rhine legends,–in that sort of way with quietly pretends that the mentioner has been familiar with them all his life, and that the reader cannot possibly be ignorant of them,–but not tourist ever tells them. So this little book fed me in a very hungry place; and I, in my turn, intend to feed my reader, with one or two little lunches from the same larder. I shall not mar Garnham’s translation by meddling with its English; for the most toothsome thing about it is its quaint fashion of building Engilsh sentences on the German plan,–and punctuating them according to no plan at all.

In the chapter devoted to “Legends of Frankfort,” I find the following:

“THE KNAVE OF BERGEN.”

“In Frankfort at the Tomer was a great mask-ball, at the coronation festival, and in the illuminated saloon, the clanging music invited to dance, and splendidly appeared the rich toilets and charms of the ladies, and the festively costumed Princes and Knights. All seemed pleasure, joy, and roguish gayety, only one of the numerous guests had a gloomy exterior; but exactly the black armor in which he walked about excited general attention, and his tall figure, as well as the noble propriety of his movements, attracted especially the regards of the ladies. Who the Knight was? Nobody could guess, for his Vizier was well closed, and nothing made him recognizable. Proud and yet modest he advanced to the Empress; bowed on one knee before her seat, and begged for the favor of a waltz with the Queen of the festival. And she allowed his request. With light and graceful steps he danced through the long saloon, with the sovereign who thought never to have found a more dexterous and excellent dancer. But also by the grace of his manner, and fine conversation he knew to win the Queen, and she graciously accorded him a second dance for which he begged, a third, and a fourth, as well as others were not refused him. How all regarded the happy dancer, how many envied him the high favor; how increased curiosity, who the masked knight could be.

Also the Emperor become more and more excited with curiosity, and with great suspense one awaited the hour, when according to mask-law, each masked guest must make himself known. This moment came, but although all others had unmasked, the secret knight still refused to allow his features to be seen, till at last the Queen driven by curiosity, and vexed at the obstinate refusal; commanded him to open his Vizier. He opened it, and none of the high ladies and knights knew him. But from the crowded spectators, 2 officials advanced, who recognized the black dancer, and horror and terror spread in the saloon, as they said who the supposed knight was. It was the executioner of Bergen. But glowing with rage, the King commanded to sieze the criminal and lead him to death, who had ventured to dance, with the queen; so disgraced the Empress, and insulted the crown. The culpable threw himself at the feet of the Emperor, and said,–

“‘Indeed I have heavily sinned against all noble guests assembled here, but most heavily against you my sovereign and my queen. the Queen is insulted by my haughtiness equal to treason, but no punishment even blood, will not be able to wash out the disgrace, which you have suffered by me. Therefore oh King! allow me to propose a remedy, to efface the shame, and to render it as if not done. Draw your sword and knight me, then I will throw down my gauntlet, to every one who dares to speak disrespectfully of my king.

“The Emperor was surprised at this bold proposal, however it appeared wisest to him; “You are a knave he replied after a moment’s consideration, however your advice is good, and displays prudence, as your offense shows adventurous courage. Well then, and gave him the knight-stroke, so I raise you to nobility, who begged for grace for your offence now kneels before me, rise as knight; knavish you have acted, and Knave of Bergen shall you be called henceforth, and gladly the Black knight rose; three cheers were given in honor of the Emperor, and loud cries of joy testified the approbation with which the Queen danced still once with the Knave of Bergen.

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Filed under 1880's, Culture, Germany, Language, Modern Language Translations, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt, Travel, Travel Literature

Item of the Day: Castiglione’s The Courtier (1727)

Full Title:

Il Cortegiano, or The Courtier: Written by Conte Baldassar Castiglione. And a New Version of the same into English. Together with Several of his Celebrated Pieces, as well Latin as Italian, both in Prose and Verse. To which is prefix’d, The Life of the Author. By A.P. Castiglione, of the same Family. Printed in London by W. Bowyer, 1727.

[The text appears in Italian and English in facing columns.]

From Book II.

I have often, not without Wonder, reflected, whence an Error could arise; which one would be apt to think natural to old Men, since found in so many; viz. that they almost universally applaud the Times past, and blame the present; censuring those Modes and Practices with which their younger Years were not acquainted; lamenting the Decline of Virtue, the Degeneracy of Age, the Change of all Things from bad to worse. Now it seems a most unreasonable thing, and what we cannot but be surprized at, that an advanced Age, such as from its great Experience is wont in other Matters to pass the truest, the most exact Judgment, should in this so err, as not to perceive, that if the World daily grew worse, if the Parents were generally better than their Children, we should long e’er this have arrived at the highest Pitch of Vice, at a State, a worse than which would be impossible. Yet this Error we find, not only in our own, but also in ancient Times, prevailing over Persons of the Age we speak of: As is evident from many of the ancient Writers, and particularly the Comick, who give us a better idea of humane Life than any other.

The Reason of this wrong Judgment I take to be, that our Years, as they pass, carry away with ’em many of the Comforts of Life, and particularly occasion such a Decrease of the Animal Spirits, as effects a Change in our Constitution, and renders all those Organs weak through which the Soul exerts its Operations. Whence the sweet Flowers of Delight fall at that time of Life from our Hearts, as Leaves fall from the Trees in Autumn, and instead of gay and chearful Thoughts, a Train of dark and melancholy Apprehensions possess us, our Minds discovering a Weakness great as what we find in our Bodies: All that remains of our past Pleasures, is the Remembrance of the dear Time when they were enjoy’d, which seems such to us, as if Heaven, Earth, and universal Nature, had then put on their best Array, and afforded us the Entertainment of a delightful Garden, adorn’d with all the Beauties of the Spring. Hence perhaps it were to be wish’d, that in that cold Season, when the Sun of our Life is in his Decline, we might lose at once the Sense of Pleasure and its Remembrance, and that we knew Themistocles’s Art of Forgetfulness; because the Senses of our Bodies are so easily deceived, as to mislead the Determinations of the Mind.

I cannot therefore but regard old Men as in the same Condition with them, who fixing, as they sail out of a Haven, their Eyes of the Shore, think it to move, and the Vessel they are in, to stand still: When on the contrary, the Shore, like the Time, keeps its settled State, and we in the Bark of Mortality, are each after the other carried with a brisk Gale through that stormy Sea which devours all things, nor find it ever in our Power to regain the Haven; but always toss’d by the Fury of the Winds, have our Vessel dash’d at length against a Rock and split.

That the Minds then of the aged know not a Relish of many Pleasures, is, becasue they are not proper Subjects for them. As it is with one in a Fever, to whose vitiated Palate the most delicate Wines appear insipid and disagreeable: The very same it is with those in the Decline of Life; they feel an Inclination for Pleasure, yet whatever they pursue they find tastless, flat, and quite different from what they had formerly enjoy’d, though the Nature of the Pleasure continue still the same. Disappointed thus, they grieve and lay the Fault on the Times, as if they were grown worse; never perceiving the Change to be in themselves, not the Times. On the other hand too, reflecting on the Pleasures pass’d, they reflect likewise on the Time when they enjoy’d them, and commend it as seeming to carry with it a Taste of what they felt in it when present. The Truth is, we ever entertain an Aversion to all those things which have accompanied our Uneasynesses, as we do an Affection to whatever has attended our Joys.

Hence it is that a Lover often views with Pleasure a Casement when shut, and this, because he has at some time seen his Mistress there; so likewise a Ring, a Letter, a Garden, any Place or Thing that has been a Witness to his Happiness. On the contrary, an Apartment deck’d with all that can make it gay and delightful, shall be the Abhorrence of him who has suffer’d Imprisonment, or any other Uneasiness in it. I my self have known some that could never drink out of any thing which bore a Resemblance to what they had formerly taken Physick in. For as the Casement, Ring, or Letter, recall’d to the one the dear Remembrance of what had so much delighted him, seeming a part of what had given him Pleasure: So the very Place or Vessel are regarded by the other, as bringing with them the Imprisonment or Disease. On a Foundation like this, I believe it is, that the advanced in Age applaud the past Time, and inveigh against the present.

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Filed under 1720's, Culture, Education, Modern Language Translations, Oratory, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt