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la Crose; Memoirs for the Curious, 1701, 4to.; The Athenian Oracle, 1704, Svo.; The Delphick Oracle, 1720, 8vo.; The British Apollo, 1708 to 1711, 12mo.; with several others of less note. The three last quoted answer many singular questions in theology, law, medicine, physics, natural history, popular superstitions, &c., not always very satisfactorily or very intelligently, but still, often amusingly and ingeniously.
The first number of The British Apollo was issued on February 13, 1708, and it was published twice a week. It completed its career in March, 1711, having attained the bulk of three volumes folio. An abridgment of this curious periodical,
containing 2,000 Answers to Questions in most Arts and Sciences," was published in 1726 and 1740, 3 vols. 12mo. The principal part is occupied by questions and replies, to which is added a page of very indifferent poetry; a short letter concerning foreign news (in one number, commencing: “Feb. 22, 1710. Sir, yesterday we received a male from Holland, by which we have confirmation from Warsaw," &c.); and a few advertisements of
good Bohee at 24s. per lb.;" quack doctors; a reward for a runaway negro in a suit of grey livery, &c., &c. The questions and answers are somewhat of a miscellaneous character, some on deep religious subjects; as on free will, election, &c.: one begins, “ Resplendent sages, pray oblige your adorer with an exposition of Matt. xxiii. 35.” Some on medical topics, and apparently from those who have a personal interest in the reply, as, “Whether thin people are most liable to consumption ?" whether three half-pints of good punch per diem is good for that complaint ?" "on the wholesomeness of cyder;" "on the properties of crabs' eyes; " "respecting the virtues of raisons of
One is: "Gentlemen, I being very willing to keep my carcass in health as much as I can, I would fain know which is the best for me to drink in the morning, tea or chocolate ?” Another, “Gentlemen, pray give your opinion of mushrooms.” Of
the miscellaneous ones, the following may serve as specimens : What sort of a person was Xenophon? What were the Carpocratians ? Whether music has any virtue to drive away devils ? Is a person who has just eaten his breakfast heavier than before ? How ancient is the use of rattles for children? Answer, attributing the invention to Archytas of Tarentum, the tutor of Plato. - How old was Adam when Eve was created ?_Is it lawful to eat black pudding ?-Whether the moon in Ireland is like the moon in England ?-Where is hell situated ?-Do cocks lay eggs ?” &c. In answer to the question, "Why is gaping catching ?” the querists are gravely told
Gaping or yawning is infectious, because the steams of the blood being ejected out of the mouth, doth infect the ambient air, which being received by the nostrils into another man's mouth, doth irritate the fibres of the hypogastric muscle to open the mouth to discharge by expiration the unfortunate gust of air infected with the streams of blood, as aforesaid.
The feminine gender, we are further told, is attributed to a ship," because a ship carries burdens, and therefore resembles a pregnant woman.” What dependence are we to place in the origin it attributes to two very common words, a bull, and a dun ?
Why, when people speak improperly, is it termed a bull? It became a proverb from the repeated blunders of one Obadiah Bull, a lawyer of London, who lived in the reign of King Henry VII.
Now for the second :
Pray tell me whence you can derive the original of the word dun? Some falsely think it comes from the French, where donnez signifies give me, implying a demand of something due ; but the true original of this expression owes its birth to one Joe Dun, a famous bailiff of the town of Lincoln, so extremely active, and so dexterous at the management of his rough business, that it became a proverb, when a man refused to pay his debts, “Why don't you Dun him ?” that is, why don't you send Dun to arrest him ? Hence it grew a custom, and is now as old as since the days of Henry VII.
Were these twin worthies, Obadiah Bull the lawyer, and Joe
Dun the bailiff
, men of straw for the nonce, or veritable flesh and blood ? They both flourished, it appears, in the reign of Henry VII.; and to me it is doubtful whether one reign could have produced two worthies capable of cutting so deep a notch in the English tongue.
It gives this account of the origin of “Nine Tailors make a Man."
It happen'd ('tis no great matter in what year), that eight taylors, leaving finish'd considerable pieces of work at a certain person of quality's house (whose name authors have thought fit to conceal), and receiving all the money due for the same, a virago servant-maid of the house observing them to be but slender-built animals, and in their mathematical postures on their shop-board appearing but so many pieces of men, resolv'd to encounter and pillage them on the road. The better to compass her design, she procured a very terrible great black-pudding, which (having waylaid them) she presented at the breast of the foremost: they, mistaking this prop of life for an instrument of death, at least a blunder-buss, readily yielded up their money ; but she, not contented with that, severely disciplin’d them with a cudgel she carry'd in the other hand, all of which they bore with a philosophical resignation. Thus, eight not being able to deal with one woman, by consequence could not make a man, on which account a ninth is added. 'Tis the opinion of our curious virtuosos, that this want of courage ariseth from their immoderate eating of cucumbers, which too much refrigerates their blood. However, to their eternal honour be it spoke, they have been often known to encounter a sort of cannibals, to whose assaults they are often subject, not fictitious, but real maneaters, and that with a lance but two inches long; nay, and although they go arm'd no further than their middle finger.
“ To dine with Duke Humphrey," we are told, arose from the practice of those who had shared his dainties when alive being in the habit of perambulating St. Paul's, where he was buried, at the dining time of day; what dinner they then had, they had with Duke Humphrey, the defunct.
The following are some questions discussed in the Athenian Oracle :
Adam and Eve, whether they had navels ?
ing in North Carolina, married to two sisters, and having families. Females, if they went a-courting, would there be more marriages than now ? Hairs, an equal number in any two men's heads ? Answered in the affirmative, the number of persons living at any one
time greatly exceeding the number of hairs in any man's head. Negroes, shall they rise so at the last day? Answered in the negative, as all men will then be as near perfection as
A readable volume might be compiled from these “Notes and Queries,” which amused our grandfathers.
In the Travels of Hentzner, who resided some time in Eng. land in the reign of Elizabeth, as tutor to a young German nobleman, there is given a very interesting account of the “ Maiden Queen," and the court which she then maintained at "the Royal Palace of Greenwich." After noticing the appearance of the presence-chamber—" the floor, after the English fashion, strewed with hay," the writer gives a descriptive portrait of Her Majesty. He states :
Next came the Queen, in her sixty-fifth year, as we were told, very majestic; her face oblong, fair, but wrinkled ; her eyes small, but black and pleasant; her nose a little hooked; her lips narrow, and her teeth black (a
defect the English seem subject to, from their too great use of sugar.) She had in her ears two pearls, with very rich drops. She wore false hair, and that red.
I saddled my sow with a sieve full of buttermilk, put my foot into the stirrup, and leaped nine miles beyond the moon into the land of temperance, where there was nothing but hammers, and hatchets, and candlesticks, and there lay bleeding Old Noles. I let him lie, and sent for Old Hippernoles, and asked him if he could grind green steel nine times finer than wheat flour ? He said he could not. Gregory's wife was up in the pear-tree gathering nine corns of buttered peas to pay Saint James' rent. Saint James was in the meadow mowing oat cakes ; he heard a noise, hung his scythe at his heels, stumbled at the battledore, tumbled over the barn-door ridge, and broke his shins against a bag of moonshine that stood behind the stairsfoot door, and if that isn't true, you know as well as I.
There is perhaps nothing in “Lycidas” which has so commended itself to the memory and lips of men, as that exquisite strain of tender regret and pathetic despondency in which occur the lines
Fame is the spur which the clear spirit doth raise
To scorn delights, and live laborious days. May not that graceful glorifying of Fame as the last infirmity of noble minds” have been suggested by the profound remark of Tacitus, in his character of the stoical republican, Helvidius Priscus (Hist., 1. iv. c. 6) :
Erant, quibus appetentior famæ videretur, quando etiam sapientibus cupido gloriæ novissima exuitur.