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Can any one tell who is the author of the following charade ? It has been said that Dr. Robinson, a physician, wrote it :
Me, the contented man desires,
It can scarcely be necessary to add that the answer is, nothing.
OOKSELLING IN CALCUTTA.
Any one who may have visited the capital of British India will recollect the native kitaub-wallahs or booksellers, who drive a good trade in the streets of Calcutta, by thrusting their secondhand literature into the palanquins of the passers, and their pertinacity and success in fixing master with a bargain. These flying bibliopoles draw their supplies from the daily auctions arising out of the migratory habits of the mortality to which the residents in that city are subject; and it would somewhat astonish our Sothebys and Putticks to see the extent of these sales of literary property, and derange their tympanums to hear the clamorous competition among the aforesaid half-naked dealers for lots not catalogued with their bibliographical precision. The books thus purchased are subject to the overhaul of the better-informed of the tribe before they make their appearance in the streets; when deficiencies are made good, bindings vamped, and lettering attempted : finally, they are placed in the hands of the hawkers, when the following peculiarities are detectable :- Where a title or last leaf may have been wanting, these Calcutta editions occasionally display a prophane book with a sacred title; or a pious treatise, for the sake of the word “Finis,” made complete by affixing the last leaf of Tristram Shandy or the Devil on Two Sticks! Less intelligent jobbers will open their book, and, finding the first word “ Preface," clap it incontinently in gilt letters on the back! The imagination of the reader can fill up the cross-readings which would likely result from such practices.
Some twenty years ago, then, the dingy tribes were startled, and the auctioneer gratified by the appearance of a new face in the bidders' box-a brisk little European, who contested every lot, aiming, apparently, at a monopoly in the second-hand book trade. Shortly thereafter, this individual, having located himself in a commanding position, came forth in the daily papers as a candidate for public favor; and, in allusion to the reformation he contemplated, and his sovereign contempt for his black brethren, headed his address, to the no small amusement of the lieges, in the Falstaffian vein :
No eyes hath seen such scarecrows.
I'll not march thro' Coventry with them, that's flat! This joke was no doubt thrown away upon his Hindoo and Mussulman rivals, but alas for the reformer! he little knew the cold indifference of the Anglo-Indian about such matters, and, as might have been expected, he failed in establishing himself in business, and ultimately fell a victim to the climate. He was a son of Thomas Holcroft, a dramatist of repute in his day.
THE MAIDS AND WIDOWS.
The following petition, signed by sixteen maids of Charleston, South Carolina, was presented to the Governor of that province on March 1, 1733-4, “ the day of the feast :
To His Excellency Governor Johnson.
Whereas we the humble petitioners are at present in a very melancholy disposition of mind, considering how all the bachelors are blindly captivated by widows, and our more youthful charms thereby neglected: the consequence
of this our request is, that your Excellency will for the future order that no widow shall presume to marry any young man till the maids are provided for; or else to pay each of them a fine for satisfaction, for invading our liberties; and likewise a fine to be laid on all such bachelors as shall be married to widows. The great disadvantage it is to us maids, is, that the widows, by their forward carriages, do snap up the young men; and have the vanity to think their merits beyond ours, which is a great imposition upon us who ought to have the preference.
This is humbly recommended to your Excellency's consideration, and hope you will prevent any farther insults.
And we poor Maids as in duty bound will ever pray.
P.S.-I, being the oldest Maid, and therefore most concerned, do think it proper to be the messenger to your Excellency in behalf of my fellow subscribers.
The following from Butler and Fuller, refer obviously to a popular superstition, during an age when the belief in witchcraft and hobgoblins was universal; and when such creatures of fancy were assigned as Black Guards to his Satanic majesty. “Who can conceive," says Fuller, “but that such a Prince-principal of Darkness must be proportionally attended by a Black Guard of monstrous opinions ?” (Church History, b. ix. c. xvi.) Hudibras, when deceived by Ralpho counterfeiting a ghost in the dark
Believed it was some drolling sprite
and thereupon in his trepidation discourses with the Squire as follows:
Thought he, How does the Devil know
This is some petty-fogging fiend,
I do believe thee, quoth the knight;
Hudibras, Part III. Canto 1, line 1385, &c.
It will be seen that Butler, like Fuller, uses the term in the simple sense as a guard of the Prince of Darkness. But the concluding lines of Hudibras's address to Ralpho explain the process by which, at a late period, this term of the Black Guard came to be applied to the lowest class of domestics in great establishments.
The Black Guard of Satan was supposed to perform the domestic drudgery of the kitchen and servants' hall, in the infernal household. This extract from Hobbes refers to this :
Since my Lady's decay, I am degraded from a cook; and I fear the Devil himself will entertain me but for one of his black guard, and he shall be sure to have his roast burnt.
Hence came the popular superstition that these goblin scullions, on their visits to the upper world, confined themselves to the servants' apartments of the houses which they favored with their presence, and which at night they swept and garnished; pinching those of the maids in their sleep who, by their laziness, had imposed such toil on their elfin assistants; but slipping money into the shoes of the more tidy and industrious servants, whose attention to their own duties before going to rest had spared the goblins the task of performing their share of the drudgery. Hudibras apostrophises the ghost as
some paltry blackguard sprite
and therefore, as the knight concluded this devil full of malice” had found sufficient leisure to taunt and rally him in the dark upon his recent disasters.
This belief in the visits of domestic spirits, who busy themselves at night in sweeping and arranging the lower apartments, has prevailed in the North of Ireland and in Scotland from time immemorial: and it is explained in Sir Walter Scott's notes to the Lay of the Last Minstrel, as his justification for introducing the goblin page Gilpin Horner amongst the domestics of Branksome Hall. Perhaps, from the association of these elves with the lower household duties, but more probably from a more obvious cause, came at a later period the practice described by Gifford in his note on Ben Jonson, by which
In all great houses, but particularly in the Royal Residences, there were a number of mean, dirty dependents, whose office it was to attend the woolyard, sculleries, &c. Of these, the most forlorn wretches seem to have been