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been written, with this particular example of the “received tenets and commonly presumed truths” of the learned physician's day, distinctly present to the mind of Addison. The passage referred to is as follows:
There is another conceit of better notice, and whispered thorow the world with some attention ; credulous and vulgar anditors readily believing it, and more judicious and distinctive heads not altogether rejecting it. The conceit is excellent, and, if the effect would follow, somewhat divine : whereby we might communicate like spirits, and confer on earth with Menippus in the moon. And this is pretended from the sympathy of two needles touched with the same loadstone, and placed in the centre of two abecedary circles, or rings with letters described round about them, one friend keeping one, and another the other, and agreeing upon the hour wherein they will communicate. For then, saith tradition, at what distance of place soever, when one needle shall be removed unto any letter, the other, by a wonderful sympathy, will move unto the same. Book II. chap. ii., 4to., 1669, p. 77.
It would appear that the principle of the electric telegraph and its modus operandi, almost identically as at present, were known and described upwards of a century ago. In the Scots Magazine, vol. xv. p. 73, is a letter initialed C. M., dated Renfrew, Feb. 15, 1753, in which the writer not only suggests electricity as a medium for conveying messages and signals, but details with singular minuteness the method of opening and maintaining lingual communication between remote points, a method which, with only a few improvements, has now been so eminently successful.
THE NAPOLEON FAMILY.
The names of the male crowned heads of the extinct Napoleon dynasty form a remarkable acrostic :
N-apoleon, Emperor of the French.
CURLL TOSSED IN A BLANKET.
Curll, the bookseller, it is well known, was tossed in a blanket by the scholars of Westminster : upon this occasion there appeared a small poetical tract, called Neck or Nothing; a consolatory letter from Mr. D-nt-n (Dunton) to Mr. C. C-rll (Curll), upon his being Tost in a Blanket, &c. Sold by Charles King in Westminster Hall, 1716.
The following is an extract from it :
“Come, hold him fair; we'll make him know
Oh! how th' unlucky urchins laugh’d,
For ever this shall grate thine ear,
For further information regarding Dunton and Curll, see Pope's Dunciad, and notes to same.
The following quotation is from Cyrus Redding's "Recollections of the Author of Vathek" (New Monthly Magazine, vol. lxxi. p. 308) :
“I bought it (says Beckford) to have something to read when I passed through Lausanne. I have not been there since. I shut myself up for six weeks, from early in the morning until night, only now and then taking a ride. The people thought me mad. I read myself nearly blind.”
I inquired if the books were rare or curious. He replied in the negative. There were excellent editions of the principal historical writers, and an extensive collection of travels. The most valuable work was an edition of Eustathius ; there was also a MS. or two. All the books were in excellent condition; in number, considerably above six thousand, near seven perhaps. He should have read himself mad if there had been novelty enough, and he had stayed much longer.
“I broke away, and dashed among the mountains. There is excellent reading there, too, equally to my taste. Did you ever travel alone among mountains ? "
I replied that I had, and been fully sensible of their mighty impressions. "Do you retain Gibbon's library ?
“It is now dispersed, I believe. I made it a present to my excellent physician, Dr. Schall or Scholl (I am not certain of the name). I never saw it after turning hermit there."
DESCENDANTS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT.
In Southey's Omniana is the following :
It was believed in Pier della Valle’s time, that the descendants of Judas still existed in Corfu, though the persons who suffered this imputation stoutly denied the truth of the genealogy.
POPE AND THE DUNCES.
In Pope's " Letter to the Honorable James Craggs," dated June 15, 1711, after making some observations on Dennis's remarks on the Essay on Criticism, he says :
Yet, to give this man his due, he has objected to one or two lines with reason; and I will alter them in case of another edition : I will make my enemy do me a kindness where he meant an injury, and so serve instead of a friend.
An interesting paper might be drawn up from the instances, for they are rather numerous, in which Pope followed out this sensible rule. One of the heroes of the Dunciad, Thomas Cooke, the translator of Hesiod, was the editor of a periodical published in monthly numbers, in 8vo., of which nine only appeared, under the title of The Comedian, or Philosophical Inquirer, the first number being for April, and last for December, 1732. It contains some curious matter, and amongst other papers is, in No. 2, “A Letter in Prose to Mr. Alexander Pope, occasioned by his Epistle in Verse to the Earl of Burlington." It is very abusive, and was most probably written either by Cooke or Theobald. After quoting the following lines as they then stood :
He buys for Topham drawings and designs,
the letter-writer thus unceremoniously addresses himself to the author :
Rarities ! how could'st thou be so silly as not to be particular in the rarities of Sloane, as in those of the other five persons ? What knowledge, what meaning is conveyed in the word rarities ? Are not some drawings, some statues, some coins, all monkish manuscripts, and some books, rarities? Could'st thou not find a trisyllable to express some parts of nature for a collection of which that learned and worthy physician is eminent ? Fy, fy! correct and write :
Rare monkish manuscripts for Hearne alone,
And books for Mead, and butterflies for Sloane. Sir Hans Sloane is known to have the finest collection of butterflies in England, and perhaps in the world; and if rare monkish manuscripts are for Hearne only, how can rarities be for Sloane, unless thou specifyest what sort of rarities ? O thou numskull !--No. 2, pp. 15-16.
The correction was evidently an improvement, and therefore Pope wisely accepted the benefit, and was the channel through which it was conveyed; and the passage accordingly now stands as altered by the letter-writer.
ORIGIN OF VARIOUS BOOKS.
The incidents and thoughts which have induced various authors to commence their works are, in many cases, somewhat interesting
Thus, Milton's Comus was suggested by the circumstance of Lady Egerton losing herself in a wood. The origin of Paradise Lost has been ascribed by one to the poet having read Andreini's drama of L’Adamo Sacra Representatione, Milan, 1633; by another, to his perusal of Theramo's Das Buch Belial, &c., 1472. Dunster says that the prima stamina of Paradise Lost is to be found in Sylvester's translation of Du Bartas's Divine Weekes and Workes. It is said that Milton himself owned that he owed much of his work to Phineas Fletcher's Locusts or Appolyonists. Paradise Regained is attributable to the poet having been asked by Elwood the Quaker what he could say on the subject. Gower's Confessio Amantis was written at the command of Richard II., who, meeting Gower rowing on the Thames, invited him into the royal barge, and after much conversation, requested him to "book some new thing." Chaucer, it is generally agreed, intended, in his Canterbury Tales, to imitate the Decameron of