Obrázky na stránke


[merged small][ocr errors]

Me Wallan, in his late History of translation, and give no more than the
the Middle Ages, adverting to the general heads or titles of the remainder.
diffusion of legendary tales, especially Chap. VIII.--" Of the vice of
those relating to the Virgin, of which usury-how severely it is chastised by
he says “it is difficult to conceive the God, in them who practise it, con-
stupid absurdity and the disgusting pro- trary to his divine law.”
faneness ;" subjoins, in a note, two or “ It is a thing manifest, that the put-
threespecimens from the Fabliaux, pub- ting out usury is not only prohibited
lished by Le Grand d'Aussy; and adds, and forbidden by the divine law, but
“ these tales, it may be said, were the also by the imperial laws, and by all
productions of ignorant men, and cir- principles of justice. For which rea-
culated among the populace. Certainly son, the most just God hath given us
they would have excited contempt and most terrible and tremendous signs
indignation in the more enlightened of the severest punishments against
clergy. Vol. II. p. 447, note. But usurers, as by many fearful examples,
whether the Fabliaux of the thirteenth which we shall here commemorate,
century are at all more absurd or pro- may be made evident. And, although
fane , than the impudent invocations it be ordinarily permitted by princes
which have passed current among the and by republics, that a man may re-
people from the hands of the clergy in ceive one only in a hundred; that con-
Catholic countries, through all ages, cession and permission, nevertheless,
may admit of much question. A re- is not according to the laws, but ex-
ligious book, containing a voluminous pressly against every just law, and
collection of these legends, under va- against conscience and charity. Where-
rious heads, and entitled “ Prato fiorito fore princes permit these usuries to
di varii essempi," is now before me, their people, not as an act of justice,
which may be seen as a tolerable spe- but on account of the necessity of the
cimen of a multitude of works devot- poor, in order to put an end to the in-
ed to similar purposes. It was pub- satiable rapacity and unbridled avarice
lished at Como, ó con licenza de' su- of the rich men and misers of this
pericri," in 1608; and to those who world; who being without sweet cha-
derive any gratification from contem- rity, and continually burning with de-
plating the various modes in which the sire of gain, fain would extract out of
Follies of mankind have, from time to every crown which they lend, a hun.
time displayed themselves, and who dred, and would not willingly bestow
are not well read in that description of upon a poor man one morsel, without
lore which is here unfolded to them, a return for it. And, therefore, princes,
it may be not unamusing, nor altogether in order to put an end to their avarice
uninstructive, to display a few of the and cruelty, grant them license to de-
flowers that are to be found together in mand, so as it be only one in every
this field of variegated allurement. hundred ; as if they said, " Inasmuch

I will take, for the first of the classes as you who are a miser, and one of the from which I purpose to draw my in- rich ones of the earth, will not lend stances, the sth chapter of the first your money for the sake of charity, as book, entitled “Del Usura.” Perhaps God wills and commands that you the fearful examples of the punish- should do ; therefore, we ordain that ment of that crime here afforded, may you shall not receive, by this accursed induce some members of our British usury, more than so much per cent." legislature to pause before they give How beit, according to the laws and their sanction to the sweeping indem- ordinances of God, these persons ought nity to usurers, intended by Sergeant not to take even a single farthing; acOnslow's bill. The governor and din cording to what all doctors and canonrectors of the Bank of England might ists affirm, saying, it is impossible that also do well to consider them, together those who are given to usury, against with the admirable train of reasoning the divine law, cail ever be saved, if and reflection by which they are pre- they do not restore all that they have ceded. Moreover, for brevity's sake, taken in usury, and every such unjust I shall select only two or three for gain ; nor, how many jubilees soever

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

they may celebrate, or fasts observe, or and they thrust forth their devilish alms give, will they ever be able to tongues to the mouth of the sick man; liberate themselves from the sentence who, in like manner, through his anof eternal damnation, without com- guish, thrusting out his own tongue plete restitution of all such cursed more than a palm's length, it was ingains, when they are able to make it. stantly seized upon by these infernal And here, indeed, we may discover the dogs, and torn out by the roots, and, great blindness of those who are co- together with his miserable soul, cara vetous, and rich in worldly possessions, ried away to hell; and his dead body in that they will not see nor under- was cast to the beasts, as was justly stand the imminent danger they are deserved. in, or the manifest peril of an everlast- Example 11. is of an usurer, who ing death. But let us come to exam- had caused his image, in marble, to be ples, by which will more plainly be placed over the cathedral church, reseen the truth of such, the damnable presenting him with a bag of money in and horrible condition of avaricious his hands. It happened, after the men, and dealers in accursed and ex- death of the usurer, that a brother communicated usuries.

usurer going to church one morning,

this marble statue fell on his head and EXAMPLE I.-Of the Miserable Death

crushed him. of an Usurer.

Example III..How a chest of We read, in the Liber Apum, how, money being deposited in a certain in the realm of France, there was once monastry, by the heirs of a deceased an usurer, so cruel and pitiless, that usurer, for safe custody, pending a he despoiled poor widows and orphans, law suit, the devil was seen one mornand others, without remorse, in the ob- ing to sit astride upon it; who, being taining his cursed usury; nor had he interrogated by a courageous monk as any compassion for the most extreme to the nature of his claim, replied, poverty, or the greatest necessities, of “ The treasure is mine. I acquired ic many iniserable fathers of families who in fair traffic, with the soul of its owner were burthened with children. Now into the bargain.” The holy brotherthis cruel and unjust usurer, in order hood instantly required the heirs of to cloak his so great wickedness and the usurer to take back their deposite ; impiety, dissembled so as externally to but it does not appear how they disappear the very best sort of man in the posed of the devil's equitable lien. world. He frequently visited religious Example IV. is of an usurer who persons, recommending himself to their directed his money to be buried with prayers, with feigned tears, and some him; and how certain honest gentletimes sending them alms; and, more men coming by night to rob the grave, than once, being charitably admonish- saw that possession had already been ed by such as were acquainted with taken by two devils, who were amus. hiin, to leave off his usurious prace ing themselves by thrusting the loved tices, and exhorted to have compassion wages of his indignity, piece by piece, on the poor, he took little account of red hot, into his bowels, exclaiming, what was said to him, and went on his with much scorn, “ Ho! ho! friend, way, excusing himself with fair and now you shall have enough of that glossing speeches, but persevering all gold which you have so anxiously the while in his former conduct, until sought and so hardly procured.” We that, at the last, the tremendous hand are not told, however, if this adventure of God fell upon him. Forasmuch as cured them of robbing church-yards. he was at first assailed with a sudden Example V. is of a lady usurer, who, grievous sickness, which, in short space, on the point of death, saw an infinite brought him to the end of his mis number of devils in the forms of curs spent life. And, whilst the miserable and

ravens. sinner was in the midst of the anguish Example VI.-How an usurer, on of his approaching death, there appear. the point of death, gave it in charge ed in his chamber two very great and to his wife to have a care for the good very black dogs, who, with vast vehe- of his soul; and how she married a mence and fury, jumped upon the bed second husband, and made a mock of of the dying man, and, howling with him. rage, watched for the moment when Vincentius, the Bishop, relates, in they might devour that wretched soul; his Moral Looking-glass, how there was

[ocr errors]

once at Constantinople an usurer, who, which it is the object of our present
arriving at the point of death, and be political reformers to do away.
ing exhorted to inake his will and settle VII.-How a child exhorted its father
the concerns of his soul, by making to give up the practice of usury, and
restitution of what he had unjustly ac- how he would not, and so died, and
quired by usury, answered, “ I can't was damned.
take the trouble to do this at present, VIII.-How an usurer, upon receive
having other matters to think on ; but, ing the sacrament, said to the priest,
if it should turn out that I die of my“ I value this handsome cup more than
present disease, my wife will have a all that is within it," and instantly
care of this, to whom I bequeath all dropped down dead, and was damned.
my substance; and she will so distri- IX.-How a usurer was buried in a
bute as she shall think best for the church, in a marble sepulchre ; and
good of my soul.” As soon as this how the next morning, both the se-
miserable usurer was dead, the good pulchre and its stinking contents, were
woman began to cast the eyes of affec- found in a field far distant.
tion on one of good favour and hand- X.—How a priest, refusing to inter
some presence, who had been the sworn the body of a usurer in consecrated
enemy of her deceased husband; and, ground, made a composition with the
with promises of a handsome endow- relations of the deceased that they
ment out of the inheritance which had should place the usurer's body on the
fallen to her, persuaded him to take back of his horse, and, wherever the
her for his wife, a thing which he horse should carry it, there it should
readily consented to, as knowing that be interred. And how the relations,
he should enter into the possession of notwithstanding that, against the spirit
so great riches. At the which, a cer- and reasoning of the covenant, they
tain matron (her neighbour) being endeavoured to drive the horse, by
marvellously troubled and scandalized, blows, towards the church, could not
seeing that this ungrateful woman had succeed in making the animal move an
so soon forgotten her deceased husband, inch forward in that direction, until,
who had left her such an ample suc- being tired, they suffered it to go its
cession, one day said to her, What own way, which led to the foot of the
a pretty business this is ! Are you not gallows, and there the usurer was in-
ashamed to have done this? Your terred at last.
husband is still warm, as one may say,

XI.-Of another usurer, who, bein his grave, and you are giving your ing buried in a church, could not rest, self a new one.” At which words, the but got out of his grave, and played good woman being much offended, divers pranks within the said church, disdainfully, and in a scoffing manner, until, being duly exorcised, he conreplied, “Oh, my lady—in good sooth, fessed that he never should be quiet if you think that my husband is yet till they removed him out of consewarm, I beseech

you to blow upon crated ground; which was done achim to cool him." Now, these were cordingly. the almsgivings and the orisons which XII.—How a usurer, being, at his this dear and faithful wife bestowed death-bed, exhorted to make restitufor the good of the soul of her deceas- tion of his ill-gotten wealth, by dised husband. Therefore are they truly posing of it in a christian-like manner, foolish, who, not providing, while they answered the parish priest who attend yet live, for the salvations of their own ed him, saying, Imprimis, I give souls, promise themselves, and put and bequeath you, who are my pastor, their trust in the promise, that others to the devil.-Item, I give to my wife will take that care of them after they and children all the estate, right, title, are dead.”

&c., which I have acquired in hell by It is to be hoped, that the bare titles my worldly dealings. Lastly, all the of the remaining examples, in this residue of my effects, together with ehapter of usurers, will prove sufficient myself, I absolutely give up and reto deter sinners from the commission lease to my good Lord, Satan, to whom, of this damnable crime of “ teaching of right, the same do belong." Immoney to procreate," and substitute mediately at the close of which nuncuthe more effectual terrors of hell in pative will, the residiary legatee came the room of the weak and impotent into the apartment, and carried off the sanction of legislative enactments, testator's soul, which (it seems) was

the only part of the benefits intended which must be made by some of the for him that he cared to possess. foregoing, than to strengthen or ima

A few other examples remain ; but prove them, I shall here close the as I am apprehensive that they might chapter. rather tend to weaken the impressions



Genius, among different nations, has And certainly, with respect to the found different means of giving ex- probable success of any specific endeapression to its inward power, and com- vours for advancing the genius of art municating itself to men. The great among a people, it should seem rather art of civilized Greece was sculpture. to be found in pursuing them in conThe power of the mind was, in that cert with the work of nature, than in country, in no way so clearly, vividly, seeking a cultivation which may be overpoweringly expressed, as in mar- foreign to nature. ble. Italy has given her soul to live If we ask in what part of her literin the colours of the pencil, and the ature England has most excelled—amodulation of sound. In our own mong the great writers who have used country, the material which genius her language - who they are who has been able to mould to its highest have shewn it in its power and beauand most powerful expression, is ty,--we think at once of her poets. Of Speech.

all the arts of imagination, that which We do not intend to make any inquiry England has carried to the highest into the causes of this diversity of art pitch is unquestionably Poetry, as its among different nations, but would annals will witness from the time of ground some observations on the fact of Chaucer to our own day: In the elos its existence. For if this be acknow- quence of prose, she has shewn no ledged, as indeed it can hardly be dis- writers of such pre-eminent distincputed, that one people has excelled in tion. And if we take our impression one art, another in another, then we from the past, we can hardly escape conceive it may, upon the simple fact, the conclusion, that either the lanbe safely argued, that there are among guage or the genius of the people is each people strong natural causes in peculiarly fitted to poetry. It seems, action, determining the bent of their indeed, as if to any mind working genius to the course it is found to take with strong emotion of its conceptions, -causes of such prevailing and per- poetry did indeed become amongst us manent force, that it can hardly be the natural language of its expression, supposed within the power of the peo- breaking out into a higher strain of ple themselves to control and change words than the sobriety of prose will their operation.

bear, and seeking both to indulge If such a conclusion be admitted, it and to justify its transport by the Fould seem to follow, that as far as numbers of verse. And accordingly the cultivation of arts can be conceived it is remarkable how various the subof as matter of deliberate purpose and jects of English poetry are, many todesign among a people, they should be pics having been treated of in that guided by what they already find among language, and forming the matter inthemselves, and should attach them- deed of celebrated poems, which might selves with peculiar and perhaps ex- not seem at first sight to come within clusive zeal to those arts, in which the the compass of poetical inspiration. excellence they have attained indicates Yet after we have separated the poets, that they are qualified to excel. For if we look at the rest of English literit must be supposed, that in the fur-ature, so rich and various in its kinds, ther prosecution of any such art, they through so long a period of time, we are merely giving more complete de shall not be disposed to deny, that the velopement to the principles of power mind of the country has left a great which Nature has implanted in them monument of its power in the numerin an especial manner; a purpose which ous excellent works we possess of its may be important to the intellectual writers in prose. Nor can we fail to and even moral character of a nation. cite the names of many, to whom we

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

have each individually owed both pere write the language of a great people. manent instruction and manifold de- With strenuous and patient encleavour light.

he must prepare himself for his underThe examination of the difference taking, and with vigilant jealousy of of character of our writers in verse himself must he fulfil it. and prose, the causes of what may The first great source of eloquence seem the stronger determination of the is in himself. genius of the country to poetry; would

Pectus id est quod facit disertum." afford matter of very interesting inquiry, but is not our present object. We wish In thoughtful solitude he must watch merely to propose, as a ground of far- over and cherish the powers of his own ther observation, the fact of which, spirit. He has knowledge to acquire; the review of our whole literature, he must study the wisdom of others. compared with the history of the He must owe to his patient and subother arts amongst us, will easily es- missive observation of what has been tablish, that the mind of this country thought and done by minds of highest has habitually resorted to language for authority, the authority with which the permanent expression of its power. he himself may speak to his own age.

Two considerations seem to result For the power of his own mind is not from this fact. The first, that as far independent of the power which has as favour to any art in the minds of preceded it. But rather there is a the whole people may be important to continual derivation of power from its cultivation, the native claims to mind to mind, and from age to age ; such favour which literature holds in apd the youth of genius is marked this country should not be disregard- much more by reverend and fond ad ed or undervalued. The other re- miration of the excelling productions spects those in whose hands the culti- of past genius, than by the sense of vation of our literature is placed, and its own independence. The indepencalls upon them duly to weigh the dence of original thought, and the importance of the art which they ex- simplicity and truth of native feeling, ercise, since they hold in their hands are not defeated or disturbed by such a power which the mind of the whole admiration ; but in it they become people acknowledges, and by which, founded upon a strength greater than therefore, they are able to sway the their own. The mind which has minds of a whole people. We wish to within itself the native springs of press a little farther this last consider- power, need not fear to acknowledge, ation.

to love, and to follow the steps of There are, in this country, at all its masters. Its own strength will times, young minds advancing in grow meanwhile : those principles of power, awaking to the sense of facul- strength, whether in thought or feelties within themselves, engaging, or ing, which have been sowed in itself, preparing to engage, in the action of will silently unfold by their own laws, lite, and trusting to hold their part in if the courses of life itself bring noits great action, by speaking to their thing to enfeeble, oppress, or corrupt contemporaries, by giving the trea- their energy. sures of their thoughts, the power of The power of wisdom, thought, their minds, to language. To all knowledge, and high passion, which such, whose career is yet to be run, the human mind, through continual who feel, or trust to feel, that they ages, has embodied in its great prohave yet in their hands a great future, ductions, is the great heritage of every we think that something may be said generation. It is in deep and thoughtnot unprofitably of the character which ful laborious study that genius itself our literature has sustained.

takes its part in this commonwealth, They might be urged with the ex- its own peculiar and dearer part, out ample of those who have given to it of which it finds the means to create its greatness, to look back, and con- new wealth, and to augment the great sider who they were to whose place descending inheritance of mankind. they succeed ; to know the honour of The preservation of its own distincthe rank to which they aspire, and un- tive character, of its own essential derstand its responsibility.

strength, is to be otherwise effected, There is no labour of self-cultiva- than by ignorance or neglect of the tion too severe for him who would surpassing works of preceding time.

[ocr errors][merged small]
« PredošláPokračovať »