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doubt, as the notion which Lavater formed of men's characters from their autograph. Sometimes, however, this Promethean art has been a puzzling pro
One Essayist, wishing to immortalize himself, like the Wat-Tylericide Mayor of London, by a dagger, assumed that note of reference as his signature, and occasioned me infinite trouble in providing a sheath of flesh. Another, who now honourably wields the sword of justice in the land of the convict and the kangaroo, used to distinguish his well-written papers by three daggers at once, taxing my imagination to the utmost by this tripartite individuality, and making expensive demands upon the wardrobe of my brain. A third held out a hand at the bottom of his page, beckoning me to its welcome perusal-a symbol which my eye (if the catachresis may be allowed) was always eager to grasp and shake, and to which my fancy affixed a body with as much confidence as he who conjured up a Hercules from a foot. But the most bewildering of these contractions of humanity was the subscription of a star; for, after man had become sidereal and accomplished his apotheosis, it seemed somewhat irreverend to restore him to his incarnate state.
« This raised a mortal to the skies,
That drew an author down.”
I brought down these Astræi from their empyrean, remodelled their frames, gave them a suit of clothes for nothing, and had before my mind's eye a distinct presentment of their identity.
Even when we assume a literary individuality somewhat more substantial than this fanciful creation; when one is known, propriâ personâ, as the real identical Tomkins, who writes in a popular magazine under the signature of any specific letter, to what does it amount ?-an immortality of a month, after which we are tranquilly left to enjoy an eternity—of oblivion. Our very nature is ephemeral: we
come like shadows, so depart.” From time to time some benevolent and disinterested compiler endeavours to pluck us from the Lethean gulf, by republishing our best papers under the captivating title of “ Beauties of the Magazines,” “
Spirit of the modern Essayists,” or some such embalming words; but alas! like a swimmer in the wide ocean, who attempts to uphold his sinking comrade, he can but give him a few moments' respite, when both sink together in the waters of oblivion. We know what pains have been taken to appropriate Addison's and Steele's respective papers in the Spectator, distinguished only by initials. Deeming my own lucubrations (as what essayist does not?) fully entitled to the same anxious research, I occasionally please myself with dreaming that some future Malone, seated in a library, as I am at this present moment, may
take down a surviving volume of the New Monthly, and, naturally curious to ascertain the owner of the initial H, may discover, by ferreting into obituaries and old newspapers, that it actually designates a Mr. Higginbotham, who lies buried in Shoreditch church. Anticipating a handsome monument with a full account of the author, and some pathetic verses by a poetical
friend, he hurries to the spot, and after an infinity of groping, assisted by the sexton's spectacles, discovers a flat stone, which, under the customary emblems of a death's head and cross bones, conveys the very satisfactory information that the aforesaid Mr. Higginbotham was born on one day and died upon another. Of all the intervening period, its hopes and fears, its joys and miseries, its verse and prose, not an atom farther can be gleaned. And this it is to be a writer of Ephemerides! Verily, the idea is so disheartening, that I should be tempted to commit some rash act, and perpetrate publication on my own account, but that I have before my eyes the fate of certain modern Blackmores, impressing upon me the salutary truth, that if we must perish and be forgotton, it is better to die of a monthly essay than an annual epic.
“ Un homme rencontre une femme, et est choqué de sa laideur; bientôt, si elle n'a pas de prétentions, sa physionomie lui fait oublier les défauts de ses traits, il la trouve aimable, et conçoit qu'on puisse l'aimer; huit jours après il a des espérances, huit jours après 'on les lui retire, huit jours après il est fou.”
THE ancient inhabitants of Amathus, in the island of Cyprus, were the most celebrated statuaries in the world, which they almost exclusively supplied with gods and goddesses. Every one who had a mind to
be in the vogue ordered his deity from those fashionable artists: even Jupiter himself was hardly considered orthodox and worship-worthy, unless emanating from the established Pantheon of the Cypriots; and as to Juno, Venus, Minerva, and Diana, it was admitted that they had a peculiar knack in their manufacture, and it need hardly be added that they drove a thriving trade in those popular goddesses. But this monopoly was more favourable to the fortunes than to the happiness of the parties. By constantly straining above humanity, and aspiring to the representation of celestial beauty; by fostering the enthusiasm of their imaginations in the pursuit of the beau idéal,—they acquired a distaste, or at least an indifference, for mortal attractions, and turned up their noses at their fair countrywomen for not being Junos. and Minervas. Not one of them equalled the model. which had been conjured up in their minds, and not. one of them, consequently, would they deign to notice. At the public games, the women were all huddled together, whispering and looking glum, while the men congregated as far from them as possible, discussing the beau idéal.
Had they been prosing upon politics, you might have sworn it was an English party. Dancing was extinct, unless the ladies chose to lead out one another; the priests waxed lank and woebegone for want of the marriage-offerings : Hymen's altar was covered with as many cobwebs as a poor's box; successive moons rose and set without a single honeymoon, and the whole island threatened to be
come an antinuptial colony of bachelors and old maids.
In this emergency, Pygmalion, the most eminent statuary of the place, falling in love with one of his own works, a figure of Diana, which happened to possess the beau idéal in perfection, implored Venus to animate the marble; and she, as is well known to every person conversant with authentic history, immediately granted his request. So far as this couple were concerned, one would have imagined that the evil was remedied; but, alas ! the remedy was worse than the disease. The model of excellence was now among them, alive and breathing; the men were perfectly mad, beleaguering the house from morn to night to get a peep at her; all other women were treated with positive insult, and of course the whole female population was possessed by all the Furies. Marmorea (such was the name of the animated statue) was no Diana in the flesh, whatever she might have been in the marble: if the scandalous chronicles of those days may be believed, she had more than one favoured lover; certain it is that she was the cause of constant feuds and battles in which many lives were lost, and Pygmalion himself was at last found murdered in the neighbourhood of his own house. The whole island was now on the point of a civil war on account of this philanthropical Helen, when one of her disappointed wooers, in a fit of jealousy, stabbed her to the heart, and immediately after threw himself from a high rock into the sea.