« AnteriorContinuar »
appeal of suffering merit, and of literary merit least of all. He supplied the indigent poet with the means of continuing his studies, or rather of indulging his propensity to indolence and the muses, till he ultimately obtained a pension through the influence of the Maréchal de Coligny. This, with a salary he enjoyed as one of the king's librarians, relieved him from all farther care on the score of money. His life, like that of too
many of his contemporaries, was uselessly consumed in the frivolities of Parisian society; in paying and receiving the compliments of profligate courtiers, and the caresses of worthless women; and in base and heartless adulation of the worst monarch of the age, whom to have praised sincerely were a heavier imputation against his judgement, than to have flattered falsely is a slur upon his virtue. His memory, it is true, is not chargeable with those more serious impeachments, which are often alleged, too justly, against pensioned poets. We miss him in the ranks of those who, in the midst of persecution and calumny, devoted their talents to the right cause; but we no where find him affecting the clamorous hypocrisy which denounced every man of letters to ministerial vengeance, who had sufficient energy and courage to resist that torrent of political and moral degradation which threatened to overwhelm all virtue, all generous and honourable sentiment—to extinguish in France every spark of genius, and to oppose a perpetual bar to the “ advancement of learning.” In Bernard, we have rather an example of the effects of that system of misgovernment, in deadening the faculties and depraving the moral feelings of literary men, than a specimen of the venal writers by whose prostituted talents it was supported. He was a man of soft temper, and pliant manners, and poetic genius-not one of those “wise men,” of whom there were many in his day, "whom oppression maketh mad;" but one who would rather live in the peaceable enjoyment of luxurious and enervating pleasures, by flattering oppression, than earn a nobler, but more hazardous reputation by resisting it. This temper has, howeyer, been as fatal to his literary fame, as it was injurious to his personal character. During a life of sixty-five years, he produced no more than would fill two hundred pages of a duodecimo volume. But this, after all, is a matter of less moment than the result produced by his licentious habits on his bodily and mental faculties.—Many years before his death, their effects were miserably manifested in the total subversion of his intellect. He is described, in this condition, as having lost the remembrance of every pleasure-even of that which usually survives longest in the memory-his literary reputation. The only recollections which broke in upon his dotage, were those of his former apprehensions for the first success of his pieces
at Versailles. “ Is the king arrived ?” he asked eagerly of every spectator, at a revival of his opera of Castor. -" Is the king satisfied? Is Madame de Pompadour satisfied ?"--He thought himself in the theatre at Versailles, and the last expressions of his madness were those of courtly adulation.
Art. V.- The Spanish Mandevile of Miracles ; or, the Garden
of curious Flowers. Wherein are handled sundry points of Humanity, Philosophie, Divinitie, and Geographie, beautified with many strange and pleasant Histories. First written in Spanish, by Anthonio de Torquemeda, and out of that tongue translated into English. It was dedicated by the Author, to the Right honourable and reverent Prelate, Don Diego Sarmento de Soto Major, Bishop of Astorga, &c. It is divided into sixe Treatises, composed in manner of a Dialogue, as in the next page shall appeare. At London, printed by J. R. for Edmund Matts, and are to be solde at his Shop, at the signe of the Hand and Plow in Fleet-streete. Small 4to. 1600.
We once had thoughts of beginning this article with a true and particular account of all liars, ancient and modern, foreign and domestic; but, besides that such a proceeding would seem invidious, and might even touch upon the delicacies of friendship,-we foresaw that it must have been an useless attempt. We could not possibly have hoped to find all the dealers in fable,-as well those marked down in record, as those embalmed in tradition : neither could we take upon ourselves to decide summarily upon the claims of many who run on the broad line or apocryphal highway, which separates the regions of truth and falsehood. We-in short, we abandoned our design. We determined (prudently we think) to confine our investigation to one book of wonders. If the reader (who will naturally be disappointed at such an amendment in our opinion) will consider for a moment, he will see that our present plan is decidedly the best. The most "courteous reader" would not, we apprehend, admit, that an entire number of the Retrospective Review could be filled advantageously with marvels; and what more limited space would suffice for the discussion of all the books written by Albertus Magnus-Apollonius Tyaneus-Olaus Magnus-Apuleius-Pomponius MelaSolinus-Pliny, and the rest -- not forgetting Wanley-or Mendez de Pinto-or our old friend and namesake, the English Mandevile?
The name of Mandevile has suffered materially in history. It has become an absolute synonime or apology for a liar; that is to say, for a liar of a particular species, for it should be known to our readers (who are all indisputably sincere, and averse from these sinister fictions) that there are several kinds of liars or fabulators to be reckoned under the general head or genus. First,—there is your child-liar—who steals sugar and denies it—who plunges four fingers into pots of honey, or more delicate jam, and then resolutely lays it on his sister. Secondly,—there is your school-boy-liar, an urchin acquainted with apple (and birch) trees; whose shoe-strings are never tiedwhose tasks are unconn'd; the tyrant of the play ground, and the dunce of the school ; sturdy, strong, and impudent, hammering syllables out of a dirty book, and solacing his leisure with bits stolen from the larder, or apples abstracted from Mrs. Smith's orchard. Then, thirdly, there is the man-liarby the way, there are several sorts ; but we will take one-the lover, the soldier-lover, who lies with a grace, and shews his white teeth with an evident intent to deceive. He disdains to pilfer apples-even the apple of knowledge; but he runs away with silly girls' hearts, who doat upon his red coat and burnished epaulets. He is armed, like a fighting cock, with perpetual spurs, with a dangling sabre, and haughty looks, and with
hese he daunts women and straggling children, and vanquishes the strong holds of Belinda's heart. He overcomes the prudence of the dragon mother, while the daughter runs into his embrace. He is the Mercury who pipes to sleep the paternal Argus. He has balm for the sister's envy, and tales of glory for the brother's ears. And so he
goes conquering and to conquer.”—The fourth, or perfect species, may be called the travelling—or rather travelled-liar, of which our old friend Mandevile has been long held to be an illustrious specimen. Nevertheless he has it more in reputation than in fact; for he is not so absolute a fabler as he is generally esteemed. The truth is, that he flourished at a time when (we suppose) liars were less rife than at present, and met with extraordinary suc
He is the head of his school,—that is to say, in England; for Italy and Greece, and even France (that country which has always loved truth to an almost mathematical exactness) had travellers of fine imagination before him.
Our Mandevile-the “. Spanish” Mandeviledeals, like his great precursor, in hear-says and hypotheses. If he has to recount a most monstrous marvel,-such a one as would dwarf and put to shame the little incredibilities of our moderns, he always quotes his author in extenuation. He says," as it is written in Solinus,” —or as may be seen in Olaus Magnus,”or “as Plinie hath it,”-and with these aids he gets on good
terms with his conscience, and avoids calling up the indigna-
This is the fashion of their greeting.
“ Ludovico. And you, sir, are most welcome, and in the fittest time that may be, unless you
have some business which
hinder us from enjoying your company under this tuffet of trees, where, if it please you, after this excessive heat, we may awhile refresh ourselves with the mildness of this sweet air, and the delightful coolness of this fresh river.
“ Anthonio. Truly, gentlemen, nothing can let me in any thing wherein I may do you service, for my will is fully bent to follow yours, and therefore, without any excuse, I will obey you in whatsoever it shall please you to command me.
“ Bernardo. This curtesy of yours is so great, that I know not by what means we shall be able to deserve it; to the end therefore, that we may the better enjoy the desired fruit of your conversation, let us, if it please you, reposé ourselves under this shadow, where covered from the sun, what with the pleasing sound of this clear stream, trickling along the pebble stones, and the sweet murmurings of the green leaves, gently moved with a soft and delicate wind, we shall receive double delight.
“ Ludovico. It is true, but not if we remain standing, you having taken up the best place. “ Bernardo. Indeed, I might have offered you
place, but methinks you are not much amiss, especially because here is room in the midst, between us both, for Signior Anthonio, who, how near soever he be unto me, methinks is never near enough.
“ Anthonio. All this, Signior Bernardo, is but to increase the desire I have to do you service, for, in truth, such is the reputation of your wisdom, that wheresoever you are, we ought to seek you out, to the end to be participant of your virtue and knowledge.
“ Ludovico. Let us lay apart these friendly ceremonies, and busy ourselves in contemplating the diversity of those things which we see round about this place where we repose, that we may be thankful to the creator and maker of them. In truth, so great is the variety of flowers and roses which are in this meadow, that beholding narrowly every one apart, methinks I never saw any of them before; so many manners are there of them, their shapes and forms so sundry and divers, their colours so rare and dainty, their branches and flowers placed in such excellent order, that it seemeth that Nature hath endeavoured, with her uttermost industry, to frame, paint, and enamel each of them.”
They proceed to talk about certain strange coincidences in nature, certain marvellous resemblances between men, and, among other things, of the fertility of women; and the tales which they recount exceed every thing known in these degenerate days, when not more than one fool is foaled at a time, and seldom more than two wise children are sent as a blessing together. Yet our friend Anthonio speaks of three-of fourof seven (!) at Medina del Campo, " in this our Spain”-of a bookbinder's wife at Salamanca, who was delivered of nine!!To this Ludovico replies, that it is certain six children may be born at one time, which, however, he adds, is strange," unless it be in Egypt;" where, it seems, according to Trogus Pompeius, (we shall have an eye to the said Trogus, in future) they are often delivered of seven sons at once! This account is wound up at the last by a statement, from an author who quotes Albertus Magnus, to prove, that a gentlewoman of Álmaigne was delivered of one hundred and fifty children at once (!!!)—and, having attained this climax, conversation de clines into less remarkable matter. We hear of children singly, now-some are born in one fashion, and some in another some with teeth, (Hercules, in particular, had three rows) and a few without. It is said that most of these monstrous improbabilities are owing to the imaginations of the mothers, and we believe it. We must take leave, however, to be sceptical, as to the position of the philosopher Algazar.
“ Algazar, an ancient philosopher of great authority, affirmeth, the earnest imagination hath not only force and power to imprint divers effects in him which imagineth, but also may work effects in the things imagined; for so intentively may a man imagine that it raineth, that though the weather were fair, it may become cloudy, and rain indeed ; and that the stones before him are bread, so great may be the vehemency of his imagination that they may turn into bread.”
Nevertheless, we have great faith in the imagination. In fact, our world is a matter more of imagination (taking the word in its ordinary sense) than of any thing else.
Colour and shape, hope and fear, good fortune and bad, may be all, in a great measure, traced unto it. It is, perhaps, a great enemy at times,--a great deceiver ; but it is, also, the sovereign alchemy, which turns whatever it touches into gold,-blazoning