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For, alas ! I hae gotten baith fee an' leave
0, luckless Aiken-drum!'”
DAVID MALLET AND PIERRE PASCAL. One of the least reputable actions of Mallet, whose character unfortunately is liable to several unpleasant charges, was his conduct towards the Marlborough family. For a thousand pounds bequeathed to him by the duchess, he undertook to write the life of the conqueror of Blenheim. From the second duke likewise he had a pension to promote his industry. He talked much of the
he had made in this great work; but left not, when he died, the smallest vestige of it behind him! Dr Johnson (from whom we learn that he was the prettiest dressed puppet about town, and always kept good company) tells us that he was never deceived by Mallet's talk, but saw and always said that he had not written any part of the life of the Duke of Marlborough.2
Pierre Pascal, a Gascon, who died in 1565, was guilty of a like unworthy artifice. He had a pension of twelve hundred pounds a-year from Henry II. of France for his encouragement to write the history of that country. To keep the king's hopes awake he occasionally dropped a sheet inscribed, “ P. Paschalii, Liber Quartus Rerum a Francis Gestarum;" but when he died, it was discovered that he had never begun the work.
| Chambers’ Popular Rhymes of Scotland, p. 276. Edin. 1826.
2 Croker's Boswell's Johnson, vol. ii. p. 408 ; vol. iv.
LIFE SAVED BY LAUGHTER. “ The health of Erasmus,” says Mr Charles Butler,
was always very delicate, and he now began to feel the infirmities of old age. He was afflicted by an imposthume, and the worst was feared, when he was cured of it in an extraordinary manner.
The perusal of the celebrated “Literae Obscurorum Virorum' threw him into a fit of immoderate laughter; the imposthume burst, and the laugher was cured.”2
A like tale is told of Dr Patrick Scougal, a Scotish bishop in the seventeenth century.3 An old woman earnestly besought him to visit her sick cow; the
Biog. Univ. t. xxxiii. p. 45. Menckenii de Charlataneria Eruditorum Declamat. Duae, p. 128. edit. Amstel. 1716.
Butler's Life of Erasmus, p. 199. Lond. 1825. 3 He died in 1682, in the seventy-third year of his age. (Keith’s Catal. Scot. Bish. p. 133.) Bishop Burnet says prelate, after many remonstrances, reluctantly consented, and, walking round the beast, said gravely, “ If she live, she live ; and if she die, she die ; and I can do nae mair for her.” Not long afterwards he was dangerously afflicted with a quinsy in the throat: the old woman having got access to his chamber walked round his bed, repeating the charm which she believed had cured her cow; whereat the bishop was seized with a fit of laughter, which broke the quinsy and saved his life.
An old English dramatist alludes to a third instance :
“ I am come to tell you Your brother hath intended you some sport : A great physitian, when the pope was sicke Of a deepe melancholly, presented him With severall sorts of mad-men, which wilde object (Being full of change and sport) forc'd him to laugh, And so th' impost-hume broke : the self same cure The duke intends on you.”l
of him, that "he had a way of familiarity by which he gave every body all sort of freedom with him, and in which, at the same time, he inspired them with a veneration for him, and by that he gained so much on their affections, that he was considered as the common father of his whole diocese, and the Dissenters themselves seemed to esteem him no less than the Conformists did.”—Preface to Life of Bishop Bedell.
1 Webster's Dutchesse of Malfy, act iv. scene ii.
ON REVOLUTIONS. The novelty of the sentiments which I am about to quote is less remarkable than the time and place where they were spoken, and the character of the speaker. It was on the 10th May 1792, and in the revolutionary assembly of France, that M. Antoine Français de Nantes, who for his democratic zeal was chosen to the mission from the Revolutionary Club of Nantes to the Corresponding Societies in England, delivered himself of the following remarks : “When the earth is afflicted by long and severe winters, we see that the savage beasts of the forest leave their dens, and advance oven to the gates of cities to seize their human prey. Such is the effect of great revolutions ! they call upon the stage of the world scoundrels who but for them would have rotted in obscurity.” The revolutionary ardour of the orator ended only with his life in the year 1836.
THE DECAY OF SUPERSTITIONS. THREE epochs are memorable in the history of Po
pular Superstitions; the Nativity of our Saviour, the Introduction of Christianity, the Reformation.
Sir Thomas Browne has a chapter against the common belief " that Oracles ceased or grew mute at the comming of Christ." He maintains that “ to consist with history, by cessation of Oracles, we must understand their intercision, not absission or consummate desolation ; their rare delivery not a totall dereliction. And thus may wee reconcile the accounts of times, and allow those few and broken Divinations, whereof we reade in story and undeniable Authors. For that they received this blow from Christ, and no other causes alleged by the Heathens, from oraculous confession they cannot deny; whereof upon record there are some very remarkeable. The first, that Oracle of Delphos delivered unto Augustus.
Me puer Hebræus Divos Deus ipse gubernans
An Hebrew child, a God all gods excelling,
A second recorded by Plutarch, of a voyce that was heard to cry unto mariners at the sea, Great Pan is
Vulgar Errors, b. vii. ch. xii. p. 361-363. Lond. 1646.