Page images
PDF
EPUB

wheelbarrow-races. In one place in Scotland a still more extraordinary device was resorted to: “ There is in a village in the country of the Garioch a yearly fair, called Christ's Fair, and commonly The Sleepy Market, because it begins at night about sunset, and ends an hour after sun-rising next morning, the people buying and selling timber, and other market goods, during the night, which is not then dark, being in the beginning of June,-a very singular kind of a market surely as ever was, and perhaps not to be paralleled in all the world.”2

XXVI.

PAUL JONES. GABRIEL Naudé wrote an apology for great men falsely accused of magic. The Scotish adventurer unfortunately lived too late to be vindicated by this learned Frenchman from the aspersion put on his fame by a Parisian scribbler. Jones died at Paris in July 1792 ; and the grave had scarcely closed on his ashes, when a strange libel on his memory was published under the title of “ Paul Jones; or Prophecies on America, England, France,

1 Tableau Statistique de toutes les Foires de la France, par Seb. Bottin ; Paris, 1826. Strutt's Sports and Pastimes of the People of England, pp. 366-369, edit. Lond. 1830.

Edinburgh Magazine, 1760, pp. 451, 452.

Spain, Holland, &c., by Paul Jones, a prophet and sorcerer such as never lived heretofore.” 1 It is amusing to find an example so recent of that sort of literary child-dropping which, at least in the estimation of the common people, has degraded the ethical Aristotle to a Professor of Obscenity, and the grave and learned Buchanan to a Scotish Joe Miller.3

66

Biogr. Univ. t. xxi. p. 621. 2 See Southey's Omniana, vol. i. p. 24.

3 Within twenty years, there was no book so common in the cottages of the Lowlands as The Merry Jests of George Buchanan, the King's Fool," several of which, Mr Dyce conjectures, “originated in the sayings and doings of Archie Armstrong, whom the author appears to have confounded with the learned preceptor of James the Sixth ; some of them have been told of various other persons in various jest-books ; most of them are very extravagant, and not very delicate.” This accomplished bibliographer enumerates the following editions of Buchanan's Jests : 1. The Merry and Diverting Exploits of George Buchanan, commonly called the King's Fool. Edinburgh : printed for the booksellers in town and country, by R. Menzies, Lawnmarket, price three-pence, n. d. 2. The Merry and Entertaining Jokes of George Buchanan, who was servant or teacher to King James VI., as his private counsellor, but publicly acted his fool. The whole compiled in three numbers, for the entertainment of youth. Newcastle : printed by G. Angus, in the Side, n. d. 3. The Witty and Entertaining Exploits of George Buchanan, who was commonly called the King's Fool. In six parts, complete. To which is added, Several Witty and Entertaining Jests. Stirling : printed and sold by M. Randall, 1814.-Works of George Peele, vol. i. pp. ix. x. Lond. 1829. A fourth

XXVII.

THIRST OF POETS.

" Whether the thunder of the laws, or the thunder of eloquence, is

hurled on gin, always I am thunder proof. The alembick, in my mind, has furnished the world a far greater benefit and blessing than if the opus maximum had been really found by chemistry, and, like Midas, we could turn every thing into gold.”-BURKE, Thoughts on Scarcity.

MR WORDSWORTH has avowed himself

1

A simple water-drinking bard," forgetting or defying the maxim of old Cratinus,—

Nulla placere diu nec vivere carmina possunt,

Quae scribuntur aquae potoribus. Perhaps it was from a devout faith in the aphorism that Helius Eobanus Hessus, a German poet famous in the sixteenth century, thought there could be no greater disgrace than the shame of being vanquished in a drinking bout. He so sedulously cultivated the art of potation, that few dared to enter the lists against him. As he was one day sitting in a tavern, another mighty toper came into the room, and, calling for one of the large water buckets of the country (of which the least contained two gallons), ordered it to be filled to the brim with Dantzic black beer. Then politely alluding to the many laurels which Eobanus had gathered in this noble field, he cast a precious ring into the pail, and challenged the poet to drain it. Eobanus,” says his biographer, “ with little boggling and less preface, for he was a man of few words, seized the vessel, and having speedily emptied it, turned it upside down, so that the ring fell on the table.” The room rang with applause ; but none was so noisy in approbation as the challenger, who declared the feat to be incredible. “ What,” cried the poet, turning to him sternly, “ do you think that I drink for hire? Here, take your paltry ring, and, as you promised, empty the bucket !” The boaster made the attempt, but failed; so leaving him in the taproom dead-drunk, Eobanus walked away, looking

is now before me, The Merry and Diverting Exploits of George Buchanan, commonly called the King's Fool. In two parts. Glasgow : published and sold, wholesale and retail, by R. Hutchison & Co., 10, Saltmarket. The first jest ascribed to him in this edition is the trick which, with equal improbability, is ascribed to Rabelais, of procuring a speedy conveyance to the capital, on the charge of having in his possession poison for the king and queen.

1 The Waggoner, cant. i.

3 Horat. epist. I. xix. “ Comme bien faire scauoyt Homere, paragon de tous philologes, et Ennie, pere des poetes latins, ainsi que tesmoigne Horace, quoy que ung malauctru ayt dict que ses carmes sentoyent plus le vin que lhuyle.”-Rabelais, li. i. prol.

as if he had neither lost nor

von.1

· Melch. Adami Vitae German. Philosoph. p. 53. edit. Franc. 1725.

Of a like jovial disposition was Daniel Heinsius. Menage has preserved a couplet with which he endeavoured to strengthen his failing limbs as he one night staggered home from a debauch : « Sta pes, sta bone pes, sta pes, ne labere mi pes,

Sta pes, aut lapides hi mihi lectus erunt."

The worthy poet, who was also a professor, sometimes indulged so freely over night, that he was unable to meet his class next morning ; and his students, on one occasion, affixed this placard on the door of the lecture room : Daniel Heinsius non leget hodie propter hesternam crapulam.?

The “next morning” has been much overlooked by Bacchanalian poets. I remember none but Byron who has touched on it :

“Get very drunk ; and when You wake with headache, you shall see what then.”

Charles Lamb, indeed, has left a few prose sentences on the matter, redolent with all his quaint and happy humour:-“With feverish eyes on the succeeding dawn I opened upon the faint light, enough to distinguish, in a strange chamber, not immediately to be recognised, garters, hose, waistcoat, neckerchief, arranged in dreadful order and

· Menagiana, t. i. p. 26 ; t. iv. p. 288.

F

« PreviousContinue »