« AnteriorContinuar »
inductions in the potential mood, was not more hardy in inferring that things must have been, because they might have been, than is the Cambridge traveller. He brings forward these fragments of the opus reticulatum as an existing evidence, in the words of the margin, or in the words and capital typography of the text, A STANDING MEMORIAL of Julian's DISCOMFITÙRE ; and reasoning upon the miracle which this evidence is to prove, repeats the assertion of Moyle, that he sees not with what forehead any man can ques tion the truth of it. The old scholastic education had at least one merit, that it made men logicians.
The Mussulman who visits the sacred place of the temple of Jerusalem performs an act of penance as well as devotion; for hè must walk barefooted to the several stations; there is no traced path, and the court is entirely covered with thistles and thorny plants growing close together, so that this part of the pilgrimage becomes an actual punishment. This was not always the case : á legend related by Medjired-din in his description of this sanctúary describes the ground as covered with anemonies and camomile. A spring without the walls, which Christians call the Fountain of Nehemiah, is believed by the Mussulmen to come miraculously from the well of Zemzem. It is true,' says Ali Bey, that my coarse palate found a remarkable difference between these two waters; this seemed to me very cold, and I had found that at Mecca very warm ; the former was sweet and good, the latter briny ;-the miracle is therefore not perceptible by sense. The Persians have in like manner persuaded themselves that the well in their great mosque at Sultanieh is supplied from Zemzem. From Jerusalem the traveller proceeded to Damascus, Aleppo, and Constantinople; a supplementary chapter by the editor conducts him to Bucharest, and abruptly concludes the work.
Whether the advantages which this enterprising Spaniard derived from his assumed character have answered his own expectations, he himself best knows; public expectation will perhaps be disappointed, but with little reason. He has penetrated into the forbidden places, seen all that was concealed from Christian eyes, and reported faithfully and fully all that he saw. Few travellers would be disposed to pay the same price for the privilege of sweeping the Kaaba, and drinking the water which was sanctified with its dirt : but perhaps there are some who, if they had appeared in the same character, would have profited by it in a different manner. Bruce would not have contented himself with speculating at Morocco upon the interior of hidden Africa; he would have reached Tombuctoo, and traced the Niger to its termination, or have perished in the attempt. He would have profited by his favour at the sultan's court to have studied and developed the characters of those who composed it, and have given us pictures which should have lived for ever. Barrow would have borne with him a sounder judgment and a more observant eye. And Dr. Clarke !--Doctor Clarke would have opened Eve's grave, bargained with the Wahabees for Mahommed's coffin-and discovered David's harp, Solomon's seal, Jeroboam's calves, and the horns of Jupiter Ammon, <if he had not been discovered himself in the emperor of Morocco's seraglio.
ART. II.--Waterloo, and other Poems. By J. Wedderburne
Webster, Esq. Paris, printed by Didot, Sen. 1816. pp. 72. THE subject of this article belongs rather to mechanics than lite
rature: what Dean Swift ridiculed as a visionary scheme has been reduced, by modern ingenuity, into actual practice; and the fancy of the Laputan philosopher to make a machine for grinding the vocabulary into treatises has been, it seems, realized by our ingenious neighbours the French.
Every body knows that M. Didot is not only a celebrated printer, but a great mechanist, and, if not the inventor, at least the introducer of that mode of printing called Stereotype, in which the lines and words are not made up of separate letters as heretofore, but are cast at once into permanent forms ready for use. Having words, and even lines, thus prepared, it was a natural yet ingenious thought to endeavour to apply some moving power by which they might be disposed in proper places and forms, without the delay, expense, and uncertainty of human labour.
This moving power M. Didot seems to have acquired; and in the little work before us he exhibits a complete specimen of his success. It was not, indeed, to be expected that the machine, however ingenious, could always place the words in intelligible order, or work out any thing like sense or meaning; but as to the mechanical part it has succeeded surprisingly, and, to the eye, the lines of this pamphlet look as like real bona fide verses, as if they had been written Ly the hand of man, and printed by the ordinary process of the press. It occasionally, indeed, happens, (we suppose from the accidental breaking of a pully or a spindle,) that some of the lines want a foot, and that there are little flaws in different parts of the work; but errors of this kind in so new an invention are inevitable. We know that Sir Richard Arkwright's cotton machine, improved as it has been by long experience, will sometimes make a flaw in a piece of goods; we are therefore not to be surprised if M. Didot's verse engine should be, at its first setting off, liable to similar accidents.
But while we do full justice to M. Didot's ingenuity, we cannot but lament the ill-temper and hostile feeling towards England, which has induced him to announce the fortuitous produce of his engine as an English poem, and to affix to it a name, which, if not the name of an Englishman, is at least a union of English names : very probably there may be no individual of the double name of Wedderburne-Webster; still, however, the names are so notoriously British, that all foreigners, and even some of our own countrymen, will, we doubt not, believe that there is really such an author as J. Wedderburne-Webster, Esq. to the no small disparagement of our literary, and even of our national character.
But that which shows at once the depth and source of the malice of the French printer and his associates, is, that they have selected the immortal day of Waterloo as the object of their ex. periment, and that the nonsense which their machine à vapeurs (so they call their steam-engine) has ground, is represented by them as a song of triumph on that great victory. We are ready to admit
, that the French nation can never look back on that day without some emotions of sorrow, and that even the existing government may feel some slight twinges on the score of national vanity; but we think that the Royalist Police would have shown no more than a becoming gratitude to this country if it had prevented a publication which--under the colour of a new mechanical discovery—isevidently intended to throw ridicule on the battle of Waterloo and the British language and nation. What would be thought if we were to collect alĩ the French exercises of a ladies' boarding-school, print them on fine paper with Bulmer's best types, and circulate them in France under the title of Eloges de sa Majesté Louis XVIII, par le Comte de la Grenouillière? Doubtless the French ambassador would not be slow to complain of such an indignity; yet these French exercises would certainly be as much an éloge of his Majesty, as the verses of the pseudo-Wedderburne-Webster are an éloge on Waterloo.
But our readers will be, by this time, curious to see some patterns of this curious workmanship-it is our duty to give them, but we do so, not without regret that the names of Soignies, Hougoumont, Waterloo, and Wellington, should be thus degraded. That we, however, may not be in any degree • participes criminis,' we shall give our extracts verbatim, literatim, and, if we may use the expression, punctatim. The following, we suppose, may pass for the invocation
«Oh! that the Muse, should dare essay,
But might his lowly, feeble lyre,
"Twould cheer his lonely vessel o'er the deep.'--p. 7. Our readers will observe what pleasant confusion the machinehas made here. The Muse is of the masculine gender, and has a lyre, which lyre is a bellows, which bellows is to wake a fire, which fire is to be a light-house, by which light-house his (the Muse's) lyre or bellows (now become a ship) is to be cheer'd o'er the deep! What must the French think of us when they are told that these. are English verses ! Again
• Bear witness, Soignies' darkling bowers,
Hath mark'd the downfal of the rebel train !--p. 10. This whole stanza is a curious piece of verbal Mosaic; but the most wonderful of all is that line in which a wood and a house are jointly apostrophized with a singular pronoun and a plural verb, on the subject of a talkative battlement common to both.
In fact, M. Didot himself appears so pleased with the effect of his machinery in this instance, that he grows quite wanton upon it, and in a strain of no great courtesy or grammar, adds, Whether this is the case, I really do not know, but if any person is inclined to dispute the point, I have no possible objection to their going to Hugoumont to ascertain it.'-p. 75.
But we have a further complaint against our ingenious persecutor. Having apparently collected from the conduct of our countrymen who literally swarm round every penny-show-box in Paris, that John Bull is somewhat muddy-headed, he has taken an insidious advantage of the circumstance to propound a riddle to him, which would have puzzled Sphynx herself.
the vulture shriek'd aloud, And the red traveller sought his shroud.'--p. 9. Now riddle-my-ree, what is this? After a hundred conjectures, we ended with determining that it was one of the foot-guards going on the forlorn hope. No such thing. It is the rising sun !
The peculiar malice of the question lies in this, that whereas the óred traveller' of Ossian (from whom the word is taken) is broad and bright and glowing,' the red traveller of the poem is first black, and then of no colour at all, for he never makes his appearance!
VOL. XV. NO, XXX.
The battle itself could hardly be darker than the following riddles which, we presume, pretend to describe it.
• Impellid with fury to the sbock,
Th' Imperial Eagles left the rock;
the surface of the ground,
Spare not the foes--nor sue for life
“ But hunt victory-even to the knife!'”—p. 12. In this last extract our readers will observe that the two lines, distinguished by italics, have been a little damaged in the weaving. The latter of them, a note informs us, is a touch at Palafox's famous cry at Saragossa, War to the lenife! which meant a struggle so long, so close, and so deadly, as to reduce the combatants to the use of their daggers; but war being only of one syllable, and the space requiring a word of three, the machine put in, victory' --Wedderburne, or Nincompoop, would have done just as well.
Another instance of the glorious cross-readings inseparable from a poem fabricated by a steam-engine, occurs in page 15
« None sued for lise,
Rush'd headlong on their broken sword a human being would have said; and it would have been thought an allusion to the incident so frequent in Roman history, in which the defeated hero rushes on his own sword, but the machine immediately happened to grind up another word, and that other word happened still more unluckily to be one of the most oppo. site meaning which the whole box could furnish
Rush'd headlong on their broken-SHIELD !'--p. 15. How the boys at the French Lycées, who will probably be perfidiously taught to read this as English, will stare at our classical knowledge