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more than ordinary satisfaction to see such men as Sir John Pakington come forth to urge a similar system for England.
In closing our paper we would have our readers to bear in mind, that the grounds on which we urge the opening of Mechanics’ Institutes are exactly those on which our Viceroy, the Earl of Carlisle, urged their encouragement and support, namely—“to raise the toiling masses of our countrymen above the range of sordid cares and low desires to enliven the weary toil and drudgery of life with the countless graces of literature, and the sparkling play of fancy,--to clothe the lessons of duty and of prudence in the most instructive as well as the most inviting forms—to throw open to eyes, dull and bleared with the irksome monotony of their daily task-work, the rich resources and bountiful prodigalities of nature,—to dignify the present with the lessons of the past and the visions of the future-to make the artizans of our crowded workshops, and the inhabitants of our most sequestered villages, alive to all that is going on in the big universe around them, and amidst all the startling and repelling distinctions of our country, to place all upon the equal domain of intellect and of genius."
ART. IV.-ODD BOOKS. 1. Caialogue of the Valuable, Select, and Distinguished Lib
rary of the late John Smith Furlong, Esq., Q.C., and Bencher of the Honorable Society of Kings' Inns, Which will be sold by Auction, by Charles Sharpe, at his Literary Sale Room, 31, Anglesea Street, on Tuesday, 26th May, 1846, and I'en following Days, Commencing at 1 o'clock Each Day. Dublin : Printed by Webb and Chapman.
1946. 2. Catalogue of The Valuable Library of the late Frederick
William Conway, Esq., Comprising Rare and Early English and Foreign Theology; Ecclesiastical History and Antiquities ; Illuminated and other Manuscripts of the XIII, XIV, and XV Centuries ; With many Very Fine Specimens of Early Printing ; Standard Literalure in the English, French, Italian, and Spanish Languages; a Noble Collection of the Greek and Latin Classics; Works relating to Ireland and America ; the Drama ; Bibliography; Illustrated Works, Sc., Which will be sold by Auction, by H. Lewis, in the Literary Sale Rooms, 31, Anglesea Street, on Tuesday, May 30th, 1854, and
Twenty-Four following Days. Dublin, 1854. There is certainly more of pain than pleasure in the contemplation of the eccentricities of genius. We do not refer, of course, to that abuse of natural gifts, and their application to the cause of infidelity or indecency, for which some writers are infamous; of that obliquity of moral vision, which produced the Essays of a Bolingbroke, or of a Hume, the Pucelle of a Voltaire, and the Contes et Nouvelles of a La Fontaine, but of an idiosyncrasy which leads to the expenditure of superior powers ou subjects of a trifling, absurd, or merely curious character.
We cannot look upon these memorials of misdirected industry and talent without a painful calculation of what the efforts they cost, if properly applied, could have done for litera. ture and humanity. As if, too, the labor and expenditure of mind bestowed on such works, exhausted, in the single effort, the entire resources of the writers, these authors, though in
their follies and absurdities displaying great powers and superior acquirements, have, in nearly every instance, remained content with such reputation as they gained by their bizarre productions; and have sat down in easy idleness for the rest of their existences. Whether this inactivity is to be ascribed to exhaustion of brain, or to satisfied ambition, or whether indeed a life-time was not more than sufficient for the invention and completion of such "curiosities of literature," whatever be the cause, the result is much to be deplored.
The eccentricities of which we are about to write have assumed various forins of development. In some instances the singularity lies in the subject, in others in the manner in which the subject is treated, and in others again in a laborious alliteration, or in a peculiar arrangement of type upon the page into various shapes, as glasses, crosses, and soforth.
Shape, indeed, appears generally to have been an ingenious device to attract the popular eye, and to supply the place of merit and substance in the matter, with singularity in the form. It appears to have been practised at a very early period in literary annals ; Simmias of Rhodes, conjectured by Vossius to have lived in the reign of Ptolemy Lagus, wrote three pieces which are called the Wings, the Egg, and the Axe, the verses of each being so arranged as to form these respective figures. It is probable that he was also the author of Syrinx, or Pipe of Pan, which is generally ascribed to Theocritus, and printed in the editions of his works. The verses of which this poem are composed are so arranged as to form the shape of a shepherd's pipe. We have also the Altar, and Organ, Latin poems of Publius Optatianus Porphyrius, and in more modern times we have the Urania of Balthazar Boniface, which contains 26 printed and 22 engraved pages, and figure verses resembling a Tower, (turris) a Shield, (clypeus) a Pillar, (columna) an Hour glass, (clepsydra) and others. In the poems of Charles Francis Panard, called, by Marmontel, the La Fontaine of Vaudeville, are to be found several of these puerilities. The Glass, and the Bottle, and the Lozenges, each resembling one of those articles, are amongst the number.
Still more laborious was the composition of those poems, if they deserve the name, in which the initial of each word
• See Spectator (Chalmers' Edition, London: 1822) vol I. p. 284.
† For the glass and bottle, see Irigu QUARTERLY REVIEW, No. XI. Vol. III. p. 630. Art. “ Fashion in Poetry and The Poets of Fashion."
with the same letter was scrupulously observed. The Pugna Porcorum of Plaisant, or as he is generally called by his latinized name Placentius, is probably the best known of these : it is intended as a satire on the clergy, Plaisant being himself a Dominican monk, and its entire merit consists in every word commencing with a P. Of a similar character is the
Canum cum cattis
certamen Carmine compositum
Auctor est Henricus Harderus-
Cattorum canimus certamina clara canumque
Cumprimis causas certamina cuncta creantur. The letter C is a favorite letter for this purpose, as it affords greater facilities, at least in the Latin language. We find accordingly a monk, named Hugbald, addressing a poem in praise of baldness to Charles the Bald-commencing thus:
Carmina clarisonae calvis cantate camoenae
Contra cirrosi crines confundere colli. Martinus Hamconius, a somewhat celebrated writer against the Calvinists, endeavoured to point his arguments with this device, and produced his “Certamen catholicorum cum calvinistis continuo caractere C. conscriptum per Martinum Hamconium Lovanii 1612." In addition there is the “ Christus Crucifixus" of Pierius, and the “De venatione carmen heroicum” of Mameranus.
Truly has Montaigne said “ Notre esprit est un outil vagabond, dangereux, et téméraire, il est mal aise d'y joindre l'ordre et la mesure. C'est un outrageux glaive a son possesseur meme que l'esprit à qui ne sait s'en armer ardonnmert et discrètement.”
In the wild and irregular excursions of some fancies, no personage or subject however sacred is respected; no speculation however impious or unprofitable neglected; no enquiry however useless or indecent unpursued. The mysteries of religion ; the iniraculous dispensations of Providence; the secrets and wonders
of nature, and the formation and existence of man himself, become in turns, instead of subjects of grave and humble enquiry, the sports of eccentric genius or bold impiety.*
It is difficult to glance at, without a shudder, the wild ravings of a Bourignon, or the deliberate licentiousness of a Beverland or Aretino; but we can gather consolation from the knowledge that these, and such like productions, are daily sinking deeper into that total oblivion whose merciful waters will eventually close over them for ever. The enquires with which men of great knowledge have frequently occupied their thoughts will, on the other hand, frequently provoke a smile. The kind of fruit which tempted our first parents; the burial place of Adam ; his height; the extent of his knowledge, to these
; and other subjects of equal inutility, men of real learning and ability have devoted great time and labor.
A shoemaker of Amiens published, in 1615, a tract in which, tracing the history of boots, he asserted that Adam was the first to make them from the skins of beasts, and that he learned the art from God himself.
A Member of the Academy, in a laborious dissertation on the weights and measures of the ancients, favors us with the following chronological Scale of the various heights of men since the creation.-Adam 123 feet 9 inches, Eve 118 feet 9 inches, Noah 103, Abraham 27, Moses 13, Hercules 10, Alexander 10, Julius Cæsar 5. He sagely adds, that if Providence had not been pleased to suspend this progressive decrease, men would now be no bigger than the smallest insect.
In the seventeeth century, the chevalier Causans undertook to explain, by means of the quadrature of the circle, the mystery of original sin and of the Trinity. He announced that he had deposited with a Notary 300,000 francs, to be paid over to any person who should succeed in refuting his reasoning. Among his adversaries, who were pretty numerous, was a young woman who took the matter very seriously, and who, failing to convince the chevalier that his reasoning was false, summoned him before the châtelet. The court very sensibly declined to decide the controversy, but considered that the fortune of an honest man should not be dissipated for a whim; the suit was consequently dismissed.
* In the Retrospective Review for June, 1854, will be found printed, and extending to seven pages, a speculation upon the occupation of God before the Creation.