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lamitie. When Thales had beheld him a while in this passion, be of good comfort, Solon, (saith he) thy sonne liveth ; but now yee see by your owne example what evill things are incident to marriage.”
The following is one of the author's illustrations of the first proposition, that felicity does not consist in pleasure :
“ The Indians have a manner, when they have taken one of their enemies prisoner, whom they meane not presently to eate, not to imprison him, as the use is in these parts of the world, but they bring him with great triumph into the village, where hee dwelleth that hath taken him, and there place him in a house of some man that was lately slaine in the warres, as it were to re-celebrate his funerals, and give unto him his wives and sisters to attend upon him, and to use at his pleasure. They apparel him gorgeously after their manner, and feede him with all the daintie meats that may be had, and give him all the pleasures that can be devised. When hee hath passed certaine moneths in all manner of pleasures, like an epicure, and is made fat with daintie and delicate fare, like a capon, they assemble themselves together at some festivall day, and in great pompe bring him to the place of execution, where they kill him and eate him. This is the end of this poore captive's pleasures, and the beginning of his miseries ; whose case is nothing inferiour to theirs, who, enjoying the pleasures of this life for a small time, wherein they put their félicitie, are rewarded with death and perpetuall torments.”
In the same book, he relates a custom of the Egyptians.
“ The Egyptians had a custome not unmeet to bee used at the carowsing banquets; their manner was, in the middest of their feasts to have brought before them an anatomie of a dead body dried, that the sight and horror thereof putting them in minde to what passe themselves should one day come, might containe them in modesty. But, peradventure, things are fallen so far from their right course, that that device will not so well serve the turne, as if the carowsers of these later daies were perswaded, as Mahomet perswaded his followers when hee forbad them the drinking of wine, that in every grape their dwelt a divell. But when they have taken in their cups, it seemeth that many of them doe fear neither the divell nor any thing else.”
To convince his reader that the sumMUM BONUM is not to be found in riches, he cites, amongst sundry well-known “ examples,” this:
“And this was a strange thing, that happened of late in the yeare of grace, one thousand five hundred ninetie one: there was one Mark Bragadin that professed himselfe to bee an excellent alcumist, but indeed a notable magician. This man came from Venice into Baviere, and there practised to make gold in such abundance, that he would give his friends whole lumps of gold; making no more estimation of gold than of brass or iron: he lived stately like a prince, kept a bountifull house, and had servants of great account, and was saluted with a title of dignitie, and drew many princes into admiration of him ; insomuch, as he was accounted another Paracelsus. And after hee had long exercised his art, made himselfe knowne to all the princes, and was desired of them all, hee came at length into the Duke of Baviere's court, who finding after a while his fraud and illusions, committed him to prison. And when the Duke had commanded him to bee examined, and put to the torture, he desired he might suffer nu such paine, promising that he would confesse of his own accord all the wickedness that ever he had committed, and exhibited accordingly to the Duke, in writing, the whole course of his lewd life, desiring neverthelesse that it might not be published. Hee confessed, that he was worthy to dye, but yet made humble sute that his concubine Signora Caura, and his whole familie, might returne untouched into Italie. Not long after, sentence was given against him. First: that his two dogs, whose help he had used in his magicke matters, should be shot through with muskets, and himselfe should have his head stricken off, For this milde sentence hee gave thanks to the prince, alledging he had deserved a much more severe judgment, and at least was worthy to be burned. The next day a new gallowes was set up, covered with copper, and an halter tyed in the middest, covered likewise with copper, signifying his deceit in making gold. Hard by the gallowes was set up a scaffold aloft, covered with blacke cloth : upon the scaffold was placed a seat, wherein this alcumist sate, arrayed in mourning apparell. And as hee sate the executioner strake off his head."
The following are a few instances of excessive avarice which of course belongs to the same general head : .
“ Yet some have beene so wedded to their riches, that they have used all the meanes they could to take them with them. Atheneus reporteth of one, that at the houre of his death devoured many peeces of gold, and sewed the rest in his coat, commanding that they should be all buried with him. Hermocrates being loth that any man should enjoy his goods after him, made himselfe by his will heir of his owne goods. The Cardinali Sylberperger tooke so great a pleasure in money, that when hee was greviously tormented with the gowt, his onely remedy to ease the paine, was to have a bason full of gold set before him, into which hee would put his lame hands, turning the gold upside-downe. Hermon was so covetous, that dreaming on a time hee had spent a certaine summe of money, for very sorrow he strangled himselfe. And one Phidon was so extremely overcome with that passion of covetousnes, that being fallen into desperation through a losse received, he would not hang himselfe, for spending of three halfe pence to buy him an halter, but sought a way to death better cheape. One Antonio Batistei, an Italian, having lost in a ship that was drowned, five hundred crowns, determined like a desperate man to hang himself; and as he was about to fasten the rope to a beame for that purpose, he found by chance there hidden, a thousand crownes. And being very glad of this good fortune, hee exchanged the halter for the crownes, and went away. Not long after he was gone, the owner came thither to see his gold; but when he perceived the crownes to be gone, hee fell into such extreme griefe, that hee presently hanged himself with the halter that he found in their place.”
We have extracted the following story from the third book ; it is prettily told, and the beginning is fine.
“Trítemius the abbot, an excellent learned man, and worthy of fame (if by adding necromancy to the rest of his learning, he had not made himselfe infamous) by his own confession, burned with an excessive desire of vainglòrie. For (saith he) as I went up and downe musing and devising with my selfe how I might finde something, that never any man knew before, and that all men might wonder at, and layd my selfe down to sleepe in an evening, with the same cogitations, there came one to me in the night that I knew not, and excited me to persever in my intended purpose, promising me his helpe, which he performed. What kind of learning hee taught him (he sayd) was not meete for the common sort, but to be knowne onely of princes; whereof hee sheweth some examples, denying the same to be done by the divel's helpe, but by naturall meanes, to which hee will hardly perswade any man of judgment. And though he would cover some of his strange feates, under the pretext of nature, yet his familiaritie with the divell, in many things was apparent. The Emperor Maximilian the first, married with Marie the daughter of Charles Duke of Burgundy, whose death (loving her dearly) he took greviously. This abbot perceiving his great love towards her, told him, that he would shew him his wife againe. The Emperor desirous to see her, went with the abbot, and one more into a chamber. The abbot forbad them for their lives to speake one word whilest the spirit was there. Marie the Emperour's wife commeth in, and walketh up and downe by them very soberly, so much resembling her when shee was alive in all points, that there was no difference to be found. The Emperour marvelling to see so lively a resemblance, called to mind that his wife had a little blacke spot (a mole as some call it) behind in her necke, which he determined to observe the next time shee passed by him, and beholding her very earnestly, hee found the mole in the very same place of her necke. Maximilian, being much troubled in minde' with this strange sight, winked upon the abbot, that hee should avoyd the spirit. Which being done, he commanded him to shew him no more of these pastimes, protesting that hee was hardly able to forbeare speaking: which if hee had done, the spirit had killed them all. The divell was so ready at the abbot's commandment, that as he travelled on a time in the company of a man of account, who reported this story, they came into a house, where was neither good meate nor drink, the abbot knocked at the window, and sayd, adfer, fetch. Not long after, there was brought in at the window, a sodden pickerell in a dish, and a bottle of wine. The abbott fell to his meate, but his companion's stomacke would not serve him to eate of such a caterer's provisions.”
Our author gives us a fabulous story from Ælian, well narrated, and with great simplicity.
.." Ælian writeth of a singular love of a dolphin towards a boy ; this boy being very faire, used with his companions to play by the sea side, and to wash themselves in the water, and practise to swim. A dolphin fell into great liking with this boy above the rest, and used very familiarly to swim by him side by side: the boy, though at the first he feared the dolphin, grew by custome so familiar with him that they would contend together in swimming each by other; and sometimes the boy would get upon his backe, and ride upon the fish as though hee had beene a horse : insomuch that the dolphin would carry him a great way into the sea, and bring him to land againe in the sight of all the people of the citie adjoyning, wherein they took great pleasure: it chanced at last that the boy lying with his belly close to the dolphin's backe, the sharpe pricke (which those fishes have) rising out of the middest of his back ran into the boye's belly, and killed him. The dolphin, perceiving by the weight of the boy, and by the blood which stained the water, that he was dead, swam speedily with all his force to land, and there laid down the dead boy, and for sorrow died présently by him. These examples may make many men seem more brute than beasts, that perform things appertaining to vertue more effectually by the instinct of nature onely, than they do by nature and reason joyned together.”
1 Barckley, in speaking of the rare modesty of old times, has the following passage, which is a very favourable specimen of his style, and is, we think, happily expressed.
« Let the brave men and jolly fellowes of these dayes, that glister in gold and silver, and thinke themselves graced by their tragicall habitts and gestures, as the onely paragons of the world, and them that are wondered at and accounted happy by their great traines and troopes of followers, and them that set their felicitie in dainty and delicate meates, and spend whole dayes and nights in banquetting and quaffing ; let these men (I say) leave to flatter themselves, and with an upright judgment indifferently examine themselves by these men, and compare Cato's vertues and the rest with their vanities; these men's frugalitie and modestie with their excess and luxuriousnesse; these men's temperance with their licentiousnesse ; the simplicitie of habits, and singlenesse of their life that governed kingdomes, and triumphed over nations, with the pompe and pride of this age, and with their lascivious manners and effeminate attyres, that passe their time in courting and carowsing. These things duly considered, our gallants must needes let fall their peacock's tayles, and wish that some of Argus? eyes were restored into their heads, whereby they might bee more. provident and better able to discerne betweene the others vertues and their vanities, that diverteth them from felicitie; who then would exclaim upon the iniquity of this time, that will yeeld them no examples to follow. And those men that be so carefull to beautifie their bodies with brave attires, leaving their minds soyled with foul vices; and they that aspire to honourable places without vertue, seeme to mee to bee like them that wash their face with faire water, and wipe it with a dish-clout.”
We must now bid farewell to our story-telling knight He, who wishes to take a brief view of human existence, may, in Sir Richard Barckley, behold it under every variety of shape and accident, in its pride and glory, its weakness and credulity, its misery and decay. We have only to add, that the conclusion the author comes to is, that“ to worship and glorifie God in this life, that we may be joined to him in the world to come, is our beatitude or summum bonum.”
ART. VIII. Satyrical Characters and handsome Descriptions, in
Letters, written to several Persons of Quality, by Monsieur De Cyrano Bergerac. Translated from the French, by a Person of Honor. London, 1658.
The extraordinary productions of the intellectual as well as of the material world, engage our attention by their very eccentricity—it is as much the business of the philosopher to observe the course of the comet, or the wandering star, as of the planet-each, in its degree, contributes to the extension of science. The speculations of the philosopher may be more grave and weighty, but the singular fabrications of the imaginative faculty are of equal use in ascertaining the essential nature of mind. Cyrano Bergerac is a marvellously strange writerhis character, too, was out of the common way. His chief passion appears to haye been duelling; and, from the numerous affairs of honor in which he was concerned in the course of a very short life, and the bravery which he displayed on those occasions, he acquired the cognomen of The Intrepid. His friend and editor Le Bret, says he was engaged in no less than one hundred duels for his friends, and not one on his own account. Others however say, that, happening to have a nose somewhat awry, whoever was so unfortunate or so rash as to laugh at it, was sure to be called upon to answer its intrepid owner in the field. But however this may be, it is indisputable that Cyrano was a distinguished monomachist and a most eccentric writer. His productions abound with antithetical thoughts and corruscations of wit, pointed, angular, and sparkling, as the fragments of a broken pillar of ice when the sun shines upon them. Considering plagiarism as bad as high-way robbery, and infinitely worse than manslaughter, it is probable he made it a matter of conscience not to appropriate even his share of the ideas and sentiments common to all men, but formed a resolution of writing like nobody who had preceded him. The present collection was the offspring of his youthful years—the out-pourings of his virgin fancies—the May of his intellect,
VOL. 1. PART 11.