Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

aliaque insanabilia corporis contagia

mirifica arte sustulit;
ac bona sua in pauperes collocanda

distribuendaq: erogavit.
Anno MDXXXXI. die xxiv. Septembris,

vitam cum morte mutavit.* Possibly there is little in the history of the real Paracelsus to bear out the noble aspiration of Browning in his Ideal; but there can be no question of the purity of that poet's ideal, nor of the beauty of the language in which it is apostrophized. The spirit of Bombast von Hohenheim must have been pleased by this address :

Men look up to the sun!
For after-ages shall retrack thy beams,
And put aside the crowd of busy ones,
And worship thee alone—the master-mind,
The thinker, the explorer, the creator!
I recognise thee first;
I saw thee rise, I watched thee early and late,
And though no glance revealed thou dost accept
My homage, thus no less I proffer it,
And bid thee enter gloriously thy rest!

* It may be as well here to add the epigram on the engraving from which our portrait is taken. It was supplied by Christopher Manlius of Görlitz, and may be received as a testimony to the fidelity of the painter, just as Ben Jonson's lines on the Droeshout portrait of Shakespeare prove that its fidelity was as great as its art was small; otherwise the epigram, especially the second verse, which we omit, is but a versification of names and dates.

Stemmate nobilium genitus Paracelsus avorum,

Quâ vetus Helvetiâ claret Eremus humo:
Sic oculos, sic ora tulit, cum plurima longum

Di endi per cit iter.

HOWELL THE TRAVELLER.

BOOKS CONSULTED.

Epistola Ho-Eliana; Familiar Letters, Domestic and Foreign, divided

into Four Books, partly Historical, Political, Philosophical, upon Emergent Occasions. By James Howell. 1688.

Epistola Ho-Eliane; Familiar Letters, Domestic and Forren, His

torical, Political, and Phylosophical, upon Emergent Occasions. By James Howel, Esq., one of the Clerkes of His Majesties' Most Honourable Privy Council. 7th edition. 1705.

Retrospective Review. Art. 1. Howell's Familiar Letters. Vol. IV.

Part 2. 1821.

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

A

one.

RCHDEACON PALEY said that the best letter was that which came most directly to the purpose; and his definition is a sound

The polite involutions, curious turns, quaint images, and hyperbolical compliments with which our grandfathers tickled the fancies of our grandmothers and great-aunts, should be, and luckily have been, swept away. Letter-writing to some is a pastime; to many it is a passion. With ladies this passion soon grows into a disease, and when they are under its influence it is astonishing what long letters they will write upon the slightest subject, and how, if encouraged, a perennial spring of correspondence will gush from them. If suffering badly from this mania, they are always “ gushing;” but since the disease would appear to be inevitable, it may be well that they should take it in the best possible form; and, if a doctor be careful of the virus he chooses for vaccination, surely we should be particular in the choice of the “Familiar” letter writer from which our relatives first “ take the venom of a lady's pen.” Basing ourselves upon Paley's dictum, we may be somewhat astonished to find that, in an age of euphemistic periphrasis, James Howell arrived at once at the highest point of excellence. His familiar letters, on subjects the enumeration of even a few of which would occupy too much of our space, are models of what letters should be-humorous or serious, affectionate or severe, as the case may require, but practical, clear, concise, and always direct and to the point. There is something also very manly and delightful in their style ; and the reading, good-humour, and knowledge of life they display are immense. Hence, of upwards of forty different publications by this clever travelled gentleman, his letters alone remain to us: and these are read again and again, each time with a greater zest and pleasure by the true lover of old literature.

Travelling, in Howell's days, was as fashionable, if not as easy, an amusement as it is now. We leave it to the black letter critics to determine the important question whether Shakespeare had ever been to Scotland, or to Paris, or had “ swum in a gondola.” His descriptions of Italian scenery are sufficiently accurate to warrant the supposition that he had visited the latter country. But if he was not actually a traveller, the majority of the more fortunately born and richer gentlemen of his day were, as well as the poor scholars, who, mustering their few gold

« ZurückWeiter »