« AnteriorContinua »
assertion of their priests, who thus pass upon them a great abuse for an article of faith. The city has, moreover, twelve bundred canals, made by the kings and people of former days, which are three fathoms deep and twelve broad, traversing the streets in every direction, over which are bridges built upon arcades, with columns at each end, and benehes for the passengers. Four fairs every day are held in the different quarters, where we saw an immense abundance of silks, brocades, cloth of gold, linen and cotton goods, skins of martens and ermines, musk, aloes, fine porcelain, gold and silver plate, pearls, gold in ingots and dust, and such like artis cles, whereat we were all much astonished. I should want words were I to attempt a description of the quantities of the other things, such as metals of all sorts, coral, cornelian, crystal, qucksilver, ver milion, ivory, cloves, nutmegs, mace, ginger, tamarisks, cinnamon, pepper, cardamons, borax, flower of honey, sandal, sugar, fruits, conserves, venison, fish, flesh, and fowl, as well as fruits and vegetables of every variety. There are one hun." dred and sixty meat markets, not only provided with the customary flesh, but with that of horses, bauffaloes, the rhinoceros, tigers, lions, dogs, mules, asses, chamois, otters, and zebras, every sort being eaten in the country. There are also immense cellars filled with hams, smoked meats, pigs, boars, and birds of every description; all which I only record to show how liberally God has supplied the wants of these poor blind infidels, in order that his name may be glorified for ever."-Chap. 106.
THREE siglitless inmates of the sky,
Whose names were Justice-Fortune-Cupid,
Somewhat monotonous and stupid,
Resolved one morning to unite
Their powers in an alliance holy, And purify the earth, whose plight
They all agreed was melancholy. Quoth Justice-Of the world below
I doubtless have the best idea, Since in the golden age, you know,
I ruled it jointly with Astræa ; While, therefore, we on earth abide,
For fear our forces should be parted, Let me be your perpetual guide :
Agreed, nem. con. and off they started.
Love first, and Fortune next, descends,
Then Justice, though awhile she tarried, When Cupid cries--- This flight, my friends,
Has made my throttle somewhat arid: Beneath each win before our trip,
I popp'd a golden vase of nectar, And I for one should like a sip;
What says our worshipful director ?
The proposition, 'twas decreed,
Redounded to the mover's glory, So down they sate upon the mead,
And plied the flagon con amore ; But not reflecting that the draught
With air of earth was mix'd and muddled, Before the second vase was quaff’d,
They all became completely fuddled.
Now reeling, wrangling, they proceed,
Each loudly backing his opinion, And 'stead of letting Justice lead,
All struggle fiercely for dominion : Whereat her sword in wrath she draws,
And throws it in her scales with fury, Maintaining that the rightful cause
Requires no other judge and jury. Fortune, purloining Cupid's darts,
Tips them with gold for sordid suitors,
Of matrimonial computers ;
Plagues mortals with incessant changes
Then presto! pass !-away he ranges.
Their pranks, their squabbles, day by day
Gave censurers'a bitter handle,
And anxious to arrest the scandal,
But to atone for their miscarriage,
He sent them down Luck, Law, and Marriage.
THE LAST OF THE FOOLS.
“This fellow's wise enough to play the fool,
Twelfth Night. The reader is requested not to be under any apprehensions ; nothing personal is intended either to himself or his friends: there is no fear that stultiloquence shall be hushed, or of the race of fools becoming extinct: Heaven forefend ! för in that case our occupation would be gone indeed, and we periodicalists, who live to shoot folly as it flies, might cease to extract quills from one goose in order to point them against another. The last man of the genus can never be ascertained until the conclusion of the world; it is the last of a species that we are about to speak, of one who still lives, and will close in his person a race and a profession long since thought to have been extinct; of one who, in the pride of his former office, and of his octogenarian survival of all his competitors, has ordered this inscription to be engraved upon his tombstone “HERE LIES THE LAST OF THE COURT FOOLS."
A court is altogether such a factitious and unnatural piece of business, its monotony is productive
of such an awful and overwhelming ennui, that men have been obliged to devise various expedients as a recreation, whereby they might strengthen themselves to undergo a new infliction of the old, stiff, solemn, ceremonious, stately stupidity. These relaxations have assumed different modifications according to the characteristics of the age and country. Having a plebeian penchant for republics, the ancient Greeks had no necessity for courtly amusements, and contented themselves with exalting the glory of their country by advancing the arts and sciences, and imitating the unaccomplished homeliness of Themistocles, who, though he could not play upon a fiddle, knew how to convert a small town into a great state.
When Pericles was disposed to unbend, he invited Socrates, Plato, and other philosophers, to such a symposium as Xenophon has described; and passed his hours of dalliance with Aspasia, the most learned woman of her age,
from whom he took lessons in oratory and literature as well as love. The Roman emperors diversified their satiety of enjoyment in a more courtly manner, by a succession of pleasant and piquant, pastimes, from the laceration of flies to the butchering of gladiators. In the days of chivalry it was a sport of the great to case themselves in armour, hammer at one another's heads with battle axes to try which was the thickest, roll the rider and his horse in the dust, or endeavour to drive their lance through the bars of the visor, into the bull's eye of their friend's sconce, as Sir James Montgomery served the French king; not that they were ever in earnest, but that these exploits were reckoned hugely comical, furiously frolicsome, and so irresistibly entertaining, that whatever happened, the parties were bound to look upon the whole pro
ceeding as raillery and badinage. Over these : practical jokes presided the ladies, (bless their ten
der hearts!) “ whose bright eyes rain influence, and
judge the prize” for every infliction, from a broken leg, a sliced cheek, or a luxated shoulder, to an adversary slain outright. It may be questioned whether our modern bells know half so much of carving, with all the assistance of the plates in Mrs. Rundle's cookery book.
Seated in a circle, with their legs crossed, smoking their hookahs or drinking coffee, the caliphs and grandees of Arabia relieve the tedium of greatness by listening to professional storytellers—a practice to which we owe the Thousand and One Nights, and the delightful tales of the inexhaustible Princess Scheherazade. The grand seignior and his mufti recreate themselves by chewing opium and gazing upon the stimulating symmetry of dancing girls, until they have at the same time intoxicated both the senses and imagination. Upon every state-day levee and drawing-room, in some of the old Scandinavian courts, there was no amusement so much in vogue, and reckoned such established bon ton, as drinking wine out of the sculls of their enemies. Many of the sabie sovereigns of Africa employ the same material in architecture, which, if the averments of travellers may be credited, forms capital pyramids, pillars, and obelisks, in front of which the whole court sometimes indulge in the royal game of leap-frog, not even excepting his woolly majesty himself. According to the authentic statements of Lemuel Gulliver, a somewhat similar practice obtained at the court of Lilliput, where the courtiers who were to be rewarded by any peculiar mark of favour were accustomed to leap over or crawl under a stick, of which the emperor sometimes held one end and the minister the other; and whoever performed the best was rewarded with a thread of blue, red or green silk, which the successful candidates wore about the middle. A process so unmanly, and a reward so contemptible, will hardly gain credence among so