Imatges de pÓgina
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ity ; to which a fourth rejoined, that any one might be excused a little alarm who was on the point of being hung up in the belfry : but it was presently discovered that a portion of the silver tissue had intervened between the clapper and the side of the bell ; which impediment being removed, Mademoiselle Zoe instantly uttered a petulant and sharp toll, as if anxious to show she had as good a tongue in her head as any of her sisters. Thrice did each deliver a similar response to as many interrogatories; and if, after this public and solemn pledge made before the proxies of majesty, and in presence of the assembled population of Versailles, they can ever forfeit their words and be wanting to their duty, I can only say they must have more brass in their composition than even the manufacturer himself is probably aware of.

A sermon followed, in which the metallic sisterhood were apostrophized, exhorted, and dehorted; to all which they submitted with becoming resignation, except for a single moment, when Anatole, in the midst of a most pathetic appeal, sent forth a sudden and dissonant clash. As strenuous endeavours are now making to bring miracles into vogue, this occurrence was at first hailed as a supernatural manifestation, but a moment's inquiry ascertained that it was attributable to the gigantic Swiss Beadle, who had accidentally entangled his foot in the satin ribbon, and jerked out of Anatole's iron jaws that alarming yell. As far as the writer's observation extended, he verily believes that the congregation would have been deeply edified by the discourse, could they have only determined whether Madame de Veracques' veil and lappets were vrai dentelle de Malines, ou de Bruxelles ; and he is more inclined to this opinion, because at the conclusion of the ceremony, when the whole assemblage was allowed to mount the platform and walk round the bells, there was one who did not appear to be profoundly

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penetrated with the solemnity of the brocade, and suitably affected by the awfulness of the white satim rosettes.

A LECTURE UPON HEADS AND UNWRITTEN BOOKS.

"A creature of a more exalted kind
Was wanted yet, and then was man design'd,
Conscious of thought.”

DRYDEN.

Which is the most prolific and inexhaustible which has the greater capacity-the material, or the intellectual world ? If any man, fully competent to analyse this question, should give judgment in favour of the former, I would tell him that his decision refutes itself, confirming the mastery of mind by the very act of its exercise even when pronouncing its own inferiority. It is indeed wonderful, stupendous, overpowering, to contemplate the external world, its planetary system, its various elements, and the infinite diversity of their productions, human, animal, vegetable, and mineral : but how much more astonishing that all these wonders should be condensed and epitoinized in the narrow limits of a single skull! Within that little focus of miracles the system of the universe performs its sublime evolutions; all the forms, colours, attributes, and combinations of matter, are classified and arranged as in a microscopic museum ; and yet there is space enough left within its diminutive verge for another and a vaster universe--for the metaphysical world, the interminable subtleties of reason, and the whole boundless range of the ima.. gination. From the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop on the wall, there is an almost innumerable variety of productions in the vegetable kingdom alone, but they require different hemispheres and every variety of soil and climate, for their development ;

whereas they all grew spontaneously together in the single store-house of Solomon's head. He knew them all ; and yet how small a portion did they form of his general knowledge! The admirable Chrichton not only affixed this placard upon the walls of the colleges at Rome—“Nos Jacobus Chrichtonus Scotus, cuicunque rei propositæ ex improviso respondebimus,” but, in the college of Navarre at Paris, publicly offered to argue and contend- upon every thing knowable” in twelve

66 different languages, either in verse or prose, at the discretion of the disputant; and after a contest of a whole day against the literati of a whole city, bore off the prize amid the universal acclamations of the spectators. It is difficult to fix the limit of what may be acquired by the human faculties, for we hardly know the exact boundaries of the faculties themselves. Who shall unriddle the mystery of the American calculating boy-a raw uneducated child, whose intuitive knowledge of arithmetic enabled him, by some mental process inscrutable even to himself, to give an instant solution to questions That would puzzle, the most practised calculators “ with all appliances and means to boot.?” It seems to give us a slight glympse of omniscience when this knowledge flashes upon us, as, when the lightning cleaves the sky, we appear to catch a momentary revelation of the innermost glories of Heaven. Monsters of intellect may have existed in the olden time, and have become extinct, just as the mammoth and the megatherium have disappeared from the animal world, and probably for the same reason in both instances because such gigantic powers were incompatible with the safety or existence of the inferior tribes. Heaven defend us from a revival of the four-footed visitations ! for we have alarming symptoms of a new race of mental Titans. What is the " Great Unknown” but a literary mammoth, whose Titanian powers and commensurate

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voracity have enabled him to swallow up and exterminate a whole generation of inferior novelists and romance writers ? Books seem to come out of his head, as Minerva did out of Jupiter's, all ready equipped for the lists; one succeeds to another with inexhaustable fluency, and those who look to any interruption of the stream need be as patient as the worthy rustic who stood by the river-side waiting till its current should have run itself dry. Verily a head like his is in itself an answer to the question with which I commenced.

And yet to what base uses do we often apply this most exquiste and mysterious appendage ! Some, converting it into a snuff-box, are perpetually thrusting in that nasty compost through the key-. hole of the nose ; some babble it into a chatter-box, wagging their unfatigued tongues like a cherryclapper to warn the cautious from their premises ; and others degrade it into a strong box to hold nothing but title deeds, mortgages, reversions, and calculations for making money. With Sir Epicure it is a cave of Cacus, into whose mouth whole droves of dainties are made to enter, but which have “nulla vestigia retrorsum,” no good things being ever suffered to escape from that dumb sarcophagus. There are gallants, who, knowing the value of what they carry upon their shoulders, shall, for the fair equivalent of a shilling a day, offer their sconces as targets for bayonets and balls, or as butts for sabres ; sometimes this most useful piece of furniture serves

a block for wigs, or a peg whereon to hang a hat; and there are grave and reverend signiors, who, by merely shaking it affirmatively or negatively, with the accompanying monosyllable ay or no, shall not only carry on the affairs of the nation, but make their own prosper more flourishingly than if the aforesaid excrescence were filled with brains and fraught with eloquence.

Meanwhile there are others, neither few in num

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bers nor mean in talent, who are incessantly devoting that multifarious engine to the gratification of the public, by multiplying literary productions of every dimension, from the epic to the ballad, adapted to every capacity from the prince to the peasant. Living far sequestered from the great Babel of London, and its overgorged vomitory the Row, nothing astonishes me so much, when I run my eye down the long newspaper announcement of new publications, as the amazing intellectual activity of England. Winter brings forth its mental crop as regularly, and almost as abundantly, as the earth yields its autumnal harvests. The head must be fed as duly as the stomach, and its voracity is still more insatiable. Booksellers may literally be termed capital cooks, perpetually dishing up new dainties adapted to the public taste.; and if Osymandyas, the Egyptian king, were to live in our days, instead of writing over the door of his library, “ Medicine for the soul,” he might be tempted to inscribe " Victuals for the head." What books, what libraries, what languages, what whole æras of literature have perished since his days, since the period when Job exclaimed—“My desire is that mine adversary had written a book !” and yet what are the works that have been written and perished, compared to those which have been conceived, projected, dreamt of, decided upon, planned, and never written ? Few have published, but how many have imagined books ; how many, in the perpetual fermentation and fehallition of the intellectual faculty, have started ideas which they have resolved to commit to paper and expand, but which have been driven from the memory by new projects, to be left as unrealized as their predecessors! Nothing is to me more interesting than to trace these unembodied outlines, these dim and visionary configurations of uncomposed works, whose " coming events cast their shadows before," sometimes to

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