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The INdicator, a series of papers originally published in weekly numbers, having been long out of
print, and repeated calls having been made for it among the booksellers, the author has here made a selection, comprising the greater portion of the articles, and omitting such only as he unwillingly put forth in the hurry of periodical publication, or as seemed otherwise unsuited for present publication, either by the nature of their disquisitions, or from containing commendatory criticisms now rendered superfluous by the reputation of the works criticised.
The Companion, a subsequent publication of the same sort, has been treated in the like manner.
The author has little further to say, by way of advertisement to these pages, except that both the works were written with the same view of inculcating a love of nature and imagination, and of furnishing a sample of the enjoyment which they afford; and he cannot give a better proof of that enjoyment, as far as he was capable of it, than by stating, that both were written during times of great trouble with him, and both helped him to see much of that fair play between his own anxieties and his natural cheerfulness, of which an indestructible belief in the good and the beautiful has rendered him perhaps not undeserving.
London, Dec. 6, 1833.
There is a bird in the interior of Africa, whose habits would rather seem to belong to the interior of Fairy-land: but they have been well authenticated. It indicates to honey-hunters, where the nests of wild bees are to be
It calls thern with a cheerful cry, which they answer; and on finding itself recognized, flies and hovers
over a hollow tree containing the honey. While they are occupied in collecting it, the bird goes to a little distance, where he observes all that passes; and the hunters, when they have helped, themselves, take care to leave him his portion of the food.—This is the Cuculus INDICATOR of Linnaeus, otherwise called the Moroc, Bee Cuckoo, or
There he, arriving, round about doth flie,
I.—DIFFICULTY OF FINDING A NAME FOR A WORK OF THIS KIND.
NEven did gossips, when assembled to determine the name of a new-born child, whose family was full of conflicting interests, experience a difficulty half so great, as that which an author undergoes in settling the title for a periodical work. In the former case, there is generally some paramount uncle, or prodigious third cousin, who is understood to have the chief claims, and to the golden lustre of whose face the clouds of hesitation and jealousy gradually give way. But these children of the brain have no godfather at hand: and yet their single appellation is bound to comprise as many public interests, as all the Christian names of a French or a German prince. It is to be modest : it is to be expressive : it is to be new : it is to be striking : it is to have something in it equally intelligible to the man of plain understanding, and surprising for the man of imagination —in a word, it is to be impossible.
How far we have succeeded in the attainment of this happy nonentity, we leave others to judge. There is one good thing however which the hunt after a title is sure to realise ; —a great deal of despairing mirth. We were visiting a friend the other night, who can do anything for a book but give it a title ; and after many grave and ineffectual attempts to furnish one for the present, the company, after the fashion of Rabelais, and with a chairshaking merriment which he himself might have joined in, fell to turning a hopeless thing
into a jest. It was like that exquisite picture of a set of laughers in Shakspeare:— One rubbed his elbow, thus; and fleered, and swore, A better speech was never spoke before: Another, with his finger and his thumb, Cried “Via . We will do.'t, come what will come !” The third he capered, and cried “All goes well!” The fourth turned on the toe, and down he fell. With that they all did tumble on the ground, With such a zealous laughter, so profound, That in this spleen ridiculous, appears, To check their laughter, passion's solemn tears. LovE's LABouh's Lost. Some of the names had a meaning in their absurdity, such as the Adviser, or Helps for Composing;-the Cheap Reflector, or Every Man His Own Looking-Glass ;-the Retailer, or Every Man His Own Other Man's Wit;Nonsense, To be continued. Others were laughable by the mere force of contrast, as the Crocodile, or Pleasing Companion;–Chaos, or the Agreeable Miscellany;-the Fugitive Guide;—the Foot Soldier, or Flowers of Wit; —Bigotry, or the Cheerful Instructor;-the Polite Repository of Abuse;—Blood, being a Collection of Light Essays. Others were sheer ludicrousness and extravagance, as the Pleasing Ancestor; the Silent Companion ; the Tart; the Leg of Beef, by a Layman; the Ingenious Hatband; the Boots of Bliss ; the Occasional Diner; the Tooth-ache; Recollections of a Very Unpleasant Nature ; Thoughts on Taking up a Pair of Snuffers; Thoughts on a Barouche-box; Thoughts on a Hill of Considerable Eminence; Meditations on a Pleasing Idea; Materials for Drinking; the Knocker, No. I.;-the Hippopotamus entered at Stab
INTELLIGENT men of no scholarship, on reading Horace, Theocritus, and other poets, through the medium of translation, have often wondered how those writers obtained their glory. And they well might. The translations are no more like the original, than a walking-stick is like a flowering bough. It is the same with the versions of Euripides, of AEschylus, of Sophocles, of Petrarch, of Boileau, &c. &c., and in many respects of Homer. Perhaps we could not give the reader a more brief, yet complete specimen of the way in which bad translations are made, than by selecting a well-known passage from Shakspeare, and turning it into the common-place kind of poetry that flourished so widely among us till of late years. Take the passage, for instance, where the lovers in the Merchant of Venice seat themselves on a bank by moonlight:— How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank! Here will we sit, and let the sounds of music Creep in our ears; soft stillness, and the night, Become the touches of sweet harmony. Now a foreign translator, of the ordinary kind, would dilute and take all taste and freshness out of this draught of poetry, in a style somewhat like the following:— With what a charm, the moon, serene and bright, Lends on the bank its soft reflected light ! Sit we, I pray; and let us sweetly hear The strains melodious with a raptured ear; For soft retreats, and night's impressive hour, To harmony impart divinest power.
How pleasant it is to have fires again We have not time to regret summer, when the cold fogs begin to force us upon the necessity of a new kind of warmth ;-a warmth not so fine as sunshine, but, as manners go, more sociable. The English get together over their fires, as the Italians do in their summer-shade. We do not enjoy our sunshine as we ought; our climate seems to render us almost unaware that the weather is fine, when it really becomes so : but for the same reason, we make as much of our winter, as the anti-social habits that have grown upon us from other causes will allow.
And for a similar reason, the southern European is unprepared for a cold day. The houses
in many parts of Italy are summer-houses,
unprepared for winter; so that when a fit of cold weather comes, the dismayed inhabitant, v.alking and shivering about with a little brazier in his hands, presents an awkward image of insufficiency and perplexity. A few of our fogs, shutting up the sight of everything out of doors, and making the trees and the eaves of the houses drip like rain, would admonish him to get warm in good earnest. If “the web of our life” is always to be “of a mingled yarn,” a good warm hearth-rug is not the worst part of the manufacture. Here we are then again, with our fire before us, and our books on each side. What shall we do Shall we take out a Life of somebody, or a Theocritus, or Petrarch, or Ariosto, or Montaigne, or Marcus Aurelius, or Moliere, or Shakspeare who includes them all Or shall we read an engraving from Poussin or Raphael Or shall we sit with tilted chairs, planting our wrists upon our knees, and toasting the up-turned palms of our hands, while we discourse of manners and of man's heart and hopes, with at least a sincerity, a good intention, and good-nature, that shall warrant what we say with the sincere, the good-intentioned, and the good-natured Ah—take care. You see what that oldlooking saucer is, with a handle to it ! It is a venerable piece of earthenware, which may have been worth, to an Athenian, about twopence; but to an author, is worth a great deal more than ever he could—deny for it. And yet he would deny it too. It will fetch his imagination more than ever it fetched potter or penny-maker. Its little shallow circle overflows for him with the milk and honey of a thousand pleasant associations. This is one of the uses of having mantel-pieces. You may often see on no very rich mantel-piece a representative body of all the elements physical and intellectual—a shell for the sea, a stuffed bird or some feathers for the air, a curious piece of mineral for the earth, a glass of water with some flowers in it for the visible process of creation,--a cast from sculpture for the mind of man ;-and underneath all, is the bright and ever-springing fire, running up through them heavenwards, like hope through materiality. We like to have any little curiosity of the mantel-piece kind within our reach and inspection. For the same reason, we like a small study, where we are almost in contact with our books. We like to feel them about us;–to be in the arms of our mistress Philosophy, rather than see her at a distance. To have a huge apartment for a study is like lying in the great bed at Ware, or being snug on a mile-stone upon Hounslow Heath. It is space and physical activity, not repose and concentration. It is fit only for grandeur and