Page images
PDF
EPUB

thy fondness and regret for the poor miserable orphan thou hast left behind thee-mayst thou oh Bice, meet a better fate.' Thus ended these melancholy words, with the sad solemnity; the execution was performed at one blow: the priestly butcher retired to some invisible place, like a Druid—I beg pardon, I mean a Celtic, to his oak. However he repented, took care of the orphan, bred him up and put him out in the world after having properly bound him; for the poor thing had lost his father and mother, and had not any one relation left in the world, except one cousin-german, whose name was Pooghen, of whom you will hear something by and bye.

“The foundation of these painful lucubrations, which are humbly submitted to the reader's judgment, may be found in a book full of uncommon erudition, ycleped Itinerarium Curiosum at the 76th and 108th pages, composed at night under the influence of painful dreams by Master William Stevckele. This book has a great many divertizing things in it; there are maps and pictures and tail-pieces, but upon turning it very attentively over, I could not find in the whole book one single head-piece.

"My regard and veneration for this incomparable Doctor oblige me to wait upon him a little farther, to shew you how artfully he tries to extricate himself out of this unsurmountable puzzle. In another learned book written by him, we are informed that one William Baxter, a profound antiquary, a haberdasher of hard words, well skilled in his native language, Welsh, and possessed with a national itch for verbal criticism, was at an uncommon loss to account for this word Punctuo, and confessed his ignorance on his death-bed. This distress threw him into a sedentary life, and a steady train of meditation. Under this situation, he received a visit from his old friend Dr. Stukeley, who stalking in, very dirty, just after his return from Stonehenge, enquired into the occasion of his melancholy and dejection of spirits; and talked with him as an antiquary and a friend, and something like a physician. As soon as the Doctor found the cause of his disease, and that the seat of it was in his gizzard, he cried aloud Poogh! the word comes from pooghen, which in German signifies an arduous work, as much as to say—the castle, which is said to have been the strongest in Europe. Baxter did not acquiesce in this peremptory decision, but replied, that William of Malmesbury and Matthew Paris give this character to Roger's castle only, and never hinted the least at any other castle more ancient, upon the same spot of ground. Baxter kept his temper for the present, for his spirits were not high enough to rise immediately into a passion.—These two had been old friends and intimate acquaintances; formed nearly out of the same materials, their minds were much alike, so that they valued each other, as Virtuosos should do, for the antique cast of their manners, and the venerable rust that stuck close about them. They imparted to each other, the important discoveries that they had made, long before they went to the press. Their friendship was closely connected by a chain of hard words. They perpetually disputed, but never convinced; their disagreements served for a constant fund of conversation, and kept them as steady in their affections, as a court balance exactly poized by different parties. Thus they lived for years, till this fatal catastrophe happened, which was the unfortunate occasion of the death of poor Baxter, but evidently without any malice prepense. The Doctor made no other answer to Baxter's remonstrances, but cried aloud thrice contemptuously, Pooghen! A warm dispute ensued, and Baxter was treated with such unusual freedoms, and such an inveterate asperity for his ignorance in the German tongue, and want of faith in an infallible Doctor, that all his Welsh blood flew instantly up into his face. He puffed powerful protestations, and poured plenty of proverbial parallogisms with pestiferous perfumes, into poor Pill's physiognomy. The Doctor started, retreated and spewed ...

“When Baxter was dead, his friend reigned alone and commanded words. But words have natural rights as well as men; they do not care to be turned out of possession without the previous forms, and some reasons offered for an ejectment. It is but just that they should have their titles examined, and evidence heard, before judgment is given. They have often had good success in courts of justice, and have recovered large costs from their plaintiffs' misnomers. The Doctor, it must be confessed, in another place acknowledges himself in some distress about this cumbersome word Punctuobice, but like an old staunch hound, will not give it up. • Anonymous Ravennas,' says he, 'may possibly call it Punctuobice, but we have no certainty that his copy remains uncorrupt, or that he transcribed it right, nor what alterations the Romans made in the original word Devizes, nor what was made in the later or barbarous times. However there seems enough therein, as well as in the present name of the town, to countenance our conjecture! You see at last he is not clear that the word ever was in Ravennas; and if it was, it might possibly have been altered by the Saxons, Goths, Vandals, or Franks; yet there is enough left to justify his conjecture; it is still therefore "vies” from vice, from bice, from Punctuobice. Did you ever see such a Welsh or rather Irish pedigree—does it not put you in mind of that of King Pepin ?

“The Doctor must be acknowledged to have been more fortunate in the following etymology, and very happy in the application of it. The Devizes is a town in the middle of Wansdyke, and very probably erected, among others, to secure the ditch or fortification. It seems to have been the capital fort or frontier town, and to have had its name from the King, as a trophy or monument of his power, built by him in person. A little below he adds .They tell us legendary tales about its being built by an old British King—Divisus was probably the name of this Belgic monarch, or Duiguis. As Gluiguis King of Demetia in Wales is wrote Glivisus by Toland. And the termination may have been framed into Latin from the Celtic word Tæog i.e. dux. Whence perhaps the Etruscan ‘Tages' so much boasted of in their antiquities ; likewise the modern · Doge' of Venice. So that Divitiacus may well be Divisus dux.' Believe me sir, a most perspicuous and incontestible inference ....."

“As there are some things mentioned above in a catachrestic style, which I do not thoroughly apprehend, I took the liberty once of asking the Doctor the following questions. Is the town in the middle of the length of Wansdyke?— Yes, surely, it is but four miles west from it. Perhaps Doctor you mean that it stands opposite to the middle of the length of Wansdyke?— Yes, most assuredly, as does Newbury, and Kingston, and Rochester, &c.—Is it certain that this was a frontier town to the Dyke ?—As certain as that the Romans never built a station nearer to the place to be defended, than four miles.—Was it built as a trophy to the King's power?As sure as Dido built Troy; and William the Conqueror, King's College Chapel —Was it built by the King in person ?Without all question, and by the very same King that erected Stonehenge with his own hands, for the Celtic Kings were hewers of wood and drawers of water, and bricklayers, and stone-cutters and free-masons. — Did the Celtæ ever build their towns so far from rivers ?-Often; witness their metropolis at Stonehenge, and their large town upon Marlborough Down, called now the Grey Wethers; you ought to know that the characteristic of a Celt was to be patiens solis atque sitis."

“These answers quite silenced me, so that I have scarce more than one word left to say, that I am, Sir.”—&c. &c.

“In my last I was struck dumb. This taciturnity was attended with an amusing reverie, in which a method darted into my mind of propagating the species of this set of imcomparable writers. It is enclosed in the following short receipt,

[ocr errors]

which I am sure is as infallible for making a complete modern antiquary, as Mrs. Stephen's dissolvent for the stone, or Dr. James's powder for a fever. I send it in English, because your wife may put it into her family receipt-book, for the benefit of your son who is just going to the University. It is in the taste of the last Dispensary, the like of which, according to the general opinion never was, nor ever will be seen.

Conserve of hoary legendary tales . . . . 2 Ounces. Probably's preserved . . . . . . . . 6 Drachms. Flowers of Monkhood ....... } Ounce. Seems to be, may be, sprinkled over the whole of ea. 2 drms. Roots of Hebraic, Celtic, Saxon, all finely

powdered but not searched . . . . . of ea. 1 drm. Species of Reasons . . . . . . . . . 1 Scruple.

Syrup of sweet credulity, as much as will make it into an Electuary. Take the quantity of an owl's egg every morning fasting, and at nine at night, drinking after each dose, a bottle of Cerevisia Celtica, i.e. Barley-Wine. The morning dose will create an easy digestion, and the night one, pleasing and romantic dreams—There must be added to it a careful diet of roots, and a constant course of riding through all winds, weathers and roads, in the way, or out of the way. Mr. Wise will furnish you with a horse, &c." I acknowledge an owl's egg is an unusual magnitude for a medicinal dose, but it was thought here not too large, because all students who are formed by nature for antiquities, are furnished with large swallows. I would have them like the family of the Stukeleys. You must be informed that there were two Williams, one was a physician at Grantham, the other a divine at Stamford and London. They both descended from the ancient house of Stevekele, both their christian and surnames were the same, and though they were both as like as Virgil's twins ;

... .. .. .. .. proles Indiscreta suis gratusque parentibus error;'

« PreviousContinue »