« PreviousContinue »
bably contributed more than anything else to its piquancy and popularity. Curiously enough, the very first result of the appetite for such food awakened in the public mind by the publications of Vossius and Daille, was the appearance, in 1669, of another collection of Scaligerana, under the title of the ' Prima.' This came forth under the auspices of the well-known scholar and critic, Tanneguy le Fevre (or Tanaquillus Faber, as he Latinized his name), to whom the manuscript had been committed for
fiublication by M. de Sigogne, an advocate of the pariament of Poitiers. It consisted of notes of Scaliger's conversations from the year 1575 to 1592, while he resided in the house of MM. Chateigners de la Rochepozai, at Touraine, before he went to Leyden, which had been taken down by a M. Francois Vertunien, a physician who attended the family; and it had been purchased by M. de Sigogne from a person into whose hands Vertunien's papers had fallen. This new collection was
of much smaller extent than that previously published; and was partly in Latin, partly in French, whereas the former was all in Latin. In subsequent editions the two collections have been incorporated, and the remarks in both are arranged under one alphabet.
The next of the Ana appeared in this same year, being the 'Perroniana, or Colloquial Remarks by the Cardinal Du Perron.' These notes had been collected by Christopher Du Puy, the elder brother of the Du Puys already mentioned: their manuscript had been copied by M. Sarran; and a transcript of his copy had been made by Daille, who had also arranged the observations in alphabetical order, and then lent the collection to Vossius, who printed it at the Hague, with the impress of Geneva, just as he had done the Scaligerana.
The same, in very nearly all respects, is the history of the next collection, that entitled the ' Thuana,' being the sayings of the illustrious historian, the President De Thou, which Vossius also published the same year. The Thuana had been noted down by one of the Du Puys—which, is not quite certain—who were nearly related to De Thou.
The same year more correct editions both of the Perroniana and of the Thuana were printed together by Daille at Rouen, though with Cologne on the title-page. It seems to have been considered on all hands that these little mystifications were useful in stimulating the curiosity of readers.
These are the four (or, as subsequently arranged, the three) original Ana, from which all the rest have sprung. The rage for this class of publications in France lasted for nearly a century, and produced in all above a hundred collections bearing the characteristic title. Peignot, in his ' Repertory of Special, Curious, and Instructive Bibliographical Notices' (8vo. Paris, 1810), has given a list of one hundred and nine. Among these, however, there are a good many which have no claim from their contents to be reckoned among the true Ana. Some are mere miscellaneous collections of anecdotes or remarks, neither gathered from the conversation of any distinguished person, nor in any way relating to a particular individual; others are burlesque productions. A few are only collections of extracts from the works of the writers after whom they are named—scissorwork, of the same kind with those publications called Beauties.
Of the Ana, properly so called, the character even of the best specimens is, that the interesting matter in them is mixed up with an unusually large proportion of what is trivial and worthless. They may be considered the lumber-rooms of literature, in which articles of all kinds are found thrown together in confusion, and for the most part broken and useless, but which yet generally contain a good many curious things, and some intrinsically valuable, — the hurried strippings of richly furnished apartments, which a revolution of fashion, or some other accident, has dismissed to the multifarious repository. The variety, at all events, of such a chance-collected museum is some compensation for its dust and disorder, and the trashy character of the bulk of what it is filled with. There is reason to believe that in most of the Ana there are many things which were never really uttered by the persons to whom they are attributed,—the unusedup wit of the editor and his friends, or the superfluities of their common-place books—as in a sale of articles of virtu, advertised as having belonged to a distinguished collector, the auctioneer will often take the opportunity of intermixing a considerable alloy of less genuine wares, and clearing his warerooms of much rubbish that would have little chance of going off by itself. There can be no doubt that the reputation of eminent persons has frequently suffered greatly in this way at the hands of the Ana manufacturers. But, even when honest, few of the makers of these books seem to have had any superior qualifications for their task, or to have set about it in a way to ensure its effective performance. They seem to have been most commonly more than ordinarily stupid people, with less than the average powers, not only of discrimination, but also of memory and comprehension. Of all the associates of the great scholar or wit, the one who was least able either to reflect or to absorb his light appears usually to have charged himself with the office of preserving and transmitting it—as if a lump of earth should set up for a looking-glass. He who found himself most incapable of making a return for the good things he heard, by any good things of his own, that he might not be altogether useless, took up the post of reporter. Unfortunately, for that also he was the least qualified. Of the little he understood, however, which was probably what was least worth understanding, he jotted down at his convenience the still less which he remembered; and that, again, was very possibly the least worth remembering,—for such brains are like sieves, made to let the finer portion of what is put into them soon escape, and only to retain long what is comparatively gross and coarse. And thus in some years an Ana grew up under his hands; a selection, indeed, from the conversations of the person after whom it was named, but a selection rather
jf his poorest and most commonplace remarks than of such as were most profound or refined. In other cases, the volume of Ana was hastily made to order, after the individual whose name it was to bear, and whose reputation was to bear it, had died, or was understood to be dying; and then it was well if it contained anything at all that had really come from him, and was not the mere unadulterated produce of the artist's own invention; a sort of brother tradesman of the undertaker who furnished the coffin and set out the array of the funeral. Nay, sometimes these persons, who thus lived by others' dying, did not wait till their subjects were dead; as people, it is said, have been buried alive, so some have been Ana-ed before the breath was out of them. The once popular writer St. Evremond was treated in this way by the publication at Amsterdam of a volume under the title of the ' St. Evremoniana,' in 1701. St. Evremond, who though not dead was at this time very old, denounced the imposition, when it appeared, in several of the literary journals of the day. There are however, according to Bayle, some very good things in this book, and the author, he thinks, has successfully imitated the style of the writer whom he pretends to be. Bayle compares St. Evremond, who he observes had been repeatedly made the subject of such fabrications, to the man mentioned by the prophet Isaiah, of whom seven women were to take hold, saying, "We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach." The forger of the ' St. Evremoniana' is understood to have been a person of the name of Charles Cotolendi, the author of some other productions which are not thought to do him much credit.
Others of the Ana, however, have been composed by the persons themselves from whom they take their names and to whom they relate, and some of these have even been published in the lifetime of their authors. The collection called the' Colomesiana' was first published by Paul Colomies in 1675, many years before his death, not however under the title by which it is now commonly