Page images
PDF
EPUB

his Majesty's answers and concessions, as reported to them, were satisfactory or unsatisfactory;" and after another long discussion, which still left the main business untouched, it was resolved in the negative, that they should not then discuss the question, but begin the debate thereon at nine o'clock the following morning. They voted that the City of London should forthwith

fiay £40,000 of arrears due to the army; and that a etter should be written to the general, ordering him on no account to march his troops nearer London; and then the House adjourned at ten o'clock at night, having sat about thirteen hours.

On the 2nd of December, the debate commenced at nine, and was carried on with great heat far into the night, without coming to a division. The next day being Sunday, the House adjourned till the 4th. But the Independents had already well nigh carried their point, for, during the debate on Saturday, Fairfax had quietly marched into London with several regiments of horse and foot, which he quartered in Whitehall, St. James's, the Mews, York House, and in the suburbs of the City; and King, having been removed from the Isle of Wight, where he was in the power of the Preshyterians, had been safely lodged in Hurst Castle, Hampshire, by the Independents, on the 1st of December; an important fact, which was not disclosed to the whole House until Monday the 4th.

On Monday the Commons met at their usual hour, and renewed their debate on the Isle of Wight treaty, the question being now complicated by the seizure of the King's person. The debate lasted all that day and night, and it was not until five o'clock on Tuesday morning that the House divided, and came to the decision, by a considerable Presbyterian majority, "That his Majesty's concessions to the propositions of the Parliament were sufficient grounds for settling the peace of the kingdom." —Jiushworth, vol. viii.

On this occasion the House sate for twenty hours. Sir Harry Vane was one of the principal speakers against the treaty; and Hollis, and Onslow, and Fiennes, (who had lately changed sides,) spoke long and ably in favou' of it.

In what manner Cromwell and the army disposed of the Presbyterian majority, with all that followed, is well known to the readers of history.

XLI. THE DEATH OF CKEDIT.

"at the south side of the higher court of mine inn, which is hard by the hall (for there are two or three courts in that inne), there is written this pretty French pocsie : ' On ne loge ceans k credit; car il est mart, les mauvais payeurs Font tue.' The English is this: Here is no lodging upon credit; for credit is dead, ill payers have killed him."— Coryafs Crudities.

A common inscription in front of the Neapolitan wine and maccaroni houses is, " Domain si fa credenza, ma oggi no,"—or, To-morrow we give credit, but not to* day.

XLII. BOTANICAL SATIRE.

Some of the systematic names of plants are very prettj little lampoons. Thus Sauvages having given the nam* Buffbnia, in honour of Butfon, Linnaeus added the epithet tenuifolia which suits the slender leaves o! the plant, and the slender pretensions of Buffon to the character of a botanist.

Another plant he named Browallia, after Browal, a scholar of his; and as Browal was of humble fortune, he called one of its species Browallia depressa; but when Browal rose in the world, and forgot his old friends, Linnaeus gave another species the name of Browallia eluta.

Thus too, the Petiveria alliacea, while it commemorates the botanical zeal of Petiver, who a century ago was apothecary to the Charter-house, at the same time points out by its acridity the defect of his temper.

Sometimes again the name of the plant, though equally epigrammatic, is kinder than in the instances just mentioned. Thus Linnaeus gave the name of Bauhinia to a Elant which has its leaves in pairs in honour of two brotherotanists, John and Gaspard Bauhins; and bestowed the name on Banisteria or a climbing-plant, in memory of M. Banister, who lost his life by falling from a rock while herborising.

In the name of Salix Babylonica, there is an elegant allusion to a well-known passage in the Psalms.

XLIII. LATIN DISTICHS.

Many old writers have passed their lives in making combinations of words, which did more honour to their patience than to their wit. The combinations were generally formed of Latin words, and put into a barbarous distich. One of these solemn and indefatigable triflers calculated that the following verses might be changed in their order, and recombined, in thirty-nine million nine hundred and sixteen thousand eight hundred different ways; and that to complete the writing out of this series of combinations would occupy a man ninety-one years and forty-nine days, if he wrote at the rate of twelve hundred verses daily.

This is the wonderful distich:

Lex, grex, rex, spes, res, jus, thus, sal, sol bona lux, laus!

Mars, mors, sors, fraus, fmx, Styx, nox, crux, pus, mala vis, lis!

Which barbarism in poetry may be thus translated :—

"Law, flocks, kings, hopes, riches, right, incense, salt, sun good torch, praise to you!

"Mars, death, destiny, fraud, impurity, Styx, night, the cross, bad humours, and evil power, may you be condemned.

The monks were great performers in this line; and the subjoined verse, in praise of the Virgin Mary, and which is calculated to admit of twelve hundred changes, without suffering in its sense, grammar, or quantity, probably proceeded from the dreamy solitude of a cell:— Tot tibi sunt dotes, virgo, quot sidera cadi:

Or, " Virgin, thy virtues are as numerous as the stars of the heavens."

XLIV. HOW TALL WAS ADAM?

This important question has been debated with as much earnestness as if the salvation of the world depended upon it, by many very learned men of different ages and countries, who, however they may have differed in their computation, all agreed in one thing,that the stature of our first father was prodigious.

In the foremost rank of these speculators we must place the Jewish Rabbins and the mystical writers of the Talmud : some of the latter assert that when Adam was first created, his head lay at one end of the world, while his toes touched the other end ; but that his figure was much shortened after his transgression, at the request of the angels, who were afraid of such a giant. These Talmudists, however, left him the height of nine hundred cubits ;* and others pretend that on being expelled from Paradise, he walked straight through the ocean, which, so enormous was the length of his limbs even after they had been shortened by sin, he found everywhere fordable. Other Rabbins reject as fabulous the account of Adam's stature equalling the length of the world; they fix it at one thousand cubits at his creation, and say that God deprived him of exactly one hundred cubits when he had eaten of the forbidden fruit. These extravagant notions prevailed among the Turks, Arabs, and many

* The Hebrews had several cubits, the most common of which was equal to about half an English yard.

people who certainly never read the old Jewish writers, but who all agree in attributing to Adam a most superhuman size. The stature of Eve, his wife, was of course proportionate; and in the neighbourhood of Mecca they show a hill which served as Eve's pillow, and afar off, in the plain, the spots where her legs rested, the distance from one of her knees to the other being computed at two musket-shots.

We should hardly have expected to see these dreams revived in France in the eighteenth century, and among a society of learned men; yet, the fact is, that in the year 1718, Henrion presented to the Academy of Belles Lettres a chronological scale of the human stature, wherein he soberly insisted that Adam was exactly one hundred and twenty-three feet nine inches high, and Eve, one hundred and eighteen feet, nine inches, and threequarters ; being precisely four feet, eleven inches, and a quarter shorter than her husband.

According to Henrion's scale, the size of man rapidly diminished from his first fall down to his redemption; and, but for the advent of our Saviour, the human form divine would, in the same process of diminution, have been reduced, long ere our time, to that of a miserable homunculus, not so high as my Uncle Toby's knee. The learned author says that Noah was twenty feet shorter than Adam; that Abraham was only twenty-seven or twenty-eight feet high ; but that as for Moses, (poor puny creature !) he measured no more than thirteen feet from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet. Henrion, like a true theorist, wedded heart and brain to his system, is by no means discouraged or put out when he gets among the facts of tolerably well authenticated history. In contempt of all authority, he says Alexander the Great, who was remarked among his contemporaries as being rather a small man, was six feet high, but that Julius Cassar only measured five feet.

Under Augustus our Saviour was born, and then the stature of mankind ceased to dwindle, and began even to shoot up a little: but there Henrion's Echelle Chronobffique stops, he having proved to his entire satisfaction

« PreviousContinue »