Page images
PDF
EPUB

terbury, Vigorn. for Worcester, and Exon. for Exeter. Some well-meaning people are occasionally much perplexed by these subtleties. Thus, an eminent bookseller having received a letter announcing the writer's intention to publish the life of Pitt, paid no attention to.it, till mentioning to a friend that he had received proposals to that effect from a person he knew nothing about, one Mr. George Winton, he was not a little astounded to be told that George Winton was no other than George, Bishop of Winchester. When the Princess Charlotte was labouring under an indisposition, the Bishop of Salisbury sent frequent written inquiries to her Scotch physician, signing himself J. Saruni. The doctor, unversed in these niceties, observed to a friend that he had been much pestered with notes from "ane Jean Saroom, that he kenn'd nothing aboot. I tak nae notice o' the fellow," said he.

O Memory, thou fond deceiver !—The following story is abridged from Clarendon. Sir Julius Caesar, Master of the Rolls, having, by the interference of the court, been

Erevented from giving to his own son an appointment he ad designed for him, the Earl of Tullibardine, a near relation of Mr. Caesar, endeavoured to procure for the latter a promise of a reversion of a six-clerks' place in case his father should die before another occasion of serving him should offer. Lord Treasurer Weston, Earl of Portland, was the person to whom he principally applied, but he, being an absent careless man, forgot to do what Lord Tullibardine had desired; namely, to get the King's sign-manual for the appointment. To assist his bad memory, he requested Lord T. to give him a note in writing, which he accordingly did; only putting upon a small piece of paper the two words, " Remember Caesar." Many days passed, but Caesar was never thought of. At length, when he changed his clothes, and his servant as usual had brought to him all the notes and papers found in those he had left off, he discovered the little billet inscribed " Remember Caesar," and was exceedingly confounded, and knew not what to think of it. He sent for his bosom friends; communicated to them his appre

hensions that it could only signify some conspiracy against his life; and that in the case of Caesar himself, the neglect of such notice had terminated, as they all knew, in his assassination. On their advice, therefore, he feigned indisposition, confined himself to the house, had the gates shut, with orders to the porter to open them to nobody whatsoever, and a guard of many servants placed there to resist violence. This continued for some time, till the Earl of Tullibardine having obtained an interview, and asking him with some earnestness whether he had remembered Cassar, at once opened his eyes to the real cause of all his perturbation ana trouble; and, as he could not forbear imparting it to his friends, the whole jest thus came to be discovered.

Puns on Names.—A person, whose name was Gun, complaining to a friend that his attorney in his bill had not let him oft easily; "That is no wonder," he replied, "as he charged you too high."

A Mr. Alexander Gun, belonging to the Customs at Edinburgh, having been dismissed for improper conduct, the entry of the fact in the books stood thus: "A Gun, discharged for making a false report."

The Cavaliers, during the Protectorate, were accustomed in their libations to put a crumb of bread into a glass of wine, and, before they drank it, say, " God send this Crumb-well down."

During the wars of the French Revolution, one Rapinat, who was sent into Switzerland to raise money, pillaged the country so unmercifully, as to compel the government to recall him; upon which the following epigram appeared at Paris :—

QUESTION D'ETYMOLOGIE.

Un bon Suisse que Ton mine,
Voudrait bien que Ton decidat,

Si Rapinat vient de Rapine,
Ou Rapine de Rapinat?

Precedence among small Folk.—The observation of the Spectator (No. 119), that, generally speaking, " there is infinitely more to do about place and precedence in a meeting of justices' wives, than in an assembly of duchesses," is an obvious truism. Duchesses can have no disputes. Their rank is known to every one with whom they are likely to associate, and they are exempt from the confusion and perplexities of a promiscuous drawing-room. "I have known my friend Sir Roger de Coverley's dinner almost cold," adds the Spectator, "before the company could adjust the ceremonials of precedence, and be prevailed upon to sit down to table."

In the " Right of Precedence," attributed to Swift, a very pleasant expedient is proposed to the lovers of precedence. "I would farther observe," says he, " for the use of those who love place without a title to it either by law or heraldry; as some have a strange oiliness of spirit which carries them upwards, and mounts them to the top of all companies (company being often like bottled liquors, where the light and windy parts hurry to the head, and fix in froth),—I would observe, I say, that there is a secret way of taking place without sensible precedence, and consequently, without offence. This is an useful secret, and I will publish it here, from my own practice, for the benefit of my countrymen, and the universal improvement of man and womankind.

"It is this: I generally fix a sort of first meridian in my thoughts before I sit down, and instead of observing privately, as the way is, whom in company I may sit above in point of birth, age, fortune, or station, I consider only the situation of the table by the points in the compass, and the nearer I can get to the East (which is a point of honour for many reasons,—porrecta majestas ad ortum solis), I am so much the higher; and my good fortune is, to sit sometimes, or for the most part, due East, sometimes E. by N. seldom with greater variation; and then I do myself honour, and am blessed with invisible precedency, mystical to others; and the joke is, that by this means I take place (for place is but fancy) of many that sit above me; and while most people in company look upon me as a modest man, I know myself to be a very assuming fellow, and do often look down

L*

with contempt on some at the upper end of the table. By this craft, I at once gratify my humour (which is pride) and preserve my character, and am at meat as wise men would be in the world,—

Extremi primorum, extremis usque priores.

"And to this purpose, my way is to carry a little pocketcompass in my left fob, and from that I take my measures imperceptibly, as from a watch, in the usual way of com

rring time before dinner; or, if I chance to forget that, consider the situation of the parish church, and this is my never-failing regulator."

LIV. A CHARM.

Worse poetry has been written than the following, which is the production of Agnes Sampson, who was burnt for a witch in Scotland in the year 1590. It is entitled, "A prayer and incantation for hailling of seik folkis," and would, no doubt, put a stop to many a nervous fit.

All kindis of illis that ever may be,
In Chrystis name I conjure ye,
I conjure ye, baith mair and less,
By all the vertewes of the Mess;
And rycht sa, by the naillis sa,
That naillit Jesu, and na ma;
And rycht sa, by the samyn blude,
That reikit owre the ruthful rood,
Furth of the flesh and of the bane, J
And in the erth and in the stane, >
1 conjure ye in Goddis name! J

LV. SWEARING OF FRENCH POSTILIONS IN 1608.

Aix our readers who have travelled in France, must retain a lively recollection of the obscene, sonorous, and constant swearing of the postilions there; and, we doubt not, many will remember the subterfuge of the poor lady abbess in Tristram Shandy, who, wanting to make her mules go with "the magical words," thought she could avoid the sin by pronouncing one syllable of them herself, and getting her companion, the lay sister, to pronounce

[graphic]

the other. It should appear, from Master Thomas Coryat, that these public functionaries were much more decent in their swearing in 1608, and yet he complains of them! Surely, Thomas was too squeamish. He says, "The French guides, otherwise called the postilians,

« PreviousContinue »