Page images

very soon repents of his bargain, and would give the devil his substance to get his shade back again.

Very few of the persons who have been amused by this extravagant idea of a man without a shadow are aware that the notion is a very ancient one, and that according to the Greeks the gods deprived men of their shades for a certain act of intrusion or impiety. Theopompus, as quoted by Polybius, seriously asserts that all those who dared to enter the temple of Jupiter in Arcadia were punished with a strange chastisement—». e. their bodies no longer gave any shadow.

Pausanias repeats the same story in a somewhat more circumstantial manner, and adds a punishment which seems at first sight more serious than the loss of one's shade. He says that on Lycaeus, a mountain of Arcadia, there was a place held sacred to Jupiter and inaccessible to mortals; and that if any man braved the prohibition and entered therein, from that time his body, though exposed to the rays of the sun, cast no shadow, and he died within a year.—See Theopomp. ap. Polyb. lib. xvi. and Pausan. in Arcad.


One of the most celebrated dilemmas is one of the most ancient. A rhetorician had instructed a youth in the art of pleading, on condition that he was to be remunerated only in case his pupil should gain the first cause in which he was engaged. The youth immediately brought an action against his teacher, of which the object was to be freed from the obligation which he had contracted, and then endeavoured to perplex his instructor with this dilemma: "If I gain my suit," said he, "the authority of the court will absolve me from paying you; if I lose, I am exonerated by our contract." The rhetorician answered by a similar dilemma: "If you gain your suit, you must pay me according to our contract; if you lose

the suit, you must pay in compliance with the decision of the court."

A just but severe man built a gallows on a bridge, and asked every passenger whither he was going: it' he answered truly, he passed unharmed; if falsely, he was hanged on the gallows. One day a passenger, being asked the usual question, answered, "I am going to be hanged on the gallows." "Now," said the gallowsbuilder, "if I hang this man, he will have answered truly, and ought not to have been hanged; if I do not hang him, he will have answered falsely, and ought to have been hanged." It is not recorded what decision he came to.

A late Act of Parliament, the Anatomy Bill, seems to have passed by virtue of the following dilemma, which was often urged in its favour: "If a medical man dissects, he is punishable for a misdemeanour; if he does not dissect, he is punishable for the mala praxis which results from his ignorance of anatomy." It would have been unkind to smash both horns of so pretty a dilemma, and therefore nobody answered as follows:

"First Hobn-bbeaker.—Some persons dissect less than they ought to do from idleness, poverty, or disgust; but no man on account of dissection being a misdemeanour; for though punishable, it is never punished.

"Second Horn-bbeakeb. Prosecutions for mala praxis are so rare that they do not disturb the sleep or blunt the appetite of the most timid doctor ; besides which, the ground of prosecution in such cases is not the want of that maximum of knowledge which might be attained in a happier state of things, but of that minimum which may be easily procured even now; in fact, a man is prosecuted for the want of average attainments, or average attention."

Yet was the Act, perhaps, a useful one, though it rested on the horns of a very foolish dilemma.


The province of Gascony, in France, is now divided into the four departments of the Landes, Gers, Arriege, and the Upper Pyrenees, and contains about a million of inhabitants. They have long been celebrated for their lively sallies, called Gasconades (in French, Gasconnades, with two re's), the point of which consists in an immoderate boasting of wit, wealth, or valour. The Dictionary of the French Academy, to illustrate the meaning of Gasconnade, gives, as an example: "II dit qu'il se battroit contre dix hommes; c'est une Gasconnade :" t. e., He says he would fight ten men; 'tis a Gasconade.

Of course, however, the fame of Gasconades does not depend on mere flat boasting like this, but on the intermixture of wit and piquancy with the most prodigious self-exaltation. The following are some of the best examples we have met with. We found them in one of the volumes of Constable's Miscellany.

A Gascon preacher stopped short in the pulpit: it was in vain that he scratched his head ; nothing would come out. "My friends," said he, as he walked quietly down the pulpit stairs, "my friends, I pity you; for you have lost a fine discourse."

A young Gascon arrived at Paris for the first time: it was in summer, and he went to see the Tuileries immediately on his arrival. When he saw the gallery of the Louvre; "Upon my honour," said he, " I like it vastly: methinks I see the back of my father's stables."

A Gascon officer, hearing some one celebrating the exploits of a prince who, in two assaults upon a town, had killed six men with his own hand: " Bah !" said he, " I would have you to know that the very mattresses I sleep upon are stuffed with nothing else but the whiskers of those whom I have sent to slumber in the other world!"

A Gascon, in proof of his nobility, asserted, that in his father's castle they used no other fire-wood but the batons of the different mareschals of France of his family. IX. A FRAGMENT OF ZOfLTJS.

"The name of Zoilus," says M. Noel, in his edition of the ' Gradus ad Parnassum,' the 'Nouveau Dictionnaire Poetique Latin-Francais,' " has become the common appellation of all ignorant, envious, passionate, and dishonest critics." And so it is. From Ovid to Buchanan, every one has hitched his name into an epigram as the very incarnation of spitefulness.*

Now, without maintaining that Zoilus was a wellmeaning or good-humoured person—a more untenable paradox even than the comeliness of Richard III.—we may be permitted to doubt whether he was dishonest, or even ignorant in one meaning of the word. He seems to have been utterly deficient in a feeling of the sublime, though versed in the ordinary topics of criticism, and cursed with a morbidly quick sense of the ridiculous. In short, he was a literary Thersites, shrewd, witty, and hateful. The silly carpings of a fool would have been soon forgotten; those of Zo'ilus raised him to the bad eminence of being called the Uomeromastix, or Scourge of Homer.

The fragment ot Zoilus, the only one that we have hitherto stumbled upon, and which we hope, therefore, will be valued in proportion to its rarity rather than its excellence, consists of only two words. Every one recollects the transformation of the companions of Ulysses into swine by Circe, in the tenth book of the Odyssey. They had the head, and voice, and body, and bristles of swine, but retained human consciousness, and cried as they went along to their sties. This is one of the passages of the Odyssey censured as childish by Longinus, who tells us that Zo'ilus called these transformed companions


* "Frustra ego te laudo, frustra me, Zo'ile, lcedis:

Nemo mihi credit, Zo'ile; nemo tibi."—Buchanan.


A Man who wishes to enter the army often endeavours to conceal diseases or deformities which would disqualify him for active service; while recruits who have changed their mind before their final admission, or soldiers tired of their situation, often do exactly the reverse, and either feign diseases from which they are free or sometimes even excite them. The duty of the military surgeon, of course, is to detect both simulated and dissimulated maladies; a task which often requires the highest ability, both medical and moral. Many of the instances in point

fiven by Mr. Marshall, in his valuable ' Hints to Young ledical Officers,' &c., are very curious specimens of human frailty and human ingenuity. Some recruits, even when measured without shoes or stockings, have succeeded in increasing their height by glueing pieces of buff to the soles of the feet; on the other hand, some persons possess the art of sinking an inch or two. A lad, named Martin, enlisted into the Eighteenth Dragoons in the summer of 1809, and was then five feet three inches in height; but, on joining the head-quarters of the regiment at Brighton, he was found to be only five feet one inch. A doubt first arose as to his identity; but when this was cleared up, Martin was directed to be discharged, and the levy-money was ordered to be paid by Colonel Lindsay, "owing to whose neglect a recruit so totally unfit was received into the service." The Colonel, however, persisted in asserting that the lad was of the orthodox height, and he was accordingly sent to Dublin to be re-measured. Here he attempted to reduce his height,but was instantly detected; and being found to be full five feet three inches, was sent back to his corps, and " a very particular letter" was addressed to the Brighton Colonel on the occasion.

Fractures of the skull and ringworm are sometimes concealed by wigs, and a recruit once presented himself with an artificial palate. Mr. Marshall has known an attempt to conceal the loss of nearly all the teeth of the lower jaw, by the aid of a dentist.

« PreviousContinue »