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XVIII. THE ERIDANUS
Generally passes merely for a poetic name of the Po, as in Virgil's phrase, Fluviorum rex Eridanus. Schneider, however, informs us, in his Greek and German Dictionary, that it was a stream belonging to the most ancient geography, and the subject of many fables; that it was supposed to rise from the Riphsean mountains, and to fall into the ocean in a north-westerly direction, and is first mentioned by Hesiod (Th. 338), and then by Herodotus, (ii. 115). He also tells us that the river denoted by this name varied with the increasing geographical knowledge of the ancients. They first gave the name of Eridanus to the Po, then to the Rhone, then to the Rhine, and, at a later period, even to the Radaune, at Dantzic. He refers for his authority to Voss, (Alte Weltkunde, p. 31.)
It is clear, however, that in Virgil's time no mystery could hang over the Po; and therefore, in giving it the name of Eridanus, he was merely indulging the agreeable licence of his craft, and restoring the delightful veil of uncertainty to a subject made unpoetically plain by the progress of knowledge.
XIX. TRADITIONAL ORIGIN OF THE WORD ANTIMONY.
The monk Valentine, who wrote the Currus Triumphalis Anlimonii, is supposed to have invented the name, and there is a tradition that he came by it out of the failure of an inductive experimental process, as follows: He had given some antimony to the pigs who acted * as food for the monks of his convent: the pigs eat it, as pigs will, and became fat in consequence, having previously been lean. Whereupon Valentine, reasoning like a Bacon, bethought himself that what was so good for a pig might not be very bad for a monk, and accordingly treated his brethren, who were worn with fasting, to an antimonial dinner. Never was the distinction between a pig and a monk so clearly shown before. The monks all died, and left behind them no memorial except the pig-meat, which they did not live to consume, and the name antimony (anti-moine), which Valentine gave to the metal.
XX. WOODEN PILLOWS.
On an object soft and welcome as a pillow, a copious downy dissertation might easily be written. Those of Prance are luxuriously large, and deliciously compressible. In England they are made of good materials; but, in size, insufficient comfortably to ensconce the neck and shoulders. German pillows, like the beds to which they appertain, are annoyingly deficient in amplitude; while the Italians, conforming to the wants of their climate, stuff their pillows only with wool. In torrid climes, habit, but when or how established it would be vain to inquire, seems very generally to have naturalized the use of wooden pillows. Mariner describes those adopted by
* This phrase is prospective: it is not English, but it soon will be. There are now no such things as real clerks, surveyors, agents, or any other of the kind. No man has a clerk, but only a person who acts as a clerk. We expect shortly to hear of the matter which acts as tail to Halley's comet.
the natives of Tonga as low stools, sometimes with three, and sometimes with four legs; observing that, when reconciled by custom, he found them by no means uncomfortable. A wooden supporter for the head seems to have been in general use among the ancient Egyptians. The sculptured tombs at Thebes represent magnificent household utensils, among which splendid couches are conspicuous, each with its head-rest or wooden pillow; nor is it a rare occurrence to find the pillow itself made of sycamore wood, and therefore in good preservation, placed in the tombs with the various articles of utility and ornament usually interred with the deceased. From a small model of one of these pillows in hsematite, probably belonging to an ancient necklace, our little representation has been copied. The three characters included in a cartouch, which distinguish the inferior part, are described by Mr; 'Wilkinson as the name of Sabaco, the Io of Sacred Writ, who reigned 778 years before the Christian era. Head-rests of wood, precisely of this form, are still used in the interior of Africa, and two, at present in Europe, but purchased in the slavemarket at Cairo, were brought by enslaved natives of these unexplored regions, who, adopting the habits of their new country, disposed of these articles of luxury, as they do of their thong aprons, &c.; the use of which might, perhaps, outrage the sense of decorum possessed by the civilized inhabitants of Egypt.
The venerable Latimer informs us that, in his early days, a substantial yeoman was content with a billet of wood for his pillow; but we believe the meanest soldier would now execrate and turn with disgust from the offer of such a billet.
The two African pillows of wood, which closely resemble those of the ancient Egyptians represented beneath, were purchased at Cairo by Doctor Edward Hogg.
ANCIENT EGYPTIAN PILLOW.
XXI. STAK-CHAMBER PRACTICE.
One Bennet was fined one thousand pounds to the King, and another to the Earl of Marlborough, for saying he dealt basely with him for not paying him thirty pounds which was due upon bond; and laying to his lordship's charge, in his bill that he was a common drunkard."— Strafford's Letters and Dispatches, vol. ii. p. 128.
Osbaldiston, the late master of Westminster school, and at that time a prebendary of Westminster, being much trusted and employed by Williams (Bishop of Lincoln and formerly Lord Keeper) in his most important business, had written a letter to him about Christmas 1635,
respecting some differences which occurred at that time betwixt the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Treasurer Weston; conceiving this to be a fit opportunity for Williams to unite with Weston, that by his means he might extricate himself out of those difficulties in which his Star-Chamber suit had involved him. This intelligence he communicated under the following disguised form of expression: "The little vermin, the urchin, and hocus pocus, is this stormy Christmas at true and real variance with the great Leviathan." This expression being talked of by the bishop, came at last to the ears of Kilvert: who thereupon exhibited a new bill against him for divulging scandalous libels against privy councillors.*
Both Williams and Osbaldiston being made parties to the bill, Osbaldiston answered for himself, "That by Leviathan he intended Chief Justice Richardson; and Spicer, a doctor of laws, by the other character." The bishop pleaded for his part, "That he remembered not the receiving of any such letter; and that if any such letter had come to him, it could not be brought within the compass of a libel, because not written in such plain and significant terms as might apparently decypher and set forth the person intended in it." But a letter was produced by Kilvert, from the bishop to his secretary, which left no doubt either as to the meaning of the passage in Osbaldiston's letter, or the sense put upon it by Williams. The cause being brought on,
* Heylyn's Life of Laud: but Mr. Hallam says, " it did not appear that Williams had ever divulged these letters." — Const, hist. vol. ii. p. 49. 8vo. edit.