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sician. He was fifty-eight years of age, and he had been obliged to give up practice six years before, from being attacked with such fits of obliviousness that he was occasionally not able to recollect even the faces of his patients when they appeared before him. The last molares, above and below, had never been cut, and there were other irregularities in his teeth. “I cut away for him myself some cartilaginous obstructions to the progress of his wise teeth, which appeared, from long pressure, to have suffered in their integrity quite as much as the other teeth. He remained in London about a fortnight after, and told me that he was so much relieved of his oblivious fits as to be able to walk to my house without any want of confidence in himself: he required no companion.”
XLII. WHEN GREEK MEETS GREEK.
“When Greek meets Greek,
DURING the reign of Louis the Fifteenth, three young men of St. Germain, who had just left school, not knowing any one at court, and having heard that foreigners were always well received there, resolved to disguise themselves as Armenians, and go to see the ceremonies attending the admission of several knights of the order of the Holy Ghost. Their trick was as successful as they expected. When the procession was defiling through the long mirror-gallery, the guards placed them in front, and requested every one to make way for the foreigners. Not content with this, however, they were so rash as to enter the antechamber, where they found M.M. Cardonne and
Ruffin, interpreters of the Oriental languages, as well as the first clerk of the consulates, whose office it was to watch over all that concerned Asiatics who might be in France. The three scholars were immediately surrounded and questioned—first of all in modern Greek. Without being disconcerted, they made signs to show that they did not understand it. They were then addressed in Turkish and Arabic: at last, one of the interpreters, losing all patience, cries out, “Gentlemen, you must surely understand some one of the languages in which we have spoken to you. Where do you come from ?” “From St. Germain-en-Laye,” replied the boldest. “ This is the first time that you have asked us in French.” They then avowed the motive of their disguise: the oldest of them was not eighteen. The story was told to Louis the Fifteenth, who laughed excessively, and ordered them to be imprisoned for a few hours, and then set at liberty with a good scolding. o
XLIII. ANECDOTES OF BRUNELLESCHI.
WHEN the great architect Brunelleschi offered himself to build the dome of the cathedral of Florence, the committee of citizens which superintended the building of the church invited the most celebrated architects and engineers of France, Spain, Germany, England, and Italy to come to Florence and give their opinions on the best plan for raising the dome. After nearly a twelvemonth, the “wise men” from the east and west, north and south, assembled at Florence in the year 1420. The most ridiculous projects were broached in that learned congress. Among other plans, one deserves particular mention: it was proposed to carry a vast quantity of earth inside of the church, and having strewn it with copper and silver coins, to heap it up in the transept, so as to make a mound as high as the intended dome, on which mound the structure was to be raised and supported. When the dome should be completed and safe, the notable projector concluded nothing was more easy than to get rid of the mound of earth beneath. “Only give leave to the people to come in with shovels and barrows, and remove the earth and the money mixed with it; they will soon clear the whole away.” There was a ridiculous tradition at the time that the Pantheon of Rome had been built after this fashion. Brunelleschi, who had studied the subject thoroughly, and had been three times to Rome to examine the Pantheon and the other monuments of ancient art, rejected all the plans proposed, and said he would engage to raise a double dome, with internal stairs to ascend to the summit. He was laughed at. He then challenged all present to make an egg stand upright on the table, saying he could do it. A basket of eggs was brought, and behold those grave personages trying to fix the eggs upon one end. After they had all laboured at it for a sufficient time, Brunelleschi took up an egg, and, striking one end of it against the table, made it stand upright. “Oh! in this way we could have done it as well as you,” was the general cry. “You will say the same after you have seen the model of my dome,” replied Brunelleschi. At last, after many vexations and delays, Brunelleschi obtained the engagement, and the sole direction of the work. As the structure advanced, he perceived that much time was lost by the workmen coming down to their meals; and he had temporary shops or stands erected on the roof of the church to supply the men with provisions and drink. He completed the dome, all except the lantern at the summit, which was executed after his death. Pope Eugenius the Fourth wrote to Florence for an architect. Cosmo de' Medici sent him Brunelleschi, with a letter, saying that he was a man capable of turning the world. When the Pope saw Brunelleschi, who was a little, ill-favoured, and insignificant-looking man, he exclaimed, “Is this the man who can turn the world?” “If your Holiness gives me a spot where I can fix my lever, I will try,” replied Brunelleschi. He was employed by the Pope at Rome, and returned to Florence loaded with presents and honours. The reader will have observed that two of these anecdotes have been told of other persons. The story of moving the world with a lever, if a fulcrum for it could be found, is as old as the days of Archimedes, or at least of his biographers; and the egg story, which our Hogarth illustrated, is always given to Columbus, who did not distinguish himself as a discoverer till more than seventy years after Brunelleschi's performances at Florence.
XLIV. BULLS AND BARONS.
IF that almost incredibly industrious man, excellent compiler, and, in the main, sound and philosophic reasoner, Muratori, had no other claims on our gratitude than through the excellent little stories of the old times which he has preserved and embalmed, he would still be entitled to our gratitude; he would still be a man whose immortal memory ought to be drunk on all solemn occasions by all lovers of Table-Talk. How many rich anecdotes, how many delicious traits of manners and customs, neglected by your packed and systematic authors as unworthy of the “dignity of history,” would have been lost but for this poor Italian parish-priest and librarian | We dread to think of it ! The following is one amongst his many amusing stories. He gives it on the unquestionable authority of Monaldeschi, a Roman chronicler, contemporary with the events he narrates. “In the fourteenth century it was the custom of the Romans to bait bulls; that is to say, it was the fashion for the young barons of Rome to fight wild bulls in the ancient amphitheatre of Titus. Lodovico Monaldeschi gives a catalogue of the young barons who, on one occasion, entered into the lists; and he also describes their outward cloaks and armorial bearings.” “Lodovico,” continues Muratori, “applauds the courage of the combatants; but as to the finish and result of this dangerous encounter, Monaldeschi's own words must explain them. He says, ‘ they all rushed to the assault, every young baron taking his bull; and of the noblemen there remained eighteen dead, and nine wounded, and of the bulls there died eleven; and to those who were dead very great honours were paid.’” Query. Was the honour paid to the barons or to the bulls 2 In point of numbers as to the dead, the barons