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rhyme. What man who has ever bestrode Pegasus but for an hour, will be insensible to such a claim?
Haud ignara mali, miseris succurrere disco.
We are next favoured with an enumeration of the attendants of this “debonair” nymph, in all the minuteness of a German dramatis fiersona, or a rope-dancer's handbill: Haste thee, nymph, and bring with thee Jest, and youthful Jollity; Quips, and cranks, and wanton wiles, Nods, and becks, and wrathed smiles, Such as hang on Hebe's cheek, And love to live in dimple sleek; Sport that wrinkled Care derides, And Laughter holding both his sides.
The author, to prove himself worthy of being admitted of the crew, skips and capers about upon “the light fantastick toe,” that there is no following him. He scampers through all the categories, in search of his imaginary beings, from Substance to Quality, and back again; from thence to Action, Passion, Habit, &c. with incredible celerity. Who, for instance, would have expected cranks, nods, becks, and wreathed smiles, as part of a group, in which Jest, Jollity, Sport, and Laughter, figure away as full-formed, entire personages? The family likeness is certainly very strong in the two last; and if we had not been told, we should perhaps have thought the act of deriding as appropriate to Laughter as to Sport. But how, are we to understand the stage direction?
Come, and trip it as you go.
Are the words used synonymously? Or is it meant this airy gentry shall come in at a minuet step, and go off in a jig. The phenomenon of a tripping crank is indeed novel, and would doubtless attract numerous spectators. But it is difficult to guess to whom among this jolly company the poet addresses himself; for im
Even the gay libertine who sung, “How happy could I be with either!” did not go so far as this. But we have already had occasion to remark on the laxity of Mr. M's amatory notions. The poet, intoxicated with the charms of his mistress, now rapidly runs over the pleasures which he proposes to himself in the enjoyment of her society. But though he has the advantage of being his own caterer, either his palate is of a peculiar structure, or he has not made the most judicious selection. To begin the day well, he will have the skydark —to come in spite of sorrow, And at his window bid good-morrow.
The sky-lark, if we know any thing of the nature of that bird, must come in spite of something else as well as of sorrow, to the performance of this office. In his next image, the natural history is better preserved; and as the thoughts are appropriate to the time of the day, we will venture to transcribe the passage, as a favourable specimen of the author's manner:
While the cock with lively din
Is it not lamentable that, after all, whether it is the cock or the poet that listens, should be left entirely to the reader's conjecture? Perhaps also his embarrassment may be increased by a slight resemblance of character in these two illustrious personages, at least as far as relates to the extent and numbers of their seraglio.
After a flaming description of sunrise, on which occasion the clouds attend in their very best liveries, the bill of fare for the day proceeds in the usual manner. Whistling ploughmen, singing milkmaids, and sentimental shepherds, are always to be had at a moment’s notice, and, if well grouped, serve to fill up the landscape agreeably enough. On this part of the poem we have only to remark, that if Mr. John Milton proposeth to make himself merry with
Russet lawns, and fallows gray Where the nibbling flocks do stray; Mountains on whose barren breast The labouring cloud', do often rest, Meadows trim with daisies pied, Shallow brooks, and rivers wide, Towers and battlements, &c. &c. &c.
he will either find himself egregiously disappointed, or he must possess a disposition to merriment which even Democritus himself might envy. To such a pitch, indeed, does this solemn indication of joy sometimes rise, that we are inclined to give him credit for a literal adherence to the apostolick precept: “Is any merry, let him sing psalms.”
At length, however, he hies away at the sound of bell-ringing, and seems for some time to enjoy the tippling, and fiddling, and dancing of a village wake; but his fancy is soon haunted again by spectres and goblins, a set of beings not in general esteemed the companions or inspirers of mirth.
With stories told of many a feat,
To talk of the bright eyes of ladies, judging the prize of wit, is, indeed, with the poets, a legitimate species of humming; but would not, we may ask, the rain from these ladies’ bright eyes rather tend to dim their lustre? Gr is there anyoquality in a shower of influence, which, instead of deadening, serves only to brighten and exhilarate : Whatever the case may be, we would advise Mr. M. by all means to keep out of the way of these knights and barons bold; for, if he has nothing but his wit to trust to, we will venture to predict, that without a large share of most undue influence, he must be content to see the prize adjudged to his competitorS. Of the latter part of the poem little need be said. The author does seem somewhat more at home when he gets among the actors and musicians, though his head is still running upon Orpheus and Eurydice, and Pluto, and other sombre gentry, who are ever thrusting themselves in where we least expect them, and who chill every rising emotion of mirth and gayety. He appears, however, to be , so ravished with this sketch of festive pleasures, or perhaps with himself for having sketched them so well, that he closes with a couplet, which would not have disgraced a Sternhold: These delights if thou canst give, Mirth, with thee I mean to live. Of Mr. M's good intentions there can be no doubt; but we beg leave to remind him, that in every compact of this nature there are two opinions to be consulted. He presumes, perhaps, upon the poetical powers he has displayed, and considers them as irresistible; for every one must observe in how different a strain he avows his attachment now, and at the opening of the poem. Then it was,
If I give thee honour due, Mirth, admit me of thy crew
But having, it should seem, established his pretensions, he now thinks it sufficient to give notice, that he means to live with her, because he likes her. Upon the whole, Mr. Mihon seems to be possessed of some fancy and talent for rhyming; two most dangerous endowments, which often unfit men for acting a useful part in life, without qualifying them for that which is great and brilliant. If it be true, as we have heard, that he has declined advantageous prospects in business, for the sake of indulging his poetical humour, we hope it is not yet too late to prevail upon him to retract his resolution. With the help of Cocker and common industry he may become a respectaole scrivener; but it is not all the Zephyrs and Auroras, and Corydons, and Thyrsises, aye, nor his junketing queen Mab, and drudging goblins, that will ever make him a poet.
INTERESTING ACCOUNT OF A SUTTEE. [Communicated by an eye witness, to the Editor of a Calcutta paper.]
BEING informed, that a Suttee was about to take place in the vicinity of my house (in the neighbourhood of Calcutta) I repaired to the spot, in company with a friend, instigated by a strong and natural curiosity, to observe narrowly the deportment of a human being, about to take a voluntary and publick leave of existence, and believing, from what we had read of similar cases, that our feelings would not be shocked by any open exhibition of the actual pains of dissolution. I do not recollect to have seen any account of a Suttee, which did not, upon the whole, tell rather favourably for the humanity of those whom an imperibus ordinance of religion calls upon,
to preside or officiate at such ceremonials. I think it therefore a duty which I owe to the cause of truth, to record at least one instance on the other side of the question. With this view, I beg leave to address myself to you, in the hope you will give the narration a place in your valuable newspaper, when you have nothing more interesting or novel to In Sel’t. “The Suttee in question took place at a spot by the riverside, about a quarter of a mile below Barnagore, at eleven in the morning. We arrived about half an hour before that time, and found the widow, bathing in the river, surrounded by a troop of friends, chiefly men. It was then Now water, and the deep mud left by the tide prevented our approaching sufficiently near to observe with accuracy, the ceremonies that were performing. Our attention was attracted to the pile, which was placed about high water mark. It was not altogether more than 4 1-2 or 5 feet long, to the best of our observation, and consisted merely of some long billets of chopped soon-dry wood, fresh and green, from the bazar, retained in their places by four stakes driven into the ground at the angles. The whole was exceeding little, if at all, longer or broader, than one of the common cots used by the natives. The deceased was supported in a sitting posture by two men, close to the pile, and some more billets of wood, with four or five bundles of dry bushwood and recds, lay ready for use. The whole of the ceremonies observed on the occasion, were such as are usually gone through, and as have been described so often in books. The widow was dressed in a robe or sheet of bright red silk, and had her hair
hanging loose and dishevelled, and
stuck through with many wooden combs; her forehead was painted with yellow ochre, or orpiment, and she had no other dress or ornament whatever. From the bye-standers we learned, that her husband was a common washerman, and that it was not expected by any one that she would have resolved to burn herself, especially as she had a child three years old, and as her relations had offered to maintain them both, if she would consent to live. I shall not take up your time by detailing the many ceremonies that were performed. The body of the husband was placed on its right side; and in due time she ascended and lay down by its side, facing it, and literally locked in its arms. So short was the pile, that the bye-standers were obliged to bend the legs of both very much, to enable the pile to contain them. During all this “dreadful
note of preparation,” from first to last, the widow preserved the utmost, the most entire fortitude and, composure, or rather apathy; and was unmoved, even at parting with her child. In her processions round the pile, she was supported and hurried through the crowd, by many men, who held her by the arms and shoulders, and made the populace give way. From this we at first concluded her to be intoxicated, but were afterwards convinced of our mistake, by seeing the steadiness of nerve, and perfect composure, with which she sprinkled the corpse of her husband, and mounted on the funeral pile, entirely unassisted and alone. We stood within six or seven feet of the pile, and could not be mistaken. The remaining billets of wood were now laid on the bodies, with a scanty handful of dry reeds here and there.
But the point to which I wish most especially to draw the attention of your readers, is, that thick, strong ropes, thoroughly soaked in water, were previously tied round the bodies of the living and the dead, in many places, to preclude the possibility of escape, and in seeming anticipation of the dreadful scene that followed. One Bramin only was present at the ceremony, and as soon as all was prepared, he offered to the widow’s child (in the arms of another) a lighted brand. The child drew back in affright, when they seized its hand by force, and applied the fire to the head, and afterwards to the foot of the pile. The shouting and noise of the crowd had been incessant from the beginning, but at this instant it was incredibly loud.
Four strong green bamboos were now laid across the whole of the pile, which were strongly held by eight men, so as to keep down all attempts of the miserable creature within to rise; a precaution not useless, if it be allowed to conjecture, from what we observed at the foot. of the pile, near to which we stood. A quantity of ghee, not, I should innagine, a pint in all, was scattered on the pile; the scantiness of this and the brush wood, and the greenness of the billets, caused the pile to burn very slow, and rendered it necessary to apply fresh fire at onc time. I scarcely know how to paint in colours that shall not disgust and shock your readers, the horrible close of the scene. Suffice it to say, that soon after the fire took effect, the wretched woman within, in her torment, stretched forth her leg, which now protruded from the knee, beyond the scanty pile; and by the quickness with which she attempted to withdraw it, on its touching a burning brand, it was evident that she was still too sensible to the tortures she must then have been enduring. Owing to the brushwood being scat
tered only at the extremities of the pile, the fire there was fiercest. In a minute or two more, the scorched and mutilated limb was again thurst out, and slowly consumed before our outraged eyes, while the tremulous and convulsive motion which it exhibited to the last (for many minutes) too plainly showed that sensation and life yet existed in the miserable wretch within. A kind of incredulous horrour at what was passing, had till now rivetted us to the spot; but the scene became too shocking, and we quickly retired. I ought to observe that the utmost indifference, without any symptom of the remotest compassion, prevailed among the whole of the spectators, not excepting the mother and sister of the widow, who were pointed out to us among the crowd.”
PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY, JUNE 21, 1810.
A part of a paper by M. Delille, translated from the French, was read, describing the bohan usias, or poison tree, of Java. The author is a French physician, a member of the National Institute of Egypt, and transmitted this paper from the East Indies to the Royal Society, by means of an English lady. The botanical account of this poisonous plant, he received from one of the French naturalists who accompanied captain Baudin, and who resided some time in Java; where he visited the interiour of the country, and with much difficulty succeeded in prevailing on the natives to show him the different poison plants, which they carefully conceal in order to use them during war. Hence the reason of so many fables as have been repeated respecting the extraordinary destructiveness and influence of the usias, which, in the language of the Javanese, signifies vegetable poison, and is applied only to the juice of the
bohan tree, and another twistedstemmed plant. The bohan is a large tree, which this writer considers a new genus. The other plant, yielding an equally powerful poison, is of the woodbine genus. The usias, or poisonous juice, is extracted by an incision in the bark with a knife, and carefully collected and preserved by the natives, to be used in their wars. As to its diffusing noxious effluvia in the atmosphere, and destroying all vegetation around it; the absurdity of these stories is best exposed by the fact, that the climbing species requires the support of other plants to attain its usual growth. Dr. Delille made several experiments with the usias on dogs and cats. An incision was made in the thigh of a dog, and eight grains of usias dropped into it: shortly after the dog began to vomit, and continued vomiting at intervals, till he became convulsed, the muscles of his head greatly dis