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CONTENTS OF VOLUME II
Joax GILPIX AND MAZEPPA ...,
The Odoherty Papers.
Pandemus Polyglott.* It has been well observed by somebody, that any man could make an interesting book if he would only give, honestly and without reserve, an account of such things as he himseli hal seen and heard; but if a man should add to thin a candid history of his remarkable friends and acquaintance, how infinitely woulil he enhance the interest of his own! Some folks call this method of biography prosy-Heaven help their unphilosophical short sightedness! Wherein consists the charm of Benvenuto Cellini's account of himself, which nobody can deny to be the ne plus ultra of all conceivable autobiographies? Why, it clearly along from these two sources : first, from his not merupling to give a straightforward narrative of every shadow of an adventure he lighted upon, not hesitating a moment to tell the whole truth least, however often he may be so obliging as to favour tie with a matter of ten times as much as that same ; and, secondly, from the number of persons and personages be introduces his reader to, from the magnificent Francis to the mhappy engraver (i think), whom he despatched in so judicious a manner by this memorable thrust of his dagger into the back of the poor man's
* This article, evidently suggested by Father Proui's nimirable wanan and paraphrases, appeared in Blackwood for Oetober, 1897, M,
neck, whereby he so scientifically separated the vertebræ, and interrupted the succession of the spinal marrow, to the immediate attainment of his laudable object — to wit, the release of his fellow-sinner from his worldly sorrows. Again, in the other sex, from the lovely and capricious Duchess of Florence, with her rings and cameos and trumpery, down to the frail fair one whose fondness for Benvenuto so repeatedly jeopardized his capacity for enjoying the same. But there is a third charm about the good artist's book, and this may, perhaps, outweigh the other two-namely, his introduction of the heroes and magnates of his age en déshabille. Truly, if he who can slow us a king, two popes, a reigning duke or two, duchesses, nobles, courtiers, and cardinals by the squadron, all in dressing-gowns and slippers, be not set up in the high places among those who have delighted their fellows, wherewithal shall a man claim that distinction ? But I flatter myself, that charming as Benvenuto is, I must even supersede him by as much as learning is of more account than throat or marble-cutting, and learned men than heroes, &c.
But the world is not going at this time to enjoy the full benefit of my experiences. Let it suffice for the present that I afford mankind a glimpse of one of the most remarkable of men ; one of those who leave their reputation as a legacy to their species, having had the uncommon forbearance to abstain from impairing the same in any degree by enjoying it themselves.
Without farther preface then, reader, give me leave to present to you Doctor Pandemus Polyglott, LL.D., Lugd. Bat. Olim. Soc., member of no end of societies, literary, and antiquarian, historical, philosophical, &c. &c. I would give you his tail of initials at full length, if it were not that I have generally found the dullest people take most pains in this behalf- and the Doctor is not dull ---- and, moreover, he has won by his pen a tail so considerable that it could not be doubled up in less than twice the space of that which the great Hero of the age, Wellington, has carved out with his sword, and which may be found occupying a good half page of the Army List. Besides, Dr. Polyglott is a living character; and though now as fine a specimen of an octogenarian as may be met with in a June day's march, yet he has not done winning to himself those bright scholarly honours which so safely ensure to their possessers an enviable obscurity with reference to the generality of people.
The Doctor, though a colossus of mind, has had the firmness through life to forego all those mundane advantages which his wondrous powers must have obtained for him, had such been his pleasure ; and as in early life he gave himself up to the allurements of classical literature, so with a constancy seldom rivalled did he in manhood, and in age still does he adhere to the same sweet mistress. The fruits of this affection are manifold, as some forty MS. folios testify; but while the Doctor lives, his intimates alone will have the benefit of their acquaintance ; for he is far too chary of his own personal comfort, too sensible of his own dignity, to sacrifice the one, or diminish his own proud sense of the other, by trusting the smallest of his learned labours to the caprice or indifference of a world engaged for the most part in pursuits which he looks down upon with pity, and would regard, if he were less good than he is, with contempt.
But these limits will not allow me to do justice to a tithe of the merits of my worthy Nestor; so, reader, we (you and I) must be content with what the allotted space will admit. You will not be surprised, after the slight insight I have given you into the character of Dr. Polyglott's mind, and the extent of his erudition, to learn that the good cheerful old man is altogether "wrapt and throwly lapt" in reminiscences and thoughts, the beginning, middle, and end whereof are classical.
“Ay, ay, boy,” said he to me (I am forty-five) one day, when I had been lauding and magnifying sundry of our own poets in his presence, “Ay, ay, boy, call 'em poets if you will — mere mushrooms — Shakspere — didst ever hear of Sophocles? Jonson - Bah!-poor neoteric stuff — vernacular. There is but one good couplet in the language, only one."
“ And whose is that, sir ?" I ventured to ask. "Pope's." I was thunderstruck, so often had I heard the old man revile · Pope, the Anti-Homeric," as he delighted to call him, the clipper of the old Greek's solid coin, to reduce it to the beggarly standard of wit's understanding."
“ Pope's, sir," said I, in wonder ; "pray, repeat it."