« ForrigeFortsett »
authors denominate Philippoos of Reon. Though this was at first unsuccessful, the historians of Persia state, that its termination was glorious; but this is evidently the foundation of a fable, which their national vanity has led them to form respect, ing the birth of Alexander. They affirm, that Philip was ulti. mately reduced to such distress, that he was glad to extricate himself by agreeing to give his daughter to Darab, and, to pay that prince an annual tribute of one thousand eggs of pure gold. Darab the First reigned only twelve years. Darab the Second was, according to the report of Persian authors, the opposite of his father : he was defor:red in body, and depraved in mind; and his bad administration, if they are to be believed, completely pre
for the success of Alexander. But the Persians have always had the same character; and it cannot be surprising, that a nation distinguished for their vanity should have given their consent to any fable, however improbable, which palliated the disgrace of the conquest of their country. It is to this feel. ing that we must ascribe their tales respecting the descent of Alexander. That conqueror is described as a son of Darab the First; who, aided by the Persians themselves, easily possessed himself of a crown which was his right, and which was weakly defended by his unpopular and unworthy brother. Several, however, of the most respectable Persian historians reject this fable, and admit that Alexander was the son of Philip. The quarrel between the two states, we are told, originated in Alexander's refusing to pay the tribute of golden eggs, to which his father had agreed. *The bird that laid the eggs hus flown to the ather world, is reported to have been the laconic answer of the Macedonian Prince to the Persian envoy who demanded the tria bute. After this, Darab sent another ambassador to the court of the Grecian monarch, whom he charged to deliver to him a bat, a ball, and a bag of very small seed, called gunjud. The bat and ball were meant to throw a ridicule on Alexander's youth, being fit amusements for his age : the bag of seed was intended as an emblem of the Persian army being innumerable. Alexander took the bat and ball into his hand and said, This is the emblem of my power, with which I shall strike the ball of your monarch's dominion, and this fowl (he had ordered one to be brought) will soon show you what a morsel his numerous army will prove to mine : the grain was instantly eaten up, and Alexander gave a wild melon to the envoy, desiring him to tell his sovereign what he had heard and seen, and to give him that fruit, the taste of which would enable him to judge of the bitter fata that awaited him.
ANECDOTE OF SULTAN SELIM III.
Two adventurers of the lower class, seeing the favour which the Francs enjoyed with the Sultan Selim, and how very easy he was of access, resolved, if possible, to profit by the liberality of this munificent prince; and success appeared to them easy, if they could but present him with some novelty, no matter how strange' or ridiculous their invention might be, provided they could make it pass for European. After devising and rejecting various plans to make the Sultan draw his purse-strings, they at last hit upon the following scheme :--They caused a report to be spread that a stranger had recently arrived in the city, bringing with him a wonderful bear, who could play extremely well upon the piano-forte. Gossip fame soon spread the news; and the sultan gave orders that the bear should be brought to ex, hibit its wonderful talents in his sublime presence. According, at the appointed hour, the bear and his leader, rejoicing in what they considered the certain success of their scheme, took the road to the seraglio. Being introduced into the interior apartments, they were conducted into one where, concealed behind Venetian blinds, all the ladies of the haram were waiting the arrival of the sultan, that the wonderful spectacle might begin, Their impatience was soon gratified ; his highness arrived, and the moment he entered he was observed to regard Bruin very attentively. Animated with the hope of pleasing the royal spectator, our bear performed wonders : he danced, caressed his master, and played a variety of trựcks : to which the sultan paid great attention.
At last came the great trial of Bruin's powers ; he was ordered by his master to play. Raising himself on his hind-legs, he performed, with his fore-paws, a piece of music in the best style ; and captivated the sultan so completely, that he eagerly asked the owner of this wonderful animal to set a price upon him. This unexpected proposal threw Bruin into great confusion; and it increased when he found that his master, fearful lest an abrupt refusal should discover the trick, appeared inclined to come to terms: “Pray," whispered the bear, while he appeared to caress his leader, “do not leave me here !” But the caresses which he gave his master made the sultan more eager to purchase him.
At last, the pretended owner thought to put an end to a scene, which he plainly perceived Bruin could not sustain much longer, by demanding an exorbitant price for him. “ Count the sum required,” cried the magnificient Selim, " and take this animal to my menagerie.” The first part of the order was instantly obeyed by the khasnader; and the other officers approached the bear, to fulfill the second part of it.
Till now, our animal had behaved with wonderful gentleness; but the moment was arrived when he found it necessary to shew that he possessed all the fierceness of his species. Entrenching himself in the angle of the apartment which was opposite to the door, our poor besieged one waited impatiently till he saw it open ; when, suddenly raising himself upon his' hind-legs, he rushed out, followed by his leader. No one offered to stop him, because they thought his master pursued in order to recover him. One might suppose that the Sultan Selim would have been sufficiently exasperated to have set a price upon the heads of our two impudent knaves : not at all, he laughed heartily at the adventure. Having from the moment he saw the bear, penetrated the trick, he determincd to give them a hearty fright in return for the insult they offered him ; and this was the only revenge which the magnanimous prince was capable of taking..
THE TELL TALE,
Trifles light as air,”
KING CHARLES II.--was reputed a great connoisseur in naval architecture. Being once at Chatham, to view a ship just finished on the stocks, he asked the famons Killigrew, if he did not think he should make an excellent shipwright? Who pleasantly replied, he always thought his Majesty would have done better at any trade than his own. No favourable compliinent, but as tņue a one, perhaps, as ever was paid.
FEMALE HEROISM.--In Chelsea Hospital died (in 1739) one Christiana Davis; who first served in the Inniskillen regiment in Ireland ; but, receiving a wound in the battle of Aughrim, her sex came to be discovered. She afterwards attended the army in Flanders, and on all occasions signalized her courage, for which she obtained an allowance of ls. a day from this college for life, and was, according to her own desire, buried with all the military honours.
Duchess or BUCKINGHAMSHIRE.---This lady (natural daughter to King James II.) on her death-bed, expressed a strong curiosity to know, whether some regard would not be paid to her quality in the other world : and being told, by a worthy divine, that where she was going there was no distinction of persons, she replied, Well! if it be so, this Heaven, after all, is a strange place
LONGEVITY. In the year 1740, two pictures of Centeharians were brought to the King of France at Compeigne. The first contained John Rovin, aged 174, and Sarah Dessen, his wife, aged 164, natives of the Bannat of Tunirwax, where they were then living. They had been married 147 years, and had two sons and a daughter living; their youngest son was 116, and had two grandsons alive, one 35, and the other 33. The second picture represented Peter Zorten, a peasant of the same country, who died January 25th, 1724, aged 183.
SINGULARITIE$.-There was an old woman about Arbeus, who drank three drams of cicuta without hurt. Lysis, without hurt, took four drachms of poppy; and Demophon, who was gentleman-sewer to Alexander, was very cold when he stood in the sun, or in a hot bath, but very hot when he stood in the shade. Athenagoras felt no pain if a scorpion stung him. And the Psilli (a people in Lybia, whose bodies are venom to serpents) if they be stung by serpents or asps, receive no hurt at all. The Ethiopians, who inhabit the river Hydaspis, eat serpents and scorpions without danger. Lothericus, of Chysurgion, at the smell of a sturgeon, would be for the time mad. Andron of Argos, was so little thirsty, that without want of drink, he travelled through the hot and dry country of Lybia. Tiberius Cæsar could see very well in the dark. And Aristotle men. tioneth of Thracius, who said, that the image of a man always went before him.
DEGENERATION OF THE DRAMA.
Every thing has improved, within a century, except the Drama, because every thing else is free. The stage only is subject to a monopoly. All the success of a dramatist depends on the taste, caprice, indolence, avarice or jealousy, of three individuals, the managers of the London theatres ; for in England a piece is never represented for the first time on a provincial stage ; and Douglas is probably a solitary instance of a drama first performed at Edinburgh.
When a dramatist has presented his production to the London manager, it is perhaps totally neglected; for above 200 dramas are annually offered to each of the great theatres ; and conse, quently, if the piece be not recommended by the reputation or infuence of the author, it is never read at all. When he calls again in all humility to inquire, whether it is judged fit for representation, he has perhaps the mortification of finding that his manuscript has been mislaid. Many a good author has renounced the drama in disgust.
If the stage were free, a dramatist might follow the bent of his genius. He would introduce the characters that his judgment or fancy should prompt; and it would be the interest of the manager to procure performers qualified to do them justice. Whereas now the dramatist is reduced not only to consider the pretensions, the vanity, the abilities, of the actors and actresses, but their age and corpulency. He must take their measure as well as the stage tailor.
If the stage were free, every manager would endeavour to induce an author of talent to give him the preference ; whereas
an author must go cap in hand to solicit the favour of a manager ; and should he succeed in this, some actor and actress may think that the part destined for them would not exhibit them to advantage, and may refuse to co-operate. Few authors of rank, of liberal sentiment, or independent fortune, would enter a green-room cabal. Hence the degeneracy of our drama. Scenes of high life have been pourtrayed by individuals, who have had little intercourse with good company, and genteel comedy has given place to buffoonery and brogue.
(To be continued, with Remarks on all New Pieces and Performances.)
Sismondi, on Spanish Literature, gives the following extraordi
nary account of the celebrated Lope de Vega.
He was born at Madrid in 1562, fifteen years after Cervantes : his parents, noble but poor, gave him a good education ; but they died before he could enter the university. He was sent to it, howerer, by the inquisitor-general, the Bishop of Avila; and he finished his studies at Alcala. Even in his early youth prodigies of imagination and knowledge are related.of him. The Duke of Alba took him as his secretary ; he soon afterwards married. An affair of honour involved him in a duel; he wounded in a dangerous manner his adversary, and was under the necessity of flying. He passed some years in exile from Madrid, and at his return lost his wife. Grief concurring with his religious and patriotic zeal, induced him to enter the army, and he joined in the expedition of the Invincible Armada desa tined for the conquest of England, the destruction of which consolidated the reign of Elizabeth. On his return to Madrid he married anew, and lived for some time happy in the bosom of his family; but the death of his second wite determined him to renounce the world, and to enter into orders. He continued,