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And in "Hamlet," act i. sc. 4:
"That you, at such times seeing me never shall
That you know aught of me."
In "Macbeth," act i. sc. 3,
"If you can look into the seeds of time,
And say which grain will grow, and which will not,"
he reads rot instead of not.
In "Love's Labour's Lost," act iii. sub fin., instead of
"A whitely wanton with a velvet brow,"
"A whiteless wanton."
With the line in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," act i. sc. 1,
"To you your father should be as a god,”
Νόμιζε σαυτῷ τοὺς γονεῖς εἶναι θεούς.
Auctor apud Grot. in Excerptis, p. 929.
On "King Lear," act iv. sc. 4,
"I pray you, father, being weak, seem so,"
he cites from Euripides, Troad. ver. 729,
Μηδὲ σθένοντα μηδὲν ἰσχύειν δόκει.
But of all English authors he seems to have had the greatest liking for Pope. He admired, with all the world, Pope's vigour of thought and accuracy and beauty of language. Mr. Maltby has seen the tears
roll down his cheeks while he was repeating Pope's "Epistle to the Earl of Oxford," prefixed to Parnell's Poems. Walking with Maltby and Rogers over Pope's Villa at Twickenham, he exclaimed, "Oh, how I should like to pass the remainder of my days in a house which was the abode of a man so deservedly celebrated!"*
POPE. FOOTE. MIDDLETON.
Foote's plays he liked, and would recite whole scenes from the "Mayor of Garrat." Moore's "Fables for the Female Sex" was also a favourite book with him. Smollett's "Roderick Random" he could repeat, as we have seen, from beginning to end.
He was fond of reciting, it has been often saidt, the following passage from Middleton's "Free Inquiry."
"I persuade myself that the life and faculties of man, at the best but short and limited, cannot be employed more rationally or laudably than in the search of knowledge; and especially of that sort which relates to our duty, and conduces to our happiness. In these inquiries, therefore, whenever I perceive any glimmering of truth before me, I readily pursue and endeavour to trace it to its source, without any reserve or caution of pushing the discovery too far, or opening too great a glare of it to the public. I look upon the discovery of anything which is true as a valuable acquisition to society; which cannot possibly hurt or obstruct the good effect of any other truth whatsoever; for they all partake of one common essence, and necessarily coincide with each other; and like the drops of rain, which fall separately into the river, mix themselves at once with the stream, and strengthen the general current."
The subjoined passage from Lewis's "Historical
*Rogers's Table Talk, "Porsoniana," p. 313.
† Memoirs of Holcroft, vol. ii. p. 240.
Essay on the Consecration of Churches," he had honoured with several references:
"He alone, who is the only and best Son of the best and greatest Father, in compliance with His Father's love to mankind, most willingly clothed Himself with our nature, who were buried in corruption, and like a careful physician, (who for the health's sake of his patients looks into the wounds, lightly stroketh the sores, and from other many calamities attracteth grievances upon Himself,) He Himself hath saved us."
The references indicating that the words in the thesis owe their origin to Hippocrates, and that they are cited by Plutarch, by Lucian, by Eusebius, by Gregory Nazianzen, by Tzetzes in his Chiliads, and by Simplicius on Epictetus.†
An extract, given below, from Barrow's "Second Sermon on Evil Speaking," containing remarks on facetiousness, from which Sheridan is said to have taken hints for Puff's descant on puffing in "The Critic," Porson had copied into a blank book, as Mr. Boaden tells us, with one line at the top of each page, intending to exemplify and illustrate every one of its positions from ancient and modern literature:
"It is indeed a thing so versatile and multiform, that it seemeth no less hard to settle a clear and certain notion thereof, than to make a portrait of Proteus, or to define the figure of the fleeting air. Sometimes it lieth in pat allusion to a known story, or in seasonable application of a trivial saying, or in forging an apposite tale; sometimes it playeth in words and phrases, taking advantage from the
Kidd, Tracts, p. 317.
* P. 41.
Memoirs of Kemble, vol. i. p. 67.
ambiguity of their sense, or the affinity of their sound; sometimes it is wrapped in a dress of humorous expression; sometimes it lurketh under an odd similitude; sometimes it is lodged in a sly question, in a smart answer, in a quirkish reason, in a shrewd imitation, in cunningly diverting or cleverly retorting an objection; sometimes it is couched in a bold scheme of speech, in a tart irony, in a lusty hyperbole, in a startling metaphor, in a plausible reconciling of contradictions, or in acute nonsense; sometimes a scenical representation of persons or things, a counterfeit speech, a mimical look or gesture passeth for it; sometimes an affected simplicity, sometimes a presumptuous bluntness gives it being; often it consisteth in one knows not what, and springeth up one can hardly tell how. Its ways are unaccountable and inexplicable, being answerable to the numberless rovings of fancy and windings of language. It raiseth admiration as signifying a nimble sagacity of apprehension, a special felicity of invention, a vivacity of spirit, and reach of wit more than vulgar: it procureth delight by gratifying curiosity with its rareness, or semblance of difficulty; by directing the mind from its road of serious thoughts; by instilling gaiety and airiness of spirit; by provoking to such dispositions of spirit, in the way of emulation or complaisance; and by seasoning matters, otherwise distasteful or insipid, with an unusual and thence grateful fancy."
How copiously Porson could have illustrated each of these phrases, is easily imagined.
Two of the books which he was fond of carrying about him were "The Pillars of Priestcraft and Orthodoxy Shaken," and "A Cordial for Low Spirits," collections of Humorous Political Tracts written wholly or chiefly by Thomas Gordon, the translator of Tacitus, and professedly edited by Richard Barrow, Esq. As these effusions seem to have had some influence in the formation of that sarcastic style which Porson adopted in
his "Letters to Travis," and his papers in the "Morning Chronicle," we shall give a few extracts as specimens of their quality. One of the pamphlets is called "An Apology for the Danger of the Church, proving that the Church is, and ought to be, always in Danger, and that it would be dangerous for her to be out of Danger." Specifying who are friends of the Church, the writer
"The Lord Syntax is past forty, and has all the rules of grammar by heart, but, notwithstanding this great accomplishment, the caul is not yet taken off his face, and he is still a minor. But, being a babe in common sense, he is consequently a resolute high churchman.
"Lord Gemini does likewise demand honourable mention on this occasion. Nature was very negligent when she made this great man, for he is an unfinished piece of brown earth, and his mind, if he has one, tallies exactly with his outside. He cannot shut his mouth, nor hold his tongue. However, half made as he is, he is full of bright zeal; and when he is in the house, he seems to mean several speeches for the church, but no mortal is so well bred as to hear him: and yet his mouth, as I said, being always ready open, he proceeds eternally.
"I confess that Earl Talman, though he is a churchman, wants two essential qualifications for that character. He has sense, and he is never drunk. But, quoth Cato, who had not a due respect for priesthood and tyranny, Solus Cæsar ad evertendam rempublicam sobrius accessit. To be just to Earl Talman, I grant he was twice a whig upon valuable considerations, and once out of a pique. But at present he is a great churchman, because he has not a proper reason to be otherwise."
"A traitorous enemy to the church hath been the weather. There has not been a blast of wind, or a shower of rain these five years, but what has been drawn, head over