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the pillow of the sick person, and watched her terse, sparkling, witty; it must be complete and alternately with the nurse. Her health, before distinct in idea; clear and sharp in expression, robust, suffered from her confinement, and, to and faultless in versification. To the epigramadd to her perplexities, her income was not sufi- matist there is no “poetic license" to excuse cient for the extraordinary expenses her under- defects of art; the law is prohibition. Dixit taking had imposed upon her. The nurse cost Apollo. The body of an epigram, that it may a great deal, and clean linen was needed every have the soul of wit, must be brief.
In respect day, to say nothing of the prescriptions and to size, it is no paradox to say that, of two epivisits of the physician. Besides all these, the grams, cæteris paribus, the longer is the less. rent became due. Marie sold her silver, paid Four lines are better than six, and two are betfor her rooms and those of the sick woman, ter than four. Eight is the outer limit; if it and met the daily expenses bravely.
goes beyond that, it goes further to fare worse, But for Marie this woman never could have and, violating the first law of its existence, returned to life. Friends and hirelings had ceases to be an epigram at all. With every abandoned her. Marie, the soft and kind- other requisite, it must have wit or humor; hearted girl, overcame death and saved her failing which, it has the deficiency of “Hamenemy. At the expiration of two months Ma- let" with the part of the Prince omitted. Like dame de Montjeu could rise, and even walk; a needle, an epigram without a point is worthbut she was no longer young. The ravages of | less. Of epic poems, it is judged by the critics, disease were but too deeply inscribed upon her there are not more than six good ones extant, face. Her hands, those once so charming hands, including “Festus,” to give it the benefit of a now dried up, could not serve to gain her a liveli- doubt. Of epigrams that deserve the same epihood. Her fingers, closed by convulsions, would thet, there are not over six hundred in the six no longer open ; the nerves had been drawn thousand (and more) that have been written ; up.
and of these not more than sixty that are posiMarie dressed her neatly, gave her a complete tively admirable. Three or four by Voltaire, wardrobe, put her in a carriage, and conducted an equal number by Piron, and two or three by her to the hospital in the Rue de Sèvres. each of the other most famous epigrammatists,
On taking leave of her, she gave her a small with a dozen or so by that versatile and prolifie roll of paper-it was a copy of the blind man's wit, “ Anonymous,” embrace the whole numconfessions—and said, in a soft and consoling ber that approach perfection. Martial, who voice :
wrote fourteen books of epigrams, in the first “My sister, go and pray.”
century, had so high an opinion of the art, and Marie had deposited for the benefit of the hos- was so well convinced of his own deficiencies, pital the sum of thirteen thousand francs, in that upon revising his epigrams, he said, with consideration of which the Institution would equal truth and candor: take care of Madame de Montjeu to the day of
"Sunt bona, sunt quædam mediocria, sunt mala plura :" her death. Such was the vengeance of Marie.
---an epigrammatic confession which may be her extraordinary expenses she had quitted the rendered with sufiicient accuracy thus: Enfants Rouges, and taken a more modest apart- ** A few are good; some well enough; ment. She continued through life with a patient
But most, I own, are wretched stull," courage the practice of benevolence, for hers Here are a couple of his epigrams that deserve was a Christian and evangelic soul.
a place in the first class. What is odd enough,
they are rather mended than marred in the EPIGRAMS AND EPIGRAMMATISTS. translation, by Addison :
" TO A CAPRICIOUS FRIEND. a good toast, a very rare one, considering - In all thy humors, whether grave or mellow, the vast number of epigrams that have been
Thou'rt such a touchy, testy, pleasant fellowwritten from the time of Martial until now. Hast so much wit, and mirth, and spleen about thee, The reason of the paucity of good epigrams is There is no living with thee, nor without thee!" sufficiently apparent. Though the conditions The closing line has been often quoted and necessary to success in this sort of literary en variously applied. The next, “ To an Ill-faterprise are not so many as those which are de- vored Lady,” is exceedingly subtle and sarcasmanded by what are called “ sustained poems,” tic: such as odes, elegies, and the like; yet this
“While in the dark on thy soft hand I hung, simple versicle, which we call an “Epigram," And heard the tempting siren in thy tongue, is in some respects as ambitious and exacting What flames, what darts, what anguish I endured!
But when the candle entered I was cured." as an epic. Its very brevity is a warrant that it shall be something, or nothing. In an Iliad It is little creditable to the gallantry of the of twenty-four books the poet may not only poets that so many of their sharpest sayings are be permitted to “nod" now and then, but he leveled at the women. One would suppose that may fairly set his readers a-nodding, without the French epigrammatists would have observed reproach to his genius or prejudice to his art; the usual politeness of the “grand nation" tobut neither dullness nor carelessness can be ward the gentler sex; but, in fact, the allie winked at in an epigram. It must be brief, wits are as unsparing as the Roman.
A Good epigram is a good thingonbidelike
his noble fire
The following elegant couplet was pronounced grams, of which only six are preserved. He is by Boileau to be the best epigram on record : the author of the following Bacchanalian senti"Ci git ma femme ; ah! qu'elle est bien
ment, which Horace Smith erroneously attribPour son répos, et pour le mien."
utes to Anacreon: As an epigrammatic epitaph it is certainly
“If with water you fill up your glassce, perfect. A literal translation quite spoils the
You'll never write any thing wise ; charm of the rhyme and rhythm; and any par
For wine is the steed of Parnassus,
Which carries a bard to the skics!" aphrase in English verse must vary the sense and mar the delicacy of the original. The fol- Philonides, a dramatic poet of reputation, in lowing couplet may serve, for want of a better the time of Aristophanes, was a voluminous auversion :
thor, of whose writings nothing can now be " Here lies my wife; what better could she do found but a single epigram. It contains a noFor her repose, and for her husband's too!"
ble sentiment, and is fairly rendered in the folAfter Peter Corneille, the great dramatist, of lowing quatrain : whom Pope said,
"Because I fear to be unjust, forsooth,
Am I a coward, as the fools suppose ! Shows us that France has something to admire,'
Meek let me be to all the friends of truth, had established his reputation, and had come
And only terrible among its foes!" to be thought a very prodigy of poetical genius, Most of the epigrams of the British poets, his brother Thomas attempted the same career, from Chaucer to Byron, are too hackneyed to but with very ignoble success. His vanity, be worth repeating. Pope, who is facile prinhowever, was not at all piqued by his failure, ceps among English wits, and the most epiand he had his portrait painted and hung up grammatic of poets, has given us few epigrams for the admiration of the public. On seeing which are printed as such in separate stanzas. this, Graçon, a satirist, wrote under the picture To find Pope's chef-d'auvres in this kind, one the following lines :
must read the “Dunciad," the “Moral Essays," " Voyant le portrait de Corneille,
and the “Prologue to the Satires," in which Gardez voule de crier merveille!
epigrams are as plenty as couplets, and good Et dans vos transports n'allez pas
ones abundant on every page. Prendre ici Pierre pour Thomas !"
“If on a pillory, or near a throne, The epigram, which is only quotable as a smart He gain his prince's car, or lose his own,' impromptu, is well stated in the following free is as terse and keen an epigram as ever was paraphrase :
written by Piron or Voltaire. The couplet in “Ye who gaze on this portrait, I pray you take care,
Prologue"- supposed to be personal to And don't cry, "How charming!' before you're aware ; Lady Montague, whom the poet had loved, Restrain your devotion in very short metre,
eulogized, and, finally, quarreled with and deAnd don't be mistaking this Thomas for PETER !"
nounced-is as sententious and witty as it is The Greek epigrammatists have left us little truculent and mordacious: more than their names; but as the Hellenic
* From furious Sappho scarce a milder fate, epigram was, for the most part, merely a versi- P-d by her love or poisoned by her hate! fied sentiment, or, at the best, a pretty poetical The satires of Young are scarcely less abundconceit, the loss to the world of wit is not great. ant in sparkling epigrams. His verse is not so One of Plato's epigrams is worth quoting, as graceful as that of the great satirist, but in affording a piquant commentary on that modern terseness and point he is not surpassed by any invention,“Platonic love.” What Plato would English poet. The following, from his satire have thought of it, one may guess from the on “ The Love of Fame," are samples of his following passionate rhapsody to his inamorata : epigrammatic talent: “Why dost thou gaze upon the sky ?
"Fame is a bubble the reserved enjoy;
Who strive to grasp it, as they touch, destroy.
"Tis the world's debt to deeds of high degree;
But if you pay yourself, the world is free!" In another quatrain, entitled “The Kiss,” the
"I find the fool when I behold the screen; poet represents his soul as passing through his
For 'tis the wise man's interest to be seen." lips and" soaring away." Alas! that the great philosopher should have lost his soul for a kiss.
“As love of pleasure into pain betrays, Anacreon could have done no worse.
So most grow infamous through love of praise." reading these erotic specimens of genuine Platonism that lately occasioned the following very
"'Tis health that keeps the Atheist in the dark, natural reflection, in the form of a verbal im- A fever argnies better than a Clarke; promptu :
If but the logic in his pulse decay,
The Grecian he'll renounce, and learn to pray." “Oh, Plato 1-Plato! If that's the way to
"Some go to church, proud humbly to repent, Teach the art to cool us,
And come back much more guilty than they went;
One way they look, another way they steer,
Pray to the Gods, but would have mortals hear;
And when their sins they set sincerely down, Niccenetus, a Thracian poet, wrote many epi- They'll find that their religion has been one.'
" Lavina is polite, but not profane,
lines, the last of which, though very smooth and To church as constant as to Drury Lane;
delicate, was strong enough to hang him: She decently, in form, pays Heaven its due, And makes a civil visit to her pew."
“Ward has no heart, they say: but I deny it;
He has a heart, and gets his speeches by it!" "Untaught to bear it, women talk away To God himself, and fondly think they pray,
How does it happen that epigram writing has But sweet their accent, and their air refined,
so nearly gone out of vogue? Quien sabe? It For they're before their Maker-and mankind !"
is the best possible form for a single stroke of “But since the gay assembly's gayest room
wit, and was once an acknowledged and forIs but the upper story of some tomb,
midable force in literature. It was at one time Methinks we need not our short beings shun,
a favorite weapon of personal and political conAnd, thought to fly, content to be undone. We need not buy our ruin with our crime,
troversy; and as decisive battles have been And give eternity to murder time!"
fought with the rifle-like epigram as with the Canning, the orator, poet, and wit, whose clumsy club of the pamphleteers, which came “Needy Knife Grinder" alone would have made next into use ; or by the heavy “charges” of him famous, was the author of several clever newspaper “columns," which is the fashion of jeu d'esprit in the form of epigrams. The two the present day. French wit in this form has following are attributed to his pen:
gone extinct with the French wits; and of En
glish writers only Punch writes epigrams; and "As Harry, one day, was abusing the sex,
not many good ones at that; though he has a As things that in courtship but studied to vex, And in marriage but sought to enthrall;
happy knack at a parody, and is the author of • Never mind liim,' says Kate, ''tis a family wbim; the best prose facetiæ afloat. Since the death His father agreed so exactly with him
of the incomparable Hood, America can boast That he never would marry at all!'"
the most successful humorous poets now living; This is much in the manner of the other, and but they either do not write epigrams, or they equally brilliant :
do not print them in their books. Not more than * As in India, one day, an Englishman sat,
half-a-dozen can be found, and these in the With a smart native lass, at the window;
volume of a single author. Yet the best epi*Do your widows burn themselves? pray tell me that? grams of the time are by American pens, and Said the pretty, inquisitive Hindoo.
are published anonymously the newspapers, • Do they burn? That they do!' the gentleman said, • With a flame not so easy to smother;
of which the Boston Post is probably the most Our widows, the moment one husband is dead, prolific. Many of these are local, or turn upon Immediately burn--for another !""
transient matters, and so perish with the memory Coleridge wrote a good many epigrams, but of the incidents which occasioned them. Othall the fine ones are merely rhymed versions ers, though sufficiently witty, are too diffuse, or of other people's jokes. Several are appropri- too roughly versified, to command general adated from Lessing, a poet whose exuberant miration. A few of these newspaper epigrams, wit furnishes a sufficient answer to the solemn are at once pointed, pithy, pungent, and artistinquiry of Père Bonhours, “Whether a Ger- | ically finished, and deserve a longer life than man can be a bel esprit ?” Coleridge's best ep- will probably be accorded to them. The followigram is based on a comical quibble which heling, lately occasioned by the published gratulafound in “Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy." tion of a lady (an authoress) on the birth of her It is very subtle and amusing:
first child, is exceedingly clever: “Sly Beelzebub took all occasions
“Ah, well! 'tis over! Should I not resign To try Job's constancy and patience.
My weaker will to Fate's imperious shall ? He took his honor, took his health,
'Tis not a boy! yet such as 'tis, 'tis mine: He took his children, took his wealth,
Then let me, thankful, murmur c'est e .gal!"" His servants, oxen, horses, cowsBut cunning Satan did not take his spouse.
A similar reason suggested an equally good
natured rhyme, a few years ago, when an ediBut Heaven, that brings out good from evil, And loves to disappoint the devil,
tress announced that, after a marriage of fifteen Had predetermined to restore
years, she had given birth to her first child. Two-fold all he had before;
Whereupon an epigrammatist, who must have His servants, horses, oxen, cows
been a lawyer, made the following “declaraShort-sighted devill not to take his spouse !"
tion :" Rogers, the banker-poet, the most caustic of “ An honest woman, you may safely bet, verbal jokers, has left a single epigram in print, Who thus, without the least equivocation, which Byron pronounced "the best ever written
Pays to the world a most important debt, in two lines." One Ward, a fluent magazine
When clearly free by statute limitation !" scribbler, and a flippant Parliamentary orator, When Dr. Parsons took the prize for the prohad criticised the poet's “ Italy" with great vio- logue recited at the opening of the new Boston lence. Rogers, learning the name of the re- theatre, there was the usual discussion whether viewer, and hearing the current talk that his the production was either prize-worthy or praiseenemy was more than suspected of declaiming worthy. Some person, who seems to have his speeches from memory—a practice then and thought the author a better poet than the pronow regarded by the use as a disgraceful im- logue indicated, expressed his opinion in an position-came down upon his adversary in tivo epigram entitled :
perception as at the moment of utterance. I “What Parsons, a dentist? You don't mean to say can not express what I experienced in this reThat that sort of chap bore the chaplet away?'
spect bet:er than to say that my own mind, like ** Xay-none of your sneers at his laureate wreathlle's a very good poet, in spite of his teeth."
a mirror, reflected sometimes the consciousness,
memory, and volition of another; and this quite Here is a patriotic epigram :
independently of effort on my part other than " At a rubber of whist an Englishman grave
to hold in abeyance disturbing forces. Said he couldn't distinguish a king from a knara,
One morning in the middle of July, after a His eyes were so dim and benighted ; A Yankee observed that he needn't complain,
protracted drought, and after the failure of reFor the thing has been often attempted in vain peuted prognostics of rain, the temperature had By eyes that were very clear-sighted !"
suddenly descended from little less than a hunThe following on an ex-member of Congress, dred degrees to the vicinity of fifty. The coolis not bad :
ness had braced my nerves to a degree of ten
sion which I had rarely felt. I was evolving a "To say Mr. Brodhead has never a wrong head, Is more than his measure of laud:
plan of action as I stood by the window in the But yet Mr. Brodhead has surely a strong head, office of my friend Wynn, whose guest I then Which makes it as long as 'tis broad!"
was, and who, by-the-way, was eminent in the And here is an epigram by an exultant wid- brotherhood of lawyers whose rare acumen and ower, entitled :
sterling good sense form a counterpart to the "THE WORLD, THE FLESH, AND THE DEVIL."
granitic structure of their own State. While I “My first was a lady whose dominant passion
stood there, then, an individual entered the Was thorough devotion to parties and fashion ; office, whom in spite of multifarious disguises, My second, regardless of conjugal duty,
such as dyed hair and whiskers, false teeth and Was only the worse for her wonderful beauty;
an assumed name, I at once recognized as my My third was a vixen in temper and lise, Without one essential to make a good wife.
own fellow-townsman, and as arrant a scoundrel Jubilate ! at last in my freedom I revel,
as it had ever been my lot to encounter. He For l'ın clear of the world, and the flesh, and the devil!" had an air of much pretension, wore a large
seal ring, a showy breast-pin, and several crossAN EVENING AT EPPING.
ings of heavy gold chain over a bright-patterned I ,
reflection than to action have at times been the purpose of varnish to a very ugly picture, conscious of powers undeveloped far transcend- heightening the distinctness of every bad point. ing all they have ever put forth. In illustra- His errand, to obtain the use of the Town-hall tion of this assumption, I purpose offering a for the delivery of a lecture on animal maynetplain statement of facts. It may be that circum- ism, being speedily accomplished, he took his stances equally remarkable occur within the leave. experience of most persons; but if it be so, I “Wynn," said I, as the door closed upon believe they excite usually only a transient ob- him, “do you remember Mark Tufts, who was servation.
convicted of burglary in Charleston, and who Ten years ago, I was spending the summer afterward escaped from the State Prison ?" in Epping-a quiet, pleasant country town in “Yes," answered Wynn; "and I could not New England. Unusual demands had been think of whom this man reminds me; yes, it is made on my energies, mental and physical, the of Mark Tufts.” preceding year, and with scarcely vitality suffi- "It is Tufts himself," I replied. “I recogcient to enable me to seek rest, I yet thankfully nized him before he had uttered three sentences. accepted it when offered by chance. A month I came across the room just now to look for the of absolute repose restored to me a degree of scar of a wound on the left cheek, given him by vigor commensurate perhaps with that which I a companion in a drunken broil. The mark is before possessed, but with a difference. Pre- there. And I know that the little finger and viously I had valued chiefly my uniformity of the first joint from the one next it are missing ability to labor. Now, I had the ability in an from the hand which he carries in a sling, and equal degree, but interruptedly. Gradually 1 which he avers to have been hurt in a recent observed, too, that my own moods were precur- railroad accident." sors of meteorological changes, so that I became “Pierson E. Leffingwell,” was elaborately a sort of conscious barometer. My experiences engraved on the card with which he had inat this time were not all equally pleasurable, troduced himself. I looked from the window; but the most agreeable of them, I think, was a the man had crossed the street and was standfeeling of extreme buoyancy accompanied by an ing on the piazza of the Epping House. Presunusual clearness of perception, apparently coin- ently he entered, and shortly after reappeared, cident with, and, as I grew to believe, dependent accompanied by a showily dressed woman and upon, any extraordinary augmentation of atmos- a young girl; in the appearance of the latter 1 pheric electricity. At such times, too, I was remarked nothing except perhaps extreme fraconscious of a recognition of traits of character gility. in the individuals around me which I had never A programme indicated that at the close of before observed; their thoughts, the very words the lecture some interesting demonstrations they were about to speak, were as clear to my would be exhibited. Mrs. and Miss Louise Lettingwell, it was stated, were both mediums, I low, with shadowy chestnut hair; the eyes, blue, and the former gifted with remarkable powers I knew afterward, though I had supposed them of reading the future.
black, were so large and fringed with such thick, We decided at once to “assist" at this pre- long lashes, that they seemed to make half her lection. The man's extreme villainy and au- face. There was an occasional slight compresdacity made him interesting. Indeed, so en- sion of the under lip that showed her to be ill tire had been the popular conviction, in the at ease, whether from physical pain or some trial to which I have referred, of the man's de- other cause, and under an air of apparent lanliberate, vindictive malice, that there had been guor, a quick nervous closing and unclosing of felt a very general disappointment that his sen- the little left hand which held the edge of her tence was not more severe.
black scarf. She wore no ornaments. Not a very large audience, of course, was to Of course I do not pretend in any way to acbe expected in a place like Epping; but it was count for the phenomena I am about to describe. a pretty fair turn-out-several hundreds—and No theory that ever came in my way has seemed these were mostly collected before Mrs. Leffing- to me to bear adequate credentials. In most inwell and the young lady made their appearance. stances, too, which have been related to me, I
On a platform at one side of the hall were have felt myself compelled to doubt facts and placed a table with lights and several chairs. inferences. I will give an unvarnished stateMr. Leitingwell came in, arranged these, with- ment of occurrences, premising only that I had drew again, and soon returned conducting his previously, and precisely when I had found myassistants. The woman seated herself in a self in a mood similar to that which I have debustling, important way, arranging and rear- scribed as particularly belonging to me on this ranging her dress, and sending around bold, day, been able to exert the influence to which assured glances. The girl took her place quiet- have been given the epithets magnetic, odic, and ly, without raising her eyes until the falling of the like, over some very refractory subjects. a window which had not been properly fasten- At the close of Mr. Leffingwell's declamaed up; then she lifted them a moment, with a tory farrago, he came to the front of the platstartled, expectant look. I observed the group form and proposed, for the more satisfactory closely, for I had begun to grow interested in demonstration of his science, to experiment on them.
any one or several among his auditors who might The lecture was a tissue of trashy plagi- solicit proof in their own persons. A middlearisms, through which what the man would be aged man, of stolid aspect, and a boy of sixteen at was not clearly perceptible. It was evident, presented themselves. Directing them to be however, that he had himself a sort of grotesque seated in chairs on the right of the staging, and faith in what he was trying to say; a kind of observing that he would begin with the elder trembling belief involved in his diabolism. And individual, he took his station nearly opposite, this suggested to me a plan for the solution of and commenced his craft. a query which had entered my mind; how far, I commenced too, and in earnest. For about namely, that slight young girl, sitting there three minutes, during which I felt my concenwith an air of such utter abstraction, was a trative power-I know no better name for itvoluntary accomplice of Mr. and Mrs. Leffing- growing stronger, I perceived no outward token well. That they were well matched admitted of success; but then there was a perceptible tonscarcely a doubt. The woman, large-framed, ing down, a manifest smouldering of the audaccoarse-featured, swarthy, with thick, sensuality of his look. Let me endeavor to describe lips and black brows meeting over lurid eyes, my own experience at the time. looked fit for any emergency of wickedness. It seemed as if I projected a circle of influIn dress she was the counterpart of her hus-ence extending to an indefinite distance from band; every thing about her was tawdry; a the man, and inclosing him as a centre. The flashy silk gown much flounced, a heavily circumference, irregular at first, and wavering, wrought and soiled white crape shawl, a rigo- it was my effort to integrate, and then with a lette, as I believe they term those triangular tag- steady, tidal pulsation to contract toward and rags which women were then beginning to wear around the person I was endeavoring to control. on the head, a quantity of bracelets, rings, It was in my favor that he, intent on his own chains, brooches, and the like, and a vulgar- purpose, was unaware of mine. I was succeed looking fan, which she flourished unremitting-ing-nearer and nearer came the inclosing ly, made up her outtit. She impressed me as wave-I saw it become faintly luminous, while having foregone every womanly trait.
points of lambent, bluish flame projected from Not so the girl claimed by the Leffingwells it inward ; a needle of light glided toward his as their daughter. She looked at most four- hand-he rubbed it hastily--the next moment teen, and might be a year or two younger; she the faint blue circle, invisible to all but myself, wore a lilac-colored dress and a black silken was contracted to a hazy, luminous, irregular scarf; the simplicity of her attire not less than centre. My aim was accomplished; his eyelids the frail delicate beauty of her person, contrast- quivered, then drooped, and with a slow, audible ing noticeably with the intense vulgarity of the respiration he sat back in his chair, rigid and woman beside her. Her face was too pale, but white. the features were exquisite in outline; the brow I breathed freely then, and I became aware