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and was therefore prohibited by a public proclamation, in which it was ranked with other idle and unlawful pastimes. But notwithstanding it was thus degraded and discountenanced, it still maintained its popularity, and in defiance of all temporary opposition has descended to the modern times. Among the additions made by Henry VIII. to the palace at White-hall, was a cock-pit, which indicates his relish for the pastime of cock-fighting; and James I. was so partial to this diversion, that he amused himself in seeing it twice a week. Exclusive of the royal cock-pit, we are told there was formerly one in Drury-lane, another in Jewin-street, and a third in Shoe-lane, if the following story be founded on fact. " Sir Thomas Jermin, meaning to make himself merry, and gull all the cockers, sent his man to the pit in Shoe-lane, with £100. and a dunghill cock, neatly cut and trimmed for the battle; the plot being well laid, the fellow got another to throw the cock in, and fight him in Sir Thomas Jermin's name, while he betted his £100. against him; the cock was matched, and bear. ing Sir Thomas's name, had many bets laid upon his head; but after three or four good brushes, he showed a payre of heeles:
every one wondered to see a cock belonging to Sir Thomas cry craven, and away came the man, with his money doubled.”
I shall not expatiate upon the nature and extent of this fashionable divertisement; but merely mention a part of it, which seems to be an abuse of the modern times; and as a late judicious author justly says, "a disgrace to us as Englishmen!” It is called the Welsh main, and consists of a certain number of pairs of cocks, suppose sixteen, which fight with each other until one half of them are killed; the sixteen conquerors are pitted a second time in like manner, and half are slain ; the eight survivors a third time, the four a fourth time, and the remaining two a fifth time; so that thirty-one cocks are sure to be inhumanly murdered for the sport and pleasure of the spectators!
In the old illuminated manuscripts we frequently meet with paintings, representing cocks fighting; but I do not remember to have seen in any of them the least indication of artificial spurs; the arming their heels with sharp points of steel is a cruelty, I trust, unknown to our ancestors*.
In addition to what has been said, I shall only observe, that the ancients fought partridges and quails, as well as cocks; “ in like manner,” says Burton, the French do now; how far, if at all, the example has been followed in England, I know not.”
(Communicated by I. B-n, London.)
ON POETRY. POETRY is a mixture of painting, music, and eloquence. As eloquence, it speaks, it proves, it relaxes. As music, it has a regulated course, tones and cadences, whose combinations form a kind of concert. As painting, it draws out objects, and lays on colours; it expresses every beauty in nature: a word, it makes use both of the colours and the pencil. It employs concords and harmony, it shows truth, and knows how to make truth lovely.
Poetry takes in all kinds of subjects: it employs every shining action in history; it enters into the regions of philosophy: it flies into the skies, to admire the courses of the heavenly bodies: it darts into the sea, and into the internal parts of the earth, there to examine the secrets of nature: it penetrates even into the mansions of the dead, to see the rewards of the good, and the tortures of the bad : it takes in the whole universe. If this world is not sufficient, it creates new ones, which it embellishes with enchanted dwellings, and peoples with a thousand different sorts of inhabitants. There it creates beings after its own fancy: it produces nothing but what is perfect; it improves every production of nature: it is a kind of magic; it flings illusion into the eyes, into the imagi
* In common with every friend of humanity, I rejoice to say, that the Royal cock-pit at St. James's, has lately been abolished.
Hation, into the mind itself; and makes us enjoy real pleasures by inventions merely chimerical.
ON THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE. SIR, AMONG the numberless philosophical disquisitions which have filled the pages of the Enquirer, I am surprised that your ingenious correspondents have forborne to treat upon the nature of the philosopher's stone, a subject of much more importance to the general welfare of society, than at first sight it appears to be; a research well worth the attention of the curious.
It is a subject, undoubtedly, which has been much misunderstood, since it has been a received opinion, that a certain hidden mystery, known only to the ancients, by a chemical application, and laborious process, had produced a phenomenon called the philosopher's stone, or, in other words, the art of turning common substances into pure gold. I need not remark that, at that period, moral truths were usually conveyed under some fiction, and gold was a term synonymous to happy; for instance,“ the golden age,” which was intended to convey an idea of that state of innocence and perfection, which was enjoyed by the inhabitants of this earth, before ambition, covetousness, and envy had destroyed the felicity of mortals, and filled it with misery and crimes. This justifies me in supposing, that, as philosophy teaches us the art of making every state and condition in life happy, (and as few have ever arrived at that rare perfection of sentiment which can extract good from evil, and by the innate virtues of the soul, supersede the want of external and perishable treasures) it may be fairly imagined that such, in the language of ancient metaphor, may be said to have found the philosopher's stone; a research as difficult and unattainable to the vulgar and sensual mind, as for the alchymist to extract in reality, the pure unalloyed metal from grosser substances.
While I was pursuing this train of thought the fol. lowing lines, obtruded themselves upon my mind, which as, in some measure, they explain more directly my ideas on the subject, I will here subjoin; and if with the foregoing remarks, you think them worth inserting in your next number, I may perhaps, from time to time, trouble you with my speculations, which, if they boast no other merit, will, at least, be original.
In what lone corner shall we find
easy to obtain ? We run the mazy path of care, And think how vain ! to find it there. 'Twas never in the palace found, Yet in the cottage doth abound. The merchant who with anxious mind Watches the varyings of the wind, In hopes his vessel's freight contains This sweet reward for all his pains, Though safe in port his vessel rides, And Fortune pours her golden tides, His avarice still demands increase Thus wealth for ever breaks his peace. The learned alchymist, who pores In careful search his midnight hours, Wasting whole years in toil and pain, In hopes this fancied prize to gain, He beats, he blows, all efforts tries, The pure ethereal vapours rise ; At once they seek their native skies, And leave him hopeless to behold The dross remain instead of gold. But ah! unthinking man, believe; Trust me, I mean not to deceive; Tis not in riches, not in power, 'Tis not in Pleasure's rosy bower,
"Tis not in mines, nor in the sea,
CHAUCER'S POEMS. In the edition of Chaucer's works printed by John Reynes, 1542, in black letter, with wood-cuts, Heriwardus de Brunne will find a copy of “ The Plowman's Tale;" it is, to the best of my recollection, inserted immediately after “ The Parson's Tale.” I had a copy of this in my possession some little time since. It is extremely rare, and I do not know where one can now be met with. Manchester, March 6, 1812.
(Continued from page 71.) ADIEU, French, from “ ad Deum te commendo," je. I commend you to God. Farewell, fare ye well, a similar expression to the lo Pæan of the Egyptians, and the “ Deo gratias” of the Romans; being short expressions to excite a reliance on God in distress.
SWEARING BY BELL, BOOK, AND CANDLE, originated in the manner of the Pope's blessing the world yearly, from the balcony of St. Peter's at Rome. He holds a wax taper lighted, a cardinal reads a curse on all heretics; no sooner is the last word uttered, than the bell tolls, and the Pope changes his curse into a blessing, throwing down his taper among the people.
ADORE, from adorare and this from adas, a respectful mode of salutation by carrying the hand to the mouth.
NINE OF DIAMONDS, called the curse of Scotland, from a Scotch member of Parliament, part of whose arms is the nine of diamonds, voting for the introduction of the malt-tax into Scotland.
CARVING AT TABLE, by ladies, Verstigan says, originated among our Saxon ancestors; and the title of