Imagens das páginas

Even Dryden sunk into neglect in this subject : among their other misforhis old age, having died in a garret in tunes, he collates the following cases an obscure corner of London ; being of incarceration of authors; his object, visited by a friend in his last moments, however, being to show that their imwho commiserated his situation, he re- prisonment rather promoted than replied, “ You feel and weep for my suf- tarded the progress of their studies.ferings, but never mind, the pang will It was while immured within the soon be all over." Chatterton, in gloomy walls of a dungeon that BeeBrooke-street, starved two days before thius composed his well-known “Conhe cut his throat; Dr. Johnson was solations of Philosophy," Grotius wrote once found in the most desponding his " Commentary on St. Matthew," hopelessness in a garret, destitute even and Buchanan his excellent “ Paraof ink and paper with which to tran- phrases.” The renowned Cervantes, scribe his lucubrations. When Gold- in Barbary, and “Fleta," written in the smith had nearly completed his “ Vi- Fleel," afford similar proofs ; the name car," his landlady one day surprised of the place though not of the author him by a heavy demand for his board having been preserved in commemoand lodging; and on his declaring his ration of the fact; while another work, utter inability to meet it, she proposed “Fleta Minor,” or “the laws of art to cancel her claim on his becoming her and nature in knowing the bodies of spouse; this the timely arrival of metals," by Petters, 1683, derived also Johnson prevented, as he aided him in its title from the circumstance of its the liquidation of the debt.

having been translated from the GerIf we turn to France, we shall there man during the author's confinement find even stronger instances of the hap- in this prison. Louis XII. and Marless destiny of genius. Vaugelas, one garet, consort of Henry IV. of France, of the politest writers, and one of the as well as Charles I. of England, made most honest men of his time, was sur good use of the pen under similar cirnamed the Owl, from his being obliged cumstances—the latter having indited to keep within all day and venture out his well-known Eikon Basilike, or the only by night, through fear of his cre- Royal Image, the authorship of which ditors. His last will is very remark- has given rise to so much curious specuable. After bequeathing all his worldly lation among the learned. Queen Elizsubstance to the discharge of his debts, abeth, while confined by her sister Mahe goes on thus :

ry, wrote several poems, which are

said never to have been equalled after “But as there still may remain some her enlargement; and the unfortunate creditors unpaid, even after all that I have Mary, Queen of Scots, during her long shall be disposed of, in such a case it is my imprisonment, produced many pleasing last will that my body should be sold to the surgeons to the best advantage, and poetic compositions, one of which, her that the purchase money should go to the Last Prayer, we transcribe for the sake discharging those debts which I owe to of its plaintive melody and beauty. It society; so that if I could not, while live was written originally in Latin; we ing, at least when dead, I may be useful." append an English rendering of it for

the benefit of those who prefer a verThat is " honest to the back-bone at nacular version :

any rate."

In our own times, how many sad instances of poverty, being the inheritance of poets, occur to the memory ?the great “poet of the poor," Ebenezer Elliott followed the calling of an ironmonger ; Clare that of a common daylaborer; Hogg was a shepherd-boy ; Miller a basket-maker; Kirke White originally carried out the basket of the butcher, which was afterwards exchanged for the hosier's loom. But it is peedless to extend their numbers.

D’Israeli has a prolific chapter on

Oh! Domine Deus,

Speravi in te-
Oh! Care mi Jesu,

Nunc libera me.
In durâ catena,
In miserå pænå

Desidero te.
Languendo, gemendo,
Et genufleciendo,

Adoro, imploro
Ut liberes me!

Oh! my God and my Lord,

I have trusted in thee;
Ob! Jesu, my Love,

Now liberate me.

In my enemies' power,

fully without its meal, but never withIn affliction's sad hoor

out its page!
I languish for thee.
In sorrowing, weeping,

An enthusiastic temperament is also
And bending the knee,

often the accompaniment of genius--a I adore and implore thee

feature of character that renders it the To liberate me.

easy victim of delusion and credulity.

Numerous instances might be adduced In glancing over the story of many in proof. Sir Isaac Newton was half a literary life, how touching are its ap- inoculated with the absurdities of jupeals to our own sympathy! Who can dicial astrology. Dr. Johnson was proread the above without feeling their verbially superstitious. What curious force ? It is not every one who has paradoxes may be seen between the philosophy enough to abide the impu- writings and actions of the same men. dent reply made to the learned French- Hobbes the deist was a most devout man, Treret, who, on being summarily believer in ghosts and spiritual existtaken from his sick-bed to the Bastile, ences. Locke, the matter-of-fact phiafter patiently submitting for several losopher, was an inordinate reader of weeks to his ** durance vile," on inquir- romance, and revelled in works of ficing for what offence he was so treated, tion. And too truly has the character received from his officer the following of the great Francis Verulam been heartless and insolent response : "Sir, depicted as the wisest, greatest, and I think you have a deal of curiosity !"

meanest of mankind ! Every one has read the history and

Since everything connected with woes of Silvio Pellico, the author of men of intellect possesses interest, we Francesca da Rimini and other re. shall briefly refer to some of their pe. nowned Italian tragedies, whose love of culiar amusements and domestic hapoetry survived so many years of his bits, previously to entering upon the gloomy incarceration.

main objects before us—their misforSir Walter Raleigh's memorable tunes. “ History of the World," although un The favorite recreation of the learnfinished, remains a noble monument of ed Father Petavius, author of Dogmata his learning, industry, and indomitable Theologica, was, at the interval of every perseverance, under circumstances so second hour, the babit of twirling his apparently adverse to the cultivation of chair for five minutes. Spinosa, after letters as those in which he was placed, protracted studies, regaled himself by a during the gloomy lapse of his eleven species of pithy sportsmanship, in makyears' imprisonment. We might also ing spiders fight each other. Tycho cite numerous others; but two more Brahe amused himself with polishing names must suffice ; they are of equal glasses for spectacles. Balzac's favor. celebrity—both being remarkable in- ite pastime was that of making crayons. stances of high genius, although re- Montaigne found a playmate in his cat. motely opposite in character. We re- Cardinal Richelieu delighted at playing ter to Voltaire and Bunyan, the for- leap-frog with his servant. Pope wastmer, who, while in the Bastile, sketch- ed his time in trying to paint; and Poed the plan and partly completed his litian was never so happy as when Henriade; and the latter, who, during singing to his lute. his cruel imprisonment in Bedford jail, Turn we for a moment to the doproduced his world-renowned “ Pila mestic peculiarities of the learned, we grim's Progress. And how many shall find no less abundant evidence of more, like McDiarmid, have exhibited the verity of their true designationthe sad combination of genius allied to genus irritatite. Johnson evinced his abject poverty ? who, as D'Israeli re

nervous irritability by biting his nails to lates, while engaged upon his “ Sys- the very quick-an intimation, it is said, tem of Military Defence,” became so of his well-known pugnacity and crustistudy-worn and emaciated that his hol- ness. Another worthy but eccentric low eyes seemed like dim lamps shin- bibliopole, William Coke of Leith, ing in the tomb. His entire life was, who died some ten or twelve years indeed, one continuous strife with the since, presents also a singular instance fell spoiler ; often the day passed cheer- of a quick and irritable temperament:

but we may scarcely wonder at his compositions; and La Fontaine and La case, he having given us, if not an all- Bruyere might likewise be included in sufficient, at any rate, a somewhat Ju- the category. The author, it is thus dicrous clue to his malady, for he was evident, is both more at ease and more actually caught one day rubbing his to advantage in his study than anyhead in whiskey !-No marvel that he where else; and it is not surprising was hot-headed. Others again indulged that we find him covet this seclusive strange vagaries and humors ;-such as retreat, and indulge his predilection Menage, who, while science covered his sometimes at the expense of the rules head with laurels, used to cover his feet of etiquette and courtesy. with several pairs of stockings. Pope Montesquieu's complaining epistle to used to brace himself up with corsets. It a friend, affords evidence of this, where is related that Magliabechi, the learned he intimates that the frequent and prolibrarian to the Grand Duke of Tusca- tracted visits of certain intruders caused ny, used to divert himself with pelting much detriment to the progress of his spiders. He seldom left his books, for works. Another scribe was so avarihe usually ate, drank and slept among cious of his time, that his frequent apthem; thus imitating the domestic pro- peals proving unavailing, he caused to pensities of his favorites. Sir Walter be inscribed over the door of his study Scott entertained an absurd opinion the inviting announcement, that whothat his poetic vein never flowed hap- ever remained there must join in his py except between the vernal and au- labors. Melancthon, like Evelyn, was tumpal equinoxes; he was accustomed so chary of his time allotted to study, to rise at 4, and walk about his room in that he would note the intervals wasted a state of nudity, calling it his air-breath. by intrusive visitants, in order to redeem Rousseau, when doomed to the company them from the hours devoted to repose. of the common-place, occupied himself Others have been driven to the forlorn with knitting lace strings, which he evi- expedient of escaping from their windently preferred to long yarns. Bloom- dow, being so hedged in by their confield wrote his Farmer's Boy with chalk siderate friends, as to be allowed of no upon the top of a pair of bellows--a more convenient egress; and Boyle acwind-instrument, till then a novelty in tually had to resort to the advertising the choir of the Muses. Many of the columns of a newspaper, to secure execcentric sons of genius exhibit singular emption from similar annoyances. A deficiency in conversational powers, as few words touching the condubial infethough cature had designed to devote licities of the learned will bring our them to the pen, by denying them the chapter to a close. That there have gift of oral language. Corneille presents existed some renowned in the annals of an example of this; he was so utterly literature, who, like Budæus, enjoyed insipid in company that his conversation the singular good fortune to retain the was deemed contemptible, for he could full measure of matrimonial happiness, scarcely speak correctly the language conjoined with the pleasures of literary be so ennobled by his pen. Descartes pursuits, cannot be denied; but it may was another who was made for seclu- be doubted whether these do not form sion and sulitude, not for society; " he exceptions to rule. This great writer received his intellectual wealth," says found in his wife an invaluable assisa modern critic, " from nature in solid tant in his arduous studies ; ever at his bars, not iu current coin ;” or, in the side, assiduously collating, comparing, words of Themistocles, he might say, or transcribing, she contributed essenwho, when asked to play on the lute, re- tially to the reduction of his literary plied, “I cannot fiddle, but I can make toils. In one of his letters he reprea little village a great city." Addison was sents himself as married to two wives, a taciturn companion in the social circle. one of whom blessed him with pleasant Shakspeare, like Virgil, was cloudy and little ones, the other with books. Eveoblivious in colloquial discourse, but how lyn was no less felicitous in this respect, transcendentally brilliant when they for he was indebted for much of his succommuned only with their own high cess to his amiable wife, whose refined thoughts. Chaucer, and Goldsmith, and taste and skill were equal to any emerDryden, were dull and stupid, as also gency; and whose breast was fired with Isocrates, so celebrated for his sublime the same passion that inflamed her hus

band's pen; it was to her ingenious and leaving his maternal parent desolate pencil the embellishment to his transla- and neglected in her last moments. tion of Lucretius owed its origin. It is Byron's misanthropy, also, was only also true that many, we might perhaps to be found in his pen; for his moral say the majority of great men, seem self seemed a strange compound of to have repudiated matrimony altogeth- vanity and affectation, united with a er, probably from some premonition of love of the ludicrous, sarcasm and their disqualification for its enjoyments. irony. And poor Hood, the punster, A host of great names occur to us, pre- whose master-passion gave melancholy senting an astounding array of sturdy evidence of its absorbing power over old bachelors, enough to startle the him, even at the hour of its recent discomplacency of the most charitable of solution,—while his wit was vibrating the fair sex. Michael Angelo, Boyle, the national heart, his own suffered Newton, Locke, Bayle, Shenstone, from the extremest melancholy.Leibnitz, Hobbes, Voltaire, Pope, Adam Among the many extempore puns he Smith, Swift, Thomson, Akenside, Ar- uttered in his sickness, in describing to buthnot, Hume, Gibbon, Cowper, Gold- a friend his near approach to dissolusmith, Gay, Lamb, Washington Irving, tion, he could not resist his ruliug imet cum multis aliis, were all decided for pulse, for he added, "I came so near to celibacy. Michael Angelo replied to a death's door, that I heard the creaking remonstrance on the subject, that he of its hinges." had espoused his art, and his works Returning to our subject of literary were his children. Dr. Radcliffe lived marriages, we remember reading of a and died unmarried ; although within certain little tract, which professed an five or six years prior to his decease, he investigation of this mystery, entitled, fell desperately in love with a patient of “ De Matrimonia Literati, au cælibem rank, wealth and beauty, triple charms esse au vero nubere conveniat," in which to fascinate even an old beau ; but alas the writer cites some cases of the good for this gallant hero, his suit became and bad among literary spouses ; among pon-suited, and to his mortification his others, that of the celebrated artist, Bergrejected addresses were afterwards im- hem, who resorted to rather a singular mortalized by Steele in his “ Tattler." mode of proving her devotion to her Without staying to inquire into the husband's interests, by ever and anon causes which superinduce this anti- thumping a long stick, which she kept social feature of the literary character, for the purpose, against the ceiling, to it may not be amiss to notice some of prevent her liege-lord indulging a nap its anomalies. For example, Smollett, during the hours devoted to his prowhose writings are but too frequently fession; a summons which he respondfound not only prurient, but indelicate, ed to, by stamping with his fuot; his was yet unimpeachable in his morals. room being immediately over hers. It La Fontaine wrote fictions fertile in was no ir elegant plea, once urged by a intrigues, but he is not known to have learned scribe, for his choice of celileft one amour on record in which he bacy, that “ Miverva and Venus never personally enacted a part. Sir Thomas could exist together.” And so it would More, who was a strenuous advocate of seem, indeed, if we judge from the free toleration, yet himself became a fact of Byron's fatal union and Bulfierce and bigoted persecutor; and wer's—the story of whose domestic Young, although constantly denouncing strifes are too notorious to require coma love of preferment, was all his life ment-to say nothing of the like inlong secretly pining after it, and, while stances of the lamented and gifted Fethe most sombrous of poets, was in pri- licia Hemans, Mrs. Sigourney, Mrs. vate life a trifling punster. Cowper, Norton, and the accomplished Mrs. the melancholy and misanthropic, per- Jameson. Some honorable exceptions petrated, it will be remembered, that exist to the foregoing, which redeem the laughter-provoking ballad, Johnny Gil- literary profession from the sad odium ; pin; and we find a similar contradic- the Howitts are enthusiastic lovers of tory characteristic in Sterne's whining their literary pursuits, and anxious to over a dead donkey, while he proved educate their children in the best poshimself bankrupt in human sympathy sible manner, and therefore live a reand natural affection, beating his wife, tired and domestic life. Though be

longing to the Society of Friends, and “We are going to speculate about the attached to its great principles of civil, causes of the faci—but a fact it is that moral, and religious liberty, they have men distinguished for extraordinary intel. long ago abandoned its peculiarities;

lectual power, of any sort, rarely leave and in manners, dress and language, hind them. Men of genius have scarcely

more than a very brief line of progeny bebelong only to the world. For the honor of literature we may safely say,

ever done so-men of imaginative genius,

we might say, almost never. With the one that, among the many consolatory exception of the noble Surrey, we cannot, proofs in modern times of how much at this moment, point out a representative literature may contribute to the happi- in the male line, even so far down as in the ness of life, the case of the Howitts is third generation, of any English poet, and the most striking. The love of litera- we believe the same is the case in France. ture was the origin of their acquaint- The blood of beings of that order can ance, its pursuit has been the hand-in- female line. With the exception of Sur

seldom be traced far down, even in the hand bond of the most perfect happi- rey and Spencer, we are not aware of ness of a long married life ; and we

any English author of at all remote day, may further add, for the honor of wo from whose body any living person claims manhood, that while our authoress to be descended. There is no other real sends forth her delightful works in un- English poet prior to the middle of the eighbroken succession, to the four quarters teenth century, and we believe no great of the globe, William Howitt has been author of any sort, except Clarendon and heard to declare, that he will challenge Shaftesbury, of whose blood we have any

inheritance amongst us.

Chaucer's only any woman, be she who she may,


son died childless. Shakspeare's line ex. ever wrote a line, to match his good pired in bis daughter's only danghter. woman in the management of a large None of the other dramatists of that age household, at the same time she fills have left any progeny-nor Raleigh, nor her own little world of home with the Bacon, nor Cowley, nor Butler. The brightness of her own heart and spirit. grand-daughter of Milton was the last of Another name occurs to us, also, that his blood. Neither Bolingbroke, Addison, of George Sloane,-to whom the read- Warburton, Johnson, nor Burke, trans

mitted their blood. ing world is, perbaps, mainly indebted for the introduction of German litera- bright consum male flower,' in this kind,

“When a human race has produced its ture into our vernacular,—who, because it seems commonly to be near its end.' he “ married for love,” his cara sposa “ The theory is illustrated in our own being a beauty of humble birth, was day. The two greatest names in science disinherited by his rigorous parent, the and literature of our time, were Davy and well-known Sir Hans Sloane. To be Sir Walter Scott. The first died childless. revenged, his son had recourse to the Sir Walter Scott left four children, of following futile species of retaliation : whom three are dead, only one of them, he wrote a violent tirade upon his fath- (Mrs. Lockhart,) leaving issue, and the

fourth, his eldest son, thongh living, and er's productions, caricaturing his splen- long married, has no issue." did museum of art, with the intention of publishing it in a newspaper ; but The last particular we shall refer to, through some strange chance the plot is the fact, that a prominent class of was detected, and before the printer literary characters who have wives, could compose it, it was rescued; and seem, before the world, as though they Sir Hans had the precious document had none in their social visitings : such elegantly enclosed in a frame for the as Anacreon Moore, Wordsworth, inspection of his friends, to the lasting Proctor, Ainsworth, &c.; the author discomfiture of the author. Poor fel- and his wife are very distinct individlow! he paid “dearly for his whistle” ualities in their case, in the code of without this infliction, for his amiable fashion ; but it seems, as Dogberry says, better half loaded bim with the liberal "very tolerable, and not to be endured;" bestowment of ten pledges of her love. for this social divorce, we imagine,

A writer in the London Quarterly may very probably owe its origin to has supplied some curious facts in re- the habits of the authors themselves in lation to the family history of intellec- part, and the conventionalisms of sotual men, which are too interesting to ciety. Our last paragraph seems, resist the temptation of an extract. however, rather to trench upon the

immunities of his “ better half," than

He says:

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