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Bonneval, in his time, and De Tott since, made the same attempt with the same success. They are not to be taught; and six months after his death, every thing the present Capitan Pacha has done will be immediately pulled to pieces. The present Grand Vizier is a man of no ability. There are some very entertaining instances of his gross ignorance cited in the 133d page of the . Travels. Upon the news being communicated to him that the earth was round, he observed that this could not be the case; for the people and the objects on the other side would in that case fall off; and that the earth could not move round the sun; for if so, a ship bound from Jaffa to Constantinople, instead of proceeding to the capital, would be carried to London, or elsewhere. We cannot end this article without confessing with great pleasure the entertainment we have received from the work which occasions it. . It is an excellent loungingbook, full of pleasant details, never wearying by prolixity, or offending by presumption, and is apparently the production of a respectable worthy man. So far we can conscientiously recommend it to the public; for any thing else,
Non cuivis homini contingit adire, &c. &c. &c.
EDGEWORTH ON BULLS. (E. Review, 1803.)
Essay on Irish Bulls. By Richard Lovell Edgeworth, and Maria Edgeworth. London, 1802.
WE hardly know what to say about this rambling v scrambling book; but that we are quite sure the author, when he began any sentence in it, had not the smallest suspicion of what it was about to contain. We say the author, because, in spite of the mixture of sexes in the title-page, we are strongly inclined to suspect that the male contributions exceed the female in a very great degree. The Essay on Bulls is written much with the same mind, and in the same manner, as a schoolboy takes a walk: he moves on for ten yards on the straight road, with surprising perseverance; then sets out after a butterfly, looks for a bird's nest, or jumps backwards and forwards over a ditch. In the same manner, this nimble and digressive gentleman is away after every object which crosses his mind. If you leave him at the end of a comma, in a steady pursuit of his subject, you are sure to find him, before the next full stop, a hundred yards to the right or left, frisking, capering, and grinning in a high paroxysm of merriment and agility. Mr. Edgeworth seems to possess the sentiments of an accomplished gentleman, the information of a scholar, and the vivacity of a first-rate harlequin. He is fuddled with animal spirits, giddy with constitutional joy; in such a state he must have written on, or burst. A discharge of ink was an evacuation absolutely necessary, to avoid fatal and plethoric congestion. The object of the book is to prove, that the practice of making bulls is not more imputable to the Irish than to any other people; and the manner in which he sets about it, is to quote examples of bulls produced in other countries. But this is surely a singular way of reasoning the question: for there are goitres out of the Valais, extortioners who do not worship Moses, oat cakes south of the Tweed, and balm beyond the precincts of Gilead. If nothing can be said to exist pre-eminently and emphatically in one country, which exists at all in another, then Frenchmen are not gay, nor Spaniards grave, nor are gentlemen of the Milesian race remarkable for their disinterested contempt of wealth in their connubial relations. It is probable there is some foundation for a character so generally diffused; though it is also probable that such foundation is extremely enlarged by fame. If there were no foundation for the common opinion, we must suppose national characters formed by chance; and that the Irish might, by accident, have been laughed at as bashful and sheepish; which is impossible. The author puzzles himself a good deal about the nature of bulls, without coming to any decision about the matter. Though the question is not a very easy one, we shall venture to say, that a bull is an apparent congruity, and real incongruity of ideas, suddenly discovered. And if this account of bulls be just, they are (as might have been supposed) the very reverse of wit; for as wit discovers real relations, that are not apparent, balls admit apparent relations that are not real. The pleasure arising from wit proceeds from our surprise at suddenly discovering two things to be similar, in which we suspected no similarity... The pleasure arising from bulls proceeds from our discovering two things to be dissimilar, in which a resemblance might have been suspected. The same doctrine will apply to wit, and to . bulls in action. Practical "... connection or relation between actions, in which duller understandings discover none; and practical bulls originate from an apparent relation between two actions, which more correct understandings immediately perceive to have no relation at all. Louis XIV., being extremely harassed by the repeated solicitations of a veteran officer for promotion, said one day, loud enough to be heard, ‘That gentleman is the most troublesome officer I have in my service.’ ‘That
is precisely the charge (said the old man) which your Majesty's enemies bring against me.' “An English gentleman' (says Mr. Edgeworth, in a story cited from Joe Millar,) was writing a letter in a coffee-house; and perceiving that an Irishman stationed behind him was taking that liberty which Parmenio used with his friend Alexander, instead of putting his seal upon the lips of the curious impertinent, the English gentleman thought proper to reprove the Hibernian, if not with delicacy, at least with poetical justice. He concluded writing his letter in these words: “I would say more, but a damned tall Irishman is reading over my shoulder every word I write.” * “You lie, you scoundrel,” said the self-convicted Hibernian.’ — (p. 29.) The pleasure derived from the first of these stories, proceeds from the o the relation that subsists between the object he had in view, and the assent of the officer to an observation so unfriendly to that end. In the first rapid glance which the mind throws upon his words, he appears, by his acquiescence, to be !". ing against himself. There seems to be no relation between what he says, and what he wishes to effect by. speaking. In the second story, the pleasure is directly the reverse. The lie given was apparently the readiest means of proving his innocence, and really the most effectual way of establishing his guilt. There seems for a moment to be a strong relation between the means and the object; while, in fact, no irrelation can be so complete. What connection is there between pelting stones at monkeys and gathering cocoa-nuts from lofty trees? Apparently none. But monkeys sit upon cocoa-nut trees; monkeys are imitative animals; and if you pelt a monkey with a stone, he pelts you with a cocoa-nut in return. This scheme of gathering cocoa-nuts is very witty, and would be more so, if it did not appear useful: for the idea of utility is always inimical to the idea of wit.* There appears, on the contrary, to be some relation between the revenge of the Irish rebels against a banker, and the means by which they took to gratify it, by burning all his notes wherever they found them; whereas, they could not have rendered him a more essential service. In both these cases of bulls, the one verbal, the other practical, there is an apparent congruity, and real incongruity of ideas. In both the cases of wit, there is an apparent incongruity and a real relation. It is clear that a bull cannot depend upon mere incongruity alone; for if a man were to say that he would ride to London upon a cocked hat, or that he would cut his throat with a pound of pickled salmon, this, though completely incongruous, would not be to make bulls, but to talk nonsense. The stronger the apparent connection, and the more complete the real disconnection of the ideas, the greater the surprise and the better the bull. The less apparent, and the more complete the relations established by wit, the higher gratification does it afford. A great deal of the pleasure experienced from bulls proceeds from the sense of superiority in ourselves. Bulls which we invented, or knew to be invented, might please, but in a less degree, for want of this additional zest. As there must be apparent connection, and real incongruity, it is seldom that a man of sense and education finds any form of words by which he is conscious that he might have been deceived into a bull. To conceive
* It must be observed, that all the great passions, and many other feelings, extinguish the relish for wit. Thus lympha pudica Deum ridit et ere
WOL. I. L
buit, would be witty, were it not bordering on the sublime. The resemblance between the sandal tree imparting (while it falls) its aromatic flavour to the edge of the axe, and the benevolent man rewarding evil with good, would, be witty, did it not excite virtuous emotions. There are many mechanical contrivances which excite sensations very similar to wit; but the attention is absorbed by their utility. Some of Merlin's machines, which have no utility at all, are quite o, to wit. A small model of a steam engine, or mere squirt, is wit to a child. A man speculates on the causes of the first, or on its consequences, and so loses the feelings of wit: with the latter, he is too familiar to be surprised. In short, the essence of every species of wit is surprise ; which, ri termini, must be sudden; and the sensations which wit has a tendency to excite, are impaired or destroyed, as often as they are mingled with much thought or passion.