Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

O Memory, thou fond deceiver,

Still importunate and vain,
To former joys recurring ever,
And turning all the past to pain !

GOLDSMITH: Song.
Past joys enhance the present pain,
And sad remembrance is our bane.

CERVANTES : Don Quixote.
But ah! what serves to have been happy so?
Little past pleasures double but new woe.

DRUMMOND OF HAWTHORNDEN.
Oh, I would fain forget them all;

Remembered gude but deepens ill,
As glints of light far seen by night
Mak' the near mirk but mirker still.

THOMAS DAVIDSON: The Auld Ash-Tree.
But were there ever any
Writhed not at past joy?

Keats: Stansas : In Drear December.
In vain does memory renew

The hours once tinged in transport's dye:
The sad reverse soon starts to view,
And turns the past to agony.

Mrs. DUGALD STEWART: The Tear / Shed.
Queen Margaret. Having no more but thought of what thou wert,

To torture thee the more, being what thou art.
Queen Elizabeth. O thou, well skilled in curses, stay awhile,

And teach me how to curse mine enemies.
Queen Margaret. Compare dead happiness with living woe.

SHAKESPEARE: Richard M., Act iv., Sc. 4.
There too the memory of delights,

Mingled in tears, returned again,
Sweet social days and pleasant nights,

Warm as ere yet they turned to pain,
And all their music fed, and all their love was vain.

CAMOENS: Paraphrase of the 137th Psalm.
Misfortune, like a creditor severe,
But rises in demand for her delay.
She makes a scourge of past prosperity
To sting the more and double thy distress.
Revolted joys, like foes in civil war.
Like bosom friendships to resentments scourged,
With rage envenomed, rise against our peace.

Young: Night Thoughts, Night I.
There is no greater misery than to remember joy when in grief.

MARINO: Adone, Canto xiv., Stanza 100.
To remember a lost joy makes the present state so much the worse.

FORTIGUERRA: Ricciardetto, Canto xi., Stanza 83.
Present sorrow brings back and increases the memory of the joy we have lost.

ST. DAMIAN: Hymn, De Gloria Paradisi. Soul's dark cottage. A famous figure occurs in Waller :

The soul's dark cottage, battered and decayed,
Lets in new light through chinks that Time has made,
Stronger by weakness, wiser men become
As they draw near to their eternal home :
Leaving the old, both worlds at once they view
That stand upon the threshold of the new.

On the Divine Poems.
This may be numerously paralleled in contemporary and succeeding writers

The incessant care and labor of his mind
Hath wrought the mure that should confine it in
So thin that life looks through and will break out.

Henry IV., Part II., Act iv., Sc. 4.

A fiery soul, which, working out its way,
Fretted the pygmy body to decay,
And o'er-informed the tenement of clay.

Dryden: Absalom and Achitophel, Part i., l. 156. Drawing near her death, she sent most pious thoughts as harbingers to heaven; and her soul saw a glimpse of happiness through the chinks of her sickness-broken body.-FULLER: Life of Monica

He was one of a lean body and visage, as if his eager soul, biting for anger at the clog of his body, desired to fret a passage through it.-FULLER : Life of the Duke of Alda.

When our earthly tabernacles are disordered and desolate, shaken and out of repair, the spirit delights to dwell within them; as houses are said to be haunted when they are forsaken and gone to decay.-SWIFT.

Soup, In the, a slang phrase which first made its appearance in colloquial American-English about 1887. In meaning it is closely akin to the slang expression “to get left.”

In Germany, “in die Suppe fallen" (literally, “to fall in the soup"), and “Er ist in die Suppe" (" He is in the soup'), are time-honored proverbial expressions for being in a pickle or stuck in the mud. Similar German phrases are “die Suppe ausessen müssen" (“to be obliged to eat the soup or broth one has prepared for one's self,”-i.l., " to suffer disagreeable consequences of one's unwise action") and “die Suppe versalzen" (literally, “ to salt one's soup,"-1.1., "to prepare a disappointment for one"). So also "eine böse Suppe einbrocken" (einbrocken denotes the act of breaking bread into the soup, and the whole phrase may be translated, “to prepare a disagreeable mess") has a meaning cognate to the English proverbialism “to put a rod in pickle" for one.

It is quite possible, therefore, that the phrase is of German-American

origin.

The German etymon is not incompatible with the story given in the Evening Post, December 8, 1888, according to which a party of toughs went down New York Harbor on a tug to welcome a notorious prize-fighter who was expected to arrive from Europe. The captain of the steamer refused to allow the undesirable boat-load to come very close to his vessel, and one enthusiast, in his vociferous efforts to get near the object of his admiration, fell over the rail of the tug into the water. It was near dark, and naturally great excitement prevailed, which being noticed from the steamer, the boat was hailed to find out what had happened. “Oh, nothing much," replied a tough (who might have been a German-American), sententiously: "somebody's in de soup.” The phrase was caught up and immediately became popular.

Spade. To call a spade a spade. This phrase, meaning to indulge in plain speech, to be rudely or indelicately frank, is of very ancient date and of Grecian birth. Lucian in his dialogue “ Quomodo Historia sit conscribenda" quotes from Aristophanes the saying gūka gūka, TÌv okaon okaor óvouáWV (“Figs they call figs, and a spade a spade"). This finds a place among the royal apothegms collected by Plutarch as having been made use of by Philip of Macedon in answer to Lasthenes, the Olynthian ambassador, who complained that the citizens, on his way to the palace, called him a traitor. “Ay," quoth the king, “these Macedonians are a blunt people, who call figs figs, and a spade a spade.” Philip, of course, was merely quoting the current locution.

I drink no wine at all, which so much improves our modern wits; a loose, plain, biunt, rude writer, I call a spade a spade; I respect matter, not words.-BURTON: Anatomy of Melancholy, Preface.

Spain, a sobriquet for New Jersey which originated thus. After the down. fall of Napoleon, his brother Joseph, ex-king of Spain, fled to America. It took some time for him to decide where he should settle : indeed, Providence or the American legislatures (not then so long a remove from Providence as they are to-day) so disposed it that this man's proposal was repeatedly baffled. The common-law rules against the holding of property by an alien were in force in all the new States, and, after knocking vainly at various legis. lative doors, Joseph was fain to turn to New Jersey, where, on January 22, 1817, a general act was passed " to authorize aliens to purchase and hold lands in this State.” It is not true, as generally supposed, that this act was framed with special reference to the Bonaparte case, although it did render unneces. sary the consideration of a special act proposed for the same session of the legislature by Joseph's friends, and although there is no doubt that the final vote was influenced by the knowledge that an ex-king had already concluded arrangements for the purchase of one thousand acres at Point Breeze, near Bordentown. Here a magnificent park was laid out, entertainments were provided on a lavish scale, and something of royal state was kept up, so that the envious neighbors began to find it droll to talk of New Jersey as out of the Union and a portion of Spain.

Spare the rod and spoil the child, a popular misquotation from Proverbs xiii. 24 : “He that spareth his rod hateth his son.” Its first ap. pearance in this form in literature seems to be in Ralph Venning's "Mysteries and Revelations," second edition (1649, p. 5): “They spare the rod and spoil the child.” But John Skelton had already said,

There is nothynge that more dyspleaseth God
Than from their children to spare the rod.

Magnyfycence, I. 1954.
Butler has

Love is a boy by poets styled;.
Then spare the rod and spoil the child.

Hudibras, Part ii., Canto 1. In his later life Louis XIV., realizing how his youth had been misspent, pertinently asked, “Was there not birch enough in the Forest of Fontaine bleau ?” Diogenes, according to Burton, “struck the father when the son swore." (Anatomy of Melancholy, Part iii., Sect. 2, Memb. 2, Subs. 4.) Speab daggers. Hamlet's phrase à propos of his mother,I will speak daggers to her, but use none,

Act iii., Sc. 2,– was imitated by Bismarck when he said, “Better pointed bullets than pointed speeches” (“Lieber Spitzkugeln als Spitzreden”). Bismarck made this speech in 1850, the occasion being an insurrection of the people of Hesse-Cassel.

Speech was given to man to conceal his thoughts. None of Talleyrand's mots is more famous than this. It is true that even in its final form this was not Talleyrand's, for Harel, the famous fabricator of mots, has confessed that he himself put the phrase into Talleyrand's mouth in order to claim it as his own after the death of the diplomatist. Whether Talleyrand's or Harel's, it is undoubtedly clever, and has become one of the stock quotations of the world. But it is easy to trace the idea back to a remote antiquity. What may be called the primordial germ may be found in several forms in the classics. Achilles, for example, thus voices his detestation of the man whose expressed words conceal his inmost thoughts :

Who dares think one thing and another tell,

My mind detests him as the gates of hell. Here there is no attempt at an epigram, of course, but there is a general recognition of the fact that the speech of some men does conceal their thoughts. So Plutarch said of the Sophists that in their declamations and speeches they made use of words to veil and muffle their design. And Dionysius Cato, in his collection of moral maxims, comes a step closer to the modern saying in his sententious remark, “Sermo hominum mores celat et indicat idem” (“ The same words conceal and declare the thoughts of men”). When we come down to modern times and reach Jeremy Taylor we find he had the sentiment clearly in view in the following sentence : “ There is in mankind an universal contract implied in all their intercourses; and words being instituted to declare the mind, and for no other end, he that hears me speak hath a right in justice to be done him, that, as far as I can, what I speak be true ; for else he, by words, does not know your mind, and then as good and better not speak at all." Still we have no epigram, no paradox. David Lloyd, in his “ State Worthies," comes near to the modern phrase, but misses it through his stupidly downright honesty of statement: “Speech was made to open man to man, and not to hide him ; to promote commerce, and not betray it." He comes so close that we hold our breath : just a twist of the hand, and the thing would be done. That twist is supplied by Lloyd's contemporary, the wise and witty Dr. South : "In short, this seems to be the true inward judgment of all our politick sages, that speech was given to the ordinary sort of men whereby to communicate their mind, but to wise men whereby to conceal it.” Butler echoes South in his essay on "The Modern Politician.” The politician, according to Butler, thinks that "he who does not make his words rather serve to conceal than discover the sense of his heart deserves to have it pulled out like a traitor's and shown publicly to the rabble.” Here we have the idea, but not the meet and quotable wording. Almost simultaneously three men, two in England and one in France, rushed to the breach. Young said,

Where Nature's end of language is declined,
And men talk only to conceal the mind,

Love of Fame, Sat. ii., I. 207 : Goldsmith, “Men who know the world hold that the true use of speech is not so much to express our wants as to conceal them ;" and Voltaire, “Men use thought as authority for their injustice, and employ speech only to conceal their thoughts.” Talleyrand's saying borrows just as much from Voltaire as is necessary to give the brevity and point that are essential to a proverb, and hence obtained instant currency.

Spellbinders,-.e., speakers who hold, or think they hold, their hearers spellbound. It was applied by William C. Goodloe, a member of the Republican National Committee, to the stump-speakers employed by them, from their invariable habit of asserting in their reports that their speaking held the audiences in that very interesting condition.

Spelling, Eccentricities of. “To be a well-favored man,” says Dog. berry, “is the gift of fortune ; but to write and read comes by nature.” And what literary man was it who paraphrased Dogberry's words by saying that sense and knowledge come by experience and study, but the power to spell correctly is the direct gift of God? Many other authors have openly ac. knowledged their orthographical imperfections and depended upon the intel. ligent proof-reader to supply the missing vowels and consonants or to strike out the redundant. Goethe himself, who took all knowledge for his province, was fain to leave spelling as a terra incognita. Shakespeare, not to speak of what others did for him, changed his own mind some thirty times as to the letters and the sequence of the letters composing his patronymic. So, at least, Halliwell tells us ; and it is quite certain that the two genuine signatures that have survived differ orthographically from each other. If literary men were so lax, what wonder that other great people have been hazy in their notions of what posterity would expect of them when the editor of the Biographical Dictionary should be called upon to give them a place in his volume ? Lei. cester spelled his own name in eight different ways. Mainwaring has passed through one hundred and thirty-one orthographical permutations, and is even now, if spelling have aught to do with pronunciation, spelled incorrectly at last. The Young Pretender, with no intentional irreverence, but only by dint of allowing his pen to wander at its own sweet will, wrote of his father indifferently as Gems or Jems. The Father of his Country spelled familiar words in one way, while Lady Washington spelled them in another, and neither managed to be correct. Indeed, good spelling seems formerly to have been considered a vulgarity, mere yeoman's service. Will Honeycomb, when taken to task for his orthographical laxity, declared that he never liked pedantry in spelling, but spelled like a gentleman and not like a scholar. Napoleon at St. Helena said one day to Las Cases, “ You do not write orthographically, do you? At least, I suppose you do not; for a man occupied with public or other important business-a minister, for instance-cannot and need not attend to orthography. His ideas must flow faster than his hand can trace them; he has only time to place his points ; he must put words in letters, and phrases in words, and let the scribes make it out afterwards." So Hamlet says,

I once did hold it, as our statists do,

A baseness to write fair. It is said that the French nobles of the ancien régime when chosen members of the French Academy took pains to misspell their signatures in a variety of ways, in order to show that they were not subject to the rules of petty scholarship.

The old Duchess of Gordon was a great lady, and she sometimes misspelled. Yet, unlike the French nobles, she was not proud of the fact. Indeed, she had a little subterfuge to conceal her deficiencies. “You know, my dear," she explained to one of her cronies," when I don't know how to spell a word I always draw a line under it, and if it is spelled wrong it passes for a very gooi joke, and if it is spelled right it doesn't matter."

In the English-speaking races there is a ready and effective excuse for mis. spelling. Orthographic riddles are inherent in the nature of a language which is nothing but an irregular and fortuitous agglutination of two irregu. larities, the Anglo-Saxon and the Norman French. The number of different combinations of letters producing one sound is only to be compared with that of the different sounds arising from the same combination of letters. A gentleman by the name of Wise published a book in 1869 showing over four thousand different ways in which the name Shakespeare could be spelled. The indefatigable Ellis declared that there were six thousand different combinations of letters which would indicate the one word scissors.

On the other hand, the phonetic tricks played by the little syllable ough are the despair of every intelligent foreigner. There is the story of the Spaniard who received for his first lesson in English spelling and pronunciation the mnemonic lines,

Though the tough cough and hiccough plough me through,

O'er life's dark Tough my way I still pursue. Feeling his native pride wounded and his natural love of congruity outraged by such an assemblage of contradictions, he quitted his master in disgust, and pursued his way no further into the penetralia of our language. Nor are we ourselves backward in acknowledging the disgrace which this verbal truant brings upon our written speech. It was Dr. Wayland, of Philadelphia, who in a fine vein of sarcasm pertinently asked, “What does this spell, -Ghough.

« AnteriorContinuar »