Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

on a piece of paper, and sent for some Christian teachers to explain it. They informed him that XP were the first two letters of the Greek word XPIETOE, or Christ. Constantine thereupon adopted the sign as his device. He caused a new standard to be made, which he called the Labarum. It consisted of a long gilt staff with a transverse bar, from which hung a piece of purple silk, adorned with the images of the emperor and his children. At the top of the staff was a wreath of gold, enclosing the sacred sign.

"Constantine's own narrative to Eusebius,” says the “Encyclopædia Britannica," "attributed his conversion to the miraculous appearance of a flaming cross in the sky at noonday, under the circumstances already indicated. The story has met with nearly every degree of acceptance, from the unquestioning faith of Eusebius himself to the incredulity of Gibbon, who treats it as a fable, while not denying the sincerity of the conversion. On the supposition that Constantine narrated the incident in good faith, the amount of objective reality that it possesses is a question of altogether secondary importance."

Incedis per ignes suppositos cineri doloso (L., “You are walking upon fire covered with deceitful ashes"). This familiar quotation is from Horace (Odes, ii. 1, 7), the person addressed being Pollio, who was writing a history of the recent civil war. A curious analogue is the expression used by Count de Salvandy at a ball given at the Palais Royal in Paris, June 5, 1830, to the King of Naples by his brother-in-law, then Duke of Orleans, but a few weeks later King Louis Philippe. Charles X. was himself present. At the height of the festivities Salvandy, a former minister to Naples, said to the host, with a prescience of coming events, “You are giving us quite a Neapolitan fête : we are dancing upon a volcano.” On July 30 the three days' revolution occurred which sent Charles X. in exile to England and placed the citizen-king on the throne.

There are so many dangerous pitfalls that in order to be safe one must slip through the world somewhat lightly and superficially-one must glide and not press too hard on any point. Pleasure itself is painful in its intensity. Incedis per ignes, etc.-MONTAIGNE:

Essays.

Inch. Give him an inch and he'll take an ell, an old English proverb, applied to a grasping and covetous nature, or to one who abuses another's patience or generosity. It is found thus in Heywood :

For when I gave you an inch you tooke an ell.- Proverbs.

Give an inch, he'll take an ell.-Webster : Sir Thomas Wyatt. Incroyable (Fr., literally, “the incredible,” but never used in its English equivalent), the name for a fashion of male costume which sprang up under the French Directory:

It was under the Directory that the incroyable and merveilleuse costumes competed for supremacy with Roman togas and Grecian drapery. The beau of the period enveloped his throat in two and a half ells of wide muslin or cambric. This he fenced round with the high standing collar of a short-waisted coat, which fell low at the back in two long narrow tails. It was also much cut away at the hips, to give room for the puckerings and plaits of his wide pantalon, This ample garment was bunched up at the back in the form of a lady's bustle, its amplitude probably signifying that the wearer no longer gloried in the appellation of sans-culotte. His hair fell in ringlets around his immense cravat, and he was crowned with a hat so small that with difficulty he kept it on his head.--Temple Bar.

Independence forever. On the 30th of June, 1826, John Adams, lying on his death-bed, was applied to for a toast to be given in his name on the approaching Fourth of July. He replied with the above words. Asked whether he would add anything to them, he replied, “Not one word.” On the morning of the 4th, hearing the noise of bells and cannon, he inquired the cause. When told it was Independence Day, he murmured, “ Independence forever.” Before evening he was dead. On August 2 of the same year Daniel Webster, in a eulogy on Adams and Jefferson, introduced an imaginary speech by Adams in favor of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. The concluding words were, “It is my living sentiment, and by the blessing of God it shall be my dying sentiment, Independence now, and Independence forever.” The same supposed speech opened with the famous sentence, “Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish, I give my heart and my hand to this vote." This sentence was derived from an actual conversation held be. tween Adams and Jonathan Sewall in 1774, and duly recorded in the “ Works of John Adams," vol. iv. p. 8: “I answered that the die was now cast; I had passed the Rubicon. Swim or sink, live or die, survive or perish with my country, was my unalterable determination.” It will be noticed that Adams's phrase "Swim or sink” in lieu of “Sink or swim" adds to the logical unity of the sentence at the expense of its euphony. Long before Adams, Peele had said, “Live or die, sink or swim” (Edward 1.), - less tautological, but less magnificent.

Index. In early English literature a number of words were at various periods used to indicate a list or summary of the topics treated in a book,-viz., Register, Calendar, Summary, Syllabus, Index, and Table, or Table of Contents. After a faint struggle the first four dropped out of the contest, and left the field clear to the two other contestants, who eventually compromised their claims. The table of contents became the name of the ordered and sometimes classified list placed usually at the beginning of a book, and the index that of the alphabetical list placed usually at the end. On the whole, we may say that the victory remained with the word Index, inasmuch as the alpha. betical list is infinitely the more valuable of the two.

Yet its value and the degree of honor to which it is legitimately entitled were not always acknowledged. In older English authors we find continual gibes at what was known as index-learning. Thus, John Glanville writes in his “Vanity of Dogmatizing," " Methinks 'tis a pitiful piece of knowledge that can be learnt from an index, and a poor ambition to be rich in the inven. tory of another's treasure." And Swift and Pope both use an image which has become classic. In the “Dunciad," Old Dulness explains to her votaries

How index-learning turns no student pale,

Yet holds the eel of science by the tail.
Swift was before Pope. In the “ Tale of a Tub” he had said,

The most accomplished way of using books at present is twofold: either, first, to serve them as men do lords,-learn their titles exactly, and then brag of their acquaintance; or, secondly, which is indeed the choicer, the profounder, and politer method, to get a thorough insight into the Inder, by which the whole book is governed and turned, like fishes by the tail. For to enter the palace of learning at the great gate requires an expense of time and forms; therefore men of much haste and little ceremony are content to get in by the back door. For the arts are all in a flying march, and therefore more easily subdued by attacking them in the rear. Thus physicians discover the state of the whole body by consulting only what comes from behind.

But before the time of Pope and Swift the pros and cons had been admi. rably though quaintly summarized by Thomas Fuller, and the value of the index triumphantly vindicated. “I confess," he says, "there is a lazy kind of learning which is only indical, when scholars (like adders, which only bite the horse's heels) nibble but at the tables, which are calces librorum, neglecting the body of the book. But, though the idle deserve no crutches (let not a staff be used by them, but on them), pity it is the weary should be denied the benefit thereof, and industrious scholars prohibited the accommodation of an index, most used by those who most pretend to contemn it." Carlyle heartily approved this sentiment. His citations of the German historians who sup. plied the materials for his "Frederick the Great" form one continuous wail over their neglec: to provide indexes as a guide through the wide-spread, inorganic, trackless desert of their writings " to the poor half-peck of cinders hidden in wagon-load of ashes, no sieve allowed.” Lord Campbell is reported to have proposed that any author who published a book without an index should be deprived of the benefit of the Copyright Act.

It was towards the close of the sixteenth century that the value of indexes first began to be appreciated, though only in a staccato sort of fashion. Some books, like Lyndewood's “Constitutiones Provinciales” (London, 1525), Juan de Pineda's "History of the World" (Salamanca, 1588), and Baronius's “Annales Ecclesiastici" (1588 to 1607), possessed full and excellent indexes, which are still the admiration of the scholar and the bibliophile. And even where an author published an important book without an index he seems sometimes to have had an uneasy consciousness that he was not doing the right thing by the reader. Thus, Howel's “ Discourse concerning the Precedency of Kings" (1664) has a preliminary notice, nominally from “The Bookseller to the Reader," which runs as follows: "The reason why there is no Table or Index added hereunto is, that every page in this work is so full of signal remarks that were they couch'd in an Index it would make a volume as big as the book, and so make the Postern Gate to bear no proportion to the building." This is amusing enough as a magnificent bit of egotism, but the plea is one which the true index-lover cannot for a moment admit.

An index need not be dry. There are instances in literature where it is the most interesting, nay, delightful, portion of the book. Take Prynne's “Histrio-Mastix.” Carlyle rightly refers to it as "a book still extant, but never more to be read by mortal.” Well, many a mortal might still find amusement from its index. It is very evident that the index, and perhaps the index alone, had been read by Attorney-General Noy. When engaged in the prosecution of Prynne for publishing this very book, he pointed out that the accused “says Christ was a Puritan in his Index." Here are a few amusing extracts from the same index:

Crossing of the face when men go to plays shuts in the Devil.

Devils—inventors and fomenters of stage-plays and dancing. Have stage-plays in hell every Lord's-day night.

Heaven-no stage-plays there.
Kings—infamous for them to act or frequent Playes or favour Players.
Players—many of them Papists and most desperate wicked wretches,

These bits of wisdom, so lightly and succinctly treated in the index, are weighted down in the book itself with such a mass of verbiage as to be absolutely forbidding.

Mr. Burton, in his “ Book-Hunter," justly observes that an expert contro. versialist need not exhaust himself in the body of the book, but “if he be very skilful he may let Ay a few Parthian arrows from the index." This great truth had already been discovered and acted upon by Dr. William King, whom D'Israeli calls the inventor of satirical and humorous indexes. Thus, in his index to the famous book which the Christ Church wits published against Bentley's “ Phalaris” (1698), we have reference to Dr. 'Bentley's “modesty and decency in contradicting great men" followed by the names of Plato, Selden, Grotius, Erasmus, and ending with "everybody.” The last entry, "his profound skill in criticism,” refers the inquirer “from beginning to end."

A further elaboration of this idea was to take the work of an antagonist and turn it to ridicule in a satirical index. This was not infrequently done for political effect, as in the case of William Bromley, a Tory member of Parliament who, in 1705, was a candidate for the Speakership. His opponents republished a juvenile book of travels which he had issued twelve years before with an index which was full of malicious humor. Thus :

Eight pictures take up less room than sixteen of the same size, p. 14.
February an ill season to see a garden in, p. 53.
Three several sorts of wine drank by the author out of one vessel, p. 101.

The English Jesuites Colledge at Rome may be made larger than 'tis by uniting other Buildings to it, p. 132.

The Duchess dowager of Savoy, who was grandmother to the present Duke, was mother to his father, p. 243.

Dr. Parr had in his possession a copy of this book so indexed which had formerly belonged to Bromley himself.' 'In it was the manuscript note, “This edition of these travels is a specimen of the good nature and good manners of the Whigs. This printing of my book was a very malicious proceeding ; my words and meaning being very plainly perverted in several places. But the performances of others may be in like manner exposed, as appears by the like tables published for the travels of Bishop Burnet and Mr. Addison."

Perhaps it was with some premonitory anticipations of these wilful perversions of the index-maker that a once celebrated Spaniard, quoted by the bibliographer Nicolaus Antonius, held that the index of a book should be made by the author, even if the book itself were written by some one else. Macaulay, too, recognized how an author's words can be turned against himself when he wrote to his publishers, “Let no d- d Tory make the Index to my History."

Nevertheless, if authors were to make their own indexes we should be deprived of many good stories of mistakes and misapprehensions, which, however exasperating to the anxious inquirer, have afforded pleasant food for mirth for many generations. The story about Mr. Best's great mind is a classic. As usually quoted it occurred as an entry in the index to Binns' " Justice,” thus :

Best, Mr. Justice, his great mind. And when the reader turned to the designated page, full of anticipatory admiration, he found only “Mr. Justice Best said that he had a great mind to commit the man for trial.” Alas! the ruthless scientific investigator who has deprived us of William Tell, and King Alfred's cakes, and Washington's hatchet, could not allow this little gem to escape his devastating eye. Beyond a doubt the entry does not occur in Binns' “ Justice.” Nobody has been able to find it elsewhere. In all probability it is an anecdote invented out of the whole cloth as a personal Aing against Sir William Draper Best, Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas from 1824 to 1829, and it is even said to have been invented by Leigh Hunt and first published in the Examiner. Another classic is the oft-quoted entry,

Mill on Liberty.

“ on the Floss. Mr. Wheatley, in his excellent little monograph “What is an Index?” assures us that this is not an invention, but actually occurred in a catalogue. And he gives a number of companion-blunders which are quite as good.

The following are from the index of the “Companion to the Almanack" (London, 1643) :

Cotton, Sir Willoughby.

. price of.
Old Stratford Bridge.

" Style. And the following are perpetuated in the indexes to various editions of “Pepys's Diary :"

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

In one of the volumes of the Rolls series there is a blunder of a different kind. Jude in the body of the book is misprinted Inde, consequently the “land of Jude," that is, Judea, is indexed India, with the following extraordi. nary result :

India ... conquered by Judas Maccabeus and his brethren, 56. A similar mistake occurs in a French bibliographical list, where White. knights, the former seat of a Lord Blandford, is given as “le Chevalier Blanc.” Another foreign book cautiously but correctly explains that a learned society of the West Riding is not a “société hippique.”

Index-makers are often betrayed by similarity of names, or by different ren. ditions of the same name, into ludicrous blunders. Thus, in an index to the “Letters of Sir George Cornewall Lewis” (1870) appear the following entries :

Mill, John, his article on Civilization, 49. His Dialogue on Theory and Practice, 49. His “ History of British India," 72. His book on Logic, 120, 245.

Mill, John Stuart, his letter to Sir A. Duff Gordon, referring to Mr. Austin's article on Centralization, 153.

Evidently in the index-maker's opinion John Mill and John Stuart Mill are two distinct persons. In revenge, John Mill and James Mill are blended into one. Turning first to p. 49, we find Sir George speaking in disparagement of a “dialogue on theory and practice in the London Review by old Mill in the character of Plato. Per contra,” he adds, “there is an article on Civilization by John Mill which is worth reading." There may arise historians in the future who, on the joint evidence of the text and of the index, will con. struct a theory that at thirty years of age John Mill was prematurely old. This identification of the father and the son bears a certain literary analogy to the theological heresy of the Patripassians. Again, under reference to Arch. bishop Whately in the index appears "His book of gardening, 160.” The inquirer, turning to page 160 for information about a book he has never heard of, learns, “Whately, the author of the book on gardening, was either the father or the uncle of the Archbishop of Dublin.” From text and index combined it follows that Archbishop Whately was either his own father or his own uncle. Extraordinary as these mistakes may appear, they are not without parallel in our own and in foreign literature. Thus, in an edition of Vape. reau's “Dictionnaire des Contemporains" John Forster the editor of the Examiner is mixed up with John Foster the moralist, and of Francis Newman we are told that his work on the “ Soul” was responsible for numer. ous returns to the Christian faith. The index-maker who rolled Louis the Pious and St. Louis under one heading no doubt thought he had achieved a very clever feat and taught his author to be more careful of his epithets. Emperors and Popes are great snares to the index-makers ; so are Ferdinands, Fredericks, Henrys, -any royal name which is to be found in more than one country.

There are some mistakes, however, which are sufficiently venial. In the case of people who have two or three surnames, it is only natural that the index-maker should be at fault. It would not be easy at a first attempt to assign his proper position to Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer Lytton, first Lord Lytton and a baronet; and similar difficulties are suggested by the names

« AnteriorContinuar »