« AnteriorContinuar »
Abough for watch the might d
stated, is, that if a savage found a watch on a deserted road he would rightly argue, from the evidences of careful design, that it had been put to. gether by some thinking mind. It has been found, however, that most of Paley's book, including this illustration, was boldly conveyed from Nieuwentyt's' “Religious Philosopher.” But even Nieuwentyt was far from being original. We find it, for example, in Tucker, in Clarke, in Bolingbroke, and done into queer verse by that dullest and most respectable of poets, Sir Richard Blackmore :
In all the parts of Nature's spacious sphere,
With various springs, for various motions wrought. The same illustration is to be found before this in the earliest English deist, Lord Herbert of Cherbury, and in Hale's “Primitive Origination of Mankind.” It is more curious, however, to find that it even preceded the invention of watches. Cicero, in “De Naturâ Deorum,” says, “ Quod si in Scythiam aut in Britanniam sphæram aliquis tulerit hanc, quam nuper noster efficit Posidonius, cujus singulæ conversiones idem efficiunt in sole et in lunâ et in quinque stellis errantibus, quod efficitur in cælo singulis diebus et noctibus, quis in illâ barbarie dubitet quin ea sphæra sit perfecta ratione ?” ("Suppose some one were to take to Scythia or to Britain this globe lately constructed by our friend Posidonius, whose every revolution shows us the same phenomena in the sun, the moon, and the five wandering stars that take place in the heavens daily and nightly, who in those barbarous regions would doubt that this globe was the product of a rational mind ?")
Palindrome (from the Greek Táliv, “ back," and Spóuoc, a “course” or “race"), a word or sentence which may be read backward as well as forward, letter by letter or word by word. Palindromes may be roughly divided into two classes, the reciprocal, which yield identical results however read, and the reversible or recurrent, in which the meaning is different or even absolutely antagonistic. The English words madam, noon, civic, tenet, are examples of the first, and revel, dog, emit, etc., of the second. But the feat is to arrange a number of words in a sentence so that the whole shall be a palindrome. Thus, it seems that the very first words spoken by man in this world were a reciprocal palindrome. What did Adam do when he first saw Eve ? He bowed, and said, “Madam, I'm Adam.” A better example-indeed, the best that the English language affords-is put into the mouth of Napoleon : “ Able was I ere I saw Elba." The special excellence of this consists in the fact that every word remains intact,—there is no running of the component letters into different words in the reverse reading. “Live was I ere I saw evil" is also good, but is too palpable a plagiarism from the other.
Taylor the Water Poet, who was fond of this sort of trilling, came very near producing a masterpiece in “ Lewd did I live & evil I did dwel," but the use of the ampersand craves an apology, while the dropping of the final 1 is an offence which apology would convert into insult.
Here are some palindromes of inferior merit:
Among the most excellent palindromes in the Latin language, and conse. quently in the world, are the iwo following, which Camden assures us cost their anonymous author an infinitude of trouble :
Odo tenet mulum, madidam mulum tenet Odo.
Anna tenet mappam, madidam mappam tenet Anna. The following, also, is a remarkable tour de force :
Sator arepo tenet opera rotas. Not only is the above perfect as a palindrome, but it contains the further peculiarity that the initial letters of the successive words unite to form the first word, the second letters to form the second word, and so on. The same is, of course, true on reversal.
Another well-known palindromne occurs in a mediæval légend. St. Martin, Bishop of Tours, at a period when prelates kept neither carriages nor servants, having occasion to consult the Pope, was fain to walk to Rome. On the highway he was met by Satan, who courteously represented how indecorous it was that so mighty an ecclesiastic should journey on foot like a common pilgrim. St. Martin straightway transformed the devil into a mule, and jumped upon his back. But, having neither whip nor spur, he found a more efficient goad in the sign of the cross, which he made and remade upon the mule's back whenever he slackened his pace. At last the beast lifted up his voice in remonstrance with these words:
Signa te, signa; temere me tangis et angis;
Roma tibi subito motibus ibit amor. (" Cross, cross yourself ; you annoy and vex me without need; for, owing to my exertions, Rome, your desire, will soon be near.")
The classic languages, and especially the Latin, are better fitted than any other to this kind of verbal conjuring. All the Greek examples are modern, the art having been unknown to Grecian antiquity. Its invention is credited to a lascivious Roman poet named Sotades, who fourished about 250 B.C. Few of the latter's verses are extant, and none of those extant are in palindromic form. But the following verses, of somewhat later date, refer to one of Sotades's heroes :
Roma, ibi tibi sedes-ibi tibi amor;
Roma te tenet et amor.
Yet that very love affrights you from Rome;
For both Rome and love hold you.") A Roman lawyer is said to hare chosen this palindrome for his motto: “Si nummi immunis” (“If you pay you will go free”).
A Latin elegiac verse of uncertain date gives in every line a complete palindrome :
Salta, tu levis es, summus se si velut Atlas,
(Omina ne sinimus,) suminis es animo.
Unam arcas, animes semina sacra manu.
Sana tero, tauris si ruat oret anas:
Muta sedes; animal lamina sede satum.
Aut atros ubinam manibus orta tua !
Telo, sis-ne, tenet ? non tenet ensis, olet.
time, who, being banished from court under false imputations, took as her device the moon, partly obscured, with the motto “ Ablata at alba” (“Out of sight, yet still white”).
A marvellous monument of misplaced ingenuity was published in Vienna in 1802, in the shape of a Greek poem of four hundred and sixteen lines, each line being a palindrome. It was entitled Iloinua KapKIVIKÓV. The pub. lisher was George Bendotes, the author signed himself " Ambrose Hiero. nionachus Pamperes," and author or publisher assured the reader on the title-page that the book would be found " of great use to those who study it deeply.”
Hitherto we have confined our examples to reciprocal palindromes. Merely recurrent or reversible palindromes are far less amusing and ingenious, except in the cases where the reverse reading carries its dissimilarity to some humor ous point of negation. Addison, for example, mentions an epigram called “ The Witches' Prayer," " which fell into verse when it was read either backward or forward, excepting only that it cursed one way and blessed the other." The following expresses the sentiments of a Roman Catholic:
Patrum dicta probo, nec sacris belligerabo. Read backward, the words resolve themselves into a Huguenot sentiment:
Belligerabo sacris, nec probo dicta patrum, An hexameter line from the church of Santa Maria Novella thus refers to the sacrifice of Abel :
Sacrum pingue dabo, non macrum sacrificabo. When reversed it becomes a pentameter, and refers to the sacrifice of Cain :
Sacrificabo macrum, non dabo pingue sacrum. Another illustration of a change of meaning wrought by a change of form is furnished by the following:
Prospicimus modo, quod durabunt tempora longo
Tempora durabunt, quod modo prospicimus. A different form of palindromic dexterity is exhibited in Dean Swift's letter to Sheridan. The Latin in no case makes sense, but reading each word backward as English we get, by making due allowances, from
Mi sana. Odioso ni mus rem. Moto ima os illud dama nam?
I'm an as(s). O so I do in summer. O Tom, am I so dull, I a mad man? Palm. Like some tall palm the mystic fabric sprung. This line is from “ Palestine," by Reginald Heber, afterwards Apostolic Bishop of Calcutta, a poem which took the prize at Oxford in 1803. It describes the erection of the Temple, which “ was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither : so that there was neither hammer nor axé nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was in building." The idea was suggested to Heber by Sir Walter Scott, as we learn from this extract from Lockhart's Life of Scott:
"From thence (London) they proceeded to Oxford, accompanied by Heber; and it was on this occasion, as I believe, that Scott first saw his friend's brother Reginald, in after-days the Apostolic Bishop of Calcutta. He had just been declared the successful competitor for that year's poetical prize, and read to Scott at breakfast, in Brasenose College, the manuscript of his • Palestine.' Scott observed that in the verses on Solomon's Temple one striking circumstance had escaped him,-namely, that no tools were used
in its erection. Reginald retired for a few minutes to the corner of the room, and returned with the beautiful lines,
No hammer fell, no ponderous axes rung:
Majestic silence ! etc."
No workman's steel, no ponderous axes rung :
Like some tall palm the noiseless fabric sprung. There seems to be a faint reminiscence here of Cowper's description of the ice palace reared by the Empress Catherine of Russia :
Silently as a dream the fabric rose;
The Task, Book v., l. 144. Panel-game, an American thieves' trick. A place is specially filted up with sliding doors or movable panels. Hither a woman entices a victim. Her accomplice obtains admission to the room through the secret entrance, empties the victim's pocket-book, and then silently retires to bang loudly on the genuine door of the apartment, clamoring for admission as the woman's husband. The victim, rudely awakened, gladly makes his escape by another door which the woman points out to him. Naturally, even after he has found out the trick played upon him, he is not often inclined to prosecute. The lair of a panel-thief is called indiscriminately a panel-house, panel-crib, or panel-den.
Panem et circenses (L., “ Bread and the circus games"), a passage from Juvenal (Satires, x. 81). “That people," he says, “ which formerly gave away military command, consulships, legions, and everything, now contains itself, and anxiously desires only two things,-bread and the games of the circus.” The phrase is often used as a synonyme for moderate yet diversified desires.
Ennui is an evil that should by no means be under-estimated; it ends by imprinting real despair upon the face. It causes creatures who have so little love for one another as men have to seek their fellows, and thus it becomes the source of companionship. Public precautions are taken against it as against other general calamities, and this is a measure of wise politics, because the evil is one which may drive men to the greatest excesses, like its oppo. site, famine. The people need panem et circenses. The stern penitentiary system of Philadelphia makes the mere ennui of solitude and inaction its punishment,-a punishment so terrible that it has caused convicts to commit suicide. As necessity is the lash that falls upon the common people, so ennui is the lash of the upper classes. In middle-class life it is represented by Sunday, as necessity is by the six weekdays.-SCHOPENHAUER: The World as Will, i. 369.
Pantisocracy, the name given by Coleridge to a Utopian society which he, with his friends Southey, Robert Lovell, and George Burnet, had, in his younger days, dreamed of founding in America. It was imagined that they and others of congenial tastes and principles should join together and leave the Old World for the woods and wilds of the young republic of the West. Possessions were to be held in common : each would work for all. The daily toil was to be lightened by the companionship of the best books and the discussion of the highest things. Each young man would take to himself a fitting helpmeet, whose part it should be to prepare their food and rear a new race in pristine hardihood and innocence. “This Pantisocratic scheme,” writes Southey in 1794, " has given me new life, new hope, new energy; al! the faculties of my mind are dilated." But the money requisite for putting it into practice was not to be had, and ere long he and Coleridge married and settled themselves down to the conflict with the actual life around them.
Par, Above and below. Par as a commercial term signifies the nominal or face value of a share or security, with neither premium nor discount. Par may then be considered to signify the normal average or level. In slang or familiar speech, one is above par when in health or spirits he is above his own average condition ; one is below par in intelligence or enterprise when he is inferior in these respects to the average of people about him.
Paradoxes and Puzzles. We have Milton's word for it that philosophy is not “harsh and crabbed, as dull fools suppose.” Certainly it was not always so. Like every other institution, human or divine, it went through its period of juvenility, when, at rare intervals, it would forget its usual occupation of rearranging the universe-a feat for which the omniscience of youth is so particularly well fitted-and indulge in some of those playful tricks that are a still more engaging feature of the adolescent mind.
In the days of old, which are called so because they were really the days of youth, the greatest philosophers were fond of disporting themselves in all sorts of ingenious fallacies.
There was Diodorus Chronos, a most acute and subtle reasoner. He proved that there was no such thing as motion. A body must move either in the place where it is or in the place where it not. Now, a body cannot be in motion in the place where it is stationary, and cannot be in motion in the place where it is not. Therefore it cannot move at all.
It was in answer to this paradox that the famous phrase " Solvitur ambulando” (“It is solved by walking') was first formulated,—a solution as practical as Dr. Johnson's famous refutation of the Berkeleyan theory of the non-existence of matter. “I refute it thus !” cried Ursa Major, striking his foot with great force upon the ground.
Diodorus was brought up roundly by another densely practical intelligence. Having dislocated his shoulder, he sent for a surgeon to set it. “Nay," said the practitioner, doubtful, perhaps, whether so subtle an intelligence might not euchre him out of his fee by some logical ingenuity, "your shoulder cannot possibly be put out at all, since it cannot be put out in the place in which it is, nor yet in the place in which it is not.”
Then there was Zeno of Elea, who proved many things; for example, that there is no such thing as space. If all that exists must be in space, he argued, then must that space itself be in some other space, and so on ad infinitum ; but this is absurd; therefore space itself cannot exist, as it cannot be in some other space.
In a dispute with Protagoras, Zeno inquired whether a grain of corn or the ten-thousandth part of a grain of corn would make any sound in falling to the ground.
"No," said Protagoras.
“Certainly,” was the answer of the other sage, stroking his beard, probably, and trying to look wise.
“But," said Zeno, and we can imagine the triumphant self-satisfaction with which he enunciated this bit of imbecility, "since a measure of corn is composed of a certain number of grains, it follows that either a grain produces a noise in falling or the measure does not.”
This recalls to mind a more modern paradox, which is based on the law of acoustics. A sound is produced by the setting in motion of certain waves, which, striking the ear, give us the impression of sound. Now, suppose there be no ear present to listen, is there any sound?
The most famous of Zeno's paradoxes is that known as Achilles and the tortoise.
Achilles, who can run ten times as fast as the tortoise, gives the latter a hundred yards' start. While Achilles is running the first hundred yards, the tortoise runs ten ; while Achilles runs that ten, the tortoise is running one;