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attempted to cross the stag's scrape," which he says is “a ring which stags make in the rutting season, and woe be to any who get within it." He confirins his story by a copy of the parish register, which records that “Frances Tucker (killed by a stag) was buried December 14, 1803."
Scratching, Scratcher. These more vigorous than euphonious names have been given in the American vernacular to a political act and its perpe. trator, respectively. In many of the States all public officials are voted on a single ballot, in others they are grouped, judicial officers being voted on one ballot, State officers on another, and city and county officers on still another. If it happens, as it frequently does, that one or more of the candidates on the list is particularly distasteful to a voter individually or to large numbers of voters, he or they scratch-i.c., erase-the obnoxious candidate's name from their ballot before voting it, and thus become scratchers. They may even resort to the use of the paster (see PASTERS), thereby doubling the effectiveness of the act by both deducting one vote from the candidate scratched and at the same time adding one to his opponent Ballots which have been amended by scratching, pasting, or otherwise are called “split tickets," in contradistinction to the “ straight" or "regular" ticket containing the names of the candidates as nominated by the party.
Scylla and Charybdis. The familiar phrase “ To shun Charybdis and strike upon Scylla” is usually referred to the ancients, if not to Homer himself. But, though the allusion is to the Homeric fable of Scylla and Charybdis, -the one a rock, the other a whirlpool, in the Straits of Messina, Sicily, each with an eponymous monster who sought to lure sailors to their destruction, the phrase itself occurs for the first time in literature in the “ Alexandriad” of Philip Gaultier, a mediæval Latin poet. He is apostrophizing Darius when flying before Alexander :
Nescis, heu ! perdite, nescis
Incidis in Scyllam cupiens vitare Charybdim. (“Thou knowest not, O lost one, whereto thou fliest! Thou wilt run into an enemy while fleeing from an enemy. Thou wilt fall upon Scylla in seeking to shun Charybdis.")
Many other proverbs embody this idea of escaping from one danger to fall into another as great or greater : “Out of the frying-pan into the fire," “ As good eat the devil as the broth he is boiled in" (both English), “ To come out of the rain under the spout" (German), “ Flying from the bull, I fell into the river," "To break the constable's head and take refuge with the sheriff” (both Spanish), etc. In the form “ Between Scylla and Charybdis" the saw is identical in meaning with “ Between the devil and the deep sea" (see DEVIL AND THE DEEP SEA, BETWEEN THE).
Thus, when I shun Scylla, your father, I fall into Charybdis, your mother.-Merchant of Venice, Act iii., Sc. 5.
Se non è vero, è ben trovato ("If it is not true, it is a happy inven. tion”), an Italian proverb of unknown origin, but evidently a common saying in the sixteenth century. It occurs in the Italian translation of “Don Quixote," but before that it is quoted in Pasquier's “ Recherches" (1600), -"Si cela n'est vray, il est bien trouvé,"—with an acknowledgment of its Italian source.
See and be seen. Ovid, in his “ Art of Love,” i. 99, has the phrase “Spectatum veniunt, veniunt spectentur ut ipsæ" (" They come to see ; they come that they themselves may be seen”). Chaucer Englishes Ovid thus :
And for to see and eke for to be seie.
The Wife of Bath's Prologue.
Both Ben Jonson in his “Epithalamion” and Goldsmith in his “Citizen of the World” have the modern phrase “ To see and to be seen,” which is now a commonplace.
Self-appreciation. “I am not,” says Mr. Lowell, in his excellent essay “On a Certain Condescension in Foreigners,"_“I am not, I think, specially thin-skinned as to other people's opinions of myself, having, as I conceive, later and fuller intelligence on that point than anybody else can give me. Life is continually weighing us in very sensitive scales, and telling every one of us precisely what his real weight is, to the last grain of dust. Whoever at fifty does not rate himself quite as low as most of his acquaintances would be likely to put him, must be either a fool or a great man; and I humbly disclaim being either."
But it was long before he was fifty that Lowell wrote this skit upon himself in the “Fable for Critics :"
There is Lowell, who's striving Parnassus to climb
At the head of a march to the last New Jerusalem, This is as neat a bit of criticism on Lowell as could be expected in a bra. chure the aim of which was professedly humorous.
Another famous American author who has shown rare powers of self-criti. cism is Nathaniel Hawthorne. The preface to "Twice-Told Tales" is a wonderful production in this line, but is too well known to be quoted here. A sort of preface affixed to "Rappaccini's Daughter" when that weird story was originally published in the Democratic Review has been included in only a few editions of Hawthorne's works, and may therefore be new to many readers. “Rappaccini's Daughter," it was feigned, was a translation from a French writer named Aubépine (the French for “hawthorn"), and the pretended translator thus introduced his author to the American public:
THE WRITINGS OF AUBEPINE. We do not remember to have seen any translated specimens of the productions of M. de l'Aubépine,-a fact the less to be wondered at, as his very name is unknown to many of his own countrymen as well as to the student of foreign literature. As a writer he seems to occupy an unfortunate position between the Transcendentalists (who, under one name or another, have their share in all the current literature of the world) and the great body of pen-and-ink men who address the intellect and sympathies of the multitude. If not too refined, at all events too remote, too shadowy and unsubstantial in his modes of development to suit the tastes of the latter class, and yet too popular to satisfy the spiritual or metaphysical requisitions of the former, he must necessarily find himself without an audience, except here and there an individual, or possibly an isolated clique. His writings, to do them justice, are not altogether destitute of fancy and criginality: they might have won him greater reputation but for an inveterate love of allegory, which is apt to invest his plots and characters with the aspect of scenery and people in the clouds, and to steal away the human warmth out of his conceptions. His fictions are sometimes historical, sometimes of the present day, and sometimes, so far as can be discovered, have little or no reference either to time or space. In any case he generally contents himself with a very slight embroidery of outward manners,-the faintest possible counterfeit of real life, and endeavors to create an interest by some less obvious peculiarity of the subject. Occasionally a breath of nature, a rain-drop of pathos and tenderness, or a gleam of humor, will find its way into the midst of his fantastic imagery, and make us feel as if, after all, we were yet within the limits of our native earth. We will only add to this very cursory notice that M. de l'Aubépine's productions, if the reader chance to take them in precisely the proper point of view, may amuse a leisure hour as well as those of a brighter man; if otherwise, they can bardly fail to look excessively like nonsense.
Many years afterwards, in a letter to Mr. Fields, dated from the Liverpool consulate, April 13, 1854, and concerning a new edition of the “Mosses from an Old Manse,” Hawthorne says,
When I wrote those dreamy sketches, I little thought that I should ever preface an edition for the press amidst the bustling life of a Liverpool consulate. Upon my honor, I am not quite sure that I entirely comprehend my own meaning in some of these blasted allegories ; but I remember that I always had a meaning, or at least thought I had. I am a good deal changed since those times, and, to tell you the truth, my past self is not very much to my taste, as I see myself in this book. Yet certainly there is more in it than the public generally gave me credit for at the time it was written. But I don't think myself worthy of very much more credit than I got. It has been a very disagreeable task to read the book.
One curious misjudgment of Hawthorne's was in placing “ The House of the Seven Gables" above “The Scarlet Letter.” “Being better (which I insist it is) than • The Scarlet Letter,' I have never expected it to be so popular." (Letter to Fields, May 23, 1851.) “The Marble Faun” he called “an audacious attempt to impose a tissue of absurdities upon the public by the mere art of style of narrative ;" and in reference to the same book he says, “It is odd enough that my own individual taste is for quite another class of works than those which I myself am able to write. If I were to meet with such books as mine, by another writer, I don't believe I should be able to get through them.”
There is a sturdy and splendid truthfulness in all Goethe's self-criticisms : the praise is as genuine and unembarrassed as if he were speaking of something entirely foreign. His “Conversations," as jotted down by Eckermann, are full of the most interesting and instructive criticisms on his own writings. Of “Götz von Berlichingen” he says, “ I wrote it as a young man of two-andtwenty, and was astonished, ten years after, at the truth of my delineation. It is obvious that I had not experienced or seen anything of the kind, and therefore I must have acquired the knowledge of various human conditions by way of anticipation.” “Werther," he told Eckermann, “is a creation which I, like the pelican, fed with the blood of my own heart. ... I have only read the book once since its appearance, and have taken good care not to read it again. It is a mass of Congreve rockets. I am uncomfortable when I look at it; and I dread lest I should once more experience the peculiar mental state from which it was evolved." To a young Englishman who had read with great delight both “ Tasso" and "Egmont,” but found “Faust” somewhat difficult, Goethe laughingly said, “I would not have advised you to undertake .Faust.' It is mad stuff, and goes quite beyond all ordinary feeling. But since you have done it of your own accord, without asking my advice, you will see how you will get through. Faust is so strange an indí. vidual that only few can sympathize with his internal condition. Then the character of Mephistopheles is, on account of his irony, and because he is a living result of an extensive acquaintance with the world, also very difficult. But you will see what lights open upon you. “Tasso,' on the other hand, lies far nearer the common feelings of mankind, and the elaboration of its form is favorable to an easy comprehension of it.”
“ Wilhelm Meister” Goethe thought was “one of the most uncalculable productions. I myself can scarcely be said to have the key to it. People seek a central point, and that is hard, and not even right. I should think a rich, manifold life, brought close to our eyes, would be enough in itself, without any express tendency, which, after all, is only for the intellect. But if anything of the sort is insisted upon, it will be found perhaps in the words which Frederic, at the end, addresses to the hero, when he says, Thou seemest to me like Saul, the son of Kish, who went out to seek his father's asses, and found a kingdom.' Keep only to this, for in fact the whole work seems to say nothing more than that man, despite all his follies and errors, being led by a higher hand, reaches some happy goal at last."
Many of the poet's contemporaries were wont to speak of Tieck as a rival in intellect. Here is the way in which Goethe disposes of this comparison : “ Tieck is a talent of great importance, and no one can be more sensible than myself of his extraordinary merits ; but when they raise him above himself and place him on a level with me they are in error. I can speak this out plainly: it matters nothing to me, for I did not make myself. I might just as well compare myself with Shakespeare, who likewise did not make himself, and who is nevertheless a being of a higher order, to whom I must look up with reverence."
Heine was another German who was gracious enough to acknowledge his inferiority to Shakespeare. “But with Byron," he insisted, “I feel like an equal." On the other hand, Wordsworth, it will be remembered, said that he could write like Shakespeare if he had a mind to,-which brought out one of Lamb's most famous retorts : “So, you see, it's the mind that's wanting.”
There was a stubborn self-reliance in Wordsworth's nature which led him to face detraction with a calm conviction of its injustice.
In 1807 he wrote thus to Lady Beaumont: “Make yourself, my dear friend, as easy-hearted as myself with respect to these poems. Trouble not yourself with their present reception : of what moment is that, compared with what I trust is their destiny? To console the afflicted, to add sunshine to daylight by making the happy happier, to teach the young and the gracious of every age to see, to think, and feel, and therefore to become more actively and seriously virtuous,—this is their office, which I trust they will faithfully per. form long after we (that is, all that is mortal of us) are mouldered in our graves." Again he says, “Be assured that the decision of these persons li.e., “the London wits and witlings") has nothing to do with the question ; they are altogether incompetent judges. ... My ears are stone-deaf to this idle buzz, and my flesh as insensible as iron to these petty stings; and after what I have said I am sure yours will be the same. I doubt not that you will share with me an invincible confidence that my writings (and among them these little poems) will co-operate with the benign tendencies in human nature and society, wherever found, and that they will in their degree be efficacious in making men wiser, better, and happier.”
Southey, with far less reason than Wordsworth, had an equally exalted opinion of his own powers, an equally confident expectation that posterity would rank him among the great poets of the world. “I shall be read by posterity,” he asserted, “if I am not read now; read with Milton and Virgil and Dante when poets whose works are now selling by thousands are only known through a biographical dictionary.” And again, “ Die when I may, my monument is made. Senhora, that I shall one day have a monument in St. Paui's is more certain than I should choose to say to every one ; but it was a strange feeling which I had when I was last in St. Paul's and thought so. How think you I shall look in marble ?” And still again, “One overwhelming principle has formed my destiny and marred all prospects of rank and wealth ; but it has made me happy, and it will make me immortal."
Poor Southey! The monument in St. Paul's he has indeed obtained, and ne looks well in marble. But his books are fast fading out of the minds even of reading men.
Perhaps Porson was right. When Southey was once speaking of himself in this same strain of self-laudation, Porson said, “I will tell you, sir, what I think of your poetical works : they will be read when Shakespeare's and Milton's are forgotten,”-adding, after a pause, “but not till then.''
Landor was content to leave his works to the judgment of posterity, and was sure that that judgment would be favorable. “I shall dine late,” he says, “but the dining-room will be well lighted, the guests few and select."
Milton, from early youth, was confident that he could produce something which “the world would not willingly.let die.” In the touching sonnet on the loss of his eyes he rejoices that he
Lost them overplied
Of which all Europe rings from side to side.
Not marble nor the gilded monuments
Of princes shall outlive this lofty rhyme,-which seems to be a reminiscence of Horace's splendid piece of braggadocio,
I have built a monument,
Nor the vain rush of Boreas shall destroy.
And when I am dead and gone,
My glory shall persever. Cicero justified his own egregious vanity by saying that “there was never yet a true poet or orator that thought any one better than himself.” There is no more famous piece of egotism than his “O fortunatam natam me consule Romam,” which expresses metrically what he constantly reiterated in prose. Xenophon, speaking of himself in the third person in his “ Anabasis," says that he was “as eminent among the Greeks for eloquence as Alexander was for arms."
Classical scholars seem to have been infected with all the vanity of classical authors. Richard Bentley always wrote and acted as if he considered a great scholar the greatest of men. In his edition of Horace he describes the ideal critic, and evidently sits for the portrait himself. When some self-sufficient young person suggested to Richard Porson that they should write a book together, Porson replied, with magnificent scorn, “ Put in it all I know and all you don't know, and it will be a great work.” This recalls the anecdote of an earlier scholar, Salmasius, the great opponent of Milton. Conversing one day in the Royal Library with Maussac and Gaulmin, the latter said, “I think we three can match our heads against all there is learned in Europe." Salmasius quickly replied, “ Add to all there is learned in Europe yourself and M. de Maussac, and I can match my single head against the whole of you." If in scholarship Samuel Parr was not the equal of the others, his vanity was quite as remarkable. “Shepherd,” he once said to one of his friends, "the age of great scholars is past. I am the only one now remaining of that race of men."
And there is exquisite humor of the unconscious sort in Parr's reported saying, “ The first Greek scholar is Porson; the third is Dr. Burney; modesty forbids me to mention who is the second."
Buffon did not allow modesty to forbid his mentioning that “ of great geniuses of modern times there are but five,-Newton, Bacon, Leibnitz, Montesquieu, and Buffon.” Nor did William Cobbett let any false shame stand in the way of his telling the Bishop of Winchester, “I am your superior. I have ten times your talent, and a thousand times your industry and zeal."
Chateaubriand adopted what may be called the comparative method of self