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7. Mind ART. IV. - ODD BOOKS, I. Catalogue of the Valuable, Select, and Distinguished Lib
rary of the late Joku Smith Furlong, Esq., Q.C., and Bencher of the Honorable Society of Kings' Inns, Which will be sold by duction, by Charles Sharpe, at his Literary Sale Room, 31, Anglesea Street, on Tuesday, 26th May, 1846, and Ten following Days, Commencing at 1 o'clock Each Day. Dublin : Printed by Webb and Chapman.
1946. 2. Catalogue of The Valuable Library of the late Frederick
William Conway, Esq., Comprising Rare and Early English and Foreign Theology; Ecclesiastical Hlistory and Antiquities'; Illuminated and other Manuscripts of the XIII, Xiv, and XV Centuries ; With many Very F'ine Specimens of Early Printing ; Standard Literature in the English, French, Italian, and Spanish Languages ; a Noble Collection of the Greek and Latin Classics; Works relating to Ireland and America ; the Drama ; Bibliography; Illustrated Works, &c., Which will be sold by Auction, by H. Lewis, in the Literary Sale Rooms, 31, Anglesea Street, on Tuesday, May 30th, 1854, and
Twenty-Four following Days. Dublin, 1854. There is certainly more of pain than pleasure in the contemplation of the eccentricities of genius. We do not refer, of course, to that abuse of natural gifts, and their application to the cause of infidelity or indecency, for which some writers are infamous; of that obliquity of moral vision, which produced the Essays of a Bolingbroke, or of a Hume, the Pucelle of a Voltaire, and the Contes et Nouvelles of a LaFontaine, but of an idiosyncrasy which leads to the expenditure of superior powers on subjects of trifling, absurd, or merely curious character,
We cannot look upon these memorials of misdirected industry and talent without a painful calculation of what the efforts they cost, if properly applied, could bave done for literature and humanity. As if, too, the labor and expenditure of mind bestowed on such works, exhausted, in the single effort, the entire resources of the writers, these authors, though in
their follies and absurdities displaying great powers and superior acquirements, have, in nearly every instance, remained content with such reputation as they gained by their bizarre productions; and have sat down in easy idleness for the rest of their existences. Whether this inactivity is to be ascribed to exhaustion of brain, or to satisfied ambition, or whether indeed a life-tiine was not more than sufficient for the invention and conipletion of such“curiosities of literature," whatever be the cause, the result is much to be deplored.
The eccentricities of which we are about to write hare assumed various forms of development. In some instances the singularity lies in the subject, in others in the manner in which the subject is treated, and in others again in a laborious alliteration, or in a peculiar arrangement of type upon the page into various shapes, as glasses, crosses, and soforth.
Shape, indeed, appears generally to have been an ingenious device to attract the popular eye, and to supply the place of merit and substance in the matter, with singularity in the form. It appears to have been practised at a very early period in literary annals; Simmias of Rhodes, conjectured by Vossius to have lived in the reign of Ptolemy Lagus, wrote three pieces which are called the Wings, the Egg, and the Axe, the verses of each being so arranged as to form these respective figures.* It is probable that he was also the author of Syrinx, or Pipe of Pan, which is generally ascribed to Theocritus, and printed in the editions of his works. The verses of which this poem are composed are so arranged as to form the shape of a shepherd's pipe. We have also the Altar, and Organ, Latin poems of Publius Optatianus Porphyrius, and in more modern times we have the Urania of Balthazar Boniface, which contains 26 printed and 22 engraved pages, and figure verses resembling a Tower, (turris) a Shield, (clypeus) a Pillar, (columna) an Hour glass, (clepsydra) and others. In the poems of Charles Francis Panard, called, by Marmontel, the La Fontaine of Vaudeville, are to be found several of these puerilities. The Glass, and the Bottle, and the Lozenges, each resembling one of those articles, are amongst the number. Still more laborious was the composition of those poems,
if they deserve the name, in which the initial of each word • See Spectator (Chalmers' Edition, London : 1822) vol I. p. 281.
For the glass and bottle, see Irish QUARTERLY Review, No. XI. Vol. II. p. 630. Art. “Fashion in Poetry and The Poets of Fashion." with the same letter was scrupulously observed. The Pugna Porcorum of Plaisant, or as he is generally called by his latinized name Plarentius, is probably the best known of these : it is intended as a satire on the clergy, Plaisant being himself a Dommican monk, and its entire merit consists in every word commencing with a P. Of a similar character is the
Canum cum cattis
certamen Carmine compositum
Auctor est Henricus Harderus-
Cattorun canimus certamina clara canumque
Condite cuin cytharis celso condigno cothurno
Cuinprimis causas certamina cuncta crcantur. The letter C is a favorite letter for this purpose, as it affords greater facilities, at least in the Latin language. We find accordingly a monk, named lsugbald, addressing a poem in praise of baldness to Charles the Bald-comiencing thus:--
Carmina clarisonae calvis cantate camoenae
Contra cirrosi crines confundere colli. Martinus llamconius, a somewhat celebrated writer against the Calvinists, endeavoured to point lis arguments with this device, and produced liis. Certamen catholicorum cum calvinistis continuo caractere C. conscriptum per Martinum Hamconium Lovanii 1612." In addition there is the "Christus Crucifixus" of Pierius, and the “De venatione carmen heroicum” of Dameranus.
Truly has Aontaigne said " Notre esprit est un outil Fagabond, dangereux, et téinéraire, il est mal aise d'y joindre l'ordre et la mesure. C'est un outrageux glaive a son possesseur meme que l'esprit à qui ne sait s'en armer ardonnment et discrètement."
In the wild and irregular excursions of some fancies, no personage or subject however sacred is respected; no speculation however impious or unprofitable neglecteil; no enquiry lowever useless or indecent ur pursued. The mysteries of religion ; the miraculous dispensations of Providence; the secrets and wonders of nature, and the formation and existence of man himself, become in turns, instead of subjects of grave and humble enquiry, the sports of eccentric genius or bold impiety.*
It is difficult to glance at, withont a shudder, the wild ravings of a Bourignon, or the deliberate licentiousness of a Beverland or Aretino; but we can gather consolation from the knowledge that these, and such like productions, are daily sinking deeper into that total oblivion wbose merciful waters will eventually close over them for ever. The enquires with which men of great knowledge have frequently occupied their thoughts will, on the other hand, frequently provoke a smile. The kind of fruit which tempted our first parents; the burial place of Adam ; his height; the extent of his knowledge, to these and other subjects of equal inutility, men of real learning and ability have devoted great time and labor.
A shoemaker of Amiens published, in 1615, a tract in which, tracing the history of boots, lie asserted that Adam was the first to make them from the skins of beasts, and that he learned the art from God himself,
A Member of the Academy, in a laborious dissertation on the weights and measures of the ancients, favors us with the following chronological Scale of the various heights of mer since the creation.-Adam 123 feet 9 inches, Eve 118 feet 92 inches, Noah 103, Abraham 27, Moses 13, Hercules 10, Alexander 10, Julius Cæsar 5. He sagely adds, that if Provi. dence had not heen pleased to suspend this progressive decrease, men vould now be no bigger than the smallest insect.
In the seventeeth century, the chevalier Causans undertook to explain, by means of the quadrature of the circle, the mystery of original sin and of the Trinity. He announced that he had deposited with a Notary 300,000 francs, to be paid over to any person who should succeed in refuting his reasoning. Among his adversaries, who were pretty numerous, was a young woman who took the matter very seriously, and who, failing to convince the chevalier that his reasoning was false, summoned him before the châtelet. The court very sensibly declined to decide the controversy, but considered that the fortune of asi honest man should not be dissipated for a whim; the suit was consequently dismissed.
In the Retrospective Review for June, 1854, will be found printed. and extending to seven pages, a speculation upon the occupation of God before the Creation.
Olaus Rudbeck, a Swedish Physician and natural philosopher, who died at Upsal, in 1710, maintained, in his natural history of the Bible, that Scalvin, with which the Hebrews were fed in the desert, were neither quails nor locusts, but lierrings, “neither fish, nor fowl, but good red herring,
The father of this writer was the author of a learned work, in which he assigns the locality of Paradise to Sweden. This book is more remarkable for learning than for judginent, and is entitled “ Atlantica sive Manheim verå Japheti Posteriorum sedes ac Patria," in 4 folio volumes. As a companion to this work may be mentioned, "An enquiry into the nature and place of Hell,” 1714, by the Rev. Tobias Swinden, an English clergyman, who endeavours to prove therein that the sun is that place of torments.
Doctor Edmund Dickinson, an English Physician, published, in 1655, a learned work entitled “Delphi Phænicizantes," the object of which is to prove that the Greeks borrowed the story of the Pythian Apollo, and all that related to the oracle of Delphos, from the Scriptures. In Joshua, Dr. Dickinson sees Apollo; in King Og, Python or Typhon the Giant, (for, according to Dr. Dickinson, Typhon is but an anagrain of Python). Typhon, in Greek means burnt, as Og does in Hebrew. Then the arrows of Apollo are the rays of the sun, which pierce or burn up Typhon, or Python ; that is to say in fine, that on a very hot day, Joshua conquered Og, King of the Bashans.
Gabriel De Henao, a Spanish Jesuit, is the author of a curious treatise called “Empyreologia seu Philosophia Christiana de Empyreo Coelo." In this he undertakes to describe the delights of Paradise, one of which will consist of playing on musical instruments like those in use on earth.
He is, however, outdone by another Jesuit, Louis Henriquez, who wrote “Occupations de Saints dans le Ciel.” The paradise of this good man reminds one of that of Mahomet; according to him the blessed shall delight in embracing one another; in bathing in delightful baths, in which they shall swim like fishes; they shall sing more melodiously than nightingales, and take delight in balls, masquerades, and ballets.
About the year 1700, John Asgill, an Englislı Barrister, published a work entitled, “An Argunent to prove that according to the Covenant of Eternal Life, revealed in the