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In the letter of Rousseau it was, “but unfortunately he departs soon.” Piron was very sensibly affected at this equivocal but, and resolved to revenge himself by composing one hundred epigrams against the malignant critic. He had written sixty before Des Fontaines died: but of these only two attracted any notice.
Towards the conclusion of the fifteenth century, Antonio Cornezano wrote a hundred different sonnets on one subject; "the eyes of his mistress!" to which possibly Shakespeare may allude, when Jaques describes a lover, with his
« Woeful ballad, Made to his mistress' eyebrow."
Not inferior to this ingenious trifler is Nicholas Franco, well known in Italian literature, who employed himself in writing two hundred and eighteen satiric sonnets, chiefly on the famous Peter Aretin. This lampooner had the honour of being hanged at Rome for his defamatory publications. In the same class are to be placed two other writers. Brebeuf, who wrote one hundred and fifty epigrams against a painted lady. Another wit, desirous of emulating him, and for a literary bravado, continued the same subject, and pointed at this unfortunate fair three hundred more, without once repeating the thoughts of Brebeuf! There is a collection of poems called “ La puce des grand jours de Poitiers.”
The FLEA of the carnival of Poictiers. These poems were all written by the learned Pasquier upon a FLEA which he found one morning in the bosom of the famous Catherine des Roches !
Not long ago, a Mr. and Mrs. Bilderdik, in Flanders, published poems under the whimsical title of “ White and Red.”—His own poems were called white, from the colour of his hair, and those of his lady red, in allusion to the colour of
The idea must be Flemish! Gildon, in his “ Laws of Poetry,” commenting on this line of the Duke of Buckingham's “ Essay on Poetry,
“ Nature's chief master-piece is writing well :"
very profoundly informs his readers “ That what is here said has not the least regard to the penmanship, that is, to the fairness or badness of the hand-writing,” &c., and proceeds throughout a whole page, with a panegyric on a fine handwriting! Dull men seem to have at times great claims to originality!
Littleton, the author of the Latin and English •Dictionary, seems to have indulged his favourite propensity to punning so far as even to introduce a pun in the grave and elaborate work of a Lexicon. A story has been raised to account for it, and it has been ascribed to the impatient interjection of the lexicographer to his scribe, who, taking no offence at the peevishness of his master, put it down in the Dictionary. The article alluded to is, “ CONCURRO, to run with others; to run together; to come together; to fall foul on one another; to Concur, to Condog." · Mr. Todd, in his Dictionary, has laboured to show “the inaccuracy of this pretended narrative.” Yet a similar blunder appears to have happened to Ash. Johnson, while composing his Dictionary, sent a note to the Gentleman's Magazine to inquire the etymology of the word curmudgeon. Having obtained the information, he records in his work the obligation to an anonymous letter-writer. “ Curmudgeon, a vitious way of pronouncing caur mechant. An unknown correspondent." Ash copied the word into his Dictionary in this manner: “Curmudgeon: from the French cæur, unknown; and mechant, a correspondent.” This singular negligence ought to be placed in the class of our literary blunders: these form a pair of lexicographical anecdotes.
Two singular literary follies have been practised on Milton. There is a prose version of his “ Paradise Lost,” which was innocently translated from the French version of his Epic! One Green published a specimen of a new version of the “ Paradise Lost" into blank verse! For this purpose he has utterly ruined the harmony of Milton's cadences, by what he conceived to be “ bringing that amazing work somewhat nearer the summit of perfection.
A French author, when his book had been received by the French Academy, had the portrait of Cardinal Richelieu engraved on his title-page, encircled by a crown of forty rays, in each of which was written the name of the celebrated forty academicians.
The self-exultations of authors, frequently employed by injudicious writers, place them in ridiculous attitudes. A writer of a bad dictionary, which he intended for a Cyclopædia, formed such an opinion of its extensive sale, that he put on the title-page the words “first edition," a hint to the gentle reader that it would not be the last. Desmarest was so delighted with his “ Clovis," an Epic Poem, that he solemnly concludes his preface with a thanksgiving to God, to whom he attributes all its glory! This is like that conceited member of a French parliament, who was overheard, after his tedious harangue, muttering most devoutly to himself, “ Non nobis Domine."
Several works have been produced from some odd coincidence with the name of their authors. Thus De Saussay has written a folio volume, consisting of panegyrics of persons
of eminence, whose christian names were Andrew; because Andrew' was his own name.
Two Jesuits made a similar collection of illustrious men whose christian names were Theophilus and Philip,
being their own. Anthony Sanderus has also composed a treatise of illustrious Anthonies ! And we have one Buchanan, who has written the lives of those persons who were so fortunate as to have been his namesakes.
Several forgotten writers have frequently been intruded on the public eye, merely through such trifling coincidences as being members of some particular society, or natives of some particular country. Cordeliers have stood forward to revive the writings of Duns Scotus, because he had been a Cordelier; and a Jesuit compiled a folio on the antiquities of a country, merely from the circumstance that the founder of his order, Ignatius Loyola, had been born there. Several of the classics are violently extolled above others, merely from the accidental circumstance of their editors having collected a vast number of notes, which they resolved to discharge on the public. County histories have been frequently compiled, and provincial writers have received a temporary existence, from the accident of some obscure individual being an inhabitant of some obscure town.
On such literary follies Malebranche has made this refined observation. The critics, standing in some way connected with the author, their selflove inspires them, and abundantly furnishes eulogiums which the author never merited, that