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A Monthly Literary Register and Repository of Notes and Queries.
NEW YORK, JAN.-FEB., 1874.
LITERARY (AND OTHER) GOSSIP.
The publishers have to apologise for the condensation of the BIBLIOPOLIST last year, remarking that the greatest imposition on subscribers occurred during the panic. We will amend the matter this year as far as possible by giving the subscribers the "Handy Book about Books," printing a portion in each number; thus furnishing, besides usual matter, for one dollar, a book of which the price is three dollars. The bibliographical portion is under revisal. It will not be a mere reprint.
François Victor Hugo, the translator of Shakespeare, died last December, in the prime of his life, after a prolonged and painful illness. The Hugos have been, indeed, heavily afflicted. Eugène, the poet's younger brother, died in a mad-house, after giving promise of a brilliant future.
M. Victor Hugo has lost successively his only remaining brother, his daughter, his wife, and his two sons; so that towards the close of a magnificent career he remains alone amidst the tombs of those he cherished. François Victor Hugo, his last remaining son, was born in 1828. But for the overwhelming burden of his name, he might have taken rank among the most earnest and conscientious writers of his time. His first attempt in literature was in a paper founded by M. Victor Hugo. François Victor followed his father to Guernsey, and there, during long years of melancholy exile, he devoted himself wholly to a work which will preserve his name to posterity. He was for twelve years engaged on his translation of Shakespeare's complete works; and he at length gave to his countrymen a rendering of the great poet which in all respects surpassed previous attempts, not excluding M. Émile Montégut's translation, which is saying not a little. From 1867 to within two years of his death, he was one of the most thoughtful and effective contributors of the Rappel. So free from all ideas other than those of the highest kind were his pleadings in favor of the Republic, that the Empire could never find a plausible pretext for proceeding against him. Beyond the works we have mentioned, his productions are few and of little importance. To have translated Shakespeare so admirably as François Victor Hugo
Nos. 61 & 62.
did is enough to occupy the life of a writer of merit. It is a noble task, as arduous and painful as would be that of translating the "Comédie Humaine" into English. Few men could carry it out, and François Victor deserves the gratitude of France the fervent devotion with which he completed the work.
M. J. Ph. Berjeau is preparing for the press a fac-simile reprint, with introduction, French and English translations of a Dutch narrative of the second voyage of Vasco de Gama to the East Indies The book, unknown to bibliographers, was printed in Antwerp, circa 1504, 4to, and is now in the British Museum.
In his Annual Report the Librarian of Congress mentions that 12,407 volumes have been added to the collection during the year closing December 1st. The aggregate number of books now in the library is 258,752 volumes, besides about 50,000 pamphlets. In the copyright department there have been 15,352 entries made during the year, and the Librarian has paid into the treasury the sum of $13,404 as the receipts from copyright fees. This exceeds the entries of the year preceding by about ten per cent. The rapid growth of the library and of the copyright business of the country renders a new building to accommodate the overflowing collections an imperative necessity. While retaining in the Capitol a sufficiently large library for legislative and judicial use, Congress has already authorized the preparation of plans for a separate building, and the Commission appointed to select a plan will shortly make the award of premiums. The site of the building, however, is not yet selected.
Prof. Karl Elze, the author of a Life of Lord Byron, is going to publish a translation into English of some essays on Shakespeare. Writing the name reminds us that Herr Elze's last essay is another discussion of the often discussed orthography of Shakespeare's name. Another is on Shakespeare's Supposed Travels," and one on "Hamlet in France." The aim of the volume is to unite the wide scope and ardor of the so-called Transcendental school of criticism with more modern methods, historic and comparative; and it consists of complete accounts in
this sense of some of the main dramas, and of elucidations of more incidental departments of the story of the poet and his period. The publishers are to be Messrs. Macmillan.
M. H. Taine is engaged upon a history of the French Revolution, which has for the past three years exclusively occupied his time. The first part is now approaching completion.
The great French Dictionary.-M. Littrés' great work, completed about the end of 1872, was some thirteen years in the printer's hands. A specimen sheet appeared in January, 1859; the composition of the work itself was commenced in July following, and was not completed till November, 1872. The 66 copy' "consisted of 415,736 folios manuscript.
It is reported that one of the most popular English dramatists is about to bring out a play which will present John Knox in a singularly novel characterthat of exhibiting an intense feeling of love for Mary Stuart, and at the same time struggling with the insane passion.
Copperplate Engraving.-A notable achievement in this art has just been made by the production of first-class copperplate print after Raphael's celebrated picture, "The Espousal." It is a masterpiece in many respects. It is the work of Professor T. Stang, of Dusseldorf, who received a subvention from the Prussian Government during the progress of the work, which lasted for eight years. It is forced into comparison with Longhi's print of the same subject, intelligent critics say to the detriment of the new print, though the conspectus claims its superiority to the old one.
Chatto & Windus have reproduced the sketches by Maclise, representing individuals celebrated in London, 1830-8, which were published in Fraser's Magazine. This reproduction includes the notices of the sketches, written chiefly by Dr. Maginn. To these are added notes by Mr. W. Bates. The book is called "A Gallery of Illustrious Literary Characters." The drawings are, generally speaking, so well known that we need not write at length about them. Few who care for such matters at all have forgotten the humor, strong character, and piquant satire of many of these portraits, in producing which the artist greatly surpassed his literary coadjutor; for it must be admitted that Maginn's sketches are but too often vulgar, or, rather, to use a cant literary term of modern invention, they are "greasy." Considering the fact that very few of the celebrities who formed the subjects of these sketches remain alive, they have already acquired the value of history. Their humor is of a fine kind. Look at this tailor's Adonis, Count D'Orsay, the flashy man about town: what a volume of humor there is in the slight exaggeration of his
swagger. Here is William Godwin, shuffling along past that book-shop, which many unco guid" folk actually believe to this day was a haunt of horrid reprobates good folks who would not have been surprised if the earth, opening, had swallowed it up; there goes Godwin, with his prodigious hat, his Lands linked behind his back, a voluminous "dress ' coat on his body, wonderfully badly-cut trousers on his legs, and yet with a face which, as Maclise saw, had its merits,—even something that might be called beauty. Here is a good and rather caricatured sketch of Leigh Hunt, whom it was easy to caricature. Here is Westmacott, the editor of the Age; Captain Ross, sipping toddy with his heels on the hob; and Miss Harriet Martineau and her cat: Macl'se designed the cat, with laughable zest and great artistic spirit. Here is Mr. George Cruikshank, seated on a barrel in a taproom, making sketches on his hat; Coleridge, with beautiful, if somewhat inflated, not to say flabby, features, and weak limbs; Talleyrand, seated, a figure like a frog, in a chair by the side of a fireplace; and Bulwer, ever conscious of himself, and highly ornamental.
M. B. Field's book, "Memories of Many Men and Some Women," has attracted favorable notice in the Athenæum. In his sketches and etchings he has pictured notabilities both at home and abroad.
"Curiously enough, the Englishman with whom he was most disappointed was the one whom he had, before seeing him, the most worshipped, namely, Charles Dickens. Washington Irving told Mr. Field he was similarly disappointed when he first called on the "guest of the nation' at New York, and was repelled by the salutation: "Irving, I am delighted to see you! What will you drink, a mint julep or a gin cock-tail?" "Irving," says Mr. Field, "found Dickens outrageously vulgar-in his dress, manners, and mind.” Mr. Field first met Dickens at Cincinnati. The English traveller was holding a morning levee at his hotel, and the American went thither, with others, full of heroworship, to offer the homage of his respect. "Mr. Dickens," he says, 66 was standing in front of the fireplace, with his coat-tails under his arms, gorgeously attired, and covered with velvet and jewelry." After presentation and conversation, a shy little Englishman who attended the levee timidly reminded Dickens, that they had met at a certain house in a shire, named, and at a stated time. "Dickens looked him steadily in the face for a minute, and then answered in a loud voice: 'I never was there in all my life!' The shy Englishman, much confused, gently re stated his details. Dickens is described as more loudly denying their accuracy. Mrs. Dickens reminded her husband that the gentleman was right, and that she was present with him, under the circumstances mentioned. Mr. Field says Mr. Dickens glared at her almost fiercely, and advancing a step or two, with his right hand raised, he fairly shouted, 'I tell you I never was there in my life!' The unfortunate Englishman
withdrew, without another word, and I and my friend retired disgusted. I then for the first time reluctantly appreciated the fact, that a man may be a great author without being a gentleman-a conclusion which I have frequently seen verified in my more mature years." It certainly seems strange that Thackeray, with all his cynicism, appears to have made a more favorable impression on many Americans than Dickens did. Of all the literary Englishmen in America, G. P. R. James won the most sincere respect. At another of the social parties to which Mr. Field takes us, we find " Fanny Kemble " talking of le arms as her "deformities," manifesting her "masculine accomplishments" by talking of horses, rounding off an anecdote with a "by God!" not, of course, spontaneous, but quoted from the Duke of Wellington; and finishing up with Brahminism, transmigration of souls, and mystical theology. Perhaps one of the best stories told here is one which brings a British subject and a President of the Union together. When Harrison died, during his Presidency, Tyler, the Vice President, succeeded, as a matter of course; and thereupon he commissioned his Irish servant to look out for a carriage, to be purchased in honor of the new dignity. Pat reported well of a second-hand vehicle, for sale. "That will never do," answered Mr. Tyler; "it would not be proper for the President of the United States to drive a second-hand carriage." "And sure, what are you but a second-hand President?" was the prompt and unanswerable reply!"
Messrs. Ellis & White, of London, have just published "An Introduction to the Study and Collection of Ancient Prints, by W. H. Willshire." It has met with favorable review by London papers. The author has endeavored to collect and summarize the knowledge we have of the subject, to furnish a vade mecum for amateur collectors. It is observed that there is no book conceived and executed in the spirit which modern criticism requires, which deals with prints in a manner comprehensive, exact and exhaustive. Gilpin, Cumberland and others are too old to satisfy modern wants. The "print collector," by Maberly, is about the best on the subject, but that is very scarce. In remarking the fact that there will appear errors and omissions in this book, we are reminded that the Kunstler Lexicon contains an almost unparalleled mass of blunders which at the present day ordinary industry would avert if half the modern and three-fourths of the old books on art are written by critics, whose boast is that they are independent because they are ignorant of art, and their compositions are works of the crudest kind. The completion of Dr. Meyers Nagles' is looked for as the greatest desideratum in the way of a history of art. We think it would have been better had Dr. Willshire, in dealing with his materials, avoided quoting every opinion of every man or woman whom fortune may have compelled to write on art. He would surely have done well to omit repeating the fancies of persons unqualified by technical knowledge to speak on mat
ters of execution, who have discussed such difficult questions as whether or not Dürer cut blocks with his own hand. That there is great diversity in the merits of the blocks which conveyed Dürer's designs is unquestionable; but it does not follow from that circumstance alone that the finest pieces of woodcutting are due to Albert himself. Mr. Reid has pointed out that Mr. Thompson, when examining original wood-blocks now in the British Museum, demonstrated that more than one hand had been employed in cutting designs which were due to a single designer. There is no reason to doubt that Dürer, like other great artists, occasionally engraved on wood; but even experts are far from being able to assert, on the internal evidence of the works themselves, what he did and what he did not do. One thing at least is quite certain, that there were wood engravers in Nuremberg about 1509, and doubtless before that date, who were capable of noble work. So much for the charge of superfluous compilation, the sole objection of weight to which this book is liable.
The second series of "Lettres d'un Bibliographe (Paris, Tross, 8vo), illustrated with fac-similes, consists of fifteen letters, in which the author, M. Madden, describes books mostly connected with the press of the Fratres Communis Vitæ, who, he assumes, were the masters of our William Caxton, M. Madden also contends against the opinion of all previous bibliographers, that the Bible of 36 lines, generally ascribed to Albert Pfister, of Bamberg, was undoubtedly (?) the work of Guttenberg.
M. J. Ch. Brunet long ago surmised in a short notice (Paris, 1834) that a chap book anonymously published at Lyons, under the name of "Chronique Gargantuine," and the much augmented second edition of the same, under the title "Chroniques admirables du puissant roy Gargantua," without place or date, 8vo, are the work of Rabelais himself. Still the edition of "Gargantua," Lyons, 1535, 8vo, was presumed to be the first, although the "Pantagruel," par maistre Alcofribas Nasier (anagram of François Rabelais), Lyons, n. d., 4to, was undoubtedly printed in 1532. M. P. Lacroix (Bibliophile Jacob) has lately shown, in an article in the Bibliophile Français) that Rabelais was the author of "Les grandes cronicques du grant et norme géant Gargantua," Lyons, n. d., 4to, 16 pp., which contains in embryo the story published in 1535. A copy of these "Grandes cronicques," long purposely hidden in Renouard's library, was bought at his sale for 1,825 francs, by the Paris National Library. In the same way "Les chroniques admirables du puissant roy Gargantua,” s. 1., n. d., 8vo, 68 pp., is the rough sketch of the "Plantagruel," and must likewise be ascribed to Rabelais, who, it appears, wrote the "Chroniques "
for the amusement of his patients in a private hospital at Lyons, of which he was physician.
The manufacture of intelligence in times of stagnation is an important industry in the Western States of America, where the newspaper editors are often at their wits' end to find sufficient food of a stimulating nature to satisfy the voracious appetites of their readers Some interesting details are given by the Cincinnati Gazette of the ingenuity displayed in this line by a Mr. Bennet, now dead, but once editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer. It was Mr. Bennet's practice when news was scarce to make small imaginary children tumble from the Newport ferryboat into the Ohio river, where they would have certainly perished but for the gallantry of a gentleman who happened to witness the occurrence, and who plunged into the water and rescued them-this gentleman being always some personal friend of Mr. Bennet's whom he delighted to honor. Some of these heroes, however, at last became wearied of the distinction thus thrust upon them, and a certain Mr. Kellum, who had several times figured in the columns of the Enquirer as the savior of perishing innocents, preferred a request that his name might no longer be used for this purpose. He was assured that his request, although it was proof of a curiously sensitive disposition, should be complied with, and this promise was faithfully kept, for the next day Mr. Kellum read in the Enquirer that on the previous day a beautiful little girl, the child of a prominent citizen of Newport, had fallen from the Newport ferryboat into the river, and that Mr. Kellum, who was standing close by and could have rescued the child from a watery grave, refused to render any assistance. Boiling with indignation, Mr. Kellum hurried to the office of the Enquirer, and uttered fearful threats of what he would do to Mr. Bennet if this pleasantry continued. That gentleman, however, calmly pulling off his coat, said, "See here, Kellum, you are not a bad fellow in your way, but I cannot stand any interference with my department. If I make any statement in the Enquirer you musn't come und here contradicting it. That isn't journalism." Mr. Kellum retired abashed and thenceforward submitted calmly to his fate.-Pall Mall Gazette.
A good Inkstand.-Our attention has been favorably attracted by a novel article known as the Safety Inkstand. By its peculiar construction, all the desirable features of an inkstand seem to be here combined. The ink all drains to a narrow, central ink well, so that quite every drop can be dipped by the pen; the pen sides are arrested so as to save pen points; a receptacle is provided below the ink chamber for sediments so that the clear ink may be had always; and the top bei g made concave in shape, the ink will not spill if upset, while it is readily cleaned by
removing a stopper at the bottom. Being attractive
appearance and cheap in price, it bids fair to be popular. We recommend it especially for use in the library, as even if it fall over it will not run out and spoil books or carpet. It is sold by Leach, the stationer, 86 Nassau street.
A Shakespeare Myth Exploded.-In a long and elaborate article on "Ben Jonson's Quarrel with Shakespeare," which was published in the North British Review, July, 1870, and which appears to be claimed by Mr. Richard Simpson, it is stated, in a note to p. 411, that
"There is some obscure tradition of a defect in Shakespeare's legs, to which he is supposed to allude in the sonnet[s]";
and the writer finds an allusion to this defect in Jonson's "Poetaster," where Chloe asks Crispinus, "Are you a gentleman born?" and expresses satisfaction at sight of his little legs. (At least, if that be not the writer's meaning, I am unable to assign a reason for the foot-note.) This article is a perfect hot-bed of myths, supported by the most singular misstatements. I select this one case for examination, as a sample of several others. It is by such a dissertation as this that false biography is constructed; and for this reason I venture to ask for space for the detection and explosion of this myth of Shakespeare's lameness.
There never was any tradition on the subject. The first writer who makes mention of Shakespeare's lameness was Capell. He, however, takes credit to himself for the bypothesis, that when Shakespeare wrote, in Sonnet 37:
"So I, made lame by fortune's dearest spite," &c. and in Sonnet 89:
"Speak of my lameness, and I straight will halt," &c.
he was signalizing his own personal defect. After Capell the hypothesis met with little notice, and no entertainment. Malone, however, speaks of it thus:
"A late editor, Mr. Capell, &c., conjectured that Shakespeare was literally lame; but the expression appears to have been only figurative. So again in "Coriolanus":
-'I cannot help it now,
Unless by using means I lame the foot Of our design.'
Again in "As You Like It":
'Which I did store to be my foster-nurse, When service should in my old limbs lie lame.' In the 89th Sonnet the poet speaks of his friends imputing a fault to him of which he was not guilty, and yet he says, he would acknowledge it; so (he adds) were he to be described as lame, however untruly, yet rather than his friend should appear in the wrong, he would immediately halt. If Shakespeare was in truth lame, he had it not in his power to halt occasionally for this or any other purpose. The defect must have been fixed and permanent."
So far Malone. From the time when Malone's common-sense note appeared in the variorum edition of 1821, vol. xx, p. 261, Capell's ridiculous fancy met with no countenance. Some fifteen years later, however, the Rev. William Harness, took up the neglected crotchet, and gave it careful nursing. In his "Life of Shakespeare," he re-states the hypothesis as a fact, but without any mention of its
author! Mr. Harness's remarks consist mainly of an answer to Malone. "It appears, "he writes, " from two places in his Sonnets,' that he was lamed by accident." He then quotes the two lines from the "Sonnets.' ""
"This imperfection would necessarily have rendered him unfit to appear as the representative of any characters of youthful ardor in which rapidity of movement or violence of exertion was demanded; and would oblige him to apply his powers to such parts as were compatible with his measured and impeded action. Malone has most inefficiently attempted to explain away the palpable meaning of the above lines. Surely many an infirmity of the kind may be skilfully concealed; or only become visible in the moments of hurried movement. Either Sir Walter Scott or Lord Byron might, without any impropriety, have written the verses in question. They would have been applicable to either of them. Indeed the lameness of Lord Byron was exactly such as Shakespeare's might have been; and I remember as a boy that he selected those speeches for declamation which would not constrain him to the use of such exertions as might obtrude the defect of his person into notice."
Curiously enough, Mr. Harness himself was too lame for the dissimulation which he imagined to have afforded Shakespeare a valuable resource.
Mr. Harness having thus converted the foolish conjecture into a fact, it became a current remark, that our three greatest poets were afflicted with lameness!
In 1859, Mr. W. J. Thoms added his little quota to float the tradition. In “N. & Q." 2d S. vii. 333, he suggests that Shakespeare's lameness might have been occasioned by his soldiering:
"The accident may well have happened to him while sharing in some of those encounters from witnessing which, as I believe, he acquired that knowledge of military matters of which his writings contain such abundant evidence."
By this time the myth had germinated, and was ready for use by any forger of Shakespeare-biography; and thus it became "an obscure tradition." After all, the "obscure tradition" turns out to be so obscure as never to have existed; the whole truth being that the notion of Shakespeare's lameness was a conjecture of the eighth editor of his works, based upon a most absurd and improbable interpretation of the 37th and 89th Sonnets."
It has been reserved for me to inform the world that Shakespeare was crook-backed, for has he not written, in "Sonnet" 9o, the line
“Join with the spite of fortune, make me bow”? By Fortune's spite, then, he was a hunchback, and by Fortune's dearest spite, he was a limper! It has been recently discovered in America, that Shakespeare had over the left eye, to which he alludes in the same "Sonnet" (see a recent article on the Becker mask in the New York Herald); and his ghost appeared thrice to a Stratford gentleman, exhibiting the newly-made gash on the forehead! (See the Birmingham Daily Mail, Jan. 9, 1874). So it is plain we shall have to construct a new Shakespeare, who shall be halt, hunch-backed, and scarred, like his own Richard III. JABEZ.
Illustrations to " Pickwick."-I want the names of the artists who did "Illustrations to the Pickwick Club, edited by
Boz,' by Samuel Weller, to be completed in eight parts. The local scenery sketched on the spot." London, E. Grattan, 1838. Why is "edited by Boz" put in? because the original Pickwick" (1838) has for title, "The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, by Charles Dickens"? Perhaps the first few numbers of "Pickwick were "edited by Boz." It is well