gcls_courant_001 7




Status: Needs Review

For the Courant
By J. Wood Davidson
And slowly then the aged man replied;
While in his face and in his mien appear
Deep traces of a life that, in the mad
And agonizing strife of passion spent,
Was drawing calmly to its better close.
He sighed; and in the retrospect again
There gleamed a soul-light like a hope revived.
Perchance 'twas hope.
The aged man replied:-
There is an hour-but one- in all my past
I'd live again. 'Tis not one of childhood's best-
Not one made brighter by a mother's smile-
Made better, purer by a mother's kiss;
Or hallowed by her prayer ; no hour redeemed
From earthiness by princely love like hers;
'Tis not the hour when young Ambition just
Had perfected her dream, and flushed my cheek
With boyish pride, to hear so fond a tale-
For it was passing find, that fiction rare.
'Tis not when earnest Friendship first had clasped
Me to his manly breast. 'Tis not the hour
Whe Love, with roseate blush and clinging lips,
First kissed her buring seal upon my soul,
Impassioned, trusting, wild with bliss, and- thine.
'Tis none of those. These may keep,
To bless some night of sould my aged heart
Ev'n yet may know; and she may bring again
These sacred hours, to call me back to hope,
Remind me of a God, perchance to save.
The hour I'd live - if I might live - again,
Is that when, battling with a giant doom,
There rose that faintest doubt of thee, and crushed
My very being down - down to the dust -
And marred all after life. I felt the hand
Of Fate press coldly on my spirit then;
But could I guess the ALL that hung upon
One doubt? When seen it was - O God! - for life
Too late! Could I relieve that hour, I'd dare
Deny my Godhis power - his life - his all-
Ere I, communing with my soul, would dare
Admit a doubt - the faintest whisper of
A doubt - when thou hadst sealed, as thou hadst sealed
That wildest hope of life
I'd live that hour
Again, to crush that nascent blight, to - TRUST.
Columbia, S. C.

"Sunt quidam scholastici; qui cum nullius bonae frugis sint neque op-
eris, nec studeant, nec laborare velint; vagantur hincinde mendicando,
variisqe artibus et illusionibus atque prestigiis simplices rusticos circum-
veniunt; dicentes se fuisse in Monte Veneris (nescis queem mentientes)
ubi omnem magiam didicerint, pollicenterque mirabilia, de quibus multa
in triumpho Veneris scripsi."
As it has been remarked that the vast beds of coal which
Nature has placed in the earth seem expressly intended to
take the place of wood for fuel, when the forests shall have
been exhausted, so it would seem that the antiquarian tastes
of the present century have manifested themselved just in
the right time, before Utilitarianism shall have rased cloth-
mills or run railroads over the sites of the few Gothis ruins
still left us. And, indeed, reader, now that I come to turn
it over, I like this comparison better than I though I should,
when it first flashed into my mind. For the coal-digger and
the antiquary are singularly alike. Both leave sunlight and
moonlight, and fair green fields and pleasant daily life, and
bury themselves far down amid the remains of the past, and
bringing out of that petrified past fragments for the use of
the future. Indeed, it may be questioned whether a wise
anitquary, and one of genius, does not more clearly foresee
what material will be of use to coming generations, than the
shrewdest practical man who lives only in the present. The
historian is the only prophet. The German Novalis hit,
therefore, on a strking antithesis, when he compared miners
to inverted astrologers - for, while the latter read the future
in the heavens above, the former read the wonders of the
past in the earth below.
The small antiquarian, the collector of quaint trifles and
curious odds and ends, of eccentric trifles and gnarled and
twisted fragments of literature, is to be met now-a-days in
every circle. By a wise provision of Nature, he was rare in
earlier ages. Had hy been as common then as now, nothing
would ever have been destroyed, and, assuredly, nothing new
would have ever been created. Yet the species always did
exist, though limited in quantity, as birds of prey are lim-
ited, lest growing literature and art for the million should be
entirely stopped. Now that they are required to collect ma-
terial, Nature suffers the race to increase.
The predecessors of the gentlemen who edit Curiosities of
Literature, Salads for the Solitary, Notes and Queries, Nur-
sery Rhymes of all Nations, and Blackguard Letter Ballads,
differed from their successors in two respect. They were
insatiably credulous and naively indecent. Otherwise, good
fellows enough, manifesting, here and there, strong affinities
for the best wine, and passional attraction for the best din-
ners. They are all worth looking into - in some respects
indispensable for the thorough literary critic, since it is only
in them that we can see the point of much of the satire of
their contemporaries. The chapter in Rabelais describing
that unfortunate race which fed on air, and set out a dinner-
table with pairs of bellows, or under a wind-,ill, does not ac-
quire its fulle point until we learn from the popular Curiosa
of those times that even the learned believed in people who
fed on air or perfumes. Who could doubt account, all in Lat-
in, with such headings as "De Homine solo ser vivente," or,
"De Gente vivente solo odore?" Certainly no one - especial-
ly when such names as those of Olympiodorus, Solinus and
Ficinus were adduced as authorities.
As I write, I have before me one of the most credulous and
most curious of these antiqu curiosity-shops, in the Opera
Curios of Henricus Kornmannus - manifstly Henry Corn-
man - whose celebrated Mons Veneris has of late years been
so frequently cited in connection with the balled of the
Tannhaueser - a plump Latin duodecimo of a thousand pa-
ges, printed at Frankfort-on-the-Main, in 1694, and well
bound in stout white parchment. And, I may say, by the
way, that on opening it I found one curiosity not placed
there by the author. It was an uncut leaf! Who had read
other portions of the book I know not, but certain it was that
my eye was the first which for one hundred and sixty-five
years, had rested on those two pages. However, as one of
these pages contained a dire account - De Virginia ama a
serpente - of a maid who had a serpent for a bed-fellow - it is
possible that all who looked into the book before me, had first
consulted the index, and, of course, modestly abstained from
reading such a legend. The world, as the reader knows, is in-
conceivably better than we give it to the credit for being.
Master Kornmann divides his curious collection into Mir-
acles of the Living, Miracles of the Dead, Historical Mar-
vels, and, to cap the climax, "Quaestiones de Virginum
statu ac Jure," he very properly regarding a perfect young
lady as one of the daintiest, pleasantest and most fascinating
objects in existence. Whether they were so rare in his time
as to be regarded as marvels doth not appear - let us be
satisfied and thankful that in this day and generation they
are as abundant as the stars in the sky. Our author's mir-
acles of the living begin well with the Seven Miseries of
Man in this Life - from which we infer that he wrote in the
golden age, when miseries, at least, were so rare as to be
deemed curiosities. Then we have "Of the manners in
which infants have been born," and "of the origins of the gi-
ants," and then a glorious account of the giants who lived
in early times - of Nephilim and Anakim, of Og and
Arba, the Rephaim, and those wild heathen, Briareus, Po-
lyphemus, Lyeurgus, who drove Seiphul and Mopser from
the Danube into the German realm of Ingevon ; of St.
Christopher, Roland and Haymon. Perhaps you never heard
of the giant Andromedo - he may have been the twin broth-
er of Andromedo - he may have been the twin broth-
er of Andromeda - certain it is that he was great man-
for Bernhardus a Breidanbaeh saw the chain wherewith the
giant was bound, "and it was forty-one feet long." Then
comes the legend of the giant's skull, dug up A. D. 785, in
Bohemia - and two men could scarce make their arms meet
around it - just the size of Odin's mast - or of the head of a
mastodon. And all the rest of the bones were found there
- besides which, Wenceslaus Haggecius testifies to the
whole story.
Then comes the legend of the rousing Giant Boiogerus,
who, seeing Noah's flood rising, took to his heels and ran
like a good fellow, never stopping till he found himself in
South Germany with his son Jugermann, (whose descend-
ants, by the way, are still to be found in ll German city di-
rectories.) But the giants which here follow in grim array
are inexhaustible. Half of them would supply all the Bar-
nums of the age to come, with astounding attractions. Last-
ly, however, we are asked why it is that we have no more
giants. And the answer is given from the learned Ginsfel-
dins, and is the same foolish story as of old - "Jura per in-
temperantiam at ignorantiam hominum natura est valde
corrupta" - that human nature is degenerate, owing to intem-
perance and ignorance.
Following the philological law of antithesis, Master Korn-
mann suddenly descends to pigmies - a chapter which might
make Tom Thumb feel small, indeed, and hide his diminished
head. Where would Tom be by the side of the admirable
little boy, chronicled by Nicephones and Theodosius, who
was noble-minded and witty in his youth, and who, at the
age of twenty-five, was no larger than a partridge! Fancy
the feelings of Tom when introduced to such a rival. But
they are already set down in Gulliver, in the story of the
jealousy of teh Brobdignagian dwarf.
Here follow strange accounts of human beings partaking
of the characteristics of both sexes, and marvelous legends
of boys changed to girls, and girls to boys - stories which
we omit by our own particular request. How that a certain
emperor had a cock's comb on his head, is doubted by Levi-
nus Lemnius as well as Kornmann - we, however, see no-
thing strange in it - having heard of more than one sprig of
royalty who was a coxcomb all over.
The human hair brings forth a marvelous crop of stories
-we commend this part of the book to makers of Cocanies
and Regenerators; they may there pick up some useful exam-
ples for advertisements! What different kinds of' hair sig
nify, is a curious species of divination. But ladies should
hide their hair, says an author, and William of Paris, who
thinks that St. Paul was of the same opinion, because the
hair, and that alone, makes devils fall in love with
dames and demoiselles !-as is provcd by the fact that the
evil spirit's incubi principally infest ladies with lovely locks.
This I also believe, but we can hardly admit, with our Puri-
tanical friend, that the Lord permits devils to thus afflict ladies
as a punishment for the "vanity, pomp and complacency" of
displaying a beautiful head of hair.
"Of people who have no heads." Foolish Kornmann, to
regard this as anything strange, when that comment on ladies
displaying flowing locks shows that thou thyself wert wanting
in the upper story! "Of people with dogs' heads." Of
" goose-headed people." Of stars on the heads of nuns.-
Gladly would I review the whole of thy marvellous volume, O
Kornmann. "Ferdinand Mendez Pinto was but a type of
thee; thou liar of the first magnitude." But I must con-
clude. Thy thousand pages are not exhaustible at a sitting.
Meanwhile, I commend to all collectors of the incredible this

POETS' HEADS.-Sir William Scott's hat was always the
smallest in any company he happened to be in-the head
was pyramidal. Byron's was the same. Sir Churles Napier,
in his "Diary," thus mentions his meeting with Byron:-
"Lord Byron is still here-a very good fellow, very pleasant,
always laughing and joking. An American gave a very
good account of him in the newspapers, but said that his
head was too large in proportion, which is not true. He
dined with me the day before the paper arrived, and four or
five of us tried to put on his hat, but none could; he had the
smallest head of all, and one of the smallest I ever saw. He
is very compassionate and kind to every one in distress." At
the opening of Burns's mausoleum in 1834, for the interment
of his widow, the poet's skull was taken up and examined.
Nine gentlemen were present, and every one tried his hat on
the skull. Only one of the nine could cover it, and that was
the hat of Mr. Thomas Carlyle.

"Black-eyed Susan: was in full run at the Surry, the mana-
ger of a rival theatre met the author, and said "I wish you'd
do a piece for us about Crichton, Mr. Jerrold."-"Crichton!"
said Jerrold; "I'm not up in his history- go to Mr. Harrison
Ainsworth." "No, no; you do it, Mr. Jerrold, and I'll tell
you for why. I've got a splendid uniform as good as new for
him- perfectly splendid- an admiral's uniform." "An
admiral's uniform!" repeated Jerrold; "and what's that to
do with it!" "Why, he was called the Admiral Crichton,
you know, and the dress'll just come in beautiful!"

A clergyman was depicting, before a deeply-inter-
ested audience, the alarming increase of intemprance, when he
astonished his hearers by exclaiming: "A young woman in
my neighborhood died very suddenly last Sabbath, while I
was preaching the Gospel in a beastly state of intoxication."

Notes and Questions

Nobody has written a note for this page yet

Please sign in to write a note for this page