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THERE is a bird in the interior of Africa, whose habits would rather seem to belong to the interior of Fairy-land; but they have been well authenticated. It indicates to honey-hunters, where the nests of wild bees are to be found. It calls them with a cheerful cry, which they answer; and on finding itself recognized, flies and hovers over a hollow tree containing the honey. While they are occupied in collecting it, the bird goes to a little distance, where he observes all that passes; and the hunters, when they have helped themselves, take care to leave him his portion of the food.—This is the CUCULUS INDICATOR of Linnæus, otherwise called the Moroe, Bee Cuckoo, or Honey Bird.
There he arriving, round about doth flie,
And takes survey with busie, curious eye:
Difficulty of finding a Name for a Work of this Kind.
NEVER did gossips, when assembled to determine the name of a new-born child, whose family was full of conflicting interests, experience a difficulty half so great as that which an author undergoes in settling the title for a periodical work. In the former case, there is generally some paramount uncle, or prodigious third cousin, who is understood to have the chief claims, and to the golden lustre of whose face the clouds of hesitation and jealousy gradually give way. But these children of the brain have no godfather at hand and yet their single appellation is bound to comprise as many public interests as all the Christian names of a French or a German prince. It is to be modest: it is to be expressive: it is to be new: it is to be striking: it is to have something in it equally intelligible to the man
of plain understanding, and surprising for the man of imagination
in a word, it is to be impossible.
How far we have succeeded in the attainment of this happy nonentity we leave others to judge. There is one good thing however which the hunt after a title is sure to realize ;- -a great deal of despairing mirth. We were visiting a friend the other night, who can do anything for a book but give it a title; and after many grave and ineffectual attempts to furnish one for the present, the company, after the fashion of Rabelais, and with a chair-shaking merriment which he himself might have joined in, fell to turning a hopeless thing into a jest. It was like that exquisite picture of a set of laughers in Shakspeare :—
One rubbed his elbow, thus; and fleered, and swore,
A better speech was never spoke before:
Another, with his finger and his thumb,
Cried "Via! we will do 't, come what will come !"
To check their laughter, passion's solemn tears.
LOVE'S LABOR 'S LOST.
Some of the names had a meaning in their absurdity, such as the Adviser, or Helps for Composing;-the Cheap Reflector, or Every Man His Own Looking-Glass ;—the Retailer, or Every Man His Own Other Man's Wit ;-Nonsense, to be continued. Others were laughable by the mere force of contrast, as the Crocodile, or Pleasing Companion;-Chaos, or the Agreeable Miscellany ;-the Fugitive Guide ;-the Foot Soldier, or Flowers of Wit;-Bigotry, or the Cheerful Instructor;—the Polite Repository of Abuse ;-Blood, being a Collection of Light Essays. Others were sheer ludicrousness and extravagance, as the Pleasing Ancestor; the Silent Companion; the Tart; the Leg of Beef, by a Layman; the Ingenious Hatband; the Boots of Bliss; the Occasional Dinner; the Tooth-ache; Recollections of a Very Unpleasant Nature; Thoughts on Taking up a Pair of Snuffers; Thoughts on a Barouche-box; Thoughts on a Hill of Considerable Eminence; Meditations on a Pleasing Idea; Mate
CHAP. I.] DIFFICULTY OF NAMING A WORK OF THIS KIND. 3 rials for Drinking; the Knocker, No. I. ;-the Hippopotamus entered at Stationers' Hall; the Piano-forte of Paulus Æmilius; the Seven Sleepers at Cards; the Arabian Nights on Horseback-with an infinite number of other mortal murders of common sense, which rose to "push us from our stools," and which none but the wise or good-natured would think of enjoying.
A Word on Translation from the Poets.
INTELLIGENT men of no scholarship, on reading Horace, Theocritus, and other poets, through the medium of translation, have often wondered how those writers obtained their glory. And they well might. The translations are no more like the original than a walking-stick is like a flowering bough. It is the same with the versions of Euripides, of Eschylus, of Sophocles, of Petrarch, of Boileau, &c., &c., and in many respects of Homer. Perhaps we could not give the reader a more brief, yet complete specimen of the way in which bad translations are made, than by selecting a well-known passage from Shakspeare, and turning it into the common-place kind of poetry that flourished so widely among us till of late years. Take the passage, for instance, where the lovers in the Merchant of Venice seat themselves on a bank by moonlight :
How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
Creep in our ears: soft stillness, and the night,
Now a foreign translator of the ordinary kind, would dilute and take all taste and freshness out of this draught of poetry, in a style somewhat like the following:
With what a charm, the moon, serene and bright,
Lends on the bank its soft reflected light!
Sit we, I pray; and let us sweetly hear
For soft retreats, and night's impressive hour,
Autumnal Commencement of Fires-Mantel-Pieces-Apartments for Study.
How pleasant it is to have fires again!
We have not time to
regret summer, when the cold fogs begin to force us upon the necessity of a new kind of warmth;-a warmth not so fine as sunshine, but, as matters go, more sociable. The English get together over their fires, as the Italians do in their summershade. We do not enjoy our sunshine as we ought; our climate seems to render us almost unaware that the weather is fine, when it really becomes so: but for the same reason we make as much of our winter, as the anti-social habits that have grown upon us from other causes will allow. And for a similar reason, the southern European is unprepared for a cold day. The houses in many parts of Italy are summer-houses, unprepared for winter; so that when a fit of cold weather comes, the dismayed inhabitant, walking and shivering about with a little brazier in his hands, presents an awkward image of insufficiency and perplexity. A few of our fogs, shutting up the sight of everything out of doors, and making the trees and the eaves of the houses drip like rain, would admonish him to get warm in good earnest. If "the web of our life" is always to be "of a mingled yarn," a good warm hearth-rug is not the worst part of the manufacture.
Here we are then again, with our fire before us, and our books on each side. What shall we do? Shall we take out a Life of somebody, or a Theocritus, or Petrarch, or Ariosto, or Montaigne, or Marcus Aurelius, or Molière, or Shakspeare, who includes them all? Or shall we read an engraving from Poussin or Raphael? Or shall we sit with tilted chairs, planting our wrists upon our knees, and toasting the up-turned palms of our hands, while we discourse of manners and of man's heart and hopes, with at least a sincerity, a good intention, and good-nature,