Puslapio vaizdai

from authors very inferior to those which are now used in all schools; provided the matter was unexceptionable and the Latinity good; and that they should not be introduced to the standard works of antiquity till they are of an age in some degree to appreciate what they read.

Understand me, Reader, as speaking doubtfully,—and that too upon a matter of little moment; for the scholar will return in riper years to those authors which are worthy of being studied, and as for the blockhead—it signifies nothing whether the book which he consumes by thumbing it in the middle and dog-earing it at the corners be worthy or not of a better use. Yet if the dead have any cognizance of posthumous fame, one would think it must abate somewhat of the pleasure with which Virgil and Ovid regard their earthly immortality, when they see to what base purposes their productions are applied. That their verses should be administered to boys in regular doses, as lessons or impositions, and some dim conception of their meaning whipt into the tail when it has failed to penetrate the head, cannot be just the



sort of homage to their genius which they anticipated or desired.

Not from any reasonings or refinements of this kind, but from the mere accident of possessing the book, Guy put into his pupil's hands the Dialogues of Joannes Ravisius Textor. Jean Tixier, Seigneur de Ravisy, in the Nivernois, who thus latinized his

is a person

whose works, according to Baillet's severe censure, were buried in the dust of a few petty colleges and unfrequented shops, more than a century ago. He was however in his day a person of no mean station in the world of letters, having been Rector of the University of Paris, at the commencement of the 16th century; and few indeed are the writers whose books have been so much used; for perhaps no other author ever contributed so largely to the manufacture of exercises whether in prose or verse, and of sermons also. Textor may be considered as the first compiler of the Gradus ad Parnassum ; and that collection of Apopthegms was originally formed by him, which Conrade Lycosthenes enlarged and re-arranged; which the Jesuits adopted after expurgating it: and which

during many generations served as one of the standard common-place books for commonplace divines in this country as well as on the continent.

But though Textor was continually working in classical literature with a patience and perseverance which nothing but the delight he experienced in such occupations could have sustained, he was without a particle of classical taste. His taste was that of the age wherein he flourished, and these his Dialogues are Moralities in Latin verse. The designs and thoughts which would have accorded with their language had they been written either in old French or old English, appear when presented in Latinity, which is always that of a scholar, and largely interwoven with scraps from familiar classics, as strange as Harlequin and Pantaloon would do in heroic costume.

Earth opens the first of these curious compositions with a bitter complaint for the misfortunes which it is her lot to witness. Age (Ætas) overhears the lamentation and enquires the cause; and after a dialogue in which the


author makes the most liberal use of his own common-places, it appears that the perishable nature of all sublunary things is the cause of this mourning. Ætas endeavours to persuade Terra that her grief is altogether unreasonable by such brief and cogent observations as Fata jubent, Fata volunt, Ita Diis placitum. Earth asks the name of her philosophic consoler, but upon discovering it, calls her falsa virago, and meretrix, and abuses her as being the very author of all the evils that distress her. However Ætas succeeds in talking Terra into better humour, advises her to exhort man that he should not set his heart upon perishable things, and takes her leave as Homo enters. After a recognition between mother and son, Terra proceeds to warn Homo against all the ordinary pursuits of this world. To convince him of the vanity of glory she calls up in succession the ghosts of Hector, Achilles, Alexander and Samson, who tell their tales and admonish him that valor and renown afford no protection against Death. To exemplify the vanity of beauty Helen, Lais, Thisbe and Lucretia are

summoned, relate in like manner their respective fortunes, and remind him that pulvis et umbra sumus. Virgil preaches to him upon the emptiness of literary fame. Xerxes tells him that there is no avail in power, Nero that there is none in tyranny, Sardanapalus that there is none in voluptuousness. But the application which Homo makes of all this, is the very reverse to what his mother intended : he infers that seeing he must die at last, live how he will, the best thing he can do is to make a merry life of it, so away he goes to dance and revel and enjoy himself; and Terra concludes with the mournful observation that men will still pursue their bane, unmindful of their latter end.

Another of these Moralites begins with three Worldlings (Tres Mundani ) ringing changes upon the pleasures of profligacy, in Textor's peculiar manner, each in regular succession saying something to the same purport in different words. As thus


Si breve tempus abit,

Si vita caduca recedit ;

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