« ZurückWeiter »
A Mermaid desired to know whether she was intended by the Sphynx's enigma, as she was a lady.
Sir Charles Grandison (a gentleman-monster) thought it would be as well that the chair should state the object of the meeting, if an object it had.
The chairman begged to speak for the chair, and to inform Sir Charles that the object of the meeting was a monstrous one : he hoped the explanation would be satisfactory to all noble and gentle monsters present.
“Perfectly so,” roared Bull and Mouth. The first resolution was proposed by his Highness the Colossus of Rhodes, who, having a great deal of brass, was eminently qualified for a public speaker. The Colossus said he would take a lofty view of the subject, and it was evident that all the monsters looked up to him. When he sat down, which he had never done before in his life, the Singing Mouse whistled “ Rhode's Air.”
Tom Thumb made himself very ridiculous by rising to second the motion of “ his friend the Colossus.” There was very little in what Tom Thumb said, but in truth Tom was scarcely entitled to attend the meeting at all, and a gigantic Ogre told him so.
Scylla and Charybdis rose together, like two fish-wives, each trying to outvoice the other. Chaos rose to order. (Great laughter.) Scylla flew into a passion, and would have boxed Chaos's ear if Chaos had let her; however that respectable old gentleman, in evading the fist of one termagant, unwittingly exposed himself to the other, for Charybdis gave him a buffet which made him resolve not to méddle with “ order” again, at least at Monster-meetings.
It is hard to say when the fray between the Trinacrian vixens would have terminated, had not Circe, who was invisible, chanted one of her most charming ditties, which possess the monstrous power of even “chiding" Billingsgate“ into attention.
Silence being restored, the Hydra made a capital speech, but as he divided his discourse into as many heads as he had heads on his own shoulders, he was at length voted a bore, and gave way to the Man of Ross, who was soon put down by general cries of " No Popery!
Cacus merely rose to read a letter he had received from his noble friend Lord Briareus, who stated that he had always made it a rule to attend Monster-meetings, and that nothing less than an attack of the gout in all his hundred hands at once, could have prevented him from attending the present. Had he had the gout in only ninety-nine of his hands, he would have been amongst them. But they might rely upon his concurrence in any thing monstrous, and should there be a Monster subscription, or a subscription for Monsters, he would contribute handsomely
Bravo, Monster ! Well said, Monster! Three cheers for Lord Briareus! Mr. President Argus felt sincerely for the sufferings of his illustrious friend. He himself had lately had the cataract in every one of his hundred eyes simultaneously ; and each cataract was as big as Niagara.
The Monsters all agreed that this was too monstrous. And the Learned Pig, to show both his classical erudition and high birth, observed that so enormous an ophthalmia could only have been cured by Alexander-the Great, or “the Pig !"
Three-fingered Jack read a letter from Pen-dragon.
The Swan with Two Necks was the next speaker, and he thought himself entitled to make two speeches at once ; but several voices cried out,
• One at a time !"
“ Translate!" shouted the country Monsters, who understood not a word of Latin.
The Blue Boar blushed! He knew just as little Latin as the Goat and Compasses himself.
However, Chaucer's " Good Parson" was in the room, and he put on his Latin spectacles, and did the quotation into the Queen's English in a twinkling Behemoth rose
And in his rising seemed,
A pillar of state. The illustrious Monster said that he felt called upon to address the assembly, in consequence of liberties that had been taken with his name in a certain quarter
“No politics, Behemoth !"
Chair, chair,” mewed Puss in Boots.
“Chair,” screamed a whole flock of Gryphons, from the aviary of Clarencieux King-at-Arms.
“I rise," said the National Gallery at Charing Cross-a Monster of stone.
“Down with him !" roared common Fame, a classical Monster. “ I rise,” said the New Pavement, a Monster in wood.
Up with him," shouted all London, the Monster of Cities.
The meeting grew stormy, and we need scarcely say that our friend Caliban played his part to admiration in the Tempest.” He was all that Stephano says of him, “A most delicate monster! his forward voice now is to speak well of his friend ; his backward voice is to utter foul speeches and to detract. This is a devil and no monster. A very shallow monster, a very weak monster, a most perfidious and drunken monster." It is worth while to
Visit the bottom of the monstrous world, for a peep at such “a rare monster" as Caliban, although it is not always necessary to go quite so far, there being Calibans in real life as well as in Fairy-Land. By the bye, we are indebted to our lamented friend Lycidas for the report of this Monster meeting.
But to return; the hubbub continued until Bel and the Dragon rose. As he was a divine monster, the meeting, received him with respect, and grew monstrously peaceable. But like other divines, Bel held forth too long for the patience of his auditory, and in fact, he proved a dinner-bell, for the Monsters rushed with one accord from the hall to the refectory.
Then and there was a monstrous dinner eaten. Cacus gobbled up a baron of beef from the great bull of the Zodiac, and the Sphynx swallowed the celestial Ram as if it was no more than a mutton-chop. She then dressed the constellation of the Crab, and gorged it with bread and butter.
The Hydra ate a hundred meals at once, and the Swan with Two Necks did his best to follow the example by eating two. Puss in Boots dined on the Singing Mouse, to the inexpressible delight of the Infant Sappho, and Polyphemus regaled himself at last on Mr. Nobody. There was a plum-pudding as large as the planet Mars (some said larger), but the Dragon of Wantly and a couple of Moon-Calves dispatched it in no time. The sentimental Scotchman fell upon old Chaos, whom he took for a haggis. The monstrous Hibernian was quite content to pick the bones of the Living Skeleton. He had the Devil's Bit, however, grilled for a second course.
Caliban ate up a brace of spatch-cocked Megatherions, and then roared for an Ichthyosaurus. The Night-mare said he would wait for supper, and invited an Incubus of distinction to sup with him at the Monster Coffee House in Prodigy-row. Scylla and Charybdis had oysters ; every oyster was as big as that which ancient Pistol vowed to open with his sword. Sir Charles Grandison, the gentleman-monster, thundered for punch, and the Green Man, who was at hand with his Still, brewed him a draught of that polite beverage in a goblet, which was no other than the crater of Ætna. The Man of Ross and the Good Parson dined together on a bit of a sermon composed by the latter for the use of Caliban, but which that incorrigible monster would not so much as read. Fame, having a vast swallow, feasted on an enormous dish of reputations of her own killing, and the National Gallery had her fill of bad pictures. The wandering Jew refused to eat the Blue Boar, so the Blue Boar performed that operation on the Wandering Jew, which alarmed the Ancient Mariner so exceedingly, that he set out immediately on a new voyage in chase of the Flying Dutchman.
There was then tea, monstrously strong tea, actual gunpowder, and the old mermaids talked a monstrous deal of scandal, and blew up the characters of a thousand monstrously virtuous ladies. The affair of Beauty and the Beast was the subject of much maidenly criticism, but the Beast defended himself in the most beastly manner possible, and ended by proposing his Beauty a member of the Association. The Mermaidens opposed it, and so did the Harpies and Syrens ; but the proposition was seconded by Caliban (who thought of Miranda), and it was ultimately carried, a majority of the monsters agreeing that Beauty was monstrously handsome.
Small plays were proposed next, and the monsters began with riddles, and called, of course, upon the Sphynx, the mother of charades, and grandmother of conundrums.
The Sphynx demanded, “ Which was the greatest monster ?”
“ The Blue Boar," said the Golden Lion.
“Guess again." The monsters guessed again. “ Out!" said the Sphynx a second time; “out, out!" The monsters looked blank. “Do you give it up?" said the Sphynx. They did give it up. “ Then I'll tell you," said the Witch of Thebes. “ Who ?" demanded the monsters all. “The Honest PennsyLVANIAN," said the Sphynx. So the “Honest Pennsylvanian” was crowned — KING OF THE Monsters.
Lend me your ears.-SHAKSPEARE. There is not a greater cheat in existence than the auditory nerve. “ What! may I not believe my own ears?" the reader exclaims. The answer is, “No! you must have very long ears if you do!" Would
you have had the ancient Germans believe their own ears when they declared, according to Tacitus, that they could distinctly hear the sun passing under the sea during the night, from the west back again to the east ; thus beating Fine-ear, in the fairy tale, who, when he laid his head to the ground, could hear the grass grow! Tacitus only repeated what he had heard; but as he could hardly have credited the assertion, he would surely have shown himself more worthy of his name had he been silent. Whatever might have been the practice in former times, nobody nowadays thinks of crediting all that reaches his ears. For my own part, I have a sliding-scale in these matters, which probably gives me as near an approximation to the average truth as can be obtained : I believe half the ill and double the good that I hear of my fellow-creatures. In the former instance, some people have accused me of incredulity, and in their particular cases the charge may be true: the latter mistake, so far as they are concerned, I have no opportunity of committing! Men in general are too sceptical, too prone to think that they show cleverness in disbelieving the current rumours of the day, too fond of doubting, as if they belonged to the ancient sect of the Pyrrhonists.
What ridicule was thrown upon Bruce for some of his marvellous statements, which have since received indisputable confirmation; and yet, unwarned by our groundless incredulity on the subject of Africa, we are committing the very same ungenerous mistake as to some of the averments made by our transatlantic brethren, merely because they sound strange to European ears. More than one John Bull has even carried his illiberality so far as to doubt the averment in an Ame. rican paper respecting one Jefferson Twig, surnamed the Stentor, whose voice and ear were both so powerful, that when the wind was favourable, he could hear himself shout at a distance of two miles. Happy am I to say, that I never had the smallest misgiving as to the veracity of this story. Indeed, I believe every thing that comes from the United States, unless it should happen to begin with the words“I promise to pay.” A well-known epigram in Joe Miller, affords the finest instance on record of the pleasure of hearing.
“I heard, friend Edward, thou wert dead."
“ I'm glad to hear it too," quoth Ned. Perhaps the greatest annoyance connected with hearing is the cry of “ Hear, hear in the House of Commons, an ejaculation equally useless and impertinent; for, if the members have not heard what has been said, you cannot assist them by making a noise; and, if they have, you needn't tell them to hear. We laugh at Swift's Irishman who, having an over-roasted sirloin placed upon his table, told the servant to take it down again and desire the cook to roast it less; but is it not equally ridiculous to invite people to hear what has escaped their ears, or to hear more what has already entered them? This absurd interruption was well rebuked during the last session of parliament. An impatient senator, wishing to draw attention to something that accorded with his own notions, turned towards one of the silent members and vociferated “ Hear, hear!” “Sir, I never do any thing else,” was the meek reply.
What a curious mistake as to his auditory powers is made by Macbeth, when, in answer to the triple summons of the apparition, he exclaims, “ Had I three ears I'd hear thee.” Of course he would, and all the better, in the proportion of three to two. To show how intensely he was listening, he ought to have said, “Had your suit been a chancery suit, it should have obtained an immediate hearing!!". This would indeed have been attention, and would have been received by the Ghost as a compliment involving something very like a miracle.
Various are the cures for deafness. Applying a trumpet to the drum of the ear certainly does seem calculated to make a very audible charivari in that region, and ought to be successful, unless where the patient is made deaf with the noise; but to obtain hearing for a lawsuit is a very difficult and tedious operation, and usually induces great exhaustion, with alarming attacks of impecuniosity in the patient. The most successful mode of treatment is an application of the client's last guinea to the palm of the solicitor, after which the hearing generally comes on, and leaves the respective parties in the established predicament--the poor patient utterly ruined by getting his hearing,-the lawyers enriched by having been deaf to all his remonstrances against delay and expense.
When people fall together by the ears, and have recourse to litigation, and find that the effects of the cause have caused their effects to disappear, they are generally ready to exclaim, that they would have given their ears if they had never sought to obtain a hearing.
Listeners, we are told, hear no good of themselves; and why should they? When a man is performing a mean action, purloining opinions to which he has no right, which is little better than picking a pocket, how can he expect to be praised for honourable dealing? And what a simpleton he is for his pains ! Has he never heard if not he must