« ElőzőTovább »
wards became member of a club of wits and royalists in London, of which Butler, the wellknown author of Hudibras, was a member. He died in 1658.
Cleiveland is most remembered as a witty poet; he is mentioned, in conjunction with Donne, by Johnson, in his Life of Cowley, as being at the head of what he calls the metaphy, sical
prose consists only of two or three small pieces, of which the most amusing is the character of a Diurnal-maker. A part of it will furnish an adequate specimen of his man. ner; it abounds in the quaintest wit, such as distinguishes his poetry. The Diurnals were news-papers of the parliament side, resembling modern court-gazettes:
The Character of a Diurnal-maker.
A diurnal-maker is the sub-almoner of history, Queen Mab's Register; one whom, hy the same figure that a north-country pedlar is a merchant-man, you may style an author: it is the like over-reach of language, where every thin tinder-cloaked quack is doctör ; when a clumsy cobler usurps the attribute of our English peers, and is vamped a translator; list him a writer, and you smother Geoffrey in swabberslops ; the very name of dabbler oversets him; he is swal lowed up in the praise, like sir Samuel Luke in a great saddle, nothing to be seen but the giddy feather in his crown. They call him a Mercury, but he becomes the epithet like the little negro mounted on the elephant, just such another blot-rampant.' He has not stuffings sufficient for the reproach of a scribbler, but it hangs about him like an old wife's skin, when the flesh hath forsaken her, lank and loose. He defames a good title, as well as most of our modern noblemeu, those veins of greatness, the body politic's most peccant humours, blistered into lords. He hath so raw-boned a being, that however you render him, he rubs it out, and makes rags of the expression. The silly countryman (who seeing an ape in a scarlet coat, blest his young worship, and gave his landlord joy of the hopes of his house) did not slander his compliment with worse application than he that names this shred an historian, To call him an historian is to knight a mandrake; it is to view him through a perspective, and, by that gross hyperbole, to give the reputation of an engineer to a maker of mouse-traps. Such an historian would hardly pass muster with a Scotch stationer in a sieve full of ballads and godly beuks. He would not serve for the breast-plate of a begging Grecian. The most cramped .compendium that the age hath seen since all learning was torn into ends, outstrips him by the head. I have heard of
puppets that could prattle in a play, but never saw of their writings before. There goes a report of the Holland women, that, together with their children, they are delivered of a sooterkin, not unlike to a rat, which some imagine to be the offspring of the stoves. I know not what ignis fatuus adulterates the press, but it seems much after that fashion, else how could this vermin think to be a twin to a legitimate writer? When those weekly fragments shall pass for history, let the poor man's box be entitled the exchequer, and the alms-basket a magazine. Not a worm that gnaws on the dull scalp of voluminous Hollinshed, but at every meal devoured more chronicle than his tribe amounts. A marginal note of William Prinne would serve for winding sheet for that man's works, like thick-skinned fruits are all rind, fit for nothing but the author's fate, to be pared in a pillory.
Methinks the Turk should license Diurnals, because he prohibits learning and books. A library of Diurnals is a wardrobe of frippery; it is a just idea of the limbo of infants. I saw one once that could write with his toes; by the same token, I could have wished he had worn his copies for socks; it is he, without doubt, from whom the Diurnals derive their pedigree, and they have a birth-right accordingly, þeing shuffled out at the bed's-feet of History. To what infinite numbers an historian would multiply, should he crumble into elves of this profession! Lea gioned Pymme, whose flesh bred such a world of exe cutors, as being made of the roe of a herring, of 110thing else but compacted nits, did not disband his body in more variety. To supply this smallness, they are fain to join forces, so they are not singly, but as the custom is, in a croaking committee; they tug at the pen, like slaves at the oar, a whole bank to. gether; they write in the posture the Swedes give fire in, over one anothers' heads. It is said there is more of them go to a suit of clothes, than to Britanicus, In this polygamy the clothes breed, and cannot tell whose issue is lawfully begotten.
But I must draw to an end, for every character is an anatomy lecture; and it fares with me in this of the Diurnal-maker, as with him that reads on a begged malefactor; my subject smells before I have gone half through him: for a parting blow then, the word historian imports a sage and solemn author, one that curls his brow with a sullen gravity, like a bull necked presbyter, since the army hath got off his jurisdiction, who, presbyter-like, sweeps his breast with a reverend beard, full of native moss-troopers. Not such a squirting scribe as this that is troubled with the rickets, and makes pennyworths of history. The college treasury, that never had in bank above a Harry groat, shut up there in a melancholy solitude, like one that is kept to keep possession, had as good evidence to shew for his title, as he for an historiani
so if he needs will be an historian, he is not cited in the sterling acceptation, but after the rate of blue caps reckoning an historian Scot. Now a Scotchman's tongue runs high Fullames; there is a cheat in his idiom; for the sense ebbs from the bold expression, like the citizen's gallon, which the drawer interprets but half a pint. In sum, a Diurnal-maker is the anti-mark of an historian; he differs from him as a drill from a man, (or if you had rather have it in the saints' gibberish) as a hinter doth from a holder. forth,