Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 11.djvu/147

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9* 8. XL FEB. 14, 1903.] NOTES AND QUERIES.


and 'A Christmas Carol' are as well known as any poems of Stuart times. The defence of poetry in 'The Shepherd's Hunting' stands alone in its class, and has won Lamb's raptixrous commenda- tion. Lamb has also quoted from ' Philarete ' lovely passages in commendation of Wither's mistress. Lovers of poetry need now no such commendation, since the entire poem is treasured in their affections. At the time when Lamb's eulogy appeared know- ledge of this enchanting poem was all but confined to possessors of the early edition. At the present moment even Wither's ' Emblems ' can only be read in the original, which commands a high price in the market. Mr. Sidgwick's edition is commendable in all respects. It is beautifully printed and fascinating in all typographical re- gards, is accompanied with reproductions of two of the best known of Wither's portraits, and with other illustrations, it supplies an excellent bio- graphy, conveying information not to be found in previous lives, a satisfactory bibliography, and helpful notes. Mr. Sidgwick's apology for allotting much space to the consideration of the poet's early life is just. With the year 1622 Wither's career as a poet ends. Thenceforward he remained one of the most prolific of versifiers, but it would be hard from his later works to extract anything of enduring interest. Instances are familiar of poets whose spring blossom has been followed by no autumnal harvest. No other case presents itself to us of a man in his youth an inspired poet developing in age into a poetaster. Edification and vaticination, however, rather than the produc- tion of beauty, became the apparent object of Wither's later years. The lover of poetry is bound to accord this edition a warm welcome. There are few collections of poetry that will not be the richer for the presence of these volumes, and no poetic library can pretend to be complete or representative that does not contain the best works of Wither.

The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift. Edited by Temple Scott. Vol. X. Historical Writings. (Bell & Sons.)

THE tenth volume of Mr. Temple Scott's edition of Swift opens with 'The History of the Four Last Years of the Queen,' the attribution of which to the Dean is doubtful, but which will always be included in his works. Upon its appear- ance Swift had been dead thirteen years. Its authorship was first questioned by Dr. Johnson, and among those who have to some extent impugned its authority are Sir Walter Scott, Lord Stanhope, and Macaulay, which last describes it as " wretched stuff." Our readers will do well, however, to turn to ' N. & Q.,' 4 th S. xii. 484, where the late Edward Solly, one of the best authorities, gives the other side of the question, and shows the probability that the history is, in fact, Swift's work, cut about and modified by him in later years. Mr. Temple Scott is avowedly influenced by Mr. Solly's views. Another portion of the contents consists of Swift's ' Remarks on Bishop Burnet's " History of his Own Time,'" one of the most trenchant and venomous of his works. To the Dean the mention of Burnet was always as a red rag to a bull. Swift himself wrote an admirably pellucid style, but his comments on that of Burnet are sometimes trivial. Even more venomous are the ' Remarks on Claren- don's "History of the Rebellion,"' in which Swift's

tipathy to the Scots finds marvellously vigorous terance. Against the Marquess of Argyll he is



extravagantly bitter. When the Marquess joins the Covenanters he has the note, "All Argyles, cursed Scottish hell - hounds for ever." More directly instructive are the 'Remarks on the Characters of the Court of Queen Anne.' One cannot help wondering what would have happened to Swift had some of the characters been issued during the lifetime of the criticized, and whether Swift's ecclesiastical position would have saved him from the wrath of the Earl of Wharton, whom he calls " the most universal villain ]ever knew " ; the Duke of Richmond, who is pronounced " a shallow coxcomb" ; the Duke of Bolton, called "a great booby " ; the Duke of Montagu, " as arrant a knave as any in his time" ; and the Earl of Derby, as arrant a scoundrel as his brothers." Such gems of utterance abound, though a few of doubt- ful authority are omitted.

Registrum Orielense : an Account of the Members of Oriel College, Oxford. Vol. II. The Commensales, Commoners, and Batellers admitted during the Years 1701-1900. Collected and arranged by Charles Lancelot Shadwell. (Frowde.) WE are very glad to have received the second and concluding volume of Mr. Shad well's laborious work. We thought highly of the first volume, which we noticed at the time of publication (8 th S. iv. 359). This has been constructed on the same lines and with equal care. The author has in almost all cases confined his information to such things as the records of the College furnish. There is much to be said in favour of this restriction, but there is another view which may be taken : many of the entries relate to persons whose names, though they have done good work in their day, are not likely to occur in any biographical dictionary of the future. When information can be gathered concerning the careers of such Oriel men, some of us think it a pity that it should not be registered.

The preface, like that of its predecessor, is short, but contains much useful knowledge in a condensed form. The author points out that it was during the reign of Elizabeth, under Leicester's chancellor- ship, that Oxford " for the first time became a place of resort for the sons of the gentry, the finishing school for young men of the better classes before their entry into public life." This was an immense gain to English public life, from which succeeding generations down to the present have reaped benefits which it is not easy to overestimate. The Jilii nobilium who went to Oxford were by no means all of them nobles in the restricted sense common in these days ; many of them were scions of what Anthony Wood was wont to call " gentilitial " families, which had never risen beyond simple knighthood. Gentlemen commoners dwindled in the stagnant days of the eighteenth century. Oriel, however, retained them for a long time ; they were not abolished until 1865. It is evident that the commoners were not intellectually or morally inferior to the rest of the undergraduates. " There is no class," Mr. Shadwell tells us, "which, in pro- portion to its numbers, has contributed so much to the reputation of the college."

Before the end of the eighteenth century poor scholars, batellers, and servitors had ceased as dis- tinct orders. The Bible Clerks alone survived, but they are now in all important respects on a level with the rest. At Oriel the feeling has long been to destroy all distinctions which might seem to attach a stigma to those of narrow means. Men in authority