Poet Biographies : Chronological Index
God is not a Mathematical Diagram.
Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford
Here we are subject
to error and misjudging one another.
A fourteen year old coster
spoke of astronomy, the boy at once told me he knew nothing about
it. He had heard that the earth went round the sun, but from what
he'd noticed, shouldn't have thought it. He didn't think that the
sun went round the earth, it seemed to go more sideways.
disorder in the dress
When I was
about five years old my father happened to be in a basement
chamber of our house where they had been washing, and where a good
fire of oak logs was still burning; he had a viol in his hand, and
was playing and singing alone beside the fire. The weather was
very cold. Happening to look into the fire, he spied in the middle
of those most brightly burning flames a little creature like a
lizard, which was sporting in the core of the intensest coals.
Becoming instantly aware of what the thing was, he had my sister
and me called, and pointing it out to us children, gave me a great
box on the ears, which caused me to howl and weep with all my
might. Then he pacified me good humouredly, and spoke as follows:
'My dear little boy, I am not striking you for any wrong that you
have done, but only to make you remember that that lizard which
you see in the fire is a salamander, a creature which has never
been seen before by any one of whom we have credible information.'
So saying, he kissed me and gave me some pieces of money.
So much for Italian fathers, and such the desire to keep the idea of poetry alive from one generation to the next. And what about the daughter? Did she not get a box around the ears too?
Mayhew talks with a London beggar, who tells him:
At Woolwich we were all on the fuddle at the Dust Hole1, and our two spokesmen were drunk; and I went to beg of Major ------, whose brother was then in Spain - he himself had been out previously. Meeting the major at his own house, I said, 'I was a serjeant in the 3rd Westminster Grenadiers, you know, and served under your brother.'
'Oh, yes that's my brother's regiment,' says he. 'Where was you then, on the 16th of October?'
'Why, sir, I was at the taking of the city of Irun,' says I - (in fact, I was at that time with the costermonger in St Giles' calling cabbages..)
Then said the major, 'What day was Ernani taken on?'
'Why,' said I....'That was the 16th of October too.'
'Very well, my man,' says he, tapping his boots with a riding whip he held. 'I'll see what I can do for you'; and the words were no sooner out of his mouth than he stepped up to me and gave me a regular pasting. He horsewhipped me up and down stairs, and all along the passages; my flesh was like sausages.
Henry Mayhew London Characters and Crooks
The Dusthole was an area of Woolwich situated between the Dockyard and the Arsenal, which was a dense maze of alleys and passages with hovels, workshops and taverns.
for a fuller description look here
Concerning Decoy ducks
The Decoy ducks are first naturalized to the Place, for they are hatch'd and bred up in the Decoy Ponds: There are in the Ponds certain Places where they are constantly fed, and where being made tame, they are used to come even to the Decoy Man's Hand for their Food.
When they fly abroad, or, as might be said, are sent abroad, they go none knows where; but 'tis believ'd by some they fly quite over the Seas into Holland and Germany; There they meet with others of their Acquaintance, that is to say, of their own Kind, where sorting with them, and observing how poorly they live, how all the Rivers are frozen up, and the Lands cover'd with Snow, and that they are almost starv'd, they fail not to let them know, (in langauage that they make one another understand) that in England, from whence they came, the Case is quite alter'd; that the English Ducks live much better than they do in those cold Climates; that they have open Lakes, and Sea Shores full of Food, the Tides flowing freely into every Creek; that they have also within the Land, large Lakes, refreshing Springs of Water, open Ponds, covered and secured from human Eyes, with large Rows of grown Trees and impenetrable Groves; that the Lands are full of Food, the Stubbles yielding constant Supplies of Corn, left by the negligent Husbandmen, as it were on purpose for their Use, that 'tis not once in a wild Duck's Age, that they have any long Frosts or deep Snows, and that when they have, yet the Sea is never frozen, or the Shores void of Food; and that if they will please but to go with them into England, they shall share with them in all these good Things....
Daniel Defoe Tour Thro' Great Britain
On bookės for to
read I me delight,
Chaucer, Legend of the Good Women
The empire of Germany is the most powerful neighbour which France has; it is nearly of the same extent; there is not, perhaps, so much money in it, but it abounds more with sturdy men, inured to labour.
Voltaire, The Age of Lewis XIV, Chapter CLXVI, translated by Tobias Smollett and others.
M de Mazarin was very zealous for the conversion of souls. One day he sought audience with the King to tell him that the angel Gabriel had appeared before him, and had charged him to go and bid the King send away Madame de la Valličre (his mistress). 'He appeared also to me,' replied the King, 'and assured me that you were mad.'
from Mirabeau's Love Letters
There is a story that a lady saw a man fall into the water, and earnestly entreated the dandy who accompanied her, and who was a notoriously good swimmer, to save his life. Her friend raised his lorgnette with the phlegm indispensable to a man of fashion, looked earnestly at the drowning man,whose head rose for the last time, and calmly replied, "It's impossible, Madam, I never was introduced to that gentleman."
from Tour in Germany, Holland and England in the Years 1826, 1827 and 1828 with remarks on the Manners and Customs of the Inhabitants, and Anecdotes of Distinguished Public Characters in a Series of Letters by a German Prince. Effingham Wilson. 1832.
To see a smock-faced Eunuch wed: When Męvia fights in the Circus with a Tuscan Boar, and shakes the Boar-spear with her Breasts all bare; to see a Fellow1 vie with a whole Senate in Wealth, whose Scissars snip'd my youthful Beard, grown somewhat long. To see the Scum of Nile, Crispius, once a vile Canopian Slave, (his Shoulders shifting wantonly his Cloak of purple Dye) cool his Fingers, sweating under the Weight of a thin Summer's Ring, not able to endure a heavier Gem; 'tis hard to hold from Writing. Where's the Man so unconcern'd in this licentious Town, so ribb'd with Iron, to be restrain'd from flying out?
Juvenal, First Satire
1. The fellow was one Cynnamus, a barber who grew inordinately wealthy by supplying whores to wealthy Romans.
George Sandys produced a commentary on Ovid's Metamorphoses for the 1632 edition of his translation, in which he demonstrates the delightful mix of first hand observation and philosophy which is also typical of his poetry / translation. Writing of Orpheus and Eurydice, he digresses as follows
'Yet musick in it selfe most strangely works vpon our humane affections. Not in that the Soule (according to the opinion of the Platonists) consisting of harmony, & rapt with the sphearicall musick before it descended from Heauen to inhabit the body, affects it with the like desire (there being no nation so barbarous, or man so austere and stupid, which is not by the melody of instruments and numerous composures, either incited to pleasure or animated to Virtue) but because the Spirits which agitate in the heart, receaue a warbling and dancing aire into the bosome, and are made one with the same where with they haue an affinity; whose motions lead the rest of the Spirits dispersed through the body, raising or suppressing the instrumentall parts according to the measures of the Musick; sometimes inflaming: and againe composing the affections: the sence of hearing stricking the Spirits more immediatly, then the rest of the sences. So those who become frantick by the mortal biting of a Tarantula, are onely appeased with Musick, when the Musitian lights vpon such a straine as sympathizeth with their Spirits; and by continuing the same are perfectly cured.'
While wrong may be done, then, in either of two ways, that is, by force or by fraud, both are bestial: fraud seems to belong to the cunning fox, force to the lion; both are wholly unworthy of man, but fraud is the more contemptible. But of all forms of injustice, none is more flagrant than that of the hypocrite who, at the very moment when he is most false, makes it his business to appear virtuous.
Cicero, De Officiis
Poet Biographies : Chronological Index
links to poet biographies
Sappho (c615 BC
- c550 BC?)