Lapas attēli
[ocr errors]

fied, there was no drawback to their appearance at table; but, so soon as a better mode of thought and of action supervened, it became objectionable to cultivate in the gardens, or to place upon table, plants whose fancied powers were generally known.

1. Brassica, (the Brassica oleracea of Lin.) the Cabbage genus. Of this, Pliny and Cato have described many varieties, of which the chief were--the Brassica Pompeiana, CauliflowerB. capitata, or cumana, common cabbage, and the Brassica

Sabellica, or Broccoli. To the cabbage, in one form or another, Cato and Pliny have ascribed the virtues of a panacea; and there is, by the by, a property ascribed to it by the Greeks, and confirmed by the Romans, that it has the power of preventing or removing, repletion, whether produced by eating or drinking. * Cato considered it as a vegetable “quæ omnibus oleribus antistat;' and Columella, as food for both kings and plebeians.

-Toto quæ plurima terræ

Orbe virens pariter plebi, regique superbo." The Eruca, or Rocket, (Brassica Eruca, L.) and the Inula, or Elecampane, (Inula Helenium, L.) the former of which fell into disuse, partly, perhaps, from the general reasons we have before assigned ;t whilst both are of so disagreeable a character, that they could scarcely have been eaten raw. Pliny, however, asserts that the Empress Julia ate the Inula every day in the year; and what is extraordinary, remarks further, in condiendis opsoniis tanta ei est suavitas ut Græci evęwuov appellaverint." Nasidienus we find boasting of having discovered a new mode of pickling them in the brine from shellfish:

“ Erucas virides, inulas ego primus amaras
Monstravi incoquere.”.

Horat. Sat. The Porrum,or Leek, (Allium porrum, L.) a chief ingredient in soups of old, and the evident origin of the word porridge, was a great favourite with the Romans, especially with Nero, who was nicknamed “ Porrophagus,or Leek-eater.

The Asparagus or sparrow-grass, or, as it is sometimes called, for brevity's sake, “grass,(Asparagus officinalis, L.) three of whose shoots, weighing a pound, are said by Pliny to have been

[ocr errors]

* Sce Timæus, Alexis, Eubulus, Ana xandrides, Nicochares, &c. apud Athen. 1. i. p. 34., and Cato, loco citat. There is, by the by, a curious receipt given by Julius Africanus, in which this property of the cabbage is referred to. That a person drinking much wine may not be inebriated.• Having roasted the lights of a goat, eat them; or, when fasting, eat five or seven bitter almonds; or first, eat raw cabbage, and you will not be inebriated. A person that drinks wine will likewise not be inebriated, if he be crowned with twigs of the chamapitys, or if, in drinking the first cup, he repcats this verse of Homer:

"Ιρις δ'αρ απ' "Ιδαιων ορεων κτυπε μητίετα Ζεύς.

“Thrice thunder'd Jupiter from Ida's heights.” †“Excitet at veneri tardos eruca maritos.” Colum. x. 109.

sold for about 112 cents; and to cook which required but little time, if we judge from the common metaphor of Augustus Cæsar, when desirous of expediting any affair, “velocius quam asparagi coquantur.” The Boletus, of which Cicero, Horace, Pliny, Suctonius, &c. speak, probably the Amanita aurantiaca, which has been esteemed by gourmets as the finest and most delicate of the chumpignons, and reckoned more rare than silver or gold:

“ Argentum atque aurum facile est lenumque togamque
Mittere, boletos mittere difficile est.”

Marlial, xiii. Ep. 41. Juvenal speaks of the Boletus as a great favourite, and placed besore the rich, whilst their parasites were provided with an inferior variety:

“ Vilibus ancipites fungi ponentur amicis
Boletus domino,”

Juvenal, Sat. v. Under the name of Suillus, several other plants of the Boletus kind are referred to by Pliny. One variety seems to have poisoned all the guests at a feast, including Annæus Soranus, Captain of the Guards to Nero, and the intimate friend of Seneca. The Fungus, or Mushroom, of which the best seems to correspond with the Agaricus edulis of Pensoon, the “ natura pratensibus optima fungis;" and lastly, the Tuber, or Truffle, of which the best seem to have been brought from Peloponnesus; but the greatest number were received from Africa, some of which weighed a pound.

In concluding these remarks upon the essential edibles of the Romans, (for we have not an opportunity to extend our investigation into their different fruits, wines, &c., an omission which is of the less consequence, as we hope to have an early occasion of referring to the former, whilst the work of Dr. Henderson on ancient wines, and the numerous reviews of it which have appeared, have almost exhausted the latter subject,) we may remark, that it is by no means a matter of facility to discriminate the precise species, and especially the varieties of a species, which are mentioned in the works of the Greek and Roman naturalists. The Ichthyology of the ancients is especially obscure; and so little attention has been bestowed on its elucidation, that the question, whether any particular fish were known to Aristotle, or to Pliny, and their contemporaries, frequently cannot, with much degree of probability, be determined. The natural history of fish is attended with much more important difliculties than that of quadrupeds: in the latter there is a greater or more striking variety in conformation: this can be more easily described than in the case of fishes, which, in general, are so much alike in shape, that an experienced naturalist finds it difficult to determine the characteristic marks of the genera and à fortiori of the species; hence,

it is not astonishing that the short descriptions of the ancients do not afford information sufficient to enable us to distinguish the different varieties with accuracy. The descriptions of quadrupeds and birds, handed down to us by the Greek and Roman writers, afford us some information;

but from those of the lower divisions of the organized world, we càn scarcely derive any.

From Roman writers on natural history, we gather little not to be obtained from Aristotle, Ælian, or Athenæus. Pliny has, in the majority of instances, been contented with the servile avocation of a copyist; whilst in those details in which he really is original, owing to the brevity of his description, and want of tact in laying hold of the generic and specific characters, we are left in almost as much darkness after perusal as before. One of his greatest faults is the facility with which he has adopted the errors of the age, or, at all events, inserted them in his Historia Mundi,without refutation,—thus affording them a sort of sanction, which was for a long time injurious to the progress of natural science. « Pline," says the celebrated Buffon, semble avoir mesuré la nature et l'avoir trouvée trop petite. Son Histoire Naturelle comprend, outre l'histoire des êtres, celle du ciel et de la terre, la médecine, le commerce, la navigation, l'histoire des arts libéraux et mécaniques, l'origine des usages, enfin, toutes les sciences naturelles et tous les arts humains: et dans chaque partie, Pline est également grand. Son ouvrage, aussi varié que la nature la peint toujours en beau.” This is the language of one accustomed to hyperbole; but still it is not devoid of accuracy. Pliny, with all his faults—with his incongruous admixture of the most glaring and ridiculous conceits, has given to the world a mass of useful information, not to be obtained from any other quarter.

[ocr errors]


ART. VI.-Euvres complètes de M. le Vicomte DE CHATEAU

BRIAND, Pair de France, Membre de l'Académie Française. Complete Works of Viscount CHATEAUBRIAND, Peer of France, Member of the French Academy. Paris: 1826-7. 26 vols. Svo.

Mons. DE CHATEAUBRIAND is, undoubtedly, the most prominent of living French authors. For a part of the distinction which he enjoys, he is, indeed, indebted to other circumstances than to his talents and style as a writer. He has been an adventurous and romantic traveller in unfrequented, but highly interesting countries; he has been a bold partisan in the revolutions of France, and a still bolder one in the great changes that have taken place throughout Europe. For five-and-twenty years, he has heen more or less connected with the leading interests of Euro


pean society ; and, over whatever has concerned his own character, works, and adventures, he has studiously thrown a dramatic air, which has not a little tended to attract to him the notice of the world. Still, however, independently of all this, the extent and variety of his claims as a writer, are by no means inconsiderable. He feels this, and he feels too, separated as he now is from his old friends, exiled from power, and associated with a minority in the state, to which he does not naturally belong, that his claims as a man of letters are those, on which he must chiefly depend for reputation hereafter. At the age of sixty, therefore, he is publishing an edition of his works, by which he asks to be judged ; looking rather to after times than to his contemporaries for impartiality.

The period, however, which he has himself chosen for spreading his claims before the world, cannot be considered an inappropriate one for endeavouring to form an estimate of their value; and, though the interests and passions, of which he has so long been a part in Europe, may still discolour the opinions, which will there be pronounced on his merits, we may, on this side of the Atlantic, at least, look upon his character, and works, with much of the fairness and sincerity of those future generations to which he has entered his final appeal. To understand either, however, we must know something of the course of his life ; for, as he has himself truly said, those who consider only his works, without considering the circumstances under which they were produced, will never comprehend them. He is himself peculiarly the child of the times in which he has lived, and his works have been the result, in a great measure, of the part he has acted.

He was born at Combourg, near Fougères, in Britanny, on the borders of Normandy, in 1767. His family was ancient, and distinguished ; and he was early presented at court, where he obtained a military commission, and early formed that attachment to the Bourbons, which has given a direction to his whole life. The venerable Malesherbes was his uncle, and the road of promotion was, therefore, open before him. But circumstances, part

, ly accidental, and partly constitutional, turned him aside from it. He had the passionate admiration for Rousseau, common among the young men of France at that period ; and determining to write an epic, in which savage life, and savage manners should be exhibited and illustrated according to the theory of the Social Contract, he took for his plot, after some hesitation, the story of the general revolt of the Indians of Louisiana, in 1727, for the purpose of expelling the Europeans, who had intruded upon them, and the consequent murder of the colony at Natchez, But he soon found, after writing a few fragments, that the colouring of truth would be wanting to his subject, if he had not visited what was so different from all he had yet seen, and what he was VOL. II.-N0. 4.


still desirous faithfully and naturally to describe. It has been said, too, that he was induced to leave France for a time, from the consuming passion darkly hinted at in René, whose character and adventures, it has been thought, shadow forth, in no doubtful manner, a part of the life of M. de Chateaubriand himself.

But, however this may be, in 1789, he explained to his uncle, Mons. de Malesherbes, his project of visiting America ; though wishing, at the same time, to give a more useful air to his purpose, he proposed to the aged minister to make those discoveries or researches concerning a North-West Passage, by land, in which Capt. Franklin is now engaged. The tumults of the Revolution, which were urged on faster and faster, did not increase his desire to remain in France; and in 1791, he embarked for the New World. His passage was tedious. He stopped at the Azores, and at the Island of St. Pierre, near Newfoundland, but finally landed at Baltimore. It not easy to determine what portions of the country he saw, because he has no where distinctly told us. He speaks of having been at Richmond in Virginia, of having seen G. Washington at Philadelphia, of having visited the battle-field at Lexington, and of having gone to Niagara and the Canadas. He is evidently willing to have it thought, that he had lived long and travelled much in our wildernesses, and among our Indians ; and in particular, that he was well acquainted with Louisiana, the Mississippi, and Florida. But this cannot be. His descriptions of scenery in Atala, and the Natchez, are thoroughly false. A person capable of peopling the banks of the Mississippi with parrots, monkeys, and flamingos, can never have been there ; and though it seems probable, that he was much in our forests in the direction of Niagara, and saw a good deal of the Indians, who were then numerous on both sides of the Canada line ; it does not seem credible that he was at the South-West, of whose entirely different scenery, he has, we believe, no other idea, than is obtained from books of travels.

But wherever M. de Chateaubriand may have been on this continent, he returned home with a vast mass of manuscripts, from which he has since drawn many portions of his works. He went home, too, with his original plan unaccomplished, and almost untouched; but with a more ample project to return to America, cross the whole continent in the direction in which Lewis and Clarke have since crossed it, but lower down; to ascend by its western coast on the Pacific to the extreme north ; and then following still, if possible, the line marked by the Northern Ocean, to return within the limits of civilization, by traversing again, the whole continent, on the shore which Parry and Franklin have lately been exploring, and so come round at last into the United States by Hudson's Bay. The whole expedition was to continue nine years. But the Reyolution, which had first contributed to


« iepriekšējāTurpināt »