« VorigeDoorgaan »
NOTES AND QUERIES:
A MEDIUM OF INTER-COMMUNICATION
LITERARY MEN, ARTISTS, ANTIQUARIES, GENEALOGISTS, ETC.
"When found, make a note of." . CAPTAIN CUTTLE.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 1849.
NOTES AND QUERIES.
THE nature and design of the present work have been so fully stated in the Prospectus, and are indeed so far explained by its very Title, that it is unnecessary to occupy any great portion of its first number with details on the subject. We are under no temptation to fill its columns with an account of what we hope future numbers will be. Indeed, we would rather give a specimen than a description; and only regret that, from the wide range of subjects which it is intended to embrace, and the correspondence and contributions of various kinds which we are led to expect, even this can only be done gradually. A few words of introduction and explanation may, however, be allowed; and, indeed, ought to be prefixed, that we may be understood by those readers who have not seen our Prospectus.
"WHEN FOUND, MAKE A NOTE OF," is a most admirable rule; and if the excellent Captain had never uttered another word, he might have passed for a profound philosopher. It is a rule which should shine in gilt letters on the gingerbread of youth, and the spectacle-case of age. Every man who reads with any view beyond mere pastime, knows the value of it. Every one, more or less, acts ipon it. Every one regrets and suffers who
neglects it. There is some trouble in it, to be sure; but in what good thing is there not? and what trouble does it save! Nay, what mischief! Half the lies that are current in the world owe their origin to a misplaced confidence in memory, rather than to intentional falsehood. We have never known more than one man who could deliberately and conscientiously say that his memory had never deceived him; and he (when he saw that he had excited the surprise of his hearers, especially those who knew how many years he had spent in the management of important commercial affairs) used to add, because he had never trusted it; but had uniformly written down what he was anxious to remember.
But, on the other hand, it cannot be denied that reading and writing men, of moderate industry, who act on this rule for any considerable length of time, will accumulate a good deal of matter in various forms, shapes, and sizes-some more, some less legible and intelligible-some unposted in old pocket books some on whole or half sheets, or mere scraps of paper, and backs of letters—some, lost sight of and forgotten, stuffing out old portfolios, or getting smoky edges in bundles tied up with faded tape. There are, we are quite sure, countless boxes and drawers, and pigeon-holes of such things, which want looking over, and would well repay the trouble.
Nay, we are sure that the proprietors would find themselves much benefited even if we were to do nothing more than to induce them to look over their own collections. How much good might we have done (as well as got, for we do not pretend to speak quite disinterestedly), if we had had the looking over and methodizing of the chaos in which Mr. Oldbuck found himself just at the moment, so agonizing to an author, when he knows that the patience of his victim is oozing away, and fears it will be quite gone before he can lay his hand on the charm which is to fix him a hopeless listener:-" So saying, the Antiquary opened a drawer, and began rummaging among a quantity of miscellaneous papers, ancient and modern. But it was the misfortune of this learned gentleman, as it may be that of many learned and unlearned, that he frequently experienced on such occasions, what Harlequin calls l'embarras des richesses
-in other words, the abundance of his collection often prevented him from finding the article he sought for." We need not add that this unsuccessful search for Professor Mac Cribb's epistle, and the scroll of the Antiquary's answer, was the unfortunate turningpoint on which the very existence of the documents depended, and that from that day to this nobody has seen them, or known where to look for them.
they must help to do it. Some cheap and frequent means for the interchange of thought is certainly wanted by those who are engaged in literature, art, and science, and we only hope to persuade the best men in all, that we offer them the best medium of communication with each other.
But we hope for more extensive and important benefits than these, from furnishing a medium by which much valuable information may become a sort of common property among those who can appreciate and use it. We do not anticipate any holding back by those whose "NOTES" are most worth having, or any want of "QUERIES" from those best able to answer them. Whatever may be the case in other things, it is certain that those who are best informed are generally the most ready to communicate know. ledge and to confess ignorance, to feel the value of such a work as we are attempting, and to understand that if it is to be well done
By this time, we hope, our readers are prepared to admit that our title (always one of the most difficult points of a book to settle), has not been imprudently or unwisely adopted. We wish to bring together the ideas and the wants, not merely of men engaged in the same lines of action or inquiry, but also (and very particularly) of those who are going dif ferent ways, and only meet at the crossings, where a helping hand is oftenest needed, and they would be happy to give one if they knew it was wanted. In this way we desire that our little book should take "NOTES," and be a medley of all that men are doing — that the Notes of the writer and the reader, whatever be the subject-matter of his studies, of the antiquary, and the artist, the man of science, the historian, the herald, and the genealogist, in short, Notes relating to all subjects but such as are, in popular discourse, termed either political or polemical, should meet in our columns in such juxta-position, as to give fair play to any natural attraction or repulsion between them, and so that if there are any hooks and eyes among them, they may catch each other.
Now, with all modesty, we submit, that for the title of such a work as we have in view, and have endeavoured to describe, no word could be so proper as "NOTES." Can any man, in his wildest dream of imagination, conceive of any thing that may not be―nay, that has not been-treated of in a note? Thousands of things there are, no doubt, which cannot be sublimed into poetry, or elevated into history, or treated of with dignity, in a stilted text of any kind, and which are, as it is called, "thrown" into notes; but, after all, they are much like children sent out of the
stiff drawing-room into the nursery, snubbed
PLACE OF CAPTURE OF THE DUKE OF
"On Cranbourne Chase the strength of the horses
failed. They were therefore turned loose. The
20th October, 1849.
"At sunrise the next morning the search recommenced, and Buyse was found. He owned that he had parted from the Duke only a few hours before. The corn and copsewood were now beaten Mr. Editor, Mr. Macaulay's account of the with more care than ever. At length a gaunt Battle of Sedgemoor is rendered singularly figure was discovered hidden in a ditch. picturesque and understandable by the per- pursuers sprang on their prey. Some of them sonal observation and local tradition which were about to fire; but Portman forbade all viohe has brought to bear upon it. Might not lence. The prisoner's dress was that of a shephis account of the capture of Monmouth de- herd; his beard, prematurely grey, was of several rive some few additional life-giving touches, days' growth. He trembled greatly, and was unable from the same invaluable sources of inform-him were at first in doubt whether this were the to speak. Even those who had often seen ation. It is extremely interesting, as every brilliant and graceful Monmouth. His pockets thing adorned by Mr. Macaulay's luminous were searched by Portman, and in them were style must necessarily be, but it lacks a little found, among some raw pease gathered in the rage
of that bright and living reality, which, in the account of Sedgemoor, and in many other parts of the book, are imparted by minute particularity and precise local knowledge. It runs as follows: