Open main menu

Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 11.djvu/106

This page needs to be proofread.


NOTES A^D QUERIES. V* s. XL JA*. sx,


neither does it .with ( a, s ; t^ement of MR. WILLIAM PL.ATT (6 th S. iii. 458) that /' this is an, ir.<59ical expression, dating its origin as far back as 1745, and conveys a sneering allusion ko the conduct of the Dutch at the battle of 1 '.ntanoy. At the commencement of the engage- ment the onslaught of the English allied army promised victory, but the Dutch betook themselves

POLITICIAN.

There is an earlier instance in Scott than that quoted in 'N.E.D.'frora 'Woodstock, i.e., Frank Levitt's reply to Meg Murdockson m 4 Heart of Midlothian,' chap xxx. :

"No, no-when a woman wants mischief from you, she always begins by rilling you drunk. I -n all Dutch courage. What I do I will do soberly I '11 last the longer for that too." The expression is also used in Marryats 4 Peter bimple,' chap. Iv.

ADRIAN WHEELER.


NOTES ON BOOKS, &c. London in the Eighteenth Century. By Sir Walter

Besant. (A. & C. Black.)

THE recent writings of Sir Walter Besant prove how keenly interested he was in London history and topography. From the prefatory note, by Lady Besant, to the present volume we learn what we had in part guessed that he aimed to be the historian of London in the nineteenth century, as Stow had been in the sixteenth, and that he pro- jected a new ' Survey,' which was to be " a record of the greatest, busiest, most wealthy, [and] most populous city in the whole world, as it was from century to century, and as it is at present." The conception of a scheme so ambitious involved the chance it may almost be said the certainty that it would be left incomplete, and would add another chapter to the history of the 'Vanity of Human Wishes.' Though representing, it is said, " the continuous labour of over five years and the active research of half a lifetime," the present volume can only be accepted as a huge fragment it extends to nearly seven hundred pages of a history which will some day reach us as the joint labour of several hands, but is not likely to be given us as the product of solitary thought. Such as it is, it is welcome. With the other writings on the subject of its author due in part, it may be assumed, to the same researches it constitutes a considerable product and a remark- able display of zeal and erudition. Under the con- ditions, it must be classed among the mcmoirei> jiftur n-ir, which not seldom appeal more directly to the historical reader than complete and sym- metrical compilations. "Eighteenth century" is with Sir Walter an arbitrary rather than an exact term. Its borders are, however, defined, and the division ia convenient. The terms men have adopted are &\\farom de parler. What is greatest in sixteenth-century literature includes a quarter of the seventeenth century ; the eighteenth century of Rousseau differed widely from that of the Con ven- t inn. It is useless to insist on such matters. Cinque Cento means virtually what we wish it to mean


The eighteenth century of Sir Walter begins with he accession of George I. in 1714, and ends with he passage in 1832 of the Reform Bill. Altogether acceptable are these limitations, the more so since the literature of the epoch is not discussed. With regard to written authorities bir Walter is reticent. Such exist most frequently in obscure histories or brgotten novels, which the author himself cannot always or often trace. This honest and candic statement enables us to judge how far the work tself is to be regarded as popular and how far trustworthy. In the case of the illustrations, which constitute a pleasing and an important feature, the sources can almost always be traced by the en- lightened reader. A large we can scarcely say a disproportionate share is by the great satirist Hogarth, and others are from sources into which the student of London is accustomed to dip.

Apart from appendixes, &c., the body of the work has seven main headings and seventy-three chap- ters. Of the latter twenty are assigned to * His- torical Notes,' twenty-one to ' Manners and Cus- toms/ and eleven to 'Society and Amusements,' the remainder being occupied with ' The City and the Streets,' 'Church and Chapel,' 'Government and Trade of the City,' 'Crime, Police,' &c. It is impossible to convey the slightest idea of the quantity or nature of the subjects covered by Sir Walter. Antiquarian, historical, narrative, gossip- ing, descriptive in turns, and a hundred things beside, he supplies a curiously nondescript, but wholly delightful account of the London of the time of Johnson and Goldsmith, of Garrick and Hogarth, when the matutinal cit, going to his work, meditated on the traitors' heads over Temple Bar, or took a wide detour to avoid the chance of meet- ing Lord George Gordon and his Protestant allies ; when, between May and October, no fewer than eighty-two days might be spent at fairs ; and when Mrs. Brownrigg or the Metyards, mother arid daughter, swung on the gallows for whipping parish apprentices to death. Stimulating, edifying, inter- esting, horrifying, in turns, the book has not a dull moment. Its illustrations are enough to give it a distinguished place in every collection of books about London. It occupies, indeed, a place unique in its way, is admirably got up in all respects, and is a credit to the Edinburgh press. As it is the best, it will surely prove the most prized and popular of modern books on London.

Napoleon racontepar I' Image. Par Armand Dayot.

(Paris, Hachette.)

THE volume which Messrs. Hachette issue annually in a form of unsurpassable luxury differs this year from its predecessors. It is no longer a record of the artistic triumphs of previous years, nor is it a chronicle of French success in depicting la Femme or I Enfant. It is, on the contrary, a reissue in the most attractive guise of a work that has already seen the light and has been crowned by the Academie Francaise. The author is M. Armand Dayot, and the subject is the great Napoleon. It seems determined in the public mind that the man of action triumphs over the man of thought. Against this view we shall never cease vainly to protest. The real leaders of men are the Platos, ^Eschyluses, Shakespeares, Bacons, Goethes, not the Alexanders and the Bona- partes. It is vain, however, to stir the ashes of a futile controversy. In the eyes of the present gene- ration Napoleon looms larger than any other man of the modern epoch, perhaps of any epoch, and the