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Now it is greatly in favour of Herbert, that in his own unsettled age, his works enjoyed wonderful popularity. The first edition of his “ Temple” appeared in 1633; twenty thousand copies had been sold when his Life was written by his affectionate biographer Izaak Walton, and it had reached a seventh edition in 1656. We should be thankful that, by the talents and piety of a few members of our Church, attention has been more directed to such Poems as his. In fact, in the style of “The Christian Year,” “ The Lyra Apostolica,' “ The Cathedral,” &c. we can trace a distinct resemblance to that of Donne-Herbert--QuarlesWithers, &c. There is prominent in each school a love for the duties of a pastor, and a burning zeal for religion, and a veneration for the ancient customs and ceremonies of the Church.
In short—wherever true Piety is, George Herbert will be affectionately cherished. It is impossible, as Willmott says, “ to read of him, and not to love him.” He spreads purity over the soul, and where he is, pollution cannot come; like that musician, * whom Agamemnon, when he went to Troy, left as the
guardian of his wife's virtue, and whom the adulterer was forced to remove out of the way before he could effect
Meek Herbert, would that such as I
Could learn thy lesson high ;
A midnight orison ;
And child's simplicity.
* Hom. Odyss. 277. sqq.
For angels ever with thee are,
But golden thoughts do gleam,
When bowed to earth it sings.* Is it unreasonable to hope that the Divine Herbert will find favour among Etonians ? and why should he not ? We do not wish that any real poet should be excluded from their libraries : we ask a place in them for him.
Let us then, at parting, recommend him to our readers, as a Poet, a Scholar, and a Churchman. The more he is read, the more we shall see the spirit of true religion infused into the minds of the people: and we shall witness with joy fresh zeal, fresh love, for that best of mothers—the Church of England.
C. B. B.
PEDANTS AND PEDANTRY.
“ Tout habillard, tout censeur, tout pédant,
Se peut connaître au discours que j'avance."-LA FONTAINE.
“A little knowledge,” says the proverb, “is a dangerous thing:" if, then, its tendency is to raise conceit and undue notions of self-importance, (and in this lies its danger,) the matter is made far worse when considerable, or even extraordinary attainments are unaccompanied by good sense. True, the legitimate effect of increased knowledge is to counteract and
dispel the conceit of sciolists, and by extending their views, and affording a deeper insight into what learning really is, to make them more sensible of their deficiency. But it too often happens that, if a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, great knowledge is even more so; the egotism engendered by early progress too often fails to give way before the refining and polishing influence of matured intellect; and the fruits of it are displayed in Pedantry, one of the innumerable forms of boredom.
Now, to our eyes, a Pedant is not merely one who obtrudes on society his acquaintance with the classics by perpetual quotations from them, or his skill in modern languages by continually interlarding his discourse with them; the conversation of one who deals neither in classical allusions nor in Echos de Paris may be pedantic in the extreme, though the words and expressions which it makes use of may all be drawn from the pure well of English undefiled. Nor do we include in this category those who talk shop,” as the phrase is; it must be something far worse than pedantry, it must be downright vulgarity, which leads a medical student to shock the ears, and spoil the appetites of ladies, with the revolting details of the dissecting-room. We feel that we cannot better define pedantry than by quoting the words of Milton, whose own profound and varied learning was under the guidance of so correct a taste, that it served to heighten and adorn, instead of encumbering his genius. They are taken from the fourth book of “Paradise Regained,” verse 322 :
"He who reads
In the above lines Milton clearly shews wherein pedantry consists-in the possession of a mass of confused and ill-digested information, without any refining or controlling spirit. The consequence of this lack of sense is an affectation of superior knowledge, a habit of displaying it at unseasonable times, and a disregard of the established usages of society both in language and manners. To borrow an illustration from the same great poet, a mass of learning heaped together without clearness or arrangement is in the same state as Chaos, before the illuminating and vivifying Spirit had separated land and sea, light and darkness. Persons of this character are too apt to set themselves up as wiser than other men, and often to offend against good manners by the inopportune and authoritative introduction of their own opinions. Their interfering disposition leads them to set up for teachers of others, while they are themselves in need of instruction on a most important point, that of propriety-while the dogmatic and self-sufficient air which they assume renders their own boluses a most unpalatable dose.
One of the many shapes in which this pedantic spirit manifests itself, is in an affected precision of language and orthography. Forgetful of the maxims
that custom is the only rule in such cases, they must needs consider the ordinary Queen's English not correct enough for their fastidious ears ; and accordingly they set to work at reforming the Grammar and Dictionary. To give one instance out of many that we could adduce, and omitting mention of the hostility which they evince to the established method of accentuation ; we have often been amused at the perversity of some who think to show themselves superior to vulgar prejudices, by speaking of “mouthsful” and “spoonsful,” instead of "mouthfuls” and“ spoonfuls.” In our humble opinion, the latter is the more correct as well as the more usual expression. The pedant goes on in this fashion, detecting some imaginary error in each customary phrase, and grating on our ears at every turn with an “improved ” language, which, however it may agree with his notions of exactness, is not English, nor any other language that we are aware of. And when these and similar “improvements” are enforced by finding fault with those who do not agree to them, the pedant becomes an insufferable bore.
Want of space forbids us here to enlarge on that most disagreeable species of pedantry, the absurd and ill-timed introduction of learning. We would gladly entertain our readers with the description of an Eton boy's horror, when he expects in the Christmas vacation at least a temporary respite from such thoughts, at meeting with a partner in the shape of a blue, whose talk savours of far different steps from those of the dance, the Gradus ad Parnassum. We might also