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questions and the commercial relations between Great Britain and other countries. He served in parliament for several years, and in 1837 traveled in Egypt, Syria and Turkey on another commercial mission for the government. He became consul at Canton and then plenipotentiary to China, and was accredited also to the courts of Japan, Siam, Cochin-China and Korea. In his autobiography he gives a most interesting account of his visit to Siam and to the Philippines. Speaking of the latter he says:
In these islands Spain possesses a great treasure, and at some future time they will become one of the greatest emporiums of commerce and one of the widest fields for the production of tropical articles.
This was written in 1859. Sir John could not foresee that forty years later those islands would be transferred by Spain to the United States.
Bowring relates anecdotes of the distinguished men with whom he became acquainted, including Scott, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Southey, Bunsen, Lamartine, Louis Philippe, Louis Napoleon and Queen Hortense.
With Tom Hood he was on terms of more than ordinary intimacy, and he received the
following lines from the great punster:
To Bowring ! man of many tongues
No grammar too abstruse he meets,
He gossips Greek about the streets,
Strange tongues—whate'er you do them call—
To tell you what's o'clock in all
Take him on 'Change—in Portuguese,
He was certainly a master of many languages,
and he says:
In the study of languages for practical purposes I have found that courage in speaking is the best means of advancing. Far more is learnt by the exercise of the tongue, which is necessarily active, than by that of the ear, which is nearly passive. . . . If languages were learnt as children learn them they would be found easy of acquirement. It is scarcely more difficult to acquire five languages than one, and I have known many instances of five or more languages spoken with equal purity and perfection. The proof of the thorough possession of a language is that you are able to think in it, and that no work of translation goes on in the mind.
He goes on to say that he often dreamed in other languages than English. He was a remarkably interesting character, and his works and recollections are well worth reading. He died in 1872 at the age of eighty, his mental and physical faculties being unimpaired to the last.
“THE Serious Poems of Thomas Hood" will give the world a chance to appreciate better his greatness as a poet. Thackeray, as we all remember, expressed in terms that none can forget, his just indignation that this noble poet and loving man should have been compelled to play the mountebank for his living instead of illuminating and educating the world by his genius.
So gladly is the world desirous of being amused rather than instructed and elevated that Hood's serious poems are apt to be passed over when collected in the same volume with his comic writings, and, therefore, it is well to have them in this form.
Who can read the following without sympathy and tears 2
We watch'd her breathing through the night,
As in her breast the wave of life
Kept heaving to and fro.
So silently we seem'd to speak,
As we had lent her half our powers
Our very hopes belied our fears,
We thought her dying when she slept,
For when the morn came dim and sad,
Her quiet eyelids closed—she had
Hood had the power to touch the heart that few but the greatest writers have had, but he also had an unequaled power to make men laugh. He was a consummate poet and a consummate punster, and the latter aspect of his genius was the most encouraged. It paid him better and he was obliged to yield to the popular demand.
“To make laugh is my calling,” he said. “I must jump, I must grin, I must tumble, I must turn language head over heels and leap through grammar.”
When he could have written so much that would have been as enduring as anything in our language he was compelled to play the buffoon. It is a pathetic story in many of its aspects, and
yet even Hood's fun is a permanent addition to