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They appear so much the creatures of the head and so little of the heart, they are so cold, so lifeless, so mechanical, so much governed by calculation, and so little by impulse, that it seems the toss-up of a halfpenny, a mere turn of a feather, whether such people should become a Granville Sharp, or a Hubert in “King John," a Howard, or a Sir Hudson Lowe!
“Charity covers a multitude of sins." Wherever it is, there nothing can be wanting; wherever it is not, all else is vain.
" The meanest peasant on the bleakest mountain is not without a portion of it (says Sterne), he finds the lacerated lamb of another's flock," &c. (See the passage in the Sentimental Journey.) I do not think education or circumstances can ever entirely eradicate this principle. Some professions may be supposed to blunt it, but it is perhaps more in appearance than in reality. Butchers are not allowed to sit on a jury for life and death; but probably this is a prejudice: if they have the destructive organ in an unusual degree of expansion, they vent their sanguinary inclinations on the brute creation; and besides, they look too jolly, rosy, and in good case (they and their wives), to harbour much cruelty in their dispositions. Neither would I swear that a man was humane, merely for abstaining from animal food. A tiger would not be a lamb, though it fed on milk. Surgeons are in general thought to be unfeeling, and steeled by custom to the sufferings of humanity. They may be so, as far as relates to broken bones and bruises, but not to other things. Nor are they necessarily so in their profession; for we find different degrees of callous insensibility in different individuals. Some practitioners have an evident delight in alarming the apprehensions and cutting off the limbs of their patients: these would have been ill natured men in any situation in life, and merely make an excuse of their profession to indulge their natural ill-humour and brutality of temper. A surgeon who is fond of giving pain to those who consult hiin will not spare the feelings of his neighbours in other respects ; has a tendency to probe other wounds besides those of the body; and is altogether a harsh and disagreeable character. A Jack-Ketch may be known to tie the fatal noose with trembling fingers; or a jailor may have a heart softer than the walls of his prison. There have been instances of highway men who were proverbially gentlemen. I have seen a Bow-street officer* (not but that the transition is ungracious and unjust) reading Racine, and foilowing the recitation of Talma at the door of a room which he was sent to guard. Police-magistrates, from the scenes they have to witness and the characters they come in contact with, may be supposed to lose the fine edge of delicacy and sensibility : yet they are not all alike, but differ, as one star differs from another in magnitude. One is as remarkable for mildness and lenity, as another is notorious for harshness and severity. The late Mr. Justice Fielding was a member of this profession, which (however little accordant with his own feelings) he made pleasant to those of others. He generally sent away the disputants in that unruly region, wbere he presided, tolerably satisfied. I have often seen him, escaped from the noisy repulsive scene, sunning himself in the adjoining walks of St. James's Park, and with mild aspect, and lofty but unwieldy mien, eyeing the verdant glades
and lengthening vistas where perhaps bis childhood loitered. He had a strong resemblance to his father, the immortal author of “ Tom Jones.” I never passed him, that I did not take off my hat to him in spirit. I could not help thinking of Parson Adams, of Booth and Amelia. I seemed to belong, by intellectual adoption, to the same family, and would willingly have acknowledged my obligations to the father to the son. He had something of the air of Colonel Bath. When young, he had very excellent prospects in the law, but neglected a brief sent him by the Attorney-General, in order to attend a gleeclub, for which he had engaged to furnish a rondeau.
This spoiled his fortune. A man whose object is to please himself, or to keep his word to his friends, is the last man to thrive at court. Yet he looked serene and smiling to his latest breath, conscious of the goodness of his own heart, and of not having sullied a name that had thrown a light upon humanity!
There are different modes of obligation, and different avenues to our gratitude and favour. A man may lend his countenance who will not part with his money, and open his mind to us who will not draw out his purse. How many ways are there, in which our peace may be assailed, besides actual want! How many comforts do we stand in need of, besides meat and drink and clothing! Is it nothing to "administer to a mind diseased”--to heal a wounded spirit? After all other difficulties are removed, we still want some one to bear with our infirmities, to impart our confidence to, to encourage us in our hobbies (nay, to get up and ride behind us) and to like us with all our faults. True friendship is self-love at second-hand; where, as in a flattering mirror, we may see our virtues magnified and our errors softened, and where we may fancy our opinion of ourselves confirmed by an impartial and faithful witness. He (of all the world) creeps the closest in our bosoms, into our favour and esteem, who thinks of us most nearly as we do of ourselves. Such a one is indeed the pattern of a friend, another selfand our gratitude for the blessing is as sincere, as it is hollow in most other cases ! This is one reason why entire friendship is scarcely to be found, except in love. There is a hardness and severity in our judgments of one another ; the spirit of competition also intervenes, unless where there is too great an inequality of pretension or difference of taste to admit of mutual sympathy and respect; but a woman's vanity is interested in making the object of her choice the God of her idolatry; and in the intercourse with that sex, there is the finest balance and reflection of opposite and answering excellences imaginable ! It is in the highest spirit of the religion of love in the female breast, that Lord Byron has put that beautiful apostrophe into the mouth of Anah, in speaking of her angel-lover (alas! are not the sons of men too, when they are deified in the hearts of women, only“ a little lower than the angels?")
“ And when I think that his immortal wings
Shall one day hover o'er the sepulchre
Less terrible !” This is a dangerous string, which I ought never to touch upon ; but the shattered cords vibrate of themselves !
The difference of age, of situation in life, and an absence of all considerations of business have, I apprehend, something of the same effect in producing a refined and abstracted friendship. The person, whose doors I enter with most pleasure, and quit with most regret, never did me the smallest favour. I once did him an uncalled-for service, and we nearly quarrelled about it. "If I were in the utmost distress, I should just as soon think of asking his assistance, as of stopping a person on the highway, Practical benevolence is not his forte. He leaves the profession of that to others. His habits, his theory are against it as idle and vulgar, His hand is closed, but what of that? His eye is ever open, and redects the universe : his silver accents, beautiful, venerable as his silver hairs, but not scanted, flow as a river. I never ate or drank in his house ; nor do I know or care how the flies or spiders fare in it, or whether a mouse can get a living. But I know that I can get there what I get nowhere else—a welcome, as if one was expected to drop in just ac, that moment, a total absence of all respect of persons and of airs of selfconsequence, endless topics of discourse, refined thoughts, made more striking by ease and simplicity of manner-the husk, the shell of humanity is left at the door, and the spirit, mellowed by time, resides within ! All
have to do is to sit and listen; and it is like hearing one of Titian's faces speak. To think of worldly matters is a profanation, like that of the money-changers in the Temple; or it is to regard the bread and wine of the Sacrament with carnal eyes.
We enter the enchanter's cell, and converse with the divine inhabitant. To have this privilege always at hand, and to be circled by that spell whenever we choose, with an “ Enter Sessume,” is better than sitting at the lower end of the tables of the Great, than eating awkwardly from gold plate, than drinking fulsome toasts, or being thankful for gross favours, and
Few things tend more to alienate friendship than a want of punctuality in our engagements. I have known the breach of a promise to dine or sup break up more than one intimacy. A disappointment of this kind rankles in the mind—it cuts up our pleasures (those rare events in human life, which ought not to be wantonly sported with !) -it not only deprives us of the expected gratification, but it renders us unfit for, and out of humour with, every other ; it makes us think our society not worth having, which is not the way to make us delighted with our own thoughts; it lessens our self-esteem, and destroys our confidence in others; and having leisure on our hands (by being thus left alone) and sufficient provocation withal, we employ it in ripping up the faults of the acquaintance who has played us this slippery trick, and in forming resolutions to pick a quarrel with him the very first opportunity we can find. I myself once declined an invitation to meer Talma, who was an admirer of Shakspeare, and wbo idolized Bonaparte, to keep an appointment with a person who had forgot it! One great art of women, who pretend to manage their husbands and keep them to themselves, is to contrive some excuse for breaking their engagements with friends, for whom they entertain any respect, or who are likely to have any influence over them.
There is, however, a class of persons who have a particular satisfaction in falsifying your expectations of pleasure in their society, who make appointments for no other ostensible purpose than not to keep
them; who think their ill-behaviour gives them an air of superiority over you, instead of placing them at your mercy; and who, in fact, in all their overtures of condescending kindness towards you, treat you exactly as if there was no such person in the world. Friendship is with them a mono-drama, in which they play the principal and sole part. They must needs be very imposing or amusing characters to surround themselves with a circle of friends, who find that they are to be mere cyphers. The egotism would in such instances be offensive and intolerable, if its very excess did not render it entertaining. Some individuals carry this hard, unprincipled, reckless unconsciousness of every thing but themselves and their own purposes to such a pitch, that they may be compared to automata, whom you never expect to consult your feelings or alter their movements out of complaisance to others. They are wound up to a certain point, by an internal machinery which you do not very well comprehend; but if they perform their accustomed evolutions so as to excite your wonder of laughter, it is all very well, you do not quarrel with them, but look on at the pantomime of friendship while it lasts or is agreeable.
There are (I may add here) a happy few, whose manner is so engaging and delightful, that injare you how they will, they cannot offend you. They rob, ruin, ridicule you, and you cannot find in your heart to say a word against them. The late Mr. Sheridan was a man of this kind. He could not make enemies. If any one came to request the repayment of a loan from him, he borrowed more. A cordial shake of his hand was a receipt in full for all demands. He could "coin his smile for drachmas,” cancelled bonds with bon mots, and gave jokes in discharge of a bill. A friend of his said, " If I pull off my hat to him in the street, it costs me fifty pounds, and if he speaks to me, it's a hundred !"
Only one other reflection occurs to me on this subject. I used to think better of the world than I do. I thought its great fault, its original sin, was barbarous ignorance and want, which would be cured by the diffusion of civilization and letters. But I find (or fancy I do) that as selfishness is the vice of unlettered periods and nations, envy is the bane of more refined and intellectual ones. Vanity springs out of the grave of sordid self-interest. Men were formerly ready to cut one another's throats about the gross means of subsistence, and now they are ready to do it about reputation. The worst is, you are no better off, if you fail than if you succeed. You are despised if you do not excel others, and hated if you do. Abuse or praise equally weans your friends from you. We cannot bear eminence in our own department or pursuit, and think it an impertinence in any other. Instead of being delighted with the proofs of excellence and the admiration paid to it, we are mortified with it, thrive only by the defeat of others, and live on the carcase of mangled reputation. By being tried by an ideal standard of vanity and affectation, real objects and common people become odious or insipid. Instead of being raised, all is prostituted, degraded, vile. Every thing is reduced to this feverish, importunate, harassing state. I'm heartily sick of it, and I'm sure I have reason if any one has.
ON VULGAR ER RODS.
" Quod petiit, spernit; repetit, quod nuper omisit,
Æstust, et vitæ disconvenit ordine toto,
HORÁT. We hear nothing more frequently than complaints of the multiplicity of periodical publications ; yet there is no complaint more wholly divested of a solid foundation. If there be any branch of commerce more closely regulated by the demand than another, it is that of periodical literature. Nor, indeed, can it be otherwise : for the quick succession of the seasons renders the return of printers' bills, and of gratuities to "occasional correspondents,"* so pressing, that if the public does not clear the bookseller's shelves as fast as he loads them, he must very soon find his way into the gazette. An Irish nobleman, lately deceased, being sentenced to three months' imprisonment for having on some occasion administered justice as a magistrate a little à l'Irlandais, in order to shorten his time and avert the tedium of confinement, drew, at the beginning of his incarceration, a bill at ninetyone days; observing, that in the long course of his life he had found no time fly away so rapidly as that which intervened between the passing a bill and the day of its becoming due. If this' noble lord had been concerned in a review or magazine, he would not have stood in need of such an expedient: for whether he had been editor or author to collect the matter, or publisher to collect the cash, he would have found the first of the month return quite as soon as was agreeable. No periodical publication, therefore, can keep its ground which is not called for by some considerable class of readers ; and its continued existence is proof positive that it is wanted. At the moment in which I write, the supply of periodical literature is still below the demand ; and that branch of literary speculation is susceptible of much further developement. For such is the avidity of the public for this sort of ware, and such the capricicus variety of its appetite, that scarcely a month passes away without the appearance of a new adventure, calculated for some hitherto neglected description of “gentle reader," who, like the horse-leech's two daughters, crics unceasingly "Give, give."
Among the desiderata in this line I would earnestly direct the attention of the "trade" to the getting up a work dedicated exclusively to the consideration of public credulity, and to noting down the changes which take place in popular opinion and in fashion, respecting what is, and what is not, a vulgar error.
“ Truth is one, but error is multifarious," said a celebrated French preacher and a most sophistical use, by the by, did he make of this
* A really “occasional correspondent," i. e. a gentleman who gives his communication to the Editor gratuitously, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, puts & very just value on his article. Those who possess any thing worth money, soon dis*cover the secret of obtaining money for it, and papers worth reading are rarely imparted without a valuable consideration. There are, it is true, some periodical publications wbich subsist on eleemosynary donations, but the goods may be known at once by their quality. The vanity which finds its account in seeing itself in print, is seldom allied to high excellence. Those publications, therefore, that pander to the cacoethes scribendi of country parsons, or of half-educated sectarian me'chanics, and of village apothecaries, are bought and read by the communicants and their friends, and by=-110 one clse.