The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb, Volume 2
Charles Lamb

Part 6 out of 11


Because I oft in dark abstracted guise
Seem most alone in greatest company,
With dearth of words, or answers quite awry,
To them that would make speech of speech arise;
They deem, and of their doom the rumour flies,
That poison foul of bubbling _Pride_ doth lie
So in my swelling breast, that only I
Fawn on myself, and others do despise;
Yet _Pride_, I think, doth not my Soul possess,
Which looks too oft in his unflattering glass:
But one worse fault--_Ambition_--I confess,
That makes me oft my best friends overpass,
Unseen, unheard--while Thought to highest place
Bends all his powers, even unto STELLA'S grace.


Having this day, my horse, my hand, my lance,
Guided so well that I obtained the prize,
Both by the judgment of the English eyes,
And of some sent from that _sweet enemy_,--France;
Horsemen my skill in horsemanship advance;
Townsfolk my strength; a daintier judge applies
His praise to sleight, which from good use doth rise;
Some lucky wits impute it but to chance;
Others, because of both sides I do take
My blood from them, who did excel in this,
Think Nature me a man of arms did make.
How far they shot awry! the true cause is,
STELLA look'd on, and from her heavenly face
Sent forth the beams which made so fair my race.


In martial sports I had my cunning tried,
And yet to break more staves did me address,
While with the people's shouts (I must confess)
Youth, luck, and praise, even fill'd my veins with pride--
When Cupid, having me (his slave) descried
In Mars's livery, prancing in the press,
"What now, Sir Fool!" said he; "I would no less:
Look here, I say." I look'd, and STELLA spied,
Who hard by made a window send forth light.
My heart then quak'd, then dazzled were mine eyes;
One hand forgot to rule, th'other to fight;
Nor trumpet's sound I heard, nor friendly cries.
My foe came on, and beat the air for me--
Till that her blush made me my shame to see.


No more, my dear, no more these counsels try;
O give my passions leave to run their race;
Let Fortune lay on me her worst disgrace;
Let folk o'er-charged with brain against me cry;
Let clouds bedim my face, break in mine eye;
Let me no steps, but of lost labour, trace;
Let all the earth with scorn recount my case--
But do not will me from my love to fly.
I do not envy Aristotle's wit,
Nor do aspire to Caesar's bleeding fame;
Nor aught do care, though some above me sit;
Nor hope, nor wish, another course to frame.
But that which once may win thy cruel heart:
Thou art my wit, and thou my virtue art.


Love still a boy, and oft a wanton, is,
School'd only by his mother's tender eye;
What wonder then, if he his lesson miss,
When for so soft a rod dear play he try?
And yet my STAR, because a sugar'd kiss
In sport I suck'd, while she asleep did lie,
Doth lour, nay chide, nay threat, for only this.
Sweet, it was saucy LOVE, not humble I.
But no 'scuse serves; she makes her wrath appear
In beauty's throne--see now, who dares come near
Those scarlet judges, threat'ning bloody pain?
O heav'nly Fool, thy most kiss-worthy face
Anger invests with such a lovely grace,
That anger's self I needs must kiss again.


I never drank of Aganippe well,
Nor ever did in shade of Tempe sit,
And Muses scorn with vulgar brains to dwell;
Poor lay-man I, for sacred rites unfit.
Some do I bear of Poets' fury tell,
But (God wot) wot not what they mean by it;
And this I swear by blackest brook of hell,
I am no pick-purse of another's wit.
How falls it then, that with so smooth an ease
My thoughts I speak, and what I speak doth flow
In verse, and that my verse best wits doth please?
Guess me the cause--what is it thus?--fye, no.
Or so?--much less. How then? sure thus it is,
My lips are sweet, inspired with STELLA'S kiss.


Of all the kings that ever here did reign,
Edward, named Fourth, as first in praise I name,
Not for his fair outside, nor well-lined brain--
Although less gifts imp feathers oft on Fame.
Nor that he could, young-wise, wise-valiant, frame
His sire's revenge, join'd with a kingdom's gain;
And, gain'd by Mars could yet mad Mars so tame,
That Balance weigh'd what Sword did late obtain.
Nor that he made the Floure-de-luce so 'fraid,
Though strongly hedged of bloody Lions' paws
That witty Lewis to him a tribute paid.
Nor this, nor that, nor any such small cause--
But only, for this worthy knight durst prove
To lose his crown rather than fail his love.


O happy Thames, that didst my STELLA bear,
I saw thyself, with many a smiling line
Upon thy cheerful face, Joy's livery wear,
While those fair planets on thy streams did shine;
The boat for joy could not to dance forbear,
While wanton winds, with beauty so divine
Ravish'd, stay'd not, till in her golden hair
They did themselves (O sweetest prison) twine.
And fain those AEol's youth there would their stay
Have made; but, forced by nature still to fly,
First did with puffing kiss those locks display.
She, so dishevell'd, blush'd; from window I
With sight thereof cried out, O fair disgrace,
Let honour's self to thee grant highest place!


Highway, since you my chief Parnassus be;
And that my Muse, to some ears not unsweet,
Tempers her words to trampling horses' feet,
More soft than to a chamber melody,--
Now blessed You bear onward blessed Me
To Her, where I my heart safe left shall meet,
My Muse and I must you of duty greet
With thanks and wishes, wishing thankfully.
Be you still fair, honour'd by public heed,
By no encroachment wrong'd, nor time forgot;
Nor blam'd for blood, nor shamed for sinful deed.
And that you know, I envy you no lot
Of highest wish, I wish you so much bliss,
Hundreds of years you STELLA'S feet may kiss.

[Footnote 1: Press.]

Of the foregoing, the first, the second, and the last sonnet, are
my favourites. But the general beauty of them all is, that they
are so perfectly characteristical. The spirit of "learning and of
chivalry,"--of which union, Spenser has entitled Sydney to have been
the "president,"--shines through them. I confess I can see nothing
of the "jejune" or "frigid" in them; much less of the "stiff" and
"cumbrous"--which I have sometimes heard objected to the Arcadia. The
verse runs off swiftly and gallantly. It might have been tuned to the
trumpet; or tempered (as himself expresses it) to "trampling horses'
feet." They abound in felicitous phrases--

O heav'nly Fool, thy most kiss-worthy face--

_8th Sonnet._

--Sweet pillows, sweetest bed;
A chamber deaf to noise, and blind to light;
A rosy garland, and a weary head.

_2nd Sonnet._

--That sweet enemy,--France--

_5th Sonnet._

But they are not rich in words only, in vague and unlocalised
feelings--the failing too much of some poetry of the present day--they
are full, material, and circumstantiated. Time and place appropriates
every one of them. It is not a fever of passion wasting itself upon a
thin diet of dainty words, but a transcendent passion pervading and
illuminating action, pursuits, studies, feats of arms, the opinions
of contemporaries and his judgment of them. An historical thread runs
through them, which almost affixes a date to them; marks the _when_
and _where_ they were written.

I have dwelt the longer upon what I conceive the merit of these poems,
because I have been hurt by the wantonness (I wish I could treat it
by a gentler name) with which W.H. takes every occasion of insulting
the memory of Sir Philip Sydney. But the decisions of the Author of
Table Talk, &c., (most profound and subtle where they are, as for the
most part, just) are more safely to be relied upon, on subjects and
authors he has a partiality for, than on such as he has conceived
an accidental prejudice against. Milton wrote Sonnets, and was a
king-hater; and it was congenial perhaps to sacrifice a courtier to
a patriot. But I was unwilling to lose a _fine idea_ from my mind.
The noble images, passions, sentiments, and poetical delicacies of
character, scattered all over the Arcadia (spite of some stiffness and
encumberment), justify to me the character which his contemporaries
have left us of the writer. I cannot think with the Critic, that Sir
Philip Sydney was that _opprobrious thing_ which a foolish nobleman in
his insolent hostility chose to term him. I call to mind the epitaph
made on him, to guide me to juster thoughts of him; and I repose upon
the beautiful lines in the "Friend's Passion for his Astrophel,"
printed with the Elegies of Spenser and others.

You knew--who knew not Astrophel?
(That I should live to say I knew,
And have not in possession still!)--
Things known permit me to renew--
Of him you know his merit such,
I cannot say--you hear--too much.

Within these woods of Arcady
He chief delight and pleasure took;
And on the mountain Partheny.
Upon the crystal liquid brook,
The Muses met him every day,
That taught him sing, to write, and say.

When he descended down the mount,
His personage seemed most divine:
A thousand graces one might count
Upon his lovely chearful eyne.
To hear him speak, and sweetly smile,
You were in Paradise the while,

_A sweet attractive kind of grace;
A full assurance given by looks;
Continual comfort in a face,
The lineaments of Gospel books--_
I trow that count'nance cannot lye,
Whose thoughts are legible in the eye.

* * * * *

Above all others this is he,
Which erst approved in his song,
That love and honour might agree,
And that pure love will do no wrong.
Sweet saints, it is no sin or blame
To love a man of virtuous name.

Did never Love so sweetly breathe
In any mortal breast before:
Did never Muse inspire beneath
A Poet's brain with finer store.
He wrote of Love with high conceit,
And beauty rear'd above her height.

Or let any one read the deeper sorrows (grief running into rage) in
the Poem,--the last in the collection accompanying the above,--which
from internal testimony I believe to be Lord Brooke's,--beginning with
"Silence augmenteth grief,"--and then seriously ask himself, whether
the subject of such absorbing and confounding regrets could have been
_that thing_ which Lord Oxford termed him.


Dan Stuart once told us, that he did not remember that he ever
deliberately walked into the Exhibition at Somerset House in his life.
He might occasionally have escorted a party of ladies across the way
that were going in; but he never went in of his own head. Yet the
office of the Morning Post newspaper stood then just where it does
now--we are carrying you back, Reader, some thirty years or more--with
its gilt-globe-topt front facing that emporium of our artists' grand
Annual Exposure. We sometimes wish, that we had observed the same
abstinence with Daniel.

A word or two of D.S. He ever appeared to us one of the finest
tempered of Editors. Perry, of the Morning Chronicle, was equally
pleasant, with a dash, no slight one either, of the courtier. S. was
frank, plain, and English all over. We have worked for both these

It is soothing to contemplate the head of the Ganges; to trace the
first little bubblings of a mighty river;

With holy reverence to approach the rocks,
Whence glide the streams renowned in ancient song.

Fired with a perusal of the Abyssinian Pilgrim's exploratory ramblings
after the cradle of the infant Nilus, we well remember on one fine
summer holyday (a "whole day's leave" we called it at Christ's
Hospital) sallying forth at rise of sun, not very well provisioned
either for such an undertaking, to trace the current of the New
River--Middletonian stream!--to its scaturient source, as we had read,
in meadows by fair Amwell. Gallantly did we commence our solitary
quest--for it was essential to the dignity of a DISCOVERY, that no eye
of schoolboy, save our own, should beam on the detection. By flowery
spots, and verdant lanes, skirting Hornsey, Hope trained us on in many
a baffling turn; endless, hopeless meanders, as it seemed; or as if
the jealous waters had _dodged_ us, reluctant to have the humble spot
of their nativity revealed; till spent, and nigh famished, before set
of the same sun, we sate down somewhere by Bowes Farm, near Tottenham,
with a tithe of our proposed labours only yet accomplished; sorely
convinced in spirit, that that Brucian enterprise was as yet too
arduous for our young shoulders.

Not more refreshing to the thirsty curiosity of the traveller is the
tracing of some mighty waters up to their shallow fontlet, than it is
to a pleased and candid reader to go back to the inexperienced essays,
the first callow flights in authorship, of some established name in
literature; from the Gnat which preluded to the AEneid, to the Duck
which Samuel Johnson trod on.

In those days every Morning Paper, as an essential retainer to its
establishment, kept an author, who was bound to furnish daily a
quantum of witty paragraphs. Sixpence a joke--and it was thought
pretty high too--was Dan Stuart's settled remuneration in these cases.
The chat of the day, scandle, but, above all, _dress_, furnished
the material. The length of no paragraph was to exceed seven lines.
Shorter they might be, but they must be poignant.

A fashion of _flesh_, or rather _pink_-coloured hose for the ladies,
luckily coming up at the juncture, when we were on our probation for
the place of Chief Jester to S.'s Paper, established our reputation in
that line. We were pronounced a "capital hand." O the conceits which
we varied upon _red_ in all its prismatic differences! from the trite
and obvious flower of Cytherea, to the flaming costume of the lady
that has her sitting upon "many waters." Then there was the collateral
topic of ancles. What an occasion to a truly chaste writer, like
ourself, of touching that nice brink, and yet never tumbling over it,
of a seemingly ever approximating something "not quite proper;" while,
like a skilful posture-master, balancing betwixt decorums and their
opposites, he keeps the line, from which a hair's-breadth deviation is
destruction; hovering in the confines of light and darkness, or where
"both seem either;" a hazy uncertain delicacy; Autolycus-like in the
Play, still putting off his expectant auditory with "Whoop, do me no
harm, good man!" But, above all, that conceit arrided us most at that
time, and still tickles our midriff to remember, where, allusively
to the flight of Astraea--_ultima Calestum terras reliquit_--we
pronounced--in reference to the stockings still--that MODESTY TAKING
called the crowning conceit; and was esteemed tolerable writing in
those days.

But the fashion of jokes, with all other things, passes away; as did
the transient mode which had so favoured us. The ancles of our fair
friends in a few weeks began to reassume their whiteness, and left us
scarce a leg to stand upon. Other female whims followed, but none,
methought, so pregnant, so invitatory of shrewd conceits, and more
than single meanings.

Somebody has said, that to swallow six cross-buns daily consecutively
for a fortnight would surfeit the stoutest digestion. But to have to
furnish as many jokes daily, and that not for a fortnight, but for a
long twelvemonth, as we were constrained to do, was a little harder
execution. "Man goeth forth to his work until the evening"--from a
reasonable hour in the morning, we presume it was meant. Now as our
main occupation took us up from eight till five every day in the City;
and as our evening hours, at that time of life, had generally to do
with any thing rather than business, it follows, that the only time
we could spare for this manufactory of jokes--our supplementary
livelihood, that supplied us in every want beyond mere bread and
cheese--was exactly that part of the day which (as we have heard of No
Man's Land) may be fitly denominated No Man's Time; that is, no time
in which a man ought to be up, and awake, in. To speak more plainly,
it is that time, of an hour, or an hour and a half's duration, in
which a man, whose occasions call him up so preposterously, has to
wait for his breakfast.

O those headaches at dawn of day, when at five, or half-past-five in
summer, and not much later in the dark seasons, we were compelled to
rise, having been perhaps not above four hours in bed--(for we were no
go-to-beds with the lamb, though we anticipated the lark ofttimes in
her rising--we liked a parting cup at midnight, as all young men did
before these effeminate times, and to have our friends about us--we
were not constellated under Aquarius, that watery sign, and therefore
incapable of Bacchus, cold, washy, bloodless--we were none of your
Basilian water-sponges, nor had taken our degrees at Mount Ague--we
were right toping Capulets, jolly companions, we and they)--but to
have to get up, as we said before, curtailed of half our fair sleep,
fasting, with only a dim vista of refreshing Bohea in the distance--to
be necessitated to rouse ourselves at the detestable rap of an old
hag of a domestic, who seemed to take a diabolical pleasure in her
announcement that it was "time to rise;" and whose chappy knuckles
we have often yearned to amputate, and string them up at our chamber
door, to be a terror to all such unseasonable rest-breakers in

"Facil" and sweet, as Virgil sings, had been the "descending" of the
over-night, balmy the first sinking of the heavy head upon the pillow;
but to get up, as he goes on to say,

--revocare gradus, superasque evadere ad auras--

and to get up moreover to make jokes with malice prepended--there was
the "labour," there the "work."

No Egyptian taskmaster ever devised a slavery like to that, our
slavery. No fractious operants ever turned out for half the tyranny,
which this necessity exercised upon us. Half a dozen jests in a day
(bating Sundays too), why, it seems nothing! We make twice the number
every day in our lives as a matter of course, and claim no Sabbatical
exemptions. But then they come into our head. But when the head has to
go out to them--when the mountain must go to Mahomet--

Reader, try it for once, only for one short twelvemonth.

It was not every week that a fashion of pink stockings came up; but
mostly, instead of it, some rugged, untractable subject; some topic
impossible to be contorted into the risible; some feature, upon which
no smile could play; some flint, from which no process of ingenuity
could procure a distillation. There they lay; there your appointed
tale of brick-making was set before you, which you must finish,
with or without straw, as it happened. The craving Dragon--_the
Public_--like him in Bel's temple--must be fed; it expected its daily
rations; and Daniel, and ourselves, to do us justice, did the best we
could on this side bursting him.

While we were wringing our coy sprightlinesses for the Post, and
writhing under the toil of what is called "easy writing," Bob Allen,
our quondam schoolfellow, was tapping his impracticable brains in a
like service for the "Oracle." Not that Robert troubled himself much
about wit. If his paragraphs had a sprightly air about them, it was
sufficient. He carried this nonchalance so far at last, that a matter
of intelligence, and that no very important one, was not seldom palmed
upon his employers for a good jest; for example sake--"_Walking
yesterday morning casually down Snow Hill, who should we meet but Mr.
Deputy Humphreys! we rejoice to add, that the worthy Deputy appeared
to enjoy a good state of health. We do not remember ever to have seen
him look better._" This gentleman, so surprisingly met upon Snow Hill,
from some peculiarities in gait or gesture, was a constant butt for
mirth to the small paragraph-mongers of the day; and our friend
thought that he might have his fling at him with the rest. We met
A. in Holborn shortly after this extraordinary rencounter, which he
told with tears of satisfaction in his eyes, and chuckling at the
anticipated effects of its announcement next day in the paper. We did
not quite comprehend where the wit of it lay at the time; nor was it
easy to be detected, when the thing came out, advantaged by type and
letter-press. He had better have met any thing that morning than a
Common Council Man. His services were shortly after dispensed with,
on the plea that his paragraphs of late had been deficient in point.
The one in question, it must be owned, had an air, in the opening
especially, proper to awaken curiosity; and the sentiment, or moral,
wears the aspect of humanity, and good neighbourly feeling. But
somehow the conclusion was not judged altogether to answer to the
magnificent promise of the premises. We traced our friend's pen
afterwards in the "True Briton," the "Star," the "Traveller,"--from
all which he was successively dismissed, the Proprietors having "no
further occasion for his services." Nothing was easier than to detect
him. When wit failed, or topics ran low, there constantly appeared the
following--"_It is not generally known that the three Blue Balls at
the Pawnbrokers' shops are the ancient arms of Lombardy. The Lombards
were the first money-brokers in Europe._" Bob has done more to set
the public right on this important point of blazonry, than the whole
College of Heralds.

The appointment of a regular wit has long ceased to be a part of the
economy of a Morning Paper. Editors find their own jokes, or do as
well without them. Parson Este, and Topham, brought up the set custom
of "witty paragraphs," first in the "World." Boaden was a reigning
paragraphist in his day, and succeeded poor Allen in the Oracle.
But, as we said, the fashion of jokes passes away; and it would be
difficult to discover in the Biographer of Mrs. Siddons, any traces
of that vivacity and fancy which charmed the whole town at the
commencement of the present century. Even the prelusive delicacies
of the present writer--the curt "Astraean allusion"--would be thought
pedantic, and out of date, in these days.

From the office of the Morning Post (for we may as well exhaust our
Newspaper Reminiscences at once) by change of property in the paper,
we were transferred, mortifying exchange! to the office of the
Albion Newspaper, late Rackstrow's Museum, in Fleet-street. What a
transition--from a handsome apartment, from rose-wood desks, and
silver-inkstands, to an office--no office, but a _den_ rather, but
just redeemed from the occupation of dead monsters, of which it
seemed redolent--from the centre of loyalty and fashion, to a focus
of vulgarity and sedition! Here in murky closet, inadequate from its
square contents to the receipt of the two bodies of Editor, and humble
paragraph-maker, together at one time, sat in the discharge of his new
Editorial functions (the "Bigod" of Elia) the redoubted John Fenwick.

F., without a guinea in his pocket, and having left not many in the
pockets of his friends whom he might command, had purchased (on tick
doubtless) the whole and sole Editorship, Proprietorship, with all the
rights and titles (such as they were worth) of the Albion, from one
Lovell; of whom we know nothing, save that he had stood in the pillory
for a libel on the Prince of Wales. With this hopeless concern--for
it had been sinking ever since its commencement, and could now reckon
upon not more than a hundred subscribers--F. resolutely determined
upon pulling down the Government in the first instance, and making
both our fortunes by way of corollary. For seven weeks and mote did
this infatuated Democrat go about borrowing seven shilling pieces,
and lesser coin, to meet the daily demands of the Stamp Office, which
allowed no credit to publications of that side in politics. An outcast
from politer bread, we attached our small talents to the forlorn
fortunes of our friend. Our occupation now was to write treason.

Recollections of feelings--which were all that now remained from our
first boyish heats kindled by the French Revolution, when if we were
misled, we erred in the company of some, who are accounted very
good men now--rather than any tendency at this time to Republican
doctrines--assisted us in assuming a style of writing, while the
paper lasted, consonant in no very under-tone to the right earnest
fanaticism of F. Our cue was now to insinuate, rather than recommend,
possible abdications. Blocks, axes, Whitehall tribunals, were covered
with flowers of so cunning a periphrasis--as Mr. Bayes says, never
naming the _thing_ directly--that the keen eye of an Attorney General
was insufficient to detect the lurking snake among them. There were
times, indeed, when we sighed for our more gentleman-like occupation
under Stuart. But with change of masters it is ever change of service.
Already one paragraph, and another, as we learned afterwards from a
gentleman at the Treasury, had begun to be marked at that office, with
a view of its being submitted at least to the attention of the proper
Law Officers--when an unlucky, or rather lucky epigram from our pen,
aimed at Sir J----s M----h, who was on the eve of departing for India
to reap the fruits of his apostacy, as F. pronounced it, (it is hardly
worth particularising), happening to offend the nice sense of Lord,
or, as he then delighted to be called, Citizen Stanhope, deprived F.
at once of the last hopes of a guinea from the last patron that had
stuck by us; and breaking up our establishment, left us to the safe,
but somewhat mortifying, neglect of the Crown Lawyers.--It was about
this time, or a little earlier, that Dan. Stuart made that curious
confession to us, that he had "never deliberately walked into an
Exhibition at Somerset House in his life."


Hogarth excepted, can we produce any one painter within the last fifty
years, or since the humour of exhibiting began, that has treated a
story _imaginatively_? By this we mean, upon whom his subject has
so acted, that it has seemed to direct _him_--not to be arranged by
him? Any upon whom its leading or collateral points have impressed
themselves so tyrannically, that he dared not treat it otherwise,
lest he should falsify a revelation? Any that has imparted to his
compositions, not merely so much truth as is enough to convey a story
with clearness, but that individualising property, which should keep
the subject so treated distinct in feature from every other subject,
however similar, and to common apprehensions almost identical; so as
that we might say, this and this part could have found an appropriate
place in no other picture in the world but this? Is there anything in
modern art--we will not demand that it should be equal--but in any
way analogous to what Titian has effected, in that wonderful bringing
together of two times in the "Ariadne," in the National Gallery?
Precipitous, with his reeling Satyr rout about him, re-peopling and
re-illuming suddenly the waste places, drunk with a new fury beyond
the grape, Bacchus, born in fire, fire-like flings himself at the
Cretan. This is the time present. With this telling of the story an
artist, and no ordinary one, might remain richly proud. Guido, in
his harmonious version of it, saw no further. But from the depths of
the imaginative spirit Titian has recalled past time, and laid it
contributory with the present to one simultaneous effect. With the
desert all ringing with the mad cymbals of his followers, made lucid
with the presence and new offers of a god,--as if unconscious of
Bacchus, or but idly casting her eyes as upon some unconcerning
pageant--her soul undistracted from Theseus--Ariadne is still pacing
the solitary shore, in as much heart-silence, and in almost the same
local solitude, with which she awoke at day-break to catch the forlorn
last glances of the sail that bore away the Athenian.

Here are two points miraculously co-uniting; fierce society, with
the feeling of solitude still absolute; noon-day revelations, with
the accidents of the dull grey dawn unquenched and lingering; the
_present_ Bacchus, with the _past_ Ariadne; two stories, with double
Time; separate, and harmonising. Had the artist made the woman one
shade less indifferent to the God; still more, had she expressed a
rapture at his advent, where would have been the story of the mighty
desolation of the heart previous? merged in the insipid accident of a
flattering offer met with a welcome acceptance. The broken heart for
Theseus was not lightly to be pieced up by a God.

We have before us a fine rough print, from a picture by Raphael in
the Vatican. It is the Presentation of the newborn Eve to Adam by the
Almighty. A fairer mother of mankind we might imagine, and a goodlier
sire perhaps of men since born. But these are matters subordinate to
the conception of the _situation_, displayed in this extraordinary
production. A tolerably modern artist would have been satisfied with
tempering certain raptures of connubial anticipation, with a suitable
acknowledgment to the Giver of the blessing, in the countenance of the
first bridegroom; something like the divided attention of the child
(Adam was here a child man) between the given toy, and the mother
who had just blest it with the bauble. This is the obvious, the
first-sight view, the superficial. An artist of a higher grade,
considering the awful presence they were in, would have taken care
to subtract something from the expression of the more human passion,
and to heighten the more spiritual one. This would be as much as an
exhibition-goer, from the opening of Somerset House to last year's
show, has been encouraged to look for. It is obvious to hint at a
lower expression, yet in a picture, that for respects of drawing
and colouring, might be deemed not wholly inadmissible within these
art-fostering walls, in which the raptures should be as ninety-nine,
the gratitude as one, or perhaps Zero! By neither the one passion nor
the other has Raphael expounded the situation of Adam. Singly upon his
brow sits the absorbing sense of wonder at the created miracle. The
_moment_ is seized by the intuitive artist, perhaps not self-conscious
of his art, in which neither of the conflicting emotions--a moment how
abstracted--have had time to spring up, or to battle for indecorous
mastery.--We have seen a landscape of a justly admired neoteric, in
which he aimed at delineating a fiction, one of the most severely
beautiful in antiquity--the gardens of the Hesperides. To do Mr. ----
justice, he had painted a laudable orchard, with fitting seclusion,
and a veritable dragon (of which a Polypheme by Poussin is somehow a
fac-simile for the situation), looking over into the world shut out
backwards, so that none but a "still-climbing Hercules" could hope to
catch a peep at the admired Ternary of Recluses. No conventual porter
could keep his keys better than this custos with the "lidless eyes."
He not only sees that none _do_ intrude into that privacy, but, as
clear as daylight, that none but _Hercules aut Diabolus_ by any manner
of means _can_. So far all is well. We have absolute solitude here
or nowhere. _Ab extra_ the damsels are snug enough. But here the
artist's courage seems to have failed him. He began to pity his pretty
charge, and, to comfort the irksomeness, has peopled their solitude
with a bevy of fair attendants, maids of honour, or ladies of the
bed-chamber, according to the approved etiquette at a court of the
nineteenth century; giving to the whole scene the air of a _fete
champetre_, if we will but excuse the absence of the gentlemen.
This is well, and Watteauish. But what is become of the solitary

Daughters three,
That sing around the golden tree?

This is not the way in which Poussin would have treated this subject.

The paintings, or rather the stupendous architectural designs, of a
modern artist, have been urged as objections to the theory of our
motto. They are of a character, we confess, to stagger it. His towered
structures are of the highest order of the material sublime. Whether
they were dreams, or transcripts of some elder workmanship--Assyrian
ruins old--restored by this mighty artist, they satisfy our most
stretched and craving conceptions of the glories of the antique
world. It is a pity that they were ever peopled. On that side, the
imagination of the artist halts, and appears defective. Let us examine
the point of the story in the "Belshazzar's Feast." We will introduce
it by an apposite anecdote.

The court historians of the day record, that at the first dinner given
by the late King (then Prince Regent) at the Pavilion, the following
characteristic frolic was played off. The guests were select and
admiring; the banquet profuse and admirable; the lights lustrous and
oriental; the eye was perfectly dazzled with the display of plate,
among which the great gold salt-cellar, brought from the regalia in
the Tower for this especial purpose, itself a tower! stood conspicuous
for its magnitude. And now the Rev. **** the then admired court
Chaplain, was proceeding with the grace, when, at a signal given, the
lights were suddenly overcast, and a huge transparency was discovered,
in which glittered in golden letters--


Imagine the confusion of the guests; the Georges and garters, jewels,
bracelets, moulted upon the occasion! The fans dropt, and picked up
the next morning by the sly court pages! Mrs. Fitz-what's-her-name
fainting, and the Countess of **** holding the smelling bottle,
till the good-humoured Prince caused harmony to be restored by calling
in fresh candles, and declaring that the whole was nothing but a
pantomime _hoax_, got up by the ingenious Mr. Farley, of Covent
Garden, from hints which his Royal Highness himself had furnished!
Then imagine the infinite applause that followed, the mutual
rallyings, the declarations that "they were not much frightened," of
the assembled galaxy.

The point of time in the picture exactly answers to the appearance of
the transparency in the anecdote. The huddle, the flutter, the bustle,
the escape, the alarm, and the mock alarm; the prettinesses heightened
by consternation; the courtier's fear which was flattery, and the
lady's which was affectation; all that we may conceive to have taken
place in a mob of Brighton courtiers, sympathising with the well-acted
surprise of their sovereign; all this, and no more, is exhibited by
the well-dressed lords and ladies in the Hall of Belus. Just this sort
of consternation we have seen among a flock of disquieted wild geese
at the report only of a gun having gone off!

But is this vulgar fright, this mere animal anxiety for the
preservation of their persons,--such as we have witnessed at a
theatre, when a slight alarm of fire has been given--an adequate
exponent of a supernatural terror? the way in which the finger of God,
writing judgments, would have been met by the withered conscience?
There is a human fear, and a divine fear. The one is disturbed,
restless, and bent upon escape. The other is bowed down, effortless,
passive. When the spirit appeared before Eliphaz in the visions of the
night, and the hair of his flesh stood up, was it in the thoughts
of the Temanite to ring the bell of his chamber, or to call up the
servants? But let us see in the text what there is to justify all this
huddle of vulgar consternation.

From the words of Daniel it appears that Belshazzar had made a great
feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.
The golden and silver vessels are gorgeously enumerated, with the
princes, the king's concubines, and his wives. Then follows--

"In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over
against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king's
palace; and the _king_ saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the
_king's_ countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so
that the joints of his loins were loosened, and his knees smote one
against another."

This is the plain text. By no hint can it be otherwise inferred, but
that the appearance was solely confined to the fancy of Belshazzar,
that his single brain was troubled. Not a word is spoken of its being
seen by any else there present, not even by the queen herself, who
merely undertakes for the interpretation of the phenomenon, as related
to her, doubtless, by her husband. The lords are simply said to be
astonished; _i.e._ at the trouble and the change of countenance in
their sovereign. Even the prophet does not appear to have seen the
scroll, which the king saw. He recals it only, as Joseph did the Dream
to the King of Egypt. "Then was the part of the hand sent from him
[the Lord], and this writing was written." He speaks of the phantasm
as past.

Then what becomes of this needless multiplication of the miracle? this
message to a royal conscience, singly expressed--for it was said,
"thy kingdom is divided,"--simultaneously impressed upon the fancies
of a thousand courtiers, who were implied in it neither directly nor
grammatically? But admitting the artist's own version of the story,
and that the sight was seen also by the thousand courtiers--let it
have been visible to all Babylon--as the knees of Belshazzar were
shaken, and his countenance troubled, even so would the knees of every
man in Babylon, and their countenances, as of an individual man, been
troubled; bowed, bent down, so would they have remained, stupor-fixed,
with no thought of struggling with that inevitable judgment.

Not all that is optically possible to be seen, is to be shown in every
picture. The eye delightedly dwells upon the brilliant individualities
in a "Marriage at Cana," by Veronese, or Titian, to the very texture
and colour of the wedding garments, the ring glittering upon the
bride's fingers, the metal and fashion of the wine pots; for at such
seasons there is leisure and luxury to be curious. But in a "day of
judgment," or in a "day of lesser horrors, yet divine," as at the
impious feast of Belshazzar, the eye should see, as the actual eye of
an agent or patient in the immediate scene would see, only in masses
and indistinction. Not only the female attire and jewelry exposed
to the critical eye of the fashion, as minutely as the dresses in
a lady's magazine, in the criticised picture,--but perhaps the
curiosities of anatomical science, and studied diversities of posture
in the falling angels and sinners of Michael Angelo,--have no business
in their great subjects. There was no leisure of them.

By a wise falsification, the great masters of painting got at their
true conclusions; by not showing the actual appearances, that is, all
that was to be seen at any given moment by an indifferent eye, but
only what the eye might be supposed to see in the doing or suffering
of some portentous action. Suppose the moment of the swallowing up of
Pompeii. There they were to be seen--houses, columns, architectural
proportions, differences of public and private buildings, men and
women at their standing occupations, the diversified thousand
postures, attitudes, dresses, in some confusion truly, but physically
they were visible. But what eye saw them at that eclipsing moment,
which reduces confusion to a kind of unity, and when the senses
are upturned from their proprieties, when sight and hearing are a
feeling only? A thousand years have passed, and we are at leisure to
contemplate the weaver fixed standing at his shuttle, the baker at his
oven, and to turn over with antiquarian coolness the pots and pans of

"Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeah, and thou, Moon, in the valley of
Ajalon." Who, in reading this magnificent Hebraism, in his conception,
sees aught but the heroic son of Nun, with the out-stretched arm,
and the greater and lesser light obsequious? Doubtless there were to
be seen hill and dale, and chariots and horsemen, on open plain, or
winding by secret defiles, and all the circumstances and stratagems
of war. But whose eyes would have been conscious of this array at the
interposition of the synchronic miracle? Yet in the picture of this
subject by the artist of the "Belshazzar's Feast"--no ignoble work
either--the marshalling and landscape of the war is everything, the
miracle sinks into an anecdote of the day; and the eye may "dart
through rank and file traverse" for some minutes, before it shall
discover, among his armed followers, _which is Joshua_! Not modern art
alone, but ancient, where only it is to be found if anywhere, can be
detected erring, from defect of this imaginative faculty. The world
has nothing to show of the preternatural in painting, transcending the
figure of Lazarus bursting his grave-clothes, in the great picture at
Angerstein's. It seems a thing between two beings. A ghastly horror
at itself struggles with newly-apprehending gratitude at second life
bestowed. It cannot forget that it was a ghost. It has hardly felt
that it is a body. It has to tell of the world of spirits.--Was it
from a feeling, that the crowd of half-impassioned by-standers, and
the still more irrelevant herd of passers-by at a distance, who have
not heard or but faintly have been told of the passing miracle,
admirable as they are in design and hue--for it is a glorified
work--do not respond adequately to the action--that the single figure
of the Lazarus has been attributed to Michael Angelo, and the mighty
Sebastian unfairly robbed of the fame of the greater half of the
interest? Now that there were not indifferent passers-by within actual
scope of the eyes of those present at the miracle, to whom the sound
of it had but faintly, or not at all, reached, it would be hardihood
to deny; but would they see them? or can the mind in the conception of
it admit of such unconcerning objects? can it think of them at all? or
what associating league to the imagination can there be between the
seers, and the seers not, of a presential miracle?

Were an artist to paint upon demand a picture of a Dryad, we will ask
whether, in the present low state of expectation, the patron would
not, or ought not to be fully satisfied with a beautiful naked figure
recumbent under wide-stretched oaks? Disseat those woods, and place
the same figure among fountains, and falls of pellucid water, and
you have a--Naiad! Not so in a rough print we have seen after Julio
Romano, we think--for it is long since--_there_, by no process, with
mere change of scene, could the figure have reciprocated characters.
Long, grotesque, fantastic, yet with a grace of her own, beautiful in
convolution and distortion, linked to her connatural tree, co-twisting
with its limbs her own, till both seemed either--these, animated
branches; those, disanimated members--yet the animal and vegetable
lives sufficiently kept distinct--_his_ Dryad lay--an approximation of
two natures, which to conceive, it must be seen; analogous to, not the
same with, the delicacies of Ovidian transformations.

To the lowest subjects, and, to a superficial comprehension, the
most barren, the Great Masters gave loftiness and fruitfulness. The
large eye of genius saw in the meanness of present objects their
capabilities of treatment from their relations to some grand
Past or Future. How has Raphael--we must still linger about the
Vatican--treated the humble craft of the ship-builder, in _his_
"Building of the Ark?" It is in that scriptural series, to which we
have referred, and which, judging from some fine rough old graphic
sketches of them which we possess, seem to be of a higher and more
poetic grade than even the Cartoons. The dim of sight are the
timid and the shrinking. There is a cowardice in modern art. As
the Frenchmen, of whom Coleridge's friend made the prophetic guess
at Rome, from the beard and horns of the Moses of Michael Angelo
collected no inferences beyond that of a He Goat and a Cornuto; so
from this subject, of mere mechanic promise, it would instinctively
turn away, as from one incapable of investiture with any grandeur. The
dock-yards at Woolwich would object derogatory associations. The depot
at Chatham would be the mote and the beam in its intellectual eye. But
not to the nautical preparations in the ship-yards of Civita Vecchia
did Raphael look for instructions, when he imagined the Building of
the Vessel that was to be conservatory of the wrecks of the species of
drowned mankind. In the intensity of the action, he keeps ever out of
sight the meanness of the operation. There is the Patriarch, in calm
forethought, and with holy prescience, giving directions. And there
are his agents--the solitary but sufficient Three--hewing, sawing,
every one with the might and earnestness of a Demiurgus; under some
instinctive rather than technical guidance; giant-muscled; every one a
Hercules, or liker to those Vulcanian Three, that in sounding caverns
under Mongibello wrought in fire--Brontes, and black Steropes, and
Pyracmon. So work the workmen that should repair a world!

Artists again err in the confounding of _poetic_ with _pictorial
subjects_. In the latter, the exterior accidents are nearly
everything, the unseen qualities as nothing. Othello's colour--the
infirmities and corpulence of a Sir John Falstaff--do they haunt us
perpetually in the reading? or are they obtruded upon our conceptions
one time for ninety-nine that we are lost in admiration at the
respective moral or intellectual attributes of the character? But in
a picture Othello is _always_ a Blackamoor; and the other only Plump
Jack. Deeply corporealised, and enchained hopelessly in the grovelling
fetters of externality, must be the mind, to which, in its better
moments, the image of the high-souled, high-intelligenced Quixote--the
errant Star of Knighthood, made more tender by eclipse--has never
presented itself, divested from the unhallowed accompaniment of a
Sancho, or a rabblement at the heels of Rosinante. That man has read
his book by halves; he has laughed, mistaking his author's purport,
which was--tears. The artist that pictures Quixote (and it is in this
degrading point that he is every season held up at our Exhibitions)
in the shallow hope of exciting mirth, would have joined the rabble
at the heels of his starved steed. We wish not to see _that_
counterfeited, which we would not have wished to see in the reality.
Conscious of the heroic inside of the noble Quixote, who, on hearing
that his withered person was passing, would have stepped over his
threshold to gaze upon his forlorn habiliments, and the "strange
bed-fellows which misery brings a man acquainted with?" Shade of
Cervantes! who in thy Second Part could put into the mouth of thy
Quixote those high aspirations of a super-chivalrous gallantry, where
he replies to one of the shepherdesses, apprehensive that he would
spoil their pretty networks, and inviting him to be a guest with them,
in accents like these: "Truly, fairest Lady, Actaeon was not more
astonished when he saw Diana bathing herself at the fountain, than
I have been in beholding your beauty: I commend the manner of your
pastime, and thank you for your kind offers; and, if I may serve
you, so I may be sure you will be obeyed, you may command me: for my
profession is this, To shew myself thankful, and a doer of good to all
sorts of people, especially of the rank that your person shows you to
be; and if those nets, as they take up but a little piece of ground,
should take up the whole world, I would seek out new worlds to pass
through, rather than break them: and (he adds,) that you may give
credit to this my exaggeration, behold at least he that promiseth you
this, is Don Quixote de la Mancha, if haply this name hath come to
your hearing." Illustrious Romancer! were the "fine frenzies," which
possessed the brain of thy own Quixote, a fit subject, as in this
Second Part, to be exposed to the jeers of Duennas and Serving Men? to
be monstered, and shown up at the heartless banquets of great men? Was
that pitiable infirmity, which in thy First Part misleads him, _always
from within_, into half-ludicrous, but more than half-compassionable
and admirable errors, not infliction enough from heaven, that men by
studied artifices must devise and practise upon the humour, to inflame
where they should soothe it? Why, Goneril would have blushed to
practise upon the abdicated king at this rate, and the she-wolf Regan
not have endured to play the pranks upon his fled wits, which thou
hast made thy Quixote suffer in Duchesses' halls, and at the hands of
that unworthy nobleman.[1]

In the First Adventures, even, it needed all the art of the most
consummate artist in the Book way that the world hath yet seen,
to keep up in the mind of the reader the heroic attributes of the
character without relaxing; so as absolutely that they shall suffer no
alloy from the debasing fellowship of the clown. If it ever obtrudes
itself as a disharmony, are we inclined to laugh; or not, rather,
to indulge a contrary emotion?--Cervantes, stung, perchance, by the
relish with which _his_ Reading Public had received the fooleries of
the man, more to their palates than the generosities of the master, in
the sequel let his pen run riot, lost the harmony and the balance, and
sacrificed a great idea to the taste of his contemporaries. We know
that in the present day the Knight has fewer admirers than the Squire.
Anticipating, what did actually happen to him--as afterwards it did
to his scarce inferior follower, the Author of "Guzman de
Alfarache"--that some less knowing hand would prevent him by a
spurious Second Part: and judging, that it would be easier for his
competitor to out-bid him in the comicalities, than in the _romance_,
of his work, he abandoned his Knight, and has fairly set up the Squire
for his Hero. For what else has he unsealed the eyes of Sancho; and
instead of that twilight state of semi-insanity--the madness at
second-hand--the contagion, caught from a stronger mind infected--that
war between native cunning, and hereditary deference, with which he
has hitherto accompanied his master--two for a pair almost--does he
substitute a downright Knave, with open eyes, for his own ends only
following a confessed Madman; and offering at one time to lay, if not
actually laying, hands upon him! From the moment that Sancho loses his
reverence, Don Quixote is become a--treatable lunatic. Our artists
handle him accordingly.

[Footnote 1: Yet from this Second Part, our cried-up pictures are
mostly selected; the waiting-women with beards, &c.]


The _Old Year_ being dead, and the _New Year_ coming of age, which
he does, by Calendar Law, as soon as the breath is out of the old
gentleman's body, nothing would serve the young spark but he must
give a dinner upon the occasion, to which all the _Days_ in the year
were invited. The _Festivals_, whom he deputed as his stewards, were
mightily taken with the notion. They had been engaged time out of
mind, they said, in providing mirth and good cheer for mortals below;
and it was time they should have a taste of their own bounty. It was
stiffly debated among them, whether the _Fasts_ should be admitted.
Some said, the appearance of such lean, starved guests, with their
mortified faces, would pervert the ends of the meeting. But the
objection was over-ruled by _Christmas Day_, who had a design upon
_Ash Wednesday_ (as you shall hear), and a mighty desire to see how
the old Domine would behave himself in his cups. Only the _Vigils_
were requested to come with their lanterns, to light the gentlefolks
home at night.

All the _Days_ came to their day. Covers were provided for three
hundred and sixty-five guests at the principal table: with an
occasional knife and fork at the side-board for the _Twenty-Ninth of

I should have told you, that cards of invitation had been issued. The
carriers were the _Hours_; twelve little, merry, whirligig foot-pages,
as you should desire to see, that went all round, and found out the
persons invited well enough, with the exception of _Easter Day_,
_Shrove Tuesday_, and a few such _Moveables_, who had lately shifted
their quarters.

Well, they all met at last, foul _Days_, fine _Days_, all sorts of
_Days_, and a rare din they made of it. There was nothing but, Hail!
fellow _Day_,--well met--brother _Day_--sister _Day_,--only _Lady Day_
kept a little on the aloof, and seemed somewhat scornful. Yet some
said, _Twelfth Day_ cut her out and out, for she came in a tiffany
suit, white and gold, like a queen on a frost-cake, all royal,
glittering, and _Epiphanous_. The rest came, some in green, some in
white--but old _Lent and his family_ were not yet out of mourning.
Rainy _Days_ came in, dripping; and sun-shiny _Days_ helped them
to change their stockings. _Wedding Day_ was there in his marriage
finery, a little the worse for wear. _Pay Day_ came late, as he always
does; and _Doomsday_ sent word--he might be expected.

_April Fool_ (as my young lord's jester) took upon himself to marshal
the guests, and wild work he made with it. It would have posed old
Erra Pater to have found out any given _Day_ in the year, to erect a
scheme upon--good _Days_, bad _Days_, were so shuffled together, to
the confounding of all sober horoscopy.

He had stuck the _Twenty First of June_ next to the _Twenty Second of
December_, and the former looked like a Maypole siding a marrow-bone.
_Ash Wednesday_ got wedged in (as was concerted) betwixt _Christmas_
and _Lord Mayor's Days_. Lord! how he laid about him! Nothing but
barons of beef and turkeys would go down with him--to the great
greasing and detriment of his new sackcloth bib and tucker. And still
_Christmas Day_ was at his elbow, plying him the wassail-bowl, till
he roared, and hiccup'd, and protested there was no faith in dried
ling, but commended it to the devil for a sour, windy, acrimonious,
censorious, hy-po-crit-crit-cri-tical mess, and no dish for a
gentleman. Then he dipt his fist into the middle of the great custard
that stood before his _left-hand neighbour_, and daubed his hungry
beard all over with it, till you would have taken him for the _Last
Day in December_, it so hung in icicles.

At another part of the table, _Shrove Tuesday_ was helping the _Second
of September_ to some cock broth,--which courtesy the latter returned
with the delicate thigh of a hen pheasant--so there was no love lost
for that matter. The _Last of Lent_ was spunging upon _Shrovetide's_
pancakes; which _April Fool_ perceiving, told him he did well, for
pancakes were proper to a _good fry-day_.

In another part, a hubbub arose about the _Thirtieth of January_, who,
it seems, being a sour puritanic character, that thought nobody's meat
good or sanctified enough for him, had smuggled into the room a calf's
head, which he had had cooked at home for that purpose, thinking
to feast thereon incontinently; but as it lay in the dish, _March
manyweathers_, who is a very fine lady, and subject to the megrims,
screamed out there was a "human head in the platter," and raved about
Herodias' daughter to that degree, that the obnoxious viand was
obliged to be removed; nor did she recover her stomach till she had
gulped down a _Restorative_, confected of _Oak Apple_, which the merry
_Twenty Ninth of May_ always carries about with him for that purpose.

The King's health[1] being called for after this, a notable
dispute arose between the _Twelfth of August_ (a zealous old Whig
gentlewoman,) and the _Twenty Third of April_ (a new-fangled lady of
the Tory stamp,) as to which of them should have the honour to propose
it. _August_ grew hot upon the matter, affirming time out of mind the
prescriptive right to have lain with her, till her rival had basely
supplanted her; whom she represented as little better than a _kept_
mistress, who went about in _fine clothes_, while she (the legitimate
BIRTHDAY) had scarcely a rag, &c.

_April fool_, being made mediator, confirmed the right in the
strongest form of words to the appellant, but decided for peace' sake
that the exercise of it should remain with the present possessor. At
the same time, he slily rounded the first lady in the ear, that an
action might lie against the Crown for _bi-geny_.

It beginning to grow a little duskish, _Candlemas_ lustily bawled out
for lights, which was opposed by all the _Days_, who protested against
burning daylight. Then fair water was handed round in silver ewers,
and the _same lady_ was observed to take an unusual time in _Washing_

_May Day_, with that sweetness which is peculiar to her, in a neat
speech proposing the health of the founder, crowned her goblet (and by
her example the rest of the company) with garlands. This being done,
the lordly _New Year_ from the upper end of the table, in a cordial
but somewhat lofty tone, returned thanks. He felt proud on an occasion
of meeting so many of his worthy father's late tenants, promised to
improve their farms, and at the same time to abate (if any thing was
found unreasonable) in their rents.

At the mention of this, the four _Quarter Days_ involuntarily looked
at each other, and smiled; _April Fool_ whistled to an old tune of
"New Brooms;" and a surly old rebel at the farther end of the table
(who was discovered to be no other than the _Fifth of November_,)
muttered out, distinctly enough to be heard by the whole company,
words to this effect, that, "when the old one is gone, he is a fool
that looks for a better." Which rudeness of his, the guests resenting,
unanimously voted his expulsion; and the male-content was thrust out
neck and heels into the cellar, as the properest place for such a
_boutefeu_ and firebrand as he had shown himself to be.

Order being restored--the young lord (who to say truth, had been a
little ruffled, and put beside his oratory) in as few, and yet as
obliging words as possible, assured them of entire welcome; and, with
a graceful turn, singling out poor _Twenty Ninth of February_, that
had sate all this while mumchance at the side-board, begged to couple
his health with that of the good company before him--which he drank
accordingly; observing, that he had not seen his honest face any time
these four years, with a number of endearing expressions besides. At
the same time, removing the solitary _Day_ from the forlorn seat which
had been assigned him, he stationed him at his own board, somewhere
between the _Greek Calends_ and _Latter Lammas_.

_Ash Wednesday_, being now called upon for a song, with his eyes fast
stuck in his head, and as well as the Canary he had swallowed would
give him leave, struck up a Carol, which _Christmas Day_ had taught
him for the nonce; and was followed by the latter, who gave "Miserere"
in fine style, hitting off the mumping notes and lengthened drawl of
_Old Mortification_ with infinite humour. _April Fool_ swore they had
exchanged conditions: but _Good Friday_ was observed to look extremely
grave; and _Sunday_ held her fan before her face, that she might not
be seen to smile.

_Shrove-tide_, _Lord Mayor's Day_, and _April Fool_, next joined in a

Which is the properest day to drink?

in which all the _Days_ chiming in, made a merry burden.

They next fell to quibbles and conundrums. The question being
proposed, who had the greatest number of followers--the _Quarter Days_
said, there could be no question as to that; for they had all the
creditors in the world dogging their heels. But _April Fool_ gave it
in favour of the _Forty Days before Easter_; because the debtors in
all cases outnumbered the creditors, and they kept _lent_ all the

All this while, _Valentine's Day_ kept courting pretty _May_, who sate
next him, slipping amorous _billets-doux_ under the table, till the
_Dog Days_ (who are naturally of a warm constitution) began to be
jealous, and to bark and rage exceedingly. _April Fool_, who likes
a bit of sport above measure, and had some pretensions to the lady
besides, as being but a cousin once removed,--clapped and halloo'd
them on; and as fast as their indignation cooled, those mad wags, the
_Ember Days_, were at it with their bellows, to blow it into a flame;
and all was in a ferment: till old Madam _Septuagesima_ (who boasts
herself the _Mother of the Days_) wisely diverted the conversation
with a tedious tale of the lovers which she could reckon when she was
young; and of one Master _Rogation Day_ in particular, who was for
ever putting the _question_ to her; but she kept him at a distance, as
the chronicle would tell--by which I apprehend she meant the Almanack.
Then she rambled on to the _Days that were gone_, the _good old Days_,
and so to the _Days before the Flood_--which plainly showed her old
head to be little better than crazed and doited.

Day being ended, the _Days_ called for their cloaks and great coats,
and took their leaves. _Lord Mayor's Day_ went off in a Mist, as
usual; _Shortest Day_ in a deep black Fog, that wrapt the little
gentleman all round like a hedge-hog. Two _Vigils_--so watchmen are
called in heaven--saw _Christmas Day_ safe home--they had been used to
the business before. Another _Vigil_--a stout, sturdy patrole, called
the _Eve of St. Christopher_--seeing _Ash Wednesday_ in a condition
little better than he should be--e'en whipt him over his shoulders,
pick-a-back fashion, and _Old Mortification_ went floating home,

On the bat's back do I fly,

and a number of old snatches besides, between drunk and sober, but
very few Aves or Penitentiaries (you may believe me) were among them.
_Longest Day_ set off westward in beautiful crimson and gold--the
rest, some in one fashion, some in another; but _Valentine_ and pretty
_May_ took their departure together in one of the prettiest silvery
twilights a Lover's Day could wish to set in.

[Footnote 1: The late King.]


I do not know when I have been better pleased than at being invited
last week to be present at the wedding of a friend's daughter. I like
to make one at these ceremonies, which to us old people give back our
youth in a manner, and restore our gayest season, in the remembrance
of our own success, or the regrets, scarcely less tender, of our own
youthful disappointments, in this point of a settlement. On these
occasions I am sure to be in good-humour for a week or two after, and
enjoy a reflected honey-moon. Being without a family, I am flattered
with these temporary adoptions into a friend's family; I feel a
sort of cousinhood, or uncleship, for the season; I am inducted
into degrees of affinity; and, in the participated socialities of
the little community, I lay down for a brief while my solitary
bachelorship. I carry this humour so far, that I take it unkindly to
be left out, even when a funeral is going on in the house of a dear
friend. But to my subject.--

The union itself had been long settled, but its celebration had been
hitherto deferred, to an almost unreasonable state of suspense in the
lovers, by some invincible prejudices which the bride's father had
unhappily contracted upon the subject of the too early marriages of
females. He has been lecturing any time these five years--for to
that length the courtship has been protracted--upon the propriety of
putting off the solemnity, till the lady should have completed her
five and twentieth year. We all began to be afraid that a suit, which
as yet had abated of none of its ardours, might at last be lingered
on, till passion had time to cool, and love go out in the experiment.
But a little wheedling on the part of his wife, who was by no means
a party to these overstrained notions, joined to some serious
expostulations on that of his friends, who, from the growing
infirmities of the old gentleman, could not promise ourselves many
years' enjoyment of his company, and were anxious to bring matters to
a conclusion during his life-time, at length prevailed; and on Monday
last the daughter of my old friend, Admiral ---- having attained the
_womanly_ age of nineteen, was conducted to the church by her pleasant
cousin J----, who told some few years older.

Before the youthful part of my female readers express their
indignation at the abominable loss of time occasioned to the lovers
by the preposterous notions of my old friend, they will do well to
consider the reluctance which a fond parent naturally feels at parting
with his child. To this unwillingness, I believe, in most cases may
be traced the difference of opinion on this point between child and
parent, whatever pretences of interest or prudence may be held out to
cover it. The hard-heartedness of fathers is a fine theme for romance
writers, a sure and moving topic; but is there not something untender,
to say no more of it, in the hurry which a beloved child is sometimes
in to tear herself from the parental stock, and commit herself to
strange graftings? The case is heightened where the lady, as in the
present instance, happens to be an only child. I do not understand
these matters experimentally, but I can make a shrewd guess at
the wounded pride of a parent upon these occasions. It is no new
observation, I believe, that a lover in most cases has no rival so
much to be feared as the father. Certainly there is a jealousy in
_unparallel subjects_, which is little less heart-rending than the
passion which we more strictly christen by that name. Mothers'
scruples are more easily got over; for this reason, I suppose, that
the protection transferred to a husband is less a derogation and a
loss to their authority than to the paternal. Mothers, besides, have a
trembling foresight, which paints the inconveniences (impossible to be
conceived in the same degree by the other parent) of a life of forlorn
celibacy, which the refusal of a tolerable match may entail upon
their child. Mothers' instinct is a surer guide here, than the cold
reasonings of a father on such a topic. To this instinct may be
imputed, and by it alone may be excused, the unbeseeming artifices, by
which some wives push on the matrimonial projects of their daughters,
which the husband, however approving, shall entertain with comparative
indifference. A little shamelessness on this head is pardonable.
With this explanation, forwardness becomes a grace, and maternal
importunity receives the name of a virtue.--But the parson stays,
while I preposterously assume his office; I am preaching, while the
bride is on the threshold.

Nor let any of my female readers suppose that the sage reflections
which have just escaped me have the obliquest tendency of application
to the young lady, who, it will be seen, is about to venture upon a
change in her condition, at a _mature and competent age_, and not
without the fullest approbation of all parties. I only deprecate _very
hasty marriages_.

It had been fixed that the ceremony should be gone through at an early
hour, to give time for a little _dejeune_ afterwards, to which a
select party of friends had been invited. We were in church a little
before the clock struck eight.

Nothing could be more judicious or graceful than the dress of the
bride-maids--the three charming Miss Foresters--on this morning. To
give the bride an opportunity of shining singly, they had come habited
all in green. I am ill at describing female apparel; but, while _she_
stood at the altar in vestments white and candid as her thoughts, a
sacrificial whiteness, _they_ assisted in robes, such as might become
Diana's nymphs--Foresters indeed--as such who had not yet come to the
resolution of putting off cold virginity. These young maids, not being
so blest as to have a mother living, I am told, keep single for their
father's sake, and live altogether so happy with their remaining
parent, that the hearts of their lovers are ever broken with the
prospect (so inauspicious to their hopes) of such uninterrupted
and provoking home-comfort. Gallant girls! each a victim worthy of

I do not know what business I have to be present in solemn places. I
cannot divest me of an unseasonable disposition to levity upon the
most awful occasions. I was never cut out for a public functionary.
Ceremony and I have long shaken hands; but I could not resist the
importunities of the young lady's father, whose gout unhappily
confined him at home, to act as parent on this occasion, and _give
away the bride._ Something ludicrous occurred to me at this most
serious of all moments--a sense of my unfitness to have the disposal,
even in imagination, of the sweet young creature beside me. I fear I
was betrayed to some lightness, for the awful eye of the parson--and
the rector's eye of Saint Mildred's in the Poultry is no trifle of a
rebuke--was upon me in an instant, souring my incipient jest to the
tristful severities of a funeral.

This was the only misbehaviour which I can plead to upon this solemn
occasion, unless what was objected to me after the ceremony by one of
the handsome Miss T----s, be accounted a solecism. She was pleased to
say that she had never seen a gentleman before me give away a bride in
black. Now black has been my ordinary apparel so long--indeed I take
it to be the proper costume of an author--the stage sanctions it--that
to have appeared in some lighter colour would have raised more mirth
at my expense, than the anomaly had created censure. But I could
perceive that the bride's mother, and some elderly ladies present (God
bless them!) would have been well content, if I had come in any other
colour than that. But I got over the omen by a lucky apologue, which
I remembered out of Pilpay, or some Indian author, of all the birds
being invited to the linnets' wedding, at which, when all the rest
came in their gayest feathers, the raven alone apologised for his
cloak because "he had no other." This tolerably reconciled the elders.
But with the young people all was merriment, and shakings of hands,
and congratulations, and kissing away the bride's tears, and kissings
from her in return, till a young lady, who assumed some experience in
these matters, having worn the nuptial bands some four or five weeks
longer than her friend, rescued her, archly observing, with half an
eye upon the bridegroom, that at this rate she would have "none left."

My friend the admiral was in fine wig and buckle on this occasion--a
striking contrast to his usual neglect of personal appearance. He did
not once shove up his borrowed locks (his custom ever at his morning
studies) to betray the few grey stragglers of his own beneath them.
He wore an aspect of thoughtful satisfaction. I trembled for the
hour, which at length approached, when after a protracted _breakfast_
of three hours--if stores of cold fowls, tongues, hams, botargoes,
dried fruits, wines, cordials, &c., can deserve so meagre an
appellation--the coach was announced, which was come to carry off the
bride and bridegroom for a season, as custom has sensibly ordained,
into the country; upon which design, wishing them a felicitous
journey, let us return to the assembled guests.

As when a well-graced actor leaves the stage,
The eyes of men
Are idly bent on him that enters next,

so idly did we bend our eyes upon one another, when the chief
performers in the morning's pageant had vanished. None told his tale.
None sipt her glass. The poor Admiral made an effort--it was not much.
I had anticipated so far. Even the infinity of full satisfaction, that
had betrayed itself through the prim looks and quiet deportment of his
lady, began to wane into something of misgiving. No one knew whether
to take their leaves or stay. We seemed assembled upon a silly
occasion. In this crisis, betwixt tarrying and departure, I must do
justice to a foolish talent of mine, which had otherwise like to
have brought me into disgrace in the fore-part of the day; I mean a
power, in any emergency, of thinking and giving vent to all manner
of strange nonsense. In this awkward dilemma I found it sovereign. I
rattled off some of my most excellent absurdities. All were willing
to be relieved, at any expense of reason, from the pressure of the
intolerable vacuum which had succeeded to the morning bustle. By this
means I was fortunate in keeping together the better part of the
company to a late hour: and a rubber of whist (the Admiral's favourite
game) with some rare strokes of chance as well as skill, which came
opportunely on his side--lengthened out till midnight--dismissed the
old gentleman at last to his bed with comparatively easy spirits.

I have been at my old friend's various times since. I do not know a
visiting place where every guest is so perfectly at his ease; nowhere,
where harmony is so strangely the result of confusion. Every body is
at cross purposes, yet the effect is so much better than uniformity.
Contradictory orders; servants pulling one way; master and mistress
driving some other, yet both diverse; visitors huddled up in corners;
chairs unsymmetrised; candles disposed by chance; meals at odd hours,
tea and supper at once, or the latter preceding the former; the host
and the guest conferring, yet each upon a different topic, each
understanding himself, neither trying to understand or hear the
other; draughts and politics, chess and political economy, cards and
conversation on nautical matters, going on at once, without the hope,
or indeed the wish, of distinguishing them, make it altogether the
most perfect _concordia discors_ you shall meet with. Yet somehow the
old house is not quite what it should be. The Admiral still enjoys
his pipe, but he has no Miss Emily to fill it for him. The instrument
stands where it stood, but she is gone, whose delicate touch could
sometimes for a short minute appease the warring elements. He has
learnt, as Marvel expresses it, to "make his destiny his choice." He
bears bravely up, but he does not come out with his flashes of wild
wit so thick as formerly. His sea songs seldomer escape him. His wife,
too, looks as if she wanted some younger body to scold and set to
rights. We all miss a junior presence. It is wonderful how one young
maiden freshens up, and keeps green, the paternal roof. Old and young
seem to have an interest in her, so long as she is not absolutely
disposed of. The youthfulness of the house is flown. Emily is married.



I chanced upon the prettiest, oddest, fantastical thing of a dream the
other night, that you shall hear of. I had been reading the "Loves
of the Angels," and went to bed with my head full of speculations,
suggested by that extraordinary legend. It had given birth to
innumerable conjectures; and, I remember, the last waking thought,
which I gave expression to on my pillow, was a sort of wonder, "what
could come of it."

I was suddenly transported, how or whither I could scarcely make
out--but to some celestial region. It was not the real heavens
neither--not the downright Bible heaven--but a kind of fairyland
heaven, about which a poor human fancy may have leave to sport and air
itself, I will hope, without presumption.

Methought--what wild things dreams are!--I was present--at what would
you imagine?--at an angel's gossiping.

Whence it came, or how it came, or who bid it come, or whether it came
purely of its own head, neither you nor I know--but there lay, sure
enough, wrapped in its little cloudy swaddling bands--a Child Angel.

Sun-threads--filmy beams--ran through the celestial napery of what
seemed its princely cradle. All the winged orders hovered round,
watching when the new-born should open its yet closed eyes; which,
when it did, first one, and then the other--with a solicitude and
apprehension, yet not such as, stained with fear, dims the expanding
eye-lids of mortal infants, but as if to explore its path in those
its unhereditary palaces--what an inextinguishable titter that time
spared not celestial visages! Nor wanted there to my seeming--O the
inexplicable simpleness of dreams!--bowls of that cheering nectar,

--which mortals _caudle_ call below--

Nor were wanting faces of female ministrants,--stricken in years,
as it might seem,--so dexterous were those heavenly attendants to
counterfeit kindly similitudes of earth, to greet, with terrestrial
child-rites the young _present_, which earth had made to heaven.

Then were celestial harpings heard, not in full symphony as those by
which the spheres are tutored; but, as loudest instruments on earth
speak oftentimes, muffled; so to accommodate their sound the better
to the weak ears of the imperfect-born. And, with the noise of those
subdued soundings, the Angelet sprang forth, fluttering its rudiments
of pinions--but forthwith flagged and was recovered into the arms of
those full-winged angels. And a wonder it was to see how, as years
went round in heaven--a year in dreams is as a day--continually its
white shoulders put forth buds of wings, but, wanting the perfect
angelic nutriment, anon was shorn of its aspiring, and fell
fluttering--still caught by angel hands--for ever to put forth shoots,
and to fall fluttering, because its birth was not of the unmixed
vigour of heaven.

And a name was given to the Babe Angel, and it was to be called
_Ge-Urania_, because its production was of earth and heaven.

And it could not taste of death, by reason of its adoption into
immortal palaces: but it was to know weakness, and reliance, and the
shadow of human imbecility; and it went with a lame gait; but in its
goings it exceeded all mortal children in grace and swiftness. Then
pity first sprang up in angelic bosoms; and yearnings (like the human)
touched them at the sight of the immortal lame one.

And with pain did then first those Intuitive Essences, with pain
and strife to their natures (not grief), put back their bright
intelligences, and reduce their ethereal minds, schooling them to
degrees and slower processes, so to adapt their lessons to the gradual
illumination (as must needs be) of the half-earth-born; and what
intuitive notices they could not repel (by reason that their nature
is, to know all things at once), the half-heavenly novice, by the
better part of its nature, aspired to receive into its understanding;
so that Humility and Aspiration went on even-paced in the instruction
of the glorious Amphibium.

But, by reason that Mature Humanity is too gross to breathe the air of
that super-subtile region, its portion was, and is, to be a child for

And because the human part of it might not press into the heart and
inwards of the palace of its adoption, those full-natured angels
tended it by turns in the purlieus of the palace, where were shady
groves and rivulets, like this green earth from which it came: so
Love, with Voluntary Humility, waited upon the entertainment of the

And myriads of years rolled round (in dreams Time is nothing), and
still it kept, and is to keep, perpetual childhood, and is the Tutelar
Genius of Childhood upon earth, and still goes lame and lovely.

By the banks of the river Pison is seen, lone-sitting by the grave of
the terrestrial Adah, whom the angel Nadir loved, a Child; but not the
same which I saw in heaven. A mournful hue overcasts its lineaments;
nevertheless, a correspondency is between the child by the grave, and
that celestial orphan, whom I saw above; and the dimness of the grief
upon the heavenly, is as a shadow or emblem of that which stains
the beauty of the terrestrial. And this correspondency is not to be
understood but by dreams.

And in the archives of heaven I had grace to read, how that once
the angel Nadir, being exiled from his place for mortal passion,
upspringing on the wings of parental love (such power had parental
love for a moment to suspend the else-irrevocable law) appeared for
a brief instant in his station; and, depositing a wondrous Birth,
straightway disappeared, and the palaces knew him no more. And this
charge was the self-same Babe, who goeth lame and lovely--but Adah
sleepeth by the river Pison.



I called upon you this morning, and found that you were gone to visit
a dying friend. I had been upon a like errand. Poor N.R. has lain
dying now for almost a week; such is the penalty we pay for having
enjoyed through life a strong constitution. Whether he knew me or not,
I know not, or whether he saw me through his poor glazed eyes; but the
group I saw about him I shall not forget. Upon the bed, or about it,
were assembled his Wife, their two Daughters, and poor deaf Robert,
looking doubly stupified. There they were, and seemed to have been
sitting all the week. I could only reach out a hand to Mrs. R.
Speaking was impossible in that mute chamber. By this time it must be
all over with him. In him I have a loss the world cannot make up. He
was my friend, and my father's friend, for all the life that I can
remember. I seem to have made foolish friendships since. Those are the
friendships, which outlast a second generation. Old as I am getting,
in his eyes I was still the child he knew me. To the last he called
me Jemmy. I have none to call me Jemmy now. He was the last link that
bound me to B----. You are but of yesterday. In him I seem to have
lost the old plainness of manners and singleness of heart. Lettered
he was not; his reading scarcely exceeded the Obituary of the old
Gentleman's Magazine, to which he has never failed of having recourse
for these last fifty years. Yet there was the pride of literature
about him from that slender perusal; and moreover from his office of
archive-keeper to your ancient city, in which he must needs pick up
some equivocal Latin; which, among his less literary friends, assumed
the air of a very pleasant pedantry. Can I forget the erudite look
with which, having tried to puzzle out the text of a Black lettered
Chaucer in your Corporation Library, to which he was a sort of
Librarian, he gave it up with this consolatory reflection--"Jemmy,"
said he, "I do not know what you find in these very old books, but I
observe, there is a deal of very indifferent spelling in them." His
jokes (for he had some) are ended; but they were old Perennials,
staple, and always as good as new. He had one Song, that spake of the
"flat bottoms of our foes coming over in darkness," and alluded to a
threatened Invasion, many years since blown over; this he reserved to
be sung on Christmas Night, which we always passed with him, and he
sung it with the freshness of an impending event. How his eyes would
sparkle when he came to the passage:

We'll still make 'em run, and we'll still make 'em sweat,
In spite of the devil and Brussels' Gazette!

What is the Brussels' Gazette now? I cry, while I endite these
trifles. His poor girls who are, I believe, compact of solid goodness,
will have to receive their afflicted mother at an unsuccessful home
in a petty village in ----shire, where for years they have been
struggling to raise a Girls' School with no effect. Poor deaf Robert
(and the less hopeful for being so) is thrown upon a deaf world,
without the comfort to his father on his death-bed of knowing him
provided for. They are left almost provisionless. Some life assurance
there is; but, I fear, not exceeding ----. Their hopes must be from
your Corporation, which their father has served for fifty years. Who
or what are your Leading Members now, I know not. Is there any, to
whom without impertinence, you can represent the true circumstances of
the family? You cannot say good enough of poor R., and his poor wife.
Oblige me and the dead, if you can.


I have an almost feminine partiality for old china. When I go to see
any great house, I inquire for the china-closet, and next for the
picture gallery. I cannot defend the order of preference, but by
saying, that we have all some taste or other, of too ancient a date
to admit of our remembering distinctly that it was an acquired one. I
can call to mind the first play, and the first exhibition, that I was
taken to; but I am not conscious of a time when china jars and saucers
were introduced into my imagination.

I had no repugnance then--why should I now have?--to those little,
lawless, azure-tinctured grotesques, that under the notion of men and
women, float about, uncircumscribed by any element, in that world
before perspective--a china tea-cup.

I like to see my old friends--whom distance cannot diminish--figuring
up in the air (so they appear to our optics), yet on _terra firma_
still--for so we must in courtesy interpret that speck of deeper blue,
which the decorous artist, to prevent absurdity, has made to spring up
beneath their sandals.

I love the men with women's faces, and the women, if possible, with
still more womanish expressions.

Here is a young and courtly Mandarin, handing tea to a lady from a
salver--two miles off. See how distance seems to set off respect!
And here the same lady, or another--for likeness is identity on
tea-cups--is stepping into a little fairy boat, moored on the hither
side of this calm garden river, with a dainty mincing foot, which in a
right angle of incidence (as angles go in our world) must infallibly
land her in the midst of a flowery mead--a furlong off on the other
side of the same strange stream!

Farther on--if far or near can be predicated of their world--see
horses, trees, pagodas, dancing the hays.

Here--a cow and rabbit couchant, and co-extensive--so objects show,
seen through the lucid atmosphere of fine Cathay.

I was pointing out to my cousin last evening, over our Hyson (which we
are old fashioned enough to drink unmixed still of an afternoon) some
of these _speciosa miracula_ upon a set of extraordinary old blue
china (a recent purchase) which we were now for the first time using;
and could not help remarking, how favourable circumstances had been
to us of late years, that we could afford to please the eye sometimes
with trifles of this sort--when a passing sentiment seemed to
over-shade the brows of my companion. I am quick at detecting these
summer clouds in Bridget.

"I wish the good old times would come again," she said, "when we were
not quite so rich. I do not mean, that I want to be poor; but there
was a middle state;"--so she was pleased to ramble on,--"in which I am
sure we were a great deal happier. A purchase is but a purchase, now
that you have money enough and to spare. Formerly it used to be a
triumph. When we coveted a cheap luxury (and, O! how much ado I had to
get you to consent in those times!) we were used to have a debate two
or three days before, and to weigh the _for_ and _against_, and think
what we might spare it out of, and what saving we could hit upon, that
should be an equivalent. A thing was worth buying then, when we felt
the money that we paid for it.

"Do you remember the brown suit, which you made to hang upon you, till
all your friends cried shame upon you, it grew so thread-bare--and all
because of that folio Beaumont and Fletcher, which you dragged home
late at night from Barker's in Covent-garden? Do you remember how we
eyed it for weeks before we could make up our minds to the purchase,
and had not come to a determination till it was near ten o'clock of
the Saturday night, when you set off from Islington, fearing you
should be too late--and when the old bookseller with some grumbling
opened his shop, and by the twinkling taper (for he was setting
bedwards) lighted out the relic from his dusty treasures--and when
you lugged it home, wishing it were twice as cumbersome--and when you
presented it to me--and when we were exploring the perfectness of it
(_collating_ you called it)--and while I was repairing some of the
loose leaves with paste, which your impatience would not suffer to be
left till day-break--was there no pleasure in being a poor man? or can
those neat black clothes which you wear now, and are so careful to
keep brushed, since we have become rich and finical, give you half
the honest vanity, with which you flaunted it about in that over-worn
suit--your old corbeau--for four or five weeks longer than you should
have done, to pacify your conscience for the mighty sum of fifteen--or
sixteen shillings was it?--a great affair we thought it then--which
you had lavished on the old folio. Now you can afford to buy any book
that pleases you, but I do not see that you ever bring me home any
nice old purchases now.

"When you come home with twenty apologies for laying out a less number
of shillings upon that print after Lionardo, which we christened the
'Lady Blanch;' when you looked at the purchase, and thought of the
money--and thought of the money, and looked again at the picture--was
there no pleasure in being a poor man? Now, you have nothing to do but
to walk into Colnaghi's, and buy a wilderness of Lionardos. Yet do

"Then, do you remember our pleasant walks to Enfield, and Potter's
Bar, and Waltham, when we had a holyday--holydays, and all other fun,
are gone, now we are rich--and the little hand-basket, in which I used
to deposit our day's fare of savory cold lamb and salad--and how you
would pry about at noon-tide for some decent house, where we might go
in, and produce our store--only paying for the ale that you must call
for--and speculate upon the looks of the landlady, and whether she was
likely to allow us a table-cloth--and wish for such another honest
hostess, as Izaak Walton has described many a one on the pleasant
banks of the Lea, when he went a fishing--and sometimes they would
prove obliging enough, and sometimes they would look grudgingly upon
us--but we had cheerful looks still for one another, and would eat
our plain food savorily, scarcely grudging Piscator his Trout Hall?
Now, when we go out a day's pleasuring, which is seldom moreover, we
_ride_ part of the way--and go into a fine inn, and order the best of
dinners, never debating the expense--which, after all, never has half
the relish of those chance country snaps, when we were at the mercy of
uncertain usage, and a precarious welcome.

"You are too proud to see a play anywhere now but in the pit. Do
you remember where it was we used to sit, when we saw the battle of
Hexham, and the surrender of Calais, and Bannister and Mrs. Bland
in the Children in the Wood--when we squeezed out our shillings
a-piece to sit three or four times in a season in the one-shilling
gallery--where you felt all the time that you ought not to have
brought me--and more strongly I felt obligation to you for having
brought me--and the pleasure was the better for a little shame--and
when the curtain drew up, what cared we for our place in the house, or
what mattered it where we were sitting, when our thoughts were with
Rosalind in Arden, or with Viola at the Court of Illyria? You used to
say, that the gallery was the best place of all for enjoying a play
socially--that the relish of such exhibitions must be in proportion
to the infrequency of going--that the company we met there, not being
in general readers of plays, were obliged to attend the more, and
did attend, to what was going on, on the stage--because a word lost
would have been a chasm, which it was impossible for them to fill
up. With such reflections we consoled our pride then--and I appeal
to you, whether, as a woman, I met generally with less attention and
accommodation, than I have done since in more expensive situations
in the house? The getting in indeed, and the crowding up those
inconvenient staircases, was bad enough,--but there was still a law of
civility to women recognised to quite as great an extent as we ever
found in the other passages--and how a little difficulty overcome
heightened the snug seat, and the play, afterwards! Now we can only
pay our money, and walk in. You cannot see, you say, in the galleries
now. I am sure we saw, and heard too, well enough then--but sight, and
all, I think, is gone with our poverty.

"There was pleasure in eating strawberries, before they became quite
common--in the first dish of peas, while they were yet dear--to have
them for a nice supper, a treat. What treat can we have now? If we
were to treat ourselves now--that is, to have dainties a little above
our means, it would be selfish and wicked. It is the very little more
that we allow ourselves beyond what the actual poor can get at, that
makes what I call a treat--when two people living together, as we have
done, now and then indulge themselves in a cheap luxury, which both
like; while each apologises, and is willing to take both halves of
the blame to his single share. I see no harm in people making much of
themselves in that sense of the word. It may give them a hint how to
make much of others. But now--what I mean by the word--we never do
make much of ourselves. None but the poor can do it. I do not mean the
veriest poor of all, but persons as we were, just above poverty.

"I know what you were going to say, that it is mighty pleasant at the
end of the year to make all meet--and much ado we used to have every
Thirty-first Night of December to account for our exceedings--many a
long face did you make over your puzzled accounts, and in contriving
to make it out how we had spent so much--or that we had not spent so
much--or that it was impossible we should spend so much next year--and
still we found our slender capital decreasing--but then, betwixt ways,
and projects, and compromises of one sort or another, and talk of
curtailing this charge, and doing without that for the future--and the
hope that youth brings, and laughing spirits (in which you were never
poor till now,) we pocketed up our loss, and in conclusion, with
'lusty brimmers' (as you used to quote it out of _hearty cheerful Mr.
Cotton_, as you called him), we used to welcome in the 'coming guest.'
Now we have no reckoning at all at the end of the old year--no
flattering promises about the new year doing better for us."

Bridget is so sparing of her speech on most occasions, that when she
gets into a rhetorical vein, I am careful how I interrupt it. I could
not help, however, smiling at the phantom of wealth which her dear
imagination had conjured up out of a clear income of poor--hundred
pounds a year. "It is true we were happier when we were poorer, but
we were also younger, my cousin. I am afraid we must put up with the
excess, for if we were to shake the superflux into the sea, we should
not much mend ourselves. That we had much to struggle with, as we grew
up together, we have reason to be most thankful. It strengthened, and
knit our compact closer. We could never have been what we have been
to each other, if we had always had the sufficiency which you now
complain of. The resisting power--those natural dilations of the
youthful spirit, which circumstances cannot straiten--with us are long
since passed away. Competence to age is supplementary youth; a sorry
supplement indeed, but I fear the best that is to be had. We must
ride, where we formerly walked: live better, and lie softer--and shall
be wise to do so--than we had means to do in those good old days you
speak of. Yet could those days return--could you and I once more walk
our thirty miles a-day--could Bannister and Mrs. Bland again be young,
and you and I be young to see them--could the good old one shilling
gallery days return--they are dreams, my cousin, now--but could
you and I at this moment, instead of this quiet argument, by our
well-carpeted fireside, sitting on this luxurious sofa--be once
more struggling up those inconvenient stair-cases, pushed about,
and squeezed, and elbowed by the poorest rabble of poor gallery
scramblers--could I once more hear those anxious shrieks of yours--and
the delicious _Thank God, we are safe_, which always followed when the
topmost stair, conquered, let in the first light of the whole cheerful
theatre down beneath us--I know not the fathom line that ever touched
a descent so deep as I would be willing to bury more wealth in than
Croesus had, or the great Jew R---- is supposed to have, to purchase
it. And now do just look at that merry little Chinese waiter holding
an umbrella, big enough for a bed-tester, over the head of that
pretty insipid half-Madona-ish chit of a lady in that very blue



This axiom contains a principle of compensation, which disposes us to
admit the truth of it. But there is no safe trusting to dictionaries
and definitions. We should more willingly fall in with this popular
language, if we did not find _brutality_ sometimes awkwardly coupled
with _valour_ in the same vocabulary. The comic writers, with their
poetical justice, have contributed not a little to mislead us upon
this point. To see a hectoring fellow exposed and beaten upon the
stage, has something in it wonderfully diverting. Some people's
share of animal spirits is notoriously low and defective. It has not
strength to raise a vapour, or furnish out the wind of a tolerable
bluster. These love to be told that huffing is no part of valour.
The truest courage with them is that which is the least noisy and
obtrusive. But confront one of these silent heroes with the swaggerer
of real life, and his confidence in the theory quickly vanishes.
Pretensions do not uniformly bespeak non-performance. A modest
inoffensive deportment does not necessarily imply valour; neither does
the absence of it justify us in denying that quality. Hickman wanted
modesty--we do not mean _him_ of Clarissa--but who ever doubted his
courage? Even the poets--upon whom this equitable distribution of
qualities should be most binding--have thought it agreeable to nature
to depart from the rule upon occasion. Harapha, in the "Agonistes," is
indeed a bully upon the received notions. Milton has made him at once
a blusterer, a giant, and a dastard. But Almanzor, in Dryden, talks
of driving armies singly before him--and does it. Tom Brown had a
shrewder insight into this kind of character than either of his
predecessors. He divides the palm more equably, and allows his hero
a sort of dimidiate pre-eminence:--"Bully Dawson kicked by half
the town, and half the town kicked by Bully Dawson." This was true
distributive justice.


The weakest part of mankind have this saying commonest in their mouth.
It is the trite consolation administered to the easy dupe, when he has
been tricked out of his money or estate, that the acquisition of
it will do the owner _no good_. But the rogues of this world--the
prudenter part of them, at least--know better; and, if the observation
had been as true as it is old, would not have failed by this time
to have discovered it. They have pretty sharp distinctions of the
fluctuating and the permanent. "Lightly come, lightly go," is a
proverb, which they can very well afford to leave, when they leave
little else, to the losers. They do not always find manors, got by
rapine or chicanery, insensibly to melt away, as the poets will have
it; or that all gold glides, like thawing snow, from the thief's hand
that grasps it. Church land, alienated to lay uses, was formerly
denounced to have this slippery quality. But some portions of it
somehow always stuck so fast, that the denunciators have been vain to
postpone the prophecy of refundment to a late posterity.


The severest exaction surely ever invented upon the self-denial of
poor human nature! This is to expect a gentleman to give a treat
without partaking of it; to sit esurient at his own table, and commend
the flavour of his venison upon the absurd strength of his never
touching it himself. On the contrary, we love to see a wag _taste_
his own joke to his party; to watch a quirk, or a merry conceit,
flickering upon the lips some seconds before the tongue is delivered
of it. If it be good, fresh, and racy--begotten of the occasion; if he
that utters it never thought it before, he is naturally the first to
be tickled with it; and any suppression of such complacence we hold to
be churlish and insulting. What does it seem to imply, but that your
company is weak or foolish enough to be moved by an image or a fancy,
that shall stir you not at all, or but faintly? This is exactly the
humour of the fine gentleman in Mandeville, who, while he dazzles his
guests with the display of some costly toy, affects himself to "see
nothing considerable in it."


A speech from the poorer sort of people, which always indicates that
the party vituperated is a gentleman. The very fact which they deny,
is that which galls and exasperates them to use this language. The
forbearance with which it is usually received, is a proof what
interpretation the bystander sets upon it. Of a kin to this, and still
less politic, are the phrases with which, in their street rhetoric,
they ply one another more grossly:--_He is a poor creature._--_He has
not a rag to cover_--_&c._; though this last, we confess, is more
frequently applied by females to females. They do not perceive that
the satire glances upon themselves. A poor man, of all things in
the world, should not upbraid an antagonist with poverty. Are there
no other topics--as, to tell him his father was hanged--his sister,
&c.--, without exposing a secret, which should be kept snug between
them; and doing an affront to the order to which they have the honour
equally to belong? All this while they do not see how the wealthier
man stands by and laughs in his sleeve at both.


A smooth text to the latter; and, preached from the pulpit, is sure of
a docile audience from the pews lined with satin. It is twice sitting
upon velvet to a foolish squire to be told, that _he_--and not
_perverse nature_, as the homilies would make us imagine, is the true
cause of all the irregularities in his parish. This is striking at the
root of free-will indeed, and denying the originality of sin in any
sense. But men are not such implicit sheep as this comes to. If the
abstinence from evil on the part of the upper classes is to derive
itself from no higher principle, than the apprehension of setting
ill patterns to the lower, we beg leave to discharge them from
all squeamishness on that score: they may even take their fill of
pleasures, where they can find them. The Genius of Poverty, hampered
and straitened as it is, is not so barren of invention but it can
trade upon the staple of its own vice, without drawing upon their
capital. The poor are not quite such servile imitators as they take
them for. Some of them are very clever artists in their way. Here and
there we find an original. Who taught the poor to steal, to pilfer?
They did not go to the great for schoolmasters in these faculties
surely. It is well if in some vices they allow us to be--no copyists.
In no other sense is it true that the poor copy them, than as servants
may be said to _take after_ their masters and mistresses, when
they succeed to their reversionary cold meats. If the master, from
indisposition or some other cause, neglect his food, the servant dines

"O, but (some will say) the force of example is great." We knew a lady
who was so scrupulous on this head, that she would put up with the
calls of the most impertinent visitor, rather than let her servant say
she was not at home, for fear of teaching her maid to tell an untruth;
and this in the very face of the fact, which she knew well enough,
that the wench was one of the greatest liars upon the earth without
teaching; so much so, that her mistress possibly never heard two words
of consecutive truth from her in her life. But nature must go for
nothing: example must be every thing. This liar in grain, who never
opened her mouth without a lie, must be guarded against a remote
inference, which she (pretty casuist!) might possibly draw from a form
of words--literally false, but essentially deceiving no one--that
under some circumstances a fib might not be so exceedingly sinful--a
fiction, too, not at all in her own way, or one that she could be
suspected of adopting, for few servant-wenches care to be denied to

This word _example_ reminds us of another fine word which is in use
upon these occasions--_encouragement_. "People in our sphere must
not be thought to give encouragement to such proceedings." To such
a frantic height is this principle capable of being carried, that
we have known individuals who have thought it within the scope of
their influence to sanction despair, and give _eclat_ to--suicide. A
domestic in the family of a county member lately deceased, for love,
or some unknown cause, cut his throat, but not successfully. The poor
fellow was otherwise much loved and respected; and great interest was
used in his behalf, upon his recovery, that he might be permitted
to retain his place; his word being first pledged, not without some
substantial sponsors to promise for him, than the like should never
happen again. His master was inclinable to keep him, but his mistress
thought otherwise; and John in the end was dismissed, her ladyship
declaring that she "could not think of encouraging any such doings in
the county."


Not a man, woman, or child in ten miles round Guildhall, who really
believes this saying. The inventor of it did not believe it himself.
It was made in revenge by somebody, who was disappointed of a regale.
It is a vile cold-scrag-of-mutton sophism; a lie palmed upon the
palate, which knows better things. If nothing else could be said for
a feast, this is sufficient, that from the superflux there is usually
something left for the next day. Morally interpreted, it belongs to
a class of proverbs, which have a tendency to make us undervalue
_money_. Of this cast are those notable observations, that money is
not health; riches cannot purchase every thing: the metaphor which
makes gold to be mere muck, with the morality which traces fine
clothing to the sheep's back, and denounces pearl as the unhandsome
excretion of an oyster. Hence, too, the phrase which imputes dirt to
acres--a sophistry so barefaced, that even the literal sense of it is
true only in a wet season. This, and abundance of similar sage saws
assuming to inculcate _content_, we verily believe to have been the
invention of some cunning borrower, who had designs upon the purse of
his wealthier neighbour, which he could only hope to carry by force of
these verbal jugglings. Translate any one of these sayings out of the
artful metonyme which envelops it, and the trick is apparent. Goodly
legs and shoulders of mutton, exhilarating cordials, books, pictures,
the opportunities of seeing foreign countries, independence, heart's
ease, a man's own time to himself, are not _muck_--however we may be
pleased to scandalise with that appellation the faithful metal that
provides them for us.


Our experience would lead us to quite an opposite conclusion. Temper,
indeed, is no test of truth; but warmth and earnestness are a proof
at least of a man's own conviction of the rectitude of that which
he maintains. Coolness is as often the result of an unprincipled
indifference to truth or falsehood, as of a sober confidence in a
man's own side in a dispute. Nothing is more insulting sometimes than
the appearance of this philosophic temper. There is little Titubus,
the stammering law-stationer in Lincoln's Inn--we have seldom known
this shrewd little fellow engaged in an argument where we were not
convinced he had the best of it, if his tongue would but fairly have
seconded him. When he has been spluttering excellent broken sense
for an hour together, writhing and labouring to be delivered of the
point of dispute--the very gist of the controversy knocking at his
teeth, which like some obstinate iron-grating still obstructed its
deliverance--his puny frame convulsed, and face reddening all over at
an unfairness in the logic which he wanted articulation to expose, it
has moved our gall to see a smooth portly fellow of an adversary, that
cared not a button for the merits of the question, by merely laying
his hand upon the head of the stationer, and desiring him to be _calm_
(your tall disputants have always the advantage), with a provoking
sneer carry the argument clean from him in the opinion of all the
bystanders, who have gone away clearly convinced that Titubus must
have been in the wrong, because he was in a passion; and that Mr.----,
meaning his opponent, is one of the fairest, and at the same time one
of the most dispassionate arguers breathing.


The same might be said of the wittiest local allusions. A custom is
sometimes as difficult to explain to a foreigner as a pun. What would
become of a great part of the wit of the last age, if it were tried by
this test? How would certain topics, as aldermanity, cuckoldry, have
sounded to a Terentian auditory, though Terence himself had been alive
to translate them? _Senator urbanus_, with _Curruca_ to boot for a
synonime, would but faintly have done the business. Words, involving
notions, are hard enough to render; it is too much to expect us to
translate a sound, and give an elegant version to a jingle. The
Virgilian harmony is not translatable, but by substituting harmonious
sounds in another language for it. To Latinise a pun, we must seek
a pun in Latin, that will answer to it; as, to give an idea of the
double endings in Hudibras, we must have recourse to a similar
practice in the old monkish doggrel. Dennis, the fiercest oppugner of
puns in ancient or modern times, professes himself highly tickled
with the "a stick" chiming to "ecclesiastic." Yet what is this but a
species of pun, a verbal consonance?


If by worst be only meant the most far-fetched and startling, we agree
to it. A pun is not bound by the laws which limit nicer wit. It is a
pistol let off at the ear; not a feather to tickle the intellect. It
is an antic which does not stand upon manners, but comes bounding into
the presence, and does not show the less comic for being dragged in
sometimes by the head and shoulders. What though it limp a little, or
prove defective in one leg--all the better. A pun may easily be too
curious and artificial. Who has not at one time or other been at a
party of professors (himself perhaps an old offender in that line),
where, after ringing a round of the most ingenious conceits, every man
contributing his shot, and some there the most expert shooters of the
day; after making a poor _word_ run the gauntlet till it is ready to


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