« НазадПродовжити »
all, steadily—as to secure the good opinion and the firm support of all who revere the British Constitution, and desire to see it renovated but not destroyed. The present Government largely enjoys the confidence of the people. Their position, however, is a critical one-a few more false steps, and they may be removed from it. We shall carefully and anxiously watch the progress of events in the House of Commons more especially,—allying ourselves with no party, supporting no party; but with a deep, and earnest desire that those who are put in authority over us” may not be men whose only, or, at least, whose best, recommendation is
THE ROCK OF CADER-IDRIS.
A LEGEND OF WALES, BY MRS. HEMANS.
[It is an ancient tradition of Wales, that whoever should pass a night alone on the summit of the Mountain Cader-Idris, would be found in the morning either dead, in a state of frenzy, or endowed with the highest poetical inspiration.]
I LAY on that rock where the storms have their dwelling,
Better days are like Hebrew verbs, they have no present tense; they are of the past or future only. “All that's bright must fade," says Tom Moore. Very likely; and so must all that's not bright. To hear some people talk, you would imagine that there was no month in the year except November, and that the leaves had nothing else to do than to fall off the trees. And, to refer again to Tom Moore's song, about “ Stars that shine and fall,” one might suppose that, by this time, all the stars in heaven had been blown out, like so many farthing candles in a show-booth at Bartlemy fair; and as for flowers and leaves, if they go away, it is only to make way for new ones. There are as many stars in heaven as ever there were in the memory of man, and as many flowers on earth, too; and perhaps more in England, for we are always making fresh importations. It is all very well now and then to have a bit of a grunt, or a growl, or a grumble, or a lamentation ; but one mend-fault is worth ten find-faults, all the world over. It is all right enough when the barometer or the purse is low—when the stomach is a
ittle out of order-to say that things are not as they used to be; and I would not for the world deprive an honest man of the pleasure of grumbling ;-—it is an Englishman's birthright. But I don't like to see a matter of feeling made a matter of history and philosophic verity: let us have our growl, and have done with it. But some croakers remind one of the boy who said that his grandmother went upstairs nineteen times a-day, and never came down again. Or, to seek for another resemblance, they may be likened to the Irish grave-digger, who was seen one night looking about the churchyard, with a lantern in his hand. “ What have you lost, Pat?” “Oh, I've lost my
lantern !" have
your lantern in your hand.” Oh, but this is a lantern that I've found, it is not a lantern I have lost.” Thus it is with men in general; they think more of the lantern they have lost, than of the lantern they have found. It is true, indeed, that things are not as they were with
any Great changes have taken place, and more are daily taking place; but there are greater changes in our feelings and apprehensions than there are in the external world, or in the general frame of society. What a great change must have taken place between the time of the siege of Troy and the days of Homer; for the poet speaks of Ajax pelting the Greeks with stones of such a bigness, that ten or a dozen men of the degenerate days in which Homer lived could not lift such an one. Ever since his time things have been growing worse and worse : so that now, I dare say, the human race, compared to what it was during the siege of Troy, is not much more than a noble army of gnats. Nothing is as it was; the people grow worse and worse, generation after generation, and the inhabitants of the earth become more and more attenuated, till at length there will be nothing left of them,they will become gradually invisible. The sun does not shine as brightly as it used to, and the seasons-everybody says they are changed. There is a great deal of truth in this,—there is no denying it. But the worst of the matter is, that there is too much truth in it. The evidence of the mutation of the seasons from youth to manhood is so superabundant, that by proving too much, it proves nothing.
Between the years 1740 and 1750, Horace Walpole wrote some letters, which have since been printed and published. I have not a copy now at hand to refer to; but I distinctly remember reading in them a lamentation of the change of the seasons. The writer complains, that on Midsummer-day he is writing by the fire-side; and he pettishly says, “We have now no summer in this country but what we get from Newcastle ;” and presently after he adds, that it was not so when he was young. Now, I think that when Horace Walpole was young, Dean Swift was old; and yet the Dean makes the same complaint. Still more curiously the poet Cowper, writing about forty years after Horace Walpole, makes the same complaint, lamenting that neither winters nor summers were such as they used to be. Those now living, who were children when Cowper complained that the summers were not so hot, nor the winters so cold as they used to be, do now make the same complaint as he did then.
In the year 1818, the summer was remarkably fine and dry, and all people began to cry out on the beauty of what they called an oldfashioned summer. To be sure it was an old-fashioned summer; so are all summers old-fashioned summers. There is a passage in Tacitus, which describes the climate of this country just as it might be described now. I could quote the Latin; but as I have no particular end to answer in looking learned, I will make the extracts from Dr. Aikin's translation of the Life of Agricola. “ The sky in this country is deformed by clouds and frequent rains, but the cold is never extremely rigorous.” “ The soil, though improper for the olive and vine, and other productions of warmer climates, is fertile, and suitable for corn, Growth is quick, but maturation slow, both from the same cause, the great humidity of the ground and the atmosphere.” There, now, can anything be plainer than that? And yet we talk about the changes of the seasons as if the sun was worn out, and all things were going wrong. There always have been occasionally very hot summers, and occasionally very cold winters. Nineteen years ago, there was a fair on the Thames. That winter was not the rule, it was the exception. Whatever change there is, is in ourselves. Reader, you are acquainted with persons of thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, and perhaps eighty years of age. Ask them all if the seasons have not changed since they were young, and, though the respective periods of their youth were at several intervals, you will find them all in the same story.
It is precisely the same with regard to manners. The deterioration of manners we do not perceive so soon as we do the changes of the sea
We take our impression of the seasons at about the age of ten, and from that to fifteen ; but our impression of manners we take at our first entrance into the world. All changes that have taken place since that time, we regard as innovations—as a kind of deflexion from the standard of propriety. Whatever was the fashion when we first came to years of discretion, was rational; whatever had then ceased to be the fashion, was antiquated, formal, and ridiculous ; and whatever has come into fashion since then, is all a change for the worse-a departure from propriety and reason-altogether'new-fangled. This word 'new-fangled is a charming word ; it expresses such a pleasant pungency of satire, and implies a delightful assumption of wisdom on the part of him who uses it. The mind by time acquires a kind of rigidity; it does not like
to be put out of shape or out of place;-change disturbs it, and makes it angry. Then it looks back to better days, when none of the villanous innovations were known, which are now so prevalent in everything. I am glad that I am neither gas nor steam, for it would break my heart to be abused as they have been.
But of all the regrets of the better days that are gone by, none are more pathetic than the lamentations of the loss of all our great men. What marvellously great men did live in the days that are past! This, of course, says the triumphant croaker, must be admitted. There is no denying that Shakspeare, Milton, Pope, Scott, Byron, Nelson, Pitt, Fox, Canning, Sheridan, are all gone, and have not left their likenesses behind. It is no easy matter to conceive any human being more proud and happy than a triumphant croaker. If you stop a man in the midst of his lamentations, and prove to him, as clear as light, that he has no good ground for complaint, you seem to inflict an injury upon him; but if he can repel your arguments, and establish his own growling position beyond all question, he is far happier than if he had never had any cause of complaint. Is there, says he, a man now living who can write as Shakspeare wrote? Very likely there is not; and if there were, he would be quite a superfluity; we have as much Shakspeare as we want;-and so of all the rest.
The cause of this style of reproaching the present by referring to the past, is to be found in the loud lamentations which mark the departure of great men from this sublunary scene. When a distinguished man dies, the public. feels a loss. Funeral, elegy, monument, epitaph, biography, all make the loss more talked about. But when a great genius is born into the world, there is no talk of it. We notice the great trees that are cut down, but we regard not the saplings that are springing up in their place. Thus we think that we live in sad, degenerate days, and thus we get into a habit of looking upon great men as good for nothing till they are dead. In the book of the Proverbs of Solomon it is said, that a living dog is better than a dead lion. . Perhaps it may be; but we do not in general seem to hold to this doctrine:-indeed, we regard the living as dogs, and the dead as lions.
I think another cause of our looking back on the past as on better days, may be found in the fact that we are all growing older. The world is not half so pretty and wonderful to us now as it was when we were young. To a boy, a schoolmaster is often an awful and a great personage; he is regarded with admiration, as a miracle of majesty and a paragon of knowledge. Old Busby knew that, when he kept his hat on in the presence of royalty in his own school-room. But what a different idea of schoolmasters we acquire when we are grown up to man's estate! We measure all things by the standard of our own feelings,—we have no other rule to go by; and if we feel ourselves growing old and wearing out, we think that the world is growing old and wearing out; and if our eye grows dim, we think that the sun shines more feebly than he was wont to do; and if our feelings grow obtuse, we fancy that there is nothing in the world worth caring for; and if we go to the scenes of our boyish holidays, and if our boyish feelings do not return to us, we fancy that the place is sadly altered. I remember hearing one of the greatest puppies that ever lived complain of the conceit and affectation of young men of the present generation, and say, “ It was not so when I was young.'
MARTIAL IN LONDON.
THE Bow WINDOW. Beneath the Piazza two wags chanced to pass Where a shop was adorned by an acre of glass. Quoth Tom, sotto voce, “ Hail, Burnett and Co.! Success now-a-days is dependent on show.” “ Not so," answered Richard, “ here industry reigns; Success is dependent on using great panes."
BEER SHOPS. “ These beer shops," quoth Barnabas, speaking in alt, “ Are ruinous-down with the growers of malt !" “ Too true," answers Ben, with a shake of the head, “ Wherever they congregate, honesty's dead. That beer breeds dishonesty causes no wonder, 'Tis nurtured in crime-'tis concocted in plunder ; In Kent, while surrounded by flourishing crops, I saw a rogue picking a pocket of hops."
TO A WEALTHY VINEGAR MERCHANT. Let Hannibal boast of his conquering sway,
Thy liquid achievements spread wider and quicker; By vinegar he through the Alps made his way, But thou through the World by the very same liquor.
The crimes of Gaul's degenerate crew,
The murd'rous deeds his pencil drew.
Still lives—his name preserves it still ;
Implies to kidnap and to kill.