« AnteriorContinuar »
While “ the cups that cheer, but not inebriate," go round, how various are the topics that female loquacity suggests! It is then that my taciturnity catches the spirit by which it is surrounded, and I find a rambling disposition of speech that knows no bounds but the horizon of my knowledge. There is something exquisite beyond description in the ease and security of such moments. They are halcyons of life, like the green spots noticed with thrilling sensibility by Moore. Not a shadow of that dark sublimity which runs through the effusions of Lord Byron, nor a scintillation of that luscious fire which pervades the lyric compositions of his great contemporary and friend-no, all is purity, like the tear wafted by the Peri to the gate of paradise, which found admission into eternal day, when the red drop from the heart expiring in liberty's cause, and the burning sigh breathed by unhappy love, were refused. Ha! and how many things, too, carelessly, displaying frequency of use, would awaken recollections, and revive slumbering associations ? A favourite book turned down at a delightfully instructive page, and a piece of music, whose well-arranged parts gave nameless expressions to words so holy, that love merged in piety, would perhaps lie on the table, or stand on the piano-forte, courting agreeable reference, or challenging the rosy fingers of youth to stray over the ivory keys. At such times, too, how interesting to follow the light subjects that present themselves to the embrace of fancy! How many charming hours of recreation and improvement are spent in discussing, by way of tea-table talk, the merits of new novels and plays in living over old standard works, and conjecturing the probable opinions of posterity, on the subject of our contemporary popular productions. The romances by the author of Waverley are of course often introduced. Who can study many of their characters without feeling an increased love for virtue? Who can read the vicissitudes described in them without being strengthened against the incubus of fortune, whose sharpest inflictions, like the unpleasant pressure alluded to in sleep, have power over us only during the short dream of life? Who can peruse the fate of the lovely Amy Robsart, without detesting the villany of particular men ? And who can follow the for
tunes of Jeanie Deans, without the conviction that a firm reliance on the wisdom of Providence, and obedience to the divine laws, promulgated in the Holy Scriptures, are the most certain means of securing that portion of happiness, which is intended for human creatures, under a state of trial for eternal bliss ?
It is in such social solitude as our own parlour furnishes, that the human mind acquires that elasticity which is necessary to great exertions and undertakings. I have never, therefore, been surprised on reading that heroes, statesmen, and poets, after the fatigues of hard-fought battles, political contests, and invocations of the muses, found their bliss in retirement from the busy world, and were seen playing with their children in all the frivolous gambols of puerility. The answer of Agesilaus is well known ; and Buonaparte, when emperor, is said to have asserted, that he never experienced such moments of perfect felicity, as those
as those spent in running matches from one end of the room to the other with young Napoleon. It is in my own parlour, too, that I can enjoy the luxury of a free press, and enter into the sensations of the poet, who so beautifully described the coming in of the post, and the display of the world at a distance. How I exult with Paley over a newspaper, and agree with him that the pleasure derived by a country gentleman from the perusal of the debates in Parliament, and the different opinions on all subjects which daily agitate and sharpen intellect, is worth all he pays in support of a government, under whose mild administration he enjoys such a feast of reason. In
my own parlour how delightfully I enter into the debates, and see all the orators in gaping order, strenuously advocating their own particular opinions. I can also in my comfortable parlour fancy myself seated in old Drury or Covent Garden, and enjoy the excellence that commands the clap of the audience. Every passage, too, that excites my own risibility, or calls forth a sigh for suffering humanity, is rendered doubly diverting or affecting by the interest taken in my sensations ; for in all happy families there is a strong sympathy of feeling, produced either by Providence, or by the gradual formation of similar habits to ensure harmony. The wisdom, therefore, of God in making us imitative creatures, is apparent in this—and it has a strong tendency to impress parents with the importance of pushing forward the perfections of their own nature, that the moral and religious rules of their lives may be such as their hearts tell them are profitable and desirable for the present and future happiness of the beings upon whom they have bestowed a gift, which in a great measure may be a blessing or a curse, according to the influence of parental care in education. It has been justly remarked, that education is more than second nature; and, as Addison truly says, when it works upon a noble mind, it draws out virtues and perfections that never could appear without such help, any more than the ornamental spot and vein of a fine statue, without the skill of the artist to discover and produce the latent beauties. Mason, in his Treatise on Self-knowledge, places the proper government of thought in an important point of view, and compares the disorder and torments of the mind, under an insurrection of the passions, to a city in flames, or to the mutiny of a drunken ship's crew, who have murdered their captain and are butchering one another. What care, therefore, should be taken to prepare the understanding for the arduous task of restraining the