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grave. Our bones must mingle in one common mass. Our affections should travel in the same path, for they must terminate in one fearful issue. Life is full of facilities of virtue and of happiness; and when you would neglect or abuse them, go and purify your affections, and humble your pride, and elevate your hopes, at the tomb of a friend, when the stars are shining upon it, like the glorious beams of religion on the mansion of death.
XIII. LEARNING AND MANNERS.
Ir it be true that literary men, in modern times, preserve not in their intercourse the amenity of manners, which it would appear might justly be expected of them, perhaps much of the evil may be traced to the new species of literature, which comes under the class of reviews.
We need only look to the restlessness with which scholars endure acknowledged authority, to ascertain their abhorrence of that which is usurped. A reviewer is a voluntary trespasser on another man's ground. He pretends not to an inch of his own soil. He plants nothing, he rears nothing; he has not even the merit of improving any thing. He walks over the fields of genius, with a sneer on his countenance, and a scythe in his hand. He gathers here and there, a leaf and a flower, and he bruises them, to ascertain if they be fragrant. He gives you his gratuitous, (no, not gratuitous, his venal) opinion, and says, this is an onion, and this is a rose, and this is a tulip, and this is heart's-ease, and all arbitrarily; for let heaven deck, in what colours it will, the modest and retiring flower; let it strew its own dews in mercy over the salubrious plant, how easy is it for a reviewer, to shake the dew from the one, and throw the other into the shade.
Reviewers are the offspring of vanity, the growth of conceit, the children of arrogance, and the fomenters of broils. Not to originate any thing, savours, in them, of inanity; and to comment upon every thing, savours,
in them, of impudence. It is unfortunate, if it be true, that every work requires a key to explain it, and is, therefore, obscure; or that it requires a friend to praise it, and therefore is weak. And it is equally unfortunate, if it be so, that the public require to be guided like the blind, through the paths of intellectual enjoyment.
The honest effort to enlighten your neighbour, is commendable, if you mingle with it no motive of inferior purity. But if the pride of opinion; if the spirit of party, whether in politics or in religion; if any of the bad passions creep into your literary labours, you should give them over, for they are a scandal to the muses. Now, if some reviewers be exempt from these failings, yet is there one, which is common to them all. It is their propensity to place themselves always in the front of the picture; to use an author, as Othello used a "hint," upon which to make a set speech; to serve up a book according to French cookery, so that it seems like any thing but itself.
Reviews, however fairly conducted, must necessarily give offence; and consequently, produce irritation and ill blood, among authors, and those who inhabit the purlieus of literature. The difficulty of maintaining universal jurisdiction, and the facility of erecting a new authority, will produce rivals to the reviewers themselves; and conflicting decisions among them, together with mutual crimination and abuse; for they will all pretend to truth, which will be one thing in Edinburgh, and another in London; white on the one side of the Atlantic, and black on the other—as if truth, the daughter of heaven, was not one, and unchangeable from the beginning unto the end.
Horace, who was not less a scholar because he was a gentleman, observed, in his day, that the study of literature and the liberal arts, tended to soften the manners and disarm their ferocity. Pythagoras had previously enjoined music, as essential to the discipline and government of a state, because of its harmonious combinations and results. Shakspeare, who knew as much of human nature, as either Horace or Pythagoras, and who mould
ed into fascinating forms, and adorned with new life, the antique casts of genius, taste and virtue-Shakspeare identifies harmony with patriotism.
One would imagine, therefore, that the scholar at least, would appreciate the advantages of concord; peace and tranquillity being essential to the muses. The beauty of life, is its harmony; the bane of life, is discord; letters, which improve the fine sensibilities, and exalt the noble passions of our nature-letters, which free us from the grossness of matter, should free us from its collisions. How many souls could abide harmoniously, where very few bodies, indeed, would be elbowing each other. Now the uneducated, whose mind has not been opened, and whose heart, glowing with the ardour of nature has never yielded to the restraints of intellect, will, and perhaps with some excuse, violate the courtsey of life, and be guilty of occasional rudeness —unless, indeed, he has imbibed from the living fount of inspiration, the most beautiful lessons of politeness; for, if the holy scriptures were valuable for no other reason, they would be inestimable as a code of Christian manners, which no mortal ever previously conceived, and which none can copy, except at a very remote interval. The humility, the self distrust, the mutual good will, forgiveness and respect, the patience under the sense of wrong when unintentional, the self regard which forbears to retaliate, and the Christian spirit which abhors and disdains revenge. What a beautiful epitome of a good man! Politeness is the condition precedent of life. We are born for each other's happiness; we are born for our own. Selfishness, as it is at war with courtesy, is in the degree to which it prevails, odious; the selfishness, that is, which prompts you to disregard the feelings, the wants, and the comforts of others, and to aim at a monopoly of perishable things, riches, &c. But there is a beautiful selfishness, which strives, if possible, to be better, and wiser, and happier, and more useful than your neighbour; and if all mankind would join in this honourable strife, how happy should we be in this world!
As no man can often be rude and long be happy, and
as learning can plead no excuse for mistaking the road to happiness, it would seem to follow, that no learned man could be rude; and thus thought Horace, the Chesterfield of the Augustan age; a wit among gentlemen, and a gentleman among wits. The letters of Cicero, the immortal, in point of refinement and decorum, and the proprieties of life, are in delightful accordance with the high destiny of genius which aims at universal conquest and celebrity. There is not a human being so humble that he deserves not your service, and the feeblest voice serves to swell the chorus of praise.
In modern times, unfortuately, you cannot predicate politeness of literature. The profession most remarkable for courtesy, is that which in Greece was deemed irreclaimable. Menander, the comic poet, doubted whether the Deity himself could make a polite soldier. We would not allude to this ancient scandal, if we thought that any man of the present day, could ever have imagined it.
XIV. NEW-YEAR'S DAY.
THE beautiful process of the seasons, recurring as they revolve, bring the natural world to an imaginary pause, when we fancy that it recommences its career. Winter, chaste and pensive, like Innocence; Spring, her bosom full of joy, like Hope; Summer, teeming with ardency, like Love; and Autumn, rich and mellow, like Beauty. These form the graceful circle, in whose society time dwells in sweet constancy, and harmonious succession. Aware that all things, young and fair, and nothing is fair, that is not young, he is found each successive year in a fresh cradle, where he is welcomed like a new-born babe, with smiles, and kisses, and carresses. And if time be so studious of appearances, that he attempts to palm off upon us each lingering fragment as an entire novelty, shall we blame those of either sex, who would conceal the ravages of age? It is a mistake to call time old; he is not older than the earth, and the earth is fresh, and original now, as when it sprung from the will of the Almighty, Its seeds immortal; its re
sources exhaustless; its fabric perfect; its progress unimpeded it preserves its glorious path heedless, and independent of the creatures, rational and irrational, who dwell upon its surface.
Time cannot affect the globe, which we inhabit; for that cannot be old, which is unimpaired.
But with regard to man, that consequential little being; and with regard to woman, that civilizes and saves him, it does not so happen. Nor is it desirable that it should. It would be dreadful if there was in the atmosphere, any principle which should preserve the miserable passions of human nature; which should embalm a miser, or keep alive a demagogue, or prolong the term of existence of the frivolous flies, which buz about the parlours of this world. Powers of mischief deserve only to be tolerated for a while; beauty and goodness ought to live everlastingly. And so they will, if not in the shape and feature, and endearing softness, with which they charm us on earth, yet in some more worthy of themselves, and more permanently glorious. For beauty and goodness must be immortal. If thy conscience be clear and thou happy, every day is a new day, every year is a new year-new in the facilities it affords of usefulness, new in the blessings it bestows, new in the means of happiness, new in the hopes of salvation. But if thy conscience smite thee, thou canst not be happy; it is in vain for thee that the earth is young, and the seasons are joyful, and the years meet and embrace each other; it is in vain that the music resounds in the hall, and the beautiful join in the dance; it is in vain that gladness and joy beam around thee. Thou hast, it is true, new opportunities of wrong; remember that thou hast new opportunities of repentance.
XV. RESPICE FUTURUM.
THIS day is the last of 1822! How forcibly must such a truth come home to the bosoms of those who du
ly appreciate the value of time! As the period naturally inspires many reflections of a serious nature, we