« AnteriorContinuar »
the middle of a very fine summer, and I was residing at home in the country, alone with my mother, who was a remarkably easy and accommodating person, and to the contentment she inspired me with, I attribute a good deal of the extraordinary state I arrived at. She used frequently to say she could not help looking at me, my features were so changed. Indeed I felt a different being, light and vigorous, with all my senses sharpened. I enjoyed an absolutely glowing existence. I cannot help mentioning two or three instances in proof of my state, though I dare say they will appear almost ridiculous, but they are nevertheless true. It seems that from the surface of an animal in perfect health, there is an active exhalation going on, which repels impurity; for when I walked on the dustiest roads, not only my feet, but even my stockings, remained free from dust. By way of experiment, I did not wash my face for a week, nor did any one see, nor I feel, any difference. One day I took hold of the branch of a tree to raise myself from the ground, when I was astonished to feel such a buoyancy as to have searcely any sense of weight. In this state all my sensations were the real and marked indications of my wants. No faintness, or craving, but a pleasurable keenness of appetite told me when to eat. I was in no uncertainty as to when I ought to leave off, for I ate heartily to a certain point, and then felt distinctly satisfied, without any feeling of oppression. No heaviness, but a pleasing composure preceded my desire for rest, and I woke from one sound glowing sleep completely refreshed. Exercise was delightful to me, and enough of it was indicated by a quiescent tendency, without any harassing sensation of fatigue. I felt, and believe I was inaccessible to disease; and all this I attribute to the state of my digestion, on which it seems to me entirely depends the state of man. Being in heath, it is easy to keep so, at least where there are facilities of living rationally ; but to get into health whilst living in the world, and after a long course of ignorance or imprudence, is of difficult attainment.
I do not consider it at all necessary, or even desirable, to be strict in diet, when the constitution is once put into good order; but to accomplish that end, it is certainly essential. It also requires great observation and attention to know what to practise and what to avoid in our habits of life, and I see people constantly doing what is precisely the most prejudicial to them, without the least consciousness of their errors. It is now so long since I was in the same state myself, that I find some difficulty in recollecting with sufficient exactness what I might have thought it necessary to lay down for the benefit of valetudinarians. I will, however, in my next number, give some of the most important particulars.
THE EVE OF BATTLE.
“ The Emperor kept the watch in the midst of his brave
The night presented a remarkable spectacle :-two armies, the one of which extended its front upon a line of six hours' march, fired the air with its lights; in the other the lights seemed to be brought into one small point ; and in the one, as well as in the other, all was watchfulness and motion. The lights of the two armies were at half.cannon shot distance respectively; the sentinels were almost touching, and there was not a single motion on either side which could not be heard by the other.”
The above passage, cut out of a newspaper, is part of Bonaparte's bulletin of the battle, I believe, of Auerstadt. I give it for its resemblance to the beginning of Shakspeare's Chorus to the Fourth Act of Henry the Fifth. The bulletin was fresh from the reality ; and it makes me believe that that poet's description must have been taken from some chronicle, or from some military writer. Indeed I have often thought, that much of what is ordinarily attributed to imagination, is rather the result of a talent for happily appropriating what has been seen, or heard, or read, and that Shakspeare possessed this talent in a more eminent degree than any other person
any age or country. Notwithstanding his imperfect education, he has interwoven classical and scriptural lore into his works with more skill and beauty than Milton, or any of the most learned writers, and often in a manner nearly imperceptible. It is my belief that those who trust much to imagination and little to observation, will never make a lasting impression on mankind. Imagination, I think, can properly do little else than more or less vividly colour outlines taken from reality, and I doubt that even Ariel and Caliban are altogether exceptions.
I subjoin the greater part of the Chorus, on account of other resemblances, besides those in its beginning, to the extract from the bulletin. In the first place, Henry and Bonaparte are equally represented as keeping the watch in the midst of their men. Secondly, the presence of the hero of Agincourt is made to produce the same re-animating effect, which the Duke of Wellington's produced upon his fainting troops towards the conclusion of the battle of Waterloo ;—and lastly, Bonaparte's apprehension through the night lest the English should be gone, as mentioned by General Gourgaud, and the exclamation attributed to him, when he saw them in the morning—“ Now I have these English dogs!”—find a parallel in the national feeling described by Shakspeare. Dr. Johnson, whose strength did not lie in poetical criticism, coldly says of these choruses, “ The lines given to the chorus have many admirers; but the truth is, that in them a little may be praised, and much must be forgiven.”
camp, through the foul womb of night,
Fire answers fire! and through their paly flames
who will behold
If you desire to enjoy life, avoid unpunctual people. They impede business and poison pleasure. Make it your own rule not only to be punctual, but a little beforehand. Such a habit secures a composure which is essential to happiness. For want of it many people live in a constant fever, and put all about them into a fever too. To prevent the tediousness of waiting for others, carry with you some means of occupation--a Horace or Rochefoucault, for example-books which can be read by snatches, and which afford ample materials for thinking
In looking into Coleridge's Table Talk the other day, I met with a passage in high commendation of the poet Cowley's Essays. It put me in mind of an extract I formerly made from the one in praise of agriculture, which I give below on account of its beauty. On some future occasion I mean to pursue the subject, with reference to its present state in this country
EXTRACT FROM COWLEY.
The first wish of Virgil was to be a good philosopher—the second, a good husbandman; and God (whom he seemed to understand better than most of the most learned heathens) dealt wth him just as he did with Solomon-because he prayed for wisdom in the first place, he added all things else, which were subordinately to be desired. He made him one of the best philosophers and best husbandmen ; and, to adorn and communicate both these faculties, the best poet. He made him, besides all this, a rich man, and a man who desired to be no richer. To be a husbandman, is but a retreat from the city; to be a philosopher, from the world; or rather, a retreat from the world as it is man's, into the world as it is God's.
But since Nature denies to most men the capacity or appetite, and Fortune allows but to a very few the opportunities or possibility of applying themselves wholly to philosophy, the best mixture of human affairs that we can make, is to be found in the employments of a country life. It is, as Columella calls it, “ Res sine dubitatione proxima et quasi consanguinea sapientiæ,” the nearest neighbour, or rather next in kindred, to philosophy. Varro says, the principles of it are the same which Ennius made to be the principles of all nature, earth, water, air, and the sun.
It does certainly com