« AnteriorContinuar »
man may be fortunate in wedlock, but if he is not -!!!
I certainly thought my wife had some smartness of conversation, but find that it only amounts to a petulant dicacity. Swift explains the process by which I was deceived when he says,—“A very little wit is valued in a woman, as we are pleased with a few words spoken plain by a parrot.” Perhaps he solves the difficulty better when he adds in another place, “ Women are like riddles; they please us no longer when once they are known.”
Told of a bon-mot launched by my friend Taylor on the occasion of my nuptials. Old Lady Dotterel exclaiming that she feared I had been rather wild, and was glad to hear I was going to be married—“So am I too,” cried Taylor; but, after a moment's consideration, added in a compassionate tone,-“ although I don't know why I should say so, poor fellow, for he never did me any harm in his life.” -Went to the play-one of Reynold's comedies. Used to laugh formerly at the old fellow's reply, when he is told that bachelors are useless fellows, and ought to be taxed“ So we ought, Ma'am, for it is quite a luxury.".Admitted the fact, but could not join in the roar.Not a bad joke of the amateur, who, on examining the Seven Sacraments painted by Poussin, and criticizing the picture of Marriage, exclaimed—“ I find it is difficult to make a good marriage even in painting.” Maître Jean Piccard tells us, that when he was returning from the funeral of his wife, doing his best to look disconsolate, and trying different expedients to pro
duce a tear, such of the neighbours as had grown-up daughters and cousins came to him, and kindly implored him not to be inconsolable, as they could give him another wife. Six weeks after, says Maître Jean, I lost my cow, and, though I really grieved upon this occasion, not one of them offered to give me another.
St. Paul may have been a very wise man in his dictum about marriage ; but he is still wiser who contents himself with doing well, and leaves it to others to do better.
“ Books, like men their authors, have but one way of coming into the world; but there are ten thousand to go out of it, and return no more.”
Tale of a Tub.
Let us take off our hats and march with reverent steps, for we are about to enter into a library—that intellectual heaven wherein are assembled all those master-spirits of the world who have achieved immortality; those mental giants who have undergone their apotheosis, and from the shelves of this literary temple still hold silent communion with their mortal votaries. Here, as in one focus, are concentrated the rays of all the great luminaries, since Cadmus, the inventor of letters, discovered the noble art of arresting so subtle, volatile, and invisible a thing as Thought, and imparted to it an existence more du
rable than that of brass and marble. This was, indeed, the triumph of mind over matter ; the lighting up of a new sun; the formation of a moral world only inferior to the Almighty fiat that produced Creation. But for this miraculous process of eternizing knowledge, the reasoning faculty would have been bestowed upon man in vain : would have perished with the evanescent frame in which it was embodied; human experience would not extend beyond individual life; the wisdom of each generation would be lost to its successor, and the world could never have emerged from the darkness of barbarism. Books have been the great civilizers of men. The earliest literature of every country has been probably agricultural; for subsistence is the most pressing want of every new community: abundance, when obtained, would have to be secured from the attacks of less industrious savages; hence the necessity for the arts of war, for eloquence, hymns of battle, and funeral orations. Plenty and security soon introduce luxury and refinement; leisure is found for writing and reading; literature becomes ornamental as well as useful; and poets are valued, not only for the delight they afford, but for their exclusive power of conferring a celebrity more durable than all the fame that can be achieved by medals, statues, monuments, and pyramids, or even by the foundation of cities, dynasties, and empires.
This battered, soiled, and dog's-eared Homer, so fraught with scholastic reminiscences, is the most sublime illustration of the preservative power of poetry
that the world has yet produced. Nearly three thousand years have elapsed since the body of the author reverted to dust, and here is his mind, his thoughts, his very words, handed down to us entire, although the language in which he wrote has for many ages become silent upon the earth. This circumstance, however, is rather favourable to endurance; for a classic poem, like the Phoenix, rises with renewed vigour from the ashes of its language. He who writes in a living tongue, casts a flower upon a running stream, which buoys it up and carries it swimmingly forward for a time, but the rapidity of its flight destroys its freshness and withers its form; when, the beauties of its leaves being no longer recognizable, it soon sinks unnoticed to the bottom. A poem in a dead language is the same flower poised upon a still, secluded fountain, whose unperturbed waters gradually convert it into a petrifaction, unfading and immutable. To render Achilles invulnerable he was dipped into the river of the dead, and he who would arm his work against the scythe of Time must clothe it in an extinct language. When the Chian bard wandered through the world reciting his unwritten verses, which then existed only as a sound, Thebes with its hundred gates flourished in all its stupendous magnificence, and the leathern ladies and gentlemen who grin at us from glass cases, under the denomination of mummies, were walking about its streets, dancing in its halls, or perhaps prostrating themselves in its temples before that identical Apis, or Ox-deity, whose thigh-bone was rummaged out of the sarcopha
gus in the great pyramid, and transported to England by Captain Fitzclarence. Three hundred years rolled away after the Iliad was composed, before the she-wolf destined to nourish Romulus and Remus prowled amid the wilderness of the seven hills, whereon the marble palaces of Rome were subsequently to be founded. But why instance mortals and cities that have sprung up and crumbled into dust, since an immortal has been called into existence in the intervening period ? Cupid, the god of love, is nowhere mentioned in the works of Homer, though his mother plays so distinguished a part in the poem, and so many situations occur where he would infallibly have been introduced, had he been then enrolled in the celestial ranks. It is obvious, therefore, that he was the production of later mythologists ; but, alas! the deity and his religion, the nations that worshipped him, and the cities where his temples were reared, are all swept away in one common ruin. Mortals and immortals, creeds and systems, nations and empires,-all are annihilated together. Even their heaven is no more. Hyænas assemble upon Mount Olympus instead of deities : Parnassus is a desolate waste; and the silence of that wilderness, once covered with laurel groves and gorgeous fanes, whence Apollo gave out his oracles, is now only broken by the occasional crumbling of some fragment from the rocky summit of the two-forked hill, scaring the wolf from his den and the eagle from her cliff.
And yet here is the poem of Homer fresh and youthful as when it first emanated from his brain;