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The money paid, our bard was hurried
To the philosopher's sanctorum,
Out of his chemical de um,
And carefully put to the shutter,
For God's sake, speak, discover, utter!”
all have what we like, Simply by liking what we have !"
That we may
The Astronomical Alderman.
The pedant or scholastikos became
The butt of all the Grecian jokes ;With us, poor Paddy bears the blame
Of blunders made by other folks ; Though we have certain civic sages
Term’d Aldermen, who perpetrate
Bulls as legitimate and great,
that the classic pages
When ridicule he meant to brave,
Meaning thereby, more phool than nave, Though they who knew our cunning Thraso Pronounced it flattery to say so.
His civic brethren to express
His “ double double toil and trouble,”
Had christen’d him Sir Hubble Bubble.
With calipee and calipash
Inflicting many a horrid gash,
Pounds, he fell into a mood
Of such supreme beatitude,
To talk astronomy.
“Copernicus and Tycho Brahe,
And all those chaps have had their day;
So much his triumph seem'd to please him ;
ANTIQUITY AND POSTERITY.
Past and to come seem best; things present worst.
I INTENDED to have addressed this essay to Posterity, but I recollected the sarcasm levelled against the French author who dedicated an ode to the same personage--that it would never reach its destination; besides, I may inquire with the Irishman, “ What has Posterity ever done for us?” and why should we throw
away good advice, which will probably be unheard by the party for whom it was intended, and will be certainly unmerited ? As to Antiquity-the stream of time is the only one that cannot be navigated both ways; there is no steam-boat that can work against wind and tide, and carry a passenger or ą letter back to the fountain-head of events, or even to the last landmark that we passed in our voyage to the great ocean of Eternity. To say the truth, I have no respect whatever for that solemn bugbear, that shadowy quack, yclept Antiquity, whom I have always contemplated as a very grave impostor and reverend humbug (begging pardon for such a conjunction of phrases): and as to the good old times, of which every body talks so much and knows so little, which, like the horizon, keep flying farther backward as we attempt to approach them, I suspect that if we could once pounce upon them and subject them to our inspection, we should find them to be the very worst
times possible. The golden age is as much a fable as the golden fleece, or, if reducible to some rude elements of truth, they would not be much more magnificent than the celebrated Argonautic prize, which, divested of its poetical embellishments, was nothing more than an old sheepskin stretched across the river Phasis, to catch the particles of ore rolled down by its waters. This cant is regularly transmitted from generation to generation, and may be traced back to the revival of literature; * so that if there be any truth in the tradition, this past millennium must have flourished in the dark ages, and have expired without leaving a record of its existence. It is flattering to human pride to indulge in reveries of former happiness and perfection, because they infer a probability of their future recurrence; hence it is, that, not content with assigning a higher moral stature to our ancestors, we cling to the belief of their gigantic bodily proportions, despite of the evidence of history, of skeletons, and of Egyptians embalmed many centuries before our æra, who must have been a very diminu
* Horace bewailed the human declension of his time, and, prophesying its continuance, anticipated that his contemporaries were “ mox daturos progeniem vitiosiorem.” The learned Poggio, who was so instrumental in the revival of letters, noticing the prevalence of the same conceit in his days, says “ Nature always preserves a certain degree of motion, and it is the same in human nature. To pretend that the world is perpetually getting worse, is a declamation unsupported by any historical examination of different ages.”
tive race, unless they have shrunk terribly in the pickling
Bacon has exposed this egregious mistake, which, by confounding the world's duration with the successions of men, induces us to call those the old times in which the oldest writers and legislators flourished, and leads us by analogy to attribute to the world's infancy and inexperience that reverence which we properly feel for the wisdom of individual age. The times in which we live are in reality the oldest ; and if mere antiquity deserve our homage, let us pay it to the existing generation, for we are the real Simon Pures, and the ancients were but the sucklings and children of the world's growth. If wisdom were occasionally ordained out of their mouths, we possess it superadded to our own, with all the experience of the intervening ages. They were the raw youngsters, and we are the true Nestors. . We show deference to the matured sagacity of the man, not to the crude attempts of the schoolboy: why, then, are we to reverence those collections of men, who, in the pupilage of time, were deemed miracles of precocity if they advanced beyond their A BC? All our impressions upon this subject are but so many mischievous prejudices, which, if we could reduce them to action, would compel the moral world to go backward instead of forward; and we must totally reverse the usual operation of our minds, if we would render proper justice to ourselves and to Antiquity. Nothing can be more ephemeral than our individual existence; but we are the constituents of