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Whereat our Muggs with anger fumed,
They did seem anxious to prevent 'em,
Into his eye with such momentum,
the cart a tilt,
Into a dunghill's sable surges,
CHILDREN. DEATH hath not any appalling concomitants, either as a “thin melancholy privation, or more confounding positive.” He is the sleeping partner of life, to whom we give ourselves up every night without any compunctious visitings: we know not, when we enter them, that the sheets of our bed shall not prove our winding sheets, yet our hearts quake not. We walk arm-in-arm with him, almost every hour; and when his gentle hand draws the curtain around us, and covers us up in our narrow bed, what is it but to fall
asleep, and to have a little longer to wait for the daylight ? As I return to my sequestered quiet cottage, after the bustle of a day in London, and a glimpse at the pageantry of the theatre; so, after the great drama of life, shall we return to the tranquil non-existence from which we started ;-we had our turn, and must make room for others.
Ay, but to die, and go we not where,
Shakspeare, with his usual insight into human nature, has put the cowardly speech of which this is the commencement, with all its monstrous notions of the Deity, and its abject and grovelling conclusion, into the mouth of Clodio, a dastard, who would purchase a pittance of life with his sister's dishonour.—Well might she exclaim
Yet there is some force in the earnestness with which he urges
the uncertain nature of death. 66 We know what we are, but we know not what we may be.” And yet, after all, it is the love of what we are going from, more than the fear of what we are going to, that makes us draw back our foot when the grave opens beneath it. Three-fourths of mankind, in their last moments, seem more anxious to be recorded in
this world than favoured in the next; and many masses ostensibly ordered for the repose of the soul have really proceeded from a desire for perpetuating some remembrance of the body. No one likes to drop into the earth, like a pebble into the ocean, and let the waves of eternity close over him, without some record or memorial. We wish to keep up some connexion with mortality, however slight; and we stretch back our shadowy arms from the tomb to snatch at a phantom. Hence all our posthumous vanity and monumental earth-clinging,—from the dateless pyramids, down to the recent will of Mrs. Mary Hoggins, of St. Olave, Southwark, who bequeaths to the parish ringers “ a leg of mutton and trimmings, FOR EVER, for ringing a peal of triple-bob-majors on the anniversary of her birth.” In commemorating its donor, the leg of mutton cannot fail more egregiously than the pyramids, which have entombed the names as well as the bodies of their builders :-“ they've been so long remembered they're forgot ;"-or, if Cheops and Cephrenes be indeed their founders, what have they perpetuated? An empty word, a sound, which we cannot incorporate in flesh and blood ; no, nor even in bones and dust, for Cambyses and Belzoni were both forestalled. The monarch's sarcophagus was found empty, while the bones of the sacred bull were still whole and recognizable. What a satire on human ambition !Of the Mausoleum, one of the seven wonders of the world, not an atom remains :-we know nothing of him, who for so many centuries was its solitary tenant, while the name of the Queen who built it is familiar
in our mouths, and will travel securely down to futurity from her having imparted it to a humble flower, What a triumph for nature !-I always keep some of these historical plants by me :-their hoar leaves tell a more affecting tale than that inscribed by Apollo on the petals of the hyacinth.
Ingenuity has been exhausted in varying contrivances to defraud oblivion. Doggett has clothed his memory in a waterman's coat and badge; while another actor serves up the embalmed mummy of his name in a twelfth cake, to be annually devoured in the green-room. But the substance is soon lost in the shadow—the symbol recalls no recollection of the original; nothing remains but the name of a nonentity, and what is this worth ?-Bucephalus perpetuated his name, as well as Alexander ; the incendiary of Diana's temple eternised his, though it was forbidden to be uttered, while that of its first builder is lost. Vice, indeed, and folly, have better chances of immor. tality than virtue and wisdom ; for the former only are registered in our Courts and Calends; and as blood and misery are the materials with which history builds, one destroyer of mankind shall outlast fifty benefactors. The Chinese have no annals, for they have had no wars.
Poor-spirited wretch that I am ! -no circumstances could have made me a hero, for, with shame I confess it, I would rather be a forgotten philosopher, than a remembered tyrant.
Poets have a much more substantial existence after death. The “ non omnis moriar" is not altogether a vain boast ; their minds actually survive: we are con
versant with their thoughts, words, and actions; we see a whole and consistent character, disembodied, indeed, but still sufficiently vital to become companionable, and to participate in a species of communion between the living and the dead. But, alas ! how quickly “comes the blind Fury with the abhorred shears," and cuts off, for us moderns at least, even this precarious tenure. Only 420 years have elapsed since the death of Chaucer, and his dialect has become obsolete, even before his monument has quite decayed, -though that, too, is in a forlorn plight, and I would cheerfully subscribe towards its restoration, were it only for his having beaten a Franciscan Friar in Fleetstreet. Gower, his contemporary, sleeps in St. Saviour's, Southwark, with his three great works under his head, where, and where only, their titles are still read: nor will that be practicable much longer ; for, though his tomb was repaired only thirty years ago,
it is again, from the dampness of its situation, hurrying to oblivion. The most popular of the moderns must soon become antiquated ;-it is the dead languages only that live. Children alone can perform the seemingly inconsistent office of sweetening both life and death; throwing a charm over existence, and making “the foul ugly phantom” approach, like the destroyer of Hipparchus, with triumphant garlands around his weapon. Children are the best living possession and posthumous existence; and how delightful, as well as beneficial. What a beautiful mystery is a child ! How awful in its incomprehensibility ;-how enchanting an essence of human nature, with all its virtues