« AnteriorContinuar »
a road can tell how long the miles paradise of eternal night-revels would appear, how heavily the time hangs; be a pandemonium. Nature has set how weary become the feet!
As us an example in the ordering of you trudge onward, seeing nothing seasons, and the marking of time, to give you assurance that you are which we have followed in our own nearing the goal, your heart sinks small way by instituting minor subfor want of hope. You do not know divisions. It may be said, God how far you have come; you can- made years and days, and man made not guess how far you have yet to hours and minutes and seconds. go. Oh! for a stone or post to tell It is well that the plan has been you that you have accomplished thus artificially extended, for we some definite portion of your journey, stand in need of the most frequent if it be only one single mile; for reminders of the flight of time. then you know the extent of your Without these bells of warning, toil. At such landmarks you sit clashing for ever around us, the you down, as on an oasis, and bathe sands of life would steal away like a your wayworn feet, and dry your thief, robbing us of many wholetears, and rise refreshed and strength- some seasons of thought and sober ened for the next stage on your reflection. But we take small note journey. How infinite is the mercy of these minor warnings. Carpe of Heaven in adapting times and diem is a maxim little heeded. A seasons to man's estate and condi
miserly maxim. As if a day were tion! Let us suppose a sudden of any account ! A youth with change, and that the earth occupied many years in store for him throws two years in revolving round the sun
away a day as a rich man throws - that the four seasons were doubled
away a guinea. 'There are plenty in length. How the tedium of more. The sun will rise to-morrow, opening spring would provoke us ! and to-morrow, and to-morrow, and how the glory of summer would pall my purse will fill with days as fast upon us! how the lingering promise as it is emptied.' Weeks! what do of autumn would make the heart they mark but a brief period in our sick! and how terrible would be course of toil or pleasure ? Months! the dread of the coming winter! Do we not sometimes forget whether But to realize this more forcibly, it is August or September? Years! let us imagine a day of forty-eight But here we pause. Days, weeks, hours-twenty-four hours of day, months, may preach to us in vain, and the same number of night. As but years will make us hold and it is, many of us talk of killing listen
especially when we have Time. But in such a case, would turned thirty. Before that age most not all mankind be in league to put young men are proud of the fact an end to him once and for ever? that they are growing older. They So intolerable does the bare idea hear their seniors prate of their age of such an arrangement appear, and experience, and they envy age that the order of things in the in- and experience as, at another period habited regions near the poles may of their existence, they envied almost be regarded as a defect in whiskers and tail-coats. But when the Great Scheme. These regions thirty years are passed, and the are apt to give us the idea of out- figures are rapidly leading on to houses attached to the Great Build- twoscore, a man becomes as unwilling which were never intended to ing-ay, as unwilling as any wobe inhabited except by reindeer and man-to confess that he is as old bears. Tell a fashionable cockney as he really is. He would like to of a place where they never draw be thought younger-he would like down the blinds and light the lamps to be younger. for five months and he will faint. This is about the time of life when Perhaps the seven months when the
men begin to exclaim blinds are permanently drawn down,
• Eheu fugaces anni labuntur!' and the lamps are always burning, would suit him better; but he would It has been but a line from Horace get tired even of that. The fool's hitherto, something to scan, some
thing to quote to show off your the thought of his narrowing span Latinity. But now it is a stern, ever troubled him. I can recall our inexorable voice, challenging you on brief colloquy word for word. the threshold of a new year. You * Ever trouble me! not in the have serious thoughts now; you least; not half so much as when I are wise now-now that half of your was your age.' three score is gone. Why were . But,' I said, 'does it never occur you not serious, why were you not to you that your time is getting wise before, when you were one- very short, and that you must go and-twenty, entering upon manhood some day soon ?' and life, ten years ago? 'Fool, Not at all,' he said ; 'I am strong fool, fool! If I had had such and hearty, and I feel to have just as thoughts then as I have now, what good a prospect of life as ever I had. might I not have accomplished ere When I was twenty I thought I this ?' Well, it is no use biting should die before I came of age. your lips, and stamping your foot. Now I am sixty-three, I see no It is a true and wholesome proverb reason why I shouldn't live to be a which says you cannot put an old hundred.' head upon young shoulders. There I know my friend well, and I am is no fitness in the thing: man must not going to hold him up as an have time to develop his head, as a awful example, for that would be to cabbage must have time to develop mistake his case altogether. He is its heart. I for one do not believe not a man hardened in sin, but a in William Pitt, prime minister at man hardened in years. He has got twenty-three. He might have been used to living, and thinks he will as learned as Bacon, but what could live on indefinitely just the same, as he have known of the philosophy of a man used to wealth thinks he will life? How could he have known always have turtle and champagne that which he never saw ? Solomon for dinner. I don't say that this is not was not wise because he read books. a comfortable state of feeling to arrive
According to my experience of at, so as you carry with you a pure life derived from observation, and heart and a clear conscience; but I the perusal with the keenest interest think you miss the lesson which of many biographies, 'thirty' is chasteneth a man to most profit, and the golden number in the years of a teacheth him most fully the philoman's life. This is the middle mile- sophy of life, if you escape over the stone upon which he rests to survey bridge of mid-life without passing the past and contemplate the throngh the valley of the shadow future. Woe to him who does not of serious thoughts. rest and think now! for at this time Age does not alone blanch the the mind is more candid and the hair and wrinkle the cheek. I will heart more open to the touch of not say it hardens the heart, but it truth and tenderness than it ever dulls the feelings and blunts the will be again, until, perhaps, the sensibilities.
Neither very young day when there is no hope left. If nor very old people feel the loss of you look around in your society, and friends so keenly as do persons of mark the men who have passed the
middle age. The young are too Rubicon of forty-five or fifty, still buoyant of spirit to be deeply retaining health and strength, you touched by grief: the old have stood will find that the fugaces anni trouble by many graves. At thirty you them little. Men at this age think feel the loss of friends and comless of death than youths of half panions keenly. You set out with their years. They seem to look them on the journey, full of strength, upon the midway of their age as the and life, and hope; and now they crisis of a disease, and that when have fallen by the wayside, one by they have passed this bridge they one,-those you loved best perhaps have got over the worst. I remem- —and you are alone with strangers. ber, when I first began to think There was a time when you could seriously of the fleeting years, ask- not have imagined life tolerable ing a boisterous old gentleman if without those friends of your heart;
but what have you done when they I can render him. I cannot pay sank beside you on the road, but him all the debt of grief I owe him. paused for a moment, and said, Let me wring my purse-strings if I
Poor fellow!'. dropping a single cannot wring my heart-strings. tear, and passing on. There is a I am reminded of Queen Elizabitter but profitable reflection in beth's injunctions to the discursive this. A man of great mark, much preacher at
ul's Cross. "To your esteemed, and held in high regard text, Mr. Dean-to your text!' by the circle in which he moves, Well, my text is ‘Turning over sinks into an untimely grave. Just a new leaf,' and I am coming to the for the moment there is a hush among point in my own way.
This night those who knew him ; & few tears when the last days of the year are are shed, a few grave looks are ebbing away, a fair hand playing interchanged; but to-morrow brings with my dark locks has discovered dry eyes and cheerful faces, and his a gray hair—the first gray hair! I friends eat and drink and make had never seen such a thing-never merry before the week is out. The dreamt of such a thing! At my persons who do this are not more age: I could not believe it. heartless than the rest of their kind. It was laid upon a band of black It is a failing common to humanity. velvet and placed before me. It is hard to grieve enough. Often I can resist conviction no longer. and often I have caught myself There it lies, blanched and whitelaughing and making merry when I white as the driven snow! And it is felt that I had yet a heavy debt of my hair. It seems but yesterday tears to pay to a dead friend. So it that I was at school, wishing I were will be with you. You will die, and
And now to-day I am gray, the friends who now 'grapple you and growing old. What have I to their souls with hooks of steel' done in all this time? Have I will be gay of heart with the next fulfilled a man's mission upon earth
There are some who ridicule -have I made any step towards it? the conventional ensigns of grief, Have I done any good in the most 'the trappings and the suits of infinitesimal degree, for which the woe.' They are wrong. It is the world is wiser or better? I cannot only way in which
answer my own questions. I am humanity can give permanence to dumb, and sitting here contemits sorrow. Let us show it on our plating that white hair, with the hats, if we cannot in our hearts, sense that another year is gliding that we are grieving for a friend. away, I feel that it is time in right Let crape redeem our cold stint of good earnest to turn over a new tears. I holù that the least we can leaf. I have made the resolution do for a friend when he is dead is often before, but never under the to pay all honour to his remains.
of obligation which now When he is alive, do we not set our weighs upon me. I remember a house in order to receive him; do we certain ‘Hogmanay'night, ten years not place the choicest viands before ago, when half a dozen young felhim, and allot him our best room? lows sat round a certain hospitable Does he need all the superfluities fire, which has, alas! been quenched. which we press upon him? No. We were not, any of us, in good But we are lavish in our attentions heart, and we resolved with the new that we may show him respect. year to turn over a new leaf. It And shall we have no further regard a trifling proceeding -- little for him when the spirit has ficd, better than sport.
When twelve and his clay—that clay which we o'clock struck, one laid down his honoured so much in the warmth pipe, and said, 'From this moment of life-has grown cold? Away
I give up smoking;' another threw with your hard shopkeeping maxims! his box into the fire, and said, 'I Leave me to pillow the head of my will snuff no more;' a third said, 'I dead friend upon the softest satin, forswear billiards henceforward ;' a and furnish his last house with be- fourth resolved to master the Gercoming state. It is the last service man language before that day
twelve months. These were small began to feel the burden of a rapidly leaves to turn over ; but the result increasing family. His companions was not unimportant. These vows in the race of life pitied him, and made in concert, at the midnight prophesied that he would never get hour of the last night of the old on, with so large a family dragging year, were kept for twelve months. upon him. The young man himThe smoker and the snuffer re- self quailed before his responsibility, lapsed; but the billiard-player and almost lost heart, for he had broke himself of a passion for play, already seven children, and was and was a richer man for it. The little more than thirty years of age. aspiring linguist learnt German well But on the last night of a certain enough to read it, and has been a year he made a resolution.
He man of more value in his vocation said, 'I will do my duty by my ever since. Would that I could children; I will strain every nerve meet all those friends again on the to give them a good education to last day of this waning year, that we fit them for making their way in the might resolve anew, and on a broader world.' plan! I would say to them, “Let For this end he toiled and slaved, us begin the new year with chastened and denied himself; and when his hearts, and with a resolve to shape friends and associates saw him in all our actions by the rule of rusty clothes, and with careworn Christian charity; let us measure looks, plodding on year after year, all we do by the gauge of truth, for getting poorer rather than richer, then, whatever be the result, we they sighed for his hard lot, through shall have the consolation of know- the curse of a large family that ing that we have striven to walk weighed upon him and crushed in the right path. But, alas! that him. same company will never meet to- That imagined curse became a gether on earth again.
blessing. That man is now in the It is the fashion with many per- sere and yellow leaf, happy, consons to dance the old year out, as if tented, and well provided for by his it were a matter for rejoicing that sons and daughters, who, through another period of life is gone. I the superior education they received, hold it is no time for dancing nor for are now occupying positions in life mirth. It is a time for thought and which may almost be termed brilserious reflection; a moment to liant. This is no parable. pause and gird up our loins for a I have preached my sermon, and fresh start on the journey of life. have only to add one lastly’to my The time is peculiarly favourable congregation. Don't dance out the for making new resolutions, and if old year; don't let it slip away amid they are solemnly made by a family, mirth and thoughtlessness. Seize or social circle, by the fireside, as the moment to be sober and thoughtthe bells ring out the knell of the ful-to make good resolutions for old year, they are more likely to be the future. When these are made, remembered and kept than if they with a strong heart, and a firm will, were made at a less impressive mo- then may we truly wish each other ment.
a Happy New Year. Thirty years ago, a young man
SOCIETY ON ITS FEET.
HOULD Mr. Frith ever be in want of a subject for one of his great character pictures, few scenes would afford him more opportunities for the study of the varieties of human expression than an ordinary ball-room. Not being anatomists, we are unable to account for the intimate connection between the muscles of the foot and those of the face; but that an intimate connection does exist few can doubt who ever studied the science of dancing
Dancing, like paint
ing, has its various schools. First, at least in point of seniority, comes the pre-Raphaelite school, whose followers are generally of more sober years than the ordinary run of dancers. To them aptly may be applied the German epithet of 'foot-painting. In the same manner as Mr. Millais elaborates a rose-leaf or piece of point-lace, so do they with intense earnestness finish off each individual step of a quadrille. The pre-Raphaelite is, however, seldom met with beyond the confines of a quadrille or Lancer. Sometimes a bolder spirit than his fellows may hazard a polka, but never a waltz or galop. Such delicate machinery is of no avail amid the boisterous waves of a “sensation' or a 'burlesque.'
The next—and this is a very numerous class—are what may be termed the 'scudders,' who are always ready to dance anything, and rarely think it necessary to say they would rather not dance this time.' When invited by the affable and smiling hostess, the scudder, although a graceful is by no means an easy dancer, his long, flowing steps carrying his partner along with marvellous rapidity, which, accompanied by tolerable steering, will often earn for him the reputation, at least among his own intimate circle of friends, of that ubiquitous character, the finest waltzer in London.'
A third class let us call the staggerers'—the pests of the ball-room. A staggerer can generally be detected : even before commencing a dance there is a peculiar vague and uncertain expression about the eyes—a nervous anxiety about commencing, which never fails to betray him. You see, from the moment of his starting, that he is a doomed man; his unfortunate partner, perhaps unconscious of the fate in store for her, is gazing another way. Could she but see the expression of the staggerer's face, we feel sure she would pause ere taking the fatal step.
We will suppose, however, after numerous false starts they are at last off. If, luckily, the corner from which they start happens to be entirely free from dancers, they may, perhaps, survive the first half-dozen steps without a collision; but their good fortune rarely lasts so long-certainly not longer. By a kind of magnetic attraction the staggerer seems to bear down against the first approaching couple, and then commences a series of collisions of more or less disastrous effect; thenceforth personal identity is gone, and he becomes a mere racquet-ball tossed about from one side of the room to the other, until at last he seems to have just sufficient presence of mind left to