Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

against any manifestation of show- the case now? Apathy is excel-
ing pleasure in anything. “ It lence, and the nearest approach to
wasn't bad,” is about the highest ex- insensibility is the greatest emin-
pression of our praise; and I doubt ence attainable.
if we would accord more to heaven In the Regency, when George
-if we got there. The grand test IV. was Prince, the clever talkers
of your modern Englishman is, to certainly abounded; and men talk
bear any amount of amusement well or ill exactly as there is a de-
without wincing: no pleasure is to mand for the article. The wittiest
wring a smile from him, nor is any conversationalist that ever existed
expectancy to interest, or any un would be powerless in a circle of
looked-for event to astonish. He these modern“ Unsurprised ones.”
would admit that “the Governor" Their vacant self-possession would
meaning his father-was surprised; put down all the Grattans and
he would concede the fact, as re Currans and Jeffreys and Sydney
cording some prejudice of a by- Smiths in the world. I defy the
gone age. As the tone of manners most brilliant, the readiest, the
and observance has grown univer- most genial of talkers to vivify the
sal, so has the very expression of mass of inert dulness he will find
the features. They are intensely now at every dinner and in every
like each other. We are told that drawing-room.
a shepherd will know the actual The code of modern manners is
faces of all the sheep in his flock, to make ease the first of all objects;
distinguishing each from each at a and, in order that the stupidest man
glance. I am curious to know if may be at his ease, the ablest is to
the Bishop of London knows even be sacrificed. He who could bring
the few lost sheep that browse vast stores of agreeability to the
about Rotten Row of an afternoon, common stock must not show his
and who are so familiar to us in wares, because there are a store of
Leech's sketches. There they are incapables who have nothing for the
-whiskered, bearded, and bored; market.
fine-looking animals in their way, They have a saying in Donegal,
but just as much living creatures that “the water is so strong it re-
in 'Punch' as they are yonder. It quires two whiskies;” but I would
is said that they only want the sti- ask what amount of “ spirits
mulus of a necessity, something of would enliven this dreariness; what
daring to tempt, or something of infusion of pleasantry would make
difficulty to provoke them, to be just Brown and Jones endurable when
as bold and energetic as ever their multiplied by what algebraists call
fathers were. I don't deny it. I an x—an unknown quantity-of
am only complaining of the system other Browns and Joneses ?
which makes sheep of them, reduces We are constantly calling atten-
life to a dreary table-land, making tion to the fact of the influence
the stupid fellows the standard, and exerted over morals and manners
coming down to their level for the in France by the prevailing tone
sake of uniformity. Formerly they of the lighter literature, and we
who had more wit, more smart mark the increasing licentiousness
ness, more worldly knowledge than that has_followed such works as
their neighbours, enjoyed a certain those of Eugene Sue and the young-
pre- eminence; the flash of their er Dumas. Let us not forget to
agreeability lighted up the group look at home, and see if, in the
they talked in, and they were days when the Waverleys consti-
valued and sought after. Now the tuted almost all our lighter read-
very homage rendered, even in this ing, the tone of society was not
small way, was at least a testimony higher, the spirit more heroic, the
that superiority was recognised current of thought and expression
and its claims admitted. What is purer, than in these realistic days,

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

when we turn for amusement to and it is my pride to remember that descriptions of every quaint vulga- I have seen some of those who were, rity that makes up the life of the in an age of no common convivial boarding house or the strolling the excellence, amongst the first and atre.

the greatest. They are gone, and I The glorious heroism of Scott's may speak of them by name—Lord novels was a fine stream to turn Plunkett, the Chief-Justice Bushe, into the turbid river of our world- Mr Casey, Sir Philip Crampton, liness and money-seeking. It was Barré Beresford-I need not go on. of incalculable benefit to give men I have but to recall the leading even a passing glance of noble de men at the bar, to make up a list of votion, high-hearted courage, and the most brilliant talkers that ever unsullied purity.

delighted society. Nor was the soil I can remember the time when, exhausted with these; there came, as freshmen in our first year, we so to say, a second crop-a younger went about talking to each other order of men—less versed in affairs, of 'Ivanhoe' and 'Kenilworth;' it is true, less imbued with that and I can remember, too, when the vigorous conviviality that prevailglorious spirit of those novels had ed in their fathers' days—but of so possessed us, that our romance these I must not speak, for they elevated and warmed us to an un have now grown up to great digniconscious imitation of the noble ties and stations, they have risen to thoughts and deeds we had been eminence and honour and repute, reading.

and might possibly be ashamed if Smile if you like at our boyish it were known that they were once enthusiasm, it was better than the so agreeable. Let me, however, remocking spirit engendered by all cord one who is no more, but who this realism, or the insensate crav- possessed the charm of companing after stimulus taught by sensa- ionship to a degree I never knew tion novels,

equalled in all my varied experienNow, I am not old enough to ces of life,--one who could bring remember the great talkers of the the stores of a well-stocked mind, time when George III. was King, rich in scholarship, to bear upon or those who made Carlton House any passing incident, blended with famous ; but I belonged to a gene- the fascination of a manner that ration where these men were re was irresistible. Highly imaginamembered, and where it was com- tive, and with a power of expresmon enough to hear stories of their sion that was positively marvellous, Attic nights, those noctes coenæque he gave to ordinary conversation an deorum which really in brilliancy elevation that actually conferred must have far transcended anything honour on those who were associated that Europe could boast of conver with it; and high above all these sational power. The youth of the gifts and graces, a noble nature, time I speak of were full of these generous, hopeful, and confiding. traditions. “If I am not the rose, With an intellect that challenged I grew near one, was no foolish any rivalry, he had, in all that boast; and certainly there was both touched worldly matters, the simin the tone of conversation and the plicity of a child. To my countemper of society a sentiment that trymen it is needless I should tell showed how the great men had of whom I speak ; to others, I influenced their age, and how, even say his name was Mortimer O'Sulafter their sun had gone down, a livan. The mellow cadence of his warm tint remained to remind the winning voice, the beam of his world of the glorious splendour honest eye, the generous smile that had departed.

that never knew scorn, are all beBeing an Irishman, it is to Ire- fore me as I write, and I will write land I must go for my illustration, no more.

OF OUR BROTHERS BEYOND THE BORDER.

These poor

There is a story current of a cer were less eligible company than that tain very eminent French natural- he had just quitted at the café. ist, who is so profoundly impressed I own I have not seen them durby the truth of the Darwinian the- ing the moment of the Professor's ory, that he never passes the cage passage. I am unable to state auwhere the larger apes are confined thentically whether all this be as in the Jardin des Plantes without I surmise, but I have a strong taking off his hat, making a pro- impression it must be. Indeed, found obeisance, and wishing them reflecting on the habits and modes a bon jour.

of the species, I should be rather This recognition is touching and disposed to believe them given to graceful. The homage of the witches an exuberant show of gratitude to him who should beking hereafter, than to anything like indifference, had in it a sort of mockery that and expect to witness demonstramade it horrible ; but here we have tions of delight more natural posan act of generous courtesy, based sibly than graceful. alike on the highest discoveries of Now, I have not the most remote science and the rules of the truest intention of impugning the Profesgood-breeding

sor's honesty. I give him creditThe learned Professor, with all full credit—for high purpose, and the instincts of great acquirements for high courage. and much self-knowledge united, brothers of ours," says he, "have admits them at once to equality tails, it is true, and they have not and fraternity—the liberty, perhaps, the hypocampus major; but let me they will have to wait some time for; ask you, Mon. le Duc, or you, Monbut in that they are no worse off seigneur the Archbishop, will you than some millions of their fellow- dare to affirm on oath that you countrymen.

yourself are endowed with a hypoOne might speculate long I campus major or minor ? Are you don't know exactly how profitably prepared to stand forward and de-on the sense of gratitude these clare that the convolutions of your creatures must feel for this touching brain are of the regulation standard kindness, how they must long for that the medullary part is not disthe good man's visit, how they must proportioned to the cineritious wonder by what steps he arrived that your falx is not thicker or thinat this astonishing knowledge, how ner than it ought—and that your surprised they must feel that he optic thalami are not too prominent ? does not make more converts; And if you are not ready to do this, and, last of all, what pains they what avails all your assumption of must take to exhibit in their out- superiority ? In these — they are ward bearing and behaviour that not many—lie the alleged differthey are not unworthy of the high ences between you and your caged consideration he bestows on them ! cousins yonder.' Thus speaks, or Before him no monkey-tricks, no might speak, the Professor; and, I apish indecorums even of repeat, I respect his candour; but those passing levities which young still I would venture to submit one gorillas will indulge in just like small, perhaps ungenerous doubt, other youths. No; all must be and ask, Would he, acting on the staid, orderly, and respectful-heads noble instincts that move him, vote held well up-hands at rest—tails these creatures an immediate and nowhere ; in fact, a port and bear- entire emancipation, or would he ing that would defy the most scru not rather wait a while

—a few years, tinising observer to say that they say — till the habit of sitting on

none

own race.

chairs had worn off some of the qualify a person from being a pretail, and a greater frequency with fect? Is an additional joint in the society suggested not to store up coccyx to prevent a man sitting on their dinner in their jaws ? Would the woolsack, or an extra inch in he like to see them at once take the astragalus to interfere with his their places in public life, become wearing spurs ? If there be minute public functionaries, and ministers, differences between us, intercourse and grand cordons ?

will abolish them. It will be of inWould he not rather, with that estimable service to yourselves to philosophy his country eminently come into contact with these fresh, teaches, say, “I will do the pity fine, generous natures, uncontaminand the compassion. To me beated by the vices of an effete and the sympathetic part of a grace- worn-out civilisation. Great as are ful sorrow. To posterity I bequeath the benefits you extend to them, the recognition of these poor cap- they will repay you tenfold in the tivez. Let them be liberated, by all advantages to yourselves. Away means; but let it be when I shall with your unworthy prejudices be no longer here to witness it. about a 'black pigment' and long Let others face that glorious mil heels! Take them to your hearts lennium of gorilla greatness." and your hearths. You will find

I am afraid he would reason in them brave—ay, braver than your this fashion; it is one thing to have

Their teeth are whiter an opinion, and to have what French- and their nails longer; there is not men call the “courage of your opin- a relation in life in which you will ion.” He would say, If Nature dare to call yourself their better." work surely, she works slowly; her I will go no farther, not merely changes are measured, regular, and because I have no liking for my progressive. With her there are no theme, but because I am pilfering. paroxysms; all is orderly—all is All these arguments—the very words gradual. It took centuries of cen themselves—I have stolen from an turies to advance these poor crea American writer, who, in Horace tures to the point they occupy; their Greeley fashion, is addressing his next stage on the journey is perhaps countrymen on the subject of negro countless years away. I will not equality. He not alone professes attempt to forestall what I cannot to show the humanity of the project, assist.

I will let Time do its work. but its policy_its even necessity. They are not ill-treated, besides; Hedeclares to the whites, “You want that large creature with the yellow these people; without' them you eyebrows grinned at me very pleas will sink lower and lower into that antly this morning, and the she- effete degeneracy into which years ourangoutang was whipping her of licentiousness have sunk you. infant most naturally as I came These gorillas—black men, I mean by.”

care virtuous; they are abstemi“What a cold-blooded philan ous; they have a little smell, but thropy is this !” cries another. no sensuality; they will make ad“You say these are our brothers mirable wives for your warriors ; and our kinsmen ; you declare that and who knows but one may be the anatomy only can detect some small mother of a President as strikingly and insignificant discrepancies be- handsome as Ape Lincoln himself! tween us, and that even in these There is no doubt much to be said there are some of whose functions for our long-heeled friends, whether we know nothing, and others, such with or without a hypocampus as the prehensile power, where the major. I am not very certain that ape has the best of it. What do we compliment them in the best you mean by keeping them there taste when the handsomest thing *cribbed, cabined, and confined' ? we can say of them is, that they Is a slight frontal inclination to dis are very like ourselves! It is our

human mode, however, of express- sant on seeing a pretty girl, ‘How ing admiration, and resembles the handsome she'd be if she only had exclamation of the Oberland pea

a goître !""

THE RULE NISI.

A great many sea-captains dis- men rich enough to come to Parliacourage the use of life-preservers ment for relief ; we did with the and floating-belts on board ships of question what some one proposed war, on the simple ground that men we should do with poisons-make should not be taught to rely for them so costly that only wealthy their safety on anything but what men should be able to afford the conduces to save the ship. “Let luxury of suicide. So long as men there be but one thought, one ef- believed that divorce was immoral, fort,” say they, and let' that be I don't think any one complained for the common safety.” If they that it should be limited to persons be right—and I suspect they are in affluence. We are a lord-loywe have made a famous blunder by ing race, we English, and are quite our late legislation about divorce. ready to concede that our superiors Of all the crafts that ever were should have more vices than ourlaunched, marriage is one from selves, just as they have more horses which fewest facilities of desertion and more pheasants; and we deemed should be provided.

it nothing odd or strange that he, Romanism makes very few mis- whose right it was to walk into takes in worldly matters. There is the House of Peers, should walk no feature of that Church so re out of matrimony when it suited markable as its deep study and him. thorough acquaintance with all the Who knows ?-perhaps we were moods and wants and wishes of flattered by the thought that great humanity. Whatever its demerits, folk so far conceded to a vulgar preone cannot but admit that no other judice as to marry at all. Perhaps religion ever approached it in inti we hailed their entrance into conmacy with the human heart in all jugalism as we are wont to do their its emotions and in all its strivings, appearance at a circus or a public whether for good or evil.

garden-a graceful acknowledgment Rome declares against all breach that they occasionally felt someof the marriage tie. The Church, thing like ourselves : at all events, with a spirit of concession it knows we liked it, and we showed we liked how to carry through all its deal- it by the zeal with which we read ings, modifies, softens, assuages, but those description in newspapers of never severs conjugalism. It makes marriages in high life,and the delight the tie occasionally a slip-knot, but with which we talked to each other it never cuts the string, and I of people we never saw, nor probably strongly suspect that it is wise in ever should see. It was not too much, its legislation.

therefore, to concede to them this For a great many years we gave privilege of escape.

It was very the policy that amount of imitation condescending of them to come to we are wont to accord to Romanist the play at all ; we had no right to practices; that is, we follow them insist that they should sit out the in part—we adopt the coat, but, to whole performance. show that we are not mere imita By degrees, however, what with tors, we cut off one of the skirts ; rich cotton-lords, and cheap cyclopæand if we do not make the garment dias, and penny trains, and popular more graceful, we at least consult lectures, there got up a sort of imour dignity, and that is something. pression-it was mere impression We made divorce the privilege of for a long time—that great folk had

« ПредишнаНапред »