« ПредишнаНапред »
They bore him to a green grass grave, Where his loved trees might o'er him wave ; Upon that grave the moon shines bright,
And often there, they say, That angels in the silent night
A holy requiem play.
So, dearest, I have done my tale
in the loneliest room,
Of old when Greece and Rome were young,
In the dim covert of the dell
A tale of joy and sorrow
Another rhyme to-morrow.
NOS NUMERUS SUMUS.-HOR.
This merry month of May, which has just left us, is sadly shorn, methinks, of his ancient honours and privileges. Consecrated by classical verse to Love and Beauty, solemnized in the olden times of our own country by the sports of the may-pole and the village wake, he has now stooped to connect his name with a whole troop of societies, who have neither the elegance of the one, nor the joyous festivity of the other. Even that last relic of fun, the annual procession of chimney-sweepers, freed from all thought of care and chimneys for that happy day, with their bright flowers and gay ribands, has well nigh vanished. Our children will enquire with interest into the traditionary history of May Day, and Jack in the Green, will ere long be an object of antiquarian research. The May meetings are now the scene of our festivities: and sport they are, perhaps, in one sense; there is plenty of amusement for the lookers-on-rather more, it may be, than the actors intend to afford. What a host of volun. tary Societies, Companies, Unions, Associations, buzz around us. Besides the Philanthropic, Humane and Religious Parties who solemnize the return of May by speeches and waving of handkerchiefs, what tales do the advertisements in our journals tell of evenings devoted to like high objects, of after-dinner enthusiasm, and highminded diners-out. That advice so elegantly expressed some twenty years since, by a scholar well known to the readers of the Eton Bureau,
* It is hardly necessary to acknowledge the very obvious debt to the celebrated passage in the “ Excursion."
Quod agendum est,
Nummos promite liberatioreshas been acted on to admiration, and the liberality of subscribers rises to the highest temperature of munificence with the second bottle. Meanwhile it occurs to the philosophic spectator to ask what all these worthy assemblies are about; what business they have to do.; and what business they do with all their prospectuses, committees, directors and spechifiers ? In the days of Addison, gentlemen, it seems, were content to profess
that they came together for good fellowship, or for the pleasure of hearing themselves talk; now they must have some object of great national utility. It would not be difficult to lay one's finger on the originals of the Mudfog Association, or that Philanthropic Society for which Mr. Ralph Nickleby so disinterestedly laboured. The Ugly Club would have no chance against them in the race for popularity. The Everlasting Club itself would interrupt its perpetual session, to join our universal philanthropists and share-holders.
Hast thou loose cash, gentle reader, which thou art unwilling to expend in paying thy debts ? Take a share in some benevolent scheme, and advance the general good of mankind. From the Proprietary Grammar School, to the Cemetery Company, from childhood to the grave, an Englishman is the object of affectionate interest to thousands of his countrymen. There are hundreds of Societies in which we are solicited to enrol ourselves, merely for our own profit and advantage, advantage so certain, that to hint at casualties or misfortunes, exposes the sceptic to a general sneer. Why should I hesitate to add my subscription to the funds of an Ærial Transit Company, an Art-Union, or a new Insurance Office? The directors are most respectable men, the president's rank commands my confidence, and the secretary, the three consulting engineers, and the two legal advisers of the association, are already in the receipt of comfortable salaries. Even should the dividend promised to the share-holders be indefinitely deferred, what a consoling reflection to the aforesaid share-holders, that they are contributing to the advance of taste and civilization, or putting new comforts within the reach of the humblest member of society.
But it may occur to some cold, uncongenial observer to ask whether these companies and unions do not sometimes usurp functions not strictly belonging to them? Certainly in other countries the state, acting through its executive, doos perform many of the offices for which we require such an apparatus of associations and excitements. Steam carriages run not the less easily, because the railroads, which support them, have been constructed by government; the stream is not less grateful to the thirsty citizen, which has been conveyed to him by government water-works. However, in these strictly mechanical matters, if our countrymen prefer to manage them in quarterly meetings, and entrust them to directors, who go out by rotation, there is no great cause for complaint. In the conduct of moral and religious undertakings the agency of these self-constituted bodies is more liable to exception. You shall often see an assembly of men who do not agree in any code of opinion or discipline, combine with extraordinary unanimity to educate their neighbours; they can see no reason for the introduction of any topics likely to produce dissension. A monument to the memory of some great man is erected not by the national council, or the authority of the government; it would be incomplete without the publication of a subscription list, and a squabble for the appointment of the architect.
A noble church erected by the piety of some munificent churchman in days of yore, is mutilated by the combined efforts of three societies aided by the proceeds of two sermons and a bazaar. Far greater is the error (indeed it is too serious for discussion in these pages) which induces self-constituted bodies to take upon them the authority and offices of the episcopate in the conversion of the beathen to the Christian faith.