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piring, charitable, and acute; who, sprung from the people, naturally sympathize with their interests; who, being permitted to grasp at the honours of the state, are supplied with high motives to preserve its constitution; and who, if not very eager for improving the laws, at least keep unceasing watch over every attempt to infringe on the rights they sustain, or to pervert them to purposes of oppression. If they are too prone to change their party as they rise, they seldom do so from base or sordid motives, and often infuse a better spirit into those whose favours they consent to receive.
Let no one of those who, with a consciousness of fine talents, has failed in his profession, abate his self-esteem, or repine at his fortune. A life of success, though a life of excitement, is also a life of constant toil, in which the pleasures of contemplation and of society are sparingly felt, and which sometimes tends to a melancholy close. Besides, the best part of our days is past before the struggle begins. Success itself has nothing half so sweet as the anticipations of boyish ambition and the partial love by which they were fostered. A barrister can scarcely hope to begin a career of anxious prosperity till after thirty; and surely he who has a tained that age, after a youth of robust study and manly pleasure, with firm friends, and an unspotted character, has no right to complain of the world!
THE WINE CELLAR.
[New Monthly Magazine.]
Facilis descensus Averni,
VIRG. In the deep discovery of the subterranean world, a shallow part would satisfy some inquirers, who if two or three yards were opened beneath the surface, would not care to rake the bowels of Potosi and regions towards the centre.
Sir Thomas BROWNE.
Men have always attached a peculiar interest to that region of the earth which extends for a few yards beneath its surface. Below this depth the imagination, delighting to busy itself among the secrets of Time and Mortality, hath rarely cared to penetrate. A few feet of ground may suffice for the repose of the first dwellers of the earth until its frame shall grow old and perish. The little coin, silent picture of forgotten battles, lies among the roots of shrubs and vegetables for centuries, till it is turned into light by some careful husbandman, who ploughs an inch deeper than his fathers. The dead bones which, loosened from their urns, gave occasion to Sir Thomas Browne's noblest essay, “ had outlasted the living ones of Methusalem, and in a yard under ground, and thin walls of clay, outworn all the strong and spacious buildings above them, and quietly rested under the drums and tramplings of three conquests.” Superstition chooses the subterranean space which borders on the abodes of the living, and ranges her vaults and mysterious caverns near to the scenes of revelry, passion, and joy; and within this narrow rind rest the mighty products of glorious vintages, the stores of that divine juice which, partaking of the rarest
qualities of physical and intellectual nature, blends them in happier union within us. Here, in this hallowed ground, the germs of inspiration and the memorials of decay lie side by side, and Bacchus holds divided empire with the King of Terrors.
As I sat indulging this serious vein of reflection some years ago, when my relish of philosophy and port was young, a friend called to remind me that we had agreed to dine together with rather more luxury than usual. I had made the appointment with boyish eagerness, and now started gladly from my solitary reveries to keep it. The friend with whom I had planned our holiday, was one of those few persons whom you may challenge to a convivial evening with a mathematical certainty of enjoying it;—which is the rarest quality of friendship. Many who are equal to great exigencies, and would go through fire and water to serve you, want the delicate art to allay the petty irritations, and heighten the ordinary enjoyments of life, and are quite unable to make themselves agreeable at a tête-à-tête dinner. Not so my companion; who zealous, prompt, and consoling in all seasons of trial, had good sense for every little difficulty, and a happy humour for every social moment; at all times a better and wiser self. Blest with good but never boisterous spirits; endowed with the rare faculty not only of divining one's wishes but instantly making them his own; skilful in sweetening good counsel with honest flattery; able to bear with enthusiasm in which he might not participate, and to avoid smiling at the follies he could not help discerning; ever ready to indulge the secret wish of his guest “for another bottle," with heart enough to drink it with him, and head enough to take care of him when it was gone, he was (and yet is) the pleasantest of advisers, the most genial of listeners, and the quietest of lively companions. On this memorable day he had, with his accustomed forethought, given particular orders for our entertainment, and I hastened to enjoy it with him, little thinking how deep and solemn was the pleasure which awaited us.
We arrived at the — Coffee House about six on a bright afternoon in the middle of September, and found every thing ready and excellent; and the turtle magnificent and finely relieved by lime punch effectually iced; grilled salmon
crisply prepared for its appropriate lemon and mustard; a leg of Welch mutton just tasted as a “sweet remembrancer" of its heathy and hungry hills; woodcocks with thighs of exquisite delicacy and essence “deeply interfused” in thick soft toast; and mushrooms, which Nero justly called “the flesh of the gods," simply broiled and faintly sprinkled with Cayenne.* Our conversation was, of course, confined to mutual invitations and expressive criticisms on the dishes; the only table-talk which men of sense can tolerate. But the most substantial gratifications, in this world at least, must have an end; and the last mushroom was at length eaten. Unfortunately for the repose of the evening, we were haunted by the recollection of some highly flavoured port, and, in spite of strong evidence of identity from conspiring waiters, sought for the like in vain. Bottle after bottle was produced and dismissed as “not the thing," till our generous host, somewhat between liberal hospitality and just impatience, smilingly begged us to accompany him into the cellar, inspect the whole of “his little stock," and choose for ourselves! We took him at his word; another friend of riper years and graver authority joined us; and we prepared to follow our guide who stood ready to conduct us to the banks of Lethe. All the preparations, like those which preceded similar descents of the heroes of old, bespoke the awfulness and peril of the journey. Our host preceded us with his massive keys
* This trait sufficiently accounts for the flowers which were seen scattered on the sepulchre of Nero, when the popular indignation raged highest against his memory-the grateful Roman had eaten his mushroom under imperial auspices. Had Lord Byron been acquainted with the flavour of choice mushrooms, he would have turned to give it honour due after the following stanza, one of the noblest in that work, which, with all its faults of waywardness and haste, is a miracle of language, pathos, playfulness, sublinity and sense,
When Nero perish'd by the justest doom
to perform an office collateral to that of St. Peter; behind, a dingy imp of the nether regions stood with glasses in his hands and a prophetic grin on his face; and each of us was armed with a flaming torch to penetrate the gloom which now stretched through the narrow entrance before us. We descended the broken and winding staircase with cautious steps, and, to confess the truth, not without some apprehension for our upward journey, yet hoping to be numbered among that select class of Pluto's visiters, “quos ardens evexit ad athera virtus.” On a sudden, turning a segment of a mighty cask, we stood in the centre of the vast receptacle of spirituous riches. The roof of solid and stoutly compacted brickwork, low, but boldly arched, looked substantial enough to defy all attacks of the natural enemy, water, and resist a second deluge. From each side ran long galleries, partially shown by the red glare of the torches, extending one way far beneath the busy trampling of the greatest shopkeepers and stock-jobbers in the world; and, on the other, below the clamour of the Old Bailey Court and the cells of its victims. What a range : Here rest, cooling in the deepdelved cells, the concentrated essences of sunny years! In this archway huge casks of mighty wine are scattered in bounteous confusion, like the heaped jewels and gold on the “rich strond” of Spenser, the least of which would lay Sir Walter's Fleming low ! Throughout that long succession of vaults, thousands of bottles, “in avenues disposed,” lie silently waiting their time to kindle the imagination, to sharpen the wit, to open the soul, and to unchain the trembling tongue. There may you feel the true grandeur of quiescent power, and walk amidst the palpable elements of madness or of wisdom. What stores of sentiment in that butt of raciest Sherry : What a fund of pensive thought! What suggestions for delicious remembrance : What “aids to reflection " (genuine as those of Coleridge) in that Hock of a century old. What sparkling fancies, whirling and foaming, from a stout body of thought in that full and ripe Champaigne! What mild and serene philosophy in that Burgundy, ready to shed “its sunset glow” on society and nature! This pale Brandy, softened by age, is the true “spirit” which “disturbs us with the joy of elevated thoughts.” That Hermitage, stealing gently into the chambers of the brain, shall make us