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of them was employed in praising his friends and himself, or condemning his enemies; and unfortunately, as I had neither, I suffered the cruellest mortification—neglect.
5. Having a mind too proud to stoop to such indignities, and yet a fortune too humble to hazard a second attempt for fame, I was now obliged to take a middle course, and write for bread. But I was unqualified for a profession where mere industry alone was to ensure success. The public were more importantly employed than to observe the easy simplicity of my style or the harmony of my periods. Sheet after sheet was thrown off to oblivion. My essays were buried among the essays upon liberty, Eastern tales, and cures for the bite of a mad dog; while others wrote better because they wrote faster than I.
6. My patience was now quite exhausted; stung with the thousand indignities I had met with, I was willing to cast myself away, and only wanted the gulf to receive me.
7. As I was going out with that resolution, I was met at the door by the captain of a ship with whom I had formerly some little acquaintance. "I fancy you might," said he, "be very easily put into a genteel way of bread. Take my advice. My ship sails to-morrow for Amsterdam. What if you go in her as a passenger? The moment you land, all you have to do is to teach the Dutchmen English, and I'll warrant you'll get pupils and money enough." I agreed with his proposal, and embarked next day to teach the Dutch English in Holland. The wind was fair, our voyage short, and, after having paid my passage with half my movables, I found myself, as if fallen from the skies, a stranger in one of the principal streets of Amsterdam. In this situation I was unwilling to let any time pass unemployed in teaching. I addressed myself, therefore, to two or three of those I met, whose appearance seemed most promising; but it was impossible to make ourselves mutually understood. It was not till this very moment I recollected that in order to teach the Dutchmen English, it was necessary that they should teach me Dutch.
8. This scheme thus blown up, I had some thoughts of fairly shipping back to England again; but falling into company with an Irish student who was returning from Louvain, I learned that there were not two men in his whole university who understood Greek. This amazed me; I instantly resolved to travel to Louvain, and there live by teaching Greek.
9. I set boldly forward the next morning. When I came
to Louvain, I was resolved not to go sneaking to the lower professors, but openly tendered my talents to the principal himself. I went, had admittance, and offered him my service as master of the Greek language, which I had been told was a desideratum in his university. The principal seemed at first to doubt my abilities, but of these I offered to convince him by turning a part of any Greek author he could fix upon into Latin. Finding me perfectly earnest in my proposal, he addressed me thus: "You see me, young man," continued he; "I never learned Greek, and I don't find that I have ever missed it. I have had a doctor's cap and gown without Greek; I have ten thousand florins a year without Greek; I eat heartily without Greek; and, in short," continued he, "as I don't know Greek, I do not believe there is any good in it."
10. I was now too far from home to think of returning, so I resolved to go forward. I had some knowledge of music, with a tolerable voice, and now turned what was my amusement into a present means of subsistence. I passed among the harmless peasants of Flanders, and among such of the French as were poor enough to be very merry, for I ever found them sprightly in proportion to their wants. Whenever I approached a peasant's house towards nightfall, I played one of my most merry tunes, and that procured me not only a lodging, but subsistence for the next day. I once or twice attempted to play for people of fashion, but they always thought my performance odious, and never rewarded me, even with a trifle. This was to me the more extraordinary, as whenever I used in better days to play for company, when playing was my amusement, my music never failed to throw them into raptures, and the ladies especially; but as it was now my only means, it was received with contempt —a proof how ready the world is to underrate those talents by which a man is supported.
11. I now, therefore, was left once more upon the world at large; but then it was a thing I was used to. However, my skill in music could avail me nothing in a country where every peasant was a better musician than I; but by this time I had acquired another talent which answered my purpose as well, and this was a skill in disputation. In all the foreign universities and convents there are, upon certain days, philosophical theses maintained, against every adventitious disputant, for which, if the champion opposes with any dexterity, he can claim a gratuity in money, a dinner, and a bed for one night. In this manner, therefore, I fought my way towards England, walked along from city to city, examined mankind more nearly, and, if I may so express it, saw both sides of the picture. My remarks, however, are but few: I found that monarchy was the best government for the poor to live in, and commonwealths for the rich. I found that riches in general were in every country another name for freedom, and that no man is so fond of liberty himself as not to be desirous of subjecting the will of some individuals in society to his own.
SPELL AND PRONOUNCE—
sardonic, sneering, bitter.
An anodyne is a medicine for assuaging pain; here, the phrase stands for a rope, and means "may he be hanged, if," &c.
ability, lit'erature, the art of
writing books. Oblivion, forgctfulness. indig nities, insults. LiOuvain', a university
town of Flanders, gratuity, a gift.
desidera tum, a thing needed.
the'ses, subjects of compositions or of argument.
adventitious, chance, dexterity, cleverness.
DETACHED SELECTIONS FROM COWPEE.
William CowrKii, author of u Tho Task" and other famous poems, was born in 1731, and died, after a life darkened by frequent attacks of insanity, in 1800.
O How unlike the complex works of man,
Heaven's easy, artless, unencumbered plan j
No meretricious graces to beguile,
No clustering ornaments to clog the pile j
From ostentation as from weakness free,
It stands like the cerulean arch we see,
Majestic in its own simplicity.
Inscribed above the portal, from afar
Conspicuous as the brightness of a star,
Legible only by the light they give,
Stand tho soul-quickening words—Believe And Live. SPELL AND PRONOUNCE— u nencu m'b e r e d, cerulean, hoavonly. legible, that can be
simple. conspic'uous, easily read,
meretri'clous, false. seen. ostenta'tion, show.
Yon cottager, who weaves at her own door,
She, for her humble sphere by nature fit,
Has little understanding, and no wit,
Receives no praise; but, though her lot be such,
(Toilsome and indigent) she renders much;
Just knows, and knows no more, her Bible true,—
A truth the brilliant Frenchman2 never knew;
And in. that charter reads with sparkling eyes,
Her title to a treasure in the skies.
Oh happy peasant! Oh unhappy bard!
1 pillow and bobbins, used for making lace; bobbin is the small wooden cylinder or pin on which the thread used is wound. The brilliant Frenchman, Voltaire.
Theke lives and works
THE STILLNESS OF NATTJEE.—Marsh.
1. As a familiar illustration of the influence in checking the movement of winds, I may mention the well-known fact, that the sensible cold is never extreme in thick woods, where the motion of the air is little felt. The lumbermen in Canada and the Northern United States labour in the woods, without inconvenience, when the mercury stands many degrees below the zero of Fahrenheit,1 while in the open grounds, with only a moderate breeze, the same temperature is almost insupportable. The engineers and firemen of locomotives, employed on railways running through forests of any considerable extent, observe that, in very cold weather, it is much easier to keep up the steam while the engine is passing through the woods than in the open ground. As soon as the train emerges from the shelter of the trees the steam gauge falls, and the stoker is obliged to throw in a liberal supply of fuel to bring it up again.
2. Another less frequently noticed fact, due, no doubt, in a great measure to the immobility of the air, is, that sounds are transmitted to incredible distances in the unbroken forest. Many instances of this have fallen under my own observation, and others, yet more striking, have been related to me by credible and competent witnesses familiar with a more primitive condition of the Anglo-American world. An acute observer of natural phenomena, whose childhood and youth were spent in the interior of one of the newer New England States, has often told me that when he established his home in the forest, he always distinctly heard, in still weather, the plash of horses' feet, when they forded a small brook nearly seven-eighths of a mile from his house, though a portion of the wood that intervened consisted of a ridge seventy or eighty feet higher that either the house or the ford.
3. I have no doubt that in such cases the stillness of the air is the most important element in the extraordinary transmissibility of sound; but it must be admitted that the absence of the multiplied and confused noises, which accompany human industry in countries thickly peopled by man, contributes to the same result. We become, by habit, almost insensible to the familiar and neverresting voices of civilization in cities and towns; but the indistinguishable drone, which sometimes escapes even the ear of him who listens for it, deadens and often quite obstructs the transmission of sounds which would otherwise be clearly audible. An