Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

pastime foolish, has either yet to grow wiser, or is past it. In the one case, his notion of being childish is itself a childish notion. In the other, his importance is of so feeble and hollow a cast, that it dare not move for fear of tumbling to pieces.

A friend of ours, who knows as well as any man how to unite industry with enjoyment, has set an excellent example to those who can afford the leisure, by taking two Sabbaths every week instead of one ;-not Methodistical Sabbaths, but days of rest which pay true homage to the Supreme Being by enjoying his creation. He will be gratified at reading this paragraph on his second Sunday morning (Wednesday).

One of the best pieces of advice for an ailing spirit is to go to no sudden extremes,—to adopt no great and extreme changes in diet or other habits. They may make a man look very great and philosophic to his own mind, but they are not fit for a nature to which custom has been truly said to be a second nature. Dr Cheyne (as we remember reading on a stall) may tell us that a drowning man cannot too quickly get himself out of the water ; but the analogy is not good. If the water has become a second habit, he might almost as well say that a fish could not get too quickly out of it.

Upon this point Bacon says that we should discontinue what we think hurtful by little and little. And he quotes with admiration the advice of Celsus, that “a man do vary and interchange contraries, but with an inclination to the more benign extreme.” “Use fasting,” he says, “ and full eating, but rather full eating ; watching and sleep, but rather sleep ; sitting and exercise, but rather exercise; and the like. So shall nature be cherished, and yet taught masteries.”

We cannot do better than conclude with one or two other passages out of the same Essay, full of his usual calm wisdom. “ If you fly physic in health altogether, it will be too strange for your body when you need it.” (He means that a general state of health should not make us over-confident and contemptuous of physic, but that we should use it moderately if required, that

a

[ocr errors]

it may not be too strange to us when required most.) "If

you make it too familiar, it will have no extraordinary effect when sickness cometh. I commend rather some diet for certain seasons, than frequent use of physic, except it be grown into a custom, for those diets alter the body more, and trouble it less."

“As for the passions and studies of the mind,” says he, “avoid envy, anxious fears, anger, fretting inwards, subtle and knotty inquisitions, joys and exhilarations in excess, sadness not communicated” (for, as he says finely somewhere else, they who keep their griefs to themselves, are cannibals of their own hearts”). “ Entertain hopes; mirth, rather than joy” (that is to say, cheerfulness rather than what we call boisterous merriment); “variety of delights, rather than surfeit of them; wonder and admiration, and therefore novelties; studies that fill the mind with splendid and illustrious objects, as histories, fables, and contemplations of nature.”

[ocr errors]

THE OLD GENTLEMAN.

Ou

UR Old Gentleman, in order to be exclusively himself,

must be either a widower or a bachelor. Suppose the

former. We do not mention his precise age, which would be invidious; nor whether he wears his own hair or a wig, which would be wanting in universality. If a wig, it is a compromise between the more modern scratch and the departed glory of the toupee. If his own hair, it is white, in spite of his favourite grandson, who used to get on the chair behind him, and pull the silver hairs out, ten years ago. If he is bald at top, the hair-dresser, hovering and breathing about him like a second youth, takes care to give the bald place as much powder as the covered ; in order that he may convey to the sensorium within a pleasing indistinctness of idea respecting the exact limits of skin and hair. He is very clean and neat; and in warm weather is proud of opening his waistcoat half way down, and letting so much of his frill be seen, in order to show his hardiness as well as taste. His watch and shirt-buttons are of the best; and he does not care if he has two rings on a finger. If his watch ever failed him at the club or coffee-house, he would take a walk every day to the nearest clock of good character, purely to keep it right. He has a cane at home, but seldom uses it, on finding it out of fashion with his elderly juniors. He has a small cocked hat for gala days, which he lifts higher from his head than the round one, when made a bow to. In his

a

pockets are two handkerchiefs (one for the neck at night-time), his spectacles, and his pocket-book. The pocket-book, among other things, contains a receipt for a cough, and some verses cut out of an odd sheet of an old magazine, on the lovely Duchess of A., beginning

“When beauteous Mira walks the plain."

66

[ocr errors]

"

He intends this for a commonplace book which he keeps, consisting of passages in verse and prose cut out of newspapers and magazines, and pasted in columns ; some of them rather gay. His principal other books are Shakspeare's plays and Milton's “Paradise Lost;" the Spectator; the “History of England ;" the works of Lady M. W. Montague, Pope, and Churchill ; Middleton's "Geography ;" the Gentleman's Magazine; Sir John Sinclair on Longevity; several plays with portraits in character; “Account of Elizabeth Canning ;” “ Memoirs of George Ann Bellamy ;” “Poetical Amusements at BathEaston ;” Blair's works; “ Elegant Extracts; “ Junius," as originally published ; a few pamphlets on the American War and Lord George Gordon, &c.; and one on the French Revolution. In his sitting-rooms are some engravings from Hogarth and Sir Joshua; an engraved portrait of the Marquis of Granby; ditto of M. le Comte de Grasse surrendering to Admiral Rodney ; a humorous piece after Penny; and a portrait of himself, painted by Sir Joshua. His wife's portrait is in his chamber, looking upon his bed. She is a little girl, stepping forward with a smile and a pointed toe, as if going to dance. He lost her when she was sixty.

The Old Gentleman is an early riser, because he intends to live at least twenty years longer. He continues to take tea for breakfast, in spite of what is said against its nervous effects; having been satisfied on that point some years ago by Dr Johnson's criticism on Hanway, and a great liking for tea previously. His china cups and saucers have been broken since his wife's death, all but one, which is religiously kept for his use. He passes his morning in walking or riding, looking in at auctions, looking after his India bonds, or some such money securities, furthering some subscription set on foot by his excellent friend Sir John, or cheapening a new old print for his portfolio. He also hears of the newspapers ; not caring to see them till after dinner at the coffee-house. He may also cheapen a fish or so; the fishmonger soliciting his doubting eye as he passes, with a profound bow of recognition. He eats a pear before dinner.

His dinner at the coffee-house is served up to him at the accustomed hour, in the old accustomed way, and by the accustomed waiter. If William did not bring it, the fish would be sure to be stale, and the flesh new. He eats no tart; or, if he ventures on a little, takes cheese with it. You might as soon attempt to persuade him out of his senses, as that cheese is not good for digestion. He takes port; and if he has drunk more than usual, and in a more private place, may be induced, by some respectful inquiries respecting the old style of music, to sing a song composed by Mr Oswald or Mr Lampe, such as

“Chloe, by that borrow'd kiss,"

or

66

Come, gentle god of soft repose;"

66

or his wife's favourite ballad, beginning

At Upton on the Hill

There lived a happy pair." Of course, no such exploit can take place in the coffee-room ; but he will canvass the theory of that matter there with you, or discuss the weather, or the markets, or the theatres, or the merits of " my Lord North," or my Lord Rockingham ;" for he rarely says simply lord ; it is generally “my lord,” trippingly and genteelly off the tongue. If alone after dinner, his great delight is the newspaper ; which he prepares to read by wiping his spectacles, carefully adjusting them on his eyes, and drawing the candle close to him, so as to stand sideways betwixt his ocular aim and the small type. He then holds the paper at arm's-length, and, dropping his eyelids half down and his

« ZurückWeiter »