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proportion to its enthusiasm, sincerity, gentleness, and wish to
You may know the badness by a certain mixture of coldness and violence, by its shuffling, its petulance, and its tendency to dismiss a subject at once with abuse. As to the innovator, it is his business to make up his mind to a certain portion of misrepresentation ; for who was the innovator, great or small, that ever was without it? But it is his business also to examine narrowly into his own consciousness, and to be sure, from experiment, that he can deny himself, for the good of others, what he would willingly enjoy with them in
There is not a liberal opinion now existing which has not gone through heaps of ugly faces and yelling threats, like the saints in the old pictures. To differ in religious faith was once thought the height of undeniable villany; and is so still by some ignorant sects. The Spaniards were taught to believe that all heretics had monster-like faces, till Lord Peterborough's officers persuaded the nuns otherwise. Milton says that he could not propose some new things, even after an ancient fashion (and indeed almost every proposition for human improvement is to be found in the ancient writers), but
“Straight a barbarous noise environs me
It is lamentable to see such a man as Bacon trying to feel his way into popular persuasion by smoothing the king's and people's prejudices as he goes, giving even into the superstitions about witchcraft. A friend was observing to us a short time since, that he was not aware of the existence of any denouncement of cruelty to animals till Pope wrote a paper on it in the Guardian. Shakspeare, who says everything, has said something about “ the poor beetle that we tread upon, feeling as great a pang as when a giant dies ;" but it is only in a cursory manner,
way of illustration. His reflections upon the hunted stag, as if by way of excuse for the novelty of their sympathy, are put into the mouth of an eccentric and saturnine philosopher. His age, indeed, so great and humane in many respects, was so insensible in this particular point, that one of the greatest and humanest of its ornaments, Sir Philip Sydney, describes his ladies and courtiers as laudably diverting themselves with sealing up a dove's eyes, to see it strain higher and higher into the light,with other“ cunning” diversions too gross and cruel to repeat. Poor ignorant old beldams, whom their neighbours or themselves took for witches, were put to death at a later period, with great approbation, not only of the “British Solomon,” King James, but of a high legal authority, and even the good old Sir Matthew Hale. The celebrated Robert Boyle, as our readers know, was accounted a sort of perfection of a man, especially in all respects intellectual, moral, and religious. This excellent person was in the habit of moralising upon everything that he did or suffered ; such as Upon his manner of giving meat to his dog,”—“Upon his horse stumbling in a very fair way,”“Upon his sitting at ease in a coach that went very fast,” &c. Among other reflections is one Upon a fish's struggling after having swallowed the hook.” It amounts to this; that at the moment when the fish thinks himself about to be most happy, the hook “does so wound and tear his tender gills, and thereby puts him into such restless pain, that no doubt he wishes the hook, bait and all, were out of his torn jaws again. Thus," says he, “men who do what they should not to obtain any sensual desires," &c., &c. Not a thought comes over him as to his own part in the business, and what he ought to say of himself for tearing the jaws and gills to indulge his own appetite for excitement. Take also the following :-“Fifth SectionReflection 1. Killing a crow (out of window) in a hog's trough, and immediately tracing the ensuing reflection with a pen made of one of his quills.-Long and patiently did I wait for this unlucky crow, wallowing in the sluttish trough (whose sides kept
him a great while out of the reach of my gun), and gorging himself with no less greediness than the very swinish proprietaries of the feast, till at length my no less unexpected than fatal shot in a moment struck him down, and, turning the scene of his delight into that of his pangs, made him abruptly alter his note, and change his triumphant chaunt into a dismal and tragic noise. This method is not unusual to Divine Justice towards brawny and incorrigible sinners,” &c., &c. Thus, the crow, for eating his dinner, is a rascal worthy to be shot by the Honourable Mr Robert Boyle, before the latter sits down to his own ; while the said Mr Boyle, instead of contenting himself with being a gentleman in search of amusement at the expense of birds and fish, is a representative of Divine Justice.
We laugh at this wretched moral pedantry now, and deplore the involuntary hard-heartedness which such mistakes in religion tended to produce ; but in how many respects should it not make us look about us, and see where we fall short of an enlargement of thinking ?
[NOTE.— There is another passage in Shakspeare showing a humane feeling towards animals, which Leigh Hunt seems here to have forgotten. It is the account of the hunted hare in “Venus and Adonis.” -E. O.]
"HERE is an anecdote in Aulus Gellius (“ Noctes Atticæ,”
Lib. X. Cap. 6) which exhibits, we think, one of the
highest instances of what may be called polite blackguardism that we ever remember to have read. The fastidiousness, self-will, and infinite resentment against a multitude of one's fellow-creatures for presuming to come in contact with one's own importance, are truly edifying ; and, to complete the lesson, this extraordinary specimen of the effect of superfine breeding and blood is handed down to us in the person of a lady. Her words might be thought to have been a bad joke; and bad enough it would have been ; but the sense that was shown of them proves them to have been very gravely regarded.
Claudia, the daughter of Appius Cæcus, in coming away from a public spectacle, was much pressed and pushed about by the crowd ; upon which she thus vented her impatience : What should I have suffered now, and how much more should I have been squeezed and knocked about, if my brother Publius Claudius had not had his ships destroyed in battle, with all that heap of men ? I should have been absolutely jammed to death! Would to heaven my brother were alive again, and could go with another fleet to Sicily, and be the death of this host of people, who plague and pester one in this horrid manner !"*
* "Quid me nunc factum esset, quantoque arctius pressiusque conflictata essem,
For these words, so wicked and so uncivic,” says good old Gellius (tam improba ac tam incivilia), the ædiles, Caius Fundanus and Tiberius Sempronius, got the lady fined in the sum of twenty-five thousand pounds brass. There is a long account in Livy of the speech which they made to the people, in reply to the noble families that interceded for her. It is very indignant. Claudia herself confessed her words, and does not appear to have joined in the intercession. They are not related at such length by Livy as by Aulus Gellius. He merely makes her wish that her brother were alive to take out another fleet. But he shows his own sense of the ebullition by calling it a dreadful imprecation ; and her rage was even more gratuitous according to his account, for he describes her as coming from the shows in a chariot.
Insolence and want of feeling appear to have been hereditary in this Appian family : which gives us also a strong sense of their want of capacity ; otherwise, a disgust at such manners must have been generated in some of the children. They were famous for opposing every popular law, and for having kept the commons as long as possible out of any share in public honours and government. The villain Appius Claudius, whose well-known story has lately been made still more familiar to the public by the tragedy of Mr Knowles, was among its ancestors. Appius Cæcus, or the Blind, the father of Claudia, though he constructed the celebrated Appian Way, and otherwise benefited the city, was a very unpopular man, wilful, haughty, and lawless. He retained possession of the Censorship beyond the limited period. It is an instance, perhaps, of his unpopularity, as well as of the superstition of the times, that, having made a change in one of the priestly offices, and become blind some years afterwards, the Romans attributed it to the vengeance of heaven ; an
si P. Claudius frater meus navali prælio classem navium cum ingenti civium numero non perdidisset ? certè quidem majore nunc copiâ populi oppressa intercidissem. Sed utinam, inquit, reviviscat frater, aliamque classem in Siciliam ducat, atque istam multitudinem perditum eat, quæ me malè nunc miseram convexavit."