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opinion which Livy repeats with great devotion, calling it a warning against innovations in religion. It had no effect, however, upon Claudius the brother, whose rashness furnished the pious Romans with a similar example to point at. Before an engagement with the Carthaginians, the Sacred Chickens were consulted, and because they would not peck and furnish him with a good omen, he ordered them to be thrown into the sea. they won't eat,” said he, “ let 'em drink.” The engagement was one of the worst-planned and the worst-fought in the world ; but the men were avowedly dispirited by the Consul's irreverent behaviour to the chickens, and his impiety shared the disgrace with his folly. Livy represents him as an epitome of all that was bad in his family ; proud, stubborn, unmerciful, though full of faults himself, and wilful and precipitate to a degree of mad
This was the battle of which his sister wished to see a repetition. It cost the Romans many ships sunk, ninety-three taken, and, according to the historian, the miraculous loss of eight thousand men killed, and twenty thousand taken prisoners, while the Carthaginians lost not a ship or a man.
MONG the first things which we remember noticing in
the manners of people, were two errors in the custom of
shaking hands. Some, we observed, grasped everybody's hand alike, --with an equal fervour of grip. You would have thought that Jenkins was the best friend they had in the world; but on succeeding to the squeeze, though a slight acquaintance, you found it equally flattering to yourself; and on the appearance of somebody else (whose name, it turned out, the operator had forgotten), the crush was no less complimentary; the face was as earnest and beaming, the “glad to see you” as syllabical and sincere, and the shake as close, as long, and as rejoicing, as if the semi-unknown was a friend come home from the Deserts.
On the other hand, there would be a gentleman now and then as coy of his hand as if he were a prude, or had a whitlow. It was in vain that your pretensions did not go beyond the “civil salute” of the ordinary shake; or that, being introduced to him in a friendly manner, and expected to shake hands with the rest of the company, you could not in decency omit his. His fingers, half coming out, and half retreating, seemed to think that you were going to do them a mischief; and when you got hold of them, the whole shake was on your side : the other hand did but proudly or pensively acquiesce,-there was no knowing which : you had to sustain it, as you might a lady's in handing her to a seat: and it was an equal perplexity to know how to
shake or to let it go. The one seemed a violence done to the patient; the other, an awkward responsibility brought upon yourself. You did not know, all the evening, whether you were not an object of dislike to the person ; till, on the party's breaking up, you saw him behave like an equally ill-used gentleman to all who practised the same unthinking civility.
Both these errors, we think, might as well be avoided; but, of the two, we must say we prefer the former. If it does not look so much like particular sincerity, it looks more like general kindness; and if those two virtues are to be separated (which they assuredly need not be, if considered without spleen), the world can better afford to dispense with an unpleasant truth than a gratuitous humanity. Besides, it is more difficult to make sure of the one than to practise the other ; and kindness itself is the best of all truths. As long as we are sure of that, we are sure of something, and of something pleasant. It is always the best end, if not in every instance the most logical
This manual shyness is sometimes attributed to modesty, but never, we suspect, with justice, unless it be that sort of modesty whose fear of committing itself is grounded in pride. Want of address is a better reason, but this particular instance of it would be grounded in the same feeling. It always implies a habit either of pride or distrust. We have met with two really kind men who evinced this soreness of hand. Neither of them perhaps thought himself inferior to anybody about him, and both had good reason to think highly of themselves ; but both had been sanguine men contradicted in their early hopes. There was a plot to meet the hand of one of them with a fishslice, in order to show him the disadvantage to which he put his friends by that flat mode of salutation ; but the conspirator had not the courage to do it. Whether he heard of the intention, we know not; but shortly afterwards he took very kindly to a shake. The other was the only man of a warm set of politicians who remained true to his first love of mankind. He was impatient at the change of his companions, and at the folly and inattention of the rest; but, though his manner became cold, his consistency still remained warm ; and this gave him a right to be as strange as he pleased.
[NOTE.—The second person alluded to above as shaking hands coldly was Hazlitt. I do not know who was the intended victim of the fish-slice practical joke.-E. 0.]
ON RECEIVING A SPRIG OF LAUREL FROM
ND this piece of laurel is from Vaucluse ! Perhaps
Petrarch, perhaps Laura, sat under it! This is a true
present. What an exquisite dry, old, vital, younglooking, everlasting twig it is! It has been plucked nine months, and looks as hale and as crisp as if it would last ninety years. It shall last at any rate as long as its owner, and longer, if care and love can preserve it. How beautifully it is turned ! It was a happy pull from the tree. Its shape is the very line of beauty; it has berries upon it, as if resolved to show us in what fine condition the trees are ; while the leaves issue from it, and swerve upwards with their elegant points, as though they had come from adorning the poet's head. Be thou among the best of one's keepsakes, thou genile stem,--in deliciis nostris; and may the very maid-servant who wonders to see thy withered beauty in its frame, miss her lover the next five weeks, for not having the instinct to know that thou must have something to do with love!
Perhaps Petrarch has felt the old ancestral boughs of this branch stretching over his head, and whispering to him of the name of Laura, of his love, and of their future glory ; for all these ideas used to be entwined in one. (Sestina 2, Canzone 17, Sonetti 162, 163, 164, 207, 224, &c.) Perhaps it is of the very stock of that bough which he describes as supplying his