Abbildungen der Seite



I sought the halls of Fame,

And raised a suppliant voice, But not one sound responsive breathed my name,

Or bade my soul rejoice!


In comfortless despair

To find ambition vain,
I leave forlorn the paths of public care,

And this low cot regain.


As some remembered scene

That charmed in sun-lit hours,
Grows drear and dull when tempests intervene

With wintry shades and showers ;


So every form of earth

Obeys a mental change,
And things that kindle in the light of mirth,

In grief, are cold and strange.


Thus wrapt in cheerless gloom,

My home is home no more, The place looks lone, the plants less sweetly bloom,

And charm not as before.


How dark the threshold seems,

How dim the casement flowers,
How sickly pale the star-like blossom gleams

O'er these still jasmine bowers !


A dread foreboding falls

Ice-cold upon my heart, Perhaps within these dear domestic walls

Hath fierce Death hurled his dart !


But hark! yon lattice shakes !

A female hand appears, And, lo ! the face whose smile of welcome makes

Mine eyes forget their tears !


The roof with gladness rings

And quick feet tread the floorWith joyous shout a rosy cherub flings

Wide back my cottage door !

And oh, how different now

The thoughts that thrill my frame ! I kiss with proud delight each dear one's brow,

And dream no more of fame.


EGOtism is not always connected with pure selfishness, or an arrogant over-estimate of our own merit in opposition to the claims of others. Self-love is not essentially exclusive. A man may have a very high regard for himself, without having less for others. The vain are often warm-hearted. What is called egotism is sometimes nothing more than that almost unconscious overflow of mingled cordiality and self-content which are remarkable in men of great fervour and vivacity of feeling. When people are in good humour with themselves they are generally disposed to be well satisfied with others, and in that open confidence in which even reserved men will occasionally indulge in moments of hilarity and cheerfulness, egotism is the reverse of all that is exclusive or unsocial. The French are great egotists, but they are at the same time the most agreeable, the most polite and the most considerate people in the world. If they do not conceal their talents under a veil of false humility, they at all events contrive that their own pretensions shall not materially interfere with the comfort and self-complacency of their associates. They do not seek to elevate themselves at the expense of others.

Egotism is especially offensive to egotists. We always hate to see our own faults in other men. The really selfish man is not always he who talks most about himself, for reserve under the mask of modesty often conceals a heartless exclusiveness that is utterly unknown to the garrulous and self-laudatory. We usually judge of our fellow-creatures by ourselves, and as an egotist of the worst species is impatient of the claims of others, he naturally preserves cautious silence, as he does not expect that sympathy from his companions which they never obtain from him. He thinks that all men will view his pretensions with the same invidious eye with which he looks on theirs. The frank and candid egotist, on the other hand, who

pours out all as plain
As downright Shippen or as old Montaigne,"

not having experienced any uneasy sensation at the pretensions of others, anticipates no want of a generous reciprocity of feeling towards himself. The silent egotist is a far less amiable character than the talkative one. The one is cold, intolerant and splenetic; the other frank, cordial and confiding. Women are undoubtedly greater egotists than men, and yet they are far more social and less selfish. They will run on for ever about their own children or relatives or their own domestic affairs, but then they are equally ready to attend to the concerns of others. They never dream of giving offence by making their own little interests the topics of conversation, because they do not grow impatient when it is their turn to listen. That women are not egotists in the worst sense of the term, is clear from the generous devotion with which they will undergo any pain, or trouble or fatigue for those whom they love, or even for strangers who

may stand in need of their sympathy and assistance. It is a sad affectation to pretend an utter indifference to one's own fame, or to speak with extreme disparagement of one's own powers. Mock-modesty is more disgusting than extravagant self-praise, because the last is at least sincere, while the first is hypocritical. The one is a mere weakness, the other borders upon crime, as all deceit and falsehood must do. Self-love is so much a law of our nature that it is idle to affect a superiority to it. A man might as well attempt to persuade us that he deliberately prefers pain to pleasure, as that he has no partiality to himself.

" If

Without this feeling he can scarcely have a sense of his own identity. It is only in modern times, and in very courtly and insincere societies, that men have found it necessary to conceal their self-approbation. The ancients publicly applauded their own actions and boasted of their fame, and savages, who have not learned to conceal their nature, record their own personal exploits in the presence of their assembled countrymen. you desire glory," says Epicurus, writing to a friend, “ nothing can bestow it more than the letters which I write to you ;” and Seneca, observes D’Israeli, in quoting these words, adds, Epicurus promised to his friend, that, my Lucilius, I promise to you.” Lucan has not hesitated to speak of his own immortality. In the following passage from the ninth book of the Pharsalia (as translated by Rowe) he thus proudly asserts his own merits.

" what

Nor Cæsar thou disdain, that I rehearse
Thee and thy wars in no ignoble verse ;
Since if in aught the Latian muse excel,
My name and thine immortal I foretel ;
Eternity our labours shall reward,
And Lucan flourish, like the Grecian bard;
My numbers shall to latent uimes convey
The tyrant Cæsar, and Pharsalia's day.

Ovid, in his Metamorphoses, has expressed a similar sentiment with equal boldness.

“Come, soon or late, death's undetermined day,
This mortal being only can decay;
My nobler part, my fame, shall reach the skies,
And to late times with blooming honors rise ;
Whate'er the unbounded Roman power obeys,
All climes and nations shall record my praise :
If 'tis allowed to poets to divine,

One half of round eternity is mine." Perhaps if men could really know themselves, and only take credit for their actual merits, the world would be less impatient of their self-laudations. What raises our indignation is the feel.

« ZurückWeiter »