« PreviousContinue »
been privileged with a Minerval birth, form, in its coincidence with the idea, to have risen in its zenith; but next, or realize most adequately that power, to this, perhaps, the rapid and almost which is one with its correspondent instantaneous advancement of pottery knowledge, as the revealing body with from the state in which Mr Wedge- its indwelling soul. wood found the art, to its demonstra- Another motive will present itself, bly highest practicable perfection, is and one that comes nearer home, and the most striking fact in the history of is of more general application, if we 'modern improvements achieved by in- reflect on the habit here recommended, dividual genius. In his early manhood, as a source of support and consolation an obstinate and harassing complaint in circumstances under which we might confined him to his room for more than otherwise sink back on ourselves, and two years; and to this apparent cala- for want of colloquy with our thoughts, mity Mr Wedgewood was wont to at- with the objects and presentations of tribute his after unprecedented suc- the inner sense, lie listening to the fretcess. For a while, as was natural, the ful ticking of our sensations. A resense of thus losing the prime and source of costless value has that man, vigour of his life and faculties, preyed who has brought himself to a habit of on his mind incessantly-aggravated, measuring the objects around him by to no doubt, by the thought of what he their intended or possible ends, and should have been doing this hour and the proportion in which this end is this, had he not been thus severely realized in each. It is the neglect of it visited. Then, what he should like to thus educating the senses, of thus distake in hand ; and lastly, what it was ciplining, and, in the proper and pridesirable to do, and how far it might mitive sense of the word, informing the be done, till generalizing more and the fancy, that distinguishes at first more, the mind began to feed on the sight the ruder states of society. Every thoughts, which, at their first evolu- mechanic tool, the commonest and tion, (in their larva state, may I say?) most indispensible implements of agrihad preyed on the mind. We imagine culture, might remind one of the the presence of what we desire in the school-boy's second stage in metrical very act of regretting its absence, nay, composition, in which his exercise is to in order to regret it the more livelily; contain sense, but he is allowed to eke but while, with a strange wilfulness, out the scanning by the interposition, we are thus engendering grief on grief, here and there, of an equal quantity of nature makes use of the product to
And even in the existing cheat us into comfort and exertion. height of national civilization, how The positive shapings, though but of many individuals may there not be the fancy, will sooner or later displace found, for whose senses the non-essenthe mere knowledge of the negative. tial so preponderates, that though they All activity is in itself pleasure ; and may have lived the greater part of according to the nature, powers, and their lives in the country, yet, with previous habits of the sufferer, the some exceptions for the products of activity of the fancy will call the other their own flower and kitchen garden, faculties of the soul into action. The all the names in the Index to Witherself-contemplative power becomes me- ing's Botany, are superseded for them ditative, and the mind begins to play by the one name, a weed! “ It is only the geometrician with its own thoughts a weed !” And if this indifference stopt
-abstracting from them the accidental here, and this particular ignorance and individual, till a new and unfail were regarded as the disease, it would ing source of employment, the best be sickly to complain of it. But it is as and surest nepentha of solitary pain, a symptom that it excites regret-it is is opened out in the habit of seeking that, except only the pot-herbs of the principle and ultimate aim in the lucre, and the barren double-flowers most imperfect productions of art, in of vanity, their own noblest faculties the least attractive products of nature ; both of thought and action, are but of beholding the possible in the real; weeds in which, should sickness or of detecting the essential form in the misfortune wreck them on the desart intentional; above all, in the colla, island of their own mind, they would tion and constructive imagining of the either not think of seeking, or be ign outward shapes and material forces norant how to find, nourishment or that shall best express the essential medicine. As it is good to be provided
pobi with work for rainy days, Winter in proofs, that we are most benignly, as ir bene dustry is the best cheerer of winter well as wonderfully, constructed ! 'The ma gloom, and fire-side contrivances for cutting and irritating grain of sand,
summer use, bring summer sunshine which by accident or incaution has got
and a genial inner warmth, which the within the shell, incites the living inpresent friendly hearth-blaze may conspire mate to secrete from its own resources He be with, but cannot bestow or compen- the means of coating the intrusive sub
stance. And is it not, or may it not A splenetic friend of mine, who was be, even so, with the irregularities and
fond of outraging a truth by some unevennesses of health and fortune in ezeken whimsical hyperbole, in his way of ex- our own case? We, too, may turn dis. OLEH pressing it, gravely gave it out as his eases into pearls. The means and maScrie opinion, that beauty and genius were terials are within ourselves; and the
but diseases of the consumptive and process is easily understood. By a law scrofulous order. He would not carry common to all animal life, we are init further ; but yet, he must say, that capable of attending for any continu.
he had observed that very good people, ance to an object, the parts of which in le persons of unusual virtue and benevo- are indistinguishable from each other, rendelence, were in general afflicted with or to a series, where the successive
weak or restless nerves ! After yield- links are only numerically different, b beba ing him the expected laugh for the Nay, the more broken and irritating,
oddity of the remark, I reminded him, as, for instance, the fractious noise of that if his position meant any thing, the dashing of a lake on its border, the converse must be true, and we compared with the swell of the sea on
ought to have Helens, Medicæan Ven a calm evening,) the more quickly does hari puses, Shakespeares, Raphaels, How- it exhaust our power of noticing it. niet te ards, Clarksons, and Wilberforces by The tooth-ache, where the suffering is
thousands; and the assemblies and not extreme, often finds its speediest Det lige pump-rooms at Bath, Harrowgate, and cure in the silent pillow; and gradu,
Cheltenham, rival the conversazioni in ally destroys our attention to itself by the Elysian Fields. Since then, how- preventing us from attending to any ever, I have often recurred to the por- thing else.
From the same cause, tion of truth, that lay at the bottom many a lonely patient listens to his of my friend's conceit. It cannot be moans, till he forgets the pain that ocdenied, that ill health, in a degree be- casioned them. The attention attenu, low direct pain, yet distressfully af- ates, as its sphere contracts. But this fecting the sensations, and depressing it does even to a point, where the perthe animal spirits, and thus leaving son's own state of feeling, or any parthe nervous system too sensitive to ticular set of bodily sensations, are the pass into the ordinary state of feeling, direct object. The slender thread windand forcing us to live in alternating ing in narrower and narrower circles positives, is* a hot-bed for whatever round its source and centre, ends at germs, and tendencies, whether in length in a chrysalis, a dormitory withhead or heart, have been planted there in which the spinner undresses himindependently.
self in his sleep, soon to come forth Surely, there is nothing fanciful in quite a new creature. - considering this as a providential pro- So it is in the slighter cases of suf
vision, and as one of the countless fering, where suspension is extinction,
* Perhaps it confirms while it limits this theory, that it is chiefly verified in men whose genius and pursuits are eminently subjective, where the mind is intensely watchful of its own acts and shapings, thinks, while it feels, in order to understand, and then to generalize that feeling ; above all, where all the powers of the mind are called into action, simultaneously, and yet severally, while in men of equal, and perhaps deservedly equal celebrity, whose pursuits are objective and universal, demanding the energies of attention and abstraction, as in mechanics, mathematics, and all departments of physics and physiology, the very contrary would seem to be exemplified. Shakespeare died at 53, and probably of a decline;
and in one of his sonnets he speaks of himself as grey and prematurely old; and Milton, who suffered from infancy those intense head-aches which ended in blindness, insinuates that he was free from pain, or the anticipation of pain. On the other hand, the Newtons and Leibnitzes have, in general, beén not only long-lived, but men of robust health.
or followed by long intervals of ease. generalize them, a process that to a But where the unsubdued causes are certain extent implies, and in a still ever on the watch to renew the pain, greater degree excites and introduces that thus forces our attention in upon the act and power of abstracting the ourselves, the same barrenness and thoughts and images from their origimonotony of the object that in minor nal cause, and of reflecting on them grievances lulled the mind into obli- with less and less reference to the invion, now goads it into action by the dividual suffering that had been their restlessness and natural impatience of first subject. The vis medicatrix of vacancy. We cannot perhaps divert Nature is at work for us in all our fathe attention ; our feelings will still culties and habits, the associate, reform the main subject of our thoughts, productive, comparative, and combiBut something is already gained, if, natory. instead of attending to our sensations, That this source of consolation and we begin to think of them. But in or- support may be equally in your power der to this, we must reflect on these as in mine, but that you may never thoughts-or the same sameness will have occasion to feel equally grateful soon sink them down into mere feel- for it, as I have, and do in body and ing. And in order to sustain the act estate, is the fervent wish of your afof reflection on our thoughts, we are fectionate obliged more and more to compare and
S. T. COLERIDGE.
THE BURIED ALIVE.
When my eyes were closed, I heard
by the attendants that my friend had I had been for some time ill of a left the room, and I soon after found, low and lingering fever. My strength the undertakers were preparing to hagradually wasted, but the sense of life bit me in the garments of the grave. seemed to become more and more acute Their thoughtlessness was more awful as my corporeal powers became weak, than the grief of my friends. They er. I could see by the looks of the laughed at one another as they turned doctor that he despaired of my reco- me from side to side, and treated what very; and the soft and whispering sor- they believed a corpse, with the most row of my friends, taught me that I appalling ribaldry, had nothing to hope.
When they had laid me out, these One day towards the evening, the wretches retired, and the degrading crisis took place.-1 was seized with formality of affected mourning com, a strange and indescribable quivering, menced. For three days, a number of a rushing sound was in my ears,
friends called to seeme. I heard them, I saw around my couch innumerable in low accents, speak of what I was; strange faces; they were bright and and more than one touched me with visionary, and without bodies. There his finger. On the third day, some was light, and solemnity, and I tried of them talked of the smell of corrupto move, but could not.-For a short tion in the room. time a terrible confusion overwhelined The coffin was procured I was me, and when it passed off, all my lifted and laid in-My friend placed recollection returned with the most my head on what was deemed its last perfect distinctness, but the power of pillow, and I felt his tears drop on motion had departed. I heard the my face. sound of weeping at my pillow-and When all who had any peculiar inthe voice of the nurse say, “ He is terest in me, had for a short time lookdead." -I cannot describe what I felt ed at me in the coffin, I heard them at these words.--I exerted my utmost retire; and the undertaker's men plapower of volition to stir myself, but I ced the lid on the coffin, and screwed could not move even an eyelid. After it down. There were two of them
pause my friend drew near; present--one had occasion to go away and sobbing, and convulsed with grief, before the task was done. I heard the drew his hand over my face, and closed fellow who was left begin to whistle my eyes. The world was then dark- as be turned the screw-nails; but he ened, but I still could hear, and feel, checked himself, and completed the and suffer.
work in silence.
I was then left alone, every one felt the hands of some dreadful being shunned the room. I knew, however, working about my throat. They dragthat I was not yet buried; and though ged me out of the coffin by the head. darkened and motionless, I had still I felt again the living air, but it was hope ;-but this was not permitted piercingly cold; and I was carried long. The day of interment arrived swiftly away, I thought to judgment, -I felt the coffin lifted and borne perhaps perdition. away-I heard and felt it placed in When borne to some distance, I the 'hearse. There was a crowd of was then thrown down like a clod-it people around; some of them spoke was not upon the ground. A moment sorrowfully of me. The hearse be- after I found myself on a carriage ; gan to move I knew that it carried and, by the interchange of two or me to the grave. It halted, and the three brief sentences, I discovered that coffin was taken out-I felt myself I was in the hands of two of those carried on shoulders of men, by the robbers who live by plundering the inequality of the motion-A pause en- grave, and selling the bodies of pasued-I heard the cords of the coffin rents, and children, and friends. One moved - I felt it swing as dependent of the men sung snatches and scraps by them-It was lowered, and rested of obscene songs, as the cart rattled on the bottom of the grave, The over the pavement of the streets. cords were dropped upon the lid-I When it halted, I was lifted out, heard them fall.-Dreadful was the and I soon perceived, by the closeness effort I then made to exert the power of the air, and the change of temperaof action, but my whole frame was im- ture, that I was carried into a room ; moveable.
and, being rudely stripped of my Soon after, a few handfuls of earth · shroud, was placed naked on a table. were thrown upon the coffin-Then By the conversation of the two fellows there was another pause-after which with the servant who admitted them, the shovel was employed, and the sound I learnt that I was that night to be of the rattling mould, as it covered me, · dissected. was far more tremendous than thun- My eyes were still shut, I saw noder. But I could make no effort. The thing; but in a short time I heard, by sound gradually became less and less, the bustle in the room, that the stuand by a surging reverberation in the dents of anatomy were assembling. coffin, 'I knew that the grave was filled Some of them came round the table, up, and that the sexton was treading and examined me minutely, They were in the earth, slapping the grave with pleased to find that so good a subject the flat of his spade. This too ceased, had been procured. The demonstraand then all was silent.
tor himself at last came in. I had no means of knowing the lapse Previous to beginning the dissecof time; and the silence continued. tion, he proposed to try on me some This is death, thought and I am galvanic experiment and an apparadoomed to remain in the earth till the tus was arranged for that purpose. resurrection. Presently the body will The first shock vibrated through all fall into corruption, and the epicurean my nerves: they rung and jangled like worm, that is only satisfied with the the strings of a harp. The students flesh of man, will come to partake of expressed their
admiration at the conthe banquet that has been prepared for vulsive effect. The second shock threw him with so much solicitude and care. my eyes open, and the first person I In the contemplation of this hideous saw was the doktor who had attended thought, I heard a low and undere me. But still I was as dead: I could, sound in the earth over me, and I fan. however, discover among the students cied that the worms and the reptiles the faces of many with whom I was of death were coming that the mole familiar; and when my eyes were and the rat of the grave would soon be opened, I heard my name pronounced upon me. The sound continued to by several of the students, with an grow louder and nearer. Can it be accent of awe and compassion, and a possible, I thought, that my friends wish that it had been some other subsuspect they have buried me too soon? ject. The hope was truly like light bursting When they had satisfied themselves through the gloom of death.
with the galvanic phenomena, the deThe sound ceased, and presently I monstrator took the knifc, and pierced me on the bosom with the point. I up-my trance ended. The utmost felt a dreadful crackling, as it were, exertions were made to restore me, throughout my whole frame-a con- and in the course of an hour I was in vulsive shuddering instantly followed, the full possession of all my faculties. and a shriek of horror rose from all present. The ice of death was broken
TOERE once was an Emperor (so says my story,)
my crown on my head, in my costliest robe,