Page images


The Stage is more beholding to Love than the life of Man.'

If Bacon had lived in our day, he would probably have appealed, in confirmation of his views, to our modern use of the words “fond,' and · doting,' which originally meant foolish,' and are now applied to the passion of Love.

Men ought to beware of this passion, which loseth not only

other things, but itself.' . . . . . Whosoever esteemeth too much of amorous affection, quitteth both riches and

wisdom. The following passage is extracted from an article on Miss Austen's novels, in the Quarterly Review (No. 24, p. 374) which was reprinted-through a mistake-in the Remains of Sir W. Scott, though it was not written by him.

Bacon, in these days would hardly have needed to urge so strongly the dethronement of the God of Love. The prevailing fault is not now, whatever it may have been, to sacrifice all for love:

• Venit enim magnum donandi parca juventus,
Nec tantum Veneris quantum studiosa culinæ.'

Mischievous as is the extreme of sentimental enthusiasm, and a romantic and uncalculating extravagance of passion, it is not the one into which the young folks of the present day are the most likely to run. Prudential calculations are not indeed to be excluded in marriage : to disregard the advice of sober-minded friends on an important point of conduct is an imprudence we would by no means recommend; indeed, it is a species of selfishness, if, in listening only to the dictates of passion, a man sacrifices to its gratification the happiness of those most dear to him as well as his own; though it is not now-a-days the most prevalent form of selfishness. But it is no commendation of a sentiment to say, that it becomes blameable when it interferes with duty, and is uncontrolled by conscience. The desire of riches, power, or distinction,—the taste for ease and comfort,

are to be condemned when they transgress these bounds; and love, if it keep within them, even though it be somewhat tinged with enthusiasm, and a little at variance with what the worldly call prudence,—that is, regard for pecuniary advantage,-may afford a better moral discipline to the mind than most other passions. It will not, at least, be denied, that it has often proved a powerful stimulus to exertion, where others have failed, and has called forth talents unknown before, even to the possessor. What though the pursuit may be fruitless, and the hopes visionary? The result may be a real and substantial benefit, though of another kind; the vineyard may have been cultivated by digging in it for the treasure which is never to be found. What though the perfections with which imagination has decorated the beloved object, may, in fact, exist but in a slender degree ? Still they are believed in and admired as real ; if not, the love is such as does not merit the name; and it is proverbially true that men become assimilated to the character (that is, what they think the character) of the being they feryently adore. Thus (as in the noblest exhibitions of the stage), though that which is contemplated be but a fiction, it may be realized in the mind of the beholder; and, though grasping at a cloud, he may become worthy of possessing a real goddess. Many a generous sentiment, and many a virtuous resolution, have been called forth and matured by admiration of one, who may herself, perhaps, have been incapable of either. It matters not what the object is that a man aspires to be worthy of, and proposes as a model of imitation, if he does but believe it to be excellent. Moreover, all doubts of success (and they are seldom, if ever, entirely wanting) must either produce or exercise humility; and the endeavour to study another's interests and inclinations, and prefer them to one's own, may promote a habit of general benevolence which may outlast the present occasion. Everything, in short, which tends to abstract a man in any degree, or in any way, from self—from selfadmiration and self-interest, -has, so far at least, a beneficial influence on character.'

The effect of mere familiar intercourse in dispelling the illusions of a fancy-founded love, is well described by Crabbe in one of the Tales of the Hall, the Natural Death of Love.' A like effect, resulting from a wider acquaintance with the world, and intercourse with superior persons, is described in a still better poem (which if not by Crabbe also, is a most admirable imitation of him in his happiest vein), entitled, “A Common Tale,' which appeared first in a Periodical called The True Briton, and afterwards in a little book called the Medley.

Published by Messrs. Smith, in the Strand.


M EN in great place are thrice servants—servants of the NT sovereign or State, servants of fame, and servants of business; so as they have no freedom, neither? in their persons, nor? in their actions, nor in their times. It is a strange desire to seek power and to lose liberty, or to seek power over others, and to lose power over a man's self. The rising unto place is laborious, and by pains men come to greater pains; and it is sometimes base, and by indignities 3 men come to dignities. The standing is slippery, and the regress is either a downfall, or at least an eclipse, which is a melancholy thing : “Cum non sis qui fueris, non esse cur velis vivere.'4 Nay, men cannot retire when they would, neither will they when it were reason, but are impatient of privateness, even in age and sickness, which require the shadow ;? like old townsmen, that will be still sitting at their street door, though thereby they offer age to scorn. Certainly great persons had need to borrow other men's opinions to think themselves happy; for if they judge by their own feeling, they cannot find it; but if they think with themselves what other men think of them, and that other men would fain be as they are, then they are happy as it were by report, when, perhaps, they find the contrary within; for they are the first that find their own griefs, though they be the last that find their own faults. Certainly, men in great fortunes are strangers to themselves, and while they are in the puzzle of business, they have no time to tend their health, either of body or mind: •Illi

I As. That. See page 27.

? Neither, nor-for either, or. 3 Indignity. Meanness.

Fie on the pelf for which good name is sold,

And honour with indignity debased.'-Spenser. • Since thou art no longer what thou wast, there is no reason why thou shouldst wish to live.'

5 Reason. Right ; reasonable. “It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.'-Acts vi, 2.

6 Privateness. Privacy; retirement. He drew him into the fatal circle from a resolved privateness at his house, when he would well have bent his mind to a retired course.'-- Wotton. 7 Shadow. Shade.

“Here, father, take the shadow of this tree
For your good host.'—Shakespere.

mors gravis incubat, qui notus nimis omnibus, ignotus moritur

[ocr errors]

In place there is licence to do good and evil, whereof the latter is a curse; for in evil, the best condition is not to will, the second not to can. But power to do good is the true and lawful end of aspiring; for good thoughts, though God accepto them, yet towards men are little better than good dreams, except they be put in act, and that cannot be without power and place, as the vantage and commanding ground. Merit and good works is the end of man's motion, and conscience of the same is the accomplishment of man's rest ; for if a man can be a partaker of God's theatre, he shall likewise be partaker of God's rest: •Et conversus Deus, ut aspiceret opera, quæ fecerunt manus suæ, vidit quod omnia essent bona nimis ;' 6 and then the Sabbath.

In the discharge of thy place set before thee the best examples, for imitation is a globe' of precepts; and after a time set before thee thine own example, and examine thyself strictly whether thou didst not best at first. Neglect not also the examples of those that have carried themselves ill in the same place; not to set off thyself by taxing their memory, but to direct thyself what to avoid. Reform, therefore, without bravery, or scandal of former times and persons; but yet set it down to thyself, as well to create good precedents as to follow them. Reduce things to the first institution, and observe wherein and how they have degene

1. Death falls heavily upon him, who, too well known to all men, dies unacquainted with himself.'-Senec. Thyest. xi. 405.

? To will. To be willing; to desire. "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God.'John vii. 17. 3 To can. To be able ; to have power.

•Mecanas and Agrippa who can most with Cæsar.'— Dryden. • Accept. To regard favourably. In every nation, he that feareth Him and worketh righteousness is accepted with Him.'- Acts x. 35.

Conscience. Consciousness. “The reason why the simpler sort are moved with authority is the conscience of their own ignorances.'-Hooker.

6. When God turned to behold the works which his hand had made, He saw that they were all very good.'—Genesis i. 7 Globe. A body.

Him around
A globe of fiery seraphim enclosed.'—Milton.
* Bravery. Bravado; parade of defiance.

• By Ashtaroth! thou shalt ere long lament
These braveries in iron.'-Milton.

« PreviousContinue »