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But I have often thought that we might extend its signification a good deal farther; and, in general,apply it to that failing, which disposes a person to obtrude upon others subjects of conversation relating to his own business, studies or amusements.
In this sense of the phrase, we should find pedants in every character and condition of life. Instead of a black coat and a plain shirt, we should often see pedantry appear in an embroidered suit, and Brussels lace; instead of being bedaubed with snuff, we should find it breathing perfumes; and, in place of a book worm crawling through the gloomy cloisters of an university, we should mark it in the state of a gilded butterfly, buzzing through the gay region of the drawing room.
Robert Daisey, Esq. is a pedant of this last kind. When he tells you that his ruffles cost twenty guineas a pair; that his buttons were the first of the kind, made by one of the most eminent artists in Birmingham; that his buckles were procured by means of a friend at Paris and are the exact pattern of those worn by the Compte de Artois; that the loop of his hat was of his own contrivance, and has set the fashion to half a dozen of the finest fellows in town: When he descants on all these particulars, with that smile of self complacency which sits forever on his cheek, he is as much a pedant as his quondam tutor, who recites verses from Pindar, tells stories out of Herodotus, and talks for an hour on the energy of the Greek particles.
But Mr. Daisy is struck dumb by the approach of hist brother, Sir Thomas, whose pedantry goes a pitch higher and pours out all the intelligence of France and Italy, whence the young baronet is just returned, after a tour of fifteen months over all the kingdoms of the continent. Talk of music, he cuts you short with the history of the first singer in Naples; of painting, he runs you down with the description of the gallery at Florence; of architecture, he overwhelms you with the dimensions of St. Peter's or the great church at Antwerp; or, if you leave the province of art altogether, and introduce the name of a river or bill, he instantly deluges you with the Rhine, or makes you dizzy with the height of Etna or Mout Blanc.
Miss will have no difficulty of owning her great aunt to be a pedant, when she talks all the time of dinner, on the composition of the pudding, or the seasoning of the mince pies; or enters into a disquisition on the figure of the damask table cloth, with a word or two on the thrift of making one's own linen; but the young lady will be surprised when I inform her, that her own history of last Thursday's assembly, with the episode of Lady D.'s feather, and the 'digression to the qualities of Mr. Frizzle, the hair dresser, was also a piece of downright pedantry.
Mrs. Candle is guilty of the same weakness, when she Fecounts the numberless witticisms of her daughter Emma, describes the droll figure her little Bill made yesterday at trying on his first pair of breeches, and informs us that Bobby has got seven teeth, and is just cutting an eighth, though he will be but nine months old next Wednesday, at six o'clock in the evening. Nor is her pedant. ry less disgusting, when she proceeds to enumerate the virtues and good qualities of her husband: though this last species is so uncommon, that it may, perhaps, be admitted into conversation, for the sake of novelty.
There is a pedantry in every disquisition, however masterly it may be, that stops the general conversation of the company. When Silius delivers that sort of lecture he is apt to get into, though it is supported by the most extensive information and the clearest discernment,it is still pedantry; and while I admire the talents of Silius, I cannot help being uneasy at his exhibition of them.Last night, after supper, Silius began upon Protestantism, proceeded to the Irish massacre, went through the Revolution, drew the character of King William, repeated anecdotes of Scomberg, and ended, at a quarter past twelve, by delineating the course of the Boyne, in half a bumper of port, upon my best table; which river, happening to overflow its banks, did infinite damage to my cousin Sophy's white satin petticoat.
In short, every thing, in this sense of the word, is pedantry, which tends to destroy that equality of conversation, which is necessary to the perfect ease and good humor of the company. Every one would be struck with the unpoliteness of that person's behaviour, who should help himself to a whole plate-full of peas or strawberries
which some friend had sent him for a rarity in the beginning of the season. Now conversation is one of those good things, which our friends or companions are equally entitled to share, as of any other constituent part of the entertainment; and it is as essential a want of politeness to engross the one, as to monopolize the other.
XVI.-The Journey of a Day.-A Picture of Human` Life.-RAMBLER.
BIDAH, the son of Aben
early in the morning, and pursued his journey through the plains of Indostan. He was fresh and vigorous with rest; he was animated with hope; he was incited by desire; he walked swiftly forward over the vallies, and saw the hills gradually rising before him. As he passed along, his ears were delighted with the morning song of the bird of paradise, he was fanned by the last flutters of the sinking breeze, and sprinkled with dew by groves of spices; he sometimes contemplated the towering height of the oak, monarch of the hills; and sometimes caught the gentle fragrance of the primrose, eldest daughter of the spring; all his senses were gratified, and all care was banished from his heart.
Thus he went on till the sun approached his meridian, and the increasing heat preyed upon his strength; he then looked round about him for some more commodious path. He saw, on his right hand, a grove that seemed to wave its shades as a sign of invitation; he entered it, and found the coolness and verdure irresistibly pleas ant. He did not, however, forget whither he was travelling, but found a narrow way, bordered with flowers, which appeared to have the same direction with the main road, and was pleased, that, by this happy experiment he had found means to unite pleasure with business, and to gain the reward of diligence without suffering its fatigues. He, therefore, still continued to walk, for a time, without the least remission of his ardor, except that he was sometimes tempted to stop by the music of the birds whom the heat had assembled in the shade, and sometimes amused himself with plucking the flowers that covered the banks on either side, or the fruits that hung apon the branches. At last, the green path began to decline from its first tendency, and to wind among hills
and thickets, cooled with fountains, and murmuring with water falls. Here Obidah paused for a time, and began to consider, whether it were longer safe to forsake the known and common track; but remembering that the beat was now in its greatest violence, and that the plain was dusty and uneven, he resolved to pursue the new path, which he supposed only to make a few meanders, in compliance with the varieties of the ground, and to end at last in the common road.
Having thus calmed his solicitude, he renewed his pace, though he suspected he was not gaining ground. This uneasiness of his mind inclined him to lay hold on every new object, and give way to every sensation that might soothe or divert him. He listened to every echo, be mounted every hill for a fresh prospect, he turned aside to every cascade, and pleased himself with tracing the course of a gentle river, that rolled among the trees, and watered a large region, with innumerable circumvolutions. In these amusements the hours passed away unaccounted, his deviations had perplexed his memory, and he knew not towards what point to travel. He stood pensive and confused, afraid to go forward, lest he should go wrong, yet conscious that the time of loitering was now past. While he was thus tortured with uncer tainty, the sky was overspread with clouds, the day vanished from before him, and a sudden tempest gathered round his head. He was now roused by his danger, to a quick and painful remembrance of his folly; he now saw how happiness was lost when ease is consulted; he lamented the unmanly impatience that prompted him to seek shelter in the grove, and despised the petty curiosity that led him on from trifle to trifle. While he was thus reflecting, the air grew blacker, and a clap of thunder broke his meditation.
He now resolved to do what yet remained in his power, to tread back the ground which he had passed, and try to find some issue, where the wood might open into the plain. He prostrated himself upon the ground, and commended his life to the Lord of nature. He rose with confidence and tranquillity, and pressed on with his sabre in his band; for the beasts of the desert were in motion, and on every hand were heard the mingled howls of rage and fear, and ravage and expiration; all the hor
rors of darkness and solitude surrounded him ;-the winds roared in the woods, and the torrents tumbled from the hills.
Thus forlorn and distressed, he wandered through the wild, without knowing whither he was going, or whether he was every moment drawing nearer to safety or to destruction. At length, not fear but labor began to overcome him; his breath grew short; but his knees trembled, and he was on the point of lying down, in resignation to his fate, when he beheld, through the brambles, the glimmer of a taper. He advanced towards the light, and finding that it proceeded from a cottage of a hermit, he called humbly at the door, and obtained admission. The old man set before him such provisions as he had collected for himself, on which Obidah fed with eager ness and gratitude.
When the repast was over, "Tell me said the hermit, by what chance thou hast been brought hither? I have been now twenty years an inhabitant of the wilderness, in which I never saw a man before." Obidah then related the occurrences of his journey, without any cou cealment or palliation.
"Son, said the hermit, let the errors and follies, the dangers and escapes of this day, sink deep into thy heart. Remember, my son, that human life is the journey of a day. We rise in the morning of youth, full of vigor, and full of expectation; we set forward with spirit and hope, with gaiety and with diligence, and travel on a while in the straight road of piety, towards the mansions of rest. In a short time we remit our fervor, and endeavor to find some mitigation of our duty, and some more easy means of obtaining the same end. We then relax our vigor, and resolve no longer to be terrified with crimes at a distance, but rely upon our own constancy, and venture to approach what we resolve never to touch. We thus enter the bowers of ease, and repose in the shades of security. Here the heart softens, and vigilance subsides; we are then willing to enquire whether another. advance cannot be made, and whether we may not, at least, turn our eyes upon the gardens of pleasure. We approach them with scruple and hesitation; we enter them, but enter timorous and trembling, and always hope to pass through them without losing the road of virtue