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bling house, who is the greatest fool of all; for with enough, or more than he can spend in the greatest profusion, he puts it in the power of fortune to ruin him, to make him a beggar. Or if he gains, he but adds to superfluous wealth. What is gambling, in such cases, but love of excitement ? It is like the man who tries how far he can stretch himself over a precipice without falling.
Love of excitement! it is the cause of vice in the young; for how distasteful and disgusting is gross dissipation to the novice! The example of others, a desire to be thought spirited, and off-hand, lead him into it, at first, and afterward he pursues as a good and an alleviation what he rejected as vile and unworthy. This life is nameless. Who can define it? Who can explain it ? Who can trace the steps to it? Once in, never out. The only pleasure is an unevenness of pain. We do not suffer so much to-day as yesterday, and we are happy, by comparison. But see the morning hours of your dissipated, worthless youth. The pure air, the bright sky, the bustling world, about him, seem but to mock his misery. He feels contemptible. He sits perhaps amidst a medicine-shop for his body, to frame some employment for the day; some scheme of vulgarity, some contrivance of vice, and all this perhaps as only an alleviation from pain. Embarked in his course, he appears, to the world, as intent upon some object of worthy interest; and he passes his acquaintance with the well-bred smile and bow of a happy heart. We envy him, so gay, so earnest is he — so much spirit, and life, and gayety — such openness and generosity.
Who, I say, can describe the actors in these scenes, but the actors themselves? They who play the parts, know themselves wretched men. They have no hope. Life to them has no honorable ambi. tions. They know they will soon die, and they keep up the farce to cheat themselves of the dreadful consciousness of what they
• But what was the effect of this indulgence, this love of excitement, in you ?' the reader asks. It led me into mad scenes of dissipation. It exhausted my moral feelings, and made me fit for any scene of gross debauchery. And then I awoke, when weary nature failed, to a full and stinging sense of my degradation. Thoughts, scorpionwinged, crowded upon me, and an over-wrought fancy supplied the horrors that made my sick couch a hell.
I sometimes left my father's house for weeks. I lived with a set. We supported and gave countenance to each other. We braved public opinion. A man cannot be dissipated in America, and hold his rank in society; there is too nice a moral standard. Society is too pure. The habits of the American people are too commonsense, to allow any tinsel or gaudy veil to make-believe hide the deformities of vice, and to offer an apology for our acquaintance and friends for clinging to us. Splendid talents will not
ld the man who is morally delinquent; nor family connections ; nor even wealth, that mantle of oblivion for almost every sin, in other countries. The man or the woman, it matters not which, who offends the high principles of morality, is lost to society. Such are never received with confidence by respectable classes in society. They may have their
set; they may in some cases, by reformation, be tolerated; but they are stamped, and, Cain-like, they walk the earth. This strictness applies even to young and unmarried men, in that season of life when some liberty and some charity is usually bestowed upon the habitual thoughtlessness of youth. Rank, accidental rank, is the curse of society in Europe. A man is of no consequence in himself; it is his title which pleases. No matter what he is in 'propria persona,' whether a gambler, a rake, or a swindler; if he have a title, his reception is never questioned. Men, on this account, are not put to the cultivation of their dispositions and habits for goodness. This is all a chance growth. He has nothing to gain, except in his own feelings ; and he follows the bent of his accidental impulses, which may be bad or may be good, satisfied that he cannot lose.
In an ignorant age, when books were rare, we can see the effects of this more plainly. The nobles were the tyrants, and the most abandoned and vicious part of the population ; while virtue was found in the shade, in the quiet hamlet and lonely cottage. Domestic love, conjugal fidelity, paternal care, and fraternal affection, gladdened the humble hearth-stone of the laboring poor ; while the castle and palace were the scenes of dark intrigue and secret murder. Father and son were at war. Brother fought with brother. Incest, debauchery, and rapine, were the vices of rulers, while morality and religion clothed the oppressed subject.
Now, literature is so much a fashion, and good books are so common in England, and every where else, and a few great examples are so conspicuous, that the higher classes have become more morally refined by the improvements of the age meeting their leisure and superior opportunities. But still, what gross laxity of morals do we hear of in Europe! What should we think in our country of a man who, with a grown-up family of daughters, should keep a mistress, and be seen with her in open day? Where can domestic affection be, in such a case? What will probably be the principles of his children? How can he advise his sons ? How can he protect his daughters ? And yet, after all, this man is honored, and is the bosom-confidant, it may be, of the very king himself.
It is enough to say, that I fell under the disrepute of the world. I lost my place in society. Mothers no longer cast inquiring eyes upon me. Smiles were more polite, and less cordial. My opinions were not disputed, but suffered to die unargued, like the first worked-up-tothe-point remark of a large overgrown boy at a dinner table, among old and experienced diners-out. As much as to say, in the latter case : “Young Sir, you are no judge of wine, or mutton,' and in my case: “Sir, you are no match for my daughters, and you are fast sinking into nobody.'
To a man bad by system, this would have been nothing. He would, in his theory of conduct, have been prepared for slights and cuts ; but to me it was galling in the extreme, and sometimes drove me to desperation. For I was not bad at heart - so all my friends said and I believed and still believe them. I always wished to do right. My errors pained me more than any one else. Why not correct them, then ?' says the reader. My dear friend - habit, Habit did
my business - education, want of energy, consequent upon a life of impulse. Did you ever try to correct a foible ? Answer me, and then your own question will be answered.
I loved the pure, the good, the honorable ; I had aspirations after excellence; but the fault lay deeply imbedded in my character. I had been carried along in a current all my life, that tended I knew not whither — where I never thought, until I found myself without friends, and a marked man.
A MOTIER's joy.
* Thou that hast been what words may never tell
To Clasp the treasure to her breast,
With low yet fervent prayer,
With some half-uttered air ;
Give food that may not cloy,
This is a mother's joy.
To guide its steps with patient hand,
And quell its childish fears,
When laughter yields to tears;
To gaze upon her boy,
This is a mother's joy.
To count, among the youthful train,
Her own, the fairest flower;
Ne'er yield instruction's hour;
Of love without alloy :
This is a mother's joy.
And when its tender frame doth prove
By strange, quick pain distress'd;
O'er all her face perplex'd;
The bitter draught decoy,
This is a mother's joy.
A mother's joy! yet, who can find
The source of its pure spring;
It lives, a deathless thing:
'Tis drank, but never spent, And proves, what ’i was designed to be,
Her spirit's element.
MEMOIRS OF The Life of Sir WALTER Scott, Bart. By J. G. Lockhart. Part
One. pp. 228. Philadelphia : CAREY, LEA AND BLANCHARD.
We had barely leisure and space to announce the publication of this delightful volume in our number for May; and we propose now rather to indicate the great interest of the work by extracts from its pages, than by extended comments upon them. Aside from the autobiographical fragment, from the pen of the great novelist himself, for the absence of which nothing could have atoned, Mr. Lockhart, by the relation which he bore to the illustrious subject of his labors, has been enabled to bring together a mass of facts and incidents of the most interesting description, by which the reader is made thoroughly acquainted with the boy and the man, the poet and the novelist. Indeed, we think the writer ‘shines unrivalled in the gay Memoir.' He has avoided the too common error of biographers, and made no excursions into ideal realms, to fortify his deductions in relation to the character or habits of the man whose life he is depicting; and with a style the farthest possibly removed from the manufactured, he unites attractiveness of theme with grace and ease of manner, to a remarkable degree.
We commence our extracts with some passages from the autobiography. The writer is now at the Edinburgh High School:
" In the intervals of my school hours I had always perused with avidity such books of history or poetry or voyages and travels as chance presented to me — not forgetting the usual, or rather ten times the usual quantity of fairy tales, eastern stories, romances, etc. These studies were totally unregulated and undirecied. My tutor thought it almost a sin to open a profane play or poem; and my mother, beside that she might be in some degree trammelled by the religious scruples which he suggested, had no longer the opportunity to hear me read poetry as formerly. I found, however, in her dressing-room (where I slept at one time) some odd volumes of Shakspeare; nor can I easily forget the rapture with which I sate up in my shirt reading them by the light of a fire in her apariment, until the bustle of the family rising from supper warned me it was time to creep back to my bed, where I was sup posed to have been safely deposited since nine o'clock. Chance, however, threw in my way a poetical preceptor. This was no other than the excellent and benevolent Dr. Blacklock, well known at that time as a literary character. I know not bow I attracted his attention, and that of some of the young men who boarded in his family; but so it was that I became a frequent and favoured guest. The kind old man opened to me the stores of his library, and through his recommendation I became intimate with Ossian and Spenser. I was delighted with both, yet I think chiefly with the latter poet. The ta wdry repetitions of the Ossianic phraseology disgusted me rather sooner than might have been expected from my age. But Spenser I could have read for ever. Too young to trouble myself about the allegory, I considered all the knights and ladies and dragons and giants in their outward and exoteric sense, and God only knows how delighted I was to find myself in such society. As I had always a wonderful facility in retaining in my memory whatever verses pleased me, the quantity of Spenser's stanzas which I could repeat was really marvellous. But this memory of mine was a very fickle ally, and has through my whole life acted merely upon its own capricious motion, and might have enabled me to adopt old Beattie of Meikledale's answer, when complimented by a certain reverend divine on the strength of the same faculty: 'No, sir,' an.
swered the old Borderer, 'I have no command of my memory. It only retains what hits my fancy, and probably, sir, if you were to preach to me for two hours, I would not be able when you finished to remember a word you had been saying.' My memory was precisely of the same kind; it seldom failed to preserve most tenaciously a favourite passage of poetry, a playhouse ditly, or, above all, a Borderraid ballad; but names, dates, and the other iechnicalities of history, escaped me in a most melancholy degree. The philosophy of history, a much more important subject, was also a sealed book at this period of my life; but I gradually assembled much of what was striking and picturesque in historical narrative; and when, in riper years, I attended more to the deduction of general principles, I was furnished with a powerful host of examples in illustration of them. I was, in short, like an ignorant gamester, who kept up a good hand until he knew how to play it.
"I left the High School, therefore, with a great quantity of general information, ill arranged indeed, and collected without system, yet deeply impressed upon my, mind; readily assorted by my power of connexion and memory, and gilded, if I may be permitted to say so, by a vivid and active imagination. If my studies were not under any direction at Edinburgh, in the country, it may be well imagined, they were less so. A respectable subscription library, a circulating library of ancient standing, and some private book-shelves, were open to my random perusal, and I waded into the stream like a blind man into a ford, without the power of searching my way, unless by groping for it."
Scott says elsewhere, in an account of certain literary societies in Edinburgh, of which he was a member:
“ In the business of these societies — for I was a member of more than one successively - I cannot boast of having made any great figure. I never was a good speaker unless upon some subject which strongly animated my feelings; and, as I was totally unaccustomed to composition, as well as to the art of generalizing my ideas upon any subject, my literary essays were but very poor work. I never attempted them unless when compelled to do so by the regulations of the society, and then I was like the Lord of Castle Rackrent, 'who was obliged to cut down a tree to get a few faggots to boil the kettle; for the quantity of ponderous and miscellaneous knowledge which I really possessed on many subjects, was not easily condensed, or brought to bear upon the object I wished particularly to become master of. Yet there occurred opportunities when this odd lumber of my brain, especially that which was connected with the recondite parts of history, did me, as Hamlet says, 'yeoman's service.' My memory of events was like one of the large, old-fashioned stone-cannons of the Turks- very difficult to load well and discharge, but making a powerful effect when by good chance any object did come within range of its shot. Such fortunate opportunities of exploding with effect maintained my literary character among my companions, with whom I soon met with great indulgence and regard.”
The following anecdotes are taken from Mr. Lockhart's addenda to Scott's ac count of his early school-days:
“He speaks of himself as occasionally 'glancing like a meteor from the bottom to the top of the form.? His school-fellow, Mr. Claud Russell, remembers that he once made a great leap in consequence of the stupidity of some laggard on what is called the dult's (dolt's) bench, who being asked on boggling at cum, 'what part of speech is with ?' answered a substantire. The rector, after a moment's panse, thought it worth while to ask his dux, ‘Is with ever a substantive ?! but all were silent until the query reached Scott, then near the bottom of the class, who instantly responded by quoting a verse of the book of Judges : 'And Sampson said unto Delilah, If they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried, then shall I be weak, and as another man.' Another upward movement, accomplished in a less laudable manner, but still one strikingly illustrative of his ingenious resources, I am enabled to preserve through the kindness of a brother poet and esteemed friend, to whom Sir Walter himself communicated it in the melancholy twilight of his bright day.
“Mr. Rogers says: "Sitting one day alone with him in your house, in the Regent's Park -- it was the day but one before he left it to embark at Portsmouth for Malta)- I led him, among other things, to tell me once again a story of him