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forgave any one who hesitated to fly in the teeth of his injunctions, and pay court to him against his will
. He demanded, first, that you should give him credit for sincerity, and then he required that you should act as if he were insincere. All sorts of little attentions he must have-together with a reputation for despising them.
And wherefore do P., Q., and R., play in some shape or other the same small game. Generally because the little, in every sense, best suits their natures. It is because they mistrust themselves that they would mislead others; because they doubt the strength of their more permanent claims to respect, and feel that they must snatch at any tokens of estimation, any triumphs of self-importance, which occasion
offer. Like beggars, they must not be choosers, but take what they can get.
Theirs is the excitement which the actor craves; the time must bring with it its own zest. It is not the applause of the general public, still less that of posterity, least of all perhaps that which their own matured and self-satisfying judgment would most approve—it is not this that they take the trouble to seek—but simply the applause of the scanty audience around them, the false, fleeting tribute of a few barren spectalors. They never feel sure, scarcely can they believe, that their position and character are recognised, unless they can elicit these audible and visible signs of their influence. Seldom are men so little as when they live only for little attentions.
But what are those who pay the tribute? Insignificant enough; yet the slave is sometimes more respectable than the tyrant.
There are among them tolerably harmless fellows. These are the Mr. Fiddle-faddles of this world. They always make what are called excellent husbands, pattern Benedicks; that is, they call their wives “My dear,” and Ay to help them on with their shawls. When the lady merely glances across the room, they whisper" can I get you any thing, love ?" and they create in her ten thousand whims, by tenderly imagining as many interesting wants for her. They are always planning some little surprises, to please, as they say, but in reality to spoil her; and as often as she has a headach from over-indulgence, they are heart-broken.
Then there are the bachelor Fiddle-faddles, who pass their evenings at the elbows of singing ladies, turning the music page over just at the right time; who are always ready to set the candles right for any one who is looking over engravings; and who never saw a cup of coffee in their lives that they did not wish to offer it to somebody.
“Say what you will," their maxim runs,“ people like these little attentions."
They are generally happy in the good fortune of having procured a sixpenny view of Dorchester, to give to somebody who has lately been there; and they have always ready for use a rather unhackneyed passage from Moore to copy into the album of some charming woman who happened curiously enough to say she admired him. Of course they are so attentive as to remember that little miss had a shocking cough, and they are lucky enough to have a new and improved lozenge, which they beg to be permitted to administer; and when it bas almost choked the child, mamma cries,
“ How very attentive !" They have a penknife in the waistcoat-pocket, which is promptly
drawn forth, and very much at the service of the gentleman who is writing; and probably they have some such abomination as a cigarholder to proffer, most obligingly, to the astounded and disdainful smoker. Not that they are always so discriminating as to proffer their service where there is an apparent chance of its being acceptable; for in the absence of the right article, rather than not pay any attentions at all, they would offer the cigar-holder to the gentleman who needs a penknife. Most likely they carry a silver pen, which, when they have prevailed upon some victim to use it, splashes the paper all over, or cuts its way to the next sheet.
One of the many varieties of human kind addicted to the practice of the small-attentions, comes in the likeness of a young lady (turned twenty-one), who, having had no "offer" hitherto, thinks it time to acquire a reputation for being extremely agreeable and obliging, with the character of one who would make the best wife in the world." What pains she will take to please every body around her! What an amiable, polite, siniling slavery is hers! What multitudes of pretty trifles which you don't want will she make you a present of! What hourly inconvenience will she occasion you, by setting your writingtable in order, and stowing away your books, and arranging with success your familiar disarrangements. Beseech her noi to trouble herself-she will work twice as hard, and do double damage. Employ whom you will upon any little errand about the house, and she will snatch the commission out of their hands. She must be so obliging. Let us pray that this will not, in regular process, lapse into downright sycophancy and toadyism ;—for the sake of the ill-fated young gentleman of nineteen, who, innocently admiring the unwearied amiability, offers her one or two little attentions in return; which, being regarded upon her part as an explicit declaration, involve upon his the immediate forfeiture of his hand. The little attentions here indicated are, with all the dangers attending them, so well understood, as to require no description.
But all this is mere idleness and comparatively innocent folly. It is sometimes a little intrusive and presumptuous, but while we laugh we can pardon. It at least indicates a desire to please; and gives promise, perhaps, that the professor of small attentions would really do somebody a positive kindness now and then, if he knew how to set about it. It is less hurtful to others than to himself, whose energies both of heart and mind it saps, with a fearful and a sure rapidity; until whatever is redeeming in his busy concern about insignificancies--the wish to diffuse pleasure—becomes a mere silly habit without a motive; the mechanical trick loses its grace, the emptiness of the over-acted courtesy is seen; and the truth comes out, that life has been absurdly trifled away, in vain and restless impotence, as though it were but wreaihs of vapour.
“ The worst remains behind.” It is when this idle habit of offering to all sorts of people “ all sorts of little attentions,” degenerates into that, to which it at least indirectly leads, the practice of the deliberate and conscious Parasite: that "fawning parasite" whose image, although seen in miniature daily without a shudder
, impresses itself upon the imagination as the most supple, crawling, and repulsive of all shapes known to it. Exhaust the catalogue of crimes recognised by the law - track the fiery and desolating course of the vilest passions, and then judge them, without the slightest extenuation on the score of tempted human weakness, by the havoc they have made, the ruin they have effected—and still ibere is one crime, one propensity remaining, that looks blackest and most loathsome of all.
The “fawning parasite" is a picture, which, in consummate and ineffable meanness, in the degradation that has nothing of the redeeming in it even by association, places human nature at the worst. We know, by that sign, the most servile and sickening form that unmanliness can take. We know that the last stage of the despicable, the utmost bitterness of honest disdain, has been attained, when we behold in that abject thing our own likeness. We can wander no further from the uprightness and the sincerity which are the two wings of the world, wasting it heavenward. We have found the lowest level when we have found out that.
A sign of the intolerable repulsiveness of this character is seen in the fact that it has never yet been fully drawn. Fearful glimpses of it we have had, but it has not been any where worked out as all wickedness beside has been. Men can bear to paint and contemplate the other vices to which they are liable ; but the depravity here is too horribly mean and unsightly—they have thrown a veil over it by common consent. Villany of all degrees is tolerated upon the stage, and viewed with curiosity; the spectacle raises various feelings of sympathy or disgust, but it is beheld patiently, and seen to an end. The delineation of the Parasite, at full length, would be hooted off the boards--it could not be endured for half an hour.
Let nothing we have herein said relating to those many“ little attentions" which, insincerely offered, although not traceable to a deliberate and detestable deceit—which, if prompted only by a spirit of officiousness or vanity, still lead on indirectly to this dark and ruinous abyss -let nothing “ herein contained” be misconstrued into a contempt for those trivial causes from which great events proverbially spring. When Cæsar muffled up his face, death looking out of it, as he fell at the base of Pompey's statue, the action seemed trivial; and yet how grand it is, and with what dignity it invests the fall of the conqueror. When Nelson, while the engagement was yet raging, rejected the proffered wafer, and waited, though in hot haste, for wax to seal the letter, the point of distinction appears small, but how great the foresight, and how incalculable the consequences associable with it. So in a hundred memorable instances. Assuredly there are little attentions" which are of great importance.
ON NEW YEAR'S EVE.
How sweet they used to be, and dear!
Their voice proclaim'd the new-born Year !
To hear that old melodious chime,
BY THE MEDICAL STUDENT.
What shore is that, whose spicy gale
Comes sweetly o'er the waves to me, Whose many a mount, and sunny dale, With
green and orange gird the sea, Whose swarthy sons and night-eyed daughters
Come gliding round our bark of war In boats that birdlike wing the waters,
And tinkle music faint and far?
All grave and strange the people seem,
But glad the clime of their abiding;
After a day of happy tiding.
How dulcet sounds the foreign tongue
In inky veil is o'er them flung !
It is the clime of southern Spain,
Granada's hills the sun is gilding, With many a river, wood, and plain,
And town and tower of paynim building.
It is the scene of song and story,
The very realm of dim romance, Of spell, adventure, love, and glory,
Of javelin and broken lance.
And children of the blended races
Are these-of orient Araby
The mingled blood all glowingly.
Then haste thee, come my little friend,
My own adopted, let's ashore, On steeds of Barbary we'll wend
By every scene of olden lore.
Far over this enchanted land
On fleetest foot we'll lightly scour,
At convent eld, or Moorish bower.
LITERATURE OF THE MONTH.
FREDERICK THE GREAT, HIS COURT AND TIMES.*
In the first and second volumes of this work, the author traced, with infinite care, and by the aid of an unprecedented command of materials and resources, the early character and career of Frederick, from infancy to the vigour of manhood. The reader has accompanied him (with all the excitement of a high-souled romance, yet all the deepened feeling which truth alone can engender) through the trials and perils of early youth, into the gay circle of pleasure-loving associates, and seen him, like our fifth Henry, when summoned to the throne of his father, renouncing the gaieties in which he had before delighted, and devoting himself, body and soul, to the arduous duties of his high vocation. His predecessors, in his great office, had bequeathed to him a legacy of deep wrongs to be deeply resented; and he more than fulfilled their anticipations, by tearing from the offending power that flourishing province which may justly be called the fairest jewel in the crown of Prussia. In this case, vengeance was justice; and, till Frederick had accomplished it, he left the minor interests of the state to the more than questionable condition in which he found them. But no sooner did Peace enable the conqueror of Silesia to sheath the sword, than we find him applying all the energies of his extraordinary mind to the improvement of the condition of his subjects, and to the encouragement of arts, manufactures, commerce, agriculture, and all those branches of industry upon which the prosperity of States is founded.
Jealous of the increasing importance given to the Prussian monarchy by its new ruler, the great powers of the continent leagued together with the intention of dividing its principal provinces among them; and Frederick was again called upon to quit his peaceful pursuits, and to place himself at the head of his armies, which, after, all was the true scene of this monarch's greatness.
The Seven Years' War commenced, and with the history of that extraordinary contest opens the present portion of this work. It occupies the whole of the third volume; but the author has not confined himself to military details, but has been careful to preserve all those personal incidents and traits which tend to throw light on the motives, character, and sentiments of the warrior-king during this the most trying period of his life. With bim it was a struggle not merely for royalty, but for existence—a war waged with the fixed determination not to survive captivity, and not to surrender a single foot of territory. Undaunted by the overwhelming superiority of the force which he had to oppose, though often reduced by his reverses to the brink of despair, he contrived, by fortitude, perseverance, energy, decision, and promptness, to bring this war to a triumphant termination. It was undertaken not for conquest, but to resist aggression : in this object the royal hero
Frederick the Great, his Court and Times. Edited (with an Introduction), by Thomas Campbell, Esq. Vols. III. and IV.