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SHORT RIDES IN AN AUTHOR'S OMNIBUS.
“ VESPASIAN, the Roman Emperor, was so tired during the process of his triumphal procession, that he often reproached himself that, being an old man, he was engaged in such an empty and tedious show. And Charles V., in his declining age, preferred the shade of a cloister before the splendour of the Empire. But old age is attended with other and vicious inclinations. old men are usually querulous, impatient, discontented, suspicious, vainly fearful of contempt or want : and from thence, or some other secret cause, are covetous and sordid in sparing, against all the rules of reason and religion. Covetousness is styled by the apostle, the root of all evil; and as the root in winter retains the sap, when the branches have lost their leaves and verdure, so in old age (the winter of life), covetousness preserves its vigour, when other vices are fallen off. Usually, the nearer men approach to the earth, they are more earthly-minded; and, which is strange to amazement, at the sunset of life are providing for a long day."-Dr. Bate's Works, p. 339—published in 1723. That
The tree of deepest root is found,
Least willing still to quit the ground, and that the veritable earth-clinging arbor rite is man, has been observed in all ages. Not less general and just has been the remark that old age is usually querulous, impatient, and discontented; but it is, indeed, strange to amazement, unless upon the principle of a living dog being better than a dead lion, that this grumbling animal should cling to existence with the greatest tenacity when it would seem to possess the least attractions. Either the alleged wretchedness of life must be false, or the life-loving graybeards who assert it must prefer the endurance of misery to the escape from it. Man is the only animal that knows he is to die; yet would he hardly wish to exchange the knowledge which is pain, for the ignorance which would be comparative bliss so irrational does his reason make him !
As to our becoming more attached to riches the nearer we are to their final surrender, may it not be that at the close of life we love them better because we are often left with little else to love ? Avarice is naturally “ an old gentlemanly vice;" one easy to be explained, and not difficult to be excused. The accumulation of wealth is an everpresent sense of increasing power when all other influence is passing away from us; it is a pursuit when we have outlived all our previous occupations and interests; it procures us homage and respect when, having worn out our other claims to distinction, we might perhaps be considered worth nothing, were we not known to be worth money. In some cases it may be valued as the sole remaining good, a feeling that may enhance our appreciation of life itself.
• You have an incurable disease," said a chaplain to a poorhouse patient. “You are old, friendless, and penniless; why, then, do you attach so much importance to life?"
“ Because it is the only thing left to me," was the reply.
Young tells us that “all men think all men mortal but themselves ;" equally true is it that we all love life in our own persons, and all think the weakness truly ridiculous in others.
Like the generality of kings and conquerors, Frederick the Great had a most philosophic indifference to death-in others. In one of his battles, a battalion of veterans having taken to their heels, he galloped after them, bawling out,
“Why do you run away, you old blackguards? Do you want to live for ever?"
FAS EST ET AB HOSTE DOCERI.
As all good Christians, towards the close of the fourteenth century, looked upon the heathen of every nation as their natural enemies, they might have done well to realize our motto, by taking a lesson of toleration from the celebrated Tamerlane, whose opinion upon the subject of religious belief is thus recorded in “ Knolles's History of the Turks,” published in 1638, p. 211.
“ Disliking of no man for his religion whatsoever, so as he did wore ship but one only God, creator of Heaven and Earth, and of all that therein is, he was of himself of opinion that God in essence one, and in himself immutable, without change or diversity, yet for the manitesting of his omnipotency and power, as he had created in the world sundry kinds of people, much differing both in nature, manners, and condition, and yet all framed to the image of himself, so was he also contented to be of them diversly served, according to the diversity of their natures and manners, so that they worship none other gods but him alone, the creator and maker of all things, which was the cause that he suffered the use of all religions within the countries subject to his obedience, were they not mere atheists, idolaters, or worshippers of strange and vain gods.”
The writer of these notices, several years ago, embodied nearly the same thought in verse, without dreaming that he was committing a plagiarism upon Tamerlane the Tartar.
“ Man, like the other plants of earth,
Millions of instruments displays ;
To hymn the same creator's praise,
Tinged by their tegument of clay,
DUPLICATE POETS.* It is a remarkable fact, and one perhaps not very generally known, that there have been three poets of the respective names of Walter Scott, Samuel Rogers, and James Grahame, before the excellent authors of “Marmion,” “The Pleasures of Memory,” and “ The Sabbath.” Specimens of their published works may be found in Mr. Southey's “ Later English Poets;" and they all three existed (we cannot say flourished) between the latter part of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—the very dark ages of English poetry. Walter Scott was the author of the “ History of the Right Honourable Name of Scott,” often quoted by his greater clansman, Sir Walter ; but his verses are very humble.
Mr. Samuel Rogers was a parson, and published in 1782, two volumes of ordinary familiar epistles; but they trod very closely, in point of time only, upon our venerable contemporary's first work, the “ Epistle to a Friend.”
Mr. James Grahame the first, was a Scotchman, like the author of “The Sabbath,” and being such, his whole works are preserved in Dr. Anderson's collection of the poets; but, although the following passage be not a fair specimen of them, we may venture to say that they will never be read again. The poet supposes it to be debated in Heaven how to reward the distinguished virtue of Archibald Hamilton, Esq.
“Shall he at once our happy mansions tread,
From life's low cares and flesh's fetters freed ?
Be Miss Dinwiddie his divine reward.” It is certainly singular that Nature should have “ tried her 'prentice hand” on these three dull Walter Scotts, Samuel Rogerses, and James Grahames, before she could at last turn out such poets as our dear Sir Walter; our venerable friend, the Right Samuel Rogers; and the toulittle-known, but original poet, James Grahame. We may be pretty sure that Nature has now broken these moulds of names; at least they have been conjured with; and a good conjurer never repeats a successful trick.
* For this curious article we are indebted to the “Common Place Book" of a literary friend.
LITERATURE OF THE MONTH.
THE HISTORY OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS.*
This is the commencement of an important national work. Still, it is, to a certain degree, complete in itself-its general plan being to record the History of the House of Commons, in the lives of its Speakers, and other distinguished members. Nor could a better plan be perhaps devised; certainly none so likely to afford that entertainment which is nowadays so essential to the success even of a work of utility'; for the age is Utilitarian in name alone, and exhibits as strong a craving after amusement and excitement as it did when the word and the thing were equally unknown.
It is singular how many persons have played a distinguished part in the House of Commons, whose names are scarcely known even to the general student of our country's history: a fact which is noticed by the author of this work, and has doubtless formed one of his reasons for entering upon his important undertaking, and there cannot be a more conclusive or legitimate one. “The name of Powle,” says Mr. Townsend in his preface, “to whom belonged the peculiar honour of presiding over the Convention, sounds almost strangely in our ears; Sir John Trevor is chiefly remembered by the erroneous statement of Granger, that he put the question to the vote on his own expulsion; of the violent declaimer, Foley; the scheming Lyttleton; the one Smith' who occupied the chair of the first Parliament of Great Britain -scarcely more than a few emply titles and dates are recorded." Again—"The venerable trimmer, Serjeant Maitland ; the “gentle Somers,” who redeemed his learned brothers from the charge, too common in that age, of universal corruption; the tainted learning of Lawyer and Williams; the stout-hearted Price, who rescued by his eloquence so fair a portion of the principality from the prodigal gifts of King William ; the black-letter Jacobite, Sir Bartholomew Shower; the impetuous Leechmere ; the much-quizzed Sir Joseph Jekyll, that good old neutral member who never changed his politics or wis,'” &c. &c.
It is the amusing and most valuable office of Mr. Townsend's work, to tell us “ all about" these people, and a host of others of more re. cent date. In like manner, as he says, “ The History of the House itself is not less concealed from popular gaze, locked up, as it were, in its voluminous Journals, State Trials, Parliamentary Debates, and Precedents of Hatsell.”
These treasures it is the business of this work to unlock, collate, and so sift and weed of their superfluous parts, as to allow of their being presented to the reader in a succinct and consistent form ; and the present volume comprises an era commencing with the Convention of 1688, and ending with the death of George I. in 1727. This era is by no means a favourable one as compared with those which are to follow it; but still the result is a volume crowded with matter of import as well as entertainment; and there can be little doubt that its success will command a rapid fulfilment of the entire plan, which, so far as may be judged of by what is here accomplished, will be comprised in two more volumes.
* History of the House of Commons, from the Conventional Parliament of 1688, to the passing of the Reform Bill in 1832. By W. C. Townsend, Esq., M.A., Recorder of Macclesfield. Vol I.
HARGRAVE; OR, THE ADVENTURES OF A MAN OF
Is the second title of this new production of Mrs. Trollope's prolific pen, a touch of that satire which (to speak paradoxically), is as much the forte as it is the foible of this distinguished writer ? Does she desire the world to understand by it that the construction and constitution of “ fashionable" life are such, that the cynosure of fashionable eyes—the idol of the aristocratic world—the head and front of all that is commanding in station, captivating in manner, and consummate in taste and social tact,--does she mean to inculcate that such is the falsehood and hollowness of the principle on which fashionable society is based, that a man may be all this, and yet at the same time be living in the commission of the most monstrous and atrocious crimes ?—nay, that such crimes may, for years together, have been the sole means of maintaining such a position? Yet if Mrs. Trollope do not tell her “ Adventures of a Man of Fashion” with some such moral view as this, what is the secret of her choice of such a subject ? and for a work, too, on which she has evidently put forth her very best powers, and has, in fact, shown herself not inferior to the most popular writer of his class in that department of composition which he has most cultivated—the romance of the actual life of the day.
However these questions may be answered, certain it is that Mrs. Trollope has, on the present occasion, chosen a subject, and adopted a style of treating it, that, while they show her talents in an entirely new light, make a more distinct and direct appeal to mere popular favour than is to be found in any one of her previous works; and we have little doubt that the result will be a still more extended circulation than she has yet attained. Nor has she made any sacrifice to obtain this object; on the contrary, we do not recollect any one of her works on which she appears to have bestowed more skill on the construction of the plot, more care on the development of the characters and the action, and more finish on the graces of mere style.
Still Mrs. Trollope has laid herself open to a charge to which no popular writer of our day has hitherto been less liable—that of employing illegitimate and melodramatic sources of interest. Yet if such a charge were made in the present instance, it would be as unjust as that inferred in the disapprobation of the Roman actor who had a live pig
Hargrave; or, the Adventures of a Man of Fashion. By Mrs. Trollope. 3 vols.
April.-VOL. LXVII, NO. CCLXVIII.