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amusing himself with his friend Lælius, at Caieta or Laurentum, in gathering shells and pebbles on the sea-shore. Far from sinking their dignity in our estimation, it adds to it; and it must give a high idea of the elegant simplicity and virtuous tranquillity of mind of which the illustrious friends were possessed, when from the cares of the state, they could descend to, and feel amusement in, those innocent pleasures. None but men of virtue, and who possessed an easy and irreproachable mind could have enjoyed them*. Men whose consciences upbraided them, who felt the agitation of bad passions, and who were inwardly gnawed by the sensations of envy, jealousy, revenge, or hatred, could not have thus indulged themselves. They must have buried their feelings, they must have got rid of their own minds, under less peaceful, less simple, and less innocent amusements. That absorption of calm feeling which hard drinking produces, and that agitation created by deep gaming, must have been their
N. B. The Mirror is to be discontinued till Tuesday the seventh of December, on which day will be published No. LXI. and then continued, as formerly, every Tuesday and Saturday.
* See Melmoth's Cicero's Letters.
No. LXI. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 7.
DURING the late intermission of my labours, I paid a visit of some weeks to my friend Mr. Umphraville, whose benevolence and worth never fail to give me the highest pleasure, a pleasure not lessened, perhaps, by those little singularities of sentiment and manner, which, in some former papers, I have described that gentleman as possessing. At his house in the country, these appear to the greatest advantage; there they have room to shoot out at will; and, like the old yew-trees in his garden, though they do look a little odd, and now and then tempt one to smile, yet the most eccentric of them all have something venerable about them.
Some of my friend's peculiarities may not only be discovered in his manner and his discourse, but may be traced in his house and furniture, his garden and grounds. In his house are large rooms lighted by small Gothic windows, and accessible only by dark narrow stair-cases; they are fitted up with old arras, and have ceilings loaded with the massy compartments of the last age, where the heads of bearded sages and laurelled emperors look grim and terrible through the cobwebs that surround them. In his grounds you find stiff, rectangular walks, and straight, narrow avenues. In his garden the yews and hollies still retain their primeval figures! lions and unicorns guard the corners of his parterres, and a spread-eagle, of a remarkable growth, has his wings clipped, and his talons pared, the first Monday of every month during spring and summer.
The contempt in which, to a somewhat unreasonable degree, he holds modern refinement, has led him to continue these antiquated particulars about him. The India paper, of some of his fashionable neighbours drawing-rooms, has enhanced the value
of his arras; his dusky Gothic windows, have been contrasted to great advantage, with their bows and Venetians; their open lawns have driven him to the gloom of his avenues; and the zig-zag twist of their walks has endeared to him the long, dull line of his hedged terraces. As he holds, however, some good old political tenets, and thinks, as I have often heard him express himself, that every country can afford a king for itself, he had almost submitted to the modern plan of gardening a few years ago, on being put in mind, that the fashion of hedges and terraces was brought in by King William.
But, exclusive of all those motives, on which his sister and I sometimes rally him, my friend, from the warmth of his heart, and the sensibility of his feelings, has a strong attachment to all the ancient occupiers of his house and grounds, whether they be of the human or brute, the animate or inanimate creation. His tenants are, mostly, coeval with himself; his servants have been either in his family, or on his estate, from their infancy; an old pointer, and an old house-dog, generally meet him in the lobby; and there is a flea-bitten horse, who, for several years, has been past riding, to whom he has devoted the grass of his orchard, and a manger of good hay during the severity of winter. A withered stump, which, I observed greatly incommoded the entry to his house, he would not suffer to be cut down, because it had the names of himself and some of his school companions cyphered on its bark; and a divorce from his leathern elbow-chair, patched and tattered as it is, would, I am persuaded, be one of the most serious calamities that could befal him.
This feeling will be easily understood by those in whom the business or the pleasure of the world has not extinguished it. That sort of relation which we own to every object we have long been acquainted with, is one of those natural propensities the mind
will always experience, if it has not lost this connection by the variety of its engagements, or the bustle of its pursuits. There is a silent chronicle of past hours in the inanimate things amidst which they have been spent, that gives us back the affections, the regrets, the sentiments, of our former days; that gives us back their joys without tumult, their griefs without poignancy, and produces equally from both a pensive pleasure, which men who have retired from the world, like Umphraville, or whom particular circumstances have somewhat estranged from it, will be peculiarly fond of indulging. Above all others, those objects which recal the years of our childhood, will have this tender effect upon the heart: they present to us afresh the blissful illusions of life, when Gaiety was on the wing undamped by Care, and Hope smiled before us unchecked by Disappointment. The distance of the scene adds to our idea of its felicity, and increases the tenderness of its recollection; it is like the view of a landscape by moon-shine; the distinctness of object is lost, but a mellow kind of dimness softens and unites the whole.
From the same sort of feeling has the idea of home its attraction. For, though one's interest there will undoubtedly be heightened by the relation to persons, yet there is, exclusive of that connection altogether, a certain attachment to place and things, by which the town, the house, the room in which we live, have a powerful influence over us. He must be a very dull, or a very dissipated man, who, after a month's absence, can open his door without emotion, even though he has no relation or friend to welcome him within. For my part, I feel this strongly; and many an evening, when I have shut the door of my little parlour, trimmed the fire, and swept the hearth, I sit down with the feelings of a friend for every chair and table in the room.
There is, perhaps, a degree of melancholy in all this; the French, who are a lively people, have, I think, no vocable that answers to our substantive home; but it is not the melancholy of a sour unsocial being; on the contrary, I believe, there will always be found a tone of benevolence in it both to ourselves and others;....I say ourselves, because I hold the sensation of peace and friendship with our own minds to be one of the best preparatives, as well as one of the best rewards of virtue.
Nor has nature given us this propensity in vain. From this the principle of patriotism has its earliest source, and some of those ties are formed, which link the inhabitants of less favoured regions to the heaths and mountains of their native land. In cultivated society, this sentiment of home cherishes the useful virtues of domestic life; it opposes to the tumultuous pleasures of dissipation and intemperance, the quiet enjoyments of sobriety, economy, and family affection; qualities which, though not attractive of much applause or admiration, are equally conducive to the advantage of the individuals and the welfare of the community.