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LECTURES AND ESSAYS.

FALSTAFF.

A TYPE OF EPICUREAN LIFE.

Our purpose in the present Essay is to make some remarks on the character of Falstaff, and on that phase of human life which the character presents and illus

trates.

When George the Fourth was Prince of Wales, every body knows that he had a dandy companion called Beau Brummell, and every body also knows, that for some liberty taken with his royalty, the prince discarded the dandy. The anecdote is equally familiar, that one day Brummell and a nobleman of his acquaintance came casually in contact with the prince, when the prince courteously noticed the lord, and studiously slighted the beau. The beau, with the most

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imperturbable indifference, while his highness was yet in hearing, said to the lord, “ Pray who is that fat friend of yours ??

We have here to speak of one, who was not indeed a fat Prince of Wales, but a very fat friend to a very lean Prince of Wales: indeed a fat man is almost synonymous with a fat friend. There is something cordial in a fat man. Every body likes him, and he likes every body. Your Ishmaelites are, in truth, a bareboned race; a lank tribe they are, — all skeleton and bile. Food does a fat man good ; it clings to him ; it fructifies upon him; he swells nobly out, and fills a generous space in life. He is a living, , walking-minister of gratitude to the bounty of the earth and the fullness thereof; an incarnate testimony against the vanities of care ; a radiant manifestation of the wisdom of good humor. A fat man, therefore, almost in virtue of being a fat man, is, per se, a popular man and commonly he deserves his popularity. In a crowded vehicle the fattest man will ever be the most ready to make room. Indeed, he seems half sorry for his size, lest it be in the way of others; but others would not have him less than he is; for his humanity is usually commensurate with his bulk. A fat man has abundance of rich juices. The hinges of his system are well oiled ; the springs of his being are noiseless

; and so he goes on his way rojoicing, in full contentment and placidity. It is not thus with your thin people ; the disease of leanness has manifold discomforts. Their joints are dry; they creak like rusty axles, and from the want of due moisture, their tempers become as sharp as their bones. A fat man feels his position solid in the world ; he knows that his being is cognisable; he knows that he has a marked place in the universe, and that he need take no extraordinary pains to advertise mankind that he is among them ; he knows that he is in no danger of being overlooked. Your thin man is uncertain, and therefore he is uneasy. He may vanish any hour into nothing; already he is almost a shadow, and hence it is that he uses such laborious efforts to convince you of his existence ; to persuade you that he is actually something ; that he is more than non-entity ; that he is a positive substance as well as his corpulent fellow-creature. To make this the more apparent, he tries with all his might to compensate the weakness of his step by the rapidity of his motions, and the feebleness of his voice by the solemn dignity of his utterance. But what a vain task is his ! The fat man has only to appear, and the creature is absolutely lost in the ample obscurity of the fat man's shadow; the fat man has only to speak, and he drowns the treble squeal of his fleshless brother, in the depths of his bass, as the full swell of an organ overpowers

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