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ADVANTAGES OF HAVING NO HEAD!
The very head and front of my offending
I HATE the man who can never see more than one side of a question— who has but a single idea, and that perhaps a wrong one.-No, I adopt an impression zealously, perhaps erroneously, but I forget not the "audi alteram partem." I can plead my own cause, but I have not given myself a retaining fee; I am therefore open to conviction, and forward to acknowledge all that may be reasonably claimed by my opponents. Candour and liberality are my motto, in the spirit of which I begin with confessing, that there are occasions when that bulbous excrescence termed a head may be deemed a handy appendage. As a peg to hang hats on-as a barber's block for supporting wigs, or a milliner's for showing off bonnets-as a target for shooting at when rendered conspicuous by a shining helmet-as a snuff-box or a chatterbox-as a machine for stretching nightcaps, or fitting into a guillotine, or for shaking when we have nothing to say: in all these capacities it is indisputably a most useful piece of household furniture. Yet, as far as my own experience goes, its inconveniences so fearfully predominate over its accommodations, that if I could not have been born a column without any capital, made compact and comfortable by an ante-natal decollation, I would at least have chosen to draw my first breath among
"The Anthropophagi and men whose heads
that by carrying mine adversary in this manner, locked up as it were in mine own chest, I might keep him in as good subjection as St. Patrick did when he swam across the Liffey, and be the better enabled to stomach whatever miseries he might entail upon me.
Away with the hackneyed boast so pompously put forth by simpletons who have no pretensions to the distinction they claim for the race-that man only has a reasoning head. Tant pis pour lui. If he possess this fine privilege he treats it as worldlings sometimes do their fine clothes -he values it so highly that he has not the heart to use it, or shew it in his conduct. His reason lies in the wardrobe of his brain till it becomes moth-eaten, or if he exert it at all, it is that it may commit a moral suicide and try to get rid of itself. Never so happy as when he can escape from this blessing, he dozes away as much of it as he can in sleep or blows out his highly vaunted brains every evening with a bottle of port wine-or tells you, with a paviour's sigh, that the happiest man is the laughing lunatic who finds his straw-crown and jointstool throne a most delightful exchange for all the vanity and vexation of irrational reason. Now, if a man could but leave off at his neckmake his shoulders the ultima Thule of his figure-convert himself into a pollard, all this would be accomplished at once. He would not belong to either the family of the Longheads or the Wrongheads; he would be neither headstrong nor headlong; he could not be over head and ears in debt or in love; head-ach, and face-ach, and toothach, and ear-ach, would be to him as gorgons and griffins, and harpies -imaginary horrors; ophthalmick medicines he needs not; he neither runs his head into danger nor against a wall, and whether corn be high or low-rents paid or unpaid—the five per cents. reduced to four, or
the three per cents. to nothing, he cares not, for there is no earthly matter about which he can trouble his head. A chartered libertine, he laughs (in his sleeve) at kings and parliaments; the wandering Jew, St. Leon, or Melmoth were not more impassive; guillotines and new drops have for him no more terrors than has a thumbscrew for a sprat, or light boots for an oyster'; Jack Ketch and the Headman are no more formidable to him than are the Centaurs and Amazons to us. -"Let the gall'd jade wince, his withers are unwrung." The happy headless rogue pays neither powder nor capitation tax. The London Tavern and the Crown and Anchor are his patrimonial kitchens, wherein he alone may reckon without his host. All ordinaries are at his mercy; he may gorge with his friends until the revel rout be dispersed by the watchmen. "The sloe-juice and ratsbane, and such kind of stuff," be it ever so villainous, can never get up into his brain, and as to the reckoning in all these cases, it is so much a-head -and what is that to him?
It may be thought that I have said enough upon this no-head, but I cannot refrain from adding, that a man thus happily truncated would possess immense advantages over his companions, should the guardians of the night break in upon his symposia as I have imagined, for he could not be tweaked by the nose, nor thrust out head and shoulders;. although he might tumble down stairs without any risk of breaking his neck or fracturing his skull. During life he might play as many pranks as Yorick the king's jester, and after death no Hamlet could exclaim over his remains-" Why, will he suffer this knave to knock him about the sconce with a dirty shovel, and will not tell him of his action of battery ?"
Plato's Atlantis, and Sir Thomas Moore's Utopia, and Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia, would all be realised in the felicitous life of such a being as I have suggested. But methinks I hear my fair readers exclaim, what happiness is there without love, and where would such an animal find a mistress? Do we not already hear husbands often complaining that their wives have no heads, and vice versâ? Besides, might he not seek the original "good woman," of whom a de-capital likeness is suspended at a public-house sign at Shoreditch, and another at Walworth, neither of which did I ever pass in my suburban rambles without many marital yearnings, and longings, and aspirations? These were the only beatific visions that ever identified to me the conception of the novelists and dramatists-Love at first Sight. That stump of a neck is irresistible. In the event of a marriage thus constituted, some difficulty might occur as to the responses, but it could be obviated by signs as in the unions of our deaf and dumb, not by a nod or shake of the head indeed, but by some equally intelligible indication; and methinks I could rival Catullus himself in composing an epithalamium for such a nuptial pair, for I might safely predicate that they would never lay their heads together to hatch mischief, nor run them against one another in anger, nor lose their time in kissing, nor fall together by the ears. No fear of Bluebeards in this happy state, which, if it could be universally accomplished, would at once restore to us the Saturnia regna-the golden age-the millennium.
Envious, and timid, and jealous people, are perpetually on the watch to oppose every improvement as revolutionary innovation; and
by some such I expect to be told that my project is jacobinical, as tending to make the profane vulgar independent of those legitimate correctives-the axe and the halter; but I cannot see the matter in this light. John Bull, we are sometimes told, is like a restive horse-give him his head and he runs to the devil; but, by my proposition, the common people will never be able to make head at all, whatever be their provocations, so that I really consider myself entitled to the great prize from the members of the Holy Alliance. Other cavillers may urge that it would be injurious to the progress of knowledge and the cultivation of literature, as if the brains could not exist any where but in the head! Buffon, no ignoramus in such matters, was decidedly of opinion that the stomach was the seat of thought. Persius dubs it a Master of Arts,
"Magister Artium, Ingeniique largitor venter."
We have it on the powerful authority of Menenius Agrippa, a grave Roman, that the belly once maintained an argumentative colloquy with the members. Ventriloquism is yet in its infancy, but who should limit its eloquence were it cultivated from necessity? So satisfied are we of the reflecting disposition of this portion of our economy, that we call a cow, or other beast with two stomachs, a ruminating animal, par excellence. Why might not our clergy, instead of dividing their discourses into heads-Cerberean, Polypean, and Hydraform, which always afflicts me with a Cephalalgy-spin the thread of their sermons, like the spider's, from the stomach instead of the head, and apportion them under the titles of the peristaltic motion, the epigastre, the hypochondre, and the colon-names as sonorous and classical as those of the Muses, with which Herodotus has baptised his respective chapters? Even constituted as we now are, with headquarters already provided for the brains, will any one deny that an Opera dancer's are in his heels, or that Shakspeare had not a similar conviction, when he makes one of his characters exclaim,
"Hence will I drag thee headlong, by the heels,
Does he not, moreover, distinctly mark the seat of pride and aspiring talent, when he says of Wolsey,
"He was a man
But I have said enough. If the reader be satisfied that I am suggesting a prodigious improvement, I have carried my point: if he be not, I deny that he has a rational head, and thus establish my argument. Here are the two horns of a dilemma, which, if he will continue to wear his super-humeral callosity in spite of my admonitions, may supply it a fitting decoration; and so having conducted him to the same predicament as Falstaff in Windsor Forest, I leave him to moonlight and the fairies. H.
THE GALLERY OF APELLES.*
Combabus had not yet passed his 20th year, and Apelles was in his 75th. Yet the two friends communed at parting with the sympathy and freedom of equal ages-for the heart of Apelles was still in its 20th year. The gods had vouchsafed to him that rare endowment of privileged genius-to retain in his old age the fancy and sensibility of youth. At some moments, indeed, he would reprove the young man for the extravagance of his purpose; "What," said he, "leave Greece, the land of arts, literature, and beauty, to look upon one fair woman on the barbarian shores of Asia!"-But this was a mere obeisance to the decorum of his years-his heart went with Combabus. "Go," said he, " my young friend-may the gods preserve you!" As they embraced, Combabus felt upon his shoulder, where it was uncovered by the fold of his peplus, a drop from the old man's eye, and pressed both his hands affectionately in return." No, Combabus," said Apelles, "it is not the grief of parting, although thou art dear to me as my own child, but the despair of these aged limbs which will not bear me, to look once more upon that divine form-farewell!"
Combabus noticed but few objects or incidents during his voyage. His mind was occupied with the divine perfection of the Apellean Venus, and the flitting visions of beauty in which his imagination arrayed the original which he was going to behold. On board the ship which conveyed him, he was so silent and absorbed as to attract the notice of the passengers. Of these, the men pronounced him a fool; the women, more charitable, ascribed his behaviour to disappointed or parted love. A young Ionian girl approached him with a winning air of polished simplicity and young innocence, to ask if he was indisposed. Combabus, in his distraction, answered by some incoherent phrase: "Pardon me," said the innocent and beautiful questioner, "if supposing you indisposed, I have intruded upon, perhaps, the sadness of being parted from those you love." Combabus looked for the first time upon the countenance of her who spoke to him. It was of the Diana cast; the traits pronounced to an outline nobly beautiful-but the severer loveliness of the Virgin of the woods, touched into softness by the influence of blue Ionian eyes: Combabus merely thanked her; but the tone in which he spoke told her that he felt her kindness— perhaps, also, that her beauty had not escaped him. He rose from his seat, took her by the hand, and requested her to sit on the bench beside him. "You should," said she," be a Greek, and yet, pardon me, there is something of the stranger." "Your observation is just," said Combabus; "I was born in Persia, of an Athenian mother, whom the fortune of war made the slave, and her beauty and virtue afterwards made the wife, of a Persian general. But Greece (continued he) ay, my beloved Athens ! thou art the country of my youth, my education, and my filial love.” “And I too," replied the ingenuous girl, "though born at Miletus, claim kindred with all that is Athenian. You see this little clasp of gold-it is the reward of the polished and amiable Athenians, to a simple girl who proved some skill in music, and denotes that
Continued from vol. iv. page 1.
Athens adopted me her child." A slight gesture, accompanying these words, drew the eye of Combabus to a little golden figure of the grasshopper, usually worn at the meeting of the drapery on the breast, by those Athenian ladies who claim their descent from the stock of Cecrops. The beautiful Ionian, from instinctive modesty, wore it drawn nearly to the shoulder, clasping the foldings of her light robe, so high across her bosom, as wholly to veil its brightness; but a slight embroidered cincture confined the descending drapery underneath, so as to delineate the beauty of its contour. Combabus said nothing. But it is probable there was something in his looks-or perhaps, he sighedto sustain the conversation-for the fair Greek, in a voice bordering upon the familiarly kind, offered to play for him on her lyre. She rose on the instant without waiting his assent, and produced from its case of ebony a slender eleven-stringed lyre, exquisitely wrought, but of simple ornament. Having resumed her seat, facing Combabus, and presenting to him her right arm (her left hand was engaged in holding the lyre), "Will you," said she, "release my arm from this clasp :" Combabus did so, with a tremulous sensation of rapture and respect. The clasp, a little above the elbow, was no sooner unloosed, than the sleeve became open along the whole external seam, and descended from the point of the shoulder close to her side, discovering an arm so beautiful, so soft, so fair, that a lover's kiss had printed upon it a touch too rude, or left a stain upon its whiteness. After a few tones of improvised melody, she sang some verses with the accompaniment of her lyre. The following were among the number:
"I love the music of Ionia," said Combabus, without adding a word of compliment to the fair Citharist; yet a half-checked smile, which played about her mouth, seemed to say that she was pleased. "The verses," said she, are common, but the melody is of Timotheus, the great master of our Ionian music, who perfected the lyre, by increasing the number of its strings." "I have heard," said Combabus, "his music in the tragedy of Ajax applauded by the Athenians at the theatre, with the same enthusiasm, as when it gained him the garland of victory from all his opponents-the antient prejudices of the people, and the envy and intrigues of his rivals in the art." "He was cer