Imagens das páginas


gation of wits, sages, poets, and philosophers; and all willing to be known to thy poor self. Insignificant as thou art, how familiar may'st thou be with Shakspeare, if it so please thee! John Milton will not refuse thy acquaintance. Here is Swift, too, divested of his rudeness; and Pope of his pettishness; and “glorious John;" and Ben Jonson and Sam Johnson, who take no offence whatever at the unceremonious abbreviation of their baptismal cog

If you wish to laugh, here are Butler and Smollett, two right pleasant fellows, who will speedily furnish you with an occasion ; if you are more attuned unto the "melting mood,” here are Gray and Collins similarly disposed; and if you are so unreasonable as to desire to laugh and cry in the same breath, you can be accommodated, for here is Laurence Sterne; and here, too. are witty Farquhar, and wittier Congreve; and kindlyhearted Oliver Goldsmith; and meek, melancholius Cowper ; and blithe, honest, ill-used Robie Burns ; and I know not how many more true-hearted, sound-headed fellows, “merry and wise," such as the "antique Roman" or the Greek, or all that lived before the days of “good Queen Bess," never had the honor of keeping company with. If you are ambitious of an acquaintance with the leading literary characters of your own times, here are Scott

Rogers, Campbell, Moore, &c. ready to waive the ceremony of a formal introduction in your favor. .

Are all these advantages-these opportunities of keeping the best of company," to be lightly slighted? Neglect them, and you will walk through the world an idealess biped ; cultivate them, and when you go forth amid the mass of mortals, you will see with eyes that they see not with, and hear with ears that they hear not with; and, whether in the crowded city or the solitary plain, the glittering ballroom or the smoky cabin ; amid the tumult of society or the silence of nature, you will, at all times, and on all occasions, have it in your power to reap

" The harvest of a quiet eye,
That broods on its own heart!"


RESPECTABILITY! Mysterious word ! indefinite term! phantom! Who will presume to say authoritatively what thou art? What metaphysician or mental chemist will analyze thee, and expound to the world the curious substance or essence of which thou art composed ? Where is the lexicographer gifted with powers, subtle and fine as the spider's thread, to define thee accurately, satisfactorily, so that the general voice shall cry aloud, “that is the meaning of the word;" and every individual whisper to his neighbor, “that was my meaning." As for the explanations of the existing race of dictionaries, they are mere evasions of the question.

About the boldest and most decided opinion concerning this particle of the English language that I am acquainted with, was that given by a witness in a swindling transaction, who, on being asked by the judge his reason for affirming that the defendant was a respectable man, replied, "that he kept a gig." There is something in the unhesitating and undoubting confidence of this answer, that carries weight with it. The witness was well acquainted with the defendant's moral obliquities; he knew that he had long been worthy the attention of the laws of his country; he knew, moreover, that he was only enabled to maintain this two-wheeled vehicle by a constant infringement of the right of meum and tuum; he knew, in short, that he was rich by good management and unhanged by good luck; but still, there was no getting over the simple fact—he kept his gig; and so long as he did keep it, nothing could impugn his respectability in the mind of the witness. Yet, before we unthinkingly laugh at this man's tenacious adherence to his beau ideal of respectability, let us cautiously examine our own thoughts on the subject. A gig is respectable. A curricle may be dashing—a phaeton stylish-a carriage genteel, lofty, magnificent—but a gig is respectable par excellence. Yet, of itself, and independent of other circumstances, it does not wholly and safely constitute respectability, and here lies the difficulty. It is not all in all there's the rub," or the question might be settled. Besides, its condition must be looked to. It may be badly lined, and worse painted; the shafts and wheels may be in ill-condition; it may, in fact, have a disreputable appearance rather than otherwise; it may be

second-handed. All these apparently trivial, but in reality essential circumstances, are to be taken into account before we can definitively pronounce upon the respectability of the possessor; and it behoves us to be cautious; for, to a nice mind, ardently engaged in the pursuit of truth, a hair-breadth distinction is found, at times, more obstinately irreconcileable than a more manifest discrepancy.

Respectability! All-pervading power ! like light and life, thou art everywhere; or, at the least, wherever civilization is, there art thou to be found, despotically ruling the minds of men of every grade and station, from the doctor to the dustman-from the lawyer to the laborer. But of all the devotees, none, I think, worship thee with the fervor--the intenseness of shopkeepers and small tradesmen. Thou art their idol—their oracle! They consult thee in all they do or say, or in whatever in any shape appertains to them. Thou art ever uppermost in their thoughts, and there is no sacrifice too great for them to make--no deprivation too severe for them to endure, rather than to be banished either in reality, or in the opinion of the world, from thy presence. But though this race of people are more peculiarly thine own, millions of others put in their claim of kindred to thee on some trivial pretext or other. Thou hast more distant relations

« AnteriorContinuar »