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our progress in the fine arts, in the sciences, in public education, in liberality of opinion, and the principles of rational liberty, and then turn to the vaunted “ good old times” with what appetite we may.
To examine and minutely enumerate our advantages under the foregoing heads would require a bulky volume, but it would be a lasting monument of triumphant fact over bald assertion and wearisome tautology. Let us justly appreciate the real benefits our ancestors possessed, at their due value, and we shall find what is the real worth of the “ good old times.” We shall find ourselves very unwilling to exchange ours for those of Henry VIII.-the dungeon and the block; for those of Mary, with the rack and the faggot; for those of the heroic and splendid Elizabeth, with all her talents; for the James or the Charles, or the remoter eras of seignorage and vassalage, of intestine broils, maddening factions, desolation, and civil war. It may be very well for Mr. Irving and others to invoke the names of brave men who sealed the cause of liberty or religion with their blood—who braved the red torture of martyrdom and bearded a tyrant in his strong hold ; but while we admire these glorious instances of the mind's victory over nature, what more can they be to us than subjects of admiration? In these much-abused modern times we have no demand for similar auto da fés. Persecution dare not now pile her faggots in Smithfield, nor a king of England tax his subjects without the aid of a parliament. We can have no martyrs now even in bravado, and there is nothing that can warrant our making the country's" chivalry to leap,” by displaying our “ death-despising” prowess. It is the glory of modern times that similar exhibitions exist no longer, nay, that it is impossible they ever should exist again. Whatever religious intolerance and arbitrary usages remain, they are among the relics of the “ good old times," and form the scandal of ours. Were there a necessity for men to show examples of constancy and bravery, they would not be now found wanting. Men can die at present as bravely as heretofore, either in the field or on the scaffold, and would smile as contemptuously at the burning stake as a victim of the fiendish Mary, bare their wrists before a bloody judge as coolly as Sidney, or sell their lives as dear in a good cause as any among their ancestors.
Glory then be to the progress of the human mind, to the enlargement of liberal opinion, to the march of freedom! Let the advocates of old times, the sighers after martyrdom, the lovers of civil desolation, the admirers of feudal chieftains, and the advocates of old abuses, indulge a little longer in their mistaken notions, invest the attributes of the past in modern virtues, and supply themselves with unsubstantial arguments to cavil at substantial benefits. They will, hy and by, see their error. They will in the end discover that they have been in a reverie, in which they have mistaken the images of fancy for real objects, and reasoned upon them as if they had been correct. Some of these lovers of the "good old times” are to be pitied rather than severely censured. There are others, however, who are too obstinate and ignorant ever to perceive the truth ; who know no criterion of the merit of a thing but its age, who combat reason with usage, common sense with the most cobweb sophistry, and the cause of freedom with the arm of power. These must be left as incorrigible, to the contempt of the present age and the scorn of posterity!
TO THE EVENING STAR.
From the Spanish of Lupercio Leonardo de Argensola.
“ Pura luciente estrella."
Orair and goodly Star
Upon the brow of night,
The birth of human hopes, their blossom, and decay.
Cast off its mould of clay,
And eyes the fighting waves that pant and foam below.
For mortal fetters bind
Our failing pinions fall, and plunge us back to night.
To them be near allied-
Mine be the grassy seat—all lovely, lone, and green.
Where sweet to ear and eye
PIILOSOPHY ON THE ROAD, -THE YACHT CLUB.
.“ Navibus atque
Quadrigis petimus bene vivere." HORAT The comparison of life to a voyage is a mere common-place; but if it has not the advantage of novelty, it cannot be refused the merit of truth. There is, in fact, no simile that runs more upon all-fours. Shakspeare has told us, that“ all the world's a stage;" but if he had said that the world was a stage-coach, he would have been nearer his mark. For not to insist upon the fact that each day of our “journey through life" is a post towards death (a verity perhaps too trite to mention), what can be more like the passive condition of a traveller on a journey, than the way in which we are hurried through existence, each in his own tourbillon of circumstance and condition as in a carriage, with the passions for coachmen, which drive us at the rate and in the direction they please : and in this last particular, the simile is the more perfect, inasmuch as we change the driver at almost every stage, and never part with him till we have paid a good smart buona mano for his whipmanship. A prosperous life may be compared to a journey on the Bath-road, while a struggling existence is all “ up-hill work." The humbler classes are the outside passengers, exposed to all the pitiless pelting of life's storms, and all the perils of the road, while the happier few resemble the “insides,” warm, snug, safe, and at their ease. A more extended view of the conditions of society shews some men as travellers in a post-chaise, some in their own coronetted travelling-chariots, and but too many, God help them! trudging through the mire on foot, bespattered by the wheels of their more fortunate fellow-citizens, and happy to escape being trodden under their horses' feet, and a coroner's inquest. Some few have the luck to pass free from all the more serious accidents of the journey, while others are upset on the road, and are sent into the next world with a broken neck, or a concussion of the brain. Some go the whole journey, and some are only “ booked" for a certain place on the road, where they are set down to make room for other passengers.
But if life be like a journey, it is not surprising that a journey should be the very image of life ; and so indeed it is. We begin both with the same“ pleased alacrity and cheer of mind,” looking forward to every fresh post as a difficulty surmounted, a source of new sensations, or at worst as a step towards our object ; and we finish both with the same sense of lassitude, if not of disgust, with this only difference, that very few can make
their minds to the anticipation of being “ with a shovel,” with the same pleasure that they look forward to a warming-pan, and a smart chambermaid to tuck them up for the night, at the “ Three Crowns," or the “ Bird and Baby.” In life and on a journey we are equally not masters to choose our own company, being in both cases alike compelled to associate with those who are booked for the same coach. In both cases, likewise, we are equally under the necessity of making the best of the lot which chance has given us; and nothing can more strongly resemble the manner in which shyness ripens into acquaintance, and acquaintance into intimacy through the jolting of the leathern conveniency, than the friendships of the world in general.
In friendship, as in all the rest, we are the dupes of our own amour
put to bed
propre ; and flatter ourselves that society hinges on our sympathetic tendencies, our kindness, tenderness, and forbearance.
On the contrary, society is the pure creature of necessity and self-interest; and, if these did not operate to bring mankind together, they would never come sufficiently within the sphere of each other's activity, to bring. the finer feelings at all into play. Let him who doubts this truism turn his eyes upon the world, and see who and who are together; let him look at that little knot of parsons congregated within the walls of a cathedral-close, or at the “ Mrs. Generals” and “ Mrs. Majors of ours," who are so intimate in a garrison-town. In what do such friendships differ from the casual acquaintanceship of a stage-coach?
Another point of resemblance between life and a journey is the little intercourse which takes place between the inside passengers and the outsides of the same vehicle. In real life, it happens every day that two persons are brought to touch, or nearly to touch, in one or two points, and run parallel to each other, or approach, as if it were for the mere purpose of exercising a mutual repulsion, like two corks floating in a glass of water. Mrs. Mary Jones and Mrs. Dinah Bohea have long inhabited the same house. They meet every day upon the stairs without more acquaintance than a courtesy, because the one lodges on the first floor, and the other lives“ up two pair of stairs backwards." In the same spirit, the inhabitants of the little villages round London regulate their intimacies with their neighbours in the row, those who keep their own carriages not condescending to associate with those who go to 'Change at sixpence a-time in the stage. The great and little green-rooms of a theatre are as immeasurably separated, as the commissioned and non-commissioned officers of a British regiment, or the in and out-door servants of a nobleman's family. In country towns, likewise, to keep a shop is fatal to all association with those whose business is conducted independently of such an arrangement; or at least, if the families may occasionally dine together in private, they cannot publicly meet in the great room over the market-place, where aristocracy and entrechats centre in a master of the ceremonies, and dulness and mutton-fats combine to spread gloom and ennui over the company
We all know the rigid laws of the Bar against "hugging." Woe to the barrister who on circuit shakes hands with his own brother, if that brother happens to beman attorney!
There is nothing about a stage-coach that has excited more frequent remark, than that little vanity which finds its account in a thousand artful innuendoes, such as, “ A stage-coach is vastly inconvenient for them' as is used to their own carriage," or, “ I travels usually in a chay, but the post-boys are grown so extortionate." Travellers under the influence of this passion have always personal anecdotes of the owners of the great seats on the road, inferring considerable intimacy with the narrator : and they never fail to let drop, by pure accident, some little trait or other, proving their own consequence and elevated position in life, in which truth seldom so wholly presides, as utterly to exclude exaggeration. Now, though this seems mighty ridiculous, because, being committed by vulgar persons, it is done awkwardly, without measure, and à propos des bottes, yet it differs' very little from the systematic impositions of higher life-from the swelling port which every one affects, when observed--from the dazzling a neighbour's eyes with Birmingham plate and Irish diamonds, or taking away his appetite by a
disproportionately sumptuous dinner :-in short, from all those nameless details of occasional splendour and habitual meanness, discomfort, and parsimony, which make up the sum of existence, in a numerous assemblage of all classes in society.
Were all the parallels of this most apt and comprehensive metaphor duly set down and chronicled, the New Montbly would not be large enough to hold them. It is not, therefore, very surprising, that the present generation should have given birth to two sects of philosophers, whose systems are bottomed upon the resemblance of life to a journey; to say nothing of the modern peripatetics, who place the summum bonum in walking, and whose life is one perpetual “ match against time.”—The Four-in-hand Club, which is now somewhat on the decline, and the Yacht Club, which is usurping its place among the enlightened and reflecting, may be considered as the two most remarkable schools of morality, which the progress of civilization has produced. Of the former, the leading virtue was humility: to look like a coachman, talk like a coachman, and spit through a vacancy between two teeth like a coachman,* being the criterion of the sect. The rigour of their morality was evinced in the frequent question, “ Is all right?” with its immediate answer “All right,” without which no step in life could be taken. Their firmness to their party was manifested in their anxiety “to keep their own side," not less conspicuous in the House of Commons than on the road. That they were uncompromising in their principles, was proved by the strictness with which they excluded from their society, all who were not perfectly “bang up to the mark," while their punctilious attention to the smallest trifles in their
turn out," was not inferior to the stoical maxim of nil actum reputans dum quid superesset agendum. Sobriety, industry, and a patient endurance of the hardships of our inclement seasons, were absolutely necessary to a philosopher of this sect; and so closely must he watch his passions, as never to let the reins out of his hands. His greatest. triumph was over the vices of those he guided, and all his care went to prevent their deviating, either to the right or left, from the prescribed curse. Their magnanimity and contempt for death were daily exhibited, not only in the rapidity of their own fiery course, and the sangfroid with which they drove "like hell,” but in the cool indifference with which they overthrew and run over whatever crossed their pathpigs, poultry, old women, or children. Nor was their sense of glory less conspicuous in the carelessness with which they passed a companion upset in a ditch, or worsted in a trial of strength between his axletree and a turnpike-gate. It is in schools like these that our senators could best acquire the passion for driving, which so advantageously superseded that twaddling habit, in which our ancestors indulged, of leading the people. There, too, the contempt for “the populace," “the mob,” was practically illustrated, and the usage of dispersing assemblies collected on their lawful avocations di et armis, and at the small expense of a life or two, familiarly taught. Another advantage of this school of philosophy lay in the expertness it engendered in money matters; in which respect there were few of its scholars who
One youth of high spirit and life actually had a tooth drawn, though one of the best in his mouth, for the express purpose of attaining to perfection in this elegant
Horace's dust-collecting curricle drivers were mere chickens to lads like these.