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with M'hich they received me could quite
restore to me that pleasant familiarity which
I had heretofore enjoj'ed among them. AVe
cracked some of our old jokes, but methought
they went off but f aintlj^ My old desk ;
the peg where I hung my hat were ap^jro-
priated to another. I knew it must be, but

I could not take it kindly. D 1 take

me, if I did not feel some remorse — beast, if
I had not — at quitting my old compeers,
the faithful partners of my toils for six-aiid-

thirty years, that smoothed for me with
their jokes and coimndrums the ruggeduess
of my professional road. Had it been so
rugged tlien, after all ? or was I a coward
simply ? Well, it is too late to repent ; and
I also know that these suggestions are a
common fallacy of the mind on such occa-
sions. But my heart smote me. I had vio-
lently broken the bands hetwixt us. I was
at least not courteous. It shall be sometime
before I get quite reconciled totheye^raration.
Farewell, old cronies, yet not for long, for
again and again I will come among ye, if I

shall have your leave. Farewell, Ch ,

dry, sarcastic, and friendly ! Do mild,

slow to move, and gentlemanly ! PI ,

officious to do, and to vohmteer, good serv-
ices ! — and thou, thou dreary pile, fit man-
sion for a Gresham or a AVhittington of
■old, stately house of Merchants; with thy
labyrinthine passages, and light-excluding,
pent-up offices, Avhere candles for one half the
year supplied the place of the sun's light ;
unhealthy contribution to my weal, stern
fosterer of my living, farewell ! In thee
remain, and not in the obscure collection of
some wandering bookseller, my "works!"
There let them rest, as I do from my labors,
piled on thy massy shelves, more JMSS. in
folio than ever Aquinas left, and full as
useful! My mantle I l)equeath among ye.
A fortnight has passed since the date of
my first communication. At that period I

9G ©he ^a.-it (B^^^p oi i^lm,

was approach! Hi;' to tranquillity, but had not
reached it. I boasted of a cahn indeed, but
it was comparative only. Soiuethiug- of the
first flutter was left; an unsettling sense of
novelty ; tlio dazzling- to weak eyes of unac-
customed li;j,ht. I missed my old chains, for-
sooth, as if the}^ had been some necessary
part of my apparel. I wns a poor Carthu-
sian, from strict cellular discipline suddenly
by some revolution returned upon the-
world. I am now as if I had never been
other than my own master. It is natural
to me to g'o where I please, to do Avhat I
please. I find myself at eleven o'clock in
the day in Bond Street, and it seems to me
that I have been sauntering there at that
very hour for years past. I digress into-
Soho, to explore a bookstall. 31etliinks I
have been thirty years a collector. There
is nothing strange nor new in it. I find nv
self before a fine i)!cture in the morning
Was it ever otherwise ? What is become of
Fish Street Hill? Where is Fenchurcli
Street ? Stones of old Mincing Lane,
which I have Morn with my daily pilgrim-
age for six-and-thirty years, to the footsteps
of what toil-worn clerk are your everlast-
ing flints now vocal? I indent the gayer
flags of Pall :\[all. It is 'Change time, and
I am strangely among the Elgin marbles.
It was no hyperbole when I ventured to
compare the change in my condition to a
piissing into another world. Time stands

still in a manner to me. I have lost all dis-
tinction of season. I do not know the day
of the week or of the month. Each day
used to be individually felt by me in its
reference to the foreign post-days ; in its
distance from, or propinquity to, the next
Sundaj^ I had my Wednesday feelings, my
Saturday nights' sensations. The genius of
each day was upon me distinctly during the
whole of it, affecting my appetite, spirits,
etc. The phantom of the next day, witli the
dreary five to follow, sat as a load upon
my poor Sabbath recreations. What charm
has washed that Ethiop white? What is
gone of Black Monday ? All days are the
same. Sunday itself, — that unfortunate
failure of a holiday, as it too often proved,
what with my sense of its fugitiveness, and
overcare to get the greatest quantity of
pleasure out of it, — is melted down into a
weekday. I can spare to go to church now,
without grudging the hage cantle which it
used to seem to cut out of the holiday. I
have Time for everything. I can visit a
sick friend. 1 can interrupt the man of
much occupation when he is busiest. I can
insult over him with an invitation to take a
day's pleasure with me to Windsor this fine
May morning. It is Lucretian pleasure to
behold the ]ioor drudges, wliom I have left
beliind in tlie world, carking and caring;
like horses in a mill, di'udging on in the
same eternal round — and what is it all for ?

S8 ^U g:a,$t (t^;iAX\^^ of (tlVA.

A man can never have too much Time to
himself, nor too Uttle to do. Had I a httle
son, I would christen him Nothixg-to-do;
he should do nothing. Man, I verily be-
lieve, is out of his element as long as he
is operative. I am altogether for the life
contemplative. "Will no kindly earthquake
come and swallow up those accursed cotton
mills? Take me that lumber of a desk
there, and bowl it down

As low as to the fiends.

I am no longer , clerk to the

Firm of, etc. 1 am Retired Leisure. I am
to be met with in trim gardens. I am al-
ready come to be known by my vacant face
and careless gesture, perambulating at no
"fixed pace, nor with any settled purpose. I
walk about ; not to and from. They tell
me, a certain cum dignitate air, that has
been buried so long with my other good
parts, has begun to shoot forth in my per-
son. I grow into gentility perceptibly.
When I take up a newspaper, it is to read
the state of the opera. Opus operatum est.
I have done all that I came into this world
to do. I have worked taskwork, and have
the rest of the day to myself.

®hf i^ i^^^inp of eiia. 99

The Gentee! Style in Writing.

It is an ordinary criticism, that my Lord
Shaftesbnry, and ^Sir William Temple, are
models of the genteel style in writing-. We
should prefer sayiny — of the lordly, and the
gentlemanly. Nothing can be more unlike,
than the inflated finical rhapsodies of
Shaftesbury and the plain natural chit-chat
•of Temple. The man of rank is discernible
in both writers ; but in the one it is only
insinuated gracefully, in the other it stands
out olfensively. The peer seems to have
written with his corOnet on, and his Earl's
mantle before him ; the commoner in his
elbow-chair and undress. What can be
more pleasant than the way in which the
retired statesman peeps out in his essays,
penned by the latter in his delightful retreat
at Shene? They scent of Nimeguen, and
tbe Hague. Scarce an authority is quoted
under an ambassador. Don Francisco de
Melo, a " Portugal P^nvoy in P^ngland," tells
him it was frequent in his country for men
spent with age and other decays, so as they
could not hope for above a year or two of
life, to ship themselves away in a Brazil fleet,

100 She f a^t (g^,say,^ of min.

and after their arrival there to go on a great:
length, sometimes of twenty or thirty years,
or more, by the force of that vigor tliey re-
covered witli that remove. " Whether such
an effect (Temple beautifully adds) might
grow from the air, or the fruits of that
climate, or by approaching nearer the sun,
whicli is the fountain of light and heat,
when their natural heat was so far decayed ;
or whether the piecing out of an old man's
life Avere worth the pains; I cannot tell:
perhaps the play is not worth the candle."
Monsieur Pompone, " French Ambassador
in his (Sir William's) time at the Hague,"
certifies him, that in his life he had never
heard of any man in France that arrived
at a hundred years of age ; a limitation of
life which the old gentleman imputes to the
excellence of their climate, givhig them such
a liveliness of temper and humor, as disposes
them to more pleasures of all kinds than in
other countries ; and moralizes upon the
matter very sensibly. The "late Robert,
Earl of Leicester," furnishes him with a
story of a Countess of Desmond, married
out of England in Edward the Fourth's
time, and who lived far in King James's
reign. The " same noble person " gives him
an account, how such a year, in the same
reign, there went about the country a set of
morris-dancers, composed of ten men who
danced, a Maid JVIarian, and a tabor and
piX^e ; and how these twelve, one with an-

^\\t i:a,st i^^^^nxp of mm, 101

•other, made up tAvelve hundred years. "It
was not so much (says Temple) that so many
in one small county (Hertfordshire) should
live to that age, as that they should he in
vig'or and in humor to travel and to dance."
Monsieur Zulichem, one of his "colleagues
at the Hague," informs him of a cure for
the gout ; which is confirmed by another
"Envoy," Monsieur Serinchamps, in that
town, who had tried it. Old Prince Maurice
of Nassau recommends to him the use of
hammocks in that complaint ; having been
allured to sleep, while suffering under it
himself, by the " constant motion or swing-
ing of those airy beds." 't^ount Egmont,
and the TJhinegrave who " v/as killed last
summer before Macstricht," impart to him
their experiences.

But the rank of the writer is never more
innocently disclosed, than where he takes
for granted the compliments paid by for-
eigners to his fruit-trees. For the taste
and perfection of what we esteem the best,
he can truly say, that the French, who have
eaten his peaches and grapes at Shene in
no very ill year, have generally concluded
that the last are as good as any they have
eaten in France on this side Fontainebleau ;
and the first as good as any they have eaten
in Gascony. Italians have agreed his white
figs to be as good as any of that sort in
Italy, which is the earlier kind of white fig
there ; for in the later kind and the blue,

102 m\t p^^i (^^^m oi min.

we cannot come near the warm climates, no
more than in tlie Frontignac or Muscat
grape. His orange-trees, too, are as large
as any he saw when he Avas young in France,
except those of Fontainebleau ; or what he
has seen since in the Low Countries, except
some very old ones of the Prince of Orange's.
Of grapes he had the honor of bringing
over four sorts into England, which he enu-
merates, and supposes that they are all by
this time pretty common among some gar-
deners in his neighborhood, as well as
several persons of quality ; for he ever
thought all things of this kind " the com-
moner they are made the better." The
garden pedantry with which he asserts that
'tis to little purpose to plant any of the best
fruits, as peaches or grapes, hardly, he
doubts, beyond Xorthamptonshire at the far-
thest northwards ; and praises the " Bishop
of Munster at Cosevelt," for attempting*
nothing beyond cherries in that cold clim-
ate; is ecpially pleasant and in character.
" I may perhaps " (he thus ends his sweet
Garden Essay with a passage worthy of
Cowley) " be allowed to know something of
this trade, since I have so long allowed my-
self to be good for nothing else, which few
men will do, or enjoy their gardens, without
often looking abroad to see hoAV other
matters play, what motions in the state, and
what invitations they may hope for into
other scenes. For my own part, as the

^U fast (ips'^ay^ of ®Ua. 103.

country life, and this part of it more par-
ticularly, were the inclination of my youth,
itself, so they are the pleasure of my age ;
and I can truly say that, among many great
employments that have fallen to my share,
I have never asked or sought for any of
them, but have often endeavored to escape
from them, into the ease and freedom of a.
private scene, where a man may go his own
way and his own pace in the common paths
and circles of life. The measure of choos-
ing well is whether a man likes Avhat he
has chosen, which, I thank God, has befallen
me; and though among the follies of my
life, building and planting have not been,
the least, and have cost me more than I
have the confidence to own ; yet they have
been fully recompensed by the sweetness
and satisfaction of this retreat, where^
since my resolution taken of never entering-
again into any public employments, I have
passed five years without ever once going-
to town, though I am almost in sight of it,
and have a house there always ready to
receive me. Nor has this been any sort of
affectation, as some have thought it, but a
mere want of desire or humor to make so
small a remove ; for * when I am in this
corner, I can truly say with Horace Me
quoties re/iaf, etc.

"Me, when the cold Digenlian stream revives,
What ilocs my friciul hclicve I think or ask ?
Let me yet less possess, so I may live,

104 ^]\t ^n^i ®,&',$an,$ 0t €Ua.

Wliate'er of life remains, unto myself.

May I have books enough ; and one year's store.

Not to depend upon each doubtful hour ;

This is enough of mighty Jove to pray,

Who, as he pleases, gives and takes away."

The writings of Temple are, in general,
after this easy copy. On one occasion, in-
deed, liis wit, whicli was mostly snV)ordinate
to nature and tenderness, hits seduced him
into a string of felicitous antitheses ; which,
it is obvious to remark, have been a model
to Addison and succeeding essayists. " Who
would not be covetous, and with reason,"
he says, " if health could be purchased with
gold? v.^lio not ambitious, if it were at the
command of power, or restored by honor?
but, alas ! a white staff will not help gouty
feet to Avalk better than a common cane ;
nor a blue ribbon bind up a wound so well
as a fillet. The glitter of gold, or of dia-
monds, will but hurt sore eyes instead of
curing them ; and an aching head will be
no more eased by wearing a crown than a
common nightcap."

In a far better style, and more accordant
with his own humor of plainness, are the con-
cluding sentences of his " Discourse upon
Poetry." Temple took a part in tlie contro-
versy about the ancient and the modern learn-
ing ; and, with that partiality so natural and
so graceful in an old man, whose state en-
gagements had left him little leisure to look
into modern productions, while his retire-

5^1ic p^'t (J:'^',^ay.^ c? €Uit. 105

ment gave him occasion to look bade upon
the classic studies of his youtli, — decided in
favor of tlie latter. " Certain it is," he says,
" that, whether the fierceness of the Gothic
humors, or noise of their perpetual wars,
frighted it away, or that the unequal mixture
of the modern languages would not bear it,
— the great heights and excellency both of
poetry and music fell with the Eoman learn-
ing and empire, and have never since re-
covered the admiration and applauses that
before attended them. Yet, such as they
are amongst us, they must be confessed to
be the softest and the sweetest, the most gen-
eral and most innocent amusements of com-
mon time and life. They still find room in
the courts of princes, and the cottages of
shepherds. They serve to revive and ani-
mate the dead calm of poor and idle lives, and
to allay or divert the violent passions and
perturbations of the greatest and the busiest
men. And both these eifects are of equal
use to human life ; for the mind of man is
like the sea, which is neither agreeable to
the beholder nor the voyager, in a calm or
in a storm, but is so to both when a little
agitated by gentle gales ; and so the mind,
when moved by soft and easy passions or
affections. I know very well that many who
pretend to be wise by the forms of being
grave, are apt to despise both poetry and
music, as toys and trifles too light for the
use or entertainment of serious men. But

106 ®hc fa.ot (ff^'^ay,^ of (gU».

whoever find themselves wholly insensible
to their charms, would, I think, do well to
keep their own counsel, for fear of reproach-
ing their own temper, and bringing- the good-
ness of their natures, if not of tlieir under-
standings, into question. While this world
lasts, I doubt not but the pleasure and re-
quest of these two entertainments will da
so too ; and happy those that content them-
selves Avith these or any other so easy and
so innocent, and do not trouble the world or
other men, because they cannot be quiet
themselves, though nobody hurts them."
When all is done (he concludes), human life
is at the greatest and the best but like a fro-
ward child, that must be played with and
humored a little, to keep it quiet, till it falls
asleep, and then the care is over."

©he i&^^'Mp oi (glia. 107

Barbara S .

On" the noon of tlie 14th of November, 1743
or 4, I forg-et which it was, just as the clock
had struclc one, Jiarbara S— — , witli her
accustomed punctuality, ascended the long
rambling- staircase, with awkward inter-
posed landing-places, which led to the office,
or rather a sort of box with a desk in it,
whereat sat the then Treasurer of (what few
of our readers may remember) the Old Bath
Theater. All over the island it was the
custom, and remains so I believe to this day,
for the players to receive their weekly sti-
pend on the Saturday. It was not much
that Barbara had to claim.

This little maid had just entered her elev-
enth year ; but her important station at the
theater, as ijt seemed to her, with the bene-
fits which she felt to accrue from her pious
application of her small earnings, had given
an air of womanhood to her steps and to
her behavior. You would have taken her to
have been at least five years older.

Till latterly she had merely been employed
ill choruses, or where children were Avanted
to fill up the scene. But the manager, ob-

108 ®ue IJaist (g.^'siay^ of mm,

serving a dilig'ence and adroitness in her
above her age, had for some few months past
intrusted to lier the performance of whole
parts. You may guess the self-consequence
of the promoted Barbara. She had already
drawn tears in young Arthur ; had rallied
Richard with infantine petulance in the
Duke o;! York ; and in her turn had rebuked
that petulance when she was Prince of
Wales. She would have done the elder child
hi Morton's joathetic afterpiece to the life;
but as yet the " Children in the Wood " was

Long after this little girl was grown an
aged woman, I have seen some of these
small parts, each making two or three pages
at most, copied out in the rudest hand of the
then i)rompter, who doubtless transcribed a
little more carefully and fairly for the grown-
up tragedy ladies of the establishment. But
such as they were, blotted and scrawled, as
for a child's use, she kept them all ; and in
the zenith of her after reputation it vras a
delightful sight to behold them bound up in
costliest morocco, each single,— each small
part making a boo/,- — with fine clas|">s, gilt
splashed, etc. She had conscientiously kept
them as they had been delivered to her ; not
a blot had been effaced or tampered with.
The)^ were precious to her for their affecting
remembrancings. Tb.ey were her prindjyia^
her rudiments ; the elementary atoms ; the
little steps by which she pressed forward to

mt p,«t (^^^^\p 0t mn. 109

perfection. " What," she woukl say, " could
India-rubber, or a pumice-stone, have done
for these darhngs ? "

I am in no hurry to begin m3'" story, — in-
deed I have little or none to teli, — so I will
just mention an observation of hers con-
nected witli that interesting time.

Not long before she died I had been dis-
coursing with her on the quantity of real pres-
ent emotion which a great tragic performer
experiences during acting. I ventured to
think, that though in the flrst instance such
players must have possessed the feelings
which they so powerfully called up in others,
yet by frequent repetition those feelings
must become deadened in great measure,
and the performer trust to the memory of
past emotion, rather

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Online LibraryCharles LambThe last essays of Elia → online text (page 6 of 15)