« VorigeDoorgaan »
to much account; on the contrary, if the scene painted of the prodigal in his travels looks more like a copy than an original,—will it not be well if such an adventurer, with so uncompromising a setting out,-without carte, without compass,―be not cast away for ever?—and may he not be said to escape well, if he return to his country only as naked as he first left it?
But you will send an able pilot with your son:—a scholar.
If wisdom can speak in no other language but Greek or Latin,—you do well;--or, if mathematics will make a man a gentleman, or natural philosophy but teach him to make a bow, he may be of some service in introducing your son into good societies, and supporting him in them when he has done;—but the upshot will be generally this, that, in the most pressing occasions of address,-—if he is a mere man of reading, the unhappy youth will have the tutor to carry, and not the tutor to carry him.
But you will avoid this extreme; he shall be escorted by one who knows the world not merely from books, but from his own experience;—a man who has been employed on such services, and thrice made the Tour of Europe with
That is, without breaking his own or his pupil's neck; for, if he is such as my eyes have seen! some broken Swiss valet de Chambre,-some general undertaker, who will perform the journey in so many months, if God permit, much knowledge will not accrue;-some profit at least ;—he will learn the amount, to a halfpenny, of every stage from Calais to Rome; he will be carried to the best inns, instructed where there is the best wine, and sup a livre cheaper than if the youth had been left to make the tour and the bargain himself.- Look at our governor, I beseech you !—see, he is an inch taller, as he relates the advantages!
And here endeth his pride, his knowledge, and his
But, when your son gets abroad, he will be taken out of his hand by his society with men of rank and letters, with whom he will pass the greatest part of his time.
Let me observe, in the first place, that company which is really good is very rare, and very shy: but you have surmounted this difficulty, and procured him the best letters of recommendation to the most eminent and respectable in every capital.
And I answer, that he will obtain all by them which courtesy strictly stands obliged to pay on such occasionsbut no more.
There is nothing in which we are so much deceived as in the advantages proposed from our connexions and discourse with the literati, &c., in foreign parts; especially if the experiment is made before we are matured by years of study.
Conversation is a traffic; and if you enter into it without some stock of knowledge to balance the account perpetually betwixt you, the trade drops at once:—and this is the reason, however it may be boasted to the contrary, why travellers have so little (especially good) conversation with natives, owing to their suspicion, or, perhaps, conviction, that there is nothing to be extracted from the conversation of young itinerants worth the trouble of their bad language, or the interruption of their visits.
The pain on these occasions is usually reciprocal: the consequence of which is that the disappointed youth seeks an easier society; and, as bad company is always ready, and ever lying in wait, the career is soon finished; and the poor prodigal returns the same object of pity with the prodigal in the Gospel.-Sermons.
3. The Length of Life.
THERE is something strange in it that life should appear so short in the gross,—and yet so long in the detail. Misery may make it so, you'll say,-but we will exclude it;-and still you'll find, though we all complain of the shortness of life, what numbers there are who seem quite overstocked with the days and hours of it, and are continually sending out into the highways and streets of the city, to compel guests to come in, and take it off their hands; to do this with ingenuity and forecast is not one of the least arts and businesses of life itself; and they who cannot succeed in it carry as many marks of distress about them as Bankruptcy herself could wear. Be as careless as we may, we shall not always have the power;-nor shall we always be in a temper to let the account run thus. When the blood is cooled, and the spirits, which have hurried us on through half our days, before we have numbered one of them, are beginning to retire,—then Wisdom will press a moment to be heard;afflictions, or a bed of sickness, will find their hours of persuasion;—and, should they fail, there is something yet behind: Old Age will overtake us at the last, and with its trembling hand hold up the glass to us as it did to the patriarch.-Sermons.
THERE is not a character in the world which has so bad an influence upon the affairs of it as this of Shimei. Whilst power meets with honest checks, and the evils of life with honest refuge, the world will never be undone; but thou, Shimei, hast sapped at both extremes, for thou corruptest
prosperity, and 'tis thou who hast broken the heart of poverty; and so long as worthless spirits can be ambitious. ones, 'tis a character we shall never want. O! it infests the court, the camp, the cabinet!-it infests the church!go where you will, in every quarter, in every profession, you see a Shimei following the wheels of the fortunate through thick mire and clay!
Haste, Shimei! haste, or thou wilt be undone for ever! Shimei girdeth up his loins, and speedeth after him. Behold, the hand which governs everything takes the wheels from off his chariot, so that he who driveth driveth on heavily. Shimei doubles his speed, but 'tis the contrary way; he flies like the wind over a sandy desert, and the place thereof shall know it no more. Stay, Shimei! 'tis your patron-your friend-your benefactor; 'tis the man who has raised you from the dunghill. 'Tis all one to Shimei. Shimei is the barometer of every man's fortune; marks the rise and fall of it with all the variations from scorching hot to freezing cold upon his countenance, that the smile will admit of. Is a cloud upon thy affairs? See, it hangs over Shimei's brow. Hast thou been spoken for to the king or the captain of the host without success? Look not into the court calendar; the vacancy is filled up in Shimei's face. Art thou in debt? Though not to Shimei, -no matter; the worst officer of the law shall not be more insolent.
What, then, Shimei? is the guilt of poverty so black, is it of so general a concern, that thou and all thy family must rise up as one man to reproach it? When it lost everything, did it lose the right to pity too? or did he who maketh poor as well as maketh rich strip it of its natural powers to mollify the hearts and supple the tempers of your race? Trust me, ye have much to answer for; it is this
treatment, which it has ever met with from spirits like yours, which has gradually taught the world to look upon it as the greatest of evils, and shun it as the worst disgrace; and what is it, I beseech you,-what is it that man will not do to keep clear of so sore an imputation and punishment? Is it not to fly from this that he rises early-late takes rest—and eats the bread of carefulness?—that he plots, contrives, swears, lies, shuffles, puts on all shapes, tries all garments, wears them with this or that side outward, just as it favours his escape!
They who have considered our nature affirm that shame and disgrace are two of the most insupportable evils of human life the courage and spirits of many have mastered other misfortunes, and borne themselves up against them; but the wisest and best of souls have not been a match for these; and we have many a tragical instance on record what greater evils have been run into merely to avoid this
Without this tax of infamy, poverty, with all the burdens it lays upon our flesh, so long as it is virtuous, could never break the spirits of a man; all its hunger, and pain, and nakedness, are nothing to it; they have some counterpoise of good; and, besides, they are directed by Providence, and must be submitted to: but these are afflictions not from the hand of God, or Nature; for they do come forth of the dust,' and most properly may be said 'to spring out of the ground;' and this is the reason they lay such stress upon our patience, and in the end create such a distrust of the world as makes us look up, and pray,'Let me fall into thy hands, O God! but let me not fall into the hands of men.'
Agreeable to this was the advice of Eliphaz to Job in the day of his distress: 'Acquaint thyself (said he) now