Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

proper sovereign condition, would issue forth, and begin her reign either with killing her royal sisters, or leading forth a colony to America or New South Wales. She would then take to husband some noble lord for the space of one calendar hour, and dismissing him to his dulness, proceed to lie in of 12,000 little royal highnesses in the course of the eight following weeks, with others too numerous to mention; all which princely generation, with little exception, would forthwith give up their title, and divide themselves into lords or working-women, as it happened ; and so the story would go round to the end of the chapter, bustling, working, and massacreing. And here ends the sage example of the Monarchy of the Bees. We must observe, nevertheless, before we conclude, that however ill and tragical the example of the bees may look for human imitation, we are not to suppose that the fact is anything like so melancholy to themselves.

Perhaps it is no evil at all, or only so for the moment. The drones, it is true, seem to have no fancy for being massacred; but we have no reason to suppose that they, or any of the rest concerned in this extraordinary instinct, are aware of the matter beforehand; and the same is to be said of the combats between the Queen Bees—they seem to be the result of an irresistible impulse, brought about by the sudden pressure of a necessity. Bees appear to be very happy during far the greater portion of their existence. A modern writer, of whom it is to be lamented that a certain want of refinement stopped short his perceptions, and degraded his philosophy from the finally expedient into what was fugitively so, has a passage on this point, as agreeable as what he is speaking of. “A bee among the flowers in spring,” says Dr. Paley, “is one of the cheerfullest objects that can be looked upon. Its life appears to be all enjoyment, so busy and so pleased.”

THE COMPANION.

1

“ The first quality in a Companion is Truth."

Sir W. TEMPLE.

· I.-AN EARTH UPON HEAVEN.

the armed youth exercising themselves in DMEBODY, a little while ago, wrote an military games, is worse. His best Paradise Faixat article in the New Monthly Magazine was on earth, and a very pretty heaven he

made of it. For our parts, admitting and should write another on “ Persons one venerating as we do the notion of a heaven d wish to have dined with.” There is surpassing all human conception, we trust elais, and Horace, and the Mermaid roys that it is no presumption to hope, that the s and Charles Cotton, and Andrew Marvell, state mentioned by the Apostle is the final 1 St Richard Steele, cum multis aliis : and heaven ; and that we may ascend and gradually

the colloquial, if not the festive part, Swift accustom ourselves to the intensity of it, by and Pope, and Dr. Johnson, and Burke, and others of a less superhuman nature. Familiar Borte Tooke. What a pity one cannot dine as we are both with joy and sorrow, and with them all round ! People are accused of accustomed to surprises and strange sights of i kering earthly notions of heaven. As it is imagination, it is difficult to fancy even the cócult to have any other, we may be par delight of suddenly emerging into a new and duped for thinking that we could spend a very boundless state of existence, where everything pi-tty thousand years in dining and getting is marvellous, and opposed to our experience. amuainted with all the good fellows on record ; We could wish to take gently to it; to be and having got used to them, we think we loosed not entirely at once. Our song desires mould go very well on, and be content to wait to be "a song of degrees.” Earth and its mine other thousands for a higher beatitude. capabilities - are these nothing ?

And are Ooh. to wear out one of the celestial lives of a they to come to nothing? Is there no beautriple century's duration, and exquisitely to tiful realisation of the fleeting type that is Tow old, in reciprocating dinners and teas shown us? No body to this shadow ? No with the immortals of old books! Will Field- quenching to this taught and continued thirst ? ing leave his card” in the next world! Will No arrival at these natural homes and restingBerkeley (an angel in a wig and lawn sleeves!) places, which are so heavenly to our imaginasome to ask how Utopia gets on! Will Shak- tions, even though they be built of clay, and pare (for the greater the man, the more the are situate in the fields of our infancy? We

nacare might be expected) know by in are becoming graver than we intended; but to tution that one of his readers (knocked up return to our proper style :- nothing shall or bliss) is dying to see him at the Angel persuade us, for the present, that Paradise and Turk's Head, and come lounging with his Mount, in any pretty village in England, has kodds in his doublet-pockets accordingly? not another Paradise Mount to correspond, in

It is a pity that none of the great geniuses, some less perishing region ; that is to say, to whose lot it has fallen to describe a future provided anybody has set his heart upon it := sale, has given us his own notions of heaven. and that we shall not all be dining, and drinkTheir accounts are all modified by the national ing tea, and complaining of the weather (we strulogy; whereas the Apostle himself has mean, for its not being perfectly blissful) three badat as, that we can have no conception of the hundred years hence, in some snug interlunar sengs intended for us. " Eye hath not spot, or perhaps in the moon itself, seeing that nyt, nur ear heard," &c. After this, Dante's it is our next visible neighbour, and shrewdly enrag lights are poor. Milton's heaven, with suspected of being hill and dale.

1

It appears to us, that for a certain term of centuries, Heaven must consist of something of this kind. In a word, we cannot but persuade ourselves, that to realise everything that we have justly desired on earth, will be heaven; —we mean, for that period : and that afterwards, if we behave ourselves in a proper pre-angelical manner, we shall go to another heaven, still better, where we shall realise all that we desired in our first. Of this latter we can as yet have no conception; but of the former, we think some of the items may be as follow :—

Imprimis, – (not because friendship comes before love in point of degree, but because it precedes it, in point of time, as at school we have a male companion before we are old enough to have a female)—Imprimis then, a friend. He will have the same tastes and inclinations as ourselves, with just enough difference to furnish argument without sharpness; and he will be generous, just, entertaining, and no shirker of his nectar. In short, he will be the best friend we have had upon earth. We shall talk together “of afternoons;” and when the Earth begins to rise (a great big moon, looking as happy as we know its inhabitants will be), other friends will join us, not so emphatically our friend as he, but excellent fellows all ; and we shall read the poets, and have some sphere-music (if we please), or renew one of our old earthly evenings, picked out of a dozen Christmases.

Item, a mistress. In heaven (not to speak it profanely) we know, upon the best authority, that people are “neither married nor given in marriage; ” so that there is nothing illegal in the term. (By the way, there can be no clergymen there, if there are no official duties for them. We do not say, there will be nobody who has been a clergyman. Berkeley would refute that ; and a hundred Welsh curates. But they would be no longer in orders. They would refuse to call themselves more Reverend than their neighbours.) Item then, a mistress; beautiful, of course, — an angelical expression, — a Peri, or Houri, or whatever shape of perfection you choose to imagine her, and yet retaining the likeness of the woman you loved best on earth ; in fact, she herself, but completed ; all her good qualities made perfect, and all her defects taken away (with the exception of one or two charming little angelical peccadilloes, which she can only get rid of in a post-future state); goodtempered, laughing, serious, fond of everything about her without detriment to her special fondness for yourself, a great roamer in Elysian fields and forests, but not alone (they go in pairs there, as the jays and turtle-doves do with us); but above all things, true; oh, so true, that you take her word as you would a diamond, nothing being more transparent, or solid, or precious. Between writing some

divine poem, and meeting our friends of an evening, we should walk with her, or fly (for we should have wings, of course) like a couple of human bees or doves, extracting delight from every flower, and with delight filling every shade. There is something too good in this to dwell upon ; so we spare the fears and hopes of the prudish. We would lay her head upon our heart, and look more pleasure into her eyes, than the prudish or the profligate ever so much as fancied.

Item, books. Shakspeare and Spenser should write us new ones / Think of that. We would have another Decameron : and Walter Scott (for he will be there too;-we mean to beg Hume to introduce us) shall write us forty more novels, all as good as the Scotch ones; and Radical as well as Tory shall love him. It is true, we speak professionally, when we mention books.

[blocks in formation]

mean, for our parts, to ride them all, having a

passion for fabulous animals. Fable will be no fable then. We shall have just as much of it as we like ; and the Utilitarians will be astonished to find how much of that sort of thing will be in request. They will look very odd, by the bye, those gentlemen, when they first arrive; but will soon get used to the delight, and find there was more of it in their own doctrine than they imagined. The weather will be extremely fine, but not without such varieties as shall hinder it from being tiresome. April will dress the whole country in diamonds ; and there will be enough cold in winter to make a fire pleasant of an evening. The fire will be made of sweet-smelling turf and sunbeams; but it will have a look of coal. If we choose, now and then we shall even have inconveniences.

II.-BAD WEATHER.

AFTER longing these two months for some “real winter weather,” the public have had a good sharp specimen, a little too real. We mean to take our revenge by writing an article upon it after a good breakfast, with our feet at a good fire, and in a room quiet enough to let us hear the fire as well as feel it. Outside the casement (for we are writing this in a cottage) the east-wind is heard, cutting away like a knife; snow is on the ground; there is frost and sleet at once; and the melancholy crow of poor chanticleer at a distance seems complaining that nobody will cherish him. One imagines that his toes must be cold ; and that he is drawing comparisons between the present feeling of his sides, and the warmth they enjoy next his plump wife on a perch.

But in the country there is always something to enjoy. There is the silence, if nothing else; you feel that the air is healthy; and you can see to write. Think of a street in London, at once narrow, foggy, and noisy; the snow thawing, not because the frost has not returned, but because the union of mud and smoke prevails against it; and then the unnatural cold sound of the clank of milk-pails (if you are up early enough); or if you are not, the chill, damp, strawy, rickety hackney-coaches going by, with fellows inside of them with cold feet, and the coachman a mere bundle of rags, blue nose, and jolting. (He'll quarrel with every fare, and the passenger knows it, and will resist. So they will stand with their feet in the mud, haggling. The old gentleman saw an extra charge of a shilling in his face.) | To complete the misery, the pedestrians kick, as they go, those detestable flakes of united snow and mud;—at least they ought to do so,

to complete our picture; and at night-time, people coming home hardly know whether or not they have chins. But is there no comfort then in a London street in such weather? Infinite, if people will but have it, and families are good-tem| Pered. We trust we shall be read by hundreds of such this morning. Of some we are certain: and do hereby, agreeably to our ubiquitous privileges, take several breakfasts at once. How pleasant is this rug? How bright and generous the fire! How charming the fair Inakers of the tea! And how happy that they have not to make it themselves, the drinkers of it! Even the hackney-coachman means to get double as much as usual to-day, either by cheating or being pathetic: and the old gentieman is resolved to make amends for the necessity of his morning drive, by another pint of wine at dinner, and crumpets with his tea. It is not by grumbling against the elements, that evil is to be done away; but by keeping one's-self in good heart with one's

fellow-creatures, and remembering that they are all capable of partaking our pleasures. The contemplation of pain, acting upon a splenetic temperament, produces a stirring reformer here and there, who does good rather out of spite against wrong, than sympathy with pleasure, and becomes a sort of disagreeable angel. Far be it from us, in the present state of society, to wish that no such existed But they will pardon us for labouring in the vocation, to which a livelier nature calls us, and drawing a distinction between the dissatisfaction that ends in good, and the mere common-place grumbling that in a thousand instances to one ends in nothing but plaguing everybody as well as the grumbler. In almost all cases, those who are in a state of pain themselves, are in the fairest way for giving it; whereas, pleasure is in its nature social. The very abuses of it (terrible as they sometimes are) cannot do as much harm as the violations of the common sense of goodhumour; simply because it is its nature to go with, and not counter to humanity. The only point to take care of is, that as many innocent sources of pleasure are kept open as possible, and affection and imagination brought in to show us what they are, and how surely all may partake of them. We are not likely to forget that a human being is of importance, when we can discern the merits of so small a thing as a leaf, or a honey-bee, or the beauty of a flake of snow, or the fanciful scenery made by the glowing coals in a fire-place. Professors of sciences may do this. Writers the most enthusiastic in a good cause, may sometimes lose sight of their duties, by reason of the very absorption in their enthusiasm. Imagination itself cannot always be abroad and at home at the same time. But the many are not likely to think too deeply of anything; and the more pleasures that are taught them by dint of an agreeable exercise of their reflection, the more they will learn to reflect on all round them, and to endeavour that their reflections may have a right to be agreeable. Any increase of the sum of our enjoyments almost invariably produces a wish to communicate them. An over-indulged human being is ruined by being taught to think of nobody but himself; but a human being, at once gratified and made to think of others, learns to add to his very pleasures in the act of diminishing them. But how, it may be said, are we to enjoy ourselves with reflection, when our very reflection will teach us the quantity of suffering that exists? How are we to be happy with breakfasting and warming our hands, when so many of our fellow-creatures are, at that instant, cold and hungry –It is no paradox to answer, that the fact of our remembering them, gives us a right to forget them:—we mean, that “there is a time for all things,”

and that having done our duty at other times in sympathising with pain, we have not only a right, but it becomes our duty, to show the happy privileges of virtue by sympathising with pleasure. The best person in a holidaymaking party is bound to have the liveliest face; or if not that, a face too happy even to be lively. Suppose, in order to complete the beauty of it, that the face is a lady's. She is bound, if any uneasy reflection crosses her mind, to say to herself, “To this happiness I have contributed;—pain. I have helped to diminish; I am sincere, and wish well to everybody; and I think everybody would be as good as I am, perhaps better, if society were wise. Now society, I trust, is getting wiser; perhaps will beat all our wisdom a hundred years hence: and meanwhile, I must not show that goodness is of no use, but let it realise all it can, and be as merry as the youngest.” So saying, she gives her hand to a friend for a new dance, and really forgets what she has been thinking of, in the blithe spinning of her blood. A good-hearted woman, in the rosy beauty of her joy, is the loveliest object in — But everybody knows that. Adam Smith, in his Theory of Moral Sentiments, has rebuked Thomson for his famous apostrophe in Winter to the “gay, licentious proud ;” where he says, that amidst their dances and festivities they little think of the misery that is going on in the world:—because, observes the philosopher, upon this principle there never could be any enjoyment in the world, unless every corner of it were happy; which would be preposterous. We need not say how entirely we agree with the philosopher in the abstract: and certainly the poet would deserve the rebuke, had he addressed himself only to the “gay;” but then his gay are also “licentious,” and not only licentious but “proud.” Now we confess we would not be too squeamish even about the thoughtlessness of these gentry, for is not their very thoughtlessness their excuse ! And are they not brought up in it, just as a boy in St. Giles's is brought up in thievery, or a girl to callousness and prostitution It is not the thoughtless in high life from whom we are to expect any good, lecture them as we may : and observe— Thomson himself does not say how cruel they are ; or what a set of rascals to dance and be merry in spite of their better knowledge. He says,

“Ah little think the gay, licentious proud"—

and so they do. And so they will, till the diffusion of thought, among all classes, flows, of necessity, into their gay rooms and startled elevations; and forces them to look out upon the world, that they may not be lost by being under the level.

We had intended a very merry paper this

week, to bespeak the favour of our new readers:—

“A very merry, dancing, drinking,
Laughing, quafting, and unthinking" paper-

as Dryden has it. But the Christmas holidays are past; and it is their termination, we suppose, that has made us serious. Sitting up at night also is a great inducer of your moral remark; and if we are not so pleasant as we intended to be, it is because some friends of ours, the other night, were the pleasantest people in the world till five in the morning.

--

III.-FINE DAYS IN JANUARY AND FEBRUARY.

WE speak of those days, unexpected, sunshiny, cheerful, even vernal, which come towards the end of January, and are too apt to come alone. They are often set in the midst of a series of rainy ones, like a patch of blue in the sky. Fine weather is much at any time, after or before the end of the year; but, in the latter case, the days are still winter days; whereas, in the former, the year being turned, and March and April before us, we seem to feel the coming of spring. In the streets and squares, the ladies are abroad, with their colours and glowing checks. If you can hear anything but noise, you hear the sparrows. People anticipate at breakfast the pleasure they shall have in “getting out.” The solitary poplar in a corner looks green against the sky; and the brick wall has a warmth in it. Then in the noisier streets, what a multitude and a new life! What horseback! What promenading! What shopping, and giving good day! Bonnets encounter bonnets :—all the Miss Williamses meet all the Miss Joneses; and everybody wonders, particularly at nothing. The shop-windows, putting forward their best, may be said to be in blossom. The yellow carriages flash in the sunshine; footmen rejoice in their white calves, not dabbed, as usual, with rain; the gossips look out of their three-pair-of-stairs windows; other windows are thrown open; fruiterers' shops look well, swelling with full baskets; pavements are found to be dry; lap-dogs frisk under their asthmas; and old gentlemen issue forth, peering up at the region of the north-east.

Then in the country, how emerald the green. how open-looking the prospect Honeysuckles (a name alone with a garden in it) are detected in blossom ; the hazel follows; the snowdrop hangs its white perfection, exquisite with green; we fancy the trees are already thicker; voices of winter birds are taken for new ones; and in February new ones come — the thrush, the chaffinch, and the wood-lark. Then rooks begin to pair; and the wagtail dances in the lane. As we write this article, the sun is on

« ZurückWeiter »