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ence, like learning a lesson for the first time, where every advance is slow, doubtful, interesting; afterwards we rehearse our parts by rote, and are hardly conscious of the meaning. A very short period (from fifteen to twenty-five or thirty) includes the whole map and table of contents of human life. From that time we may be said to live our lives over again, repeat ourselves,—the same thoughts return at stated intervals, like the tunes of a barrel-organ ; and the volume of the universe is no more than a form of words and book of reference.
Time in general is supposed to move faster or slower, as we attend more or less to the succession of our ideas, in the same manner as distance is increased or lessened by the greater or less variety of intervening objects. There is, however, a difference in this respect. Suspense, where the mind is engrossed with one idea, and kept from amusing itself with any other, is not only the most uncomfortable, but the most tiresome of all things. The fixing our attention on a single point makes us more sensible of the delay, and hangs an additional weight of fretful impatience on every moment of expectation. People in country places, without employment or artificial resources, complain that time lies heavy on their hands. Its leaden pace is not occasioned by the quantity of thought, but by vacancy, and the continual, languid craving after excitement. It wants spirit and vivacity to give it motion. We are on the watch to see how time goes; and it appears to lag behind, because, in the absence of objects to arrest our immediate attention, we are always getting on before it. We do not see its divisions, but we feel the galling pressure of each creeping sand that measures out our hours. Again, a rapid succession of external objects and amusements, which leave no room for reflection, and where one gratification is forgotten in the next, makes time pass quickly, as well as delightfully. We do not perceive an extent of surface, but only a succession of points. We are whirled swiftly along by the hand of dissipation, but cannot stay to look behind us. On the contrary, change of scene, travelling through a foreign country, or the meeting with a variety of striking adventures that lay hold of the imagination, and continue to haunt it in a waking dream, will make days seem weeks. From the crowd of events, the number of distinct points of view, brought into a small compass, we seem to have passed through a great length of time, when it is no such thing. In traversing a flat, barren country, the monotony of our ideas fatigues, and makes
the way longer; whereas, if the prospect is di
; versified and picturesque, we get over the miles without counting them. In painting or writing, hours are melted almost into minutes: the mind, absorbed in the eagerness of its pursuit, forgets the time necessary to accomplish it; and, indeed, the clock often finds us employed on the same thought or part of a picture that occupied us when it struck last. It seems then, there are several other circumstances besides the number and distinctness of our ideas, to be taken into the account in the measure of time, or in considering “ whom time ambles withal, whom time gallops withal, and whom he stands still withal *.” Time
* “ Rosalind. Time travels in divers paces with divers persons: I'll tell you who time ambles withal, who time trots withal, who time gallops withal, and who he stands still withal.
Orlando. I prythee, who doth he trot withal ?
Ros. Marry, he trots hard with a young maid between the contract of her marriage and the day it is solemnized : if the interim be but a se'nnight, time's pace is so hard that it seems the length of seven years.
Orl. Who ambles time withal ?
Ros. With a priest that lacks Latin, and a rich man that hath not the gout ; for the one sleeps easily, because he cannot study; and the other lives merrily, because he feels no pain; the one lacking the burden of lean and wasteful learning ; the other knowing no burden of heavy tedious penury. These time ambles with.
wears away slowly with a man in solitary confinement; not from the number or variety of his ideas, but from their weary sameness, fretting like drops of water. The imagination may distinguish the lapse of time by the brilliant variety of its tints, and the many striking shapes it assumes; the heart feels it by the weight of sadness, and grim-visaged, comfortless despair !"
I will conclude this subject with remarking, that the fancied shortness of life is aided by the apprehension of a future state. The constantly directing our hopes and fears to a higher state of being beyond the present, necessarily brings death habitually before us, and defines the narrow limits within which we hold our frail existence, as mountains bound the horizon, and unavoidably draw our attention to it. This may be one reason among others why the fear of death was a less prominent feature in ancient times than it is at present; because the thoughts of it, and of a future state, were less frequently
Orl. Who doth he gallop withal ?
Ros. With a thief to the gallows; for though he go as softly as foot can fall, he thinks himself too soon there.
Orl. Who stays it withal ?
Ros. With lawyers in the vacation; for they sleep between term and term, and then they perceive not how time moves."- As You Like It, Act III. Scene II.
impressed on the mind by religion and morality. The greater progress of civilization and security in modern times has also considerably to do with our practical effeminacy; for though the old Pagans were not bound to think of death as a religious duty, they never could foresee when they should be compelled to submit to it, as a natural necessity, or accident of war, &c. They viewed death, therefore, with an eye of speculative indifference and practical resolution. That the idea of annihilation did not impress them with the same horror and repugnance as it does the modern believer, or even infidel, is easily accounted for (though a writer in the Edinburgh Review thinks the question insoluble) * from this plain reason, viz. that not being
* “On the other point, namely, the dark and sceptical spirit prevalent through the works of this poet (Lord Byron), we shall not now utter all that we feel, but rather direct the notice of our readers to it as a singular phenomenon in the poetry of the age. Whoever has studied the spirit of Greek and Roman literature, must have been struck with the comparative disregard and indifference, wherewith the thinking men of these exquisitely polished nations contemplated those subjects of darkness and mystery which afford at some period or other of his life, so much disquiet -We had almost said so much agony, to the mind of every reflecting modern. It is difficult to account for this in any very satisfactory, and we suspect altogether impossible to