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The reader will discern that the author of Friends in Council has lost nothing of his power of picturesque description, and nothing of his horror of the abuses and cruelties of the law. And the passage may serve to remind of the touching, graphic account of the country residence of a reduced family in the Companions of my Solitude.” Ellesmere assures Milverton that he shall not be asked to see a single picture; and that if Milverton will bring Blanche and Mildred with him, he will himself go and see seven of the chief sewers in seven of the chief towns. The appeal to the sanitarian's feelings is successful; the bargain is struck; and we next find the entire party sauntering, after an early German dinner, on the terrace of some small town on the Rhine,—Dunsford forgets which. Milverton, Ellesmere, and Mr. Midhurst are smoking, and we commend their conversation on the soothing power of tobacco to the attention of the Dean of Carlisle. Dean Close, by a bold figure, calls tobacco a “gorging fiend.” Milverton holds that smoking is perhaps the greatest blessing that we owe to the discovery of America. He regards its value as abiding in its power to soothe under the vexations and troubles of life. While smoking, you cease to live almost wholly in the future, which miserable men for the most part do. The question arises, whether the sorrows of the old or the young are the most acute It is admitted that the sorrows of children are very overwhelming for the time, but they are not of that varied, perplexed, and bewildering nature which derives much consolation from smoke. Ellesmere suggests, very truthfully, that the feeling of shame for having done anything wrong, or even ridiculous, causes most acute misery to the young. And, indeed, who does not know, from personal experience, that the sufferings of children of even four or five years old are often quite as dreadful as those which come as the sad heritage of after years : We look back on them now, and smile at them as we think how small were their causes. Well, they were great to us. We were little creatures then, and little things were relatively very great. ‘The sports of childhood satisfy the child:” the sorrows of childhood overwhelm the poor little thing. We think a sympathetic reader would hardly read without a tear as well as a smile, an incident in the early life of Patrick Fraser Tytler, recorded in his recently published biography. When five years old, he got hold of the gun of an elder brother, and broke the spring of its lock. What anguish the little boy must have endured, what a crushing sense of having caused an irremediable evil, before he sat down and printed in great letters the following epistle to his brother, the owner of the gun—‘Oh, Jamie, think no more of guns, for the main-spring of that is broken, and my heart is broken l’ Doubtless the poor little fellow fancied that all the remainder of his life he never would feel as he had felt before he touched the unlucky weapon. Doubtless the little heart was just as full of anguish as it could hold. Looking back over many years, most of us can remember a child crushed
* Chap. Iv.
and overwhelmed by some sorrow which it thought could never be got over, and can feel for our early self as though sympathising with another personality. The upshot of the talk which began with tobacco was, that Milverton was prevailed upon to write an essay on a subject of universal interest to all civilised beings, an essay on Worry. He felt, indeed, that he should be writing it at a disadvantage; for an essay on worry can be written with full effect only by a thoroughly worried man. There was no worry at all in that quiet little town on the Rhine; they had come there to rest, and there was no intruding duty that demanded that it should be attended to. And probably there is no respect in which that great law of the association of ideas, that like suggests like, holds more strikingly true than in the power of a present state of mind, or a present state of outward circumstances, to bring up vividly before us all such states in our past history. We are depressed, we are worried : and when we look back, all our departed days of worry. and depression appear to start up and press themselves upon our view to the exclusion of anything else, so that we are ready to think that we have never been otherwise than depressed and worried all our life. But when more cheerful times come, they suggest only such times of cheerfulness, and no effort will bring back the worry vividly as when we felt it. It is not selfishness or heartlessness; it is the result of an inevitable law of mind that people in happy circumstances should resolutely believe that it is a happy world after all; for looking back, and looking around, the mind refuses to take distinct note of anything that is not somewhat akin to its present state. Milverton wrote an excellent essay on Worry on the evening of that day; but he might possibly have written a better one at Worth-Ashton on the evening of a day on which he had discovered that his coachman was stealing the corn provided for the carriage horses, or galloping these animals about the country at the dead of night to see his friends. We must have a score of little annoyances stinging us at once to have the undiluted sense of being worried. And probably a not wealthy man, residing in the country, and farming a few acres of ground by means of somewhat unfaithful and neglectful servants, may occasionally find so many things going wrong at once, and so many little things demanding to be attended to at once, that he shall experience worry in as high a degree as it can be felt by mortal. Thus truthfully does Milverton's essay begin:—
The great characteristic of modern life is Worry.
If the Pagan religion still prevailed, the new goddess, in whose honour temples would be raised and to whom statues would be erected in all the capitals of the world, would be the goddess Worry. London would be the chief seat and centre of her sway. A gorgeous statue, painted and enriched after the manner of the ancients (for there is no doubt that they adopted this practice, however barbarous it may seem to us), would be set up to the goddess in the West-end of the town ; another at Temple Bar, of less ample dimensions and less elaborate decoration, would receive the devout homage of worshippers who came to attend their lawyers in that quarter of the town ; while a statue, on which the cunning sculptor should have impressed the marks of haste, anxiety, and agitation, would be sharply glanced up at,
with as much veneration as they could afford to give to it, by the eager men of business in the City.
The goddess Worry, however, would be no local deity, worshipped merely in some great town, like Diana of the Ephesians; but, in the market-places of small rural communities, her statue, made somewhat like a vane, and shifting with every turn of the wind, would be regarded with stolid awe by anxious votaries belonging to what is called the farming interest. Familiar too and household would be her worship; and in many a smug home where she might be imagined to have little potency, small and ugly images of her would be found as household gods—the Lares and Penates—near to the threshold, and ensconced above the glowing hearth. The poet, always somewhat inclined to fable, speaks of Love as ruling The court, the camp, the grove, And men below, and heaven above;
but the dominion of Love, as compared with that of Worry, would be found in the number of subjects, as the Macedonian to the Persian—in extent of territory, as the county of Rutland to the empire of Russia.
Not verbally accurate is the quotation from the Lay of the Last Minstrel, we may remark; but we may take it for granted that no reader who has exceeded the age of twenty-five will fail to recognise in this half-playful and half-earnest passage the statement of a sorrowful fact. And the essay goes on to set forth many of the causes of modern worry with all the knowledge and earnestness of a man who has seen much of life, and thought much upon what he has seen. The author’s sympathies are not so much with the grand trials of historical personages, such as Charles V., Columbus, and Napoleon, as with the lesser trials and cares of ordinary men; and in the following paragraph