Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

tually. My master, however, is so reckless, that I would defy any stomach of ordinary ability and capacity to get along please antly with him. The fact is, like almost all other men, he, in his eating and drinking, considers his own pleasure only, and never once reflects on the poor wretch who has to be responsible for the disposal of everything down stairs. Scarcely on any day does he fail to exceed the strict rule of temperance; nay, there is scarcely a single meal which is altogether what it ought to be, either in its constit'uents or its general amount. My life is therefore one of continual worry and fret; I am never off the drudge from morning till night, and have not a moment in the four-and-twenty hours that I can safely call my own.

5. My greatest trial takes place in the evening, when my master has dined. If you only saw what a mess this said dinner is, — soup, fish, flesh, fowl, ham, curry, rice, potatoes, table-beer, sherry, tart, pudding, cheese, bread, all mixed up together. I am accustomed to the thing, so don't feel much shocked; but my master himself would faint at the sight. The slave of dūty in all circumstances, I call in my friend Gastric Juice,El and to it we set, with as much good-will as if we had the most agreeable task in the world before us. But, unluckily, my master has an impression very firmly fixed upon him that our business is apt to be vastly promoted by an hour or two's drinking , so he continues at table amongst his friends, and pours me down some bottle and a half of wine, perhaps of various sorts, that bothers Gastric Juice and me to a degree which no one can have any conception of.

6. In fact, this said wine undoes our work almost as fast as we do it, besides blinding and poisoning us poor genii into the bar. gain. On many occasions I am obliged to give up my task for the time altogether; for while this vīnous shower is going on I would defy the most vigorous stomach in the world to make any advance in its business worth speaking of. Sometimes things go to a much greater length than at others; and my master will paralyze us in this manner for hours, — not always, indeed, with wine, but occasionally with punch, one ingredient of which — the lemon — is particularly odious to us ministers of the interior. All this time I can hear him jollifying away at a great rate, drinking healths to his neighbors, and ruining his own.

7. I am a lover of early hours — as are my brethren generally. To this we are very much disposed by the extremely hard work which we usually undergo during the day. About ten o'clock, having, perhaps, at that time, got all our labors past, and feeling fatigued and exhausted, we like to sink into repose, not to be again disturbed till next morning at breakfast-timo. Well how it may be with others I can't tell ; but so it is, that my master never scruples to rouse me up from my first sleep, and give me charge of an entirely new meal, after I thought I was to be my own master for the night. This is a hardship of the most grievous kind.

8. Only imagine an innocent stomach-genius, who has gathered his coal, drawn on his night-cap, and gone to bed, rung up and made to stand attention to receive a succession of things, all of them super'fluous and in excess, which he knows he will not be able to get off his hands all night. Such, O mankind, 1 are the woes which befall our tribe in consequence of your occasionally yielding to the temptation of “a little supper.” I see turkey and tongue in grief and terror. Macaroni fills me with frantic alarm. I behold jelly and trifle follow in mute despair. O that I had the power of standing beside my master, and holding his unreflecting hand, as he thus prepares for my torment and his own!

9. Here, too, the old mistaken notion about the need of some thing stimulating besets him, and down comes a deluge of hot spirits and water, that causes every villicleEl in my coat to writhe in agony, and almost sends Gastric Juice off in the sulks to bed Nor does the infatuated man rest here. If the company be agreeable, rummer will follow upon rummer, while I am kept standing, as it were, with my sleeves tucked up, ready to begin, but unable to perform a single stroke of work.

10. I feel that the strength which I ought to have had at my present time of life has passed from me. I am getting weak, and peevish, and evil-disposed. A comparatively small trouble sits long and sore upon me. Bile, from being my servant, is becoming my master; and a bad one he makes, as all good servants ever do. I see nothing before me but a premature old age of pains and groans, and gripes and grumblings, which will, of course, not last over long; and thus I shall be cut short in my career, when I should have been enjoying life's tranquil evening, without a single vexation of any kind to trouble me.

11. Were I of a ran'corous temper, it might be a consolation to think that my master — the cause of all my woes — must suffer and sink with me; but I don't see how this can mend my own case; and, from old acquaintance, I am rather disposed to feel sorry for him, as one who has been more ignorant and imprudent than ill-meaning. In the same spirit let me hope that this true and unaffected account of my case may prove a warning to other persons how they use their stomachs; for they may depend upon it that whatever injustice they do to us in their days of health and pride will be repaid to themselves in the long-run, — our friend Madam Nature being an inveterately accurate accountant who makes no allowance for revokesEl or mistakes. CHAMBERS.

LXX. — THE PERMANENCE OF WORDS. 1. An eloquent but extravagant writer * has hazarded the assertion that “ words are the only things that last forever.” Nor is this merely a splendid saying, or a startling paradox,that may be qualified by explanation into commonplace; but with respect to man and his works on earth it is literally true. Temples and palaces, amphitheatresel and catacombs," – monumentsEl of power, and magnificence, and skill, to perpetuate the memory, and preserve even the ashes, of those who lived in past ages, - must, in the revolutions of mundane El events, not only perish themselves by violence or decay, but the very dust in which they perished be so scattered as to leave no trace of their material existence behind.

2. There is no security beyond the passing moment for the most permanent or the most precious of these; they are as much in jeopardy33 as ever, after having escaped the changes and chances of thousands of years. An earthquake may suddenly ingulf the pyramidsel of Egypt, and leave the sand of the desert as blank as the tide would have left it on the sea-shore. A hammer in the hand of an idiot may break to pieces the Apollo Belvidere, es or the Venus de Mediciel, which are scarcely less worshipped as miracles of art in our day than they were by idol. aters of old as representatives of deities.

3. Looking abroad over the whole world, after the lapse of nearly six thousand years, what have we of the past but the words in which its history is recorded ? What beside a few mouldering and brittle ruins, which time is imperceptibly touching down into dust, — what, beside these, remains of the glory, the grandeur, the intelligence, the supremacy, of the Grecian republics, or the empire of Rome ?EI Nothing but the words of poets, historians, philosophers, and orators, whọ, being dead, yet speak, and in their immortal works still maintain their dominion over inferior minds through all posterity. And these intellectual sovereigns not only govern our spirits from the tomb by the power of their thoughts, but their very voices are heard by our living ears in the accents of their mother-tongues.

4. The beauty, the eloquence, and art, of these collocations of sounds and syllables,To the learned alone can appreciate, and that only (in some cases) after long, intense, Ei and laborious investi. gation; but, as thought can be made to trans' migrate from one Dody of words into another, even through all the languages of

[blocks in formation]

the earth, without losing what may be called its personal identity the great minds of antiq'uity continue to hold their ascendency over the opinions, manners, characters, institutions, and events of all ages and nations, through which their põet'haucus compositions have found way, and been made the earliest subjects of study, the highest standards of morals, and the most perfect examples of taste, to the master-minds in every state of civilized society.

5. Words are the ve'hicles by which thought is made visible to the eye and intelligible to the mind of another; they are the palpable forms of ideas, without which these would be intangibles as the spirit that conceives or the breath that would utter them. And of such influence is speech or writing, as the conductor of thought, that, though all words do not “last forever,” — and it is well for the peace of the world, and the happiness of individuals, that they do not, — yet even here every word has its date and its effect; so that with the tongue or the pen we are continually doing good or evil to ourselves or our neighbors. El

6. On a single phrase, expressed in anger or affection, in levity or seriousness, the whole progress of a human spirit through life, — perhaps even to eternity, — may be changed from the direction which it was pursūing, whether103 right or wrong. For in nothing are the power and indestructibility of words more signally exemplified than in small compositions, such as stories, essays, E parables, El songs, proverbs, El and all the minor and more exquisite forms of composition. It is a fact, not obvious, perhaps, but capable of perfect proof, that knowledge, in all eras which have been distinguished as enlightened, has been propagated more by tracts than by volumes.

7. In the youth of the Roman com’monwealth, during a quarrel between the patricians and plebe'ians, Et when the latter had separated themselves from the former, on the plea that they would no longer labor to maintain the unproductive class in indôlent luxury, Menēnius Agrippa, by the well-known fableEl of a schism" in the human body, in which the limbs mutinied against the stomach, brought the secēders to a sense of their duty and interest, and rec'onciled a feud which, had it been further inflamed, might have destroyed the state, and turned the history of the world itself thenceforward into an entirely new channel, by interrupting the tide of events which were carrying Rome to the summit of dominion. The lesson which that sagacious pätriot taught to his countrymen and contemporaries, Et he taught to all generations to come. His fable has already, by more than a thousand years, survived the empire which it rescued from prematūre destruction.

8. The other instance of a small form of words, in which dwells, not an immortal only, but a divine spirit, is that prayer which our Saviour taught his disciples. El How many millions and millions of times has that prayer been preferred by Chris. tians of all denominations! So wide, indeed, is the sound thereof gone forth, that daily, and almost without intermission, from the ends of the earth, and afar off upon the sea, it is ascending to heaven like incense and a pure offering; nor needs it the gift of prophecy to foretell, that, though “ heaven and earth shall pass away," these words of our blessëd'16 Lord “ shall not pass away," till every petition in it has been answered, till the kingdom of God shall come, and his will be done in earth as it is in heaven.

JAMES MONTGOMERY.

LXXI. — THE PUFFERS. 1. A PIOUS Brahmin, El it is written, made a vow that on a certain day he would sacrifice a sheep ; and on the appointed morning he went forth to buy one. There lived in his neighborhood three rogues who knew of his vow, and laid a scheme for profiting by it. The first met him and said, “0, Brahmin, wilt thou buy a sheep? I have one fit for sacrifice.” — “ It is for that very purpose,” said the holy man, “ that I came forth this day.”

2. Then the impostor opened a bag, and brought out of it an unclean beast, an ugly dog, lame and blind. Thereon the Brahmin cried out, “ Wretch, who touchest things impure, and utterest things untrue! callest thou that cur a sheep?” “ Truly," answered the other, “it is a sheep of the finest fleece and of the sweetest flesh. O, Brahmin, it will be an offering most acceptable to the gods.” — “ Friend,” said the Brahmin, either thou or I must be blind.”

3. Just then one of the accom'plices came up. “ Praised be the gods," said this second rogue, “ that I have been saved the trouble of going to the market for a sheep! This is such a sheep as I wanted. For how much wilt thou sell it?” When the Brahmin heard this, his mind waved to and fro, like one swinging in the air at a holy festival. “Sir,” said he to the new comer, “take heed what thou dost; this is no sheep, but an unclean cur.” — “0, Brahmin," said the new comer, “ thou art. drunk or mad.”

* 4. At this time the third confed’erate drew near. “Let us ask this man,” said the Brahmin, “what the deature is, and I

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »