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Brutus, to pass for a fool too. And if he knows two things or three which they dont know, he had better keep his information to himself. Even the possession of a single exclusive piece of knowledge may be a dangerous thing. Long ago, in an ancient University near the source of the Nile, the professors of Divinity regarded not the quantity of Greek or Latin words. The length of the Vowels they decided in each case according to the idea of the moment. And their pronunciation of Scripture proper names, was the pronunciation of men who could not read the Greek Testament. A youthful student, named McLamroch, was reading an essay in the class of one of those venerable but ignorant professors. And coming to the word Thessalonica, he pronounced it, as all mortals do, with the accent on the last syllable but one, and giving the vowel as long. "Say Thessaloanica,' said the venerable professor, with emphasis. 'I think, doctissime professor (for all professors in that University were most learned by courtesy) that Thessalonica is the right way,' replied poor McLamroch. 'I tell you it is wrong,' shrilly shouted the good professor: 'Say Thessaloanica! and let me tell you, Mr. McLamroch, you are most aboaminably affectit !' So poor McLamroch was put down. He was an Ugly Duck. And he found, by sad experience, that it is not safe to know more than your professor. And I verily believe, that the solitary thing that McLamroch knew and his professor did not know, was the way to pronounce Thessalonica. I have heard, indeed, of a theological professor of that ancient day, who bitterly lamented the introduction of new fashions of pronouncing Scriptural proper names. However, he said, he could stand all the rest: but there were two renderings he would never give up but with life. These were Kapper-nawm, by which he meant Capernaum: and Levvy-awthan, by which he meant Leviathan. And if you, my learned friend, had been a student under that good man, and had pronouced these words as scholars and all
others do, you would have found yourself no better than an Ugly Duck, and a fearfully misplaced man. A torrent of wut, sarcasm at new lights, and indignation at people who were not content to pronounce words (wrong) like their fathers before them, would have made you sink through the floor.
To be in advance of your fellowmortals in taste, too, is as dangerous as to be in advance of them in the pronunciation of Thessalonica. When Mr. Jones built his beautiful Gothie house, in a district where all other houses belonged to no architectural school at all, all his neighbours laughed at him. A genial friend, in a letter in a newspaper, spoke of his peculiar taste, and called him the preposterous Jones. And it was a current joke in the neighbourhood, when you met a friend, to say, 'Have you seen Jones's house?' You then held up both hands, or exclaimed 'Well, I never!' Then your friend burst into a loud roar of laughter. In a severer mood, you would say, 'That fellow! Can't he build like his fathers before him? Indeed he never had a grandfather: I remember how he was brought up by his aunt, that kept a cat's-meat shop in Muffburgh,' and the like. All this evil came upon Jones, because he was a little in advance of his neighbours in taste. For in ten years, hardly a house round but had some steep gables, several bay windows, and a little stained glass. Their owners esteemed them Gothic. And in one sense, undoubtedly some of them were Gothic enough. In Scotland, now, people build handsome churches, and pay all due respect to ecclesiastical propriety. But it is not very long since a parish clergyman proposed to the authorities that a proper font should be provided for baptisms, because the only vessel heretofore used for that purpose was a crockery basin, used for washing hands. And one of the authorities exclaimed indignantly, 'We are not going to have any gewgaws in our church:' by gewgaws meaning a decorous font. What could be done with such a man? Violently to knock his head against
a wall would have been wrong: for no man should be visited with temporal penalties on account of his honest opinions. Yet any less decided treatment would have been of no avail.
We ought all to be very thankful, if we are in our right place: if we are set among people whom we suit, and who suit us: and among whom we need neither to practise a dishonest concealment of our views, nor to stand in the painful position of Ugly Ducks and Misplaced Men. Yes, a man may well be glad, if he is the square man in the square hole. For he might have been a round man in a square hole: and then he would have been unhappy in the hole, and the hole would have hated him. I know a place where a man who should say that he thought Catholic Emancipation common justice and common sense, would be hooted down, even yet: would be told he was a villain, blinded by Satan. There is a locality, where morality indeed is very low, but where a valued friend of mine was held up to reprobation as a dangerous and insidious man, because he declared in print that he did not think it sinful to take a quiet walk on Sunday. In that locality, one birth in every three is illegitimate: but it was pleasant and easy, by abuse of the Rector of a London parish, and by abuse of others like him, to compound for the neglect of the duty of trying to break Hodge and Bill, Kate and Sally, of their evil ways. I know a place where you may find an intelligent man, out of a lunatic asylum too, who will tell you that to have an organ in church is to set up images and go back to Judaism. I have lately heard it seriously maintained that to make a decorous pause for a minute after service in church is over, and pray for God's blessing on the worship in which you have joined, is 'contrary to reason and to Scripture!' I know places where any one of the plainest canons of taste, being expressed by a man, would be taken as stamping him a fool. Now what would you do, my friend, if you
found yourself set down among people with whom you were utterly out of sympathy: whose first principles appeared to you the prejudices of pragmatic blockheads, and to whom your first principles appeared those of a silly and Ugly Duck? One would say, If you don't want to dwarf and distort your whole moral nature, get out of that situation. But then some poor fellows cannot. And then they must either take rank as Misplaced Men; or go through life hypocritically pretending to share views which they despise. The latter alternative is inadmissible in any circumstances. Be honest, whatever you do. Take your place boldly, as an Ugly Duck, if God has appointed that to be your portion in this life. Doubtless, it will be a great trial. But you and I, friendly reader, set by Providence among people who understand us and whom we understand: among whom we may talk out our honest heart, and (let us hope) do so: in talking to whom we don't need to be on our guard, and every now and then to pull up, thinking to ourselves; 'Now this sneaking fellow is lying on the catch for my saying something he may go and repeat to my prejudice behind my back:' how thankful we should be! I declare, looking back on days that have been, in this very country, I cannot understand how manly, enlightened, and, honest men lived then at all! You must either have been a savage bigot, or a wretched sneak, or a martyr. The alternative is an awful one: but let us trust, my friend, that if you and I had lived then, we should by God's grace have been equal to it. Yes, I humbly trust that if we had lived then, we should either have been burned, hanged, or shot. For the days have been, in which that must have been the portion of an honest man, who thought for himself: and who would be dragooned by neither Pope, Prelate, nor Presbyter.
But now, having written myself into a heat of indignation, I think it inexpedient to write more. For it appears to me that to write or to
read an essay like this, ought always to be a relief and recreation. And those grave matters, which stir the heart too deeply, and tingle painfully through the nervous system, are best treated at other times, in other ways. Many men find it advisable to keep to themselves the subjects on which they feel most keenly. As for me, I dare not allow myself to think of certain evils of whose existence I know. Sometimes they drive one to some quiet spot, where
you can walk up and down a little path with grass and evergreens on either hand, and try to forget the sin and misery you cannot mend: looking at the dappled shades of colour on the grass; taking hold of a little spray of holly and poring upon its leaves; stopping beside a great fir-tree, and diligently perusing the wrinkles of its bark.
So we shut up. So we cave in. Oh the beauty of these simple phrases, so purely classic! A. K. H. B、、
RECREATIONS OF A LONDON RECLUSE.
Pmes that a recluse is called
ATIENCE, one of the few vir
upon to exercise, does not in common estimation hold a very high rank among them. It has as hard a battle to fight, but less reward to hope for, than almost any other. This may be partly because its beneficial effects on society are not immediately obvious; and if one attempt to rate it by the effort it requires, it is impossible to tell how great that is. Like the caloric employed in changing ice into water, it does not immediately manifest itself to the senses, or affect the thermometer. Patience must in most cases dispense with the support derived from the observation and sympathy of others. What the power of that support is we see daily exemplified in the cases of all who act under the eyes of their fellows -soldiers and others. A person in a distinguished position, a dying king, for instance, though on a sickbed, knows that the eyes of the world are upon him, that his contemporaries and posterity will hear whether he bears his sufferings well or ill. He has many of the same motives for patience that he would have for valour on the field of battle.
But the majority of sufferers are in a different position. Few know or care how they bear their lot; and their patience can seldom borrow
VOL. LXIX. NO. CCCCIX.
any support from vanity, or from the pleasant feelings attending the exercise of the more social virtues. Benevolence is a joyous emotion, and the agreeable images of the good we hope to effect sweeten whatever of bitter may attend its exercise. To know ourselves benefactors, teachers, wise counsellors, useful assistants to others, gives a feeling of lively self-complacency. But patience must forego these joys; its benefits seem confined to our own minds; it changes nothing in the world, produces nothing; and when we are really exerting ourselves to our utmost we may appear to others inactive and useless. Our patience has no other effect on those around us than at best a negative one, lessening our disagreeableness; whilst the same amount of effort might under happier circumstances have enabled us to win the love of our fellow-creatures. Patience, nevertheless, can never be without its value in a world from which we cannot hope to banish suffering. It must always, commercially speaking, command a steady price; but where is it to be purchased?
It would be very desirable to have masters to teach us this and similar useful accomplishments, to whom, if we turned out apt pupils, we might joyfully offer our testimonials, pointing with pride to the improvement they have effected. "This is how I
used to curse and swear when anything went wrong; this is the smiling face I present to adverse fortune now that I have had twelve lessons.' But, alas, there are no such masters.
There is, indeed, a tradition still existing among us that speaks of the cure of souls; but the physicians merely administer to us every seventh day or so, a nostrum that we swallow on the general understanding that it is intended to 'do us good; but as for any medicine specially adapted to our malady, we need not look for it. We all know how poor George Fox sped when he applied to the accredited spiritual practitioner. Not to think of what you needs must feel; to stop your thoughts when they are running in forbidden directions, with a peremptory No thoroughfare;' that is the only practical rule that my experience has yet enabled me to dis
Above all things, turn your eyes outward and avoid journalizing, which recommends itself to solitary people by presenting a sort of shadowy substitute for conversation, but is specially to be deprecated by those with whom the grand desideratum is to leap off their own shadow. It may possibly be admissible in certain cases, but from the habit of self-observation it implies, must certainly be relegated to the department of sick-room cookery.
Literature affords a welcome resource (we need not now consider the case of the reader). Pity that we cannot be regimented and wear a uniform like the Shoe-black Brigade! It would rouse a useful esprit de corps, and help us to hold our ground against other better organized professions. If a soldier takes pride in the service,' independently of his individual claims, shall there be no pride in belonging to the great army enlisted in the cause of truth? If we have for our own parts a well-grounded suspicion that we shall never rise to any higher rank than that of full private, would it not be pleasant to be able to claim this or that distinguished officer, as So-and-so, 'of
ours.' 'Do you see that gallant veteran,' we might say, with the glittering order on his manly breast? He won that by his celebrated work in which he cut down with one stroke of his pen that giant quackery.' Or, There goes our Captain; he won his promotion by his famous History of - —, when he led the assault on that stronghold of error, and utterly demolished it. Since then he has borne, by her Majesty's permission, his present arms-two pens crossed, and an inkstand rampant, on a field or.'
It would be an enviable privilege to a recluse, that which has been granted to so many ladies and gentlemen in our day, of inducing any spirit of past ages to favour them with a call by no more difficult process than of performing a series of single and double knocks on their table. Time was when special correspondents from the other world demanded rather heavy remuneration; but now the thing is cheap enough, and as easy as lying.
In moments of languor and depression, when you may long for society as a teetotaller might for the alcoholic stimulant he has renounced, it may be useful to remember what is often the real taste of those Dead Sea apples; how frequently people approach each other in the body, but remain mentally isolated: exchanging, not real thoughts, but certain counters that it has been tacitly agreed to use in their stead, and shuffling and dealing about words as they do cards. It seems possible, too, that the general increase in the stock of knowledge, and the greater division of intellectual labour, may have tended to impoverish conversation. People fear committing themselves by entering on subjects with which they have but slight acquaintance, but to which others may have specially devoted themselves; and on the other hand, the man of science may fear becoming offensive by a display of his knowledge in the presence of comparative ignorance; so both avoid the dilemma by talking of nothing. As for what the copybooks call 'conversing in your li
brary with the great spirits of former days,' it sounds like a mockery when you are hungering for living speech. It is not conversation when the books will have all the talk to themselves, pay no attention to your objections, and will not let you get in a word edgeways.
One of the disadvantages of a commonly solitary life (at least to those who have no natural vocation to it) is, that it tends strongly to develop the social feelings, and leads you to greet any stray individual who may cross your path as a man and a brother, and have afterwards probably to repent in sackcloth and ashes.
A ship far out on the lonely ocean hails a passing sail as if it were freighted with a cargo of dearest friends. You rush to your respective bulwarks, you shout, and cheer, and wave hats and handkerchiefs, and feel your heart swell with joy as at the sight of so many beloved brothers; whereas the presence of these same individuals in Regentstreet or Cheapside would excite no more emotion than that of so many paving-stones. But if you want a misanthrope, look among those who are never out of sight of the anthropoi.
Mid countless brethren, with a lonely heart, Through courts and cities the smooth savage
So social has my own temper become through being a 'total abstainer' from society, that at the season when the tide of London life sweeps outward, I felt more lonely because people whom I never saw or cared to see, were no longer to be found in rooms that I never entered.
Those blank windows stared at me and pained me with their vacuity, like sightless eyeballs. 'Away then,' I said; 'let me too change the scene.' Whistle, prompter's call-boy-or engine-driver (which is it?) and lo, great Babylon vanishes and the curtain draws up on rocks and mountains, shaggy with ancient woods, the lower ranks of them leaning over to dip their long tresses, or to catch a glimpse of themselves,
in the clear still looking-glass beneath. A young river that has not long since come frisking and gambolling from its parent hills, here puts on a company face, and for about a mile runs smooth, and deep, and demure, till it gets past the little town, and then, like a frolicsome child growing tired of behaving itself,' tumbles head over heels, and goes romping along in little sparkling falls and rapids, and having all manner of fun with the stones, for many miles before it submits to go to work and make itself useful.
I am not going to mention the name of my retreat lest I might be thought to be under some corrupt local influence.
Was. not the Chancellor of the Exchequer pressed into the advertising service, and made to perform virtually the same functions as those gentlemen-familiarly known, I am told, as sandwiches-who parade the Strand with a back and breastplate of printed placards? I shall therefore merely mention some of its characteristics, and leave its name to be guessed. In the first place, then, be it known to all whom it may concern, that though it was what we may call discovered only about a hundred and fifty years ago, it rejoices now (vide Guide-book) in 'gas-lights, police officers, and everything to make it pleasant and agreeable.' Furthermore, I find that it is the most perfectly beautiful and interesting place in the beautiful and interesting county of --shire; that its rocks are picturesque, majestic, sublime; its woods magnificent; its mountains grand in their dizzy heights; and its valleys more charming than words can express; but that its perfect beauty can only be enjoyed on an autumnal evening, for then only do we feel ourselves shut out from the world, and forming part of a new creation.'
I have not myself, I must own, been in the habit of passing my autumnal evenings in that remarkable manner, but I am quite prepared to do so should opportunity offer. If any further information should be required concerning the whereabouts