Page images
[ocr errors]

injury." To a certain extent this wish is often fulfilled, for the same writer observes, that anger is like a ruin, which, iu falling upon its victim, breaks itself to pieces.

Without any other armor than an offended frown, an indignant eye, and a rebuking voice, decrepit age, timid womanhood, the weakest of our species, may daunt the most daring; for there is something formidable in the mere sight of wrath ; even where it is incapable of inflicting any chastisement upon its provoker. It has thus a preventive operation, by making us cautious of calling it forth, and restrains more effectually by the fear of its ebullitions, than it could by their actual outbreakings; while it still retains a positive influence when aroused. Anger, in short, is a moral power, which tends to repair the inequalities of physical power, and to approximate the strong and the weak towards the same level.

So carefully, however, are our constitutional instincts guarded against abuse, that the moral and physical vigor imparted to us by anger as a salutary means of defence, is immediately lessened, when by its intemperate and reckless exercise, we would pervert it into a dangerous instrument of aggression. Blind and ungovernable rage, approaching to the nature of madness, not only obscures the reason, but often paralyzes, for the moment, the bodily energies; a paroxysm which fortunately serves as a protection both to ourselves and others. This seasonable arrest of our functions gives us time to sanify, and we are allowed to recover them, when their exercise is no longer dangerous. Protective nature makes us sometimes blind and weak, when highly excited; for the same reason that the fleet grayhound has no sense of smell, and the quick-scented bloodhound no swiftness of foot.

Queen Elizabeth discovered qualities in anger which may not be obvious to common observers. “What does a man think of when he thinks of nothing ?” her Majesty demanded of a choleric courtier, to whom she had not realized her promise of promotion. “He thinks, madam, of a woman's promise,” was the tart reply. “Well, I must not confute him,"

said the Queen, walking away, “anger makes men witty, but it keeps them poor.”

ANGLER—A fish-butcher—a piscatory assassin—a Jack Ketch-catcher of Jack, an impaler of live worms, frogs, and flies, a torturer of trout, a killer of carp, and a great gudgeon who sacrifices the best part of his life in taking away the life of a little gudgeon. Every thing appertaining to the angler's art, is cowardly, cruel, treacherous, and cat-like. He is a professional dealer in “ treasons, stratagems, and plots;’ more subtle and sneaking than a poacher, and more exclusively devoted to snares, traps, and subterfuges; he is at the same time infinitely more remorseless, finding amusement and delight in prolonging, to the last gasp, the agonies of the impaled bait, and of the wretched fish writhing with a barb in its entrails.

The high priest of anglers is that demure destroyer, old Izaak Walton, who may be literally termed the HOOKER of their piscatory polity. Because he could write a line as well as throw one, they would persuade themselves that he has shed a sort of classical dignity on their art, and even associated it with piety and poetry,—what profanation! The poet is not only a lover of his species, but of all sentient beings, because he “looks through nature up to Nature's God." But how can an angler be pious! How can a tormentor of the creature be a lover of the Creator ? Away with such cant! Old Izaak must either have been a demure bypocrite, or a blockhead, unaware of the gross inconsistency between his profession and his practice. If he saw a fine trout, and wished to trouble him with a line, just to say he should be very happy to see him to dinner, he must first torture his postman, the bait, and make him carry the letters of Bellerophon. Hark how tenderly the gentle ruffian gives directions for baiting with a frog: “Put your book through the mouth, and out of his gills, and then with a fine needle and silk, sew the upper part of his leg, with only one stitch to the arming wire of the hook, and in so doing, use him as though you loved him.

Tender hearted Izaak !—What would be his treatment of animals whom he did not love?

An angler may be meditative, or rather musing, but let him not ever think that he thinks, for if he had the healthy power of reflection, he could not be an angler. If sensible and amiable men are still to be seen squatted for hours in a punt, “like patience on a monument smiling at grief,” they are as much out of their element as the fish in their basket, and could only be reconciled to their employment by a resolute blinking of the question. In one of the admirable papers of the “Indicator," Leigh Hunt says—" We really cannot see what equanimity there is in jerking a lacerated carp out of the water by the jaws, merely because it has not the power of making a noise ; for we presume, that the most philosophic of anglers would hardly delight in catching shrieking fish.” This is not so clear. Old Izaak, their patriarch, would have probably maintained that the shriek was a cry of pleasure. We willingly leave the anglers to their rod, for they deserve it, and we allow them to defend one another, not only because they have no other advocates, but because we are sure that the rest of the community would be glad to see them hang together, especially if they should make use of their own lines.

Averse as we are from extending the sphere of the angler's cruelty, we will mention one fish which old Izaak himself had never caught. A wealthy tradesman having ordered a fishpond at his country house to be cleared out, the foreman discovered, at the bottom, a spring of ferruginous colored water; and, on returning to the house, told his employer that they had found a chalybeate. “I am glad of it,” exclaimed the worthy citizen, “for I never saw one. Put it in the basket with the other fish, I'll come and look at it presently."

ANNUALS-illustrated.—The second childhood of literature, the patrons of which carefully look over the plates, and studiously overlook the letter-press. Its object is to substitute the visible for the imaginative, a sensual for an intellectual pleasure, and to teach us to read engravings instead of writings.

ANSWERS—to the point are more satisfactory to the interrogator, but answers from the point may be sometimes more entertaining to the auditor. “Were you born in wedlock ?” asked a counsel of a witness. “No, Sir, in Devonshire,” was the reply.—“Young woman,” said a magistrate to a girl who was about to be sworn, “why do you hold the book upside down ?"_“I am obliged, Sir, because I am lefthanded.”_See Josephus Molitor. A written non sequitur, not less amusing, was involved in the postscript of the man who boped his correspondent would excuse faults of spelling, if any, as he had no knife to mend his pens.

ANTINOMIANS—An antithesis to the Society for the Suppression of Vice. If we did not know that the best things perverted become the worst, we might wonder that the Christian religion should have ever generated a sect, whose doctrines are professedly anti-moral. Many, however, are still to be found, who, maintaining that the moral law is nothing to man, and that he is not bound to obey it, avow an open contempt for good works, and affirm, that as God sees no sin in believers, they are neither obliged to confess it, nor to pray for its forgiveness. In this most perilous spirit many tracts have been published,

" Which, in the semblance of devotion,

Allure their victim to offence,
And then administer a potion,

To soothe and lull his conscience;
Teaching him, that to break all ties,
May be a wholesome sacrifice;
That saints, like bowls, may go astray,
Better to win the proper way;
Indulge in every sin at times,

To prove that grace is never lacking:
And purify themselves by crimes,

As dirty shoes are cleaned by blacking."

ANTIQUARY—Too often a collector of valuables that are worth nothing, and a recollector of all that Time has been glad to forget. His choice specimens have become rarities, simply because they were never worth preserving; and he attaches

present importance to them in exact proportion to their former insignificance. A worthy of this unworthy class was once edifying the French Academy with a most unmereiful detail of the comparative prices of commodities at various remote periods, when LA FONTAINE observed, “Our friend knows the value of every thing, -except time.” We recommend this anecdote to the special consideration of the ci-devant members of the Roxburgh Club, as well as to the resuscitators of the dead lumber of antiquity.

ANTIQUITY—The stalking horse on which knaves and bigots invariably mount, when they want to ride over the timid and the credulous. Never do we hear so much solemn palaver about the time-hallowed institutions, and approved wisdom of our ancestors, as when attempts are made to remove some staring monument of their folly. Thus is the youth, nonage, ignorance, and inexperience of the world invested by a strange blunder, which Bacon was the first to indicate, with the reverence due to the present times, which are its true old age.

Antiquity is the young miscreant, the type of commingled ignorance and tyranny, who massacred prisoners taken in war, sacrificed human beings to idols, burnt them in Smithfield as heretics or witches, believed in astrology, demonology, sorcery, the philosopher's stone, and every exploded folly and enormity; although his example is still gravely urged as a rule of conduct, and a standing argument against innovation,

—that is to say, improvement! If the seal of time were to be the signet of truth, there is no absurdity, oppression, or falsehood, that might not be received as gospel; while the Gospel itself would want the more ancient warrant of Paganism. Never was the world so old, and consequently so wise, as it is to-day; but it will be older, and, therefore, still wiser, to-morrow.

In one generation, the most ancient individual has generally the most experience; but in a succession of generations, the youngest, or last of them, is the real Methuselah and Mentor. To this obvious distinction, nothing can blind us but

« PreviousContinue »