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RESPECTABILITY — Keeping up appearances, paying your bills regularly, walking out now and then with your wife, and going occasionally to church. On the trial of a murderer, a neighbor deposed that he had always considered him a person of the highest respectability, as he had kept a gig for several years. This could only have occurred in England, where it is held that a man who is worth money, must be a · man of worth.
RETIREMENT—from business. A mistake in those who have not an occupation to retire to, as well as from. Such men are never so well or so happily employed, as when they are following the avocation which use has made a second nature to them. The retired butcher in the neighborhood of Whitby, must have found idleness hard work, when he gave notice to his friends, that he should kill a lamb every Thursday, just by way of amusement.
RETORT-COURTEOUS—“I said his beard was not cut well; he was in the mind it was; this is called the retort-courteous," says one of the characters in Shakspeare; but this lucus à non lucendo, does not come up to our modern idea of the term, which should involve some portion of the sharpness or smartness of a repartee. Lord G- , who is vehemently suspected of being descended from Ferdinand Mendez Pinto, since he never opens his mouth without fibbing, made some disparaging statement at White's concerning one of the members. The party implicated, who happened to overhear him, came up to his accuser, and said emphatically, “My Lord, you have made an assertion,” inferring, as a matter of course, that he had uttered a falsehood. It is impossible to imagine a more polite, and yet more cutting way of giving the lie.
Two of the guests at a public dinner having got into an altercation, one of them, a blustering vulgarian, vociferated, “Sir, you are no gentleman !” “Sir," said his opponent in a calm voice, and with a derisive smile, “ you are no judge." Both these bons mots are complete and literal instances of the retort-courteous.
There are retorts uncourteons, which can only be justified by the occasion. Talleyrand being pestered with importunate questions by a squinting man, concerning his broken leg, replied, “It is quite crooked,-as you see.”
H. O , a keen sportsman, provoked by a cockney horseman who had ridden over two of his hounds, could not forbear swearing at him for his awkwardness. "Sir!" said the offender, drawing up both himself and his horse, and assuming a very consequential look, “I beg to inform you, that I did not come out here to be damned."-" Why then, sir, you may go home and be damned.”
“Ah! Dr. Johnson,” exclaimed a Scotchman, " what would you have said of Buchanan, had he been an Englishman?” “Why, sir," replied Johnson, “I should not have said of Buchanan, had he been an Englishman, what I will now say of him as a Scotchman, that he was the only man of genius his country ever produced.”
REVENGE-A momentary triumph, of which the satisfaction dies at once, and is succeeded by remorse; whereas forgiveness, which is the noblest of all revenges, entails a perpetual pleasure. It was well said by a Roman emperor, that he wished to put an end to all his enemies, by converting them into friends.
REVIEW—A work that overlooks the productions it professes to look over, and judges of books by their authors, not of authors by their books.
RHETORIC—Appealing to the passions instead of the reason of your auditors, and claiming that value for the workmanship, which ought to be measured by the ore alone. An orator is one who can stamp such a value upon counterfeit coin as shall make it pass for genuine. Rhetoric, says Plato, is the art of ruling the minds of men. Rhetoric, says a later writer, is the application of logic to mankind. By reasoning we satisfy ourselves. By rhetoric we satisfy others. “Oratory,” said Dr. Johnson, “is the power of beating down your adversary's arguments, and putting better in their places.”
Most modern orators and rhetoricians content themselves with fulfilling the first part only of this proposition. It is well said by Lord Herbert of Cherbury, that there are two parts of eloquence necessary and recommendable; one is, to speak hard things plainly, so that when a knotty or intricate business, having no method or coherence in its parts, shall be presented, it will be a singular part of oratory to take those parts asunder, set them together aptly, and so exhibit them to the understanding. And this part of rhetoric I much commend to everybody; there being no true use of speech but to make things clear, perspicuous, and manifest, which otherwise would be perplexed, doubtful, and obscure.
Sydney Smith, in his celebrated Peter Plimley letters, affords a notable illustration of the powers of rhetoric in written eloquence. As instance this passage, apropos of the English Embargo act, by which, among other things, drugs were for the moment excluded from France: Such a project is well worthy the statesman who would bring the French to reason by keeping them without rhubarb, and exhibit to mankind the awful spectacle of a nation deprived of neutral salts. This is not the dream of a wild apothecary indulging in his own opium; this is not the distempered fancy of a pounder of drugs, delirious from smallness of profits; but it is the sober, deliberate, and systematic scheme of a man to whom the public safety is intrusted, and whose appointment is considered by many as a masterpiece of political sagacity. What a sublime thought, that no purge can now be taken between the Weser and the Garonne; that the bustling pestle is still, the canorous mortar mute, and the bowels
of mankind locked up for fourteen degrees of latitude! When, · I should be curious to know, were all the powers of crudity and flatulence fully explained to his majesty's ministers ? At what period was this great plan of conquest and constipation fully developed ? In whose mind was the idea of destroying the pride, and the plasters of France first engendered ? Without castor oil they might, for some months, to be sure, have carried on a lingering war; but can they do without bark ? Will the people live under a government where antimonial powders cannot be procured. Will they bear the loss of mercury ? “There's the rub.” Depend upon it, the absence of the materia medica will soon bring them to their senses, and the cry of Bourbon and bolus burst forth from the Baltic to the Mediterranean.
RICHES—are seldom really despised, though they may be vilipended upon the principle of the fox, who imputed sourness to the unattainable grapes. We cannot well attach too much value to a competency, or too little to a superfluity, but we may and do err in generally defining the former as a little more than we already possess. Riches provide an antidote to their bane, for though they encourage idleness, they will purchase occupation, by change of scene, variety of company, pastimes of all sorts, and by that noblest employment of any, the exercise of beneficence. Robinson Crusoe might despise riches—so may a savage ; but no sane and civilized man will hold them in contempt.
“If you live,” says Seneca, “ according to the dictates of nature, you will never be poor; if according to the notions of the world, you will never be rich.”
ROMAN CATHOLIC RELIGION–Horace Walpole in his Letters mentions a sceptical bon-vivant, who, upon being urged to turn Roman Catholic, objected that it was a religion enjoining so many fasts, and requiring such implicit faith :—“You give us,” he observed, “ too little to eat, and too much to swallow."
'SATIRE-A glass in which the beholder sees everybody's face but his own.
SAW-A sort of dumb alderman which gets through a great deal by the activity of its teeth.-N. B. A bona-fide alderman is not one of the “ wise saws” mentioned by Shakspeare, at least in “ modern instances.”
SCANDAL—What one half of the world takes a pleasure in inventing, and the other half in believing.
SCANDALOUS REPORTS-says Boerhaave, are sparks, which if you do not blow them, will go out of themselves. They have, perhaps, been better compared to volcanic explosions, of which the lighter portions are dispersed by the winds, while the heavier fall back into the mouth whence they were ejected. Scandalous journals, professedly dealing in personality and abuse, have been justly termed the opprobrium of the age. Nuisances as they are, it is, perhaps, wise not to molest them, but to let them die of their own stench. Prosecutions for libel avail little against men of straw, and as to personal chastisement, the rogues
“Have all been beaten till they know
SCHOOLMASTER–A dealer in boys and birch : often an academical tyrant, who, in his utter ignorance of proper management, renders his victims intractable by maltreatment, and then treats them worse for being intractable. Cudgel a little jackass as often as you will, and if he survives your cruelty, he will only end by being a great jackass. Many of our pedagogues, ever ready to ply the birch and the ferula, make no allowance for natural deficiency of talent, while they will often terrify a lad of good abilities, but weak nerves, into an asinine stupidity. The boys from whom they gather their harvest, they seem to consider as so much corn, which must be threshed and knocked about the ears before any grains of sense can be extracted; or perhaps they liken them to walnut trees, which shower down their fruit in return for being well beaten. “The schoolmaster's joy is to flog,” says Swift; since when a hundred years have elapsed, and it still remains the favorite pastime of our pedagogues, who seem to think that boys, as well as syllabubs, are to be raised by flogging. Ships and fishes may make their way when steered by the tail; but when we attempt to guide or impel youngsters by a similar process, we only retard or turn them out of their right line. Flagellation, whether of pupils or of soldiers, invariably