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the philosopher's stone has by no means been a vain one. Alchemy has given us chemistry, and we are indebted to the astrologers for the elucidation of the most difficult problems in astronomy. The clown who, in running to catch a fallen star, stumbled, and kicked up a hidden treasure, has found many an unintentional imitator among scientific visionaries and stargazers. Perhaps more has been gained by long and vainly seeking the quadrature of the circle, the longitude, and perpetual motion, than would have arisen from immediate success. Morals, too, have their philosopher's stone, in other shapes than those of Plato's Atlantis, or More's Utopia; and it is · healthy to chase such chimeras, if it were only for the sake of air and exercise, in an atmosphere of purity. Many real virtues may be acquired by straining after an imaginary and unattainable perfection. Crede quòd habes, et habes. When a thing is once believed possible, it is half realized.
STONE—to pelt with. Dr. Magee affirms that the Roman Catholics have a Church without a religion—the Dissenters, a religion without a Church—the Establishment, both a Church and a religion. “This is false,” observes Robert Hall of Leicester; “but it is an excellent stone for a clergyman to pelt with."
STUPIDITY—is often more apparent than real; it may be indisposition rather than incapacity. The human mind is not like logic—the major does not always contain the minor; and men who feel, themselves fit for great things, cannot always accomplish little ones. Claude Lorraine was dismissed by the pastry-cook to whom he had been apprenticed, for sheer stupidity. The difficulty did not consist in bringing his mind up, but in bringing it down to the manufacture of bunns and tartlets.
STYLE—To have a good style in writing you should have none; as perfect beauty of face consists in the absence of any predominant feature. Mannerism, whether in writing or painting, can never be a merit. Swift is right when he de
cides, that “Proper words in proper places make the true definition of a good style.”
“He who would write well,” says Roger Ascham, “must follow the advice of Aristotle,—to speak as the common people speak, and to think as the wise think.” Style, however, is but the coloring of the picture, which should always be held subordinate to the design. “We may well forgive Tertullian his iron style,” says Balzac, “ when we recollect what excellent weapons he has forged out of this iron, for the defence of Christianity and the defeat of the Marcionites and Valentinians."
SUBSCRIPTIONS—PrivatE—Paying your creditors by taxing your friends; an approved method for getting rid of both. Many years ago, a worthy and well-known baronet, having become embarrassed in his circumstances, a subscription was set on foot by his friends, and a letter, soliciting contributions, was addressed to the late Lord Erskine, who immediately despatched the following answer :
“My dear Sir John, I am in general an enemy to subscriptions of this nature; first, because my own finances are by no means in a flourishing plight; and secondly, because pecuniary assistance, thus conferred, must be equally painful to the donor and the receiver. As I feel, however, the sincerest gratitude for your public services, and regard for your private worth, I have great pleasure in subscribing—(Here the worthy Baronet, big with expectation, turned over the leaf, and finished the perusal of the note, which terminated as follows:)-in subscribing myself,
“My dear Sir John,
SUGGESTION-A friendly one. A man who had had his ears cuffed in a squabble, without resenting the affront, being shortly afterwards in a party, and in want of a pinch of snuff, exclaimed, “I cannot think what I have done with my box; it is not in either of my pockets.”—“ Try your ears,” said a bystander.
SUPPER—A receipt for indigestion, and a sleepless night. A Spanish proverb says—A little in the morning is enough; enough at dinner is but little; a little at night is too much. This agrees pretty nearly with the Latin dictum
"Pone gulæ metas, ut sit tibi longior ætas,
Esse cupis sanus ?-Sit tibi parca manus."
SYMPATHY—A sensibility, of which its objects are sometimes insensible. It may be perilous to discourage a feeling, whereof there is no great superabundance in this selfish and hard-hearted world; but even of the little that exists, a portion is frequently thrown away. Such is the power of adaptation in the human mind, that those who seem to be in the most pitiable plight have often the least occasion for our pity. A city damsel, whose ideas had been Arcadianized by the perusal of pastorals, having once made an excursion to a distance of twenty miles from London, wandered into the fields in the hope of discovering a bona fide live shepherd. To her infinite delight, she at length encountered one, under a hawthorn hedge in full blossom, with his dog by his side, his crook in his hand, and his sheep round about him, just as if he were sitting to be modelled in china for a chimney ornament. To be sure, he did not exhibit the azure jacket, jessamine vest, pink tiffany inexpressibles, peach-colored stockings, and golden buckles of those faithful portraitures. This was mortifying; still more so, that he was neither particularly young nor cleanly; but, most of all, that he wanted the indispensable accompaniment of a pastoral reed, in order that he might beguile his solitude with the charms of music. Touched with pity at this privation, and lapsing, unconsciously, into poetical language, the civic damsel exclaimed—“Ah! gentle shepherd, tell me where's your pipe?"_“I left it at home, Miss,” replied the clown, scratching his head, “ 'cause I ha’nt got no baccy."
A benevolent committee-man of the Society for superseding the necessity of climbing boys, seeing a sooty urchin weeping bitterly, at the corner of a street, asked him the cause of his distress. “Master has been using me shamefully," sobbed the sable sufferer; "he has been letting Jem Hudson go up the chimney at No. 9, when it was my turn! He said it was too high, and too dangerous for me, but I'll go up a chimney with, Jem Hudson any day in the year ; that's what I will!"
There is a local sympathy, however, in which we cannot well be mistaken, and which it is lamentable not to possess; for that man—to use the words of Dr. Johnson—" is little to be envied, whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona.”
Even the most obdurate and perverse natures cannot always resist the power of sympathy. Indecorous as it is, we must quote Lord Peterborough's observation on the celebrated Fénélon ;—"He is a delicious creature; I was forced to get away from him as fast as I possibly could, else he would have made me pious.” As a profane man may be pleased with piety, so may a wise one be occasionally pleased with folly, through sympathy with the pleasures of others.
Most misplaced and mischievous of all, is that spurious sympathy, by which some of our journalists and novel writers seek to enlist our feelings in the cause of the basest malefactors. “To make criminals the object of a sentimental admiration, and of a sort of familiar attachment; to hold up as a hero the treacherous murderer, whose life has been passed in reckless profligacy, merely because, at his death, he displays a firmness which scarcely ever deserts the vilest, is a task as unworthy of literary talents as it is unfit for cultivated and liberal minds."
TACT—Talent is something, but tact is every thing. Talent is serious, sober, grave, and respectable; tact is all that, and more too. It is not a seventh sense, but is the life of all the five. It is the open eye, the quick ear, the judging taste, the keen smell, and the lively touch: it is the interpreter of all riddles—the surmounter of all difficulties—the remover of all obstacles. It is useful in all places, and at all times : it is useful in solitude, for it shows a man his way into the world ; it is useful in society, for it shows him his way through the world. Talent is power—tact is skill : talent is weight—tact is momentum : talent knows what to do—tact knows how to do it: talent makes a man respectable-tact will make him respected: talent is wealth-tact is ready money. For all the practical purposes of life tact carries it against talent, ten to one. Take them to the theatre, and pit them against each other on the stage, and talent shall produce you a tragedy that will scarcely live long enough to be damned, while tact keeps the house in a roar, night after night, with its successful farces. There is no want of dramatic talent, there is no want of dramatic tact, but they are seldom together; so we have successful pieces which are not respectable, and respectable pieces which are not successful. Take them to the bar, and let them shake their learned curls at each other in legal rivalry: talent sees its way clearly, but tact is first at its journey's end. Talent has many a compliment from the bench, but tact touches fees from attorneys and clients. Talent speaks learnedly and logically—tact triumphantly. Talent makes the world wonder that it gets on no faster, tact excites astonishment that it gets on so fast; and the secret is, that it has no weight to carry: it makes no false steps—it hits the right nail on the head-it loses no time—it takes all hints—and by keeping its eye on the weathercock, is ready to take advantage of every wind that blows. Take them into the church. Talent has always something worth hearing; tact is sure of abundance of hearers. Talent may obtain a living, tact will make one. Talent gets a good name, tact a great one. Talent convinces, tact converts. Talent is an honor to the profession, tact gains honor from the profession. Take them to court. Talent feels its weight, tact finds its way. Talent commands, tact is obeyed. Talent is honored with approbation, and tact is blessed by preferment. Place them in the Senate. Talent has the ear of the House, but tact wins its heart and has its votes. Talent is fit for employment, but tact is fitted for it. It has a knack of slipping into place with a sweet silence and glibness of movement, as a billiard-ball insinuates itself into the pocket.