Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][graphic]

SOMETHING LIKE A HOLIDAY. Pastry Cook.–What have you had, sir ?

Boy.-I've had two jellies, seven of them, and eleven of them, and six of those, and four Bath buns, a sausage roll, ten almond cakes, and a bottle of ginger-beer.

It seems to know every thing without learning any thing. It has served an invisible and extemporary apprenticeship. It wants no drilling. It never ranks in the awkward squad. It has no left hand, no deaf ear, no blind side. It puts on no looks of wondrous wisdom, it has no air of profundity ; but plays with the details of place as dexterously as a well-taught hand flourishes over the keys of the piano-forte. It has all the air of common-place, and all the force and power of genius. It can change sides with a hey-presto movement, and be at all points of the compass, while talent is ponderously and learnedly shifting a single point. Talent calculates clearly, reasons logically, makes out a case as clear as daylight, and utters its oracles with all the weight of justice and reason. Tact refutes without contradicting, puzzles the profound with profundity, and without wit outwits the wise. Set them together on a race for popularity, pen in hand, and tact will distance talent by half the course. Talent brings to market that which is wanted; tact produces that which is wished for. Talent instructs; tact enlightens. Talent leads where no one follows; tact follows where the humor leads. Talent is pleased that it ought to have succeeded; tact is delighted that it has succeeded. Talent toils for a posterity which will never repay it; tact throws away no pains, but catches the passion or the passing hour. Talent builds for eternity ; tact on a short lease, and gets good interest. Talent is certainly a very fine thing to talk about, a very good thing to be proud of, a very glorious eminence to look down from; but tact is useful, portable, applicable, always alive, always alert, always marketable ; it is the talent of talents, the availableness of resources, the applicability of power, the eye of discrimination, the right hand of intellect.

TALENT—Such are the changes and chances of the world, and so difficult is it to ascertain our own understandings, or those of others, that most things are done by persons who could have done something else better. If you choose to represent the various parts in life by holes upon a table, of different shapes,—some circular, some triangular, some square, some

oblong,—and the persons acting these parts by bits of wood of similar shapes, we shall generally find that the triangular person has got into the square hole, the oblong into the triangular, and a square person has squeezed himself into the round hole. The officer and the office, the doer and the thing done, seldom fit so exactly that we can say they were almost made for each other.

- TALENT—ACQUIRED—What we want in natural abilities may generally and easily be made up in industry; as a dwarf may keep pace with a giant, if he will but move his legs a little faster. “Mother!” said the Spartan boy, going to battle, “my sword is too short.” “Add a step to it," was the reply.

TALKERS-GREAT—not only do the least, but generally say the least, if their words be weighed, instead of reckoned. He who labors under an incontinence of speech, seldom gets the better of his complaint; for he must prescribe for himself, and is sure of having a fool for his physician. How many a chatterbox might pass for a wiseacre, if he could keep his own secret, and put a drag chain, now and then, upon his tongue. The largest minds have the smallest opinion of themselves; for their knowledge impresses them with humility, by showing the extent of their ignorance, and this discovery makes them taciturn. Deep waters are still ; wise men generally talk little, because they think much : feeling the annoyance of idle loquacity in others, they are cautious of falling into the same error, and keep their mouths shut, when they cannot open them to the purpose.

Small wits, on the contrary, are usually great talkers. Uttering whatever comes uppermost, and every thing being superficial, their shallowness makes them noisy, and their confidence offensive. If we might perpetrate, at the same time, a pun and paradox, we should affirm, that the smaller the calibre of the mind, the greater the bore of a perpetually open mouth. Human heads are like hogsheads—the emptier they are, the louder report they give of themselves. The chatterbox, according to the Italians, “parla prima e pensa poi,” (speak

first, and think after ;) but we have specimens in this country, who never think either before or after. The clock of their word-mill is heard, even when there is no wind to set it going, and no grist to come from it.

M. de Bautré, being in the antechamber of Cardinal Richelieu, at the time that a great talker was loudly and incessantly babbling, begged him to be silent, lest he should annoy the Cardinal. "Why do you wish me not to speak ?" asked the chatterbox; “I talk a good deal, but I talk well." " Half of that is true," said M. de Bautré.

TASTE-A quick and just perception of beauty and deformity in works of art. This is one definition. In general taste is a metaphorical expression; and it is a mere word of classification, including several distinct feelings of the mind, exactly as the primary taste includes several distinct feelings of the body. It includes the feeling of beauty in all its very numerous meanings, the feeling of novelty, the feeling of grandeur, the feeling of sublimity, the feeling of propriety, and perhaps many others.

Precisely in the same manner, the natural taste includes the taste of sweet, sour, hot, cold, moist, savory, and many others, which are so pleasantly exemplified every day in this great town; so that, when we use the word taste, we must recollect that there is no single feeling of the mind which has obtained that name, but that it is a classifying, comprehensive word, embracing a great number of distinct feelings.

As for the uses of the word; in the lighter parts of morals it may perhaps be brought in, but in the greater virtues and vices, certainly not. If a man were to kill the minister and church-wardens of his parish, nobody would accuse him of want of taste. The Scythians always ate their grandfathers; they behaved very respectfully to them for a long time, but as soon as their grandfathers became old and troublesome, and began to tell long stories, they immediately eat them : nothing could be more improper, and even disrespectful, than dining off such near and venerable relations; yet we could not with any propriety accuse them of bad taste in morals. Neither is

« PreviousContinue »