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which it is the highest ambition of the speakers ingeniously to introduce and to vary. Happy is he who can give a new turn to the compliment, or invent a new alliteration or antithesis for the occasion! The copious nonsense of the successful orators is even more painful than the failures of the novices. After a string of false metaphors and poor conceits, applauded to the echo, the meeting are perhaps called on to sympathize with some unhappy debutant, whose sense of the virtues of the chairman proves too vast for his powers of expression; and with Miss Peachum in the Beggars' Opera, to lament "that so noble a youth should come to an untimely end." Alas! these exhibitions have little connection with a deep love of the Bible, or with real pity for the sufferings of man. Were religious tyranny to render the Scriptures scarce, and to forbid their circulation, they would speedily be better prized and honoured than when scattered with gorgeous profusion, and lauded by nobles and princes.
The Society for the Suppression of Mendicity is another boasted institution of these coldhearted days. It would annihilate the race of beggars, and remove from the delicate eye the very form and aspect of misery. Strange infatuation as if an old class of the great family of man might be cut off without harm! "All are but parts of one stupendous whole," bound together by ties of antique sympathy, of which the lowest and most despised are not without their uses. In striking from society a race whom we have, from childhood, been accustomed to observe, a vast body of old associations and gentle thoughts must necessarily be lost for ever. The poor mendicants whom we would banish from the earth, are the best sinecurists to whose sustenance we contribute. In the great science—the science of humanity -they not rarely are our first teachers: they affectingly remind us of our own state of mutual dependance; bring sorrow palpably before the eyes of the prosperous and the vain; and prevent the hearts of many from utterly "losing their nature." They give, at least, a salutary disturbance to gross selfishness, and hinder it
from entirely forming an ossified crust about the soul. We see them too with gentle interest, because we have always seen them, and were accustomed to relieve them in the spring-time of our days. And if some of them are what the world calls imposters, and literally" do be guile us of our tears," and our alms, those tears are not shed, nor those alms given, in vain. If they have even their occasional re vellings and hidden luxuries, we should rather rejoice to believe that happiness has every where its nooks and corners which we do not see; that there is more gladness in the earth than meets the politician's gaze; and that for tune has her favours, "secret, sweet, and precious," even for those on whom she seems most bitterly to frown. Well may that divinest of philosophers, Shakspeare, make Lear reply to his daughters, who had been speaking in the true spirit of modern improvements:
"O reason not the need: our basest beggars
There are many other painful instances in these times of that "restless wisdom" which has a broom for ever in its hand to rid the world of nuisances." There are, for example, the plans of Mr. Owen, with his infallible recipes for the formation of character. Virtue is not to be forced in artificial hot-beds, as he proposes. Rather let it spring up where it will from the seed scattered throughout the earth, and rise hardly in sun and shower, while the 'free mountain winds have leave to blow against it." But I feel that I have already broken too violently on my habits of dreamy thought, by the asperity into which I now and then have fallen. Let me then break off at once, with the single expression of a hope, that this "bright and breathing world" may not be changed into a Penitentiary by the efforts of modern reformers.
I am, Sir,
Your hearty well-wisher, FRANCIS OLDAKER.
A CHAPTER ON "TIME."
BEING AN ATTEMPT TO THROW NEW LIGHT ON AN OLD SUBJECT.
[NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE.]
We know what we are," said poor Ophelia, the past and future in each fragment of the in but we know not what we may be." Perhaps she would have spoken with a nicer accuracy had she said, we know what we have been." Of our present state we can, strictly speaking, Know nothing. The act of meditation on our selves, however quick and subtle, must refer to the past, in which alone we can truly be said to live. Even in the moments of intensest enjoyment, our pleasures are multiplied by the quick-revolving images of thought; we feel
stant, even as the flavour of every drop of some delicious liquid is heightened and prolonged on the lips. It is the past only which we really enjoy as soon as we become sensible of duration. Each bygone instant of delight becomes rapidly present to us, and "bears a glass which shows us many more." This is the great privilege of a meditative being-never properly to have any sense of the present, but to feel the great realities as they pass away,
casting their delicate shadows on the fu
of a being which should have no end. When this sense has been weakened, as it was amidst all the exquisite forms of Grecian mythology, the brevity of life has been forgotten. There is scarcely an allusion to this general sentiment, so deep a spring of the pathetic, throughout all the Greek tragedies. It will be found also to prevail in individuals in proportion as they meditate on themselves, or as they nurse in solitude and silence the instinct of the Eternal.
Time, then, is only a notion-unfelt in its passage-a mere measure given by the mind to its own past emotions. Is there, then, any abstract common measure by which the infinite variety of intellectual acts can be meted any real passage of years which is the same to all-any periodical revolution, in which all who have lived, have lived out equal hours? Is chronology any other than a fable, a "tale that is told?" Certain outward visible actions have passed, and certain seasons have rolled over them; but has the common idea of time, as applicable to these, any truth higher or surer than those infinite varieties of duration which have been felt by each single heart? Who shall truly count the measure of his own days-much more scan the real life of the mil-dering how speedily hours, filled with pleasure lions around him?
The doctrine that Time exists only in remembrance, may serve to explain some apparent inconsistencies in the language which we use respecting our sense of its passage. We hear persons complaining of the slow passage of time, when they have spent a single night of unbroken wearisomeness, and won
or engrossing occupations, have flown; and yet we all know how long any period seems which has been crowded with events or feelings leaving a strong impression behind them. In thinking on seasons of ennui we have nothing but a sense of length-we merely remember that we felt the tedium of existence; but there is really no space in the imagination filled up by the period. Mere time, unpeopled with diversified emotions or circumstances, is but one idea, and that idea is nothing more than the remembrance of a listless sensation. A night of dull pain and months of lingering weakness are, in the retrospect, nearly the same thing. When our hands or our hearts are busy, we know nothing of time-it does not exist for us; but as soon as we pause to meditate on that which is gone, we seem to have lived long
The ordinary language of moralists respecting time shows that we really know nothing respecting it. They say that life is fleeting and short; why, humanly speaking, may they not as well affirm that it is extended and lasting? The words "short" and "long" have only meaning when used comparatively; and to what can we compare or liken this our human existence? The images of fragility-thin vapours, delicate flowers, and shadows cast from the most fleeting things-which we employ as emblems of its transitoriness, really serve to exhibit its durability as great in comparison with their own. If life is short, compared with the age of some fine animals, how much longer is it than that of many, some of whom pass through all the varieties of youth, maturity, and age, during a few hours, accord-because we look back through a long series ing to man's reckoning, and, if they are endowed with memory, look back on their early minutes through the long vista of a summer's day! An antediluvian shepherd might complain with as much apparent reason of the brevity of his nine hundred years, as we of our threescore and ten. He would find as little to confute or to establish his theory. There is nothing visible by which we can fairly reckon the measure of our lives. It is not just to compare them with the duration of rocks and hills, which have withstood "a thousand storms, a thousand thunders;" because where there is no consciousness, there is really no time. The power of imagination supplies to us the place of ages. We have thoughts which "date beyond the pyramids." Antiquity spreads around us her mighty wings. We live centuries in contemplation, and have all the sentiment of six thousand years in our memories:
"The wars we too remember of King Nine, And old Assaracus and Ibycus divine."
Whence, then, the prevalent feeling of the brevity of our life? Not, assuredly, from its comparison with any thing which is presented to our senses. It is only because the mind is formed for eternity that it feels the shortness of its earthly sojourn. Seventy years, or seventy thousand, or seven, shared as the common lot of a species, would seem alike sufficient to those who had no sense within them
of events, or feel them at once peering one above the other like ranges of distant hills. Actions or feelings, not hours, mark all the backward course of our being. Our sense of the nearness to us of any circumstance in our life is determined on the same principles-not by the revolution of the seasons, but by the relation which the event bears in importance to all that has happened to us since. To him who has thought, or done, or suffered much, the level days of his childhood seem at an immeasurable distance, far off as the age of chivalry, or as the line of Sesostris. There are some recollections of such overpowering vastness, that their objects seem ever near; their size reduces all intermediate events to nothing; and they peer upon us like "a forked mountain, or blue promontory," which, being far off, is yet nigh. How different from these appears some inconsiderable occurrence of more recent date, which a flash of thought redeems for a moment from long oblivion;-which is seen amidst the dim confusion of half-forgotten things, like a little rock lighted up by a chance gleam of sunshine afar in the mighty waters!
What immense difference is there, then, in the real duration of men's lives! He lives longest of all who looks back oftenest, whose life is most populous of thought or action, and on every retrospect makes the vastest picture. The man who does not meditate has no real consciousness of being. Such a one gren to
death as to a drunken sleep; he parts with ex- | fortune, or the events which have called forth istence wantonly, because he knows nothing their affections. Their first parting from home of its value. Mere men of pleasure are, there- is indelibly impressed on their minds-their fore the most careless of duelists, the gayest school-day's seem to them like one sweet April of soldiers. To know the true value of being, of shower and sunshine-their apprenticeship yet to lay it down for a great cause, is a pitch is a long week of toil;-but then their first of heroism which has rarely been attained by love is fresh to them as yesterday, and their man. That mastery of the fear of death which marriage, the births of their children, and of is so common among men of spirit, is nothing their grand-children, are events which mark but a conquest over the apprehension of dying. their course even to old age. They reach their It is a mere victory of nerve and muscle. infancy again in thought by an easy process, Those whose days have no principle of conti- through a range of remembrances few and nuity-who never feel time but in the shape simple, but pure, and sometimes holy. Yet of ennui-may quit the world for sport or for happier is the lot of those who have one great honour. But he who truly lives, who feels the aim; who devote their undivided energy to a past and future in the instant, whose days are single pursuit; who have one idea of practical to him a possession of majestic remembrances or visionary good, to which they are wedded. and golden hopes, ought not to fancy himself There is a harmony, a proportion, in their bound by such an example. He may be in- lives. The Alchemist of old, labouring with spired to lay down his life, when truth or vir- undiminished hope, cheering his solitude with tue shall demand so great a sacrifice; but he dreams of boundless wealth, and yet working on, will be influenced by mere weakness of reso- could not be said to live in vain. His life was lution, not by courage, if he suffer himself to continuous-one unbroken struggle-one arbe shamed, or laughed, or worried out of it! dent sigh. There is the same unity of interest in the life of a great verbal scholar, or of a true miser; the same singleness of purpose, which gives solidity to floating minutes, hours, and years.
Besides those who have no proper consciousness of being, there are others even perhaps more pitiable, who are constantly irritated by the knowledge that their life is cut up into melancholy fragments. This is the case of all The great Lawyer deserves an eminent rank the pretending and the vain; those who are among true livers. We do not mean a politiever attempting to seem what they are not, or cal adventurer, who breathes feverishly amidst to do what they cannot; who live in the lying the contests, the intrigues, and petty triumphs breath of contemporary report, and bask out a of party; nor a dabbler in criticism, poetry, sort of occasional holiday in the glimmers of or the drama; nor even a popular nisi-prius public favour. They are always in a feverish advocate, who passes through a succession of struggle, yet they make no progress. There hasty toils and violent excitements to fortune is no dramatic coherence, no unity of action, and to oblivion. But we have respect to the in the tragi-comedy of their lives. They have real dull plodder-to him who has bidden an hits and brilliant passages perhaps, which early Farewell to his Muse," if he ever had may come on review before them in straggling one: who anticipates years of solitary study, succession; but nothing dignified or massive, and shrinks not back; who proceeds, step by tending to one end of good or evil. Such are step, through the mighty maze with a cheerful self-fancied poets and panting essayists, who heart, and counts on his distant success with live on from volume to volume, or from ma- mathematical precision. His industry and gazine to magazine, who tremble with nervous self-denial are powers as true as fancy or elodelight at a favourable mention, are cast down quence, and he soon learns to take as hearty a by a sly alliteration or satirical play on their pleasure in their exercise. His retrospect is names, and die of an elaborate eulogy "in aro- vast and single-of doubt solved, stoutest books matic pain." They begin life once a quarter, mastered, nicest webs disentangled, and all or once a month, according to the will of their from one intelligible motive which grows old publishers. They dedicate nothing to poste- with him, and, though it"strengthened with rity; but toil on for applause till praise sick- his strength," will not diminish with his deens, and their “life's idle business" grows too cline. It is better in the end to have had the heavy to be borne. They feel their best days pathway of life circumscribed and railed in by passing away without even the effort to build forms and narrow observances, than to have up an enduring fame; and they write an elegy strayed at will about the vast field open to on their own weaknesses! They give their human enterprise, in the freest and most gracethoughts immaturely to the world, and thus ful wanderings; because in the latter case we spoil them for themselves for ever. Their cannot trace our road again, or call it over; own earliest, and deepest, and most sacred while in the first, we see it distinctly to the feelings become at last dull common-places, end, and can linger in thought over all the which they have talked of and written about spots where our feet have trodden. The "old till they are glad to escape from the theme. names" bring back the "old instincts" to our Their days are not "linked each to each by hearts. Instead of faint sympathies with a natural piety," but at best bound together in multitude of things, a kind of small partnerforgotten volumes. Better, far better than this, ship with thousands in certain general dogmas is the lot of those whose characters and pre- and speculations, we have all our own past intensions have little "mark of likelihood;"-dividual being as a solid and abiding posses whose days are filled up by the exercises of honest industry, and who, on looking back, recognise their lives only by the turns of their
A metaphysician who thinks earnestly and intensely for himself, may truly be said to live
long. He has this great advantage over the most felicitous inventor of machinery, or the most acute of scientific inquirers, that all his discoveries have a personal interest; he has his existence for his living study; his own heart is the mighty problem on which he meditates, and the exceeding great reward" of his victories. In a moment of happy thought he may attain conquests, "compared to which the laurels which a Cæsar reaps are weeds." Years of anxious thought are rewarded by the attainment of one triumphant certainty, which immediately gives a key to the solution of a thousand pregnant doubts and mysteries, and enables him almost to "curdle a long life into an hour." When he has, after long pursued and baffled endeavours, rolled aside some huge difficulty which lay in his path, he will find beneath | it a passage to the bright subtleties of his nature, through which he may range at will, and gather immortal fruits, like Aladdin in the subterranean gardens. He counts his life thus not only by the steps which he has taken, but by the vast prospects which, at every turn of his journey, have recompensed his toils, over which he has diffused his spirit as he went on his way rejoicing. We will conclude this article with the estimate made of life from his own experience by one of the most profound and original of thinkers.
"It is little, it is short, it is not worth having -if we take the last hour, and leave out all that has gone before, which has been one way of looking at the subject. Such calculators seem to say that life is nothing when it is over; and that may, in their sense, be true. If the old rule-Respice finem-were to be made absolute, and no one could be pronounced fortunate till the day of his death, there are few among us whose existence would, upon such conditions, be much to be envied. But this is not a fair view of the case. A man's life is his whole life, not to the last glimmering snuff of the candle; and this I say is considerable, and not a little matter, whether we regard its pleasures or its pains. To draw a peevish conclusion to the contrary, from our own superannuated desires of forgetful indifference, is
about as reasonable as to say, a man never was young because he has grown old, or never lived because he is now dead. The length or agreeableness of a journey does not depend on the few last steps of it, nor is the size of a building to be judged of from the last stone that is added to it. It is neither the first nor the last hour of our existence, but the space that parts these two-not our exit, nor our en trance upon the stage, but what we do feel, and think while there-that we are to attend to in pronouncing sentence upon it. Indeed, it would be easy to show that it is the very extent of human life, the infinite number of things contained in it, its contradictory and fluctuating interests, the transition from one situation to another, the hours, months, years, spent in one fond pursuit after another; that it is, in a word, the length of our common journey, and the quantity of events crowded into it, that, baffling the grasp of our actual perception, make it slide from our memory, and dwindle into nothing in its own perspective. It is too mighty for us, and we say it is nothing! It is a speck in our fancy, and yet what canvas would be big enough to hold its striking groups, its endless objects! It is light as vanity; and yet if all its weary moments, if all its head and heartaches were compressed into one, what fortitude would not be overwhelmed with the blow! What a huge heap, a huge dumb heap,' of wishes, thoughts, feelings, anxious cares, soothing hopes, loves, joys, friendships, it is composed of! How many ideas and trains of sentiment, long, deep, and intense, often pass through the mind in one day's thinking or reading for instance! How many such days are there in a year, how many years in a long life, still occupied with something interesting-still recalling some old impression-still recurring to some difficult question, and making progress in it, every step accompanied with a sense of power, and every moment conscious of the high endeavour or the glad success;" for the mind seizes only on that which keeps it employed, and is wound up to a certain pitch of pleasurable excitement by the necessity of its own nature."-Hazliti's Table Talk, Essay 6.
ON THE PROFESSION OF THE BAR.
THERE is no pursuit in life which appears the founders of honourable families. If the more captivating at a distance than the profes- young aspirant perceives, even in his hasty sion of the bar, as it is followed and rewarded and sanguine glance, that something depends in English courts of justice. It is the great on fortuitous circumstances, the conviction avenue to political influence and reputation; only renders the pursuit more inviting, by addits honours are among the most splendid ing the fascinations of a game of chance to which can be attained in a free state; and its those of a trial of skill. If he is forced to conemoluments and privileges are exhibited as fess that a sacrifice of principle is occasionally prizes, to be contested freely by all its mem-required of the candidate for its most lucrative bers. Its annals celebrate many individuals situations, he glories in the pride of untempted who have risen from the lowest ranks of the virtue, and pictures himself generously resistpeople, by fortunate coincidence, or by patient ing the bribe which would give him riches and labour, to wealth and station, and have become authority in exchange for conscious rectitude
and the approbation of the good and wise. | beginning, the gradually strengthening assurWhile he sees nothing in the distance, but ance; the dawning recognition of sympathy glorious success or more glorious self-denial, excited in the men on whose lips the issue he feels braced for the severest exertion; Derved for the fiercest struggle; and regards every throb of an impatient ambition as a presage of victory.
Not only do the high offices of the profession wear an inviting aspect, but its level course has much to charm the inexperienced observer. It affords perpetual excitement; keeps the faculties in unceasing play; and constantly applies research, ingenuity, and eloquence, to the actual business of life. A Court of Nisi Prius is a sort of epitome of human concerns, in which advocates are the representatives of the hopes and fears, the prejudices, the affections, and the hatreds of others, which stir their blood, yet do not endanger their fortune or their peace. The most important interests are committed to their discretion, and the most susceptible feelings to their forbearance. They enjoy a fearful latitude of sarcasm and invective, with an audience ready to admire their sallies, and reporters eager to circulate them through the land. Their professional dress, which might else be ludicrous, becomes formidable as the symbol of power; for, with it, they assume the privilege of denouncing their adversaries, confounding witnesses, and withstanding the judge. If the matter on which they expatiate is not often of a dignified nature or productive of large consequences, it is always of real importance; not a mere theme for display, or a parliamentary shadow. The men whom they address are usually open to receive impressions, either from declamation or reasoning, unlike other audiences who are guarded by system, by party, or by interest, against the access of conviction. They are not confined to rigid logic, or to scholastic sophistry, but may appeal to every prejudice, habit, and feeling, which can aid their cause or adorn their barangue; and possess a large store of popular topics always ready for use. They do not contend for distant objects, nor vainly seek to awaken an interest for futurity, but struggle for palpable results which immediately follow their exertions. They play an animating game for verdicts with the resources of others, in which success is full of pleasure, and defeat is rarely attended with personal disgrace or injury. This is their ordinary vocation; but they have, or seem to have, a chance of putting forth all the energies of their mind on some high issue; and of vindicating their moral courage, perchance by rescuing an innocent man from dishonour and the grave, or by standing, in a tumultuous season, between the frenzy of the people and the encroachments of their enemies, and protecting the constitutional rights of their fellows with the sacred weapons of the laws. What dream is more inspiring to a youth of sanguine temperament than that of conducting the defence of a man prosecuted by the whole force of the state? He runs over in thought the hurried and feverish labour of preparation: the agitations of the heart quelled by the very magnitude of the endeavour and the peril; and imagines himself settled and bent up to his own part in the day of trial—the low tremulous,
hangs; till the whole world of thought and
But the state of anticipation cannot last for ever. The day arrives, when the candidate for forensic opportunities and honours must assume the gown amidst the congratulations of his friends, and attempt to realize their wishes. The hour is, no doubt,, happy, in spite of some intruding thoughts; its festivities are not less joyous, because they wear a colouring of solemnity; it is one more season of hope snatched from fate, inviting the mind to bright remembrance, and rich in the honest assurances of affections and sympathy. It passes, however, as rapidly as its predecessors, and the morrow sees the youth at Westminster, pressing a wig upon aching temples, and taking a fearful survey of the awful bench where the judges sit, and the more awful benches crowded with competitors who have set out with as good hopes, who have been encouraged by as enthusiastic friends, and who have as valid claims to success as he. Now then, having allowed him to enjoy the foretastes of prosperity, let us investigate what are the probabilities that he will realize them. Are they, in any degree, proportioned to his intellectual powers and accomplishments? Is the possession of some share of the highest faculties of the mind, which has given him confidence, really in his favour? These questions we will try to solve. We may, perhaps, explain to the misjudging friends of some promising aspirant, who has not attained the eminence they expected, why their prophecies have been unfulfilled. They think that, with such powers as they know him to possess, there must be some fault which they did not perceive; some want of industry, or perseverance; but there was probably none; and they may rather seek for the cause of failure in the delicacy of feeling which won their sympathy, or in the genius which they were accustomed to admire.
Men who take a cursory view of the profession are liable to forget how peculiarly it is situated in relation to those who distribute its business. These are not the people at large; not even the factitious assemblage called the public; not scholars, nor readers, nor thinkers, nor admiring audiences, nor sages of the law, but simply attorneys. In this class of men are, of course, comprised infinite varieties of knowledge and of worth; many men of sound learning and honourable character; many who are tolerably honest and decorously dull; some who are acute and knavish; and more who are knavish without being acute. Respectable as is the station of attorneys, they are, as a body, greatly inferior to the bar in education and endowments; and yet on their opinion, without appeal, the fate of the members of the profes