صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

in the whole, while each of its parts moves so little that the motion is not likely to injure the spinal marrow, which it is evidently intended to protect.

The processes of the vertebra are the levers upon which the various muscles of the back act, and thus produce the motion of the tail of the fish by which it darts forward; for it is now believed that the fins have little to do with forcing the body forward, but only influence its direction.

The finny inhabitants of the sea have among their tribes several scarcely inferior in richness of colouring to the rainbowcoloured inhabitants of the grove; some of them, indeed, vie with the latter in their great power of rapid movement and graceful form. If we open the head of the fish, we discover that there are nerves which in all other animals are connected with the sense of smell; and we learn from a celebrated naturalist-Mr. Jesse, whose interesting writings would please you very much-that the fish which he kept in a pond for the purpose of observing their habits, actually exhibited a preference for paste and worms which had been perfumed. The same writer informs us that fishes show by their actions that they can hear, as we should suppose after looking at the nervous apparatus in their heads, which in other animals is connected with the sense of hearing. You will have heard also of fishes being summoned to their repasts by the sound of a bell or a whistle: the latter is said to be constantly used by the Chinese to summon their gold fish, which are described as being quite domesticated.


THE power of interchanging thoughts is the divinest and most practical of our endowments. It is a stream flowing between the shores of Fancy and of Fact, and bearing on its current from one to the other an inestimable mental traffic. But how frequently does it waft along an empty bark, or at best, one laden with worthless trash! And yet if we reflect but for an instant on the bountiful source from which we derive this consoling gift, shall we not feel it our duty not only not to waste this natural

treasure, but also to use it in the manner best calculated to please our great Benefactor, and to improve ourselves?

Very much depends on the conversation of those with whom we habitually mingle. How many great men have received their first impetus on the road to fame from the elevating influence of the conversation of some gifted friend! How many individuals occupying distinguished public positions as statesmen, agitators, &c., owe half their distinction to the fact of their being permitted to absorb, and elaborate afterwards in their own fashion, all the pet sentiments, and clever things that circulate from mouth to mouth around them! Epictetus says, in his "Enchiridion," that "man was given two ears and one tongue, in order that he should hear twice as much as he speaks." And this maxim of the Phrygian philosopher demonstrates how necessary it is sometimes to listen, and also how important it is that what we are listening to should be instructive. Napoleon was well aware of the folly of wasting those moments devoted to social intercourse on trifling or unworthy matters. And his biographers mention, that while on the voyage to Egypt it was his custom at table to start some comprehensive topic, to be discussed by his generals and himself, the treatment of which generally called forth some large and original views, that invariably proved instructive and entertaining. Still, notwithstanding the evident importance of rendering conversation a medium for conveying knowledge, and impressing it on the memory, it is absolutely astonishing how much its capabilities are disregarded in ordinary family circles! I have often thought, if it did not appear invidious, that it would be a useful lesson if one were to take short-hand notes of the conversation passing round an ordinary fireside for a few evenings, and afterwards present the interlocutors with the written result of their lucubrations. How startled would some of them be to find the naked ghosts of their un-ideal babble rising up in judgment against them! How strange would it seem to see the long array of meagre platitudes which in the heat of discourse passed as current coin! How humiliating to discover that there did not exist in the long records of inane gossip one thought that deserved commemoration,


one sentiment that could benefit humanity!

repulsive manner. Still it will be neither one nor the other as long as it is conventional; that is, as long as it is usurped by subjects that do not tend to exercise the fancy, or enlarge the intellect.

A fact disclosed in the course of conversation carries with it a certain force. It is hot from the furnace of thought, and brands its register upon our memory more in- A man naturally talks of that which is delibly than it could ever do when it was uppermost in his mind, and there is nothing filtered through the cooling medium of a strange in it; but if his mind were properly book. There are many men, who, from regulated he would be sensible of the prothe mere circumstance of their being at-priety of selecting such topics as would tentive listeners, have acquired a degree give the most general pleasure and instrucof practical information that serves them tion, and not those which only gratify his better in their worldly progress than would own private inclinations. A man, if he the more painfully acquired lore of the chooses, can wear a fustian jacket at home, secluded scholar. Not that I would for a and no one will quarrel with him for his moment hold up these "brain suckers," as taste or economy; but he must not bring they are vulgarly termed, as examples it with him into a society where broadcloth worthy of imitation-for at best their ac- only is tolerated. Neither may he transquirements must be superficial, and lack plant his common-place or business conthat impressiveness that belongs to origina-versation into a circle that has no general lity; but I think that reading and converse interest in such concerns. We frequently should go hand in hand, the former lending see men err in this respect. The sportsto the latter piquancy and weight, the latter man, the lawyer, the farmer, may all be giving to the former the power of stamping known by their talk; yet when the first itself indelibly on the mind. Plato knew discourses of the odds taken on the this; and in the quiet groves of Academe "favourite," no one is instructed; nor does gave an immortal example of the worth of the knowledge of what the latter's pigs well-directed conversation. weighed, render anybody a bit the wiser.

It is a duty that people owe to one another, to render their social intercourse productive of a mutual benefit. This, however, will never be, unless there is adopted in the family circle, where friends are in the habit of meeting, some regular plan which shall guide, without fettering, the conversation; and which, while it gives it an instructive tone, need not interfere with its discursiveness, or suitableness to all comprehensions. Nothing would be more simple, and nothing productive of more lasting usefulness to this and succeeding generations. There are few families, in the present age of unprecedentedly cheap literature, without the means of commanding a supply of valuable and well-written books; and it would not be very difficult for the elder members of the household to establish a rule, that every evening, when gathered round the fireside, and not otherwise engaged in any important business, some book, or scientific discovery, or work of art, or historical event, should be calmly and regularly discussed by the entire circle. It may be answered that there are many individuals of a family, who, from unfortunate defects of education, would not possess

The man who reads a book, and does not speak of it, is like the squirrel who busies himself during the autumn in collecting treasures of beech-nuts and acorns, and buries them carefully in the earth as a store against the hunger of winter; but, having a bad memory, forgets where to seek for them when the hour of want arrives, and leaves them to rot, or vegetate, as chance ordains. Thus must it be with the silent student. He lays up stores of learning and noble thought; he fills the dark corners of his brain with well-selected and useful lore; but for want of registering them during acquisition, for want of dipping them in the stream of discourse-which, like the fountain of eternal youth that Ponce de Leon sought for, would have rendered them immortal-they fade in time from his memory, and when he would seek for them in years afterwards, he finds, like those misers who shut up their garments in chests and never draw them forth, that nothing remains but dust and ashes.

Conversation, to be truly agreeable, should be instructive; but to be instructive, it should be first made agreeable; nor should the topics be treated in a dry and

for if we once employ a fact to illustrate any subject, we shall rarely, if ever, forget it again. And though last, not least, it is a source of intellectual and innocent enjoyment, that must eventually create an appetite for what is ennobling and elevated.

However, beyond all such things, I would

either the inclination or ability to join in such in idle gossip, nothing would be easier than a discussion; but this I think would only to vary the entertainment sufficiently to serve to disclose the advantages of such a give it the charm of novelty. I do not system. When such a person sees himself know a pastime more suitable for a fireexcluded from so much general intellectual side, or better calculated to encourage enjoyment; when he finds himself, as it were, habits of thought and readiness of illuscut off from communion with other intel-tration, than that to which the Family Friend lects, the deficiencies, of which he was until has drawn public attention under the title then careless, will set heavily on him. He of the "Council of Friends." To produce will grow ashamed; he will be humiliated; a good and concise definition of a given and if it happens-as it will happen in nine subject requires considerable powers of concases out of ten-that he possesses any centration, a vivid imagination, and an epimoderate share of pride, or self-esteem, grammatic style; and of course the person there is little doubt but that he will set who possesses the largest store of facts will himself to work seriously to repair those be able to command more striking similes, mental defects, of whose existence he had or metaphors, to illustrate his subject, before been scarcely conscious. Moreover, and consequently will attain a correspondsuch discussions need not be always con- ing excellence. Thus this pastime is useful fined to abstruse subjects. That would in many ways. It is fruitful of thought: only make the circle pedants; and a pedantic it prevents our acquired knowledge from family is detestable. But music, painting, rusting with inaction, by calling it into use poetry, sculpture, biography, travels, cum multis aliis, might all be taken in the round, and made to yield a profitable return. Again, every member, however inexperienced or unlearned, should be heard with attention; for as there is no flower, however humble, from which the bee will not extract honey, there is no mind so un-advocate the fireside debates. With young limited or unenlightened, from which we people they would be productive of the may not gather some fruit to be garnered purest benefits. They would give them a in our memories. Nor does it follow that habit of expressing themselves with prothe topics introduced should always be priety of diction; of arranging their treated profoundly, for a continual gravity thoughts and presenting them in the most would very soon put enjoyment out of the forcible manner. They would impress on question. It was Pitt, I think, who said their memories every new fact that came "I would not give a fig for a man who was under their notice, and the contents of every not able to talk nonsense!" And the great work whose merits formed the subjectstatesman knew very well what he was say-matter of the discourses. They would ing, for it requires a positive amount of teach them that patience and temper are genius to talk nonsense well. A clever necessary to conduct any sort of discussion man will talk it for hours, and yet make it properly; and, finally, by bringing the entertaining, perhaps instructive; and all minds of the various members of the family the time his audience can see perfectly well into constant intercourse with each other, that he could talk wisdom just as easily if by displaying the acquirements of some, he chose. There need be no necessity, then, and the deficiencies of others, it would lead for the debates I am recommending to be to a wholesome emulation on the side of always wrapped in intense gravity; a sub- the uneducated, to rise to a level with the ject should now and then be started which more gifted; while it would afford these latwould admit of being treated in a volatile ter an opportunity of proving their kindmanner; and depend on it, a little cleverness and good-nature by assisting their felpersiflage would enable the circle to return low-labourers in their praiseworthy efforts with renewed zest to profounder topics. with their advice and counsel; and thus by drawing the bonds of union closer, the whole family would be linked together in social ties that nothing could séver, becausé

Should a family determine to improve and amuse themselves after this rational manner, instead of wasting their evenings

they would be spun from the heart, and strengthened by the intellect.

Therefore I say to you, fathers of families, when you seek your homes after the labours of the day, instead of telling what Jones said of Jenkins, or how Thompson insinuated strange things about the widow Barker and Lieutenant Gorget, or boring your family with the mysteries of railway scrip, or chancery legalities, or the culture of mangold-wurtzel, according as you may happen to be lawyer, speculator, or farmer, bring home with you in the pockets of that large overcoat which you got such a bargain the other day in the Strand, some nice new book-either history, biography, or travels; lay it on the table with a pleasant countenance; let the family read it, or if you happen to have a good voice and delivery, read it for them yourself. Then invite discussion on it; analyse it, detect its fallacies-if it has any; point out its beauties-if they are to be found; and above all, if any juvenile member of your family chooses to differ from you in opinion, permit him to do so, and do not stifle him with a "no contradiction!" kind of manner.

I have also a few words for you, venerated mothers of the household! Do not inculcate into your daughters' minds the modern maxims, that they need not learn anything save with the view of securing a husband; that matrimony should be their aim above all else; that to preside over "a good establishment" is the height of human felicity; that, in short, they are to be nothing more than so many female quagmires, adorned with a superficial verdure and attraction, but plunging the unhappy wretch into a "Slough of Despond," who, tempted by their treacherous beauty, ventures on the last fatal step of marriage!

No! on the contrary, you should teach them that there are higher attainments than a polka with an "eligible:" and more lofty aims than an establishment and a carriage. Instead of inquiring whether Mr. So-and-so was "particular" at last night's ball, you should induce them to take part in the family debates, and fill their minds with other matters than tarletane and white gloves. Give them some solid information, and show them how to make use of it. Let their course of reading comprehend something more than the romantic history of Dumas, and the sentimental vice

of Sue; and rest assured, thou managing mother! that a man of sense-and of course you would wish none other for a son-inlaw-will pass very quickly by the young lady who sings, the young lady who polks, and the young lady who does nothing at all, and in the end settle down by the side of some young lady who, he sees, can take part with intelligence, sense, and becoming modesty, in a FAMILY CONVERSATION. FITZ-JAMES O'BRIEN.


IN the neighbourhood of that great nuisance, Smithfield, where twice a week the Babylon of Beasts sends forth its horrid noises, and man displays more brutality than the brutes, two diminutive children were sauntering heedlessly along. Their apparent ages were about four and five years. Suddenly, the little creatures were alarmed by the approach of a drove of oxen. The broad burly heads of the beasts were wedged together across the way, and their horns jostled about like the pikes of a band of undisciplined rebels. Women ran into shops, or turned back and deserted their former course; dogs barked; and the yelling of the drovers, as they recklessly goaded the beasts along, was hideous enough to appal even a stout heart. The younger child set up a dismal cry, and, throwing its mouth wide open, thrust its fat fists into its tearful eyes. "Never mind the cows, Jimmy!" exclaimed the child of five summers to his companion of four- -"Never mind the cows, Jimmy, though they is a' coming. I'll hold fast o' your hand!" And immediately Jimmy's cry was hushed, and looking into his puny protector's face, he seemed to say, safe!" FOUND-That little sympathies, though unable to resist an evil, may mitigate the sorrow that flows therefrom.


READING furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking makes what we read ours. We are of the ruminating kind, and it is not enough to cram ourselves with a load of collections; unless we chew them over again, they will not give us any strength,

is favourable. Solicitude, thus frankly expressed, as regards the absent, is always well received, and

ETIQUETTE, POLITENESS, AND is peculiarly acceptable; it touches a chord in the human heart which promptly vibrates, and with GOOD BREEDING. none so readily as those who dwell comparatively No. IX. alone, and whose dearest connexions are far distant.


WE have frequently admired the Oriental modes of salutation, and of taking leave, and wished that

some such could be introduced into our usual forms of speech at meeting and parting with our friends. We are, in many respects, a poetic people the Irish are eminently so, and the Scotch dwell in a land of mountains and of floods; and yet, whether English, Scottish, or Irish, nothing can be more ungraceful than many of our customary fashions of speech, viz., "How d'ye do?"-"Hope you are well!" and it happens, occasionally, that the person who makes the inquiry never waits for an answer, but, anticipating the same question, responds in the same breath"Very well, thank you." A by stander is often amused with these inquiries and rejoinders, while the persons who are thus occupied certainly do not hear, or else are so much accustomed to them, that they fall upon the ear like the tickings of their

own watches.

"A word that must be, and hath been,
A word that makes us linger, yet farewell."

It is not our purpose to suggest any alteration in our national phraseology, nor the substitution of "Peace be with you," or "May your way be prosperous," in place of the above-named phrases; but we certainly suggest the desirableness of substituting for those inelegant modes of speech a graceful bow on entering the drawing-room, or when acquaintances chance to meet in passing. That quiet community of Christians who are known by the name of "Friends," always wishing how to pass gracefully on after proffering the one another "Farewell," when they part.

Such inquiries among friends are widely dif ferent from a familiar habit in which some persons indulge themselves, viz., of questioning individuals with whom they are very slightly acquainted, as regards the welfare of each member We have heard such people, of their household. after making especial inquiries of a lady with respect to herself, proceed to include her husband, and then pass on to her brother or sister-in-law, and, it may be, to the parents of her husband, till the poor lady has been wearied with answering questions, and is, perhaps, kept waiting in a crowded street, through which passengers are jostling and pushing. Instances of the kind frequently occur, and are often occasioned either by a degree of awkwardness, or by really not know

usual courtesies.

This simple and pleasing kind of leave-taking pleases us extremely; it seems like giving a blessing to those from whom we are about to separate, and is analogous to the Oriental phraseology already noticed. We again repeat, that we have no thought of recommending an abrupt change in the forms of domestic salutation which have descended from sire to son, although we think that a modification might be advisable.

We do not dislike the "Good morning" or "Good evening" of our ancestors; there is something very kindly in the wish; and its expression sounds pleasant, as denoting that the speaker desires all good to attend the person with whom he has, perhaps, enjoyed a few minutes of gratifying intercourse. Our war is solely against the "How d'ye do?" and the "Very well, I thank you," which grates upon our mental sensibilities. To those, however, who still cling to "familiar household words," we cannot avoid mentioning, that the former mode of salutation is inadmissible towards a superior-inexpedient to a slight acquaintance; but wherever professed, should be used with apparent interest, and as if actuated by kindness and sincerity. When the inquiry thus courteously made, is answered, express your hope that the family of your friend is well, inquiring, at the same time, respecting any absent relativeswhether they have written lately, and if the news

When calling on an invalid, or on one who has recently recovered from illness, inquire of the servant concerning the health of your friend, and manifest your interest by saying "I am happy to hear that you are better," or, "I am concerned to find that you are not so well." If the master of the house, or one of the children, is indisposed, ask particularly how they are, and express your sympathy. A lady will not, of course, be very particular in giving utterance to her concern, if, on entering the drawing-room, she finds a gentleshe will, however, seek to inform herself relative man indisposed, even if previously acquainted; to the health of his family, as if thoughtful on their account.

Carefully avoid suggesting painful or annoying thoughts to the minds of others. Some people have no delicacy of feeling-no perception of what is proper to be done or avoided; nothing, in short, of that propriety which shrinks from giving pain. For example, what can be more shocking than to say to a husband-"How ill your wife looks!" or to a wife, the same with regard to her husband; or to make remarks of a depressing nature relative to the health of one friend or relative to another; and yet we have known this done from the mere love of talking. We have seen, too, an affectionate daughter saddened almost beyond endurance, by being reminded that her father or mother was getting old; and the informant did not scruple to add, that, really, the one or the other appeared to be very failing, instancing, at the same time, as if to prevent any possibility of misapprehension, that a great change has been perceptible within a short time. We remember another instance of similar impropriety. Two ladies were walking together, on their return from church, both in deep mourn ing, one of them a widow, when they were approached by an acquaintance of the slightest possible description, who came to meet them with a broad smile, and look of inquisitiveness, saying, -"I'm sorry to see you in deep mourning." Conduct of this kind is past endurance, and the person who is guilty of it has no right to complain if a cut direct is the consequence.

We further caution our readers to avoid making inquiries respecting the state of mind of a deceased

« السابقةمتابعة »