صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

CORNELIUS O'DOWD UPON MEN AND WOMEN, AND OTHER THINGS

IN GENERAL.

PART VI.

A GRUMBLE.

I WONDER is the world as pleasant very tangible advantages too—I do as it used to be? Not to myself, of not think the present occupants course-I neither ask nor expect it; make the house as pleasant as their but I mean to those who are in fathers did, and for the very simple the same position to enjoy it as I reason, that they never try. was — years ago. I am delicate Indifferentism is the tone of the about the figures, for Mrs O’D. OC- day. No one must be eager, pleased, casionally reads these sketches, and displeased, interested, or anxious might feel a wifelike antipathy to about anything. Life is to be a record of this nature. I repeat treated as a tiresome sort of thing, I wonder is life as good fun as it but which is far too much beneath was when I made my first acquaint- one to be thought of seriously-a ance with it? My impression is wearisome performance, which good that it is not. I do not presume manners require you should sit to say that all the same elements out, though nothing obliges you to are not as abundant as heretofore, applaud or eyen approve of it. This There are young people, and witty is the theory, and we have been people, and, better, there are beau- most successful in reducing it to tiful people, in abundance. There practice. We are immensely bored, are great houses as of yore, main- and we take good care so shall be tained, perhaps, with even more our neighbour. Just as we have than bygone splendour : the horses voted that there is nothing new, are as good—the dogs as good-the nothing strange, nothing amusing, trout-streams as well stocked—the we defy any one to differ with us, grouse as abundant-foreign travel on pain of pronouncing him vulgar. is more easy-all travel is more North American Indians are not facile there are more books, and more case - hardened against any more illustrated newspapers; and show of suffering under torture, yet with all these advantages — than are our well - bred people

VOL XCVI.NO. DLXXXV.

against any manifestation of show- the case now? Apathy is exceling pleasure in anything. “ It lence, and the nearest approach to wasn't bad," is about the highest ex- insensibility is the greatest eminpression of our praise ; and I doubtence attainable. if we would accord more to heaven In the Regency, when George

if we got there. The grand test IV. was Prince, the clever talkers of your modern Englishman is, to certainly abounded; and men talk bear any amount of amusement well or ill exactly as there is a dewithout wincing: no pleasure is to mand for the article. The wittiest wring a smile from him, nor is any conversationalist that ever existed expectancy to interest, or any un- would be powerless in a circle of looked-for event to astonish. He these modern “ Unsurprised ones.” would admit that “the Governor”- Their vacant self-possession would meaning his father-was surprised; put down all the Grattans and he would concede the fact, as re- Currans and Jeffreys and Sydney cording some prejudice of a by- Smiths in the world. I defy the gone age. As the tone of manners most brilliant, the readiest, the and observance has grown univer- most genial of talkers to vivify the sal, so has the very expression of mass of inert dulness he will find the features. They are intensely now at every dinner and in every like each other. We are told that drawing-room. a shepherd will know the actual The code of modern manners is faces of all the sheep in his flock, to make ease the first of all objects; distinguishing each from each at a and, in order that the stupidest man glance. I am curious to know if may be at his ease, the ablest is to the Bishop of London knows even be sacrificed. He who could bring the few lost sheep that browse vast stores of agreeability to the about Rotten Row of an afternoon, common stock must not show his and who are so familiar to us in wares, because there are a store of Leech's sketches. There they are incapables who have nothing for the --whiskered, bearded, and bored; market. fine-looking animals in their way, They have a saying in Donegal, but just as much living creatures that “the water is so strong it rein ‘Punch' as they are yonder. It quires two whiskies;" but I would is said that they only want the sti- ask what amount of “spirits " mulus of a necessity, something of would enliven this dreariness; what daring to tempt, or something of infusion of pleasantry would make difficulty to provoke them, to be just Brown and Jones endurable when as bold and energetic as ever their multiplied by what algebraists call fathers were. I don't deny it. I an x-an unknown quantity-of am only complaining of the system other Browns and Joneses ? which makes sheep of them, reduces We are constantly calling attenlife to a dreary table-land, making tion to the fact of the influence the stupid fellows the standard, and exerted over morals and manners coming down to their level for the in France by the prevailing tone sake of uniformity. Formerly they of the lighter literature, and we who had more wit, more smart mark the increasing licentiousness ness, more worldly knowledge than that has followed such works as their neighbours, enjoyed a certain those of Eugene Sue and the youngpre-eminence; the flash of their er Dumas. Let us not forget to agreeability lighted up the group look at home, and see if, in the they talked in, and they were days when the Waverleys constivalued and sought after. Now the tuted almost all our lighter readvery homage rendered, even in this ing, the tone of society was not small way, was at least a testimony higher, the spirit more heroic, the that superiority was recognised current of thought and expression and its claims admitted. What is purer, than in these realistic days, when we turn for amusement to and it is my pride to remember that descriptions of every quaint vulga- I have seen some of those who were, rity that makes up the life of the in an age of no common convivial boarding-house or the strolling the excellence, amongst the first and atre.

the greatest. They are gone, and I The glorious heroism of Scott's may speak of them by name-Lord novels was a fine stream to turn Plunkett, the Chief-Justice Bushe, into the turbid river of our world- Mr Casey, Sir Philip Crampton, liness and money-seeking. It was Barré Beresford-I need not go on. of incalculable benefit to give men I have but to recall the leading even a passing glance of noble de- men at the bar, to make up a list of votion, high-hearted courage, and the most brilliant talkers that ever unsullied purity.

delighted society. Nor was the soil I can remember the time when, exhausted with these ; there came, as freshmen in our first year, we so to say, a second crop-a younger went about talking to each other order of men-less versed in affairs, of Ivanhoe' and · Kenilworth;' it is true, less imbued with that and I can remember, too, when the vigorous conviviality that prevailglorious spirit of those novels had ed in their fathers' days - but of so possessed us, that our romance these I must not speak, for they elevated and warmed us to an un- have now grown up to great digniconscious imitation of the noble ties and stations, they have risen to thoughts and deeds we had been eminence and honour and repute, reading.

and might possibly be ashamed if Smile if you like at our boyish it were known that they were once enthusiasm, it was better than the so agreeable. Let me, however, remocking spirit engendered by all cord one who is no more, but who this realism, or the insensate crav. possessed the charm of companing after stimulus taught by sensa- ionship to a degree I never knew tion novels.

equalled in all my varied experienNow, I am not old enough to ces of life,-one who could bring remember the great talkers of the the stores of a well-stocked mind, time when George III. was King, rich in scholarship, to bear upon or those who made Carlton House any passing incident, blended with famous ; but I belonged to a gene- the fascination of a manner that ration where these men were re- was irresistible. Highly imaginamembered, and where it was com- tive, and with a power of expresmon enough to hear stories of their sion that was positively marvellous, Attic nights, those noctes coenæque he gave to ordinary conversation an deorum which really in brilliancy elevation that actually conferred must have far transcended anything honour on those who were associated that Europe could boast of conver- with it; and high above all these sational power. The youth of the gifts and graces, a noble nature, time I speak of were full of these generous, hopeful, and confiding. traditions. “If I am not the rose, With an intellect that challenged I grew near one," was no foolish any rivalry, he had, in all that boast; and certainly there was both touched worldly matters, the simin the tone of conversation and the plicity of a child. To my countemper of society a sentiment that trymen it is needless I should tell showed how the great men had of whom I speak; to others, I influenced their age, and how, even say his name was Mortimer O'Sulafter their sun had gone down, a livan. The mellow cadence of his warm tint remained to remind the winning voice, the beam of his world of the glorious splendour honest eye, the generous smile that had departed.

that never knew scorn, are all beBeing an Irishman, it is to Ire- fore me as I write, and I will write land I must go for my illustration, no more.

OF OUR BROTHERS BEYOND THE BORDER.

There is a story current of a cer- were less eligible company than that tain very eminent French naturalhe had just quitted at the café. ist, who is so profoundly impressed I own I have not seen them durby the truth of the Darwinian the- ing the moment of the Professor's ory, that he never passes the cage passage. I am unable to state auwhere the larger apes are confined thentically whether all this be as in the Jardin des Plantes without I surmise, but I have a strong taking off his hat, making a pro- impression it must be. Indeed, found obeisance, and wishing them reflecting on the habits and modes a bon jour.

of the species, I should be rather This recognition is touching and disposed to believe them given to graceful. The homage of the witches an exuberant show of gratitude to him who should be king hereafter, than to anything like indifference, · had in it a sort of mockery that and expect to witness demonstramade it horrible ; but here we have tions of delight more natural posan act of generous courtesy, based sibly than graceful. alike on the highest discoveries of Now, I have not the most remote science and the rules of the truest intention of impugning the Profesgood-breeding.

sor's honesty. I give him creditThe learned Professor, with all full credit-for high purpose, and the instincts of great acquirements for high courage. “These poor and much self-knowledge united, brothers of ours," says he, “have admits them at once to equality tails, it is true, and they have not and fraternity-the liberty, perhaps, the hypocampus major; but let me they will have to wait some time for; ask you, Mon. le Duc, or you, Monbut in that they are no worse off seigneur the Archbishop, will you than some millions of their fellow- dare to affirm on oath that you countrymen.

yourself are endowed with a hypoOne might speculate long - I campus major or minor? Are you don't know exactly how profitably prepared to stand forward and de

on the sense of gratitude these clare that the convolutions of your creatures must feel for this touching brain are of the regulation standard kindness, how they must long for that the medullary part is not disthe good man's visit, how they must proportioned to the cineritious — wonder by what steps he arrived that your falx is not thicker or thinat this astonishing knowledge, how ner than it oughtand that your surprised they must feel that he optic thalami are not too prominent ? does not make more converts; And if you are not ready to do this, and, last of all, what pains they what avails all your assumption of must take to exhibit in their out- superiority ? In these they are ward bearing and behaviour that not many—lie the alleged differthey are not unworthy of the high ences between you and your caged consideration he bestows on them! cousins yonder.” Thus speaks, or Before him no monkey-tricks, no might speak, the Professor; and, I apish indecorums - none even of repeat, I respect his candour; but those passing levities which young still I would venture to submit one gorillas will indulge in just like small, perhaps ungenerous doubt, other youths. No; all must be and ask, Would he, acting on the staid, orderly, and respectful-heads noble instincts that move him, vote held well up-hands at rest-tails these creatures an immediate and nowhere ; in fact, a port and bear- entire emancipation, or would he ing that would defy the most scru- not rather wait a while—a few years, tinising observer to say that they say — till the habit of sitting on

« السابقةمتابعة »