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this evening, on account of indisposition, the hostess did not partake, and was therefore at liberty to attend entirely to the wants of her guest, who would fain have declined eating also, but it was impossible; she had just declared that she was quite well, and had often owned that she enjoyed a piece of supper after an early din
There was therefore no retreat from the maze in which her insincerity had involved her; and eat she must : but, when she again smelt on her plate the nauseous composition which, being near the bottom of the pot, was more disagreeable than ever, human patience and human infirmity could bear no more; the scarcely tasted morsel fell from her lips, and she rushed precipitately into the open air, almost disposed to execrate, in her heart, potted sprats, the good breeding of her officious hostess, and even benevolence itself.
Some may observe, on reading this story, “What a foolish creature the guest must have been ! and how improbable it is that any one should scruple to say— The dish is disagreeable;' and ` I hate garlic !” But it is my conviction that the guest, on this occasion, was only a slightly-exaggerated specimen of the usual conduct of those who have been taught to conduct themselves wholly by the artificial rules of civilized society, of which, generally speaking, falsehood is the basis.
Benevolence is certainly one of the first of virtues; and its result is an amiable aversion to wound the feelings of others, even in trifles; therefore benevolence and politeness may be considered as the same thing; but WorldLY POLITENESS is only a copy of benevolence. Benevolence is gold: this politeness a paper currency, contrived as its substitute; as society, being aware that benevolence is as rare as it is precious, and that few are able to distinguish, in any thing, the false from the true, resolved, in lieu of benevolence, to receive WorldLY POLITENESS, with all her train of deceitful welcomes, heartless regrets, false approbations, and treacherous smiles; those alluring seemings, which shine around her brow, and enable her to pass for BENEVOLENCE herself.
But how must the religious and the moral dislike the one, though they venerate the other! The kindness of the worldly polite only lives its little hour in one's presence; but that of the benevolent retains its life and sweetness in one's absence. The worldly polite will often make the objects of their greatest flatteries and attentions when present, the butt of their ridicule as soon as they see them no more; while the benevolent hold the characters and qualities of their associates in a sort of holy keeping at all times, and are as indulgent to the absent as they were attentive to the present. The kindness of the worldly polite is the gay and pleasing flower worn in the bosom, as the ornament of a few hours; then suffered to fade, and thrown by, when it is wanted no longer : but that of the really benevolent is like the fresh-springing evergreen, that blooms on through all times and all seasons, unfading in beauty, and undiminished in sweetness.
WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR, 1775.
This distinguished author was born in Warwick in 1775, and was educated at Rugby and Oxford, whence he was rusticated for the boyish freak of firing a gun in the quadrangle of the college. His academic life terminated with this event, for he never returned to complete his course or obtain his degree. Settling down in Swansea, in Wales, on a very small income allowed him by his father, he there wrote the first of his “Imaginary Conversations,"—the work on which his famo chiefly rests. IIe subsequently came into possession of a large estate, which made him entirely independent, and enabled him to indulge his propensity to literature, and perhaps contributed to that defiant species of independence, which, somewhat developed in early life, has become characteristic of the man.
In 1806 he left England, and, in 1814, married a descendant of the French Baron de Neuve Ville. A few years after he went to Italy, and there remained for many years. Returning to England about 1830, he has resided there since, publishing no extended work, but occasionally contributing to the columns of the "Examiner.” Such is a brief outline of his life.
As a poet of originality and power, Mr. Landor takes no mean rank. But it is as a prose writer that he is most favorably known now, as he will be by posterity.! llis “Imaginary Conversations" is a very remarkable book. It consists of dialogues between some of the most remarkable personages of all ranks and callings, in ancient and modern times. The author, in a surprising manner, throws himself completely into the character he would represent to us, and catches fully the spirit of the age in which he lived. It is a book replete with sound wisdom, and as to style, all is elaborate, fastidious, and classical.2 Though his opinions some
" Ilis collected works of prose and poetry were published in 1846, in two largo volumes.
3“What a weighty book," exclaims the Edinburgh Review, “these. Conversations make! Ilow rich in scholarship; how correct, concise, and pure in style; how full of imagination, wit, and humor: how well informed, how bold in speculation, how various in interest, how universal in sympnthy! In there one hundred and twenty-five Dialogues, the most familiar and the most anunt shapes of the Past are reanimate with vigor, grace, and beauty. Its
times appear singular and paradoxical, he shows that he has a genuine love for all that is beautiful and ennobling in human thoughts and actions.
The best of the dialogues are those between “ Lord Brooke and Sir Philip Sidney;” “Southey and Porson," on the merits of Wordsworth ; "Queen Elizabeth and Cecil;" “ Roger Ascham and Lady Jane Grey;" “ Dr. Johnson and Horne Tooke;" “Marcus Tullius and Quintus Cicero;" “ Barrow and Newton;" “ Milton and Andrew Marvel;" “Andrew Marvel and Bishop Parker.” But where all are so good, it is invidious to particularize. The following will give a good idea of Mr. Landor's manner :
ROGER ASCHAM AND LADY JANE GREY.
Ascham. Thou art going, my dear young lady, into a most awful state; thou art passing into matrimony and great wealth. God hath willed it: submit in thankfulness. Thy affections are rightly placed and well distributed. Love is a secondary passion in those who love most, a primary in those who love least. He who is inspired by it in a high degree, is inspired by honor in a higher : it never reaches its plenitude of growth and perfection but in the most exalted minds. Alas! alas!
Jane. What aileth my virtuous Ascham ? what is amiss ? why do I tremble ?
Ascham. I remember a sort of prophecy, made three years ago : it is a prophecy of thy condition and of my feelings on it. Recollectest thou who wrote, sitting upon the sea-beach the evening after an excursion to the Isle of Wight, these verses ?-
“Invisibly bright water! so like air
On looking down I fear'd thou couldst not bear
And held the bench, not to go on so fast."
very childish when I composed them; and, if I had thought any more about the matter, I should have hoped you had been too generous to keep them in your memory as witnesses against me.
Ascham. Nay, they are not much amiss for so young a girl, and there being so few of them, I did not reprove thec. Half an hour, I thought, might have been spent more unprofitably; and I now shall believe it firmly, if thou wilt but be led by them to meditate a little on the similarity of situation in which thou then wert to what thou art now in.
Jane. I will do it, and whatever else you command; for I am
weak by nature and very timorous, unless where a strong sense of duty holdeth and supporteth me. There God acteth, and not his creature. Those were with me at sea who would have been attentive to me if I had seemed to be afraid, even though worshipful men and women were in the company; so that something more powerful threw my fear overboard. Yet I never will go again upon the water.
Ascham. Exercise that beauteous couple, that mind and body, much and variously, but at home, at home, Jane! indoors, and about things indoors; for God is there, too. We have rocks and quicksands on the banks of our Thames, O lady! such as Ocean never heard of; and many (who knows how soon!) may be engulfed in the current under their garden walls.
Jane. Thoroughly do I now understand you. Yes, indeed, I have read evil things of courts; but I think nobody can go out bad who entereth good, if timely and true warning shall have been given.
Ascham. I see perils on perils which thou dost not see, albeit thou art wiser than thy poor old master. And it is not because Love hath blinded thee, for that surpasseth his supposed omnipotence; but it is because thy tender heart, having always leant aifeetionately upon good, hath felt and known nothing of evil. I once persuaded thee to reflect much : let me now persuade thee to avoid the habitude of reflection, to lay aside books, and to gaze carefully and steadfastly on what is under and before thee.
Jane. I have well bethought me of my duties: oh how extensive they are! what a goodly and fair inheritance! But tell me, would you command me never more to read Cicero and Epictetus and Plutarch and Polybius? The others I do resign : they are good for the arbor and for the gravel-walk: yet leave unto me, I beseech you, my friend and father, leave unto me for my fireside and for my pillow, truth, eloquence, courage, constancy.
Ascham. Read them on thy marriage-bed, on thy child-hed, on thy death-bed. Thou spotless, undrooping lily, they have fenced thee right well. These are the men for men : these are to fashion the bright and blessed creatures whom God one day shall smile upon in thy chaste bosom. Mind thou thy husband.
Jane. I sincerely love the youth who hath espoused me; I love him with the fondest, the most solicitous affection; I pray to the Almighty for his goodness and happiness, and do forget, at times, unworthy supplicant ! the prayers I should have offered for myself. Never fear that I will disparage my kind religious teacher, by disobedience to my husband in the most trying duties.
Ascham. Gentle is he, gentle and virtuous : but time will harden him: time must harden even thee, sweet Jane! Do thou, complacently and indirectly, lead him from ambition.
Jane. He is contented with me and with home.
Ascham. Ah, Jane! Jane! men of high estate grow tired of contentedness.
Jane. He told me he never liked books unless I read them to him: I will read them to him every evening; I will open new worlds to him richer than those discovered by the Spaniard; I will conduct him to treasures-oh what treasures !-on which he may sleep in innocence and peace.
Ascham. Rather do thou walk with him, ride with him, play with him—be his faery, his page, his every thing that love and poetry have invented,—but watch him well; sport with his fancies; turn them about like the ringlets round his cheek; and if ever he meditate on power, go toss up thy baby to his brow, and bring back his thoughts into his heart by the music of thy discourse. Teach him to live unto God and unto thee; and he will discover that women, like the plants in woods, derive their softness and tenderness from the shade.
QUEEN ELIZABETH AND CECIL.
Elizabeth. I advise thee again, churlish Cecil, how that our Edmund Spenser, whom thou callest, most uncourteously, a whining whelp, hath good and solid reason for his complaint. God’s blood !1 shall the lady that tieth my garter and shuffles the smock over my head, or the lord that steadieth my chair's back while I eat, or the other that looketh to my buck-hounds lest they be mangy, be holden by me in higher esteem and estate than he who hath placed me among the bravest of past times, and will as safely and surely set me down among the loveliest in the future.
Cecil. Your highness must remember he carouseth fully for such deserts : fifty pounds a year of unclipt moneys, and a butt of canary wine; not to mention three thousand acres in Ireland, worth fairly another fifty and another butt, in seasonable and quiet years.
Elizabeth. The moneys are not enow to sustain a pair of grooms and a pair of palfreys, and more wine hath been drunken in my presence at a feast. The moneys are given to such men, that they may not incline nor be obligated to any vile or lowly occupation; and the canary, that they may entertain such promising Wits as