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break down in his verbs than his virtue? Would you not prefer a little inaccuracy in his declensions to a total forgetfulness of the decalogue? And, lastly of all, what man of real eminence could have masqueraded—for it is masquerading—for years in this motley, and come out, after all, with even a rag of his identity? Many people would scruple to play at cards with a stranger whose mode of dealing and general manipulation of the pack bespoke daily familiarity, with the play-table. They would infer that he was a regular and professional gambler. In the very same way, and for the selfsame reason, would I carefully avoid any close intimacy with the Englishman of fluent French, well knowing be could not have graduated in that perfection save at a certain price. But it is not at the moral aspect of the question I desire particularly to look. I assert —and I repeat my assertion—that these talkers of many tongues are pour creatures. There is no initiative in them—they suggest nothing—they are venders of secondhand wares, and are not always even good selectors of what they sell. It is only in narrative that they are at all endurable. They can raconter, certainly ; and so long as they go from salon to salon repeating in set phrase some little misadventure or accident of the day, they are amusing; but this is not conversation, and they do not converse. “Every time a man acquires a new language, is he a new man?” is supposed to have been a sayin of Charles V.-a sentiment, that, if he uttered it, means more of sareasin than of praise; for it is the very putting off a man's identity that establishes his weakness. All real force of character excludes
dualism. Every eminent, every able man has a certain integrity in his nature that rejects this plasticity. It is a very common habit, particularly with newspaper writers, to ascribe skill in languages, and occasionally in games, to distinguished people. It was but the other day we were told that Garibaldi spoke ten languages fluently. Now Garibaldi is not really master of two. He speaks French tolerably; and his native language is not Italian, but a patois-Genoese. Cavour was called a linguist with almost as little truth; but people repeat the story, just as they repeat that Naso I. was a great chess-player. his statecraft and his strategy had been on a par with his chess, we should never have heard of Tilsit or Wagram. Lord Castlereagh, the Duke of Wellington, and George Canning, each of whom administered our foreign policy with no small share of success, were not linguists; and as to Charles Fox, he has left a French sentence on record that will last even as long as his own great name. I do not want to decry the study of languages; I simply desire to affirm that linguists—and through all I have said I mean colloquial linguists —are for the most part poor creatures, not otherwise distinguished than by the gift of tongues; and I want to protest against the undue pre-eminence accorded to the possessors of a small accomplishment, and the readiness with which the world, o the world of society, awards homage to an acquirement in which a boarding-school miss can surpass Lord Brougham. I mean to say a word or two about those who have skill in games; but as they are of a higher order of intelligence, I'll wait till I have got “fresh wind” ere I treat of them.
THE OLD CONJURORS AND THE NEW.
As there are few better tests of the general health of an individual than in the things he imagines to
be injurious to him, so there is no surer evidence of the delicate condition of a State than in the character of those who are assumed to be dangerous to it. Now, after all that has been said of Rome and the corruptions of Roman government, I do not know anything so decidedly damnatory as the fact, to which allusion was lately made in Parliament, that the Papal Government had ordered Mr. Home, the spiritualist, to quit the city and the States of his Holiness, and not to return to them. In what condition, I would ask, must a country be when such a man
is regarded as dangerous? and in
what aspect of his character does the danger consist? Do we want ghosts or spirits to reveal to us any more of the iniquities of that State than we already know? Is there a detail of its corrupt administration that the press of Europe has not sowed broadcast over the world? What could Mr. Home and all his spirits tell us of peculation, theft, subordination, bigotry, and oppression, that the least observant traveller has not brought home with him? And then, as to the man himself, how puerile it is to give him this importance! . The solitary bit of cleverness about him is his statement that he has no control whatever over the spirits that attend him. Asking him not to summon them, is pretty like asking Mr. Windham not to send for his creditors. They come pretty much as they like, and probably their visits are about equally profitable. In this respect Home belongs to a very low order of his art. When Bosco promises to make a bouquet out of a mouse-trap, or Houdin engages to concoct a batter-pudding in your hat, each keeps his word. There is no subterfuge about the temper the spirits may happen to be in, or of their willingness or unwillingness to present themselves. The thing is done, and we see it—or we think we see it, which comes much to the same. With this provision of escape he secured himself against all failure. Should, for instance, the audience
rove to be of a more discriminating and observant character than he liked or anticipated, and the exhibition in consequence be rendered critical, all he had to do was, to aver that the spirits would not come; it was no breakdown on his part. Homer was sulky, or Dante was hipped, or Lord Bacon was indisposed to meet company, and there was the end of it. You were invited to meet celebrities, but it was theirs to say if they would present themselves. On the other hand, when the proper element of credulity offered— when the séance was composed of the select few, emotional, sensitive, and hysterical as they ought to be— when the nervous lady sat beside the timid gentleman, and neuralgia confronted confirmed dyspepsia— the artist could afford to be daring, and might venture on flights that astounded even himself. What limit is there, besides, to contagional sympathy Look at the crowded theatre, with its many-minded spectators, and see how one impulse, communicated occasionally by a hireling, will set the whole mass in a ferment of enthusiastic delight. Mark, too, how the smile, that plays like an eddy on a lake, deepens into a laugh, and is caught up by another and another, till the whole storm breaks out in a hearty roar of merriment. These, if you like, are spirits; but the great masters of them are not men like Mr. Home— they have ever been, and still are, of a very different order. Shakespeare and Molière and Cervantes knew something of the mode to summon these imps, and could make them come at their bidding besides, * Was it—to come back to what I started with—was it in any spirit of rivalry that the Papal Government drove Mr. Home out of Rome? Was it that, assuming to have a monopoly in the wares he dealt in, they would not stand a contraband trade? If so, their ground is at least defensible; for what chance of attraction would there be for the
winking Virgin in competition with British army-I should certainly him who could make a young lady have comforted myself by the ascend to the ceiling, and come thought that I could always go and slowly down like a parachute !" sit down on the steps of the Vatican. a spiritual fact I have heard from It would immediately have occurred witnesses who really, so far as char- to me, that as Holyrood offers its acter went, might challenge any in- sanotaary against the sheriff, the credulity.
Quirinal would be the sure retreat If the cardinals were jealous of the against Old Nick; and I have even conjaror, the thing is intelligible pictured to myself the rage of his enoogh, and one must feel a certain disappointed malice as he saw me degree of sympathy with the old. sbeltering safely beneath a protecEstablished firm that had spent tion he dared not invade. And now such enormous soms, and made I am told to relinquish all the blesssuch stupendous preparations, when ed enjoyment of this immunity; a pretender like this could come that the Pope and the cardiinto competition with them, with 'pals and Antonelli himself are not out any other properties than could a wbit better off than the rest be carried conveniently about him. of us; that if Mr. Home gets
But let us be practical. The into Rome, there is nothing to prePope's Government demanded of vent his having the Devil at his Mr. Home that he should have no tea-parties. What an ignoble confesdealings with the Evil One during sion is this! Who will step forward his stay at Rome. Now, I ask, any longer and contend that this what should we say of the efficacy costly system is to be maintained, of our police system if we were and all these saintly intercessors to to hear that the Chief Inspector be kept on the most expensive of at Scotland Yard lived in nightly all pension-lists, if & poor createrror of the pickpockets who tore like Home can overthrow it frequented that quarter, and came all? to Parliament with a petition to Can any one conceive such accord" him some greater secu- spectacle as these gorgeous men of rity against their depredations ! scarlet and parple cringing before Would not the natural reply be an this poor pretender, and openly exclamation of astonishment that avowing before Europe that there be who could summon to his aid is no peace for them till he consents every alphabetical blue-coat that to cross the Tiber? ever' handled & truncheon, should Why--I speak, of course, in the deem an increased security neces- ignorance of a laic -- but, I ask, sary to his peace? And so, would why not fumigate him and cleanse I ask, of what avail these crowd of him? When I saw him last, the cardinals-these regiments of mon- process would not have been so signori—these battalions of bishops, supererogatory. Why not exorcise arch and simple of what use all and defy bim? Why not say, Come, the incense and these chanted litan- and bring your friend, if you dare; ies-and these eternal processions, you shall see bow we will treat you. and these saintly shin-bones borne Only try it. It is what we have in costly array-it one poor mortal, been asking for nigh two thousand supposed to live on visiting terms years, Let the great culprit step with the Evil One, can strike such forward and plead to his indictterror into the whole army led on by ment. Infallibility ?
I can fancy the Pope saying this If I had been possessed of any I can picture to myself the prond peculiar dread of coming unexpect- attitude of the Pontiff declaring, edly on the Devil-as the old ladies “I have had enough of these small of New York used to feel long ago devilries. Like Louis Napoleon about suddenly meeting with the and Victor Emmanuel, I am sick
of Mazzini and his petty followers. Let us deal with the chief of the gang at once; if we cannot convict him, he will be at least open to a compromise.” This, I say, I can comprehend; but it is clear and clean beyond me that he should
Nothing shows what a practical people we are more than our establishment of insurances against railroad accidents. The spirit of commercial enterprise, by which a man charters himself for a railroad voyage with an insured cargo of his bones, ligaments, cartilage, and adipose tissue, abundantly proves that we are nature's own traders and shopkeepers. Any ordinary people less imbued with Liverpool and Manchester notions would have bestirred themselves how to prevent, or at least lessen, the number of those casualties. They would have set to work to see what provisions could be adopted to give greater security to travel. We, on the contrary, are too business-like to waste time on this inquiry. We are convinced that, let us build ships ever so strong, there will still be shipwrecks. So we feel assured that a certain number of railway accidents, as they are called, will continue to occur—be as broad gauge as you will! We accept the situation, therefore, as the French say, and insure; that is to say, we book a bet of very long odds—say, three to a thousand—that we shall be rolled up, cut in two, flattened into a thin sheeting, and ground into an impalpable powder, between Croydon and Brighton. If we arrive safe, the assurance office pockets a few shillings; if we win our wager, our executor receives a thousand pounds. It is about the grimmest kind of gambling ever man heard of; and yet we see folk of the most unquestionable propriety — dignitaries of the Church, judges, civil and un
shirk the interview, and own he was afraid of him. It would not surprise me to-morrow to hear that Lord Derby dreaded the Radicals, and actually feared the debating powers of “Mr. Potter of the Strikes.”
civil servants of the Crown, and scores of others, whom nothing would tempt into the Cursaal at Ems or Baden, as coolly as possible playing this terrific game, and backing themselves heavily for a dorsal paralysis, a depressed fracture of the cranium, or at least a compound dislocation of the hip-joint. Now, if the Protestant Church entertained what the Romanists call cases of conscience, I should like greatly to ask, Is this right? Is it justifiable to make a contingent profit out of your cerebral vertebrae or your popliteal space? We have long been derided and scoffed at for making connubialism marketable, and putting a price on a wife's infidelity, but it strikes me
this is something worse; for what,
after all, is a rib-a false rib, too —compared with the whole bony skeleton? “Allah is Allah,” said the Turkish admiral to Lady Hester Stanhope, “but I have got two anchors astern,” showing that, with all his
fatalism, he did not despise what
are technically called human means. So the reverend Archdeacon, going down for his sea-baths, might say, “I am not quite sure they'll carry me safely, but it shall not be all misfortune—I'll take out some of it in money.” The system, however, has its difficulties; for though it is a round game, the stakes are apportioned with reference to the rank and condition of the winner—as, for instance, the Solicitor-General's collar-bone is worth a shoemaker's whole body, and a Judge's patella is of more value than a dealer in marine stores and his rising family. This is a
tremendous pull against the com- decoram would prevent their sopany, who not only give long, but journing at Hombarg or Wiesbaden. setually incalculable odds;" for They could not, of course, be seen while Mr. Briggs of the second “punting” at the play-table at class can be crumpled up for two Ems; but here is a legitimate game hundred pounds, the Hon. Sack. which all may join in, and where, Fille de Cressy in the coupé cannot certainly, the anxiety that is said be even concussed under a thousand; to impart the chief ecstasy to the while, if the noble Duke in the ex- gamester's passion rises to the very press carriage be only greatly alarm- highest. It is heads and tails for a ed, the cost may be positively as- smashing stake, and ought to intertounding. This I certainly call hardest the most sluggish of mortals. -Fery hard. When you book a bet What a useful addition, then, st Newmarket you never have to would it be for one Bradshaw to consider the rank of your opponent, have a tabular view of the "odds ” save as regards his solvency. He on the different lines, so that a may be a peer-he is very probably speculative individual,' desiring to & publican-it is perfectly imma- provide for his family, might know terial to you; but not so here. where to address himself with best
We all know how a number of chance of an accident! One can what are termed technically serious imagine an assurance company people went to Exeter Hall to listen puffing its unparalleled advantages to the music of the Traviata,' what and unrivalled opportunity, when no possible temptation would have four excursion trains were to start indaced them to hear within the at five minutes' intervals, and the walls of a theatre. Now, may not prospect of a smash was little short these railway insurances be some- of a certainty. “Great attraction ! thing of the same kind? May it the late rains have injured the Dot be a means by which deans chief portion of the line, so that a and canons and other broad-hatted disaster is confidently looked for dignitaries may enjoy a little gamb- every hour. Make your game, genling without " going in" for Blind tlemen-make your game; nothing Hooky or Roulette? Regard for received after the bell rings.”
THE INTOXICATING LIQUORS BILL. Anything more absurd than the of lecturers have converted it into late debate in the House on the a profession. None denied the existbest means of suppressing intem- ence of the disease ; what we craved perance it is very hard to imagine. was the cure. Some discrepancy of First of all, in the van, came the opinion prevailed as to whether the grievance to be redressed; and we vice was on the increase or the debad & statistical statement of all crease. Statistics were given, and, of the gallons of strong drink con- course, statistics supported each assamed-all the moneys diverted sertion. This, however, was a mere from the legitimate uses of the fa- skirmish-the grand battle was, how mily—all the debauchees who rolled was drunkenness to be put down? drunk through our streets, and all Mr. Lawson's plan was: If fourthe offences directly originating in fifths of the ratepayers of any disthis degrading vice. Now, what trict were agreed that no spirituous conceivable order of mind' could liquors should be sold there, that prompt a man to engage on such & such should become a law, and no laborious research? Who either licence for their sale should be doubts the enormity of drunkenness issued. The mover of this proor its frequency? It is a theme posal, curiously enough called this that we hear of incessantly. The * bringing public opinion to bear palpit rings with it, the press pro- on the question." What muddle claims it, the judges declare it in of intelligence could imagine this all their charges, and a special class to be an exercise of public opin