Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

merry, even as thou keepest all companies with thy quips and mirthful tales ? Child of the Green-room, it was unkindly done of thee. Thy wife, too, that part-French, better-part English woman !—that she could fix upon no other treatise to bear away, in kindly token of remembering us, than the works of Folke Greville, Lord Brooke, of which no Frenchman, nor woman of France, Italy, or England, was ever by nature constituted to comprehend a title K-Was there not Zimmerman on Solitude?

Reader, if haply thou art blest with a moderate collection, be shy of showing it; or if thy heart overfloweth to lend them, lend thy books; but let it be to such a one as S. T. C.: he will return them (generally anticipating the time appointed) with usury, enriched with annotations tripling their value. I have had experience. Many are these precious MSS. of his(in matter oftentimes, and almost in quantity not unfrequently, vying with the originals) in no very clerkly hand—legible in my Daniel; in old Burton, in Sir Thomas Browne; and those abstruser cogitations of the Greville,-now, alas, wandering in Pagan lands! I counsel thee, shut not thy heart nor thy library against S. T. C.

NEW YEAR'S EVE

EVERY man hath two birthdays: two days, at least, in every year, which set him upon revolv

ing the lapse of time, as it affects his mortal duration. The one is that which in an especial manner he termeth his. In the gradual desuetude of old observances, this custom of solemnizing our proper birthday hath nearly passed away, or is left to children, who reflect nothing at all about the matter, nor understand anything in it beyond cake and orange. But the birth of a New Year is of an interest too wide to be pretermitted by king or cobbler. No one ever regarded the first of January with indifference. It is that from which all date their time, and count upon what is left. It is the nativity of our common Adam.

Of all sound of all bells (bells, the music nighest bordering upon heaven)-most solemn and touching is the peal which rings out the Old Year. I never hear it without a gatheringup of my mind to a concentration of all the images that have been diffused over the past twelvemonth; all I have done or suffered, performed or neglected, in that regretted time. I begin to know its worth, as when a person dies. It takes a personal colour; nor was it a poetical flight in a contemporary when he exclaimed

I saw the skirts of the departing Year. It is no more than what in sober sadness every one of us seems to be conscious of, in that awful leave taking. I am sure I felt it, and all felt it with me, last night; though some of my companions affected rather to manifest

an exhilaration at the birth of the coming year, than any very tender regrets for the decease of its predecessor. But I am none of those who

Welcome the coming, speed the parting guest.

I am naturally, beforehand, shy of novelties, -new books, new faces, new years,-from some mental twist which makes it difficult in me to face the prospective. I have almost ceased to hope; and am sanguine only in the prospects of other (former) years. I plunge into foregone visions and conclusions. I encounter pell-mell with past disappointments. I am armour-proof against old discouragements. I forgive, or overcome in fancy, old adversaries. I play over again for love, as the gamesters phrase it, games for which I once paid so dear. I would scarce now have any of those untoward accidents and events of my life reversed. I would no more alter them than the incidents of some well-contrived novel. Methinks it is better that I should have pined away seven of my goldenest years, when I was thrall to the fair hair and fairer eyes of Alice W-n, than that so passionate a love-adventure should be lost. It was better that our family should have missed that legacy, which old Dorrell cheated us of, than that I should have at this moment two thousand pounds in banco, and be without the idea of that specious old rogue.

In a degree beneath manhood, it is my in. firmity to look back upon those early days. Do I advance a paradox, when I say, that, skipping over the intervention of forty years, a man may have leave to love himself, without the imputation of self-love?

If I know aught of myself, no one whose mind is introspective and mine is painfully so

can have a less respect for his present identity than I have for the man Elia. I know him to be light, and vain, and humoursome; a notorious* **; addicted to****: averse from counsel, neither taking it nor offering it;—*** besides; a stammering buffoon; what you will; lay it on, and spare not: I subscribe to it all, and much more than thou canst be willing to lay at his door: but for the child Elia, that "other me," there, in the back-ground, I must take leave to cherish the remembrance of that young master,—with as little reference, I protest, to this stupid changeling of five-and-forty as if it had been a child of some other house, and not of my parents. I can cry over its patient small-pox at five, and rougher medicaments. I can lay its poor fevered head upon the sick pillow at Christ's, and wake with it in surprise at the gentle posture of maternal tenderness hanging over it, that unknown had watched its sleep. I know how it shrank from any the least colour of falsehood. God help thee, Elia, how art thou changed !-Thou art sophisticated.- I know how honest, how couregeous (for a weakling) it was,-how nego ligious, how imaginative, how hopefull Frond what have I not fallen, if the child I remember was indeed myself, and not some dissembling guardian, presenting a false identity, to give the rule to my unpractised steps, and regulate the tone of my moral being!

That I am fond of indulging beyond a hope of sympathy, in such retrospection, may be the symptom of some sickly idiosyncrasy. Or is it owing to another cause: simply, that being without wife or family, I have not learned to project myself enough out of myself; and have ing no offspring of my own to dally with, I turn back upon memory, and adopt my own early idea as my heir and favourite? If these speculations seem fantastical to thee, reader, (a busy man perchance,) if I tread out of the way of thy sympathy, and am singularly conceited only, I retire, impenetrable to ridicule, under the phantom cloud of Elia.

The elders, with whom I was brought up, were of a character not likely to let slip the sacred observance of any old institution; and the ringing out of the Old Year was kept by them with circumstances of peculiar ceremony. In those days the sound of those midnight chimes, though it seemed to raise hilarity in all around me, never failed to bring a train of pensive imagery into my fancy. Yet I then scarce conceived what it meant, or thought of it as a reckoning that concerned nie. Not child

« AnteriorContinuar »