Page images
PDF
EPUB

lamplighter's ladder is of use, to give him a passing spurn: upon which the proprietor, turning round to swear, is run against in front by a wheelbarrow; upon which, turning round again to swear worse, he thrusts his heel upon the beginning of a loose stone in the pavement, and receives his final baptism from a fount of mud.

Our limits compel us to bring this article to a speedier conclusion, than we thought; and, to say the truth, we are not sorry for it; for we happened to break off here in order to write the one following, and it has not left us in a humor to return to our jokes.*

We must therefore say little of a world of things we intended to descant on, - of pattens, — and eaves, — and hackney-coaches, - and waiting in vain to go out on a party of pleasure, while the youngest of us insists every minute that “it is going to hold up,” — and umbrellas dripping on one's shoulder, — and the abomination of soaked gloves, - and standing up in gate-ways, when you hear now and then the passing roar of rain on an umbrella, — and glimpses of the green country at the end of streets,—and the footmarked earth of the country-roads, and clouds eternally following each other from the west,and the scent of the luckless new-mown hay, — and the rainbow, — and the glorious thunder and lightning, -and a party waiting to go home at night, — and, last of all, the delicious moment of taking off your wet things, and resting in the dry and warm content of your gown and slippers.t

*“The Italian Girl,” in the " Indicator.” – ED.

† Years after the publication of this sprightly effusion, the author wrote an other article on “ A Rainy Day," which the reader will find (if he cares to look for it) in “The Seer." - ED.

THE TRUE ENJOYMENT OF SPLENDOR.

A CHINESE APOLOGUE.

[ocr errors]

OUBTLESS, saith the illustrious Me, he that

gaineth much possession hath need of the wrists of Hong and the seriousness of ShanFee, since palaces are not built with a tea

spoon, nor are to be kept by one who runneth after butterflies. But above all it is necessary that he who carrieth a great burden, whether of gold or silver, should hold his head as lowly as is necessary, lest on lifting it on high he bring his treasure to nought, and lose with the spectators the glory of true gravity, which is meekness.

Quo, who was the son of Quee, who was the son of Quee-Fong, who was the five-hundred and fiftieth in lineal descent from the ever-to-be-remembered Fing, chief minister of the Emperor Yau, one day walked out into the streets of Pekin in all the lustre of his rank. Quo, besides the greatness of his birth and the multitude of his accomplishments, was a courtier of the first order, and his pigtail was proportionate to his merits, for it hung down to the ground and kissed the dust as it went with its bunch of artificial roses. Ten huge and sparkling rings, which incrusted his hands with diamonds, and almost rivalled the sun that struck on them, led the ravished eyes of the beholders to the more precious enormity of his nails, which were each an inch long, and by proper nibbing might have taught the barbarians of the West to look with just scorn on their many writing-machines. But even these were nothing to the precious stones that covered him from head to foot. His bonnet, in which a peacock's feather was stuck in a most engaging manner, was surmounted by a sapphire of at least the size of a pigeon's egg; his shoulders and sides sustained a real burden of treasure ; and as he was one of the handsomest men at court, being exceedingly corpulent, and indeed, as his flatterers gave out, hardly able to walk, it may be imagined that he proceeded at no undignified pace. He would have ridden in his sedan, had he been lighter of body, but so much unaffected corpulence was not to be concealed, and he went on foot that nobody might suspect him of pretending to a dignity he did not possess. Behind him, three servants attended, clad in the most gorgeous silks ; the middle one held his umbrella over his head; he on the right bore a fan of ivory, whereon were carved the exploits of Whay-Quang; and he on the left sustained a purple bag on each arm, one containing opium and Arecanut, the other the ravishing preparation of Gin-Seng, which possesses the Five Relishes. All the servants looked the same way as their master, that is to say, straight forward, with their eyes majestically half-shut, only they cried every now and then with a loud voice, “Vanish from before the illustrious Quo, favorite of the mighty Brother of the Sun and Moon.”

[graphic]

Though the favorite looked neither to the right nor to the left, he could not but perceive the great homage that was paid him as well by the faces as the voices of the multitude. But one person, a Bonze, seemed transported beyond all the rest with an enthusiasm of admiration, and followed at a respectful distance from his side, bowing to the earth at every ten paces and exclaiming, “ Thanks to my lord for his jewels !” After repeating this for about six times, he increased the expressions of his gratitude, and said, “Thanks to my illustrious lord from his poor servant for his glorious jewels,” — and then again, “Thanks to my illustrious lord, whose eye knoweth not degradation, from his poor servant, who is not fit to exist before him, for his jewels that make the rays of the sun look like ink.” In short, the man's gratitude was so great, and its language delivered in phrases so choice, that Quo could contain his curiosity no longer, and turning aside, demanded to know his meaning: “I have not given you the jewels," said the favorite, “and why should you thank me for them ?

“Refulgent Quo!” answered the Bonze, again bowing to the earth, “what you say is as true as the five maxims of Fo, who was born without a father : — but your slave repeats his thanks, and is indeed infinitely obliged. You must know, O dazzling son of Quee, that of all my sect I have perhaps the greatest taste for enjoying myself. Seeing my lord therefore go by, I could not but be transported at having so great a pleasure, and said to myself, “The great Quo is very kind to me and my fellow-citizens : he has taken infinite labor to acquire his magnificence; he takes still greater pains to preserve it, and all the while, I, who am lying under a shed, enjoy it for nothing.'”

A hundred years after, when the Emperor Whang heard this story, he diminished the expenditure of his household one half, and ordered the dead Bonze to be raised to the rank of a Colao.

RETROSPECTIVE REVIEW - MEN WEDDED

TO BOOKS—THE CONTEST BETWEEN THE NIGHTINGALE AND MUSICIAN.

E have often had occasion to think of the ex

clamation of that ingenious saint, who, upon reading a fine author, cried out “Pereant male qui ante nos nostra dixerunt !” –

“Deuce take those who have said our good things before us !” – Now, without mentioning the extendibility (we are writing in high spirits, early on a fine morning, and cannot stop to find a better word) — without mentioning the extendibility of this judicious imprecation to deeds, as, “ Deuce take those who have anticipated our exploits ;” or to possessions, as “Confound those fellows that ride in our coaches and eat our asparagus; ” — we cannot help thinking the phrase particularly applicable to those who have read our authors — “Plague take those who anticipate our articles, — who quote our highly interesting passages out of old books.”.

Here is a Retrospective Review set up, which with an alarming precision of prepositions undertakes to make “ Criticisms upon, Analyses of, and Extracts from, curious, useful, and valuable Books in all languages, that have been published from the Revival of Literature to the Commencement of the Present Century;" — And what is very inconsiderate, it performs all this, and more. Its criticisms are of a very uncritical kind; deep and well-tempered. It can afford to let other people have their merits. Proud of the literature of past ages, it is nevertheless not at all contemptuous of the present; and even in reading a

[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »