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the custom in England to load princes and ministers with New-Year's Gifts. Queen Elizabeth, who had the soul of a mantuamaker as well as of a monarch, received whole wardrobes of gowns and caps, as well as caskets of jewellery. What a day must she have passed of it, with all the fine things spread out before her! And yet with all her just estimation of herself, and her vanity to boot, bitter suspicions must occasionally have crossed her, that all this was but so much self-interest appealing to self-love. But suppose a Duke or an Earl did not send a gift good enough. Here was ground for anger and jealousy, and all the pleasure-spoiling self-will which see no good in what is given it, provided something be wanting. Dryden addressed some verses on New-Year's Day to Lord Chancellor Hyde (Clarendon), which he begins as follows:
“ My Lord,
Here was a blow (not very well considered, perhaps) at the self-complacency induced by the receipt of “great presents.” Suppose Lord Chancellor Lyndhurst, or Lord Chancellor Brougham, had similar presents sent them on the like occasion. How could the one be sure that his great legal knowledge, or the other, that even his great genius and tact for all knowledge, had anything to do with the compliment? Or that it was not as mere a trick for court-favor as anything which they would now despise ? We grant that (where there is any right to bestow it at all) a present is a present; that it is an addition to one's stock, and, at all events, a compliment to one's influence; and influence is often its own proof of a right to be complimented; as want of influence is sometimes a greater. But, for the sake of fair-play among mankind, every advantage must have its drawback; and it is a drawback in the power to confer benefits, that it cannot always be sure of the motives of those who do it honor. If a day is to be set apart for such manifestations of good-will, the birthday would seem better for them than New-Year's Day. The compliment would be more particular and personal; others might not know of it, and so would not grudge it; and real affections would thus be indulged, not mere ceremonies.
We own that we think there is something in that distinction. Yet our sprightly-blooded neighbors would no doubt have replies to all these arguments; and, for our part, we are for cutting the knot of the difficulty thus : Make us all rich enough, and then we could indulge ourselves both with New-Year's Day and the birthday, both on the general occasions and the particular one. For, to say the truth, we people who are not rich, and who, therefore, have nothing perhaps worth withholding, are long in coming to understand how it is that rich people can resist these anniversary opportunities of putting delight into the eyes of their friends and dependants, and distributing their toys and utilities on all sides of them. Presents (properly so called) are great ties to gratitude, and therefore great increasers of power and influence, especially if they are of such a kind as to be constantly before the eye, thus producing an everlasting association of pleasant ideas with the giver.* They tell the receiver that he is worth something in the giver's eyes, and thus the worth of the giver becomes twenty-fold. Nor do we say this sneeringly, or in disparagement of the self-love which must of necessity be, more or less, mixed up with every one's nature; for the most disinterested love would have nothing to act upon without it; and the most generous people in the world, such as most consult the pleasure of others before their own, must lose their very identity and personal consciousness before they can lose a strong desire to be pleased.
* Presents endear absents. – CHARLES LAMB.
Oh! but rich people, it will be said, are not always so rich as they are supposed to be; and even when they are, they find plenty of calls upon their riches, without going out of their way to encourage them. They have establishments to keep up, heaps of servants, &c., their wives and families are expensive, and then they are cheated beyond measure.
Making allowances for all this, and granting in some instances that wealth itself be poor, considering the demands upon it, nevertheless for the most part real wealth must be real wealth ; that is to say, musthave a great deal more than enough. You do not find that a rich man (unless he is a miser) hesitates to make a great many presents to himself, — books, jewels, horses, clothes, furniture, wines, or whatever the thing may be that he most cares for; and he must cease to do this (we mean of course in its superfluity) before he talks of his inability to make presents to others.
SALE OF THE LATE MR. WEST'S PICTURES.
507T is a villanous thing to those who have known
a man for years, and been intimate with the quiet inside of his house, privileged from in
trusion, to see a sale of his goods going on
- upon the premises. It is often not to be helped, and what he himself wishes and enjoins; but still it is a villanous necessity, - a hard cut to some of one's oldest and tenderest recollections. There is a sale of this kind now going on in the housę we spoke of last week.* We spoke of it then under an impulse not easy to be restrained, and not difficult to be allowed us ; and we speak of it now under another. We were returning the day before yesterday from a house, where we had been entertained with lively accounts of foreign countries, and the present features of the time, when we saw the door in Newman Street standing wide open, and disclosing to every passenger a part of the gallery at the end of the hall. All our boyhood came over us, with the recollection of those who had accompanied us into that house. We hesitated whether we should go in, and see an auction taking place of the old quiet and abstraction ; but we do not easily suffer an unpleasant and vulgar association to overcome a greater one ; and, besides, how could we pass? Having passed the threshold, without the ceremony of the smiling old porter, we found a worthy person sitting at the door of the gallery, who, on hearing our name, seemed to have
* In an article entitled “A Nearer View of Some of the Shops,” in “The Indicator." - ED.
old times come upon him as much as ourselves, and was very warm in his services. We entered the gallery, which we had entered hundreds of times in childhood, by the side of a mother, who used to speak of the great persons and transactions in the pictures on each side of her with a hushing reverence as if they were really present. But the pictures were not there, — neither Cupid with his doves, nor Agrippina with the ashes of Germanicus, nor the Angel slaying the army of Sennacherib, nor Death on the Pale Horse, nor Jesus Healing the Sick, nor the Deluge, nor Moses on the Mount, nor King Richard pardoning his brother John, nor the Installation of the old Knights of the Garter, nor Greek and Italian stories, nor the landscapes of Windsor Forest, nor Sir Philip Sidney, mortally wounded, giving up the water to the dying soldier. They used to cover the wall ; but now there were only a few engravings. The busts and statues also were gone. But there was the graceful little piece of garden as usual, with its grass plat and its clumps of lilac. They could not move the grass plat, even to sell it. Turning to the left, there was the privileged study, which we used to enter between the Venus de Medicis and the Apollo of the Vatican. They were gone, like their mythology. Beauty and intellect were no longer waiting on each side of the door. Turning again, we found the longer part of the gallery like the other; and in the vista through another room, the auction was going on. We saw a throng of faces of business with their hats on, and heard the hard-hearted knocks of the hammer, in a room which used to hold the mild and solitary Artist at his work, and which had never been entered but with quiet steps and a face of consideration. We did not stop a minute. In the room between this and the gallery, huddled up in a corner, were the busts