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of Englishmen hold an infinity of objects as prime necessaries, which their more modest ancestors ranked as luxuries, fit only for their betters to enjoy. This should be a' matter of sincere rejoicing to all true patriots ; because it affords indubitable evidence of the progress of civilization. A civilized gentleman differs from a savage, principally in the multiplicity of his wants; and Mandeville, in his fable of the bees, has proved to demonstration that extravagance is the mother of commerce, just as our ministers consider the greatness of the national debt an argument in favour of the national prosperity. What, indeed, are steam-engines, and macadamized roads, man-traps that break no bones, patent cork-screws, and detonating fowling-pieces, safety coaches and cork legs, but luxuries, at which a cynic would scoff; yet how could a modern Englishman get on without them? It is perfectly true that our Henries and Edwards contrived to beat their enemies unassisted by these inventions; but so they did without Protestant ascendency : yet, dearly as we pay for ascendency, no loyal subject would presume to consider it otherwise than as an article of primary necessity. Books, likewise, which were a luxury scarcely known to the wisdom of our ancestors, are a luxury now so indispensable, that there is hardly a mechanic who has not his little library: while a piano forte also has become as necessary to a farm-house as a mangle or a frying-pan; and there are actually more copies printed of “ Cherry ripe,” than of Tull's Husbandry. Is not a silver fork, moreover, an acknowledged necessary in every decent establishment? while the barbarous Mussulman dispenses with knives and forks altogether, and eats his meal, like a savage as he is, with his fingers. Nor can it be deemed an objection to this hypothesis, that the Turk, who rejects all the refinements of European civilization, excepting only gunpowder, esteems four wives to be necessary to a decent establishment; while the most clear-sighted Englishmen think one more than enough for enjoyment. The difference is more formal than real; for if the European stints himself stoically in this part of his menage, and marries one only at a time, he finds ample compensation for the self-denial, in the liberties he takes with the wives of his neighbours. Henry the Fourth of France had but one coach between himself and his queen ; whereas no respectable person can now dispense at the least with a travelling chariot, a barouche, a cab, and a dennet. Civilization, which received a temporary check during the revolutionary war, has resumed its march in double-quick time since the Continent has been opened. Champaigne and ices have now become absolute necessaries at tables, where a bottle of humble port and a supernumerary pudding were esteemed luxuries, fit only for honouring the more solemn rites of hospitality. I say nothing of heads of hair, and false (I beg pardon-artificial) teeth; without which, at a certain age, there is no appearing. A bald head, at the present day, is as great an indecency as Humphrey Clinker's unmentionables ; and a dismantled mouth is an outrage on well-bred society. Then, again, how necessary is a cigar and a meerschaum to a well-appointed man of fashion, and how can a gentleman possibly show at Melton without at least a dozen hunters, and two or three hacks, to ride to cover! Yet no one in his senses would tax these things as luxuries ; or would blame his friend for getting into the King's Bench for their indulgence. Even the most austere judges of the land, and the most jealous juries of tradesmen have borne ample testimony to the reasonableness of this modern extension of the wants of life, by the liberal allowance of necessaries which they have sanctioned in the tailors' bills of li:igating minors. This liberality, indeed, follows, as consequence follows cause. Some one has found, or invented, a story of a shipwrecked traveller's hailing the gallows as the sure token of a civilised community. But the jest is by no means a ben trovato; the number of gibbets being inversely as the perfection of social institutions; and if any one objects, tha: England, while it is the best-governed country in Europe, -its envy and admiration,- is also a hanging community par excellence, I must beg to remind him of the intense interest which an English public feels in the victims of capital punishment, in the Thurtells and the Fauntleroys; as also of the universal conviction prevailing in England, that the gallows is a short and sure cut to everlasting happiness. From all this, if there is any force in logic, we must conclude, that hanging, in this country, is only applied honoris causâ, as an ovation, in consideration of the great and magnanimous daring of the Alexanders and Cæsars on a small scale, to whom the law adjudges the “ palmam qui meruit ferat." The real and true test of a refined polity is not the gallows; but is to be found rather in such well-imagined insolvent laws, as discharge a maximum of debt with a minimum of assets ; and rid a gentleman annually of his duns, with the smallest possible quantity of corporeal inconvenience. When luxuries become necessaries, insol• vency is the best safety-valve to discharge the surplus dishonesty of the people, which, if pent up, would explode in dangerous overt acts of crime and violence; and it should be encouraged accordingly.
The importance and value of luxury being thus liberally stated, it is proper to bear in mind, that the more and the less is the great pivot, upon which all moral questions turn; and that in superfluities, as in all things else, a wise man will confine himself (in the words of my motto) to what is necessary. Although necessity is a conventional idea, that expands and contracts with circumstances, like the tent in the Arabian tales, which, when folded, would lie in the hand, but when opened, would shelter a large army; yet, after all, the thing itself has its limits, and must in some degree be determined by the physical conditions of the animal. There is a point at which the inconvenience of superfluities so far exceeds their utility, that luxury becomes converted into a perfect bore. What, for instance, but an annoyance, would be the most splendid feast, to a man whose stomach is already overladen with food ? Human ingenuity may effect much; and the Romans, by means of emetics, met this emergency with considerable skill; but on a more enlarged experience of general history, it must be conceded, that ic is quite impossible to add one more superfluous meal to those already established by general usage. So also in matters of dress, ladies' hats must not be larger than the actual doorways of the country will admit - not at least until time is allowed for a corresponding increase in our architectural proportions. With respect to personal ornaments also, ear-rings must not be so weighty as to tear the lobes of the ears ; nor should a bracelet prevent, by its size, the motions of the arm. “Barbaric pomp and gold” is a fine thing; but a medallion, as heavy and as cumbrous as a shield, appended to a lady's bosom, would be any thing but a luxury. So, in the other extreme, a watch should not be so small as to render the dial-plate illegible; nor should a shoe be so tight as to lame its wearer for life. Beauty, it has been said, should learn to suffer; and there are, I am aware, resources in vanity, that will reconcile man, and woman too, to martyrdom ; but these resources should not be exhausted wantonly; and in pleasure, as in economy, there is no benefit in lighting the candle at both ends. The true philosopher extracts the greatest good out of every thing : and fools only, as Horace has it, run into one vice in trying to avoid another. Let, not the reader, from these remarks, suppose that their author is a morose censurer of the times; or that the least sneer is intended against that idol of all orthodoxy-"things as they are." As a general proposition, nothing can be more true, than that whatever is established, even in the world of fashion, is, for the time being, wisest, discreetest, best; and, woe betide the man that flies too directly in its face.
There is, however, one point upon which I own myself a little sore; and in which, I do think, superfluities are carried to a somewhat vicious excess. I speak it with hesitation; but the matter has been to me a source of much inconvenience and discomfort. Let no one, therefore, imagine me an insufficient, because a prejudiced authority. After all, who so well knows where the shoe pinches, as he that wears it? The point to which I allude, and I beg the patience of the reader, is the vast increase of superfluities, which of late years have become primary necessaries in the appointment of a well-furnished house. Here, indeed, is a revolution ; a revolution more formidable than the French and the American emancipation put together. We all remember the time when one tea-table, two or three card-tables, a pier glass, a small detachment of chairs, with two armed corporals to command them, on either side the fire. place, with a square piece of carpet in the centre of the floor, made a very decent display in the drawing, or (as it was then preposterously called) the dining-room. As yet, rugs for the hearth were not; and twice a day did Betty go upon her knees to scour the marble and uncovered slab. In the bed-rooms of those days, a narrow slip of carpet round the bed was the maximum of woollen integument allowed for protecting the feet of the midnight wanderer from his couch ; and, in the staircases of the fairest mansions, a like slip meandered down the centre of the flight of steps. At that time, curtains rose and fell in a line parallel to the horizon, after the simple plan of the green siparium of our theatres; and, being strictly confined to the windows, they never dreamed of displaying themselves in front of a door. No golden serpents then twisted their voluminous folds across the entire breadth of the room; nor did richly-carved cods' heads and shoulders, under the denomination of dolphins, or glittering spread-eagles, with a brass ring in their mouths, support fenestral draperies, which rival the display of a Waterloo-bouse calico-vender. Thus far, I admit, the change is an improvement. Nay, I could away with ladders to go to bed withal, though many a time and oft they have broken my shins. I would not either object to sofas and ottomans, in any reasonable proportion ; but protest I must, and in the strongest terms too, against such a multiplication and variety of easy chairs, as effectually exclude the possibility of easy sitting; and against the overweening increase of spider-tables, that interferes with rectilinear progression. An barp mounted on a sounding-board, which is a stumbling-block to the feet of the shortsighted, is, I concede, an absolute necessity; and a piano-forte, like a coffin, should occupy the centre even of the smallest given drawingroom," the court awards it, and the law doth give it,"—but why multiply footstools, till there is no taking a single step in safety? An Indian cabinet also, or a buhl armoire, are, either, or both of them, very fit and becoming; but it cannot be right to make a broker's shop of your best apartment. An inkstand, as large as a show twelfth-cake, is just and lawful; ditto, an ornamental escrutoire; and a nécessaire for the work-table is, if there be meaning in language, perfectly necessary. These, with an adequate contingent of musical snuff-boxes, or molu clocks, China figures, alabaster vases and flower-pots, together with a discreet superfluity of cut-paper nondescripts, albums, screens, toys, prints, caricatures, duodecimo classics, new novels and souvenirs, to cut a dash, and litter the tables, must be allowed to the taste and refinement of the times. But surely some space should be left for depositing a coffee-cup, or laying down a useful volume, when the hand may require to be relieved from its weight, or when it is proper to take a pinch of snuff, or agreeable to wipe one's forehead. Josses, beakers, and Sevres' vases have unquestionably the entrée into a genteel apartment; but they are not entitled to a monopoly of the locale; nor are Roman antiquities, or statues even by Canova, justifiable in usurping the elbow-room of living men and women. Mcst unfortunately for myself, I have a very small house, and a wife of the most enlarged taste; and the disproportion between these blessings is so great, that I cannot move without the risk of a heavy pecuniary loss by breakage, and a heavier personal affliction in perpetual imputations of awkwardness. Then, again, it is no easy matter to put on a smiling and indifferent countenance, whenever a friend, accustomed to some latitude of motion, runs, as is often the case, his devastating chair against a highpriced work of art, or overturns a table laden with an “infinite thing" in costly bijouterie. I have long made it a rule to exclude from my visiting-list, or at least not to let up-stairs, ladies who pay their morning calls with a retinue of children : but the thing is not always possible; and one urchin with his whip will destroy more in half an hour, than the worth of a month's average domestic expenditure. Oh! how I hate the little fidgeting, fingering, dislocating imps! A bull in a china-shop is innocuous to the most orderly and amenable of them. Why did Providence make children? and why does not some wise draconic law banish them for ever to the nursery?
The general merit of nick-nacks is unquestioned. Ornaments, I admit, are ornamental; and works of art afford intellectual amusement of the highest order. But then perfection is their only merit; and a crack or a flaw destroys all the pleasure of a sensible beholder. Yet I have not a statue that is not a torso, nor a Chelsea china shepherdess with her full complement of fingers. I have not a vase with both its handles, a snuff-box that performs its waltz correctly, nor a volume of prints that is not dogs-ear’d, stained, and ink-spotted. These are serious evils; but they are the least that flow from a neglect of the maxim which stands at the head of my paper. Perpend it well, reader; and bear ever in mind that, in our desires, as in our corporeal structure, it is not given to man to add a cubit to his stature. I am very tired; so "dismiss me,-enough.”
· RAMBLINGS OF A DESULTORY MAN, NO. IV.
The Story of the Beauty of Arles.
METASTASIO. With a frame of iron, a strong fixed mind, and a dauntless, determined spirit; Armand Villars went forth into the world, seemingly well calculated to sustain its sorrows and to repel its dangers. There was a likeness in his mind and person. The beauty of his countenance was of that stern grave cast which suited his character; and his form was of the same powerful nature as his spirit.
In youth, he was unlike the rest. It was not that his mind was brighter, but it was that it never bent; and the very energy of his calmness gave him command amongst his companions,-if companions they may be called, for there is little companionship where there is no similarity. Yet still they courted him to be amongst them, and might have taught him to fancy himself above the common level of his kind, but Villars was proud, not vain. A vain man acts for others, a proud man for himself; and Villars thought of his own opinion, scarcely dreaming that others would judge of bim at all.
It was remarked of him, even as a boy, that his passions were difficult to move, but that, like a rock hanging on a mountain's brow, their tranquillity once disturbed, they carried all before them in their course; and years, as they passed over his head, by teaching him greater sufferance, rendered bis anger, when excited, but the more dangerous. It was not like the quick flash of the lightning, hasty and vehement, as short-lived as it is bright; but it was that calm, considerate, sweeping vengeance, which, like the snow that gathers silently on the edge of the precipice, descends to overwhelm all that is beneath.
He was unrelenting, too, for he never dreamed that mercy might be combined with justice. He would never have pleaded for himself, and he could not be expected to feel for others. · His youth passed away as the flowing of some undiscovered river, the strange waters of which are never fretted by the barks of far exploring man. He knew nothing of any world but the world of his own mind; and his only commune was with his own feelings, which were as things apart. ' · And yet there was a bitterness in standing thus alone. There was a pain even in the solitude of his own thoughts, and he strove to assimilate them to something which at least had been. He was fond to pore over the records of ancient virtue, and the history of those firm inflexible beings who rooted from their bosom all the soft verdure of the heart's kinder feelings, and raised in its place a cold shrine to unrelenting justice. Here only he seemed to have imagination; and here would be ponder and dream, till he wondered that such a state of things did not still exist. He would fain have thought that virtues like these contained within themselves the principles of immortality. · He forgot that historians, even when they do not augment the worth of what they relate, to render it the more worthy of relation, do not seek to commemorate what is petty; so that the few great actions alone are recorded, while the multitude of mcannesses are forgotten. Like