« ElőzőTovább »
The time of life in which memory seems par- | contribute to the improvement of the arts of ticularly to claim predominance over the other life, it is absolutely necessary that they give faculties of the mind, is our declining age. It themselves up to the duties of declining years, has been remarked by former writers, that old and contentedly resign to youth its levity, its men are generally narrative, and fall easily into | pleasures, its frolics, and its fopperies. It is a recitals of past transactions, and accounts of hopeless endeavour to unite the contrarieties of persons known to them in their youth. When spring and winter; it is unjust to claim the privwe approach the verge of the grave it is more ileges of age and retain the playthings of child. eminently true,
hood. The young always form magnificent ideas "Vitæ summa brevis spem nos vetat inchoare longam.”
of the wisdom and gravity of men, whom they "Life's span forbids thee to extend thy cares
consider placed at a distance from them in the And stretch thy hopes beyond thy years.
ranks of existence, and naturally look on those
Creech. / whom they find trifling with long beards, with We have no longer any possibility of great contempt and indignation like that which women vicissitudes in our favour; the changes which feel at the effeminacy of men. are to happen in the world will come too late
DR. S. JOHNSON: Rambler, No. 50. for our accommodation; and those who have If it has been found by the experience of no hope before them, and to whom their present | mankind that not even the best seasons of life state is painful and irksome, must of necessity are able to supply sufficient gratifications without turn their thoughts back to try what retrospect anticipating uncertain felicities, it cannot surely will afford. It ought, therefore, to be the care of be supposed that old age, worn with labours, those who wish to pass the last hours with com- | harassed with anxieties, and tortured with dis. fort, to lay up such a treasure of pleasing ideas | eases, should have any gladness of its own, or as shall support the expenses of that time, which feel any satisfaction from the contemplation of is to depend wholly upon the fund already ac the present. All the comfort that can now be quired.
expected must be recalled from the past, or bor“Petite hinc, juvenesque senesque, rowed from the future; the past is very soon Finem animo certum, miserisque viatica curis.”
exhausted, all the events or actions of which “Seek here, ye young, the anchor of your mind;
the memory can afford pleasure are quickly Here, suff'ring age, a bless'd provision find.”
recollected; and the future lies beyond the
grave, where it can be reached only by virtue In youth, however unhappy, we solace our
and devotion. selves with the hope of better fortune, and,
DR. S. JOHNSON: Rambler, No. 69. however vicious, appease our consciences with intentions of repentance; but the time comes at An old Greek epigrammatist, intending to last in which lile has no more to promise, in show the miseries that attend the last stage of which happiness can be drawn only from recol. | man, imprecates upon those who are so foolish lection, and virtue will be all that we can recol- | as to wish for long life, the calamity of contin lect with pleasure.
uing to grow old from century to century. He DR. S. JOHNSON: Rambler, No. 41. thought that no adventitious or foreign pain was
requisite, that decrepitude itself was an epitome Another vice of age, by which the rising gen
of whatever is dreadful, and nothing could be eration may be alienated from it, is severity and
added to the curse of age, but that it should be censoriousness, that gives no allowance to the
extended beyond its natural limits. failings of early life, that expects artfulness from childhood, and constancy from youth, that is
Dr. S. JOHNSON : Rambler, No. 69. peremptory in every command, and inexorable Piety is the only proper and adequate relief in every failure. There are many who live of decaying man. He that grows old without merely to hinder happiness, and whose descend religious hopes, as he declines into imbecility, ants can only tell of long life that it produces and feels pains and sorrows incessantly crowdsuspicion, malignity, peevishness, and persecu- | ing upon him, falls into a gulf of bottomless lion; and yet even these tyrants can talk of the misery, in which every reflection must plunge ingratitude of the age, curse their heirs for im- | him deeper, and where he finds only new grapatience, and wonder that young men cannot dations of anguish and precipices of horror. take pleasure in their fathers' company.
Dr. S. JOHNSON: Rambler, No. 69. He that would pass the latter part of life with
That natural jealousy which makes every man honour and decency must, when he is young, consider that he shali one day be old; and
i unwilling to allow much excellence in another, remember, when he is old, that he has once
always produces a disposition to believe that the been young. In youth he must lay up knowl.
mind grows old with the body, and that he edge for his support when his powers of act
whom we are now forced to confess superior is ing shall forsake him: and in age forbear to !
hastening daily to a level with ourselves. By
delighting to think this of the living, we learn animadvert with rigour on faults which exne. rience only can correct.
to think it of the dead. And Fenton, with all DR. S. JOHNSON: Rambler, No. 50.
his kindness to Waller, has the luck to mark
the exact time when his genius passed the To secure to the old that influence which they zenith, which he places at his fisty fifth year. are willing to claim, and which might so much This is to allot the mind but a small portion. Intellectual decay is doubtless not uncommon; / were a sign-post to the grave! But, in reality, a but it seems not to be universal. Newton was in cheerful, vigorous old man discloses to us the his eighty-fifth year improving his chronology, a immortality of his being : too tough to be mown few days before his death; and Waller appears down even by death's keen scythe, and pointing not, in my opinion, to have lost at eighty-two to us the way into the second world. any part of his poetical power.
Richter. Dr. S. JOHNSON : Life of Waller.
The world is very bad as it is,—so bad that To novelty, to acuteness of sensation, to hope, good men scarce know how to spend fifty or to ardour of pursuit, succeeds what is, in no in- | threescore years in it; but consider how bad it
onsiderable degree, an equivalent for them all. would probably be were the life of man extended “perception of ease.” Herein is the exact differ- | to six, seven, or eight hundred years. If so ence between the young and the old. The young near a prospect of the other world as forty or are not happy but when enjoying pleasure; the fifty years cannot restrain men from the greatest old are happy when free from pain. And this villanies, what would they do if they could as constitution suits with the degrees of animal
| reasonably suppose death to be three or four power which they respectively possess. The hundred years off? If men make such improve. vigour of youth has to be stimulated to action ments in wickedness in twenty or thirty years, by impatience of rest; whilst to the imbecility | what would they do in hundreds ? And what of age, quietness and repose become positive a blessed place then would this world be gratifications. In one important step the advan- | live in!
W. SHERLOCK. tage is with the old. A state of ease is, gener.
Age, which unavoidably is but one remove ally speaking, more attainable than a state of pleasure. A constitution, therefore, which can
nothing about it but what looks like a decent enjoy ease is preferable to that which can taste
preparation for it, scarce ever appears of late only pleasure. This same perception of ease
days but in the high mode, the flaunting garb oftentimes renders old age a condition of great
and utmost gaudery of youth. SOUTH. comfort, especially when riding at its anchor after a busy or tempestuous life.
Those who by the prerogative of their age PALEY: Natural Theology.
should frown youth into sobriety imitare and
strike in with them, and are really vicious that Most men in years, as they are generally dis
they may be thought young. SOUTH. couragers of youth, are like old trees, which, being past bearing themselves, will suffer no
Let not men flatter themselves that though young plants to flourish beneath them.
they find it difficult at present to combat and Pope. stand out against an ill practice, yet that old age
would do that for them which they in their I grieve with the old for so many additional
youth could never find in their hearts to do for inconveniences, more than their small remain
SOUTH. of life seemed destined to undergo. POPE.
The vices of old age have the stiffness of it Increase of years makes men more talkative,
too ; and as it is the unfittest time to learn in, but less writative, to that degree that I now
so the unfitness of it to unlearn will be found write no letters but of plain how d’ye's.
SOUTH, POPE: To Swift.
Tiberius was bad enough in his youth; but When men grow virtuous in their old age, I superlatively and monstrously so in his old age. they only make a sacrifice to God of the devil's
ened family affections, and, indeed, all early A truly Christian man can look down like an ones: one's feelings seem to be weary of traveternal sun upon the autumn of his existence: elling, and like to rest at home. They who tell the more sand has passed through the hour-glass me that men grow hard-hearted as they grow of life, the more clearly can he see through the | older have a very limited view of this world empty glass. Earth, too, is to him a beloved of ours. It is true with those whose views and spot, a beautiful meadow, the scene of his child hopes are merely and vulgarly worldly; but hood's sports, and he hangs upon this mother of when human nature is not perverted, time our first life with the love with which a bride, strengthens our kindly feelings, and abates our full of childhood's recollections, clings to a be angry ones.
SOUTHEY. loved mother's breast, the evening before the
It is not in the heyday of health and enjoy. day on which she resigns herself to the bride
ment, it is not in the morning sunshine of his groom's heart.
vernal day, that man can be expected feelingly Oh, this contentment shown by a man al to remember his latter end, and to fix his heart though the sunset clouds of life were gathering upon eternity. But in after-lise many causes around him, inspires new life into the hypochon-operate to wean us from the world: grief sostens driacal spectator or listener, whose melancholy the heart; sickness searches it; the blossoms of minor chords usually, in the presence of an hope are shed; death cuts down the flowers of old man, begin to vibrate tremendously, as if he | the affections; the disappointed man turns hi:
thoughts toward a state of existence where his None that feels sensibly the decays of age, wiser desires may be fixed with the certainty and his life wearing off, can figure to himself of faith; the successful man feels that the those imaginary charms in riches and praise, objects which he has ardently pursued fail to that men are apt to do in the warmth of their satisfy the cravings of an immortal spirit; the blood.
Sir W. TEMPLE. wicked man turneth away from his wickedness, | Socrates used to say that it was pleasant to that he may save his soul alive.
grow old with good health and a good friend;
SOUTHEY. and he might have reason : a man may be con. It would be a good appendix to “ The Art tent to live while he is no trouble to himself or of Living and Dying,” if any one would write
his friends; but after that, it is hard if he be * The Art of Growing Old," and teach men to
not content to die. I knew and esteemed a resion their pretensions to the pleasures and 1 person abroad who used to say, a man must be gallantries of youth, in proportion to the altera- | a mean wretch who desired to live after threetion they find in themselves by the approach of
score years old. But so much, I doubt, is cer. age and infirmities. The infirmities of this tain, that in life, as in wine, he that will drink stage of life would be much fewer, if we did it good must not draw it to the dregs. Where not affect those which attend the more vigorous
this happens, one comfort of age may be, that and active part of our days: but instead of | whereas younger men are usually in pain when. studying to be wiser, or being contented with | ever they are not in pleasure, old men find a our present follies, the ambition of many of us | sort of pleasure when they are out of pain; and is also to be the same sort of fools we formerly
| as young men often lose or impair their present have been. I have often argued, as I am a
enjoyments by craving after what is to come, by professed lover of women, that our sex grows
vain hopes, or fruitless fears, so old men relieve old with a much worse grace than the other
the wants of their age by pleasing reflections does : and have ever been of opinion that there | upon what is past. Therefore, men in the are more well-pleased old women than old men.
health and vigour of their age should endeavour I thought it a good reason for this, that the
to fill their lives with reading, with travel, with ambition of the fair sex being confined to ad
the best conversation and the worthiest actions, vantageous marriages, or shining in the eyes of
either in public or private stations; that they men, their parts were over sooner, and conse
may have something agreeable left to feed on quently the errors in the performance of them.
when they are old, by pleasing remembrances. Sir R. STEELE: Tatler, No. 266.
Sir W. TEMPLE. As to all the rational and worthy pleasures
There is a strange difference in the ages at
which different persons acquire such maturity as of our being, the conscience of a good fame,
they are capable of, and at which some of those the contemplation of another life, the respect
who have greatly distinguished themselves have and commerce of honest men, our capacities
done, and been, something remarkable. Some for such enjoyments are enlarged by years.
of them have left the world at an earlier age While health endures, the latter part of life, in
than that at which others have begun their the eye of reason, is certainly the more eligible.
career of eminence. It was remarked to the The memory of a well-spent youth gives a
late Dr. Arnold by a friend, as a matter of peaceable, unmixed, and elegant pleasure to the
curiosity, that several men who have filled a mind; and to such who are so unfortunate as
considerable page in history have lived but fortynot to be able to look back on youth with satis
seven years (Philip of Macedon, Joseph Addi. faction they may give themselves no little con
son, Sir William Jones, Nelson, Pitt), and he solation that they are under no temptation to repeat the follies, and that they at present
was told in a jocular way to beware of the
forty-seventh year. He was at that time in despise them. Sir R. STEELE: Spectator, No. 153.
robust health; but he died at forty-seven!
Alexander died at thirty-two; Sir Stamford The nearer I find myself verging to that
Raffles at forty-five. Sir Isaac Newton did inperiod of lise which is to be labour and sorrow,
deed live to a great age; but it is said that all the more I prop myself upon those few supports
his discoveries were made before he was forty; that are left.
so that he might have died at that age and been
as celebrated as he is. On the other hand, The troubles of age were intended ... to ' Herschel is said to have taken to astronomy at wean us gradually from our fondness of lise the forty-seven. Swedenborg, if he had died at nearer we approach to the end. SWIFT. sixty, would have been remembered by those Old women, and men too, ... seek, as it
that did remember him merely as a sensible were, by Medea's charms, to recoct their corps,
worthy man, and a very considerable matheas she Æson's, from feeble deformities to
matician. The strange fancies which took sprightly handsomeness.
possession of him, and which survive in the JEREMY TAYLOR.
sect he founded, all came on after that age.
Some persons resemble certain trees, such as What great thing soever a man proposed to the nut, which Aowers in February, and ripens do in his life, he should think of achieving it its fruit in September; or the juniper and the by fifty.
Sir W. TEMPLE. arbutus, which take a whole year or more to perfect their fruit; and others the cherry, which want of the consolations of religion : but when takes between two and three months.
fortune frowns, or friends forsake us; when sorWHATELY:
row, or sickness, or old age comes upon us, then Annot. on Bacon's Essay, Of Youth and Age. it is that the superiority of the pleasures of As for the decay of mental faculties which
religion is established over those of dissipation
and vanity, which are ever apt to fly from us often takes place in old age, every one is aware
when we are most in want of their aid. There of it; but many overlook one kind of it which is far from uncommon; namely, when a man
is scarcely a more melancholy sight than an old
man who is a stranger to those only true sources of superior intelligence, without falling into any.
of satisfaction. How affecting, and at the same thing like dotage, sinks into an ordinary man. Whenever there is a mixture of genius with
time how disgusting, is it to see such a one imbecility, every one perceives that a decay has
awkwardly catching at the pleasures of his taken place. But when a person of great intel
younger years, which are now beyond his reach,
or seebly attempting to retain them, while they lectual eminence becomes (as is sometimes the
mock his endeavours and elude his grasp! case) an ordinary average man, just such as many
WILBERFORCE: Practical View. have been all their life, no one is likely to suspect that the faculties have been impaired by age, except those who have seen much of him in his brighter days. Even so, no one on looking at an ordinary
ALCHEMY. dwelling-house in good repair would suspect The world hath been much abused by the that it had been once a splendid palace; but
opinion of making gold; the work itself I judge when we view a stately old castle or cathedral
to be possible; but the means hitherto propartly in ruins, we see at once that it cannot be
pounded are (in the practice) full of error. what it originally was.
LORD BACON: Nat. Hist., No. 126. The decay which is most usually noticed in old people, both by others and by themselves, is The alchemists call in many varieties out of a decay in memory. But this is perhaps partly astrology, auricular traditions, and feigned tes. from its being a defect easily to be detected and timonies.
LORD BACON. distinctly proved. When a decay of judgment
I was ever of opinion that the philosopher's takes place, which is perhaps oftener the case than is commonly supposed--the party himself | stone, and an holy war, were but the rendezvous is not likely to be conscious of it; and his friends
of cracked brains, that wore their leather in their heads.
Lord BACON: Holy War. are more likely to overlook it, and, even when they do perceive it, to be backward in giving him warning, for fear of being met with such a rebuff as Gil Blas received in return for his
ALLEGORIES. candour from the Archbishop, his patron.
The characteristic peculiarity of the Pilgrim's Annot. on Bacon's Essay, Of Youth and Age. Progress is that it is the only work of its kind Of persons who have led a temperate life,
which possesses a strong human interest. Other those will have the best chance of longevity who
| allegories only amuse the fancy. The allegory
1 of Bunyan has been read by many thousands have done hardly anything else but live ;-what may be called the neuter verbs-not active or
with tears. There are some good allegories in
| Johnson's works, and some of still higher merit passive, but only being : who have had little to do, little to suffer, but have led a life of quiet
by Addison. In these performances there is, retirement, without exertion of body or mind
perhaps, as much wit and ingenuity as in the avoiding all troublesome enterprise, and seek
Pilgrim's Progress. But the pleasure which is
produced by the Vision of Mirza, the Vision of ing only a comfortable obscurity. Such men, if
Theodore, the genealogy of Wit, or the contest of a pretty strong constitution, and if they escape
| between Rest and Labour, is exactly similar to any remarkable calamities, are likely to live
the pleasure we derive from one of Cowley's long. But much affliction, or much exertion,
odes or from a canto of Hudibras. It is a and, still more, both combined, will be sure to tell upon the constitution—if not at once, yet at
pleasure which belongs wholly to the under
standing, and in which the feelings have no part least as years advance. One who is of the char
whatever. Nay, even Spenser himself, though acter of an active or passive verb, or, still more,
assuredly one of the greatest poets that ever both combined, though he may be said to have lived long in everything but years, will rarely
lived, could not succeed in the attempt to make
allegory interesting. It was in vain that he reach the age of the neuters.
lavished the riches of his mind on the House WHATELY:
of Pride and the House of Temperance. One Annot. on Bacon's Essay, Of Regimen of Health.
unpardonable fault, the fault of tediousness, When the pulse beats high, and we are flushed pervades the whole of the Fairy Queen. We with youth, and health, and vigour; when all become sick of cardinal virtues and deadly goes on prosperously, and success seems almost sins, and long for the society of plain men and to anticipate our wishes, then we feel not the I women. Of the persons who read the first canto, not one in ten reaches the end of the first
ALPHABET. book, and not one in a hundred perseveres to
'Tis a mathematical demonstration, that these the end of the poem. Very few and very weary
twenty-four letters admit of so many changes in are those who are in at the death of the Blatant Beast. If the last six books, which are said to
their order, and make such a long roll of dif
ferently-ranged alphabets, not two of which are have been destroyed in Ireland, had been pre
alike, that they could not all be exhausted served, we doubt whether any heart less stout
though a million millions of writers should each than that of a commentator would have held
write above a thousand alphabets a day for the out to the end. LORD MACAULAY : Southey's Edition of the Pilgrim's space of a million millions of years.
BENTLEY. Progress, Dec. 1830.
On the greatest and most useful of all human inventions, the invention of alphabetical writing,
Plato did not look with much complacency. He ALMS.
seems to have thought that the use of letters had
operated on the human mind as the use of the Shall we repine at a little misplaced charity, I go-cart in learning to walk, or of corks in learnwe who could no way foresee the effect, -whening to swim, is said to operate on the human an all-knowing, all-wise Being showers down body. It was a support which, in his opinion, every day his benefits on the unthankful and soon became indispensable to those who used undeserving?
ATTERBURY. it, which made vigorous exertion first unneces. Our part is to choose out the most deserving
sary, and then impossible. The powers of the
| intellect would, he conceived, have been more objects, and the most likely to answer the ends
fully developed without this delusive aid. Men of our charity, and, when this is done, all is
would have been compelled to exercise the undone that lies in our power: the rest must be
derstanding and the memory, and, by deep and left to Providence.
assiduous meditation, to make truth thoroughly Those good men who take such pleasure in |
their own. Now, on the contrary, much knowl. relieving the miserable for Christ's sake would | edge is traced on paper, but little is engraved in not have been less forward to minister unto
| the soul. A man is certain that he can find inChrist himself.
formation at a moment's notice when he wants
it. He therefore suffers it to fade from his It is proper that alms should come out of a mind. Such a man cannot in strictness be said little purse, as well as out of a great sack; but to know anything. He has the show without surely where there is plenty, charity is a duty, the reality of wisdom. These opinions Plato has not a courtesy: it is a tribute imposed by Heaven put into the mouth of an ancient king of Egypt. upon us, and he is not a good subject who refuses (Plato's Phædrus.] But it is evident from the to pay it.
FELLTHAM. | context that they were his own; and so they
were understood to be by Quinctilian. [QuincAre we not to pity and supply the poor, though |
tilian, xi.] Indeed, they are in perfect accord. they have no relation to us? No relation ?
ance with the whole Platonic system. That cannot be. The gospel styles them all our
LORD MACAULAY: Lord Bacon, July, 1837. brethren: nay, they have a nearer relation to us-our fellow-members; and both these from their relation to our Saviour himself, who calls them bis brethren.
AMBITION. It is indeed the greatest insolence imaginable,
• The soul, considered abstractedly from its in a creature who would feel the extremes of thirst and hunger if he did not prevent his
passions, is of a remiss and sedentary nature, appetites before they call upon him, to be so
slow in its resolves, and languishing in its exeforgetsul of the common necessities of human
cutions. The use therefore of the passions is nature as never to cast an eye upon the poor
to stir it up and to put it upon action, to awaken and needy. The fellow who escaped from a
the understanding, to enforce the will, and to ship which struck upon a rock in the west, and
make the whole man more vigorous and attenjoined with the country people to destroy his
tive in the prosecution of his designs. As this brother sailors and make her a wreck, was
is the end of the passions in general, so it is thought a most execrable creature; but does not
particularly of ambition, which pushes the soul
to such actions as are apt to procure honour and every man who enjoys the possession of what he naturally wants, and is unmindful of the
reputation to the actor. But if we carry our unsupplied distress of other men, betray the
reflections higher, we may discover farther ends
of Providence in implanting this passion in same temper of mind ? Sir R. STEELE: Spectator, No. 294.
| It was necessary for the world that arts should The poor beggar hath a just demand of an be invented and improved, books written and alms from the rich man, who is guilty of fraud, transmitted to posterity, nations conquered and injustice, and oppression if he does not afford civilized. Now, since the proper and genuine relief according to his abilities. SWIFT. motives to these, and the like great actions,