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SIR JAMES MACKINTOSH.—CANNING'S PARASITES. 103
SIR JAMES MACKINTOSH.
CURRAN, the Master of the Rolls, said to Mr. Grattan, "You would be the greatest man of your age, Grattan, if you would buy a few yards of red tape, and tie up your bills and papers." This was the fault or the misfortune of Sir James Mackintosh; he never knew the use of red tape, and was utterly unfit for the common business of life. That a guinea represented a quantity of shillings, and that it would barter for a quantity of cloth, he was well aware; but the accurate number of the baser coin, or the just measurement of the manufactured article, to which he was entitled for his gold, he could never learn, and it was impossible to teach him. Hence his life was often an example of the ancient and melancholy struggle of genius with the difficulties of existence. - [Letter to Mr. Mackintosh.]
DESTRUCTION OF LETTERS.
You ask for some of your late father's letters: I am sorry to say I have none to send you. Upon principle, I keep no letters except those on business. I have not a single letter from him, nor from any human being, in my possession. [Letter to R. Mackintosh.]
MR. CANNING'S PARASITES.
NATURE descends down to infinite smallness. Mr. Canning has his parasites; and if you take a large buzzing blue-bottle fly, and look at it in a microscope, you may see twenty or thirty little ugly insects crawling about it, which doubtless think their fly to be the bluest, grandest, merriest, most important animal in the universe, and are convinced that the world would be at an end if it ceased to buzz.-[P. P. Letters.]
· LIBERTY TO DRINK.—THE HOUR OF DINNER.
LIBERTY TO DRINK.
THERE has been in all governments a great deal of absurd canting about the consumption of spirits. We believe the best plan is to let people drink what they like, and wear what they like; to make no sumptuary laws either for the belly or the back. In the first place, laws against rum, and rum and water, are made by men who can change a wet coat for a dry one whenever they choose, and who do not often work up to their knees in mud and water; and, in the next place, if this stimulus did all the mischief it is thought to do by the wise men of claret, its cheapness and plenty would rather lessen than increase the avidity with which it is at present sought for.-[E. R. 1819.]
SEPARATION OF SALARY AND DUTY.
THE customary separation of salary and duty is the grand principle which appears to pervade all human institutions, and to be the most invincible of all human abuses. Not only are Church, King, and State, allured by this principle of vicarious labour, but the pot-boy has a lower pot-boy, who, for a small portion of the small gains of his principal, arranges, with inexhaustible sedulity, the subdivided portions of drink, and, intensely perspiring, disperses, in bright pewter, the frothy elements of joy.— [E. R. 1823.]
THE HOUR OF DINNER.
AN excellent and well-arranged dinner is a most pleasing occurrence, and a great triumph of civilised life. It is not only the descending morsel, and the en
SWEEPS.- PUNISHMENT OF POACHERS.
veloping sauce - but the rank, wealth, wit, and beauty which surround the meats-the learned management of light and heat- the silent and rapid services of the attendants the smiling and sedulous host, proffering gusts and relishes the exotic bottles-the embossed plate the pleasant remarks-the handsome dressesthe cunning artifices in fruit and farina! The hour of dinner, in short, includes everything of sensual and intellectual gratification which a great nation glories in producing.
In the midst of all this, who knows that the kitchen chimney caught fire half an hour before dinner!-and that a poor little wretch, of six or seven years old, was sent up in the midst of the flames to put it out. - [E. R. 1819.]
WE feel for climbing boys as much as anybody can do; but what is a climbing boy in a chimney to a fullgrown suitor in the Master's office! -[E. R. 1819.]
FERE NATURE AND DOMESTIC POULTRY.
Ir is impossible to make an uneducated man understand in what manner a bird hatched, nobody knows where-to-day living in my field, to-morrow in yours-— should be as strictly property as the goose whose whole history can be traced, in the most authentic and satisfactory manner, from the egg to the spit.-[E. R. 1819.]
PUNISHMENT OF POACHERS.
IT is expected by some persons, that the severe operation of spring-guns and man-traps will put an end
to the trade of a poacher. This has always been predicated of every fresh operation of severity, that it was to put an end to poaching. But if this argument is good for one thing, it is good for another. Let the first pickpocket who is taken be hung alive by the ribs, and let him be a fortnight in wasting to death. Let us seize a little grammar boy, who is robbing orchards, tie his arms and legs, throw over him a delicate puff-paste, and bake him in a bunpan in an oven. If poaching can be extirpated by intensity of punishment, why not all other crimes? If racks and gibbets and tenterhooks are the best method of bringing back the golden age, why do we refrain from so easy a receipt for abolishing every species of wickedness? The best way of answering a bad argument is not to stop it, but to let it go on in its course till it leaps over the boundaries of common sense.—[E. R. 1821.]
SALE OF GAME.
THE plan now proposed is, to undersell the poacher, which may be successful or unsuccessful; but the threat is, if you attempt this plan there will be no game-and if there is no game, there will be no country gentlemen. We deny every part of this enthymeme-the last proposition as well as the first. We really cannot believe that all our rural mansions would be deserted, although no game was to be found in their neighbourhood. Some come into the country for health, some for quiet, for agriculture, for economy, from attachment to family estates, from love of retirement, from the necessity of keeping up provincial interests, and from a vast variety of causes. Partridges and pheasants, though they form nine-tenths of human motives, still leave a small residue, which may be classed under some other head.—[E. R.
SHOOTING.-PRIVILEGES OF SQUIRES.
A COLONEL of the Guards, the second son just entered at Oxford, three diners out from Piccadilly-Major Rock, Lord John, Lord Charles, the Colonel of the regiment quartered at the neighbouring town, two Irish Peers, and a German Baron;-all of this honourable company proceed with fustian jackets, dog-whistles, and chemical inventions, to a solemn destruction of pheasants, how is the country benefited by their presence? or how would earth, air, or sea, be injured by their annihilation?-[E. R. 1823.]
PRIVILEGES OF SQUIRES.
WE cannot at all comprehend the policy of alluring the better classes of society into the country, by the temptation of petty tyranny and injustice, or of monopoly in sports. How absurd it would be to offer to the higher orders the exclusive use of peaches, nectarines, and apricots, as the premium of rustication-to put vast quantities of men into prison as apricot eaters, apricot buyers, and apricot sellers-to appoint a regular day for beginning to eat, and another for leaving off-to have a lord of the manor for green gages-and to rage with a penalty of five pounds against the unqualified eater of the gage! And yet the privilege of shooting a set of wild poultry is stated to be the bonus for the residence of country gentlemen.-[E. R. 1823.]
JUSTICE AMONG SQUIRES.
Ir gentlemen cannot breathe fresh air without injustice, let them putrefy in Cranborne Alley. Make just laws, and let squires live and die where they please. -[E. R. 1823.]