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Slowness. Now it doubtless appears plain as Asop to most of my perusers that whatever is slow must be the reverse, and the opponent too, of everything that is “fast."-I am not prepared to combat that remarkable fact, taken generally, but taken as I intend to take it, there is a slight diversity between the generally entertained opinions and my own, thus :—He who is the fast man of his own circle, is indubitably the slow man of many others; and he who, in certain society, shall be placed aside, as “demmed slow," on retiring to his own circle, shall refix the crown “fast” upon his brows. Transplant that vividly garbed and sprouting perennial, the Cockney “fast man,” from among the plants of his own rank (soil), and set him in the centre of the well-turfed pleasances and gardens, “ studded” with high-bred botany, and the saloon greenhouses of that aristocratic production of nature,—the Fast Man Belgravia. Mark his awkward bestriding of his nag, and his total ignorance of all matters pertaining to the noble sport of Nimrod; see his clumsiness at the fashionable passe-temps of “ roulette” and “rouge-et-noir"; and his clumsiness, when in the presence of any one or two of the sex with the slightest pretensions to “ton,” and you will confess that he is “awfully slow!' Lay, on the other hand, the young shoot from Belgravia into the foreign earth of the city society—observe his contempt for the ill tailorship, for the sour drinkables, for the low divertisements, and for the “half-and-half” wit that springs so thickly there, and you will, likewise, in a moment discover, that out of his “ring" of society, apart from his own “pack,” he is—" an unsociable buffer and parson-slow.”
But there are slow men in whose slowness the whole world acquiesce, they are so very “tortoisal,” — they are usually held up to the example of the “young hope," by his careful mother or stern money-grubbing “ governor," as “steady men,” or as “possessing a great deal of stability;" which laudatory remarks are doled out in the intervals of stocking-knitting, or between the whiffs of the evening pipe, till the listener, either by the mere force of his human nature and from sheer reflection, runs into the other extreme of fastness, or bending down (a humble young twig), becomes a hopeless and irreparably steady man, a faithful copy of his pattern.
But there are so very cung hope, as a steady atory remarks
Among those patterns—the universally acknowledged slow men—we have first the man who, in business, will never be out of business, speaks of business after business hours, feeds on business, walks ever arm in arm with business, dreams of business, and—is business! A holiday spent with such a man is a doze on the borders of Lethe for slowness!
Then there is the artist, who is full of art, and has not art to hide his fulness; and the sculptor, who will not and cannot be severed from bis models and clay. With these every scorching sun is a “ fine effect," and every navigator or vermined beggar, a “good study, a row the death-stroke to harmony, and a lark a "rara avis” to be dreaded and shunned !
The offspring of a country pastor, the man who worketh for eminence in either profession, the genius who will lead you forth to “nature,” when nature to your eye is least pleasant, andLondon is in season, who “ feasts,” as he terms it, your eye-sight, when your gastronomical organs would fqin be employed among the tables you “know of,” and who showers upon you a “ douche"bath of vilest images drawn from the most common-place realities, whilst you revert headachingly to the song and the repartee to which you would have been served among the fellows you can “ tell of.”
All these are undoubtedly sober and-slow, Slowest, however, of all ultra-slowmen, dullest of all dullards, most obtuse of all obtusenesses, last on the scroll cometh the man in love! Puritan England, with all its starch, musty stiffness, the heaven-related, with all its pedantic aversion to progress, could not, cannot produce a more perfect embodiment of slowness than he! An avoider of evening amusements, a shirker of literature, science, or politics - for what ? -For the occupation of writing perpetual four-sided epistles, or riding off the tails of hack (neyed) ideas, to cook up a verse or so to his “ dear one far away!” A daudler away of the same evenings by her side, when present, turning over the leaves of the music-book, and, at every pause, stammering compliments a hundred times told in her ears; or, perhaps (for a climax), holding out his manly hands at right angles from his body, automaton fashion, while his “ladye" winds from them the netting-silk ! ! ! Sighing himself miserable, and then-talking of his wretchedness sentimentally; breathing, and then--bewailing his own sentimental moping, and madly ranting, and rhapsodical, sombre, sick, and sad, poodle-like and pouting, the man in love hath the robe par excellence--the robe of slowness !!! SHAGGYQUILL.
It is truly remarkable how little the majority of otherwise acute and far-seeing men, are accustomed to look below the surface into the deeps and shallows, the devil-seminaries and seed-plots of city-life.
And how utterly unconscious they are of the amount of millionphased-crime, which is daily and hourly perpetrated—the many noble-hearted struggles, yearnings, and battlings of unknown, unrecorded, uprewarded, hunger-tempted, cold-tempted virtue—. deeds of abnegating-heroism, performed, perhaps, in the darkest, and most feetid part of some great man-hive ; which would put to the blush the raisers of many a blazoned, armorial-decked, trophied, eulogistic, pride-pampering monument.
Or, if now and then, by the force of circumstance, they are led to cast for a while their gold-searching-eyes, pleasure-dimmedvision, or book-bound-sight on the too, generally unnoticed and hidden scenes, still they appear to be very much “ like unto a man who, beholding bis natural face in a glass, goeth away and forgetteth what manner of man he is.”
We have ourselves been surprised, yea, horror-stricken, when our attention has been directed to take note of the fearful catalogue of crime, aye, more, revolting, heart-sickening crime, committed by child-men-and-women, prematurely old, having drained the sin-cup to the lees.
Why is it so little has been done, or is doing (except in words), even by those who have studied more attentively the page of lifemysteries, as presented to the view of every careful examiner (at least in every large community), towards prevention of this daily-growing evil—for the destruction of this hydra ? Is there no Theseus in the land sighing for laurels ?-none to go forth blessed and blessing, to slay this minotaur of our country, whose victims are ever alarmingly increasing with the flow of time ?
It is quite true that considerable attention has been paid, of late years, by many philanthropic societies and individuals, to the reclaiming of young offenders, but this, in our opinion, does not strike at the foundation of this deeply-rooted poison-weed.
We ask, does it not seem more rational that endeavour should be made to prevent them from falling into crime, than to date our precautionary measures from their first false step? Who is there who has not laughed at the absurdity of locking the stable-door when the horse bas been stolen ? Now, although there is nothing to induce mirth in the contemplation of a blunder so fraught with national importance as the one under our immediate consideration, still we think that we can discover some affinity. Doubtless they would remind us, “sera nunquam est ad bonos mores via.” Most heartily do we grant it--and far be it from us to condemn the highly-laudable and charitably-intended labors of the truly patriot band; but while we rather address these few remarks to arouse the inert and quiescent in this matter, than to correct those who have already done much, still we would hint that, in our humble opinion, they are not travelling on the right road, or rather that there is room—nay, more, a stern necessity, which cries aloud to heaven, for a sister-society, whose mission should be that heaven-instructed, earth-blessing, soul-saving, one-prevention of crime.
For ourselves, we must confess we cannot help thinking that, if once the young are seduced from the path of strict virtue and to the commission of crime, such is the power, the hell-directed force of the feeling of self-degradation, accompanied with the ever-present idea that they are for evermore banished forth from the pale of a pure and offended society clothed on with disgrace--garmented in the felon-robe—with the jail-brand of infamy upon their foreheads indelibly impressed—that, although with careful watching, unremitted attention, and diligent teaching, they may perhaps be prevented from wilfully and defiantly seeking dissolute, debauched, and abandoned ways and company, still we are persuaded, and do not hesitate to assert it ex cathedra as our rooted conviction, that if in after-life they ever become exposed to strong temptation, they do not carry about with them that best of all securities, that strong-hold and tower of defence against the tempter, an unblemished character.
It is not our intention to offer any sketch of a plan in detailwe leave that to those who have more time and opportunities for its development; but happy shall we be if anything which we have said may be instrumental in bringing about such a great-goodwork,-one which, when unfolded, will be found blessing-full for our fatherland. We shall content ourselves with expressing our opinion that early, religious, and sound moral training for the very lowest orders, universally carried out, is the only panacea, without quackery the only catholicon for this monster disease—the only practicable plan whereby to "cast the water of our land, and purge it to a sound and pristine health.”
We have said “early, religious, and sound moral training.”— Now, without entering that argument-fruitful field—but in works deplorably unproductive-the education question, (for doubtless on such materially important ones we should act more and talk less) we would record it as our experience-taught conviction that, unaided by religious teaching, no system, be it in other respects never so perfect and well-designed, will ever succeed in snatching the hosts of utterly prostituted beings (to the fact of the existence of whom it would be absurd to close our eyes) from the verge of the chasm which yawns at their feet, and around which they ever crowd, not deterred by beholding another and another falling into its rapacious jaws.
Further, it is the wisdom, as well as the duty of every man to put forth his hand firmly and with might to the rescue. Let England arouse herself, and sink not again into repose till she may boast that she has added to her well-earned and long-maintained title-" the first commercial empire in the world,”-that of "the most virtuous.”