Obrazy na stronie


which do not seem to come conve- who, in compliance with the feverish niently under grammarian authority, bigotry of an excited age, would subare, in fact, blemishes, and only to stitute "Ralph Erskine's Gospel Sonbe corrected, and rendered intelligible, nets” for the Odes of Horace, and by those rules and figures which Rud “ Newton's Cardiphonia” for the diman has detailed. The Scripture Epistles of Pliny! whilst, that blessing has it, that the Sabbath was made which bespeaks the gratitude of the for man, and not man for the Sab- heart that bestows it, rather thair bath, -and, by a similar process of confers benefit on any one, abide reasoning, I concluded, that the and rest upon the memory of the classics were made for the rules of Monks of Mount Cassin and OtranSyntax, and not those rules derived to, of Salerno and Amalfi, who, in from, and constructed upon the clas- the solitude and seclusion of their sics. Had Juvenal, in fact, or Terence cells, drew forth into light and into arisen from the dead, and heard me public view the slumbering soul of in the act of construing their own antiquity-the immortal spirits of works,—with all the appliances, and those men whose names are now asmeans to boot, of Syntax,—they sociated with all that is truly noble; would absolutely have been ashamed and generous, and elegant, and tasteof that ciismal piece of mosaic, out of ful amongst us ! which I contrived, however, to bring Yet it is quite possible to possess & government and concord in abund- genuine relish for classical literature,

without possessing theslightest knowBut along with these more shewy lodge of men-to he, in short, a schoand astonishing accomplishments, I lar and an enthusiast, without being had almost unconsciously acquired a acquainted with the mere ordinary certain portion of that honest manli- affairs of life. And this was actually ness of spirit, which characterized a my own condition at the time I am Roman citizen. I had stolen from speaking of; for I was as ignorant of the altars of Greece a small spark the world as if I had been born and of that sacred and inextinguishable educated in the Ring of Saturn. Exfire which there burnt so brightly. cept on one occasion, when I was The love of liberty and of literature, sent with a present of gooseberries to had entwined themselves around my a widow lady, a distant relation of soul, in inseparable conjunction; and my mother, I had never once set my whilst my heart was warmed, and foot upon a carpet. I had constantly expanded with the adıniration of no devoured my dinner without the asble and generous sentiment and a sistance of knife or fork, and bad no chievement, my imagination was de more notion of the use of a tablelighted, and my understanding invi- cloth, than I had of a hand-basin or gorated by the finest specimens of a towel, whilst the clear stream and thoughts and composition. Woe be my own coat-tail remained to be to him, whatever his rank or his au used. thority in the state, who would dis

Had I passed, in this uncultirated courage the study of classical litera- and inexperienced state, into the ture amongst 119,-who, in the pur mansion of a nobleman, I had been suit of the merely and directly use discouraged, laughed at, and entirely ful, would have us overlook, or un ruined ; I should have fallen back derrate, the ornamental and becoming upon that station of society to which --who would train up our generous I was born, and should never, in all and high-spirited youth to an ac probability, have got on. But hapquaintance with tables of interest, pily for me, I found, at the age of steam-engines, and algebraical ab- seventeen, employment in a situation stractions, to the exclusion of the less exposed to the inconveniencies pages of the Mantuan Bard, and of and discouragements of rank and all that variegated and invigorating ceremony, and what are termed landscape of taste, genius, and “manners.” I took up my lodging sentiment, amidst which the clas- in a farm-house, from which I issued sical scholar lives and luxuriates: every morning, to hold rule in what And a triple woe be extended, in all was termed a subscription or opposiits Catholical force, to him, or to her, tion school. In this situation I had

indeed prodigious hard labour ; but and I had every reason to conclude, then the honest and aged persons that the embers of his yet unkindleu with wtion I lodged were piain peo- wrath and indignation had been ple, and but one degree elevated above smothered in their own ashes ; when the cottage rank. The transition; I received an invitation to spend the, therefore, was easy and natural; evening, or, as it is termed" the foreand whilst I still made use of green night,” with his family. This ina horn instead of ram-horn spoong, vitation was most acceptable; so hav., and a broth-plate for my breakfast ing arrayed myself in my very best, porridge, instead of a wooden luggy, and having assailed my yet nascent I was by no means puzzled or start beard with an unwonted degree of led by the change. But " nemo est pertinacity, and having brushed up ab omni parte beatus." I was a sub- my grammar rules, in case of any jeet of cuvy, and consequently of en- exigency, for the contes., I set oft, irity, in a quarter where I was most about dusk of a November evening, anxious to become one of regard and to tea. He received me at the end esteem. The school-master of the of his dwelting-house, as ! well reparish into which I had been intro- member, with a particularly low how daced in consequenee of his real, or and a hearty shake of the hand, and alleged indolence or incapacity, bad conducted me straight ben the house, a daughter, the very pink and Sharon where his wife and only daughter ros, in my estimation of beauty, and were scated upon chairs, in the of every attractive quality. For she midst of a newly-sanded carthen was fat and plump, as the Hottentot floor, waiting my arrival. I took Veaus,-had a fair complexion, hair my seat immediately by the ingleverging towards red, but which, in cheek, but felt all over of a prickcertain lights, might be mistaken for ling, or perspiration, when I perauburn; and an arm, and a hand, ceived the face that was placed diin which neither elbow-bone nor rectly over against mine. However, knuckle were visible. Hercountenance from this embarrassment I was soon was open, for her features were upon relieved, by the father of my fair somewhat of a large scale: nothing Sabbath partner, only to be plunged was crowded upon another, but nose, into a worse, and a still more unmouth, and eyes, seemed all anxious pleasant dilemma. After having to preserve a respectful, and a dis- taken a hasty sketch of the past day, tinct distance from each other. But of the weather, of the country, and what charmed me most of all, was of the kingdom, not forgetting the her manners, which were free and French Revolution, which was then affable ; and although she walked raging with volcanic fury, he pullevery Saboath to church upon pat- ed from his coat pocket a book, and tens, and wore a dress of the very without further ceremony, proceeded last fashion, and of the most genteel to inform me, that he had that day air, yet she would condescend to met with a passage in the school converse with me by the way, and which had puzzled him not a little. ocesionally, as I imagined, forgot 1 took a side-long glance at the size, her psalm-book at home, that she for I could not discover the title of might have the benefit of mine at the ominous volume, and concluded church. Her father, however, who that it must be Juvenal, or Sallust, was amost pompous and authoritative or Ovid, at least. My fears, however, personage, I could easily see, liked and embarrassments were greatly reme not, and would from time to lieved, when I discovered that this time give his daughter such looks of mysterious volume, containing a pasearnest reproof, when she happened sage of such intricacy as to baffle the merely by chance to cast the tail of learning of a scholar who had passed her eye my way, that I had been an examination by the Presbytery, stupid indeed, as well as blind, not was in fact, neither inore nor less, than to have perceived his antipathy. a copy of Ruddiman's Rudiments.

For some time, however, no overt Whilst the wife thereîore, and daugh. aet of anoyance was attempted in re- ter, were busied in preparing the ference to me, or to my originally tea, this book was spread out on the small, but now flourishing academy; table before us, and my attention was called to the following most per- but in the very meaning I wish to plexing sentence contained amongst convey, I literally found myself in the "distichs," attributed, upon what this case a post behind, and all owing evidence I know not, to Cato. to my keeping most rigorously to

the rules of that very grammarian, “ Rem, tibi quam noscis aptam, dimit

whose confounding “ Disticha Catere noli Fronte capillatâ— post est occasio calva."

tonis" had fairly upset me. To those

who have a character of any kind to The difficulty, I was told, lay in the lose, this may appear but a trivial last line, and my solution of it was occurrence; but to me, who had earnestly, and with seeming deference, mine to make and to establish, this solicited. In all my course of seven was beginning at the wrong side of years latinity at school, my atten- the account, and could not fail, as I tion had never once been directed to knew, to tell fearfully against me. these distichs. I had indeed got by In our discourse, likewise, after heart, and for my own amusement, tea, which continued, notwithstandthe famous “Regimen mensæ honor- ing the presence of the ladies, to abile," where every line ended most proceed upon literary, or rather clasamusingly in “ ātis;" but Cato and sical subjects having occasion to his “ De Moribus” couplets were speak of the Latin verb, and of its almost equally unknown to me. Con- fitness for the expression of various trary to the rule in the grace above shades of thought, I was again referred to "Ne scalpatis caveatis,” thrown from a vantage ground, I forthwith set about scratching my which, in keeping by generalities, I head, as if I had expected to make had now fairly gained, by a most the discovery on the outside, rather direct and posing question, which was than in the interior of my brain. put to me by the seceder clergyman, * Fronte capillatâ, post est occasio respecting the reason why the Latins calva!" Here were cases without had no present participle passive? The government, and government with fact was, I had never missed this out cases ; an ablative, where a nomi- participle at all. I had followed native seemed to be requisite, and a Pope's axiom,“ whatever is, is nominative again, where an accusa- right," and cannot be otherwise ; so I tive was by Ruddiman, at least, deem- was taken here again, like a ship at ed indispensable!“ Post est occasio." sea, upon whose every sail the wind Was there ever such nonsense ! Post has suddenly and violently shifted ; occasio! why one might as well say and I remained quite mute and em“ Propter urbs," or “ ad Roma,”-it barrased. The next inquiry coming was downright absurdity! and so to be, how this deficiency was, in after a few writhings and twistings, practice, supplied ? in what way-by by my finger and thumb, of my what circumlocution, the Romans nose, I pronounced it; when, to my contrived to express the meaning, utter surprise and confusion, in the without making use of the tense ? I presence of the very girl whose good heard, to my utter astonishment, opinion I was anxious to win, and that “ qrum,” with the pluperfect of the dissenting minister, who had subjunctive active, was deemed an now, as if by accident, joined us, my equivalent. Had I been told that arch enemy explained the words ten was equal to one, or a part to a most (listinctly, and in such a man- whole, I could not have been more ner, as to leave no doubt even upon confounded. Yet, upon trying the my own mind, that he was not only tense, with all the coolness and colright in his exposition, but that this lectedness of which I was capable at had all along been a plot to entrap the time, I was compelled to admit me! I made a feeble stand on the the justice of what had been said ; score of“ Post," and of its govern- and yet, after all, neither of my anment propensities, but was at last tagonists, for in this point of view I compelled to give up this forlorn had now begun to consider them". hope, by a copious adduction of ex- both, were in any degree distinguishamples, where “ Post” was used as ed or accurate, or even tolerable an adverb, and not as a preposition; scholars; but, having prepared themto express myself in a wretched pun, selves, doubtless, beforc-hand, and

taking advantage of my inexperience, experience of the young and raw rethey suceeded in convincing me, at cruit, into comparison and competithe time, most religiously, of their tion with the veteran soldier. I pushprofound scholarship. Supper-time ed the Bibles past me accordingly, in at last

, much to my satisfaction, ar- spite of a look of scorn from the schoolrived, and, after the cloth was remov- master's wife, and one of apparent pie ed, the Bibles were laid down upon ty or coininiseration from his daugh. the table before me; and, for the first ter; and after a deal of disputation, it time in my life, I was requested to was settled at last, that the "Master" make family-worship; or, as it is himself should proceed as usual: termed amongst the peasantry of Scot- With a look of the most approving land, "take the Book.” If I had been self-complacency, he took up the upset in my sholarship by means of psalm-book-pronounced a long preRaddiman and Cato, I was much fatory benediction-sung the psalm ipore likely to be altogether out- -read the chapter--and concluded done in my chaplaining here. with a prayer of a most unconscion

The schoolmaster was a notorious able length, and fervour. It so hapand invincible adept at this devotion- pened, that, in kneeling, the daughal exercise. The established clergy. ter and I came almost into contact man of the parish, as I had often with each other, and either my eyes heard said, could not hold a candle deceived me, or I could observe her to him at a funeral or a death-bed:, looking out from beneath her braided and he was often sent for express, at tresses towards me with somewhat the middle of the night, to convoy of “ Eloisa” devotion, with that kind some alarmed and despairing con- of mixed or composition piety, which science, comfortably and peaceably, partakes at once of the intensity of out of time into eternity. In this capa- carthly, and of the sublimity of heacity, it was strongly suspected, and venly sentiment. pretty generally rumoured, that he As I returned home this evening, had actually accumulated a little for- from the first regular invitation visit tude ;-for, following the exaniple of which I had ever made, I felt like Mother Catholic, with her confession- one who has had a fall from his al, he had not scrupled, occasionally, horse', or who has tumbled over a to insinuate into the ears of depart- precipice, all bruised inwardly, ard ing devotees, particularly of the frail alarmed for the consequences; and ses, that a little money deposited had it not been, that Resolve, in alliwith bim would be carefully, though ance with something of a still softer secretly and unostentatiously, laid presence, lurked (like truth in the out on “ pious uses.” With re- well, or like Hope in the bottom of spect to the scerecy of the applica- the box of Pandora) in the bottom tion of these deposits, no one could of my heart, I fancy I had that ever find fault ; for he seemed to evening returned in despair to my have complied inost literally with mother's fire-side, or set off, in a the Christian maxim, never to let coal-carrying barge, for Liverpool, bis left hand know what the other or God knows where. But the tresses did; and so his cash-accounts with of this young maiden had wound the bank accumulated daily. The themselves like Styx with Eurydice, dissenting clergyman, too though a nine times round ine; and I dreama' young man, and as yet but partially ed all the succeeding night of more kaown, was said, in the expressive than I can now recollect or repeat. language of my landlady, who was a I did not long remain in suspense hearer of his, to be wonderfully gift- respecting the immediate consequened, and to keep them standing on ces of this visit, for, on the following their feet, even for a whole hour, · evening, my landlady returned from sometimes, of a Sabbath morning, a visit to a daughter-in-law, who had without their feeling either cold feet lately been confined, full of wrath or lumbago. So, for me to proceed and indignation against the schoolto farnily-worship in the presence of master, for spreading and propagating two such Dons as these, was like run- lies and fabrications of no ordinary ning my head into the lion's mouth; import and magnitude against me. it was bringing the strength and the. When I hearç her general allega-.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

tions, I knew well what was to fol and effective. Without being let at low-but the story had not lost in the all into the secret, I found myself, telling. The smith's wife, who had one evening, a member of a pretty herself heard it of the shoemaker's large party, in my principal patron, Inother, an old gossipping woman " the laird's," house: and, to my in the neighbourhood, had intimated, utter surprise, associated amongst at first with caution and reserve several others, with the dissenting but, ultimately, with greater ampli- clergyman, the schoolmaster, and the tude and freedom, that I could parish minister. Our conversation ". neither teach nor pray;" that I happening, as if by accident, though was as ignorant of the 'Rudiments i verily believe it was all previously as I was of the Single Catechism ; planned by my worthy friend the nay, it was even averred, that one of pinister, who knew his man perthe master's youngest, and least in fectly, to turn upon the immensity structed scholars, had actually posed of a certain individual's fortune, me with difficulties; and, finally, in which had been acquired by dealing the presence of the schoolmaster and in black cattle; the schoolmaster the new minister, fairly upset me, proceeded, with the grcatest coolness and compelled me to confess, not to observe, that Mr H., the person only my own ignorance, but his su- spoken of, would not be worth less perior scholarship. This was all than "

a million of money.” This very ill to bear, but it was still seemed to startle us all, except the more difficult to gainsay and contra parish parson, who had evidently dict : truth and falsehood, as is cus anticipated the observation; so the tomary on such occasions, were so schoolmaster was compelled to come artfully and intimately mixed up to to a condescendence upon the various gether, that a kind of chemical union "items" of which this vast and inbetwixt them had taken place ; and crelible sum was composed ; and in the compound, however disgusting the enumeration of three thousand and revolting it might be, I was in the bank, and four thousand lent compelled, for the time, at least, to out on landed security, and three swaliow. But this was not all ; constantly afloat as a trading capital, the news, I could readily perceive, we discovered at last of what his milhad reached my little school, and the lion consisted! We all looked in each two head boys of my highest class other's faces, and as I looked equalhad the effrontery to dispute the ly intelligent with the rest, it was meaning of a passage with me. In evident i fully understocd the ridivain I stormed, and threatened, and cule. A little boy, one of my own even resorted to bodily chastisement.' pupils, who was realing Ovid's MeThe more angry I seemed, and the tamorphoses at the time, having dropt more outrageously furious I became, in, as if accidentally, the minister the more convinced did they ardently drew him familiarly towards himappear of my incapacity; and when self, and began to question him upon at last I dismissed them to their his reading. The boy, as is usual seats, and called up a younger form, with boys on such occasions, droopI could hear thein ňutter, pretty ed his head, shrugged up his shouldistinctly, about teaching wee ders, and remained silent. Howladdies, wha didna ken ony better." ever, the questions were not thus to From the country-talk, and the be put off, so he called for his book, school-report, the evil, quite natu- and proceeded to cause the boy read rally and inevitably, ascended to and construe the three first lines of the ears of my employers, at the the poet, beginning with “ Ante head of whom was a respectable mare et tellus, et quod tegit omnia widow-lady, and a gentleman of spi- coelum.! The boy happened to be rit and property, and great influence dull and bashful, and would not, or in the parish. I had been, indeed, could not, advance one single step powerfully recommended by mny without assistance ; so a reference teacher ; but as my incapacity had was constantly had, first to the pabecome matter of public notoriety, it rish schoolmaster, ihen to the diswas deemed necessary that iny vin- senting minister, and, latterly, to me, dicatlon should be equally publie en the occasion. My two precur.

« PoprzedniaDalej »