網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

cooking, but has he not forthwith employed an under cook, in the shape of a cat, to save his own paws from a singeing? These interesting facts prevent the lord of the creation from arrogating to himself a title which naturally occurred to Meg Dodds as very appropriate. It might not be impossible to find other cases of certain inferior animals who prepare their food artificially, but let the above suffice.

Shall I be so ambitious as to try my hand where so many and so great have been defeated ? Rash mortal ! yet I too can but fail like the rest. In due humility, therefore, I beg to give my vote in favour of man's being

a laughing animal.” “Stop, stop, sir!” exclaims some sensible child: “you have forgotten—there is the laughing hyena!”

I have not forgotten, my child! Hare you ever analysed what is absurdly called the hyena's laugh? Have you noted how it is an indescribably horrid noise, that appears a mixed combination of a yawn, a growl, a snarl, and a bark; about as much resembling man's joyous laugh as the screech of an owl does the honey-sweetness of Clara Novello's voice? Have you marked that it has its origin in no feelings of exuberant merriment in the animal? If you have, you will agree with me, that to give that bideous brute the name of the laughing hyena is an error; that it is a libel on laughter, worthy the brain of a showman at a menagerie.

But a truce to merriment. The character of man is not to be described in a couple of words. His complicated perfections cannot be compressed within an epigram. Man knows not himself, and will never know himself wholly, until he is no more. Meanwhile study Shakspere's reflections, Combe's Constitution of Man, and Sartor Resartus, and with the Bible for your standard of reference, you will have about come to the end of all that is yet known of human character.

a

[ocr errors]

MA R R I A G E.

MADE IN HEAVEN.

Ford. In love, the heavens themselves do guide the state; Money buys lands, but wives are sold by fate.

Merry Wives of Windsor. Act v. Scene 5.

MARRIAGE SHOULD NOT BE MERCENARY.

Suffolk. Disgrace not so your king,
That he should be so abject, base, and poor,
To choose for wealth, and not for perfect love.
Henry is able to enrich bis queen,
And not to seek a queen to make him rich:
So worthless peasants bargain for their wives,
As market-men for oxen, sheep, or horse.
Marriage is a matter of more worth,
Than to be dealt in by attorneyship:

For what is wedlock forced, but a hell,
An age of discord and continual strife ?
Whereas the contrary bringeth forth bliss,
And is a pattern of celestial peace.

Ist part King Henry VI. Act v. Scene 5.

The vulgar proverb, that “marriages are made in hea.

[ocr errors]

ven," in the present state of society can scarcely be used, except in bitter irony. It is lamentable to have to say it, but at the present day, amongst civilized nations, so many improper elements enter into this holy union, such as "expediency,"

," " establishment," and other reasons for a match,” that the probability of happiness in the married state is seriously endangered-so much so, I fear, that the proverb would now be often nearer the truth, were another word, not so agreeable, substituted for that of " heaven."

MAIDEN COYNESS.

Julia.

Maidens, in modesty, say “no” to that Which they would have the profferer construe “aye.” Fie, fie! how wayward is the foolish love, That, like a testy babe, will scratch the nurse, And presently, all humbled, kiss the rod.

Two Gentlemen of Verona. Act i. Scene 2.

Rosalind. You may as soon make her that you love believe it; which, I warrant, she is apter to do, than to confess she does : that is one of the points in the which women still give the lie to their consciences.

As you like it. Act iï, Scene 2.

66

Buckingham. Play the maid's part, still answer “ nay," yet take it.

King Richard III. Act iii. Scene 7.

How long will woman “ give the lie to her conscience ?" How long will she continue in the flagrant error of supposing sincerity to be incompatible with true modesty? 'Tis difficult to say whether this “ coyness ” (which has yet found people silly enough to praise it as a beauty) is the more lamentable or ridiculous. That it often stands in the way of her real happiness is undoubted,

One word of fact, as an illustration. An amiable young lady, more strong in filial duty than in judgment, was instructed by her mamma (a lady of strict propriety) that when a gentleman made an offer, it was proper, at first, to refuse him. An offer came. The daughter was obedient, and said “No!” The lover could not peep behind the scenes, thought her sincere, and never repeated it. Hear the sequel. The maiden, in her heart, was all the time attached to him, and that false word “no” occasioned her a life of misery. And this is the education of propriety.

Reader, laugh you, or weep you?

ME R C Y.

BECOMING AND REASONABLE.

Isabella. No ceremony that to great ones ’longs,
Not the king's crown, nor the deputed sword,
The marshal's truncheon, nor the judge's robe,
Become them with one half so good a grace,
As mercy does.

Alas, alas !
Why, all the souls that were, were forfeit once;
And He that might the vantage best have took,
Found out the remedy: how would you be,
If He, which is the top of judgment, should
But judge you as you are? Oh, think on that;
Apd mercy then will breathe within your lips,
Like man new made.

Measure for Measure. Act ii. Scene 2.

:

Portia. The quality of mercy is not strain'd;
It droppeth, as the gentle rain from heaven,
Upon the place beneath : it is twice bless'd;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes :
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown:
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;

« 上一頁繼續 »