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SO CALLED BY THE WORLD.
Falstaff, (at the battle of Shrewsbury.) Honour pricks me on. Yea, but how if honour pricks me off, when I come on? How then ? Can honour set to a leg ? No. Or an arm ? No. Or take away the grief* of a wound ? No, Honour hath no skill in surgery then ? No. What is honour ? A word! What is in that word, honour ? What is that honour ? Air. (A trim reckoning!) Who hath it? He that died o’Wednesday. Doth he feel it ? No. Doth he hear it ? No. Is it insensible then ? Yea, to the dead. But will it not live with the living ? No. Why? Detraction will not suffer it: therefore I'll none of it. Honour is a mere scutcheon; and so ends my catechism.
Ist part King Henry IV. Act v. Scene 1.
Falstaff's character has been too exclusively regarded as that of a buffoon, when in truth, it contains a mass of wisdom mixed with its folly, if we are only at the trouble to search for it.
Completely and often as the world's notion of honour has been demolished by ridicule, it may be fairly asserted that the above passage contains the pith and marrow of all that can be said on the absurd side of the subject. As I may have occasion in another place to touch on the application of his remarks to the subject of war, I shall refrain from it here; and shall only observe, that duellists, apologising for their practice, have always defended it on the weakest ground they could have selected, viz., this same Honour, and if they wish to avoid the shafts of ridicule, the sooner they abandon it the better.
It must be admitted, however, even by the opponents of duelling, (of which I confess myself one) that there does exist one point on which the practice with some shew of reason may be excused, and maintained perhaps from all attacks save that of Christian duty. And it is this : (Let duellists make the best of it.)
There are certain offences in society-serious offences against its happiness, consisting however, chiefly, of manner and verbal expression, that come not under the cognizance or punishment of the present laws; and could scarcely be made to do so by any law. A tribunal must be substituted to check such offences, which might other. wise spread and destroy social comfort altogether. That tribunal is duelling ; which it is probable (give the devil his due !) either directly or indirectly (through the fear of it) has really some good effect in the world, by restraining the increase of bullies and blackguards, who in its absence, might possibly run rampant. I cannot but fear, therefore, that as long as unchristian manners and expressions continue widely prevalent, the unchristian practice of duelling will also continue, as a necessary evil, to accompany them. HU MAN HAPPINESS.
Gaunt. All places that the eye of heaven visits,
Look, what thy soul holds dear, imagine it
King Richard II. Act i. Scene 3.
The topic of the power of our minds over our own happiness has in some degree been anticipated in the chapter on “ Fate," but the subject is so exhaustless and intensely interesting, that a few more words in reference to it may perhaps be excused.
Though I should be the last to maintain that human happiness consists in the idea, independent of external circumstances, I do believe that the cultivation of such a frame and temper of mind as shall turn most things to good, might be carried to an extent much beyond our present knowledge and experience. We are told by one whom we ought to believe,
“ The kingdom of heaven lieth within you !" And happiness is a part of the kingdom of heaven; yet how perseveringly do we dwell on the pleasure of outward good, and neglect the formation of such inward tempers and dispositions as in nine cases out of ten might recompense for its absence! I mean not to hint that earthly happiness can ever become perfect or satisfying to the immortal mind of man; but merely that of our many pains and vexations, several are created by ourselves, and that we neglect a mine of happiness which might be found by searching for it in a right direction.
In connexion with the subject of man's inordinate expectations of earthly happiness, as being only his due, I cannot resist again quoting that consummate philosopher Carlyle.
“ The whim we bave of happiness is somewhat thus: By certain valuations, and averages, of our own striking, we come upon some sort of average terrestrial lot ; this, we fancy, belongs to us by nature, and of indefeisible right : it is simply payment of our wages, of our deserts : requires neither thanks nor complaint; only such overplus as there may be, do we account happiness ; any deficit, again, is misery! Now, consider that we have the valuation of our own deserts ourselves, and what a fund of self-conceit there is in each of us,-do you wonder that the balance should so often dip the wrong way, and many a blockhead cry: See there, what a payment! was ever worthy gentleman so used !' I tell thee, blockhead, it all comes of thy vanity —of what thou fanciest those same deserts of thine to be. Fancy that thou deservest to be hanged, thou wilt feel it happiness only to be shot;,fancy that thou deservest to be hanged in a hair-halter, it will be luxury to die in hemp."
Abp. of Canterbury. Therefore doth heaven divide The state of man in divers functions, Setting endeavour in continual motion; To which is fixed, as an aim or butt, Obedience: for so work the honey bees; Creatures, that, by a rule in nature, teach The act of order to a peopled kingdom. They have a king, and officers of sorts : Where some, like magistrates, correct at home; Others, like merchants, venture trade abroad; Others, like soldiers, armed in their stings, Make boot upon the summer's velvet buds; Which pillage they with merry march bring home To the tent-royal of their emperor; Who, busied in his majesty, surveys The singing masons building roofs of gold; The civil citizens kneading up the honey; The poor mechanic porters crowding in Their heavy burdens at bis narrow gate; The sad-eyed justice, with his surly hum, Delivering o'er to executors pale The lazy yawning drone. I this infer,That many things, having full reference