Page images
PDF
EPUB

at it in company with its old observer; and we are reminded at the same time of all that was agreeable in him. We never saw, for instance, the gilt ball at the top of the College of Physicians,* without thinking of that pleasant mention of it in Garth's Dispensary, and of all the wit and generosity of that amiable man :— Not far from that most celebrated placet, Where angry Justice shows her awful face, Where little villains must submit to fate, That great ones may enjoy the world in state; There stands a dome, majestic to the sight, And sumptuous arches bear its oval height; A golden globe, placed high with artful skill, Seems, to the distant sight, a gilded pill.

Gay, in describing the inconvenience of the late narrow part of the Strand, by St. Clement's, took away a portion of its unpleasantness to the next generation, by associating his memory with the objects in it. We did not miss without regret even the "combs" that hung "dangling in your face" at a shop which he describes, and which was standing till the late improvements took place. The rest of the picture is still alive. (Trivia, b. III.)

Where the fair columns of St. Clement stand,

Whose straitened bounds encroach upon the Strand;
Where the low pent-house bows the walker's head,
And the rough pavement wounds the yielding tread
Where not a post protects the narrow space,
And strung in twines, combs dangle in thy face;
Summon at once thy courage, rouse thy care;

Stand firm, look back, be resolute, beware!

Forth issuing from steep lanes, the colliers' steeds

Drag the black load; another cart succeeds;

Team follows team, crowds heaped on crowds appear,

And wait impatient till the road grow clear.

There is a touch in the Winter Picture in the same poem, which everybody will recognize :

At White's the harnessed chairman idly stands,
And swings around his waist his tingling hands.

* In Warwick-lane, now a manufactory.

†The Old Bailey.

The bewildered passenger in the Seven Dials is compared to Theseus in the Cretan labyrinth. And thus we come round to the point at which we began.

Before we rest our wings, however, we must take another dart over the city as far as Stratford at Bow, where, with all due tenderness for boarding-school French, a joke of Chaucer's has existed as a piece of local humor for nearly four hundred and fifty years. Speaking of the Prioress, who makes such a delicate figure among his Canterbury Pilgrims, he tells us, in the list of her accomplishments, that—

French she spake full faire and featously;

adding with great gravity

After the school of Stratforde atte Bowe;
For French of Paris was to her unknowe.

CHAPTER VII.

Advice to the Melancholy.

If you are melancholy for the first time, you will find upon a little inquiry, that others have been melancholy many times, and yet are cheerful now. If you have been melancholy many times, recollect that you have got over all those times; and try if you cannot find out means of getting over them better.

Do not imagine that mind alone is concerned in your bad spirits. The body has a great deal to do with these matters. The mind may undoubtedly affect the body; but the body also affects the mind. There is a re-action between them; and by lessening it on either side, you diminish the pain on both.

If you are melancholy, and know not why, be assured it must arise entirely from some physical weakness; and do your best to strengthen yourself. The blood of the melancholy man is thick and slow; the blood of a lively man is clear and quick. Endeavor therefore to put your blood in motion. Exercise is the best way to do it; but you may also help yourself, in moderation, with wine, or other excitements. Only you must take care so to proportion the use of any artificial stimulus, that it may not render the blood languid by over-exciting it at first; and ‘hat you may be able to keep up, by the natural stimulus only, th help you have given yourself by the artificial.

Regard the bad weather as somebody has advised us to handle the nettle. In proportion as you are delicate with it, it will make you feel; but

Grasp it like a man of mettle,

And the rogue obeys you well.

Do not the less, however, on that account, take all reasonable precaution and arms against it,-your boots, &c., against wet feet,

and your great-coat or umbrella against the rain. It is timidity and flight, which are to be deprecated, not proper armor for the battle. The first will lay you open to defeat, on the least attack. A proper use of the latter will only keep you strong for it. Plato had such a high opinion of exercise, that he said it was a cure even for a wounded conscience. Nor is this opinion a dangerous one. For there is no system, even of superstition, however severe or cruel in other matters, that does not allow a wounded conscience to be curable by some means. Nature will work out

its rights and its kindness some way or other, through the worst sophistications; and this is one of the instances in which she seems to raise herself above all contingencies. The conscience may have been wounded by artificial or by real guilt; but then she will tell it in those extremities, that even the real guilt may have been produced by circumstances. It is her kindness alone, which nothing can pull down from its predominance. Diminish your

See fair play between cares and pastimes. artificial wants as much as possible, whether you are rich or poor; for the rich man's, increasing by indulgence, are apt to outweigh even the abundance of his means; and the poor man's diminution of them renders his means the greater. On the other hand, increase all your natural and healthy enjoyments. Cultivate your afternoon fire-side, the society of your friends, the company of agreeable children, music, theatres, amusing books, an urbane and generous gallantry. He who thinks any innocent pastime foolish, has either to grow wiser or is past the ability to do so. In the one case, his notion of being childish is itself a childish notion. In the other, his importance is of so feeble and hollow a cast, that it dare not move for fear of tumbling to pieces.

A friend of ours, who knows as well as any other man how to unite industry with enjoyment, has set an excellent example to those who can afford the leisure, by taking two Sabbaths every week instead of one,-not Methodistical Sabbaths, but days of rest which pay true homage to the Supreme Being by enjoying his creation.

One of the best pieces of advice for an ailing spirit is to go to no sudden extremes-to adopt no great and extreme changes in

diet or other habits. They may make a man look very great and philosophic to his own mind; but they are not fit for a being to whom custom has been truly said to be a second nature. Dr. Cheyne may tell us that a drowning man cannot too quickly get himself out of the water; but the analogy is not good. If the water has become a second habit, he might almost as well say that a fish could not get too quickly out of it.

Upon this point, Bacon says that we should discontinue what we think hurtful by little and little. And he quotes with admiration the advice of Celsus: that "a man do vary and interchange contraries, but rather with an inclination to the more benign extreme.” "Use fasting," he says, "and full eating, but rather full eating; watching and sleep, but rather sleep; sitting and exercise, but rather exercise, and the like; so shall nature be cherished, and yet taught masteries."

We cannot do better than conclude with one or two other passages out of the same Essay, full of his usual calm wisdom. "If you fly physic in health altogether, it will be too strange for your body when you need it." (He means that a general state of health should not make us over-confident and contemptuous of physic; but that we should use it moderately if required, that it may not be too strange to us when required most.) make it too familiar, it will have no extraordinary effect when sickness cometh. I commend rather some diet for certain seasons, than frequent use of physic, except it be grown into a custom; for those diets alter the body more, and trouble it less."

"If you

"As for the passions and studies of the mind," says he, "avoid envy, anxious fears, anger fretting inwards, subtle and knotty inquisitions, joys and exhilarations in excess, sadness not communicated" (for as he says finely, somewhere else, they who keep their griefs to themselves, are "cannibals of their own hearts"). "Entertain hopes; mirth rather than joy" (that is to say, cheerfulness rather than boisterous merriment); "variety of delights rather than surfeit of them; wonder and admiration, and therefore novelties; studies that fill the mind with splendid and illustrious objects, as histories, fables, and contemplations of nature."

« PreviousContinue »