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“ THOUGHTS AND APOPHTHEGMS.” 627
abundance from the volume before us. Of sophistry, he says, for instance, that, like poison, it is at once detected and nauseated, when presented to us in a concentrated form—whereas a fallacy which, stated barely in a few sentences, would not deceive a child, may deceive half the world, if diluted in a quarto volume. “It is true, in a course of argument, as in mechanics, that nothing is stronger than its weakest part,' and consequently a chain which has one faulty link will break; but though the number of the sound links adds nothing to the strength of the chain, it adds much to the chance of the faulty one's escaping observation." He compares the attempt to improve, by increased knowledge, a man who does not know how to make use of what he already has, to an attempt to enlarge the prospect of a short-sighted man by taking him to the top of a hill ; and the teaching one who has no curiosity to learn, to the sowing a field without ploughing it; and again, such tales as make a direct attempt at moral teaching, to those clocks and watches which are conde ned
A double or a treble debt to pay; which, besides their legitimate object, to show the hour, tell you the day of the month or the week, give you a landscape for a dial-plate, with the second-hand forming the sails of a windmill
, or have a barrel to play a tune, or an alarum to remind you of an engagement; all very good things in their way; but so it is, that these watches never tell the time so well as those in which that is the exclusive object of the maker. Every additional movement is an obstacle to the original design. Dr. Whately is extremely ingenious in illustrative aids and appliances of this deseription.
Occasionally, too, there is a curiosa felicitas of phrase, worthy of observation. Children,” he says, are the to-morrow of society.” “Cultivate,” he says, " not only the corn-fields of your mind, but the pleasuregrounds also." He excels in a certain pithy sententiousness, of which the following are samples : " He will please most who is aiming, not to pleuse, but to give pleasure.” “If we would but duly take care of children, grown people would generally take care of themselves.” Nor should we overlook his way of stating pleasant (or unpleasant) truths, of the kind ensuing: “An exemplary character, according to the notions of some, is one whose example no one is expected to follow.” “A fool can ask more questions than a wise man can answer ; but a wise man cannot ask more questions than he will find a fool ready to answer.” “ Many a meandering discourse one hears, in which the preacher aims at nothing, and-hits it.”
To say that we cordially wish the very largest circulation to this little volume of Thoughts and Apophthegms, is only to imply our interest in the dissemination of sound learning and religious principles, for it is a book to be desired to make one wise, a genuine Aid to Reflection, a very garner of practical wisdom, shrewd observation, weighty counsel, and suggestive seed-thoughts. Even those who possess the original writings from whose multifarious pages these “ Selections” are culled, will be glad of a hand-book that brings together so many pregnant excerpts, well worthy to be had in present remembrance.
THE STORY OF THE SEA ANEMONE.
THERE was once an Anemone that grew in a small nook between two high sand-cliffs that faced the Ocean. A little rill came tumbling down from above, or rather trickling over the side of one high sand-cliff, always watering this spot before it moved onwards and found its way down the steep declivity on to the beach below. That was the reason why everything here looked fair and beautiful. The wild dog-rose spread itself far and wide in a fresh carpet of prickly green, and the honeysuckle shot up amongst it, putting forth its fragrant blossoms, and, as the autumn came on, showing its rich coronals of crimson berries. As for the Anemones, they crept close under the shelter of the gorse and reed-grass that hung above, and bloomed and blossomed in tranquil security. The Anemone, however, of whom I make particular mention, was à lady of ambition, and had sprung up somewhat apart from the others, where, under the protection of a clod of grass, she confronted all the sea-breezes and turned her face, ever bright and beautiful, towards the glorious Ocean. How she longed to enter it, to bathe in those beautiful waters, which with their still-beginning, never-ending, voice of song, seemed to woo her to their embraces, telling her grand, wonderful stories of the pearls hid in their coral caves and beneath their floating sea-weeds. She could not sleep at night for thinking of them. When the other flowers folded their leaves and shrank back modestly into the shadows of the cliffs, she was listening to the light-minded zephyrs, and envying the thistles whom she knew were only waiting till their wings had grown to pull the shafts from their bosom and float away on them to explore the Ocean. Why could not she have wings also to sail away upon ? Her form was bent already with always leaning towards the Sea, and one of her leaves was beginning to wither a little
from premature old age and heat without shade to it. She knew that she should be better if only she could get a dip in the Ocean. Why the very Porpoises knew that, when they came rolling in near the beach showing their backs of crimson and green, and splashing the waters right merrily up into the air. If only the breeze would assist her—she knew that he could carry her off if he would, but then he was so fickleminded he never blew twice exactly in the same direction--she should never bathe in the great Ocean. And the Anemone trembled on her pedestal, and shook off with anger a drop of the sea-spray that had lit upon her. Meanwhile the bright days grew changeful and uncertainthe sea made a dull monotonous sound and increased in fury, its “hollow ridges roaring into cataracts” till it lashed its sides with rage and sent its foam, white and turbid, in trembling velocity out upon the grey-stoned beach. The heavens looked dark and threatening, the winds rose wild and fierce, and the rain came down splashing, piercing cold and determined. All the flowers folded up their leaves and shrank back into the ridges of the cliff
, waiting for better days; but the Anemone stood aloof. The sea tossed dark and heavily beneath her feet, but what recked she of that? She had looked down into the heart of its waters when they were clear and placid as the surface of the lake, and she had seen the beautiful jelly-fish idly drifting about with the motion of the tide; and one, the fairest and largest of them all, had spread itself out in the sun
shine, and expressed affection to her by keeping always within her sight, and getting as close to her as it could with its brilliant reflexions and prismatic colours. She was sure it was there even now, though the dark heavy sea-weeds and the tossing foam kept it from her sight, and the rain blinded her so much she could hardly open her petals to look out upon the Ocean. But what is this? The ground seems loosening from beneath her feet, the little rill that trickled down so quietly in the springtide has grown, and spread, and swollen itself out with the rains, and now it has quite undermined the clod of earth on which she has been resting, and lo! the winds come hurrying up to see what is the matter, and, sweeping in between her and the rill, they carry her off her feet with one impetuous motion, and there she is on the beach before she can well tell what has befallen her!-On the beach, but with no resting-place for her feet, no spot of earth to cover and protect her, no time either for reflection, for the winds carry her along as their plaything, dashing her beautiful blossoms against the flint stones, and lifting her up rudely to bear her forward again as she clings to some rough brown stone or mass of sea-weeds. Is there no help for her ? The black waves of Ocean almost touch her form, terrifying her as they do so, and the flowers from the cliffs above nod and shake their heads as though reproaching her for leaving them. She thinks of her wish to bathe in the sea, and shudders at the dark waves and howling blast. Is there no mercy left for her ? Piteously does she beseech the winds to bear her back again, but for all answer they only lift her high in their arms and whiri her forward in a wild, fierce eddy. Where, oh where, are they taking her to ? Over the face of the crested billows and the yawning deeps. There is a huge chasm just now opening before her, her shriek of misery is all unheard, she is dashed downwards into its abyss ; but lo! her lover, the jelly-fish, is reposing at the bottom of it, and fainting, sinking, dying, the Anemone is received into his bosom.
Some time ago a curious phenomenon was brought to light. Clinging fast to the large rocks amid which the sea tides dash in so boldly, the fishermen were surprised to discover a certain substance in shape like the Anemone, in nature the same as the jelly-fish. At first it was supposed to be purely a flower of a sea-weed nature growing in the salt water; but being transplanted from its element, it was found that its colours faded, its petals contracted, and like a very sensitive plant, it drooped and died. Others of the same species being transplanted into larger tanks, kept constantly supplied with fresh salt water, were observed silently and unobtrusively to put forth live feelers and spread themselves out like the petals of a flower, but after the nature of a fish. So curious was the combination, that it was at last agreed to give to this plant-animal the name of the Sea Anemone, and so now for some time have men designated it; but as it is not every one who may know its real history, I have been induced to publish this little account of how one frail Anemone grew
discontented upon the shore, and so carried by the weird wind into the arms of her sea-lover, impressed his offspring with her likeness, and has transmitted for ever to these denizens of the Ocean her own tender grace
and flower-like beauty.
We write the word with a faltering pen. An unpleasant impression comes over us that we stand committed on classical grounds to an investigation of the characters of those “wonderful women" of antiquity, whose interesting claims have been so systematically neglected in the eloquent discourses of Wordsworth and Bulwer. We should as soon dream of inquiring into the characters of any three close columns of those unprotected females who daily run through the list of their qualifications with such unadorned yet touching simplicity in the advertising-sheet of the Times. Could we hope to do justice to the strong-minded Spartan matron, whose laconic address to her son, on handing him his shield, has always appeared to us to be a mistake of the early commentators ? Could we venture to suggest, without deprecating the deep disgust of the shades of all departed editors and annotators-peace to their remains !—that the present reading is a corruption of a fond mother's order to an attendant helot to fasten the direction securely on her young hero's carpet-bag ? What words of ours could paint in sufficiently bright colours the filial devotion of that young lady, who supplied her reduced parent with the nourishment which in the natural order of things is usually furnished by the parent (maternal, of course) to the child, and thus turned the gushing spring of affection to some account? No! we wish to be distinctly understood as repudiating all connexion with the ancients-or, at least, their heroines-during the present article. The Greek slave is admirable, doubtless, as a statue, but we should feel a difficulty in presenting her, as a Greek slave, in a drawing-room of the nineteenth century. So are we diffident of bringing prominently forward those gems from the antique, who, though always strictly classical, are not invariably correct.
Nor let it for a moment be imagined that we propose to lay bare the middle ages (not of the ladies—Venus forbid that we should hint at such a thing !), and evoke those heroines of history who, or at least whose representatives, demonstrate practically that time is money, when they condescend to be retained at an hourly salary by the historically-disposed members of the Royal Academy. To this day we can recal the passionate glances and moist hands with which, in early youth, we followed the fortunes of the persecuted Maid of Orleans through her chequered career of three long acts on the Astleyan stage-how we became so terribly impressed with the reality of the property flames which raged (at the cruel command of the first villain) round her, that for some considerable time we were sceptical of her being identical with the phenomenon who shortly afterwards went through a performance in which two barebacked-steeds and sixteen silver-paper-covered hoops (to us objects of peculiar interest) were especially prominent—and how our juvenile adoration for this maiden, whose lungs, if one might judge from the vigour with which she exercised them against her enemies, retained their power even amidst the roaring flames, became suddenly extinguished during the pantomime when the brilliant and fascinating Columbine bounded on the stage, and, with one electric glance at the pit, transfixed our susceptible heart in the boxes. True, the poetry of these associations has been long
since dispelled. We have seen the captivating bloom of the boards resolve itself in the green-room-not exactly into dust and ashes, but something uncommonly like them, and this perhaps not the greatest metamorphosis. But we are becoming retrospective, and consequently (submitting the point withal) a bore. Without denying any temporary attachment that we may have cherished towards Joan of Arc, we beg to state that we have not the smallest intention of reproducing her or any other medieval heroine in this place. And we may at once dispose of the supposition that we intend to treat of those delicate and all but breathing creations in the world of fiction--in whom most of us probably have at times felt a jealous interest that has attested the genius of the hand which created them. These and their kindred, among whom we may reckon that wonderful and much-enduring creature, the heroine of domestic drama-we speak of her as an abstract idea apart from her professional representative-a plant indigenous to the great hot-houses on the Surrey side of the Thames, but not altogether unknown to the more aristocratic temples of Thespis on its northern bank—we are reluctantly compelled to pass by in silence. Our present purpose is with none of these.
We have now probably reached a point at which we shall be somewhat impatiently assailed with that pertinent yet apparently tautological question, “ What next--and next?” It is easy to imagine that, as civilisation advances, and the sphere of woman's mission becomes more extended, a heroine, in the popular sense of one who distinguishes herself among her kind in some extraordinarily masculine manner, must become every day a bird of greater rarity. Indeed, at the present moment, the only legitimate field of action for heroines of this class--with all deference be it said-seems to lie among the sick and wounded of their country's champions, and even then the handmaid of Æsculapius must be gifted with nerves of no ordinary strength to encounter this episode in the battle of life with success. In the full consciousness, therefore, that the meridian of the nineteenth century is passed, it is not altogether without some misgiving that we lend our mind's ear deferentially to the sweetest and most musical of voices (photographically emblematic of its owner), exclaiming, in aceents to which a shade of impatience—the slightest in the world-only lends an additional charm, “Who's
heroine ?” Now, without wishing for one moment to be wanting in that courtesy which forbids us to permit any lady to “pause for a reply,” we must be permitted to say a few words in explanation ; and, lest we should be understood as using this expression in its parliamentary sense, of being totally irrelevant to the matter in question, we hereby distinctly assure our readers that the explanation shall be strictly preliminary.
The remarkable and characteristic custom which has prevailed in England for some considerable period, of recognising the merits of distinguished men by inviting them to a public dinner, where the chairman invariably feels the highest gratification in rising to propose the toast of the evening, appears, in its full significance, to have been unknown to the ancients. No accounts of Anniversary Festivals at the Olympic Tavern in aid of decayed gods and goddesses, with (on this occasion only) Jupiter in the chair and Bacchus under the table ; or of banquets in support of Theatrical Funds, with Aschylus presiding and lamenting—the