« PreviousContinue »
the will, are always liable to become insane. It is therefore very obvious that the remedial means necessary to prevent this deplorable occurrence, in its incipient stage, must be sought for in an entire removal of the remote and exciting causes. This habitual roving of the current of thought must be arrested, and brought, by habitual and strict discipline, into a regular train of moral reflections, steadily directed to one subject. The will must resume its authority, and exert all its efforts to control the attention, and to subdue all the faculties of the soul to its sovereign power. Such a course of remedial treatment, prudently and judiciously administered, will arrest the progress of the disease in its incipient stage, prevent its ultimate distressing termination, and restore to his anxious friends one who, without these precautionary measures, might have become a perfect maniac; a tenant of the asylum; an outcast from the world.
I have now arrived at the completion of a very imperfect outline of a system of mental science, which I feel fully assured will most satisfactorily explain the mysteries connected with the immaterial part of man. That I have succeeded in producing an equal conviction in the minds of others, I can scarcely venture to hope. And indeed I have no desire to produce such conviction, unless this system shall ultimately be found to rest on the immutable basis of truth.
But before the critic dips his pen in gall, I earnestly solicit him to bestow all his attention upon this view of the subject, until, by diligent investigation, he shall acquire a perfect knowledge of all the facts, authorities, and evidence, on which it is founded, and shall also clearly perceive the facility and perspicuity with which the appropriate details may explain and develope the occult mysteries of the science of mind; and if he can then, unprejudiced and in perfect candor, pronounce its principles to rest on a false basis, and shall sustain the charge, and effectually demolish the whole fabric, by sound arguments, supported by facts, I will promptly retract my error, and cheerfully bestow upon him my warmest gratitude and most profound admiration.
But if the fundamental principles of this system shall survive the assaults of the critic, and receive the sanction of public opinion, the subject will be resumed and pursued through all the variety of details connected with the immaterial part of man, until the extensive field inclosed by this outline shall be fully occupied. And I trust that a new era in the philosophy of mind will thus be commenced, which abler talents will cultivate and improve, until the whole system of mental science shall be divested of all mystery, and so clearly elucidated and simplified, that both the material and immaterial parts of man shall be rendered equally susceptible of demonstrative proof,
'T is all in vain: I have no more nor force nor fire at will,
'T is the wild and dark night-season ; o'er the mountain's finty cone
It is the wild night-season, and o'er the waters dark,
Now louder creak, ye forests !- for the night-storm bath set in,
The captain and the pilot to the creaking tiller clung,
The woody cape full in sight - but hark! — what sound is this,
It is - it is the hurricane! With wild and gloomy roar
Now louder roars the tempest, the air is all a din,
As down into the ocean sink that brave and gallant crew!
H. W. R.
A FRAGMENT ON NAMES.
• Mutato noinine de te fabula narratur.' - Quin. Hor. Flacc.
. And if we cannot alter things,
ADAMS, J. Q., IN VERS. DOGG. CON. JEFF. "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. - SHAKES.'
PETÆ DIVERSIAILI: Passim. • The cause of all charges of inaccuracy in this work, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, is attri. butable to a want of a kuowledge of the correct spelling of the word sought for. You must knoro hovo to spell the name, else censure not the publisher, but yourself, if you do not fiud it. Mind this.'
LONGWORTH'S DIRECTORY : ED. 1839.
It is a sad thing to be without a name! Beggar as I am, I am poor even in this cheapest of all cheap commodities; a thing not only to be had for the asking, but which, in nine cases out of ten is forced upon one, whether he will have it or no.
The foundling picked up by the way-side, or left, wrapped in clean linen, at the door of a gentleman's mansion, has the whole fatherhood of the city to stand as his sponsors in baptism. And his god-fathers are generous. They give him a name that has a local habitation connected with it; that of a street or square; or mayhap, in consideration of his infantile promise, they invest him with the flowing dignity of a river, or the territorial consequence of an island. They are not checked and swayed by family interests and influences; the parents of half the unfortunate appellations imposed upon babes and sucklings. No wealthy bachelor uncle, Aminadab, Peleg, or Jehosaphat, nor spinster aunt, Grizzle, Abishag, or Patience, are at hand, to be coaxed out of their gold, by adopting their names, and transmitting them to posterity; consenting to take the bad burden, in consideration of divers stocks, lands, tenements, and hereditaments, thereby becoming rich and ridiculous for life. Nor are they confounded with the immense and indistinctive family of the John Smiths, and James Browns, and William Johnsons, many of whom, in their peculiar vocations of burglars, pirates, and murderers, have brought disgrace upon such of their respectable connexions as have neither been hanged, nor died in the state's prison. These are names which, as the vulgar phrase runs, are no names at all.'
Peter Schlemil had as good a shadow as any man living, but Peter lost it. What shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue !' was the mournfully poetical remark of Burke, who, in common with the rest of us, had the advantage, in shadow, of Peter Schlemil. Peter roamed about, like the Wandering Jew, in search of that which other folks affect to despise; proving thereby, that life without its shadows is as unnatural and poverty-stricken a state as life without its lights. • A pretty thing to run after !' says the grave moralist. Tell us, thou man of sanctity, are there no shadows in thine own philosophy ? Is it the material world alone with which thou holdest converse ? Are not our aspirations, hopes, yearnings, after brighter and better things,
shadows all? Hast no intellectual bantlings, no dream-children, born of thine own brain, that thou lovest to cherish? What future can there be to thee — what great hereafter ? Is there no gleam on the pathway of far-stretching years ? - no bow of promise in the skies, arched and tinted by thine own mental handy work? What are shadows, but the soul's messengers, sent forth on errands of love and hope ? Examine thine own heart, proud preacher! Even while thou art propounding lessons of wisdom, and virtue, and goodness, thy selfish breast is consoling itself with the reflection, that the world will quote thy words, long after thy lips are mute. Even now, thy heart is careering far and wide, over the infinite future, in a wildgoose chase after ten thousand shadows. Thou art a very wise man, and a virtuous, Sir Sage, but thou mayest learn a lesson even from an unlettered pupil. Beware of cant, and talk not of matters which it hath not been given thee to understand.
But Peter Schlemil's shadow was a shadow of a different kind; a material shadow, if the critics so please. If the heart grows to the most common things that it daily meets, is it strange that a man should contract a strong affection for his own shadow ; an emanation from his own person ; the constant companion of his daily walks; that sticketh to him closer than a brother, and is shut out from communion with him only by the earth that hides his coffin? The majestic sun, when throned in state at high noon, indeed stares it out of countenance, yet it is but for a moment. With this slight exception, it is ever at his side. It is with him in the busy mart. It runs with him over the hill-side, and stretches out in the slant rays of the declining sun, as if a Titan were stalking over the land. No wonder poor Peter searched for years for his lost companion.
Had Peter Schlemil never enjoyed the companionship of a shadow, he would have been comparatively a happy man. Had the unfortunate being who pens these lines, passed through his early years anonymously, he would neither have suffered sore tribulation, nor have : written this article. Humble and unambitious, be would have travelled through life incog., and that too without desiring to imitate the example of many illustrious strangers, lords and lacquies, peers and prison-birds, ladies of the ton and the town, whose shrinking modesty, and unaffected desire of avoiding the gaze and applause of the public, have lead them to foreswear the acts of their god-fathers and god-mothers. The only consolation — if such it be — is, that we were not always nameless :
'Come what may, we have been blest !
We once had a name, and we can prove it.
Alas! vain was the presence of the white-stoled priest, vain the attendance of generous friends, who were not ashamed of me, as, God wot, I am of every specimen of new-born baby humanity. And here let me say, by way of digression, that it puzzles me vastly to understand what there is about these helpless intruders into this breathing world, that people make such a fuss about them. To me, a puppy-dog of a month old is an infinitely more interesting object than a child of the same age. His first half-bold, half-fearful attempts
at a bark, are to me far more musical than the infant's shrill cry of pain ; for a baby can't raise a laugh at that time of life. And then his playfulness, his frolic and waggery; his infinite love of mischief; his coaxing invitations to engage you to play with him; toddling to man as his first, best friend, and seeking to gain his confidence and protection by a thousand winning graces; his half-in-fun, half-inearnest experiments of the qualities of his teeth upon your person; his excess of good-nature, (for puppies are always good-natured, which is by no means always the case with babies ;) who can resist them? May the hand raised to strike him, miss its aim, and encounter an object that will scrape its knuckles to the bone! May the foot raised to kick him, overreach its mark, and each particular toe be stubbed for its pains! And what is an infant at the time of life when puppyhood is most interesting? The personification of helplessness; a lactiverous animalcule ;' an incarnate nonentity; a wonder that, in its utter weakness, it lives on from day to day. To conceive that such a little lump of helplessness will expand in bodily and mental strength, till it reaches the full stature and the wonderful powers of mature manhood ; that it will send forth thoughts that will be the parents of new thoughts, quickening the action of other minds, sinking deep into the world's heart, winning its admiration, or forcing it into subjection to its mighty will, affecting for weal or wo the destiny of thousands, requires a reach of imagination to which the mind could not attain, were it not for the lessons of daily experience, which prove that such things have been, and will be. And then each stranger is welcomed with as much fuss and parade as if a new arrival of that character were a thing that happens but once in a century. For my own part, I have long since ceased to regard these things as novelties. But I have gone too far. I am uttering horrid heresies. Every fond papa and mamma in the land already regard me as dead to all the kind and gentle affections and sympathies. anathemas of nurses, rising above the shrill squalling of babes and sucklings, pierce my ears.
I confess my guilt. Mea culpa, mea culpa! Pity and pardon for the crime, or at least grant me the benefit of clergy! A poor, harmless, solitary bachelor am I. All my bantlings consist of a few brain-children, some of them dead to the world by this time; others stolen and disfigured by the gipsies of literature, and then claimed as their own; and others yet alive, but in rather a sickly state, (they all have a tendency to consumption, and I begin to think it is constitutional with them,) but none of them a charge upon the town, nor the inmates of any literary asylum less, mayhap, a few of the verse-boys may have got into the madhouse. Even as regards these, I indulge the fond hope that if they are crazy, they are harmless.
But as I said before, my friends were not ashamed of me upon solemn occasion. (There is one advantage at least, in being an infant. You have friends then, sincere, heart-whole, generous friends.) Every formulary at the ritual was attended to; not a ceremony was omitted. I was fairly, honorably, legally, ecclesiastically, endowed with a name.
The business of life commenced, and I had good endorsers, who chose to take upon themselves the burden of my infant sins; honest book-keepers, who engaged to write up my