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neglected family are all children, and he is the youngest. They know nothing about chops in that house. They can't cook anything whatever. A needle and thread they don't know how to use. "We admire the people who possess the practical wisdom we want; but we don't quarrel with them. Then why should they quarrel with us ? Live, and let live, we say to them. Live upon your practical wisdom, and let us live upon
Such is the buoyant being that lived on the bounty of Mr. Jarndyce, and that left a diary behind him, when he died, with letters and other materials towards his Life ; which being published, showed him to have been the victim of a combination on the part of mankind against an amiable child; and one sentence of which began, “ Jarndyce, in common with most other men I have known, is the Incarnation of Selfishness." Such is Harold Skimpole.
His whole life he has lived in pleasant thought,
Love him, wlio for bimself will take no thought at all of Mr. Anthony Trollope's Victoire Jaquêtanàpe is pictured as one of those butterfly beings who seem to have been created that they may flutter about from flower to flower in the summer hours of such gala times as at Chiswick shows, just like other butterflies. What the butterflies were last winter, or what will become of them next winter, no one but the naturalist thinks of inquiring. How they may feed themselves on flower-juice, or on insects small enough to be their prey, is matter of no moment to the general world. It is sufficient that they flit about in the sunbeams, and add bright glancing spangles to the beauty of the summer day.
* And so it was with Victoire Jaquêtanàpe. He did no work. He made no honey. He appeared to no one in the more serious moments of life. He was the reverse of Shylock; he would neither buy with you nor sell with you, but he would eat with you and drink with you; as for praying, he did little of that, either with or without company. He was clothed in purple and fine linen, as butterfies should be clothed, and fared sumptuously every day; but whence came his gay colours, or why people fed him with pâté and champagne, nobody knew and nobody asked."I
Himself included—is an essential Skimpole characteristic.
Take a being of our kind, writes Burns, in one of his super-sentimental letters, so unlike the manly ring of his verse,—Take one of our poetical temperament, give him a stronger imagination and a more delicate sensibility; implant in him an irresistible impulse to some idle vagary, “such as arranging wild flowers in fantastical nosegays, watching the grass
* Cf. “Bleak House," pp. 48 sq., 66, 145 sq., 154, 172 sq., 178 sq., 304-7, 366-8, 373-4, 418-24, 550, 586-90.
Wordsworth, Resolution and Independence. | The Three Clerks, ch. xxv.
hopper to his haunt by his chirping song, watching the frisks of the little minnows in the sunny pool, or hunting after the intrigues of butterflies"
-in short, send him adrift after some pursuit which shall “eternally mislead him from the paths of lucre, and yet curse him with a keener relish than any man living for the pleasures that lucre can purchase ;"* do this, and woe worth the wight thus exceptionally endowed.
Mr. Burley tells us, with an air of superb dignity, that an author is a being between gods and men, who ought to be lodged in a palace, and entertained at the public charge upon ortolans and tokay. He should be kept lapped in down, and curtained with silk awnings from the cares of life-have nothing to do but write books upon tables of cedar, and fish for perch from a gilded galley.”+ Quite in the style of the insect “spunger on the public” in Gay:
Sir, I'm a gentleman : Is’t fit
Myself alone I seek to please. I
Like gentlemen they sport and play ;
And nobly on their neighbours live.s Dryden hardly meant to be taken literally, in the Skimpole sense, when, picturing himself in his decline, he says,
Unprofitably kept at Heaven's expense,
I live a rent-charge on his providence.||
My lands are sold, my father's house is gone;
Well, if the use be mine, can it concern one
Whether the name belong to Pope or Vernon? It has been said of Goldsmith's poet, sitting in his garret with a worsted stocking on his head, that in spite of bailiffs, writs, duns, and milk-scores, the most horrible that even Hogarth imagined, he was still a happy fellow. “The individual Mr. Jones, seated before a delicate leg of lamb and a bottle of sherry, is an abstraction of the Mr. Jones who owes
* Burns to Miss C— , Aug., 1793.
† My Novel, book vi. ch. XX. I Gay's Fables: The Man, the Cat, the Dog, and the Fly. Ibid., The Degenerate Bees.
| Lines to Congreve. Pope's Imitations of Horace, II. 2,
2841. 18s. 4d., and has, as the Dutchmen say, nix to pay. Satisfied that he would pay if he could, which is all that is necessary to place the morale of his character upon high ground, he leaves the affairs of the world to right themselves, and enjoys the everlasting day-rule of the imagination."* As for pang or scruple about lodging and boarding gratis at a good-natured friend's,
Propositi nondum pudet, atque eadem est mens,
Ut bona summa putet, alienâ vivere quadrâ.+
A tant d'esprit passez la négligence :
Ah! du talent le besoin est l'écueil. I There is a dash of Harold Skimpole about La Bruyère's Ruffin, who “ commence à grisonner,” but is so airy, buoyant, and easy-hearted, so “gai, jovial, familier, indifférent," and who, when he loses his son, remarks, “Mon fils est mort, cela fera mourir sa mère,"—which feeling remark made, “il est consolé.”'S One is reminded of Lord Brougham's observations on two statesmen of renown, uncle and nephew, that with the simplicity of an infantine nature, they had the defect, as regards their affections, of that tender age. “ Their feelings were strong, but not deep; the impressions made on their heart were passing, and soon effaced."| A description but too applicable to that type of character whose disappearance from a busy prosaic world Mr. Hawthorne seems to regret, when he complains that mankind are getting so far beyond the childhood of their race that they scorn to be happy any longer; and that a simple and joyous character can find no place for itself among the sage and sombre figures that would put his unsophisticated cheerfulness to shame. The entire system of man's affairs, as at present established, is, according to Mr. Hawthorne, built up purposely to exclude the careless and happy soul: the very children would upbraid the wretched man who should endeavour to take life and the world as-what this author presumes them to be meant for—a place and opportunity for enjoyment.
“ It is the iron rule in our day to require an object and a purpose in life. It makes us all parts of a complicated scheme of progress, which can only result in our arrival at a colder and drearier region than we were born in. It insists upon everybody's adding somewhat-a mite, perhaps, but earned by incessant effort-to an accumulated pile of usefulness, of which the only use will be, to burden our posterity with even heavier thoughts and more inordinate labour than our own. No life now wanders like an unfettered stream ; there is a mill-wheel for the tiniest rivulet to turn. We all go wrong, by too strenuous a resolution to go all right.”
Infected with the like doctrine is the Spanish Don in one of Mr. Hannay's fictions, who utters in the tropics his lazy " Ah, me! you sleepless Englishmen! You carry the turbulence of Europe about with you,
: * Quoted, admiringly, from the Atlas, then in its palmy prime, by Leigh Hunt, in his essay on the Fortunes of Genius. + Juvenal.
I Chansons de Béranger, “ Emile Debraux." Ś Caractères de La Bruyère, ch. xi. í Statesmen of Time of George III., “ Lord Holland.” [ Transformation, ch. xxvi.
and you bring it into my quiet dream-land, when I thought I had bid it good-by. You have lost all sense, in Europe, of the value of rest. No man sits under his vine; he is off to the market to sell the grapes." " Heigho!” he yawns, on another occasion: “it is a monotonous thing, life." It is an awful thing, suggests his visitor. “ Yes, under one aspect," the Don admits : “ when one wakes suddenly at night-disagreeable thing that. But then I open the window, and there is a rich smell of flowers, and the glowing moon fills the garden,” &c. &c. And when sin is touched upon, and spoken of (not by the Don) as awful too, that Sybarite goes on to remark that what his little priest over there calls a sin is simply, in his eyes, like a false note in music. Why should he hate the poor sinner who had a bad moral ear? "Don't you hate a scoundrel?” he is asked. The Don shrugs his shoulders. What is called a scoundrel is generally a disagreeable object; so far he is unpleasant, certainly. And so far the Don would keep out of his way.*
My sick brother—so Mr. Carlyle apostrophises such people—as in hospital-maladies men do, thou dreamest of Paradises and Eldoradoes, which are far from thee. This that thou seest with those sick eyes is no firm Eldorado, and Paradise of Do-nothings, but a dream of thine own fevered brain. “It is a glass window, I tell thee, so many stories from the street; where are iron spikes and the law of gravitation !” As in another place the same philosopher urges, that “ No beautifullest Poet is a Bird-of-Paradise, living on perfumes, sleeping in the æther with outspread wings.”+
A beautiful creature,
'Tis all that he wishes to do. For it is a foremost profession and pet phrase of the Skimpole genius, that he has few wants. Like Sir Lionel Bertram, who would look so Fery pleasant, and say that, speaking for himself, he had not many wants DOW; nor had he, pleasant old man that he was, Mr. Trollope tells us, only three or four comfortable rooms for himself and his servant ; a phaeton and a pair of horses; and another smaller establishment in a secluded quiet street; nothing more than that, including, of course, all that was excellent in the eating and drinking line" speaking for myself, I have not many wants now.” And Sir Lionel did look very good humoured and pleasant as he spoke.
Plain food is quite enough for me;
Three courses are as good as ten;
Thank Heaven for three. Amen!
* Eustace Conyers, passim.
Jewels are baubles ; 'tis a sin
To care for such unfruitful things;
Some, not so large, in rings,-
Of books but few,-some fifty score
For daily use, and bound for wear;
Some little luxury there
Which others often show for pride,
And selfsh churls deride ;-
Nor ape the glittering upstart fool;
But all must be of buhl ?
I ask but one recumbent chair. * Marivaux, we are told, “ avait les goûts recherchés que l'on conçoit de la part d'une organisation si fine et si coquette, parure, propreté curieuse, friandise, tout ce superflu lui était nécessaire."f These tastes, plus a taste for John Law's System of making haste to be rich, soon reduced Marivaux to the triste expédient of sponging on his friends—subsisting, inter alia, on one pension from this friend, and another from that, and proclaiming himself, the while, a deeply-wronged and hardly-driven man. Like Dickens's Mr. Slyme, who, being lazy, and ill qualified for any regular pursuit, and having dissipated such means as he ever possessed, had formally established himself as a professor of Taste for a livelihood, and to whom, retaining nothing of his old self but his boastfulness and his bile-at once so maudlin, insolent, beggarly, and proud-we are introduced at a tavern, where he is drinking at others' expense, and sulkily whining at being obliged to two strangers for a tavern bill.I Well says Mr. Henry Taylor, that generosity comes to be perverted from its uses when it ministers to selfishness in others; and that it should be our care to give all needful support to our neighbour in his self-denial, rather than to bait a trap for his self-indulgence; in short, to give him pleasure only when it will do him good, not when sacrifices on our part are the correlatives of abuses on his; for he who pampers the selfishness of another, does that other a moral injury which cannot be compensated by any amount of gratification imparted to him.
Give thou to no man, if thou wish him well,
Against his better with his baser self.
# Martin Chuzzlewit, ch. vii.