Imágenes de páginas
[graphic][merged small]

Nought but a blank remains, a dead void space,
A step of life that promised such a race.-DRYDEN.

17 A POLEON has now sent us back from

the grave sufficient echoes of his living YAW renown: the twilight of posthumous

Me fame has lingered long enough over the spot where the sun of his glory set; and his name must at length repose in the silence, if not in the darkness of night. In this busy and evanescent scene, other spirits of the age are rapidly snatched away, claiming our undivided sympathies and regrets, until in turn they yield to some newer and more absorbing grief. Another name is now added to the list of the mighty departed,-a name whose influence upon the hopes and fears, the fates and fortunes, of our countrymen, has rivalled, and per

"Since writing this article, we have been informed that the object of our funeral oration is not definitively dead, but only moribund. So much the better : we shall have an opportunity of granting the request made to Walter by one of the children in the wood, and “kill him two times.” The Abbé de Vertot having a siege to write, and not receiving the materials in time, composed the whole from his invention. Shortly after its completion, the expected documents arrived, when he threw them aside, exclaiming, “You are of no use to me now: I have carried the town.'

haps eclipsed, that of the defunct “child and champion of Jacobinism,” while it is associated with all the sanctions of legitimate government, all the sacred authorities of social order and our most holy religion. We speak of one, indeed, under whose warrant heavy and incessant contributions were imposed upon our fellow-citizens, but who exacted nothing without the signet and the sign-manual of most devout Chancellors of the Exchequer. Not to dally longer with the sympathies of our readers, we think it right to premonish them that we are composing an epicedium upon no less distinguished a personage than the Lottery, whose last breath, after many penultimate puffs, has been sobbed forth by sorrowing contractors, as if the world itself were about to be converted into a blank. There is a fashion of eulogy, as well as of vituperation; and, though the Lottery stood for some time in the latter predicament, we hesitate not to assert that multis ille bonis flebilis occidit. Never have we joined in the senseless clamour which condemned the only .tax whereto we became voluntary contributors, the only resource which gave the stimulus without the danger or infatuation of gambling ; the only alembic which in these plodding days sublimized our imaginations, and filled them with more delicious dreams than ever flitted athwart the sensorium of Alnaschar.

Never can the writer forget, when, as a child, he was hoisted upon a servant's shoulder in Guildhall, and looked down upon the installed and solemn pomp of the then drawing Lottery. The two awful cabinets of iron, upon whose massy and mysterious portals the royal initials were gorgeously emblazoned, as if, after having deposited the unfulfilled prophecies within, the king himself had turned the lock, and still retained the key in his pocket; the bluecoat boy, with his naked arm, first converting the invisible wheel, and then diving into the dark recess for a ticket; the grave and reverend faces of the commissioners eyeing the announced number ; the scribes below calmly committing it to their huge books; the anxious countenances of the surrounding populace; while the giant figures of Gog and Magog, like presiding deities, looked down with a grim silence upon the whole proceeding, --constituted altogether a scene, which, combined with the sudden wealth supposed to be lavished from those inscrutable wheels, was well calculated to impress the imagination of a boy with reverence and amazement. Jupiter, seated between the two fatal urns of good and evil, the blind goddess with her cornucopia, the Parcæ wielding the distaff, the thread of life, and the abhorred shears, seemed but dim and shadowy abstractions of mythology, when I had gazed upon an assemblage exercising, as I dreamt, a not less eventful power, and all presented to me in palpable and living operation. Reason and experience, ever at their old spiteful work of catching and destroying the bubbles which youth delighted to follow, have indeed dissipated much of this illusion: but my mind so far retained the influence of that early impression, that I have ever since continued to deposit my humble offerings at its shrine, whenever the ministers of the Lottery went forth with type and trumpet to announce its periodical dispensations; and though nothing has been doled out to me from its undiscerning coffers but blanks, or those more vexatious tantalizers of the spirit denominated small prizes, yet do I hold myself largely indebted to this most generous diffuser of universal happiness. Ingrates that we are ! are we to be thankful for no benefits that are not palpable to sense, to recognize no favours that are not of marketable value, to acknowledge no wealth unless it can be counted with the five fingers? If we admit the mind to be the sole depository of genuine joy, where is the bosom that has not been elevated into a temporary Elysium by the magic of the Lottery? Which of us has not converted his ticket, or even his sixteenth share of one, into a nest-egg of Hope, upon which he has sate brooding in the secret roosting-places of his heart, and hatched it into a thousand fantastical apparitions ?

What a startling revelation of the passions if all the aspirations engendered by the Lottery could be made manifest! Many an impecuniary epicure has gloated over his locked-up warrant for future wealth, as a means of realizing the dream of his namesake in the “ Alchemist : "'

My meat shall all come in in Indian shells Dishes of agate set in gold, and studded With emeralds, sapphires, hyacinths, and rubies; The tongues of carps, dormice, and camels' heels, Boiled i' the spirit of Sol, and dissolved in pearl (Apicius' diet 'gainst the epilepsy). And I will eat these broths with spoons of amber, Headed with diamant and carbuncle. My footboy shall eat pheasants, calvered salmons, Knots, godwits, lampreys: I myself will have The beards of barbels served, instead of salads; Oiled mushrooms, and the swelling unctuous paps Of a fat pregnant sow, newly cut off, Dressed with an exquisite and poignant sauce, For which I'll say unto my cook, “There's gold : Go forth, and be a knight !" Many a doting lover has kissed the scrap of paper whose promissory shower of gold was to give up to him his otherwise unattainable Danaë;

[ocr errors]

Nimrods have transformed the same narrow symbol into a saddle, by which they have been enabled to bestride the backs of peerless hunters; while nymphs have metamorphosed its Protean form into

Rings, gauds, conceits,
Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweetmeats,"

and all the braveries of dress, to say nothing of the obsequious husband, the two-footmann'd carriage, and the opera-box. By the simple charm of this numbered and printed rag, gamesters have, for a time at least, recovered their losses ; spendthrifts have cleared off mortgages from their estates; the imprisoned debtor has leapt over his lofty boundary of circumscription and restraint, and revelled in all the joys of liberty and fortune; the cottage-walls have swelled out into more goodly proportion than those of Baucis and Philemon; poverty has tasted the luxuries of competence; labour has lolled at ease in a perpetual arm-chair of idleness ; sickness has been bribed into banishment ; life has been invested with new charms; and death deprived of its former terrors. Nor have the affections been less gratified than the wants, appetites, and ambitions of mankind. By the conjurations of the same potent spell, kindred have lavished antici: pated benefits upon one another, and charity upon all. Let it be termed a delusion,-a fool's paradise is better than the wise man's Tartarus; be it branded as an ignis-fatuus,-it was at least a benevolent one, which, instead of beguiling its followers into swamps, caverns, and pitfalls, allured them on with all the blandishments of enchantment to a garden of Eden,-an ever-blooming Elysium of delight. True, the pleasures it bestowed were

« AnteriorContinuar »