« AnteriorContinuar »
strength and martial prowess,—the qualities set most by in that fighting age.” Another motive, which inclines us to scruple the validity of this claim, is the remarkable fact, that none of the persons in whom the right is supposed to be vested do ever insist upon it themselves. There is no instance of any of them “suing his patent,” as the law books call it ; much less of his having actually stepped up into his proper seat, as, so qualified, we might expect that some of them would have had the spirit to do, in the House of Lords. On the contrary, it seems to be a distinction thrust upon them. “Their title of 'lord,'” says one of their own body, speaking of the common people, “I never much valued, and now I entirely despise ; and yet they will force it upon me as an honour which they have a right to bestow, and which I have none to refuse.”i Upon a dispassionate review of the subject, we are disposed to believe that there is no right to the peerage incident to mere bodily configuration ; that the title in dispute is merely honorary, and depending upon the breath of the common people, which in these realms is so far from the power of conferring nobility, that the ablest constitutionalists have agreed in nothing more unanimously than in the maxim, that “the king is the sole fountain of honour."
· Hay on Deformity.
LETTER TO AN OLD GENTLEMAN WHOSE EDUCATION HAS BEEN NEGLECTED.
Dear Sir,-I send you a bantering “Epistle to an Old Gentleman whose Education is supposed to have been neglected.” Of course, it was suggested by some letters of your admirable Opium-Eater, the discontinuance of which has caused so much regret to myself in common with most of your readers. You will do me injustice by supposing that, in the remotest degree, it was my intention to ridicule those papers. The fact is, the most serious things may give rise to an innocent burlesque; and, the more serious they are, the fitter they become for that purpose. It is not to be supposed that Charles Cotton did not entertain a very high regard for Virgil, notwithstanding he travestied that poet. Yourself can testify the deep respect I have always held for the profound learning and penetrating genius of our friend. Nothing upon earth would give me greater pleasure than to find that he has not lost sight of his entertaining and instructive purpose. I am, dear sir, yours and his sincerely,
K A Y DEAR SIR,- The question which MACAN you have done me the honour to propose RIWW to me, through the medium of our comI mon friend, Mr. Grierson, I shall endeavour to answer with as much exactness as a limited observation and experience can warrant.
You ask,-or rather Mr. Grierson, in his own interesting language, asks for you,—“Whether a person at the age of sixty-three, with no more proficiency than a tolerable knowledge of most of the characters of the English alphabet at first sight amounts to, by dint of persevering application and good masters,-a docile and ingenuous disposition on the part of the pupil always presupposed, -may hope to arrive, within a presumable number of years, at that degree of attainments which shall entitle the possessor to the character, which you are on so many accounts justly desirous of acquiring, of a learned man.”
This is fairly and candidly stated, -only I could wish that on one point you had been a little more explicit. In the mean time, I will take it for granted, that by a “knowledge of the alphabetic characters ” you confine your meaning to the single powers only, as you are silent on the subject of the diphthongs and harder combinations.
Why, truly, sir, when I consider the vast circle of sciences, --it is not here worth while to trouble you with the distinction between learning and science, which a man must be understood to have made the tour of in these days, before the world will be willing to concede to him the title which you aspire to,-I am almost disposed to reply to your inquiry by a direct answer in the negative.
However, where all cannot be compassed, a great deal that is truly valuable may be accomplished. I am unwilling to throw out any remarks that should have a tendency to damp a hopeful genius ; but I must not, in fairness, conceal from you that you have much to do. The consciousness of difficulty is sometimes a spur to exertion. Rome -or cather, my dear sir, to becrow an illustration trim asie as vet mere fam: ar to ye, kamford - komfort was 200 bezit in a day.
Yuripi 28 yet, give me leave to tell you, is in the sure ci a sheet of white paper. We must not biot or biar it over too hasc.y. Or, to use an opposite simile, it is like a piece of parchment ail bescrawlai ard bescribdied over with characters of no erse or import, which we must carefully erase ani remove before we can make way for the authentic characters or impresses which are to be ubstituted in their stead by the corrective hand of science.
Your mind, my dear sir, again, resembles that same parchment, which we wiil suppose a little hardened by time and disuse. We may apply the characters; but are we sure that the ink wiil sini?
You are in the condition of a traveller that has all his journey to begin. And, again, you are worse of than the traveller which I have supposed : for you have already lost your way.
You have much to lear, which you have never been taught: and more. I fear, to unlear, which you have been taught erroneously. You have hitherto, I dare say, imagined that the sun moves round the earth. When you shall have mastered the true solar system, you will have quite a different theory upon that point, I assure you. I mention but this instance. Your own experience, as knowledge advances, will furnish you with many parallels.
I can scarcely approve of the intention, which Mr. Grierson informs me you have contemplated, of entering yourself at a common seminary, and working your way up from the lower to the higher
forms with the children. I see more to admire in the modesty than in the expediency of such a resolution. I own I cannot reconcile myself to the spectacle of a gentleman at your time of life, seated, as must be your case at first, below a tyro of four or five ; for at that early age the rudiments of education usually commence in this country. I doubt whether more might not be lost in the point of fitness than would be gained in the advantages which you propose to yourself by this scheme.
You say you stand in need of emulation; that this incitement is nowhere to be had but at a public school; that you should be more sensible of your progress by comparing it with the daily progress of those around you. But have you considered the nature of emulation, and how it is sustained at these tender years which you would have to come in competition with? I am afraid you are dreaming of academic prizes and distinctions. Alas! in the university for which you are preparing, the highest medal would be a silver penny; and you must graduate in nuts and oranges.
I know that Peter, the Great Czar–or Emperor
of Muscovy, submitted himself to the discipline of a dockyard at Deptford, that he might learn, and convey to his countrymen, the noble art of ship-building. You are old enough to remember him, or at least the talk about him. I call to mind also other great princes, who, to instruct themselves in the theory and practice of war, and set an example of subordination to their subjects, have condescended to enrol themselves as private soldiers; and, passing through the successive ranks of corporal, quartermaster, and the rest, have served