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The present is, in many respects, a more reflective volume than its predecessor: for it is scarcely possible to illustrate the Ages of Man without
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears. This is one of the byways of the book : its highway lies through the crowded city, and upon “the full tide of human affairs ;" and the Experiences here set down are, in common parlance, original, and have been chiefly garnered throughout a long life, in which truthful observation has been the cardinal aim.
With these few words of introduction, I commend to your indulgence this volume of Things to be Remembered in Daily Life, in the hope that its contents may be considered worthy of the reminiscence.
London, March 1863.
ERRATUM. Page 20. The Terrace, New Palace-yard, Westminster, was taken down in the spring of 1863; the Sun-dial had previously been removed.
THINGS TO BE REMEMBERED.
Time. The conventional personification of Time, with which every one is familiar, is the figure of Saturn, god of Time, represented as an old man, holding a scythe in his hand, and a serpent with its tail in its mouth, emblematical of the revolutions of the year: sometimes he carries an hour-glass, occasionally winged ; to him is attributed the invention of the scythe. He is bald, except a lock on the forehead; hence Swift says: “Time is painted with a lock before, and bald behind, signifying thereby that we must take him (as we say) by the forelock; for when it is once passed, there is no recalling it.”
The scythe occurs in Shirley's lines, written early in the seventeenth century:
The glories of our blood and state
Are shadows, not substantial things ;
Sceptre and crown
Must tumble down,
With the poor crooked scythe and spade.
Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth,
And delves the parallels in beauty's brow,
And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow.
Let's take the instant by the forward top ;
Mayne thus quaintly describes his flight:
Time is the feather'd thing,
An unperceived dimness in thine eyes.
The heavens on high perpetually do move;
By minutes' meal the hour doth steal away,
And then by months the years as fast decay ;
Yea, Virgil's verse and Túlly's truth do say,
But rides on clouds, and forward still she flings.
Swift subtle post, carrier of grisly care ;
Base watch of woes, sin's pack-horse, virtue's snare :
Thou nursest all, and murderest all that are.
Wicked Time, that all good thoughts doth waste,
And workes of noblest wits to naught outweare. The present section partakes much of the aphoristic character, which has its recommendatory advantages.Bacon says: “ Aphorisms representing a knowledge broken do invite men to inquire further; whereas methods, carrying the show of a total, do secure men as if they were at farthest.” Again : “Nor do apophthegms only serve for ornament and delight, but also for action and civil use, as being the edge-tools of speech, which cut and penetrate the knots of business and affairs."
Coleridge is of opinion that, exclusively of the Abstract Sciences, the largest and worthiest portion of our knowledge consists of Aphorisms; and the greatest and best of men is but an Aphorism.
Truths, of all others the most awful and interesting, are too often considered as so true, that they lose all the power of truth, and lie bedridden in the dormitory of the soul, side by side with the most despised and exploded errors.
“ There is one way of giving freshness and importance to