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tinsel trappings, his gold lace, feathers, music, and the glitter of the false glory with which it has been attempted to dazzle the world as to his real state, it is difficult to imagine anything more humiliating, than the condition of a soldier.
Nothing so much shows the triumph of opinion and usage over fact, of the conventional over the abstract, as that a profession, apparently so much at variance with all their feelings, should be chosen by gentlemen of independence, humanity, and reflection. Nothing is more redeeming to our common nature than that such men, placed in a sphere so expressly calculated to make them both slavish and tyrannical, should generally preserve their good qualities from contamination. Few characters so honourable, few gentlemen so courteous, few companions so agreeable as a British officer; but this is not in consequence, but in spite of his being in the army. Why he ever entered it, we presume not to inquire, but we are bound to believe that his motive was not less rational and amiable than that of the affectionate Irishman, who enlisted in the seventy-fifth regiment, in order to be near his brother, who was a corporal in the seventy-sixth.—(Vide Josephus Molitor.)
SPECULATION.-A word that sometimes begins with its second letter.
SPELLING-BAD—is sometimes the best, as in the case of the Beer vender, who wrote over his shop door, “ Bear sold here,” manifestly implying, as was observed by my friend T. H-, that it was his own Bruin. Not less ingenious was the device of the quack doctor, who announced in his printed handbills, that he could instantly cure, “the most ob‘stinate aguews,” thus satisfactorily proving that he was no conjuror, and did not attempt to cure them by a spell.
SPINSTER.-An unprotected female, and of course a fine subject for exercising the courage of cowards, and the wit of the witless.
STEAM.-Strange that there should slumber in yonder tranquil pond, a power so tremendous, that could we condense and direct its energies, it might cleave the solid earth in twain, and yet so gentle that it may be governed, and applied, and set to perform its stupendous miracles by a child ! The discovery that water would resist being boiled above 212 degrees, has conferred upon England its manufacturing supremacy, and will eventually produce changes, both moral and physical, of which it is difficult to limit the extent. One bushel of coals, properly consumed, will raise seventy millions of pounds weight a foot high. The Menai Bridge, weighing four millions of pounds, suspended at a medium height of 120 feet, might have been raised where it is, by seven bushels of coals. M. Dupin estimates the steam engines of England to possess a moving power equivalent to that of 6,400,000 men at the windlass. And this stupendous agent is at present only in its infancy!
STOMACH.—The epicure's deity. Buffon gave it as his deliberate conviction, that this portion of our economy was the seat of thought, an opinion which he seems to have adopted from Persius, who dubs it a master of arts, and the dispenser of genius. So satisfied are we of its reflecting disposition, that we call a cow, or other beast with two stomachs, a ruminating animal par excellence. To judge by the quantity they eat, we might infer some of our own species to have two stomachs; but when we listen to their discourse, we find it difficult to include them in the class of ruminating animals.
STONE--The philosopher's. The folly of those who have inherited Midas's ears without his touch. A will-o'-thewisp, however, does not always lead us into quagmires; in running after shadows we sometimes catch substances, and in following illusions overtake the most valuable realities. The pursuit of the philosopher's stone has by no means en a vain one. Alchymy has given us chemistry, and we are indebted to the astrologers for the elucidations of the most difficult problems in astronomy. The clown, who in running to catch a fallen star, stumbled, and kicked up a hidden treasure, has found many an unintentional imitator among scientific visionaries and stargazers. Perhaps more has been gained by long and vainly seeking the quadrature of the circle, the longitude, and perpetual motion, than would have arisen from immediate success. Morals, too, have their philosopher's stone, in other shapes than those of Plato's Atlantis, or More's Utopia; and it is healthy to chace such chimeras, if it were only for the sake of air and exercise, in an atmosphere of purity. Many real virtues may be acquired by straining after an imaginary and unattainable perfection. Orede quòd habes, et habes. When a thing is once believed possible, it is half realized.
STONE—to pelt with. Dr. Magee affirms, that the Roman Catholics have a Church without a religion ;-the Dissenters, a religion without a Church;-the Establishment, both a Church and a religion. “ This is false,” observes Robert Hall of Leicester; “ but it is an excellent stone for a clergyman to pelt with.”
STUPIDITY-is often more apparent than real; it may be indisposition rather than incapacity. The human mind is not like logic—the major does not always contain the minor; and men who feel themselves fit for great things, cannot always accomplish little ones. Claude Lorraine was dismissed by the pastry-cook to whom he had been apprenticed, for sheer stupidity. The difficulty did not consist in bringing his mind up, but in bringing it down to the manufacture of buns and tartlets.
STYLE.--To have a good style in writing, you should have nonc; as perfect beauty of face consists in the absence of any predominant feature. Mannerism, whether in writing
or painting, can never be a merit. Swift is right when he decides, that “ Proper words in proper places, make the true definition of a good style.”
“He who would write well,” says Roger Ascham, must follow the advice of Aristotle,-to speak as the common people speak, and to think as the wise think.” Style, however, is but the colouring of the picture, which should always be held subordinate to the design. “ We may well forgive Tertullian his iron style,” says Balzac, “when we recollect what excellent weapons he has forged out of this iron, for the defence of Christianity, and the defeat of the Marcionites and Valentinians.”
SUBSCRIPTIONS-private. Paying your creditors by taxing your friends; an approved method for getting rid of both. Many years ago a worthy and well-known Baronet, having become embarrassed in his circumstances, a Subscription was set on foot by his friends, and a letter, soliciting contributions, was addressed to the late Lord Erskine, who immediately despatched the following answer :
“ My dear Sir John, I am in general an enemy to Subscriptions of this nature; first, because my own finances are by no means in a flourishing plight; and secondly, because pecuniary assistance, thus conferred, must be equally. painful to the donor and the receiver. As I feel, however, the sincerest gratitude for your public services, and regard for your private worth, I have great pleasure in subscribing-(Here the worthy Baronet, big with expectation, turned over the leaf, and finished the perusal of the note, which terminated as follows:)-in subscribing myself,
“My dear Sir John,
SUGGESTION-A friendly one. A man who had had his ears cuffed in a squabble, without resenting the affront, being shortly afterwards in a party, and in want of a pinch of snuff, exclaimed, " I cannot think what I have done with my box ; it is not in either of my pockets.”—“ Try your ears,” said a bystander.
SUPERSTITION--as Plutarch has well observed, is much worse than atheism, since it must be less offensive to deny the existence of such a deity as Saturn, than to admit his existence, and affirm, that he was such an unnatural monster, as éven to devour his own children.
Archbishop Tillotson says, “ According as men’s notions of God are, such will their religions be; if they have gross and false conceptions of God, their religion will be absurd and superstitious. If men fancy God to be an ill-natured Being, armed with infinite power, who takes delight in the misery and ruin of his creatures, and is ready to take all advantages against them, they may fear him, but they will hate him, and they will be apt to be such towards one another, as they fancy God to be toward them; for all religion doth naturally incline men to imitate him whom they worship.” -Sermons, vol. i. p. 181.
“ Atheism,” observes a Christian philosopher, “ leaves a man to sense, to philosophy, to natural piety, to laws, to reputation; all which may be guides to an outward moral virtue, though religion were not; but superstition dismounts all these, and erecteth an absolute monarchy in the minds of men."-(Bacon's Essays, p. 96.) In point of fact, the misrepresentation of a deity, beads immediately to the denial of his existence; a result which has not escaped the acuteness of Plutarch. “ The atheist," says that writer, “contributes not in the least to superstition ; but superstition, having given out so hideous an idea of the Deity, has frightened many into the utter disbelief of any such being; because, they think it much better, nay, more reasonable, that there should be no deity, than one whom they see more reason to hate and abominate, than to love, honour, and reverence.