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Page 57. To the Nautilus.
“There is a kind of Nautilus, called by Linnæus Argonauta, whose shell has but one cell; of this animal Pliny affirms, that having exonerated its shell by throwing out the water, it swims upon the surface, extending a web of wonderful tenuity, and bending back two of its arms, and, rowing with the rest, makes a sail, and at length receiving the water, dives again." Pliny, IX., 29.
Linnæus adds to his description of this animal, that, like the crab Diogenes or Bernhard, it occupies a house not its own, as it is not connected to its shell, and is therefore foreign to it. Who could have given credit to this if it had not been attested by so many, who have with their own eyes seen this Argonauta in the act of sailing.” Syst. Nat. p.
1161. “The Nautilus, properly so named by Linnæus, has a shell consisting of many chambers, of which cups are made in the East with beautiful painting and carving on the mother-pearl. The animal is said to inhabit only the uppermost or open chamber which is larger than the rest, and that the rest remain empty, except that the siphunculus, which communicates from one to the other of them, is filled with an appendage of the animal like a gut or string. Mr. Hook in his Philos. Exper, p. 306, imagines this to be a dilatable or compressible tube, like the air-bladders of fish, and that by contracting or permitting it to expand, it renders its shell buoyant or the contrary."
"Darwin. It is not to be supposed that the Nautilus defies the storm. It only sails in fair weather and light breezes, and if the sea become turbulent, or any interruption threaten to cut short its voyage of pleasure, it dives directly. I recollect to have seen, in manuscript, a most beautiful copy of verses, founded on this habit of the Nautilus. Had they been in print, mine should never have appeared. The same may be said of the lines “ to certain gold fishes.” A real poet, among many strains of “higher mood,” of which he deems the world unworthy, has an exquisite little piece on those beautiful creatures, in which he has exhibited a more than pictorial power of language. It is saying far too little to say, that he makes you see the gold-fish-that they flash, in all their effulgence of hue, and complicity of motion," on that inward eye which is the bliss of solitude.” He makes you feel as if you were a gold fish yourself.
It is said, that the gold fish (Cyprinus Auratus of Linnæus) was originally confined to a little lake of China.
Page 61. Leonard and Susan. This tale, which was first published in Blackwood's Magazine, was intended to form part of a series of narrative and reflective pieces, which should have been intitled “Lucubrations of an Old Bachelor.” Leonard was to have been an old man in my, i. e. the Old Bachelor's childhood. This, of course, throws the supposed date of the incidents at least a century back, and may obviate the charge of exaggeration which has been alleged against my description of prison sufferings. A debtor's gaol, however, is still, I suspect, pretty much what it always has been-a place of low dissipation or unprincipled luxury for the dishonest ; of ruin, and misery, and debasement to the unfortunate.
Blessed be the memory of that benevolent jurist who struggled so manfully against the barbarism of antichristian ordinances! May the softest air of Paradise calm and heal the phrenzy which crossed him in an evil hour; and if separated spirits have any perception of what passes in the world they have left, may his spirit be comforted in seeing the good work which he well begun, perfected to a good end. Our Judges are very fond of asserting that “ Christianity is parcel of the law :" it will be more to the purpose when we can truly say that the law is parcel of christianity.
I wish that future ages-on the very improbable supposition that this trifle should exist in a future age-may think the representation of an election a caricature.
No reflection is meant upon Nabobs in general. “Wherever the carcase is, there will the vultures be gathered together.” Wherever there is a new way opened to riches, there will be a concourse of those who own no God but Mammon; a Fiend compared to whom Juggernaut is merciful, and Cotytto is pure. But there will also be many who seek wealth as the means of doing good, and many such have returned from the shores of Hindostan. Such characters as my Nabob were probably more common when the East first became the scene of British enterprize than at present. India is now visited by men of better educa
tion, more refined habits, more philosophic minds; and moreover, the press---Heaven's blessing upon it !---forbids any man to be very overtly wicked in any quarter of the globe, who wishes to come back and enjoy his gettings in England.
It is hardly worth while to mention that most of the lugubrious love ditties in this volume were conceived in the character of the lovelorn “old bachelor.” For what many will deem their silly “mock-platonism,” and “querulous egotism,” I am only dramatically answerable. I, does not always mean myself.
The chaste and consecrated snow
Thou ever young, fresh, loved, and delicate wooer,
Shakspeare's Timon of Athens.
The fig tree, not that kind for fruit renown'd,
Paradise Lost, b. 9. The palace is Aladdin's. It is needless to mention how much my description is indebted to Thalaba. The imagination of Southey is as thoroughly Arabesque as that of Moore's is Persian. Thalaba, Kehama, and Lalla Roohk, have completely orientalized our imaginations
I love Albums. They sometimes procure a sunny look, or a kind
word, for some hard-favoured son of the muse, that else might wither in the “shade of cold neglect.” Surely there is a moral value in whatever enables a poor man to confer a kindness.
Page 100. Farewell.
In these “piping times of peace,” undergraduates take the place of Ensigns, and the close of the Long Vacation is attended with the same gales of sighs, and showers of tears, as heretofore the sailing of a regiment for actual service. Examinations are as terrible to the fair as battles, and the future first class-man, or wrangler, is as interesting as the possible hero.
There is something very fascinating about an Undergraduate; he is a rose unblown, and wears “the beauty of promise;" he is a member of an ancient establishment, therefore his youth and freshness are at once contrasted and sanctified by beautiful antiquity; he is a spring flower growing on the steeple of a gothic cathedral. He is enough a man to make his notice worth having by a young lady, and yet so much a boy, that ladies of a certain age can make a pet of him. He has the reputation of learning without the odium of displaying it; above all, he has a certificate of gentility, which, let his real rank and fortune be what it will, passes unchallenged everywhere but in his own University. There, indeed, he is under the necessity of proving and maintaining his caste, and the stain of a mercantile or agricultural connection can only be washed out with claret. Everywhere else the “COLLEGIAN” is absolute sumptus, a gentleman. But this enviable distinction belongs to Oxford and Cambridge alone. Edinburgh or Glasgow are no recommendation except to phrenological females, and Trinity College, Dublin, is as alien to English associations as Salamanca or Benares. The London University may have its day, but its day is not yet come. At present it is looked upon as coldly by the petticoat as by the gown. Should a youth be introduced to a fair partner at a country ball as a collegian, and prove, after all, to be only a member of Stincomalee, the lady's delicacy would be as much shocked as if she were to find that the very delightful naval officer with whom she had been dancing under the ambiguous title Captain, was the skipper of a small vessel engaged in the Irish butter trade. It is well : the members
of the liberal establishment must be gentlemen, if they desire to be accepted as such.
Learning, of itself, confers no rank in England. It does not even give the eclat of a fashionable lion. But, as the passport to learned professions, it enables a man, with good conduct, to overcome any disadvantage of birth, and to achieve a place in the best circles of society. Perhaps this is as it should be.
The peculiar advantage of being an Oxonian or a Cantab is specially felt in the vacation, and in the country. In London they form a pleasant variety indeed, but excite no commotion. They are but as a drop of wine in the ocean. In Liverpool, or Manchester, they are out of place. The academical aristocracy is too strong a discord in the commercial concert. In Bath or Cheltenham they degenerate into mere gentlemen loungers; they partake, but they do not create or authorize, the general dissipation. But in small villages, with a good neighbourhood and romantic scenery, they are just what they should be. The custom of reading parties is one of the favourable signs of the times. They read very little: if men want to read, let them take a back-room in Cheapside, or the county gaol. At Ambleside, in Wales, in the Isle of Wight, or the Highlands, what have Euclid or Aristotle to do? But they gladden the waters with their music, and the fair with their gallantry; and what is better still, fill their imagination with beautiful images, and their hearts with kind feelings.
It was on a rusticating (not a rusticated) Cantab that these lines were composed. He was a poet in thought, but either “wanted the accomplishment of verse," or which is more probable, concealed his possession of it. Long will his amiable manners, and green-ribboned guitar, be remembered in Grasmere.
By a Friend.” I know not whether I am not taking an unwarrantable liberty in giving publicity to these stanzas; but their appearance in my volume is a pleasant record of a valuable friendship, and I trust my friend will not be displeased to see his pretty and tender effusion along with his old acquaintances of mine, some of which owe their preservation to his kind opinion of their merits.