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A Round of Proverbs.
A ROUND OF PROVERBS.
Every bean has its black. This is an excusatory proverb for the common failings of mankind, and intimates, that there is no man perfect in all points, wise in all respects, or awake at all hours, and is a satire against censoriousness. What is bred in the bone will never be
out of the flesh. This proverb is applied to such as imitate some vice of their parents ; and intimates, that persons naturaly addicted to any vice, will scarce ever be reclaimed afterwards by the art of rhetoric, or the power of persuasion, authority, or command
Curs'd cows have short horns. This proverb is sarcastically applied to such persons, who, though they have malignity in their hearts, have feebleness in their hands, disabling them from wreaking their malice on the persons they bear ill-will to. Also under this ridiculous emblem of curs'd cows, inveterate enemies are couched, whose barbarous designs are often frustrated by the intervention of an over-ruling providence.
No longer pipe, no longer dance. This proverb is a reflection upon the mercenary and ungraterul tempers of too many people; and is also a good memento of prudence, intimating that misfortune will have tew or no friends, for ungratefuland mercenary people, though they have had twenty good turns cone forinerly, will dance no longer than the music of this proverb obliges them for their pains; nor budge no farther than they have money to pay thein for their continued service.
He sets the fox to keep his geese. This proverb reflects upon the ill conduct of men in the management of their affairs, by intrusting either sharpers with their money, blabs with their secrets, or enemies or informers with their lives; for no obligation can bind against nature. A fox will love a goose still, though his skin be stripped over his ears for it; and a common cheat will always follow his old trade of tricking hụs friend, in spite of all promises and principles ot' honour.
Out of the frying-pan into the fire.
sons, who, impatient under some smal ler inconveniency, and rashly endeavouring to extricate themselves, for want of prudence and caution, intangle themselves in difficulties greater than they were in before. He steals a goose, and gives the giblets
in alms. This proverb points at such persons who, by acts of injustice, oppression, and fraud, amass to themselves large estates, and think to atone for their rapine by doing some charitable acts while they are alive, or when they can no longer possess them, by leaving their lands in mortmain to pious and chari. table uses, as building and endowing hospitals, alms-houses, and other acts of beneficence, (commendable indeed, when done from a truly christian charity) but they who think by thus paying Paul, to atone for their robbing Peter, entertain an opinion highly disparaging the justice of the Almighty.
After sweet meat comes sour sauce.
This proverb is an excellent monition to temperance and sobriety, for that whatsoever is excessive and unreason. able, either in our actions, or our passions or appetites, in either drinking or eating to gluttony; either in point of wit, mirth or wantonness to intemperance; of lust, leachery, or lewdness to iniquity, will certainly make the sweetest meat we can eat rise as sour as a crab in our stomachs: for that there is a rank poison in the tail of all unlawful pleasures, a bitter sweet, or a deadly sour dreg in the bottom of a vessel, which will be wormwood and gall in the belly
If you trust before you try,
You may repent before you die. Under this proverbial distich is couched a good lesson of caution and circum. spection; not to choose a friend on a sudden, or make persons our intimates, and repose a confidence in them, by entrusting them with our secrets and private concerns, before we have expe rienced their integrity; it also cautions persons against too easy a credulity in buying upon the credit of persons un. known, without deliberately weighing in their minds whether the things are equal in value to the price of the purchase.
ALL THE PROVARBS,
SIR, My brother Matthew is, you know, a student in Glasgow, this year again. Before leaving Kilmarnock he promised to give me from time to time his opinions upon
the manners, peculiarities, &c. &c. of the city of which he is now an inhabitant. If you think his letters will contribute to the amusement of your readers, you are at liberty to insert tl:em in the Mirror. I send you
the first I have received. In the mean time, I remain,
Yours truly, Kilmarnock, 22d Dec. 1818. JOHN KENSPECKLE.
MY DEAR BROTHER, Having been always accustomed to a small town, every thing about Glasgow amazes me. The size of the city, the breadth and elegance of the streets, the bustle, and the infinitely diversified expression of countenance which may be traced in the looks of the immense crowd who buz along, from the maidenish simper of the male coquette, to the grin of the man of plodding and arithmetic. The town is rapidly extending to the west, which is sometimes (I suppose ironically) called the Court-end, and in the course of a few years, will occupy a beautiful eminence, overlooking the Clyde, and commanding a fine view of the surrounding country. Wealth begets distinctions, and Glasgow can boast of patricians and plebeians; each jealous of the prerogatives of the other though they mingle so insen
Letter from Matthew Kenspeckle.
sibly, that no definite line of separation can be fixed. The coinmunity is composed of a great body of merchants, from the proprietor of sugar estates and plantations, to the vender of small wares and confections. This heterogeneous multitude is kept in motion by the impulse of certain principles and feelings universally recognised, and the slightest deviation from which causes a tremor throughout the whole. There is, to speak allegorically, a kind of extended chain, having a certain number of subdivisions corresponding to the various ranks, yet so intimately connected as a whole, that the disturbance of a link at one extremity, produces, like the operations of a voltaic pile, a sensible motion at the other. It is true, that in every situation of life, we are dependant on each other for the blessings and comforts of sociality; and that the stream of domestic happiness and public peace would be interrupted, if this sense of union were annihilated, or the importance of mutual relationship in any degree infringed on. But in a mercantile society, this is the case in a remarkable degrec, and the mode in which it is effected is so obvious, that it does not require illustration. I do not mention this peculiarity as a reflection on this most respectable class. I look on it as a natural consequence flowing from the constitution of things, merely as one of the results of an extension of simple barter, over which no individual
kind of control. In the infancy of society, the rude commodities of one nation are bartered for those of another; utility, therefore, is the standard of exchange; but as states advance in civilization, an artificial value is attached to different articles, which increases with luxury, and the consequent demand. The simple process of our ancestors becomes, by this increase, more complicated, till at length it forms the basis of a mighty superstructure, the intricacies of which it requires a lifetime to unravel.
Of late years, a taste for the elegancies of life, and for literary and scientific pursuits, has manifested itself, and there
now various societies for these purposes, composed of the more respectable of the inhabitants, which have risen on the ruins, of certain bacchanalian institutions, where a taste for refined pleasures was drowned in rivers of cold punch, and streams of Burton ale. Their taste, however, seems still to be loaded with a portion of its original dross, which adheres with so much tenacity, that I fear there is little chance of a speedy or effective eparation ;
-ay, it appears to me, that it has travelled but a
Letter from Matthew Kenspeckle.
little way beyond the precincts of rudeness. It displays itself in a devoted partiality for ponderous and tawdry decorations ; in a multiplicity of ornaments, without a due selection of those materials which form the beautiful ; and in a total disregard for that simplicity which is so intimately connected with elegance, that to separate them, a violence must be offered to nature.
In the formation of their new streets, they have displayed a profound contempt for regularity. Every dwelling is constructed according to the whim of its possessor, and the contrast betwixt an edifice built of the most costly materials, adorned with Corinthian pillars, and a cupola siniling over a mansion erected in the most ordinary style of architecture, is more ridiculous than one can well conceive. This is very remarkable in their public buildings, which have a uniform tendency to swell into monsters, or to dwindle into pigmies, or to be disproportioned in every part. Their theatre is an example of the first; their asseinbly rooms of the second, and their new churches of the third. * They are at this moment employed in taking down a tower which became giddy ere it had reached the height intended for it, and which threatened to descend from its elevation without respect to persons, if the magistrates refused to grant their concurrence, necessary
aid. The college is an ancient and venerable pile, which, with the modesty of true worth, has retired to a remote corner of the city, called High-street; where it blushes at the sacrilegious effrontery of those who have reared in its immediate vicinity, hovels of filth and nastiness, and who have had so little respect for its ancient consequence, as to associate it with cheese shops, butter shops, tobacco manufactories, and china warehouses. Its appearance, if you enter the city by High-Street, is imposing, though much of the effect is destroyed by its situation. It seems at one period to have stood alone, but at present it forms a part of the continued street,
* These remarks on size must be understood as being merely comparative. The theatre would be too small for London, and the Assembly Rooms too large for Kilmarnock. Yet as the one is too large for Glasgow, and the other too small, we have a right to censure them, as they do not answer the purposes for which they were built. Neither are they ornamental--they stand in streets insulated, in so far as no building of a similar description is in their vicinity; yet they are connected with houses of every complexion and shape; some jutting out, others falling back: some built of dark grey stone, others of red stone graced with pillars, and a variety of ornamental masonryand others displaying as their only supernumerary garniture the pigs on the chimney header-Ed
Letter from Matthew Kenspeckle.
and stands amid the surrounding buildings, a beautiful yet humbled monument of former times. One cannot behold its decorated portico, and emblazoned arms; its massive architecture, and the happy proportion which one part bears to another, without regretting the ignoble neighbourhood to which modern avarice has doomed it. It frowns, at present, in sullen silence,
and half-finished edifices which have reared their heads so close to it, and which exhibit such an unmeaning contrast betwixt grandeur of design and abortion, betwixt ancient siinplicity and elegance, and modern meanness.
The students are the strangest medley I ever saw. They are of all ages, ranks, and countries, from children of ten years of who have stammered through the Grammar School, to men of forty, who have exchanged a life of labour, for one of literary ease-or indigence. To a philanthropic mind there is something pleasing in a sight of this kind; it reminds one of the equality of inan, and depicts in language stronger than can dow froin the
any person, the absolute necessity of a standard of respectability, independent altogether of external circumstances, and the triumph of mind over matter. Many arguments, no doubt, could be urged in proof of the folly of a man advanced in years, whose habits are already formed, devoting his leisure and his earnings to the acquirement of such knowledge as may tit him for a charge either in the ministry, or in medicine; but when I reflect on the numerous examples of splendid talent which have for years been concealed under the garb and occupation of an operative, I feel disposed either to acquiesce in the propriety of such efforts, or to remain neuter. The same feeling of delicacy would induce me to refrain from remarks on the dress of the students, though I cannot help noticing one very glaring defect in this respect, viz. the very great want of cleanliness. If you saw the groupes which gather in the College court at certain hours, you would be inclined to think that there was a scarcity of water in the land ; not to speak of soap, which, for the sake of argument, we shall consider a superfluity. For the sake of these gentlemen, I really would like to see the Mahommedan practice of ablution introduced: and in order that its influence might not extend to the religion or morals of the coinmunity at large, I would propose its confinement to the College walls, where, superintended by the College officers, I am persuaded it would be productive of the inost salutary effects. Nay,