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not appear to me to be half alarmed enough, or to entertain that sense of our danger which leads to the most obvious means of selfdefence. As for the spirit of the peasantry in making a gallant defence behind hedgerows, and through plate-racks and hen-coops, highly as I think of their bravery, I do not know any nation in Europe so likely to be struck with panic as the English ; and this from their total unacquaintance with the science of war. Old wheat and beans blazing for twenty miles round ; cart mares shot; sows of Lord Somerville's breed running wild over the country; the minister of the parish wounded sorely in his hinder parts ; Mrs Plymley in fits ; all these scenes of war an Austrian or a Russian has seen three or four times over ; but it is now three centuries since an English pig has fallen in a fair battle upon English ground, or a farmhouse been rifled. The old edition of Plutarch's Lives, which lies in the corner of your parlour window, has contributed to work you up to the most romantic expectations of our Roman behaviour. You are persuaded that Lord Amherst will defend Kew Bridge like Cocles; that some maid-of-honour will break away from her captivity and swim over the Thames ; that the Duke of York will burn his capitulating hand; and little Mr Sturges Bourne give forty years' purchase for Moulsham Hall while the French are encamped upon it. I hope we shall witness all this, if the French do come; but in the meantime, I am so enchanted with the ordinary English behaviour of these invaluable persons, that I earnestly pray no opportunity may be given them for Roman valour, and for those very un-Roman pensions which they would all, of course, take especial care to claim in consequence.
There is a village (no matter where) in which the inhabitants, on one day in the year, sit down to a dinner prepared at the common expense : by an extraordinary piece of tyranny (which Lord Hawkesbury would call the wisdom of the village ancestors), the inhabitants of three of the streets, about a hundred years ago, seized upon the inhabitants of the fourth street, bound them hand and foot, laid them upon their backs, and compelled them to look on while the rest were stuffing themselves with beef and beer; the next year the inhabitants of the persecuted street (though they contributed an equal quota of the expense) were treated precisely in the same manner. The tyranny grew into a custom ; and (as the manner of our nature is) it was considered as the most sacred of all duties to keep these poor fellows without their annual dinner:
the village was so tenacious of this practice, that nothing could induce them to resign it; every enemy to it was looked upon as a disbeliever in Divine Providence, and any nefarious churchwarden who wished to succeed in his election had nothing to do but to represent his antagonist as an abolitionist, in order to frustrate his ambition, endanger his life, and throw the village into a state of the most dreadful commotion. By degrees, however, the obnoxious street grew to be so well peopled, and its inhabitants so firmly united, that their oppressors more afraid of injustice, were more disposed to be just. At the next dinner they are unbound, the year after allowed to sit upright, then a bit of bread and a glass of water; till at last, after a long series of concessions, they are emboldened to ask, in pretty plain terms, that they may be allowed to sit down at the bottom of the table, and to fill their bellies as well as the rest. Forthwith a general cry of shame and scandal :
Ten years ago, were you not laid upon your backs? Don't you remember what a great thing you thought it to get a piece of bread ? How thankful you were for cheese-parings ? Have you forgotten that memorable era, when the lord of the manor interfered to obtain for you a slice of the public pudding? And now, with an audacity only equalled by your ingratitude, you have the impudence to ask for knives and forks, and to request, in terms too plain to be mistaken, that you may sit down to table with the rest, and be indulged even with beef and beer: there are not more than a half-a-dozen dishes which we have reserved for ourselves ; the rest has been thrown open to you in the utmost profusion ; you have potatoes, and carrots, suet dumplings, sops in the pan, and delicious toast and water, in incredible quantities. Beef, mutton, lamb, pork, and veal are ours; and if you were not the most restless and dissatisfied of human beings, you would never think of aspiring to enjoy them.'
Is not this, my dainty Abraham, the very nonsense and the very insult which is talked to and practised upon the Catholics? You are surprised that men who have tasted of partial justice should ask for perfect justice; that he who has been robbed of coat and cloak will not be contented with the restitution of one of his garments. He would be a very lazy blockhead if he were content, and I most earnestly counsel these half-fed claimants to persevere in their just demands, till they are admitted to a more complete share of a dinner for which they pay as much as the others.
JOHN FOSTER: 1770-1843,
The Rev. John Foster, a celebrated essayist, was educated for the Baptist
ministry, but devoted his life mainly to literature. His chief works are his Essays, four in number, which are considered models of vigorous thought and expression. The Evils of Popular Ignorance, in which he urges the necessity of a national system of education, and his Contributions to the Eclectic Review.
ON THE GENERAL DEFICIENCY OF SELF-OBSERVATION.
From Essay On a Man's Writing Memoirs of Himself. One of the greatest difficulties in the way of executing the proposed task (the review of a man's past life) will have been caused by the extreme deficiency of that self-observation, which is of no common habit either of youth or any later age. Men are content to have no more intimate sense of their existence than what they feel in the exercise of their faculties on extraneous objects. The vital being, with all its agency and emotions, is so blended and absorbed in these its exterior interests, that it is very rarely collected and concentrated in the consciousness of its own absolute self, so as to be recognised as a thing internal, apart and alone, for its own inspection and knowledge. Men carry their minds as for the most part they carry their watches, content to be ignorant of the constitution and action within, and attentive only to the little exterior circle of things, to which the passions, like indexes, are pointing. It is surprising to see how little self-knowledge a person not watchfully observant of himself may have gained, in the whole course of an active, or even an inquisitive life. He may have lived almost an age, and traversed a continent, minutely examining its curiosities, and interpreting the halfobliterated characters on its monuments, unconscious the while of a process operating on his own mind, to impress or to erase characteristics of much more importance to him than all the figured brass or marble that Europe contains. After having explored many a cavern or dark ruinous avenue, he may have left undetected a darker recess within where there would be much more striking discoveries. He may have conversed with many people, in different languages, on numberless subjects; but, having neglected those conversations with himself by which his whole moral being should have been kept continually disclosed to his view, he is better qualified perhaps to describe the intrigues of a foreign court, or the progress of a foreign trade ; to depict the manners of the Italians, or the Turks; to narrate the proceedings of the Jesuits, or the adventures of the gypsies ; than to write the history of his own mind.
If we had practised habitual self-observation, we could not have failed to be made aware of much that it had been well for us to know. There have been thousands of feelings, each of which, if strongly seized upon, and made the subject of reflection, would have shewn us what our character was, and what it was likely to become. There have been numerous incidents, which operated on us as tests, and so fully brought out our prevailing quality, that another person, who should have been discriminatively observing us, would speedily have formed a decided estimate. But unfortunately the mind is generally too much occupied by the feeling or the incident itself, to have the slightest care or consciousness that anything could be learnt, or is disclosed. In very early youth it is almost inevitable for it to be thus lost to itself even amidst its own feelings, and the external objects of attention ; but it seems a contemptible thing, and certainly is a criminal and dangerous thing, for a man in mature life to allow himself this thoughtless escape from self-examination.
We have not only neglected to observe what our feelings indicated, but have also in a very great degree ceased to remember what they were. We may wonder how we could pass away successively from so many scenes and conjunctures, each in its time of no trifling moment in our apprehension, and retain so light an impression, that we have now nothing distinctly to tell about what once excited our utmost emotion. As to my own mind, I perceive that it is becoming uncertain of the exact nature of many feelings of considerable interest, even of comparatively recent date ; and that the remembrance of what was felt in very early life has nearly faded
away. I have just been observing several children of eight or ten years old, in all the active vivacity which enjoys the plenitude of the moment without looking before or after;' and while observing, I attempted, but without success, to recollect what I was at that age. I can indeed remember the principal events of the period, and the actions and projects to which my feelings impelled me; but the feelings themselves, in their own pure juvenility, cannot be revived so as to be described and placed in comparison with those of later life. What is become of all those vernal fancies which had so much power to touch the heart? What a number of sentiments have lived and revelled in the soul that are now irrevocably gone! They died like the singing-birds of that time, which sing no more. The life we then had, now seems almost as if it could not have been our own. We are like a man returning, after the absence of many years, to visit the imbowered cottage where he passed the morning of his life, and finding only a relic of its ruins.
Thus an oblivious shade is spread over that early tract of our time, where some of the acquired propensities which remain in force to this hour may have had their origin, in a manner of which we had then no thought or consciousness. When we met with the incident, or heard the conversation, or saw the spectacle, or felt the emotion, which were the first causes or occasions of some of the chief permanent tendencies of future life, how little could we think that long afterwards we might be curiously and in vain desirous to investigate those tendencies back to their origin.
SIR WALTER SCOTT: 1771–1832. Walter Scott, the son of a writer to the Signet, was born in Edinburgh,
where he was educated for the bar, to which he was called in 1792. In 1799 he was appointed sheriff-depute of Selkirkshire. From 1805 to 1814 he published the poems which secured for him a place among the greatest of living poets. In 1814 appeared Waverley, a tale of the rebellion of 1745, the first of the long series of brilliant fictions which issued from his pen from 1814 to 1831, and which have placed their author at the head of English novelists. Besides his novels, Scott wrote many other prose works, the chief of which are his Life and Works of Dryden, and of Swift, Lives of the Novelists, Life of Napoleon, and Tales of a Grandfather. Scott was created a baronet in 1820.
THE COMBAT BETWEEN IVANHOE AND BOIS-GUILBERT.
The unfortunate Rebecca was conducted to the black chair placed near the pile. On her first glance at the terrible spot where preparations were making for a death alike dismaying to the mind, and painful to the body, she was observed to shudder and shut her eyes, praying internally, doubtless, for her lips moved though no speech was heard. In the space of a minute she opened her eyes, looked fixedly on the pile as if to familiarise her mind with the object, and then slowly and naturally turned away her head.