Imatges de pÓgina


be feared that

very few have reason to be proud of their exploits. Hundreds of thousands are at this moment making up the accounts of the last year, with a reference to their profit and loss; but how many dream of a mental debtor and creditor statement to ascertain the gains or deteriorations which they have experienced in the affections of the heart, or the faculties of the head ? or how calculate their chances in that eternity to which they are three hundred and sixty-five days nearer than they were at the outset of last year?

Methinks I hear the jingling of sovereigns in the breeches-pocket of some warm, portly, and purseproud reader of Clapham Common or Stamford Hill, as with a complacent chuckle he mutters to himself -“I laid by four thousand six hundred pounds last year”—which he deems a full and triumphant answer to all such impertinent interrogatories! Among a nation of gold-worshippers like the English, bowers of the knee to Mammon, adorers of the glittering deity which Jeroboam set up in Dan and Bethel, I can understand the origin, though I do not recognize the validity, of this plea. Nay, it is not difficult to comprehend the gratifications of the professed miser. Nothing is so ridiculous as to pronounce such a man, because his enjoyments differ from our own, to be miserable, in that acceptation of the word which implies unhappiness. His mode of life being his own free election, is a proof of its being the best adapted to his own peculiar notions of pleasure, for no man voluntarily prefers wretchedness. Avarice has been designated the vice of old age ; may it not sometimes be its consolation also ? When the senses have failed, when the affections are dried up, when there is no longer any intellectual interest in the world and its affairs, is it not natural, that, like drowning men, we should grapple at straws; that we should clutch whatever will still furnish us an excitement, and attach us to that busy scene from which we should otherwise sink down into the benumbing torpor of ennui, superannuation, and fatuity? A miser has always an interest in existence : he proposes to himself a certain object, and day by day has the consolation of reflecting that he has made new progress towards its attainment. An old man was lately living in the city, and perhaps still vegetates, who declared that he wished for protracted years, because it had always been the paramount ambition of his soul to warrant this description upon his tomb-stone“Here lies John White, who died worth four hundred thousand Consols.” Ignoble, sordid, base as this ambition was, it cheered him on in the loneliness and decrepitude of his eightieth year, and is, perhaps, still ministering a stimulant to the activity of his narrow mind. Nor is it a trifling advantage to such men, who being generally worth nothing but money, would, if left to their intrinsic claims, be abandoned to solitude and contempt, that their reputation for wealth procures them friends, flatterers, associates, who watch over them with more than the tenderness of consanguinity, condole with their sufferings, sympathise with them in their successes, submit to their caprices, humour their foibles, and pamper them with presents. Call them, if you will, parasites, plunderers, legacy hunters; still their good offices are not the less acceptable. If the object of their maneuvres see through their motives, it is a grateful homage to his wealth, an admission of his superiority, a sacrifice to the deity whom he himself adores : if he do not, he affords one more proof, that the great happiness of life consists in being pleasantly deceived. Alas! there are many besides the miser, who would wring their own hearts, if the window of Momus enabled them to discover that of their friends.

But while the money-spinner is endeavouring to sweeten the dregs of life, he is unconsciously embit

tering death. Unable to take his coin with him, not even the obolus for Charon, he is only hoarding up a property of which he is to be robbed; for whether he is to be taken from his wealth, or his wealth from him, the result is equally tormenting. Post-obits and reversions, however he may have gained by them after the death of others, will bring him in nothing after his own; so that he will have the mortification of reflecting, that he has been accumulating money, and eking out his life, only to aggravate the pangs of parting from both., Submitting this “trim reckoning” to the consideration of the aforesaid citizen of Clapham Common or Stamford Hill, I would suggest that his four thousand six hundred pounds may not be so all-sufficing an evidence of the beneficial employment of last year, as the jingling of the sovereigns in his pocket inay

have led him to conclude. And your ladyship? may I enter upon record that you are well satisfied with the employment of the eight or nine thousand hours of the last year? I have at least passed them, sir, in a manner perfectly becoming my rank and station. I have been at every fashionable party of any notoriety; my own routs have been brilliantly attended ; my pearls have been all newly set by Rundel and Bridge; my Opera box has been exchanged for one in a better situation ; It is universally admitted that I dress more tastefully, as well as expensively, than Lady Georgiana Goggle ; I have become so far perfect in Ecarté, that though I play more, I lose less—and adverting to this unquestionable proof of improvement, it cannot be said that I have altogether los: my time.” Certainly not, madam, you have only thrown it away. , I acquit you of its occasional and accidental, in order to convict you of its constant and premeditated, inisapplication.

Be not alarmed, young lady: it is unnecessary to subject you to the same interrogatory, for those

downcast eyes, and half suppressed sigh, sufficiently reveal that you are but ill satisfied with the appropriation of your time during the past year. It is the misfortune, and not the fault, of our youthful females, that the artificial and perverted modes of society, as it is constituted in England, condemn them to a perpetual struggle with all the aspirations of nature; that they are sentenced to a round of heartless dissipation, to be paraded and trotted up and down the matrimonial Smithfield, in the hope of striking the fancy of some booby or brutal lord and master; and that a failure in this great object of their existence, pitiable as it is, embitters the termination of every year with corroding anticipations of waning beauty, and all that silent fretting of the spirit, which gnaws the heart inwardly, while it suppresses every external manifestation. Few objects are more distressing than to contemplate one of those garlanded victims, gradually withering like a rose upon its stalk, shedding the leaves of her beauty one by one, and at last falling to the earth in premature decay, or preserving a drooping existence, with all her charms snd brightness fading utterly away. These are the blooming virgins yearly sacrificed to the minotaur of luxury, which, prohibiting all marriages in a certain class of life, that are not sanctioned by wealth, debases one sex by driving it to licentiousness, and dooms the other to become a pining prey to unrequited affections and disappointed hopes.

Never have I been more painfully awakened than when, in the dead silence of midnight, I have been startled by a peal of “triple bob-majors," which, in performing their foolish ceremony of ringing out the old year, send forth their inappropriate echoes into the universal darkness, and scare the repose ture with their obstreperous mirth. It is an unhallowed and irreverent mode of solemnizing the twelvemonth's death. It is as if, at the funeral of

of na

a deceased parent, a rejoicing chime should suddenly burst like a peal of laughter from the belfry, instead of the sad, slow, deep toll of the single passing bell. These iron tongues should not be allowed to shout out their indecent merriment at a consummation fraught with so many inscrutable mysteries and appalling associations. What! are we cannibals, so to rejoice that a portion of our best friends has been actually eaten up by the omuiverous maw of time? Are we saints and of the elect, so fully prepared for the blow of death that we can carul at being brought three hundred and sixty-five days nearer to the edge of his scythe ? Perhaps it may be urged, that these noisy vibrations are rather meant to salute the present than the past year, to celebrate a birth, not a death, to welcome the coming rather than to speed the parting guest; and that upon the accession of a new year, as of a new king, their brazen and courtierlike loyalty finds more delight in the glory which is rising and full of promise, than in that which has just set and can bestow no more. The ancients divided their annual homage with a less obsequious selfishness. Janus, who stood between the two years, gave is name indeed to the first month; but he was provided with a double face, that, by gazing as steadfastly upon past as future time, he might inculcate upon his worshippers the wisdom of being retrospective as well as provident. But Janus was an ancient and a god ;-had he been a modern and a man, he would have known better!

However it may have been partially misapplied and wasted, the last year may still, perhaps, have materially advanced the sum of human happiness; and as it is impossible to solve this point by an examination of individual evidence, we will decide it by a show of hands. All you who are as much or more discontented with your present iot, than you were twelve months ago, please to hold up your hands. Heavens! what an atmosphere of palms,

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