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“O then, my lassie, lead the way
To Comfort's Home, the ancient inn :
Old David is our living kin ;
“Then, lass, thy grandsire's footsteps guide,
To Bulmer's Tree, the giant oak,
And part the church-way lane o'erlook.
Where grew the elm trees thick and tall,
Deliberate birds, and prudent all;
“The rooks are shot, the trees are fell’d,
“Alas! that mine should be the fate
“O then,” the grieving Man replied,
“ No farther, lassie, let me stray ;
Of what was nd, of what was gay:
17.—THE SPIDER AND THE BEE.
SWIFT. [The following extract will give some notion of the vein of the famous Dean of St. Patrick's. But no adequate notion can be afforded by extracts. Gulliver's Travels,' offensive as it is in many respects, may be in the hands of every reader for a shilling or two ;—and there, and perhaps better even in · The Tale of a Tub,' may be fitly learnt the great powers of Swift as à satirist, and his almost unequalled mastery of a clear, vigorous, and idiomatic style. The Battle of the Books, from which our extract is taken, was one of Swift's earlier performances. It had reference to the great contest which was then going on between the advocates of Ancient Learning and Modern Learning. The bee represents the Ancients—the spider the Moderns. Such contests are as harmless and as absurd as the more recent disputes amongst our French neighbours, about the comparative merits of the Classic and the Romantic schools. Real criticism can find enough to admire in whatever form genius works. The apologue of the Spider and the Bee was not unjustly applied, some dozen years ago, to a coterie of self-applauding writers, “ furnished with a native stock,” who, despising accuracy and careful investigation, turned up their noses at those who were labouring to make knowledge the common possession of all.
Jonathan Swift was born in 1667, and died in 1745. An excellent edition of his works, in nineteen volumes, was edited by Sir Walter Scott. There is a cheap edition, in two large Actavo volumes, published in 1841.]
Upon the highest corner of a large window there dwelt a certain spider, swollen up to the first magnitude by the destruction of infinite numbers of flies whose spoils lay scattered before the gates of his palace, like human bones before the cave of some giant. The avenues to his castle were guarded with turnpikes and palisadoes, all after the modern way of fortification. After you had passed several courts you came to the centre, wherein you might behold the constable himself in his own lodgings, which had windows fronting to each avenue, and ports to sally out upon all occasions of prey or defence. In this mansion he had for some time dwelt in peace and plenty, without danger to his person by swallows from above, or to his palace by brooms from below : when it was the pleasure of fortune to conduct thither a wandering bee, to whose curiosity a broken pane in the glass had discovered itself, and in he went ; where, expatiating awhile, he at last happened to alight upon one of the outward walls of the spider's citadel; which, yielding to the unequal
weight, sunk down to the very foundation. Thrice he endeavoured to force his passage, and thrice the centre shook. The spider within, feeling the terrible convulsion, supposed at first that nature was approaching to her final dissolution; or else, that Beelzebub, with all his legions, was come to revenge the death of many thousands of his subjects * whom his enemy had slain and devoured. However, he at length valiantly resolved to issue forth and meet his fate. Meanwhile the bee hail acquitted himself of his toils, and, posted securely at some distance, was employed in cleansing his wings, and disengaging them from the rugged remnants of the cobweb. By this time the spider was adventured out, when, beholding the chasms, the ruins and dilapidations of his fortress, he was very near at his wits' end, he stormed and swore like a madman, and swelled till he was ready to burst. At length, casting his eye upon the bee, and wisely gathering causes from events (for they knew each other by sight), “A plague split you,” said he, "for a giddy puppy, is it you, with a vengeance, that have made this litter here ? could you not look before you ? do you think I have nothing else to do but to mend and repair after you ?”—“Good words, friend,” said the bee (having now pruned himself, and being disposed to be droll): “I'll give you my hand and word to come near your kennel no more, I was never in such a confounded pickle since I was born.”—“Sirrah,” replied the spider, “if it were not for breaking an old custom in our family, never to stir abroad against an enemy, I should come and teach you better manners.”—“I pray have patience,” said the bee,
'll spend your substance, and, for aught I see, you may stand in need of it all, toward the repair of your house.”—“Rogue, rogue,” replied the spider, “yet methinks you should have more respect to a person whom all the world allows to be so much your betters.”—“By my troth,” said the bee, “the comparison will amount to a very good jest; and you will do me a favour to let me know the reasons that all the world is pleased to use in so hopeful a dispute.” At this the spider, having swelled himself into the size and posture of a disputant, began his argument in the true spirit of controversy, with resolution to be heartily scurrilous and angry; to urge on his own reasons without the least regard to the answers or objections of his opposite ; and fully predetermined in his mind against all conviction.
“Not to disparage myself,” said he, “ by the comparison with such a rascal, what art thou but a vagabond without house or home, without stock or inheritance ? born to no possession of your own, but a pair of wings and a drone-pipe. Your livelihood is a universal plunder upon nature; a freebooter over fields and gardens; and, for the sake of stealing, will rob a nettle as easily as a violet. Whereas I am a domestic animal, furnished with a native stock within myself. This large castle (to show my improvements in the mathematics) is all built with my own hands, and the materials extracted altogether out of my own person.”
“I am glad,” answered the bee, to hear you grant at least that I am come honestly by my wings and my voice; for then, it seems, I am obliged to Heaven alone for my flights and my music; and Providence would never have bestowed on me two such gifts, without designing them for the noblest ends. I visit indeed all the flowers and blossoms of the field and garden ; but whatever I collect thence enriches myself, without the least injury to their beauty, their smell, or their taste. Now, for you and your skill in architecture and other mathematics, I have little to say: in that building of yours there might, for aught I know, have been labour and method enough ; but, by woful experience for us both, it is too plain the materials are naught; and I hope you will henceforth take warning, and consider duration and matter, as well as method and art. You boast indeed of being obliged to no other creature, but of drawing and spinning out all from yourself; that is to say, may judgo of the liquor in the vessel by what issues out, you possess a good plentiful
* Beelzebub, in the Hebrew, signifies lord of flies.
store of dirt and poison in your breast ; and, though I would by no means lessen of disparage your genuine stock of either, yet I doubt you are somewhat obliged, for an increase of both, to a little foreign assistance. Your inherent portion
dirt dock not fail of acquisitions, by sweepings exhaled from below; and one insect furnishes you with a share of poison to destroy another. So that, in short, the question comes all to this ; whether is the nobler being of the two, that which, by a lazy contemplation of four inches round, by an overweening pride, feeding and engendering ou itself, turns all into excrement and venom, producing nothing at all but flybane and a cobweb; or that which, by a universal range, with long search, much study, true judgment, and distinction of things, brings home honey and wax.”
18.-OF THE JEALOUSY OF TRADE.
DAVID HUME. [DAVID HUME was born in 1711 ;-died in 1776. His first publication was a “Treatise of Human Nature,' which appeared in 1738. According to his own account it “fell dead-born from the press." In 1742 he published a volume of • Essays, which was better received. Hume's philosophical works were the subject of much controversy in his day. They display great acuteness, but leave no convictions. As a thinker on questions which we now class under the head of political economy, he was before his age, and far in advance of its preju. dices. In reading these productions we must not forget that they were written a century ago. The following is one of the Essays in which he asserts principles that have still to seek that universal acceptance to which they are entitled. Every one is familiar with Hume's 'History of England - !-a work which, in spite of manifold defects, has a charm which few historians had been able to command, until one arose in our own day,—Macaulay, — who has made History as attractive as romance.]
Nothing is more usual among states which have made some advances in commerce, than to look on the progress of their ours with a suspicious eye, to consider all trading states as their rivals, and to suppose that it is impossible for any of them to flourish, but at their expense. In opposition to this narrow and malignant opinion, I will venture to assert, that the increase of riches and commerce in any one nation, instead of hurting, commonly promotes the riches and commerce of all its neighbours; and that a state can scarcely carry its trade and industry very far, where all the surrounding states are buried in ignorance, sloth, aud barbarism.
It is obvious, that the domestic industry of a people cannot be hurt by the greatest prosperity of their neighbours; and as this branch of commerce is undoubtedly the most important in any extensive kingdom, we are so far removed from all reason of jealousy. But I go farther and observe, that when an open communication is preserved among nations, it is impossible but the domestic industry of every one must receive an increase from the improvements of the others. Compare the situation of Great Britain at present with what it was two centuries ago. All the arts, both of agriculture and manufactures, were then extremely rude and imperfect. Every improvement, which we have since made, has arisen from our imitation of foreigners; and we ought so far to esteem it happy, that they had previously made advances in arts and ingenuity. But this intercourse is still upheld to our great advantage; notwithstanding the advanced state of our manufactures, we daily adopt, in every art, the inventions and improvements of our neighbours. The commodity is first imported from abroad, to our great discontent, while we imagine that it drains us of our money; afterwards, the art itself is gradually imported, to our visible advantage; yet we continue still to repine, that our neighbours should possess any art, industry, and invention; forgetting that, had they not first instructed us, we should have been at present barbarians; and did they not still continue their instructions, the arts must fall into a state of languor, ane lose that emulation and novelty which contribute so much to their advancements
The increase of domestic industry lays the foundation of foreign commerce. Where a great number of commodities are raised and perfected for the home-market there will always be found some which can be exported with advantage. But if our neighbours have no art or cultivation, they cannot take them ; because they will have nothing to give in exchange. In this respect states are in the same condition as individuals. A single man can scarcely be industrious, where all his fellow-citizens are idle. The riches of the several members of a community contribute to increase my riches, whatever profession I may follow. They consume the produce of my industry, and afford me the produce of theirs in return.
Nor need any state entertain apprehensions that their neighbours will improve to such a degree in every art and manufacture as to have no demand from them. Nature, by giving a diversity of geniuses, climates, and soils, to different nations, has secured their mutual intercourse and commerce, as long as they all remain industrious and civilised. Nay, the more the arts increase in any state, the more will be its demands from its industrious neighbours. The inhabitants, having become opulent and skilful, desire to have every commodity in the utmost perfection ; and as they have plez ty of commodities to give in exchange, they make large importations from every foreign country. The industry of the nations, from whom they import, receives encouragement; their own is also increased, by the sale of the commodities which they give in exchange.
But what if a nation has any staple commodity, such as the woollen manufacture is in England ? Must not the interfering of our neighbours in that manufacture be a loss to us ? I answer, that when any commodity is denominated the staple of a kingdom, it is supposed that this kingdoro has some peculiar and natural advantages for raising the commodity; and if, notwithstanding these advantages, they lose such a manufacture, they ought to blame their own idleness, or bad government, not the industry of their neighbours. It ought also to be considered, that by the increase of industry among the neighbouring nations, the consumption of every particular species of commodity is also increased ; and though foreign manufactures interfere with them in the market, the demand for their product may still continue, or even increase ; and should it diminish, ought the consequence to be esteemed so fatal ? If the spirit of industry be preserved, it may easily be diverted from one branch to another; and the manufacturers of wool, for instance, be employed in linen, silk, iron, or any other commodities, for which there appears to be a demand. We need not apprehend, that all the objects of industry will be exhausted, or that our manufacturers, while they remain on an equal footing with those of our neighbours, will be in danger of wanting employment. The emulation among rival nations serves rather to keep industry alive in all of them ; and any people is happier who possess a variety of manufactures, than if they enjoyed one single great manufacture, in which they are all employed. Their situation is less precarious ; and they will feel less sensibly those revolutions and uncertainties to which every particular branch of commerce will always be exposed.
The only commercial state that ought to dread the improvements and industry of their neighbours, is such a one as the Dutch, who, enjoying no extent of land, nor possessing any number of native commodities, flourish only by their being the brokers and factors, and carriers of others. Such a people may naturally apprehend, that as soon as the neighbouring states come to know and pursue their interest, they will take into their own hands the management of their affairs, and deprive their brokers of that profit which they formerly reaped from it. But though this consequence may naturally be dreaded, it is very long before it takes place; and by art and industry it may be warded off for many generations, if not wholly eluded. The advantage of superior stocks and correspondence is so great, that it is not easily overcome ; and as all the transactions increase by the increase of industry in the neighbouring states, even a people whose commerce stands on this precarious basis, may at first reap a considerable profit from the flourishing condition of their neighbours. The Dutch, having mortgaged all their revenues, make not such a figure in political transactions as formerly ; but their commerce is surely equal to what it was in the middle of the last century, when they were reckoned among the great powers of Europe.
Were our narrow and malignant politics to meet with success, we should reduce all our neighbouring nations to the same state of sloth and ignorance that prevails in Morocco and the coast of Barbary. But what would be the consequence? They could send us no commodities : they could take none from us : our domestic commerce itself would languish for want of emulation, example, and instruction ; and we ourselves should soon fall into the same abject condition to which we had reduced them. I shall therefore venture to acknowledge, that, not only as a man, but as a British subject, I pray for the flourishing commerce of Germany, Spain, Italy, and even France itself. I am at least certain, that Great Britain, and all those nations, would flourish more, did their sovereigns and ministers adopt such enlarged and benevolent sentiments towards each other.
19.-A COMPLAINT OF THE DECAY OF BEGGARS IN THE METROPOLIS.
C. LAMB. (CHARLES LAMB—what shall we say of the most original, most quaint, most simple, most touching, of all modern essayists? No critical line and level can measure the sinuosities of his rich and overflowing runlet of thought; no plummet can gauge the depth of his quiet but most genial humour. Few are his writings ;—but there are, in their way, not many higher things in any language. They are finished works of art. How did he form his style? It is the revelation of his own nature. It lets us into the innermost depths of the man as completely as Montaigne shows us himself in all his nakedness; but there are no painful exposures of gross desires and unlawful imaginings. He has as keen a sense of the hiding-places of vice and meanness as Swift; but he has no truculent abuse or withering sarcasm for what he dislikes. He has a large toleration of all human infirmity, and a cordial love of all human excellence. He deposits no offerings on the altars of conventional opinions; he mouths no common-places about goodness and greatness; he blindly worships neither purple nor rags. He delights in queer books and queer men and women. He sees in what is called a character some rich fruit under a rough rind; and he gets at the juice through the husk in a way which is, to say the least, real philosophy. If any man thoroughly believed in the humanizing principle that “there is a soul of goodness in things evil,” it was Charles Lamb. He was born in London in 1775 ; educated at Christ's Hospital; laboured as a clerk in London till 1825; and died in the neighbourhood of London in 1834. There he drew the materials for his Essays. In one of his letters he says, “I often shed tears in the motley Strand, for feeling of joy at so much life.” His prose works have been published in three voluines: his poems in one volume.]
The all-sweeping besom of societarian reformation—your only modern Alcides' club to rid the time of its abuses—is uplift with manyhanded sway to extirpate the last fluttering tatters of the bugbear Mendicity from the metropolis. Scrips, wallets, bags—staves, dogs, and crutches—the whole mendicant fraternity, with all their baggage, are fast posting out of the purlieus of this eleventh persecution. From the crowded crossing, from the corners of streets and turnings of alleys, the parting genius of beggary is “with sighing sent.”
I do not approve of this wholesale going to work, this impertinent crusado or bellum ad exterminationem proclaimed against a species. Much good might be sucked from these Beggars.