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John Ruskin (1819 -1900) was an English art critic and social thinker, also
remembered as a poet and artist. He wrote a number of essays on art and
architecture that became extremely influential in the Victorian era. He takes
material for his lecture "Work" from the existing economic revolution which is
generally referred to as "Industrial Revolution". Apart from its advantages and
benefits it brought a great destruction for the poor people. The writer reveals the
general facts and harsh realities which were ignored even by those who themselves
were the main victim of revolution.

What is Working Class?

Ruskin, in the very beginning, is going to clarify the matter that what it is meant by
"working class". Most probably it is the opposite of "idle class". Then "idle class" will
be the synonym of "upper class". At this point, Ruskin asks question to his audience
whether he is correct in drawing this distinction or not. The question is asked only
with the intention to gain the sympathy of his audience so that to convince them
about his own arguments.
Then, he rejects the above mentioned distinction because the idle people may be
found in both rich and poor classes. There is a working class among both rich and
poor and there is also an idle class among both rich and poor. So the distinction
between working class and upper class has been proved to be wrong. As the topic of
his lecture is work, the writer sticks to the working class. He draws organized
distinction between the two classes in various respects. The following are the major
distinctions vividly drawn by the author.

First Distinction
This distinction is between two classes; those who work and those who play. It can
be understood easily after knowing the difference between work and play. "Play"
has been derided for the purpose of pleasure with no determined end while work is
something totally different which is intended to earn benefit and is done with some
determined end. The writer critically analyzes some popular work of England that
are worthy to be called "games".

"The first English game is making money"

This is an ironical statement for those who earn money blindly. Such people don't
know why they are earning money and what they will do with it? They are in fact
players, playing the game of minting money. The aristocratic ladies of his time were
also indulging in the most expensive game of "dressing". Ruskin satirically encodes

their behaviour saying these are the "poor women" with no proper clothing. Had the
garment-budget of these ladies distributed among the poor people of third world, it
would have sufficed them to fulfill their basic needs. However, the distinction
between work and play is not exclusively mutual; a single thing can be equally
"work" and "play" according to its primary and secondary purposes.

Second Distinction
The writer draws another distinction between the rich and poor. The first spends a
large amount of money even on cheap and ordinary things while the latter has to
endeavor his basic needs.
Ruskin quotes two instances from a newspaper. The first says that in Russia a man
of good fortune entered into a hotel to take his breakfast. He paid there fifteen
francs only for two peaches. The second story states the miserable state of a dead
person whose body was lying on a dung heap with no person paying any heed
towards him only because he belongs to the poor class. Some dried pieces of
"bones" were taken out of his pocket thus intensifying the misery of the poor

Lawful Bases of Wealth

The lawful basis of wealth is that a worker should be paid a fair amount of his work
and he should also be given liberty regarding his money; whether spends or saves
for some rainy day. After implementing this law in a true sense there would be no
"poor person" except for those lazy people who stay at home lazily instead of doing
some work. Such kind of poor are doubly poor; lacking not only worldly possessions
but also the moral strength. Those who follow this law are real rich irrespective of
money they have in their possessions.

False Base of Minting Money

Duty is the main thing that should be given priority. Those who cares more about
their salary or fee than the work they have been assigned, though, can become rich
but on the false basis. Ruskin critically refers to such kind of people terming them
"uneducated class", "inferior in intellect" and "coward". At this point Ruskin has
proved his philosophy by giving an analogy. He says the primary purpose of a
soldier's life must be to win battles. Similarly teaching goodness should be the sole
purpose of a clergyman's life. Both of these persons are paid well for their duties
but that is at secondary level. If this becomes their primary objective then they
would be "coward" and "stupid".

Third distinction
Some people work with their hands while some other with their brains. There is
rough work to be done, and rough men must do it. There is also gentle work to be

done and gentle men must do it. Both works are important in that the maintenance
of life depends on manual as well as mental work. Every person should do honestly
his own job, mental or physical.
Nevertheless it is a true fact that the dignity of labour and hard work is recognized
only by his own class. A man working in a quiet and serene room with everything
comfortable is unlikely to be aware of the hardships of train-drivers who have to
drive against cruel winds with no difference of day and night in their life.
The rough work is generally honest, real and useful whereas the gentle work often
accompanies dishonesty and cheating. When both the works are worthily done the
head's is noble work and the hand's is ignorable. Again Ruskin criticizes the rich
class who persistently thinks of providing relief and comfort to the working class but
do nothing practically.
The essay tells us that both kinds of work should be done properly but he problem
surfaces when people don't work willingly. The main reason of this attitude is they
don't know which work they can do better. This "will" can be promoted only when
they select the appropriate profession in accordance with their ability. Ruskin says,
"in order that a man may be happy, it is necessary that he should not only be
capable of his work, but a good judge of his work".

Ruskin found his age too much engrossed in material pursuits. The world was too
much with people and they wasted their energies in getting and spending. The
Victorian prosperity dazzled the eyes of man who utterly lost sight of spiritual
heritage. Darkness surrounded him on all sides. It was Ruskin who along with
Carlyle, heralded a note of warning to his generation and tried to raise it to that
pedestal of morality from where man as man could be perceived. His ugliness, his
low and mean habits could not be seen from this vantage point.
Ruskin taught his age that wealth is not the equivalent of happiness. Factories and
mills deprive man of natural surroundings and contaminate his soul. In place of
greenery, he sees the smoke of the chimney and instead of the chirpings of birds
and musical flow of fountains and streams, he listens to the sirens of factories and
mills. Monetary habits degrade human beings and they become so shameless and
cruel as to exploit their own brothers and sisters without any tinge of repentance or
any fear from God. In such a society, avarice becomes the guiding principle and

social affections are considered as accidental and disturbing elements in human










themselves of the minds of large masses of the human race, perhaps the most
curiouscertainly the least credibleis the modern soidistant science of political
economy , based on the idea that an advantageous code of social action may be
determined irrespectively of the influence of social affection. (Unto This
Last). Ruskin opposes this statement of the political economist. To him, no social
action is possible without social affection. We agree with him today when we have
to tackle labour problem. Strikes and lock-outs have become very common because
of employer-labour relations. Employers do not love their labourers as they
shoalddo.Ruskins message in this respect is very practical. Men are more valuable
than moneythis is the message of Ruskin in all books. In Unto This Last he writes :
There is No Wealth But Life. Life, including all its powers of love, of joy and of
admiration. That country is the richest which nourishes the greatest number of
noble and happy human beings. The greatest good of the greatest numberthat is
the aim of democracy and that objective was laid down and propounded by Ruskin
in the nineteenth century. In the Preface to The Crown of Wild Olive, Ruskin repeats
his notion of wealth :
That the wealth of nations, as of men, consists in substance, not in ciphers and
that the real good of all work and of all commerce depends on the final worth of the
thing you make or get by it. This is a practical approach. The prime object of life
and labour is the producing of as many as possible, full breathed, bright-eyed and
happy-hearted human beings. Even his attitude to machinery is now seen to be
largely justified and though few today advocate the abolition of machinery, it is
increasingly recognized that machine-mindedness tends to dehumanize men and
that means must be sought to make man the master and not the servant of
Unto This Last expresses Ruskins message very clearly and powerfully. In Para275
of Ad Valorem this message is given a nice-poetical image. If we need the passage,
we find it as the very basis of internationalism. If U.N.O. one day achieves this

objective (which, to me appears very difficult, judging the present drift of things in
the world), the earth will be converted into a heaven and we will become divine
beings. But Ruskins message to his generation is not confide to Unto This last, it
can be traced out throughout all his work. Modern Painters taught the claim of all
lower nature in the hearts of men of the rock and herb as a part of their necessary
spirit life. The Stones of Venice taught the laws of constructive art and the dependence of all human work of edifice, for its beauty on the happy life of the
workman. The Inaugural Oxford Lectures taught the necessity that it should be led
and the gracious laws of beauty and labor recognized by the upper no less than the
lower classes of England ; and lastly, Fors Clavigera has declared the relation of
these to each other and the only possible conditions of peace and honor for low and
high, for rich and poor, together in the holding of that first Estate, under the only
Despot, God.
Ruskins teaching is first of all, the lesson of self-development. It is not what a
man has that is to be considered but what he is. Is he a self-made man not in
exterior circumstances, but in wealth of character ? One must at the very outset,
realize the mystery and wonder of life, discard the placid enthusiasm that is. the
mark of the artificial man, cultivate the openness of perception, the retention of the
childish sense of wonder that marks the true man, the man, who has eyes
admiringly wide to the world about him, is worthy of the power that-placed him in
it to be willing to see the beauty that isto show helpful sympathy for men about
us, to be willing and glad to work for the joy of doing our work well and above all, to
keep clear our sight of real mystery and nobility of lifethat, in short, is the burden
of Ruskins message.
To Ruskin, viewing man as a being of emotions, sentiments and sympathies, and
view which did not call these into account seemed inadequate. Profit is not the only
motive of human actionHappiness in life must, besides, be measured by other
things than money. People, to be ideal men and women, not only must have food,
clothes and a place to sleep but must have also beautiful and ennobling
surroundings. Peace should be an estimable asset. In its ugly cities, its dishonestly

made clothing, its prevailing shames and meanness, the present time offends
against the ideals of life. William Morris, influenced by these teachings preached an
ideal commonwealth ; without smoke or machinery, without competition or envy.
Ruskin saw little good in the extreme socialistic ideal nor did he wish entirely to
dispose of machinery ; he did feel that the ugliness should be done away with and
that working people should not be relegated, as a penalty for leading industrial
lives, to filth and degradation. He denounced the idea of the economist that
progress depends on competitionthe unceasing and merciless battle of each man
against his neighbor.
It was sympathy with man, especially with the working man of England which led
him to take up these questions. Was it necessary that things should be as they were
? Was ugliness, irremediable vulgarity a part of the eternal scheme of creation ? He
prepared to look for a remedy. Apparently he failed. His writings were not well
received. He was told that an art-critic should not meddle with such matters and
what he said was regarded, coming from the writer of Modern Painters, as the
dreaming of a man who knew nothing of his subject. Yet looking back today, we see
that he did not fail. His lessons have had their effect and time has justified, at least
in part, his social philosophy.
In taking up the study of political economy, Ruskin was not changing his interests.
There is common factor between his writings upon art and upon political economy.
In both, his end was the improvement of mans condition in the world and the
development of the spiritual in menThe elements that Ruskin wished men to
consider are being more and more taken into consideration. Man is regarded as
having some other elements than combative acquisitiveness. Beauty in ones
surroundings is becoming recognized as of advantage. Parks, libraries, museums are
allowed to have a certain aesthetic value. It is acknowledged that a railway-train
need not be ugly and that an iron-bridge is not the worse for architecture. Societies
are formed to prevent the disfiguring of landscape by advertisements. Laws are
passed to obviate the clouds of smoke that darken our cities. The needless noise of
city is being, bit by bit, suppressed. New schemes are devised almost daily for the

housing of the workmen in model tenements and colonies. All these reforms may
have nothing to do with the message of the unpractical Ruskin; yet, coming as
they do after his writings and lectures, accompanied as they are by the building of
Ruskin-halls in England and America, they are suggestive. Perhaps, here as in the
case of art, some are reluctant to trace an effect to its logical cause.
The word tender in spite of his hint of sentiment, best sums up the lesson of
Ruskins whole life and work. Tender, reverent study of Gods world, tender, helpful
love for fellowman, tender patience in the well-doing of what lies nearest, tender
yes, though the voice be stern with the sense of loves defeattender reproof of
man that forgets he is of the spirit and that misses Gods preferred inheritance. And
in his written words, in the bland, pure, soothing music of his prose, there sounds
the same note of tenderness, the soft pleading of flute and hautboy, the muted
softness of the gentler brass, the, vibrant passion of the reed. It is a music of peace,
of all that peace brings and of all that makes for peacebeauty and noble doing
and tender charity. The ideals of beauty, truth, justice, cheerful and self-sacrificing
labour for the good of the community must reign in mens hearts ; the worship of
Mammon must be abandoned. Then and then alone will the prophetic vision of new
heaven and a new earth be fulfilled.
Compton-Rickett summarises Ruskins message as follows :
No writer in Victorian times did more than Ruskin to draw attention to the terrible
wastage going on in the social organism under present economic conditionsand
to stir the individual to more serious effect in the cause of human brotherhood, not
in the spirit of condescending charity, but in the saner and ampler spirit of common

Art and War

In December 1865, John Ruskin gave a commencement a speech to the cadets graduating
from the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. It was based on a startling thesis that war is
a necessary precondition to art.
All pure and noble arts are founded on war; no great art ever yet rose on Earth, but among a
nation of soldiers. There is no art among a shepherd people if it remains at peace. There is
no art among an agricultural people if it remains at peace. Commerce is barely consistent
with fine art, but cannot produce. Manufacture not only is unable to produce it, but

invariably destroys whatever seeds of it exist. There is no great art possible to a nation but
that which is based on battle.
In evidence, Ruskin traces the preoccupation with war and military images in art from Egypt
to Greece, to European knights, and onward. My first thought in response to his speech was
that from a scientific perspective, the evidence is, at best, correlational. I almost started
making a list of confounding variables, then stopped myself to ask a question not whether
art indeed fuels war, but why would Ruskin choose to believe so.
War evokes death, and perhaps it is death that is the culprit without which there could be no
art. Art arose around the same time that our predecessors chose not to throw their dead
children and spouses away in the forest, but bury them with trinkets that would help them in
the next world. So, perhaps it is the belief in the world that is invisible, transcending the
senses, the world to be respected, propitiated, the world ever absorbing the dead, that
made art possible. But there is, and always has been, death even without the war, so we are
left searching further for Ruskins high esteem of the power of war to engender art.
A clue could lie in Ruskins low esteem of practical Romans whose battle wasnt as
poetical as that of Greeks or European knights. Here, the distinct evocation of the idea of
honor and courage, battle for higher aim, even for its own sake, parallels the idea of art as
the creation of objects whose function is not practical, but for its own sake, too. But here I
diverge from Ruskin. Just as art is not for its own sake, but a connection to a world that is not
material, but experiential or relational, so a war is never for its own sake, but either
rapacious or relational. After all, Homer celebrates the reluctant and sometimes misguided
battle of Achilles, dying to revenge his beloved Patroclus, but has no kind words for everacquiring Agamnemon. And so it is with the war in general. Below the layers of selfdeceptions and justifications, it is motivated either by an instinct to acquire and dominate,
or protect (or revenge the loss of) ones relationships, ones means of connecting to another.
And then perhaps there is the courage that inevitably follows when one is willing to face
ones enemy willingly and openly to protect something that they value more than their own
life. It is the courage that in todays world of various automatized means of destruction has
been becoming extinct. How much courage does it take to destroy a life half-way across the
world, by sitting in ones cubicle and pressing a few buttons on the keyboard?
There could be many things without which there could be no art death, suffering, courage
to protect relationships of value at the cost of ones life, even the existence of warriors
unafraid to die for something they value more than their life. But war, with its rapacious
greed, indiscriminate destruction, I think war is not one of them.

Summary on Charles LambS Dream Children

The children of James Elia, John and Alice, asked him to tell them about his grandmothertheir great grandmother- Mrs. Field who used to live in a great mansion in Norfolk. The house
belonged to a rich nobleman who lived in another new house. Grandmother Field was the
keeper of the house and she looked after the house with great care as though it was her
own. The tragic incident of the two children and their cruel uncle had taken place in the
house. The children had come to know the story from the ballad of The Children in the
wood. The story was carved in wood upon the chimney piece. But a foolish rich person later
pulled down the wooden chimney and put a chimney of marble. The new chimney piece had
no story on it. Alice was very unhappy that the rich man had pulled down the chimney piece
with the story. She looked upbraiding and her anger was like her mothers.

When the house came to decay later, after the death of Mrs. Field the nobleman carried
away the ornaments of the house and used them in his new house. The ornaments of the old
house looked very awkward in the new house, just like the beautiful tombs of Westminster
Abbey would look awkward if placed in someones drawing room. Things looked beautiful
only if they are in harmony with the surroundings. John enjoyed the comparison and smiled
as if he also felt it would be very awkward indeed. Grandmother Field was a very good lady.
She was also very religious for she was well acquainted with The Book of Psalms in The Old
Testament and a great portion of The New Testament of The Bible. Alice here spread her
hands as if she was not interested in the praise of a quality of the grandmother that she
herself did not have. Children find it difficult to learn lessons by heart.
Grandmother Field did not fear the spirits of the two infants which haunted the house at
night. So she slept alone. But Elia used to sleep with his maid as he was not so religious.
John tried to look courageous but his eyes expanded in fear. When the grandmother died
many people in the neighbourhood including the gentry or the aristocrats attended her
funeral. She was also a good dancer when she was young. Here, Alice moved her feet
unconsciously as she too was interested in dancing. Grandmother Field was tall and upright
but later she was bowed down by a disease called cancer. She was good to her grand
children. Elia in childhood used to spend his holiday there. He used to gaze upon the bust of
the twelve Caesars or roam about in the mansion or in the garden. In the garden, there were
fruits like nectarines, peaches, oranges and others. Elia never plucked them but rather
enjoyed looking at them. Here John deposited a bunch of grapes upon the plate again. He
From all the grandchildren, Grandmother Field loved John the most. John was lively and
spirited, fond of riding, hunting and outdoor activities. He was brave and handsome. He used
to take James Elia upon his back out for outings as James Elia was lame footed. But James
was not very considerate to him. He was sorry for it. John died later and James missed him
The children began to cry at the sad turn of events. They asked him to continue the story of
Uncle John but to tell them about their dead mother. The father began to tell them how he
had courted their mother, Alice for seven years. He was at times hopeful of winning her and
at times in despair. He explained to them what coyness, difficulty and denial mean in an
unmarried lady. When the father looked at Alice she looked at that time very much like her
mother. Thereafter, the children began to grow fainter. They began to go away further and
further till the father could hardly see them. From a great distance they seemed to say that
they were not children of Alice nor of him, they were not children at all, they were only what
might have been. When he woke up he found himself in an armed chair. He had fallen asleep
and he had been dreaming. James Elia had vanished. On the chair was only Charles Lamb.

New Year's Eve

by Charles Lamb
Every man hath two birth-days: two days, at least, in every year, which set
him upon revolving the lapse of time, as it affects his mortal duration. The

one is that which in an especial manner he termeth his. In the gradual

desuetude of old observances, this custom of solemnizing our proper birthday hath nearly passed away, or is left to children, who reflect nothing at all
about the matter, nor understand any thing in it beyond cake and orange.
But the birth of a New Year is of an interest too wide to be pretermitted by
king or cobbler. No one ever regarded the First of January with indifference.
It is that from which all date their time, and count upon what is left. It is the
nativity of our common Adam.
Of all sounds of all bells--(bells, the music nighest bordering upon heaven)-most solemn and touching is the peal which rings out the Old Year. I never
hear it without a gathering-up of my mind to a concentration of all the
images that have been diffused over the past twelvemonth; all I have done
or suffered, performed or neglected--in that regretted time.
I begin to know its worth, as when a person dies. It takes a personal colour;
nor was it a poetical flight in a contemporary, when he exclaimed

I saw the skirts of the departing Year.

It is no more than what in sober sadness every one of us seems to be
conscious of, in that awful leave-taking. I am sure I felt it, and all felt it with
me, last night; though some of my companions affected rather to manifest
an exhilaration at the birth of the coming year, than any very tender regrets
for the decease of its predecessor. But I am none of those who--

Welcome the coming, speed the parting guest.

I am naturally, beforehand, shy of novelties; new books, new faces, new
years, from some mental twist which makes it difficult in me to face the
prospective. I have almost ceased to hope; and am sanguine only in the
prospects of other (former) years. I plunge into foregone visions and
conclusions. I encounter pell-mell with past disappointments. I am armourproof against old discouragements. I forgive, or overcome in fancy, old
adversaries. I play over again for love, as the gamesters phrase it, games,
for which I once paid so dear. I would scarce now have any of those untoward
accidents and events of my life reversed. I would no more alter them than
the incidents of some well-contrived novel. Methinks, it is better that I should

have pined away seven of my goldenest years, when I was thrall to the fair
hair, and fairer eyes, of Alice W----n, than that so passionate a loveadventure should be lost. It was better that our family should have missed
that legacy, which old Dorrell cheated us of, than that I should have at this
moment two thousand pounds in banco, and be without the idea of that
specious old rogue.
In a degree beneath manhood, it is my infirmity to look back upon those
early days. Do I advance a paradox, when I say, that, skipping over the
intervention of forty years, a man may have leave to love himself, without
the imputation of self-love?
If I know aught of myself, no one whose mind is introspective--and mine is
painfully so--can have a less respect for his present identity, than I have for
the man Elia. I know him to be light, and vain, and humorsome; a notorious
***; addicted to ****: averse from counsel, neither taking it, nor offering it;-*** besides; a stammering buffoon; what you will; lay it on, and spare not; I
subscribe to it all, and much more, than thou canst be willing to lay at his
door--but for the child Elia--that "other me," there, in the back-ground--I must
take leave to cherish the remembrance of that young master--with as little
reference, I protest, to this stupid changeling of five-and-forty, as if it had
been a child of some other house, and not of my parents. I can cry over its
patient small-pox at five, and rougher medicaments. I can lay its poor
fevered head upon the sick pillow at
Christ's, and wake with it in surprise at the gentle posture of maternal
tenderness hanging over it, that unknown had watched its sleep. I know how
it shrank from any the least colour of falsehood. God help thee, Elia, how art
thou changed! Thou art sophisticated. I know how honest, how courageous
(for a weakling) it was--how religious, how imaginative, how hopeful! From
what have I not fallen, if the child I remember was indeed myself, and not
some dissembling guardian, presenting a false identity, to give the rule to
my unpractised steps, and regulate the tone of my moral being!
That I am fond of indulging, beyond a hope of sympathy, in such
retrospection, may be the symptom of some sickly idiosyncrasy. Or is it
owing to another cause; simply, that being without wife or family, I have not
learned to project myself enough out of myself; and having no offspring of
my own to dally with, I turn back upon memory and adopt my own early
idea, as my heir and favourite? If these speculations seem fantastical to

thee, reader (a busy man, perchance), if I tread out of the way of thy
sympathy, and am singularly-conceited only, I retire, impenetrable to
ridicule, under the phantom cloud of Elia.
The elders, with whom I was brought up, were of a character not likely to let
slip the sacred observance of any old institution; and the ringing out of the
Old Year was kept by them with circumstances of peculiar ceremony. In those
days the sound of those midnight chimes, though it seemed to raise hilarity
in all around me, never failed to bring a train of pensive imagery into my
fancy. Yet I then scarce conceived what it meant, or thought of it as a
reckoning that concerned me.
Not childhood alone, but the young man till thirty, never feels practically that
he is mortal. He knows it indeed, and, if need were, he could preach a homily
on the fragility of life; but he brings it not home to himself, any more than in
a hot June we can appropriate to our imagination the freezing days of
But now, shall I confess a truth? I feel these audits but too powerfully. I begin
to count the probabilities of my duration, and to grudge at the expenditure of
moments and shortest periods, like miser's farthings. In proportion as the
years both lessen and shorten, I set more count upon their periods, and
would fain lay my ineffectual finger upon the spoke of the great wheel. I am
not content to pass away "like a weaver's shuttle." Those metaphors solace
me not, nor sweeten the unpalatable draught of mortality. I care not to be
carried with the tide, that smoothly bears human life to eternity; and reluct
at the inevitable course of destiny. I am in love with this green earth; the face
of town and country; the unspeakable rural solitudes, and the sweet security
of streets.

I would set up my tabernacle here. I am content to stand still at the age to

which I am arrived; I, and my friends: to be no younger, no richer, no
handsomer. I do not want to be weaned by age; or drop, like mellow fruit, as
they say, into the grave. Any alteration, on this earth of mine, in diet or in
lodging, puzzles and discomposes me.

My household-gods plant a terrible fixed foot, and are not rooted up without
blood. They do not willingly seek Lavinian shores. A new state of being
staggers me.
Sun, and sky, and breeze, and solitary walks, and summer holidays, and the
greenness of fields, and the delicious juices of meats and fishes, and society,
and the cheerful glass, and candle-light, and fire-side conversations, and
innocent vanities, and jests, and irony itself--do these things go out with life?

Can a ghost laugh, or shake his gaunt sides, when you are pleasant with
And you, my midnight darlings, my Folios! must I part with the intense
delight of having you (huge armfuls) in my embraces? Must knowledge come
to me, if it come at all, by some awkward experiment of intuition, and no
longer by this familiar process of reading?
Shall I enjoy friendships there, wanting the smiling indications which point
me to them here,--the recognisable face--the "sweet assurance of a look"--?

In winter this intolerable disinclination to dying--to give it its mildest name-does more especially haunt and beset me. In a genial August noon, beneath
a sweltering sky, death is almost problematic. At those times do such poor
snakes as myself enjoy an immortality. Then we expand and burgeon. Then
are we as strong again, as valiant again, as wise again, and a great deal
taller. The blast that nips and shrinks me, puts me in thoughts of death. All
things allied to the insubstantial, wait upon that master feeling; cold,
numbness, dreams, perplexity; moonlight itself, with its shadowy and
spectral appearances,--that cold ghost of the sun, or Phoebus' sickly sister,
like that innutritious one denounced in the Canticles:--I am none of her
minions--I hold with the Persian.

Whatsoever thwarts, or puts me out of my way, brings death into my mind.

All partial evils, like humours, run into that capital plague-sore. I have heard
some profess an indifference to life. Such hail the end of their existence as a
port of refuge; and speak of the grave as of some soft arms, in which they
may slumber as on a pillow. Some have wooed death--but out upon thee, I
say, thou foul, ugly phantom! I detest, abhor, execrate, and (with Friar John)
give thee to six-score thousand devils, as in no instance to be excused or
tolerated, but shunned as a universal viper; to be branded, proscribed, and
spoken evil of! In no way can I be brought to digest thee, thou thin,
melancholy Privation, or more frightful and confounding Positive!

Those antidotes, prescribed against the fear of thee, are altogether frigid and
insulting, like thyself. For what satisfaction hath a man, that he shall "lie
down with kings and emperors in death," who in his life-time never greatly
coveted the society of such bed-fellows?--or, forsooth, that "so shall the
fairest face appear?"--why, to comfort me, must Alice W----n be a goblin?
More than all, I conceive disgust at those impertinent and misbecoming
familiarities, inscribed upon your ordinary tombstones. Every dead man must
take upon himself to be lecturing me with his odious truism, that "such as he
now is, I must shortly be." Not so shortly, friend, perhaps, as thou imaginest.
In the meantime I am alive. I move about. I am worth twenty of thee. Know
thy betters! Thy New Years' Days are past. I survive, a jolly candidate for
1821. Another cup of wine--and while that turn-coat bell, that just now
mournfully chanted the obsequies of 1820 departed, with changed notes
lustily rings in a successor, let us attune to its peal the song made on a like
occasion, by hearty, cheerful Mr. Cotton.--

How say you, reader--do not these verses smack of the rough magnanimity
of the old English vein? Do they not fortify like a cordial; enlarging the heart,
and productive of sweet blood, and generous spirits, in the concoction?
Where be those puling fears of death, just now expressed or affected? Passed
like a cloud--absorbed in the purging sunlight of clear poetry--clean washed
away by a wave of genuine Helicon, your only Spa for these hypochondries-And now another cup of the generous!

and a merry New Year, and many of them, to you all, my masters!

Minat Terkait