페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

mer's jacket and a judge's wig. I always think of this personage, when I see a lady loaded with jewels; and if I had a wife, and she had such encumbrances, from the anxiety of which I saw no other chance of her being relieved, I should heartily rejoice in one of those mysterious disappearances, which have been so frequent of late, and which, it may be, have sometimes originated in a feeling on the part of hus bands, similar to mine.

ECONOMY OF LABOUR.

One great superiority of the manufacturers of this country over the agriculturists, is attributable to their attention to the economy of labour. In my earliest remembrance, the farmers were too ignorant to think of it, afterwards they were too prosperous, and now they are too much bent on seeking relief from other sources than their own energies. What might be done in time by a combination of mechanical and chemical science, it is as impossible to calculate beforehand, as it would have been fifty years since to have foretold what would be the present state of spinning, weaving, bleaching, and transport. Human energy and human invention completely baffle calculation, as is proved, amongst many others, by this fact, that silk and cotton are sent from India here, and manufactured and sent back, so as to undersell the natives in their own markets, in spite of distance, and comparative difficulty of living from both natural and political causes. I think, with such examples of the triumph of skill, industry, and enterprize, the actual state of our agriculture utterly disgraceful. I was led into these remarks by a passage in one of my letters from the continent, from which I have given the series of extracts in former numbers. The passage is as follows:

לל

“ I observed in Lorraine two ploughs in a field of light land, drawn one by five horses, and the other by four, both held by women, and driven by men.” This only proves that economy of labour is less practised in some parts of France than it is here; and such I believe to be generally the case on the continent compared with this country, not only in agriculture, but in every thing else. I have frequently seen in France four men shoeing a horse, having first put him in the stocks, and tying each foot in turn over a bar. The reason, probably, why the women were holding the ploughs I saw, might be that they were more skilful than the men, as, during the war, females were more regularly employed in such labour. I will conclude with a remarkable instance of the triumph of ingenuity over calculation. The Abbé Raynal lays it down, without supposing a doubt, that North America could never become of much importance beyond a short distance from the coast, on account of the impossibility of ascending the great rivers. The application of steam to navigation, has alone falsified that position, and railways and canals are adding their powerful aid. I cannot help thinking that those, who affirm, that if a north-west passage were to be discovered, it would never be made available to any useful purpose, are a little presumptuous. The progress of improvement already witnessed, should teach us diffidence in hazarding such predictions. The first experiment I ever saw of applying steam to navigation, was on the Duke of Bridgewater's canal, when eleven coal barges were dragged along by an engine at the rate of two miles an hour, and with terrible destruction to the banks. This, I think, was before steam navigation was brought to any thing like perfection in the United States, and I little thought then of being carried some fifteen miles an hour against the wind, as I was the other day on the Thames.

COMPOSITION.

There is no exercise of the mind more delightful or more irksome, according to circumstances, than composition. With me, the humour depends almost entirely upon my mode of living; and when I practise my doctrines respecting health, I think I may say I experience no difficulties. Attention to diet I find to be of much the most consequence; but when I am also careful as to quantity of sleep and exercise, my capabilities rise to their highest pitch; that is, temperance removes difficulties, and moderation in sleep, and activity in exercise create facilities. There are accidental causes, which have their influence, but in an inferior degree, and personal management at all times enables me to command my powers. It is far otherwise when the temptations of society induce irregularities or excess, and the digestive organs have lost their tone. Ideas refuse to appear; phrases, which at other times, would have fallen into the ranks in order due, become, as it were, of the awkward squad, and seem utterly incapable of discipline, and despair is only driven away by necessity. I should think there can scarcely be a more piteous case than that of an author out of sorts, writing for bread against time. As far as the pencil can go, Hogarth has depicted such a person in his Distrest Poet, but there must be “ that within which passeth show.” The difference between the best humour for composition and the worst, is about the same as that between a salient fountain and a crazy pump in a deep well. The produce may be equally good in both cases, but the labour is beyond comparison different. It has happened to me more than once to receive particular commendation for those numbers, in the composition of which I have been the most perplexed, and which I fully expected would have met with censure. However, I intend to avail myself of the comparative solitude of next month to pay special attention to my state, both for my own ease, and to see the result.

EDUCATION.

It is a great art in the education of youth to find out peculiar aptitudes, or, where none exist, to create inclinations, which may serve

as substitutes. Different minds are like different soils; some are suited only to particular cultivation ; others will mature almost any thing; others, again, are best adapted to a round of ordinary products; and a few are wasted, unless they are reserved for what is most choice. The common run of minds may be compared to arable land, and are suited indifferently to the drudgery of any business. There is a more rugged, and apparently sterile class, which yields no return to ordinary cultivation, but is, like the mountain side rearing, in a course of years, the stately forest; and there are the felicitous few, which resemble the spots calculated for the choicest vineyards. It is fortunate for the individuals and society, when each class is put to its proper use. To pursue the comparison, minds, like soils, are often deceitful in their early promise ; and as a young orchard will sometimes thrive vigorously for a time, and when its owner expects a fair return, will canker and die—so youth will promise success in a particular line, till some hidden defect begins to operate, and the fondest hopes are blasted. However, these are the exceptions, and not the rule, and sound judgment in the destination of children will in the vast majority of cases be amply repaid. The great error, I apprehend, that parents fall into, and often unconsciously, is that they consult their own interests and inclinations rather than those of their children, and that vanity, ambition, and avarice, too often blind their understandings. There are difficulties even with the purest intentions, because apparent aptitudes are not, as I have already observed, always real ones, and because inclinations often arise from accidental causes, and change for the same reason. Where there is a great and undoubted aptitude,

it must be injudicious to thwart it; for though the indulgence may be attended with objections, it must in the nature of things be compensated by keen enjoyment, and it is better to be eminently successful in an inferior line, than moderately so, with a great chance of failure, in a superior one. Where it seems a matter of indifference to what a young person is destined, it is important when the choice is made, to create a corresponding inclination, which will serve in some sort instead of an aptitude, and this may be easily accomplished in general by contriving some attraction to the calling, as by bringing about an intimacy with one already engaged in it, and turning the will of the parent into the choice of the child. Some such course is the most likely to ensure that willingness and steadiness, which are the forerunners of success. There are certain useful branches of learning, which it is expedient, or rather necessary, that every one should be instructed in according to situation in life, whatever may be the individual repugnance, or unfitness. But it is otherwise with accomplishments and the higher parts of learning; for they profit really nothing, where there is no turn for them, and the time and attention they are made to occupy, might often be advantageously employed on plainer objects. I will instance the routine of accomplishments that young ladies are constrained to acquire, whether they have any taste for them or not, the display of which, when unaccompanied by taste, is a great annoyance in society. A taste cultivated affords pleasure both to the possessor and to others; and if people would only addict themselves to that, in which they excel, they might well afford to be ignorant of most other matters. What a quantity of dancing, singing, playing, and drawing there is, which has no other effect but to expose and bore !

Published also monthly with the Periodicals, stitched in a wrapper.

IBOTSON AND PALMER, PRINTERS, SAVOY STREET, STRAND.

« 이전계속 »