Sidor som bilder
[ocr errors]


of youth; my brain performed its functions as healthily as ever before; I read Kant again, and again I understood him, or fancied that I did. Again my feel5 ings of pleasure expanded themselves to all around me; and if any man from Oxford or Cambridge, or from neither, had been announced to me in my unpretending cottage, I should have welcomed him with as sumptuous a reception as so poor a man could offer. Whatever else was wanting to a wise man's happiness,― of laudanum I would have given him as much as he wished, and in a golden cup. And, by the way, now that I speak of giving laudanum away, I remember, about this time, a little incident, which I mention, because, trifling as it was, the reader will soon meet it again in my dreams, which it influenced more fearfully than could be imagined. One day a Malay knocked at my door. What business a Malay could have to transact amongst English mountains, I cannot conjecture; but possibly he was on his road to a seaport about forty miles distant. The servant who opened the door to him was a young girl born and bred amongst the mountains, who had never seen an Asiatic dress of any sort; his turban, therefore, confounded her not a little; and, as it turned out, that his attainments in English were exactly of the same extent as hers in the Malay, there seemed to be an impassable gulf fixed between all communication of ideas, if either party had happened to possess any. In this dilemma, the girl, recollecting the reputed learning of her master (and, doubtless, giving me credit for a knowledge of all the languages of the earth, besides, perhaps, a few of the lunar ones), came and gave me to understand that there was a sort of demon below, whom she clearly imagined that my art could exorcise from the house. I did not immediately go down; but, when I did, the group which presented itself, arranged as it was by accident, though not very elaborate, took hold of my fancy and my eye in a way that none of the statuesque attitudes exhibited in the ballets at the Opera House, though so ostentatiously complex, had ever done. In a cottage kitchen, but paneled on the wall with dark wood that from age and rubbing resembled oak, and looking more

If any man, poor or rich, were to say that he would tell us what had been the happiest day in his life, and the why and the wherefore, I suppose that we should all cry out- Hear him! hear him! As to the happiest day, that must be very difficult for any wise man to name; because any event that could occupy so distinguished a place in a man's retrospect of his life, or be entitled to have 10 shed a special felicity on any one day, ought to be of such an enduring character as that (accidents apart) it should have continued to shed the same felicity, or one not distinguishably less, on many 15 years together. To the happiest lustrum, however, or even to the happiest year, it may be allowed to any man to point without discountenance from wisdom. This year, in my case, reader, was the one which we have now reached; though it stood, I confess, as a parenthesis between years of a gloomier character. It was a year of brilliant water (to speak after the manner of jewelers), set as it 25 were, and insulated, in the gloom and cloudy melancholy of opium. Strange as it may sound, I had a little before this time descended suddenly, and without any considerable effort, from 320 grains of 30 opium (i. e., eight 1 thousand drops of laudanum) per day to forty grains, or one-eighth part. Instantaneously, and as if by magic, the cloud of profoundest melancholy which rested upon my brain, 35 like some black vapors that I have seen roll away from the summits of mountains, drew off in one day (x@nueрov); passed off with its murky banners as simultaneously as a ship that has been stranded, 40 and is floated off by a spring-tide


That moveth altogether, if it move at all.

Now, then, I was again happy; I now took only 1,000 drops of laudanum per 45 day; and what was that? A latter spring had come to close up the season

1I here reckon twenty-five drops of laudanum as equivalent to one grain of opium, which, I believe, is the common estimate. However, as both may 50 be considered variable quantities (the crude opium varying much in strength, and the tincture still more), I suppose that no infinitesimal accuracy can be had in such a calculation. Teaspoons vary as much in size as opium in strength. Small ones hold about 100 drops; so that 8,000 drops are about 55 eighty times a teaspoonful. The reader sees how much I kept within Dr. Buchan's indulgent allow.



like a rustic hall of entrance than a
kitchen, stood the Malay - his turban and
loose trousers of dingy white relieved
upon the dark paneling; he had placed
himself nearer to the girl than she seemed
to relish; though her native spirit of
mountain intrepidity contended with the
feeling of simple awe which her coun-
tenance expressed as she gazed upon the
tiger-cat before her. And a more strik- 10
ing picture there could not be imagined,
than the beautiful English face of the
girl, and its exquisite fairness, together
with her erect and independent attitude,
contrasted with the sallow and bilious 15
skin of the Malay, enameled or veneered
with mahogany, by marine air, his small,
fierce, restless eyes, thin lips, slavish
gestures and adorations. Half-hidden by
the ferocious-looking Malay, was a little 20
child from a neighboring cottage who
had crept in after him, and was now in
the act of reverting its head, and gazing
upwards at the turban and the fiery eyes
beneath it, whilst with one hand he
caught at the dress of the young woman
for protection. My knowledge of the
Oriental tongues is not remarkably ex-
tensive, being indeed confined to two
words the Arabic word for barley, and 30
the Turkish for opium (madjoon), which
I have learned from Anastasius. And,
as I had neither a Malay dictionary, nor
even Adelung's Mithridates, which might
have helped me to a few words, I ad- 35
dressed him in some lines from the Iliad;
considering that, of such languages as I
possessed, Greek, in point of longitude,
came geographically nearest to an Ori-
ental one. He worshipped me in a most 40
devout manner, and replied in what I
suppose was Malay. In this way I saved
my reputation with my neighbors; for
the Malay had no means of betraying the
secret. He lay down upon the floor for 45
about an hour, and then pursued his
journey. On his departure I presented
him with a piece of opium. To him, as
an Orientalist, I concluded that opium
must be familiar; and the expression of 50
his face convinced me that it
Nevertheless, I was struck with some
little consternation when I saw him sud-
denly raise his hand to his mouth, and
(in the school-boy phrase) bolt the whole, 55
divided into three pieces, at one mouth-
ful. The quantity was enough to kill


[ocr errors]

three dragoons and their horses; and I felt some alarm for the poor creature; but what could be done? I had given him the opium in compassion for his 5 solitary life, on recollecting that if he had traveled on foot from London, it must be nearly three weeks since he could have exchanged a thought with any human. being. I could not think of violating the laws of hospitality, by having him seized and drenched with an emetic, and thus frightening him into a notion that we were going to sacrifice him to some English idol. No: there was clearly no help for it; - he took his leave, and for some days I felt anxious; but as I never heard of any Malay being found dead, I became convinced that he was used 1 to opium: and that I must have done him the service I designed, by giving him one night of respite from the pains of wandering.


This incident I have digressed to mention, because this Malay (partly from the picturesque exhibition he assisted to frame, partly from the anxiety I connected with his image for some days) fastened afterwards upon my dreams, and brought other Malays with him worse than himself, that ran a-muck' 2 at me, and led me into a world of troubles. But to quit this episode, and to return to my intercalary year of happiness. I have said already, that on a subject so important to us all as happiness, we should listen with pleasure to any man's experience or experiments, even though he were but a plowboy, who cannot be supposed to have plowed very deep into such an intractable soil as that of human pains and pleasures, or to have conducted

1 This, however, is not a necessary conclusion; the varieties of effect produced by opium on different constitutions are infinite. A London Magistrate (Harriott's Struggles through Life, vol. iii, p. 391, Third Edition), has recorded that, on the first occa

sion of his trying laudanum for the gout, he took forty drops, the next night sixty, and on the fifth night eighty, without any effect whatever; and this at an advanced age. I have an anecdote from a country surgeon, however, which sinks Mr. Harriott's case into a trifle; and in my projected medical treatise on opium, which I will publish, provided the College of Surgeons will pay me for enlightening their benighted understandings upon this subject, I will relate it; but it is far too good a story to be published gratis.

2 See the common accounts in any Eastern traveler or voyager of the frantic excesses committed by Malays who have taken opium, or are reduced to desperation by ill luck at gambling.

it matter of congratulation that winter is going, or, if coming, is not likely to be a severe one. On the contrary, I put up a petition annually, for as much snow,


his researches upon any very enlightened principles. But I, who have taken happiness, both in a solid and a liquid shape, both boiled and unboiled, both East India and Turkey — who have conducted 5 hail, frost, or storm, of one kind or other, my experiments upon this interesting as the skies can possibly afford subject with a sort of galvanic battery- Surely everybody is aware of the divine and have, for the general benefit of the pleasures which attend a winter fireside; world, inoculated myself, as it were, with candles at four o'clock, warm hearth-rugs, the poison of 8,000 drops of laudanum per 10 tea, a fair tea-maker, shutters closed, day (just, for the same reason, as a curtains flowing in ample draperies on the French surgeon inoculated himself lately floor, whilst the wind and rain are ragwith cancer an English one, twenty ing audibly without, years ago, with plague - and a third,

I know not of what nation, with hydro- 15 And at the doors and windows seem to call, As heaven and earth they would together mell;

-Castle of Indolence.

phobia), I (it will be admitted) must
surely know what happiness is, if any-
body does. And, therefore, I will here
lay down an analysis of happiness; and
as the most interesting mode of com- 20
municating it, I will give it, not didactic-
ally, but wrapped up and involved in at
picture of one evening, as I spent every
evening during the intercalary year when
laudanum, though taken daily, was to me 25
no more than the elixir of pleasure. This
done, I shall quit the subject of happi-
ness altogether, and pass to a very differ-
the pains of opium.

All these are items in the description of a winter evening, which must surely be familiar to everybody born in a high latitude. And it is evident that most of these delicacies, like ice-cream, require a very low temperature of the atmosphere to produce them: they are fruits which

ent one

Let there be a cottage, standing in a 30 cannot be ripened without weather stormy valley, eighteen miles from any town no spacious valley, but about two miles long, by three quarters of a mile in average width; the benefit of which provision is, that all the families resident 35 within its circuit will compose, as it were, one larger household personally familiar to your eye, and more or less interesting to your affections. Let the mountains be real mountains, between 40 three and four thousand feet high; and the cottage a real cottage, not (as a witty author has it) 'a cottage with a double coach-house'; let it be, in fact (for I must abide by the actual scene), a 45 white cottage, embowered with flowering shrubs, so chosen as to unfold a succession of flowers upon the walls, and clustering round the windows through all the months of spring, summer, and 50 beginning, in fact, with May roses, and ending with jasmine. Let it, however, not be spring, nor summer, nor autumn but his winter in shape. This is a most important point in 55 the science of happiness. And I am surprised to see people overlook it, and think`

or inclement, in some way or other. I
am not particular, as people say,
whether it be snow, or black frost, or
wind so strong, that (as Mr. says)
'you may lean your back against it like
a post.' I can put up even with rain,
provided it rains cats and dogs; but
something of the sort I must have; and,
if I have it not, I think myself in a man-
ner ill-used; for why am I called on to
pay so heavily for winter, in coals, and
candles, and various privations that will
occur even to gentlemen, if I am not to
have the article good of its kind? No:
a Canadian winter for my money; or a
Russian one, where every man is but a
co-proprietor with the north wind in the
fee-simple of his own ears. Indeed, so
great an epicure am I in this matter, that
I cannot relish a winter night fully if it
be much past St. Thomas's day, and have
degenerated into disgusting tendencies to
vernal appearances; no, it must be divided
by a thick wall of dark nights from all
return of light and sunshine. From the
latter weeks of October to Christmas
Eve, therefore, is the period during which



[ocr errors]

[ocr errors]

Yet the least entrance find they none at all; Whence sweeter grows our rest secure in massy hall.


happiness is in season, which, in my
judgment, enters the room with the tea-
tray; for tea, though ridiculed by those
who are naturally of coarse nerves, or
are become so from wine-drinking, and
are not susceptible of influence from so
refined a stimulant, will always be the
favorite beverage of the intellectual;
and, for my part, I would have joined
Dr. Johnson in a bellum internecinum 10
against Jonas Hanway, or any other im-
pious person, who should presume to
disparage it. But here, to save myself
the trouble of too much verbal descrip-
tion, I will introduce a painter, and give 15
him directions for the rest of the pic-
ture. Painters do not like white cottages,
unless a good deal weather-stained; but
as the reader now understands that it is
a winter night, his services will not be 20
required, except for the inside of the

beauty; or that the witchcraft of angelic smiles lies within the empire of any earthly pencil. Pass, then, my good painter, to something more within its 5 power; and the next article brought forward should naturally be myself - a picture of the Opium-eater, with his little golden receptacle of the pernicious drug' lying beside him on the table. As to the opium, I have no objection to see a picture of that, though I would rather see the original: you may paint it if you choose; but I apprise you, that no 'little' receptacle would, even in 1816, answer my purpose, who was at a distance from thestately Pantheon,' and all druggists (mortal or otherwise). No; you may as well paint the real receptacle, which was not of gold, bu of glass, and as much like a wine-decanter as possible. Into this you may put a quart of ruby-colored laudanum: that, and a book of German Metaphysics placed by its side, will sufficiently attest my being in the neighborhood; but, as to myself,- there I demur. I admit that, naturally, I ought to occupy the foreground of the picture; that being the hero of the piece, or (if you choose) the criminal at the bar, my body should

Paint me, then, a room seventeen feet by twelve, and not more than seven and a half feet high. This, reader, is some- 25 what ambitiously styled, in my family, the drawing-room; but, being contrived double debt to pay,' it is also, and more justly, termed the library; for it happens that books are the only article of prop- 30 be had into court. This seems reason


erty in which I am richer than my
neighbors. Of these I have about five
thousand, collected gradually since my
eighteenth year. Therefore, painter, put
as many as you can into this room. 35
Make it populous with books; and,
furthermore, paint me a good fire; and
furniture plain and modest, befitting the
unpretending cottage of a scholar. And,
near the fire paint me a tea-table; and 40
(as it is clear that no creature can come
to see one such a stormy night), place
only two cups and saucers on the tea-
tray; and, if you know how to paint such
a thing symbolically, or otherwise, paint 45
me an eternal tea-pot — eternal à parte
ante, and à parte post; for I usually
drink tea from eight o'clock at night to
four o'clock in the morning. And, as it
is very unpleasant to make tea, or to 50
pour it out for oneself, paint me a lovely
woman, sitting at
Paint her arms like Aurora's, and her
smiles like Hebe's. But no, dear M-——,
not even in jest let me insinuate that thy 55
power to illuminate my cottage rests upon
a tenure so perishable as mere personal

able; but why should I confess, on this point, to a painter? or why confess at all? If the public (into whose private ear I am confidentially whispering my confessions, and not into any painter's) should chance to have framed some agreeable picture for itself, of the Opiumeater's exterior should have ascribed to him, romantically, an elegant person, or a handsome face, why should I barbarously tear from it so pleasing a delusion

[ocr errors]

pleasing both to the public and to me? No: paint me, if at all, according to your own fancy; and, as a painter's fancy should teem with beautiful creations, I cannot fail, in that way, to be a gainer. And now, reader, we have run through all the ten categories of my condition as it stood about 1816-17; up to the middle of which latter year I judge myself to have been a happy man; and the elements of that happiness I have endeavored to place before you, in the above sketch of the interior of a scholar's library, in a cottage among the mountains, on a stormy winter evening.




Macaulay's life is a remarkable story of successful endeavor. The son of a well-known philanthropist and anti-slavery agitator, he was a precocious boy, with a natural aptitude for literary composition and a phenomenal memory; he began a compendium of universal history at the age of seven, and repeated after a lapse of forty years a scrap of poetry he had read as a youth in a country newspaper and had not recalled in the interval; he knew Paradise Lost and Pilgrim's Progress by heart. He went in 1818 to Trinity College, Cambridge, and left with a fellowship which secured him a sufficient income for his personal wants for the next seven years. An essay on Milton he contributed to the Edinburgh Review in 1825 attracted the attention of the editor, Jeffrey, who said to him, 'The more I think, the less I can conceive where you picked up that style.' In 1830 he entered the House of Commons as member for Calne, and at once made his mark by a speech on the Reform Bill. The termination of his fellowship in 1831 put him in somewhat straitened circumstances, and he was obliged to sell the gold medals he had won at the university; but a way out of all financial difficulties was found in 1833 by his appointment as a member of the Supreme Council of India for five years at a salary of £10,000 a year. He did valuable work in India, reconstructing the educational system and drawing up a criminal code, beside doing an enormous amount of private reading. On his return home, he began his History of England, and published a collection of his essays, which at once obtained a very large sale. He was elected member for Edinburgh, and became Secretary for War, with a seat in the cabinet. The ministry fell in 1841, and in 1847 Macaulay was rejected by his constituency. He wrote a poem to the effect that literature had been his consolation under all the trials of life, ' of which,' says one biographer, it was rather difficult to make a respectable list.' The Edinburgh seat again becoming vacant, he was re-elected without any exertion on his part, but he adhered to his determination to give the rest of his life to literature. The first two volumes of his History were published in 1848, the third and fourth in 1855; from the first it enjoyed very great popularity, and his publishers sent im a check for £20,000. He was raised to the peerage, and buried in Westminster Abbey. He never married, but was devoted to his sisters and their children; his nephew, Sir G. O. Trevelyan, wrote his life, and has attained a considerable reputation as a politician and man of letters. Macaulay has not Lamb's delicate humor, or De Quincey's philosophical imagination. He disliked speculation, and his idea of history was to present accumulated facts with the attractiveness of fiction. His worst fault is a tendency to emphasize the commonplace 'blackening the chimney,' Sir Leslie Stephen calls it—but his judgment is generally sound, as far as it goes. His style has no subtle harmonies, but is admirable for mechanical excellences — orderly arrangement of material, careful paragraphing, and absolute clearness of statement. In these points he offers a better model for young writers than De Quincey, Carlyle, Ruskin, and other masters of a more elaborate style.

not necessary that they should assert what is absolutely false; for all questions in morals and politics are questions of comparison and degree. Any proposition 5 which does not involve a contradiction in terms may by possibility be true; and if all the circumstances which raise a probability in its favor be stated and enforced, and those which lead to an opposite conclusion be omitted or lightly passed over, it may appear to be demonstrated. In every human character and transaction there is a mixture of good


The best historians of later times have been seduced from truth, not by their imagination, but by their reason. They far excel their predecessors in the art of deducing general principles from facts. But unhappily they have fallen into the error of distorting facts to suit general principles. They arrive at a theory from looking at 10 some of the phenomena; and the remaining phenomena they strain or curtail to suit the theory. For this purpose it is

« FöregåendeFortsätt »