« PreviousContinue »
in one of his earlier ambrotypes, if I remembes rightly); there are tournures nothing can humanize and movements nothing can subdue to the gracious suavity or elegant languor or stately serenity which belong to different styles of dandyism.
We are forming an aristocracy, as you may obRerve, in this country, -not a gratia-Dei, nor a juredivino one,--but a de-facto upper stratum of being, which floats over the turbid waves of common life like the iridescent film you may have seen spreading over the water about our wharves,—very splendid, though its origin may have been tar, tallow, train-oil, or other such unctuous commodities. I say, then, we are forming an aristocracy; and, transitory as its individual life often is, it maintains itself tolerably, as a whole. Of course, money is its corner-stone. But now observe this. Money kept for two or three generations transforms a race, I don't mean merely in manners and hereditary culture, but in blood and bone. Money buys air and sunshine, in which children grow up more kindly, of course, than in close, back streets; it buys country-places to give them happy and healthy summers, good nursing, good doctoring, and the best cuts of beef and mutton. When the spring-chickens come to market - I beg your pardon,—that is not what I was going to speak of. As the young females of each successive Beason come on, the finest specimens among them, other things being equal are apt to attract those who can afford the expensive luxury of beauty. Th physical character of the next generation rises in consequence. It is plain that certain families have in this way acquired an elevated type of face and figure, and that in a small circle of city-connections one may sometimes find models of both sexes which one of the rural counties would find it hard to match from all its townships put together. Because there is a good deal of running down, of degeneration and waste of life, among the richer classes, you must not overlook the equally obvious fact I have just spoken of,—which in one or two generations more will be, 1 think, much more patent than just now.
The weak point in our chryso-aristocracy is the same I have alluded to in connection with cheap dandyism. Its thorough manhood, its high-caste gallantry, are not so manifest as the plate-glass of its windows and the more or less legitimate heraldry of its coach-panels. It is very curious to observe of how small account military folks are held among our Northern people. Our young men must gild their spurs, but they need not win them. The equal division of property keeps the younger sons of rich people above the necessity of military service. Thus the army loses an element of refinement, and the moneyed upper class forgets what it is to count heroism among its virtues. Still I don't believe in any aristocracy without pluck as its backbone. Ours may
show it when the time comes if it ever does come.
These United States furnish the greatest market for intellectual green fruit of all the places in the world. I think so, at any rate. The demand for intellectual labor is so enormous and the market so far from nice, that young talent is apt to fare like unripe gooseberries,-get plucked to make a fool of Think of a country which buys eighty thousand copies of the “ Proverbial Philosophy," while the author's admiring countrymen have been buying twelve thousand! How can one let his fruit hang in the sun until it gets fully ripe, while there are eighty thousand such hungry mouths ready to swallow it and proclaim its praises ? Consequently, there never was such a collection of crude pippins and half-grown windfalls as our native literature displays among its fruits. There are literary green-groceries at every corner, which will buy anything, from a button-pear to a pine-apple. It takes a long apprenticeship to train a whole people to reading and writing. The temptation of money and fame is too great for young people. Do I not remember that glorious moment when the late Mr.
we won't say who,-editor of the — we won't say what, offered me the sum of fifty cents per doublecolumned quarto page for shaking my young boughs over his foolscap apron? Was it not an intoxicat ing vision of gold and glory? I should doubtless have revelled in its wealth and splendor, but for learning that the fifty cents was to be considered a rhetorical embellishment, and by no means a literal expression of past fact or present intention.
- Beware of making your moral staple consist of the negative virtues. It is good to abstain, and teach others to abstain, from all that is sinful or hurtful. But making a business of it leads to emaciation of character, unless one feeds largely also on the more nutritious diet of active sympathetic benevalence.
I don't believe one word of what you are saying,--spoke up the angular female in black bombazine.
I am sorry you disbelieve it, Madam,—I said, and added softly to my next neighbor,—but you
The young fellow sitting near me winked; and the divinity-student said, in an undertone,- Optime dictum.
Your talking Latin,-said 1,-reminds me of an odd trick of one of my old tutors. He read so much of that language, that his English half turned into it. He got caught in town, one hot summer, in pretty close quarters, and wrote, or began to write, a series of city pastorals. Eclogues he called them, and meant to have published them by subscription. I remember some of his verses, if you want to hear hem.- You, Sir, (addressing myself to the divinity. student,) and all such as have been through college or, what is the same thing, recei' ed an honorary
degree, will understand them without a dictionary The old man had a great deal to say about “æstiva. tion," as he called it, in opposition, as one might say, to hibernation. Intramural æstivation, or townäfe in summer, he would say, is a peculiar form of suspended existence, or semi-asphyxia. One wakes up from it about the beginning of the last week in September. This is what I remember of his poem :
An Unpublished Poem, by my late Latin Tutor
In candent ire the solar splendor flames ;
How dulce to vive occult to mortal eyes,
To me, alas! no verdurous visions come,
Me wretched! Let me curr to quercine sbales