The lining of his coffers shall make coats to deck our soldiers for these Irish wars.

From Richard II. I feel I’ve read/seen this exchange over a dozen times without ever fully taking in the coldness. There is, by the way, an OED definition of coffer as coffin. The last attestation they provide is 1550 but it’s close enough in time to suggest that the associative flow is dictated by more than just sound.

BUSHY

Old John of Gaunt is grievous sick, my lord,

Suddenly taken; and hath sent post haste

To entreat your majesty to visit him.

KING RICHARD II

Where lies he?

BUSHY

At Ely House.

KING RICHARD II

Now put it, God, in the physician’s mind

To help him to his grave immediately!

The lining of his coffers shall make coats

To deck our soldiers for these Irish wars.

Come, gentlemen, let’s all go visit him:

Pray God we may make haste, and come too late

Climb at Court for me that will / Tottering favors Pinacle; / All I seek is to lye still.

From Seneca’s Thyestes, the conclusion to the second chorus (conclusion of Act II, lines 391-403):

Stet quicumque volet potens
aulae culmine lubrico:
me dulcis saturet quies.
obscuro positus loco
leni perfruar otio,
nullis nota Quiritibus
aetas per tacitum fluat.
sic cum transierint mei
nullo cum strepitu dies,
plebeius moriar senex.
illi mors gravis incubat
qui, notus nimis omnibus,
ignotus moritur sibi.

Here first is John G. Fitch’s translation from the new Loeb:

Who wishes may stand in power
on a palace’s slippery peak:
let sweet repose sate me.
Set in an obscure place
let me bask in gentle leisure;
known to no Quirites
let my life flow on through peace.
So, when my days have passed
without turmoil, let me die
an old plebeian man.
Death weighs heavy on one
who, too well known to all,
dies unknown to himself.

And here is Andrew Marvell’s well-known version:

Climb at Court for me that will
Tottering favors Pinacle;
All I seek is to lye still.
Settled in some secret Nest
In calm Leisure let me rest;
And far off the publick Stage
Pass away my silent Age.
Thus when without noise, unknown,
I have liv’d out all my span,
I shall dye, without a groan,
An old honest Country man.
Who expos’d to others Ey’s,
Into his own Heart ne’r pry’s,
Death to him ‘s a Strange surprise

And a bonus –Abraham Cowley‘s somewhat expanded version:

Upon the slippery tops of human state,
The gilded pinnacles of fate,
Let others proudly stand, and for a while,
The giddy danger to beguile,
With joy and with disdain look down on all,
Till their heads turn, and down they fall.
Me, O ye gods, on earth, or else so near
That I no fall to earth may fear,
And, O ye gods, at a good distance seat
From the long ruins of the great!
Here wrapped in the arms of quiet let me lie,
Quiet, companion of obscurity.
Here let my life, with as much silence slide,
As time that measures it does glide.
Nor let the breath of infamy or fame,
From town to town echo about my name;
Nor let my homely death embroidered be
With scutcheon or with elegy.
An old plebeian let me die,
Alas, all then are such, as well as I.
To him, alas, to him, I fear,
The face of death will terrible appear;
Who in his life, flattering his senseless pride
By being known to all the world beside,
Does not himself, when he is dying, know;
Nor what he is, nor whither he’s to go.

As pride sometimes is hid under humility, idleness is often covered by turbulence and hurry.

From Samuel Johnson’s essays in The Idler, no. 31 – Disguises of idleness. Sober’s character. The full text (an extra few opening paragraphs) is here. It’s traditionally thought, based on a comment from one of Johnson’s friends, that Sober is a self-portrait.

As pride sometimes is hid under humility, idleness is often covered by turbulence and hurry. He that neglects his known duty and real employment, naturally endeavours to crowd his mind with something that may bar out the remembrance of his own folly, and does any thing but what he ought to do with eager diligence, that he may keep himself in his own favour.

Some are always in a state of preparation, occupied in previous measures, forming plans, accumulating materials, and providing for the main affair. These are certainly under the secret power of idleness. Nothing is to be expected from the workman whose tools are for ever to be sought. I was once told by a great master, that no man ever excelled in painting, who was eminently curious about pencils and colours.

There are others to whom idleness dictates another expedient, by which life may be passed unprofitably away without the tediousness of many vacant hours. The art is, to fill the day with petty business, to have always something in hand which may raise curiosity, but not solicitude, and keep the mind in a state of action, but not of labour.

This art has for many years been practised by my old friend Sober with wonderful success. Sober is a man of strong desires and quick imagination, so exactly balanced by the love of ease, that they can seldom stimulate him to any difficult undertaking; they have, however, so much power, that they will not suffer him to lie quite at rest; and though they do not make him sufficiently useful to others, they make him at least weary of himself.

Mr. Sober’s chief pleasure is conversation; there is no end of his talk or his attention; to speak or to hear is equally pleasing; for he still fancies that he is teaching or learning something, and is free for the time from his own reproaches.

But there is one time at night when he must go home, that his friends may sleep; and another time in the morning, when all the world agrees to shut out interruption. These are the moments of which poor Sober trembles at the thought. But the misery of these tiresome intervals he has many means of alleviating. He has persuaded himself that the manual arts are undeservedly overlooked; he has observed in many trades the effects of close thought, and just ratiocination. From speculation he proceeded to practice, and supplied himself with the tools of a carpenter, with which he mended his coal-box very successfully, and which he still continues to employ, as he finds occasion.

He has attempted at other times the crafts of the shoemaker, tinman, plumber, and potter; in all these arts he has failed, and resolves to qualify himself for them by better information. But his daily amusement is chymistry. He has a small furnace, which he employs in distillation, and which has long been the solace of his life. He draws oils and waters, and essences and spirits, which he knows to be of no use; sits and counts the drops, as they come from his retort, and forgets that, whilst a drop is falling, a moment flies away.

Poor Sober! I have often teased him with reproof, and he has often promised reformation; for no man is so much open to conviction as the Idler, but there is none on whom it operates so little. What will be the effect of this paper I know not; perhaps, he will read it and laugh, and light the fire in his furnace; but my hope is, that he will quit his trifles, and betake himself to rational and useful diligence.

A gentleman-like monster, bred … by affectation; and fed by folly

From Ben Jonson’s Every Man in his Humour (3.4)

Cob. Nay, I have my rheum*, and I can be angry as well as another,
sir.

Cash. Thy rheum, Cob! thy humor, thy humor—thou mistak’st.

Cob. Humor! mack**, I think it be so indeed; what is that humor?
some rare thing, I warrant.

Cash. Marry I’ll tell thee, Cob: it is a gentleman-like monster,
bred, in the special gallantry of our time, by affectation; and fed
by folly.

Cob. How! must it be fed?

Cash. Oh ay, humor is nothing if it be not fed: didst thou never
hear that? it’s a common phrase, ‘feed my humor’.***

* ‘rheum’ a synonym for ‘humor’ that had fallen out of fashion
** ‘mack’ – minced oath for ‘mass’
*** ‘feed my humor’ – cater to my disposition, a fashionable affectation.

And this we know, that chiding streams betray small depth below

From Robert Herrick‘s Hesperides (number 38, text from the 2013 edition of The Complete Poetry by Tom Cain and Ruth Connolly):

TO HIS MISTRESS OBJECTING TO HIM NEITHER TOYING OR TALKING
You say I love not, ’cause I do not play
Still with your curles, and kisse the time away.
You blame me too, because I cann’t devise
Some sport, to please those Babies in your eyes:
By Loves Religion, I must here confesse it,
The most I love, when I the least expresse it.
Small griefs find tongues: Full Casques are ever found
To give (if any, yet) but little sound.
Deep waters noyse-lesse are; And this we know,
That chiding streams betray small depth below.
So when Love speechlesse is, she doth expresse
A depth in love, and that depth, bottomlesse.
Now since my love is tongue-lesse, know me such,
Who speak but little ’cause I love so much.

And for a change of pace, number 5 of the collection

Another [to his booke]
Who with thy leaves shall wipe (at need)
The place, where swelling Piles do breed:
May every Ill, that bites, or smarts,
Perplexe him in his hinder-parts.

Tonight, grave sir, both my poor house, and I do equally desire your company

Ben Jonson’s Inviting a Friend to Supper (Epigram 101 – in volume 8 of the old Herford edition). There are bits of Martial (11.52, quoted below) and Horace (especially Epistle 1.5, also below) recognizable as background predecessors.

Tonight, grave sir, both my poor house, and I
Do equally desire your company;
Not that we think us worthy such a guest,
But that your worth will dignify our feast
With those that come, whose grace may make that seem
Something, which else could hope for no esteem.
It is the fair acceptance, sir, creates
The entertainment perfect, not the cates.
Yet shall you have, to rectify your palate,
An olive, capers, or some better salad
Ushering the mutton; with a short-legged hen,
If we can get her, full of eggs, and then
Lemons, and wine for sauce; to these a cony
Is not to be despaired of, for our money;
And, though fowl now be scarce, yet there are clerks,
The sky not falling, think we may have larks.
I’ll tell you of more, and lie, so you will come:
Of partridge, pheasant, woodcock, of which some
May yet be there, and godwit, if we can;
Knat, rail, and ruff too. Howsoe’er, my man
Shall read a piece of Virgil, Tacitus,
Livy, or of some better book to us,
Of which we’ll speak our minds, amidst our meat;
And I’ll profess no verses to repeat.
To this, if ought appear which I not know of,
That will the pastry, not my paper, show of.
Digestive cheese and fruit there sure will be;
But that which most doth take my Muse and me,
Is a pure cup of rich Canary wine,
Which is the Mermaid’s now, but shall be mine;
Of which had Horace, or Anacreon tasted,
Their lives, as so their lines, till now had lasted.
Tobacco, nectar, or the Thespian spring,
Are all but Luther’s beer to this I sing.
Of this we will sup free, but moderately,
And we will have no Pooley, or Parrot by,
Nor shall our cups make any guilty men;
But, at our parting we will be as when
We innocently met. No simple word
That shall be uttered at our mirthful board,
Shall make us sad next morning or affright
The liberty that we’ll enjoy tonight.

Martial 11.52:

You will dine nicely, Julius Cerialis, at my house; if you have no better engagement, come. You will be able to observe the eighth hour;* we will bathe together: you know how near Stephanus’ baths are to me. First, there will be given you lettuce useful for relaxing the stomach, and shoots cut from their parent leeks; then tunny salted and bigger than a small lizard-fish, and one too which eggs will garnish in leaves of rue. Other eggs will not be wanting, roasted in embers of moderate heat, and a lump of cheese ripened over a Velabran hearth, and olives that have felt the Picenian frost. These are enough for a whet: do you want to know the rest? I will deceive you to make you come: fish, mussels, sow’s paps, and fat birds of the poultry-yard and the marsh, which even Stella is not used to serve except at a special dinner. More I promise you: I will recite nothing to you, even although you yourself read again your “Giants” straight through, or your “Pastorals” that rank next to immortal Virgil.

Cenabis belle, Juli Cerialis, apud me;
condicio est melior si tibi nulla, veni.
Octavam poteris servare; lavabimur una:
scis quam sint Stephani balnea juncta mihi.
Prima tibi dabitur ventri lactuca movendo
utilis, et porris fila resecta suis,
mox vetus et tenui major cordyla lacerto,
sed quam cum rutae frondibus ova tegant;
altera non deerunt leni versata favilla,
et Velabrensi massa coacta foco,
et quae Picenum senserunt frigus olivae.
Haec satis in gustu. Cetera nosse cupis?
Mentiar, ut venias: pisces, coloephia, sumen,
et chortis saturas atque paludis aves,
quae nec Stella solet rara nisi ponere cena.
Plus ego polliceor: nil recitabo tibi,
ipse tuos nobis relegas licet usque Gigantas,
rura vel aeterno proxima Vergilio.

And Horace Epistle 1.5:

If you can recline at my table on couches made by Archias, and are not afraid of “a dinner of herbs” only, from a modest dish, I shall expect you, Torquatus, at my house at sunset. You will drink wine that was bottled in Taurus’s second consulate between marshy Minturnae and Petrinum near Sinuessa. If you have aught better, bid it be sent, or submit to orders. Long has my hearth been bright, and the furniture made neat for you. Dismiss airy hopes and the struggle for wealth, and Moschus’s cause. To-morrow, the festal day of Caesar’s birth, gives excuse for sleeping late; without penalty shall we be free to prolong the summer night in genial converse.

Why is fortune mine, if I may not use it? He who, from regard to his heir, pinches and spares overmuch is next door to a madman. I shall begin the drinking and the scattering of flowers, and shall suffer you, if you will, to think me reckless. What a miracle cannot the wine-cup work! It unlocks secrets, bids hopes be fulfilled, thrusts the coward into the field, takes the load from anxious hearts, teaches new arts. The flowing bowl—whom has it not made eloquent? Whom has it not made free even amid pinching poverty?

Here is what I charge myself to provide—and able and willing I am: that no untidy coverlet, no soiled napkin wrinkle up your nose; that tankard and plate become for you a mirror; that there be none to carry abroad what is said among faithful friends; that like may meet and mate with like.

Butra and Septicius I shall have to meet you, and Sabinus, unless a better supper and a goodlier girl detain him. There is room, too, for several “shades”a; but the reek of goats makes too crowded feasts unpleasant.b Write back, pray, how many you would like us to be; then drop your business, and by the back-door give the slip to the client waiting in your hall.

Si potes Archiacis conviva recumbere lectis
nec modica cenare times holus omne patella,
supremo te sole domi, Torquate, manebo,
vina bibes iterum Tauro diffusa palustris
inter Minturnas Sinuessanumque Petrinum.
si melius quid habes, arcesse, vel imperium fer.
iamdudum splendet focus et tibi munda supellex,
mitte levis spes et certamina divitiarum
et Moschi causam: cras nato Caesare festus
dat veniam somnumque dies; impune licebit
aestivam sermone benigno tendere noctem.
Quo mihi fortunam, si non conceditur uti?
parcus ob heredis curam nimiumque severus
adsidet insano, potare et spargere flores
incipiam, patiarque vel inconsultus haberi.
quid non ebrietas dissignat ? operta recludit,
spes iubet esse ratas, ad proelia trudit inertem,
sollicitis animis onus eximit, addocet artes.
fecundi calices quem non fecere disertum?
contracta quem non in paupertate solutum?
Haec ego procurare et idoneus imperor et non
invitus, ne turpe toral, ne sordida mappa
corruget naris, ne non et cantharus et lanx
ostendat tibi te, ne fidos inter amicos
sit qui dicta foras eliminet, ut coeat par
iungaturque pari. Butram tibi Septiciumque,
et nisi cena prior potiorque puella Sabinum
detinet, adsumam. locus est et pluribus umbris:
sed nimis arta premunt olidae convivia caprae,
tu quotus esse velis rescribe et rebus omissis
atria servantem postico falle clientem.

To turn our chamber walls into the green woods of the leafy month of June, populous of bird and beast

From William Morris’ lecture The Lesser Arts of Life (online here – a seemingly odd inclusion in marxists.org). I’m trying to convince my wife to let me wallpaper my library in Morris’ Bird and Pomegranate print (at bottom) and have been looking at a lot of the Morris&Co productions the last few days.

Well, this is all I have to say about the poor remains of the art of tapestry-weaving: and yet what a noble art it was once! To turn our chamber walls into the green woods of the leafy month of June, populous of bird and beast; or a summer garden with man and maid playing round a fountain, or a solemn procession of the mythical warriors and heroes of old; that surely was worth the trouble of doing

For illustration of what he had in mind, here are a few of Morris’ works. A good summary of his overall textile production can be found here.

First, The Orchard tapestry depicting several fruit trees ready for harvest and figural representations of the seasons holding a poem of Morris’ composing. Courtesy of V&A (but never on display it seems).

An acanthus wall hanging, also from the V&A collection:

And Greenery, a work of Morris’ first apprentice, John Henry Dearle, now in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts

And here’s the pattern I want. It reminds me somehow of a frescoed room from the Villa of Livia – now in the Palazzo Massimo in Rome – that even in faded and broken form remains breathtaking in person (see below pattern, more pictures in link above).

Should we look at the spring blossoms only in full flower, or the moon only when cloudless and clear?

Two more from Kenko’s Tsurezuregusa, these both being among the common anthology choices – or at least that’s my sense given that I discovered Kenko several years ago through two readers on Japanese aesthetics that both featured these pieces. The translation is again the Meredith McKinney. I’d really like to give Donald Keene’s as well but I’m in the country on my phone and transcribing is much harder than normal.

82
When someone complained that it was a great shame the way fine silk covers151 are so soon damaged, Ton’a replied, ‘It is only after the top and bottom edges of the silk have frayed, or when the mother-of-pearl has peeled off the roller, that a scroll is truly impressive’ – an astonishingly fine remark, I felt. Similarly, an unmatched set of bound books can be considered unattractive, but Bishop Kōyū impressed me deeply by saying that only a boring man will always want things to match; real quality lies in irregularity – another excellent remark.

In all things, perfect regularity is tasteless. Something left not quite finished is very appealing, a gesture towards the future. Someone told me that even in the construction of the imperial palace, some part is always left uncompleted.

In the Buddhist scriptures and other works written by the great men of old there are also a number of missing sections.


137
Should we look at the spring blossoms only in full flower, or the moon only when cloudless and clear? To long for the moon with the rain before you, or to lie curtained in your room while the spring passes unseen, is yet more poignant and deeply moving. A branch of blossoms on the verge of opening, a garden strewn with fading petals, have more to please the eye. Could poems on the themes of ‘Going to view the blossoms to find them already fallen’ or ‘Written when I was prevented from going to see the flowers’ be deemed inferior to ‘On seeing the blossoms’? It is natural human feeling to yearn over the falling blossoms and the setting moon – yet some, it seems, are so insensitive that they will declare that since this branch and that have already shed their flowers, there is nothing worth seeing any longer.

In all things, the beginning and end are the most engaging. Does the love of man and woman suggest only their embraces? No, the sorrow of lovers parted before they met, laments over promises betrayed, long lonely nights spent sleepless until dawn, pining thoughts for one in some far place, a woman left sighing over past love in her tumbledown abode – it is these, surely, that embody the romance of love.

Rather than gazing on a clear full moon that shines over a thousand leagues, it is infinitely more moving to see the moon near dawn and after long anticipation, tinged with most beautiful palest blue, a moon glimpsed among cedar branches deep in the mountains, its light now hidden again by the gathering clouds of an autumn shower. The moist glint of moonlight on the glossy leaves of the forest shii oak or the white oak pierces the heart, and makes you yearn for the distant capital and a friend of true sensibility to share the moment with you.

Are blossoms and the moon merely things to be gazed at with the eye? No, it brings more contentment and delight to stay inside the house in spring and, there in your bedroom, let your heart go out to the unseen moonlit night.

The man of quality never appears entranced by anything; he savours things with a casual air. Country bumpkins, however, take flamboyant pleasure in everything. They will wriggle their way in through the crowd and stand there endlessly gaping up at the blossoms, sit about under the trees drinking sake and indulging in linked verse-making together and, finally, oafishly break off great branches of blossom to carry away. They will dip their hands and feet into clear spring water, get down to stand in unsullied snow and leave their footprints everywhere, and in short throw themselves into everything with uninhibited glee.

I have observed such people behaving quite astonishingly when they came to see the Kamo festival. Declaring that the procession was horribly late so there was no point in hanging around on the viewing stand, a group retired to a house behind the stands and settled down to eat, drink and play go and sugoroku, leaving one of their number back on the stand to keep watch. ‘It’s coming by!’ he shouted, whereupon they all leaped frantically to their feet and dashed back, elbowing each other out of the way as they scrambled up, nearly tumbling off in their eagerness to thrust aside the blinds for a better look, jostling for position and craning to miss nothing, and commenting volubly on everything they saw. Then, when that section of the procession had passed, off they went again, declaring they’d be back for the next one. They were clearly only there to see the spectacle.

The upper echelons from the capital, on the other hand, will sit there dozing without so much as a glance at the scene. Young gentlemen of lesser rank are constantly rising to wait on their superiors, while those seated in the back rows never rudely lean forward, and no one goes out of his way to watch as the procession passes.On the day of the festival everything is elegantly strewn with the emblematic aoi leaves, and even before dawn the carriages quietly begin to arrive to secure a good viewing position, everyone intrigued about which carriage is whose, sometimes identifying them by an accompanying servant or ox-boy they recognize. It is endlessly fascinating to watch the carriages come and go, some charming, others more showy. By the time evening draws in, all those rows of carriages and the people who were crammed into the stands have disappeared, and hardly a soul is left. Once the chaos of departing carriages is over, the blinds and matting are taken down from the stands as you watch, and the place is left bare and forlorn, moving you to a poignant sense of the brevity of worldly things. It is this that is the real point of seeing the festival.

Among the people coming and going in front of the stands there are many you recognize, making you realize there are not really so many people in this world. Even if you were destined to die after all these others, clearly your own death cannot be far away. When a large vessel filled with water is pierced with a tiny hole, though each drop is small it will go on relentlessly leaking until soon the vessel is empty. The city is filled with people, but not a day would go by without someone dying. And is it only one or two a day? There are times when the corpses on the pyres of Toribe, Funaoka and elsewhere further afield are piled high, but no day passes without a funeral. And so the coffin sellers no sooner make one than it is sold. Be they young, be they strong, the time of death comes upon all unawares. It is an extraordinary miracle that we have escaped it until now. Can we ever, even briefly, have peace of mind in this world?

It is like the game of mamakodate, played with sugoroku pieces, in which no one knows which in the line of pieces will be removed next – when the count is made and a piece is taken, the rest seem to have escaped, but the count goes on and more are picked off in turn, so that no piece is finally spared. Soldiers going into battle, aware of the closeness of death, forget their home and their own safety. And it is sheer folly for a man who lives secluded from the world in his lowly hut, spending his days in idle delight in his garden, to pass off such matters as irrelevant to himself. Do you imagine that the enemy Impermanence will not come forcing its way into your peaceful mountain retreat? The recluse faces death as surely as the soldier setting forth to battle.

What kind of man will feel depressed at being idle?

From Kenkō’s Essays in Idleness (Tsurezuregusa), number 75. This translation is the new-ish Penguin by Meredith McKinney, though I’m cross-reading interesting passages with the older Donald Keene version. McKinney’s better smooths and connects thought transitions, but I worry that apparent improvement hints at a translator’s well-intentioned erasure of a roughness that is very much a part of the original.

“What kind of man will feel depressed at being idle? There is nothing finer than to be alone with nothing to distract you.

If you follow the ways of the world, your heart will be drawn to its sensual defilements and easily led astray; if you go among people, your words will be guided by others’ responses rather than come from the heart. There is nothing firm or stable in a life spent between larking about together and quarrelling, exuberant one moment, aggrieved and resentful the next. You are forever pondering pros and cons, endlessly absorbed in questions of gain and loss. And on top of delusion comes drunkenness, and in that drunkenness you dream.

Scurrying and bustling, heedless and forgetful – such are all men. Even if you do not yet understand the True Way, you can achieve what could be termed temporary happiness at least by removing yourself from outside influences, taking no part in the affairs of the world, calming yourself and stilling the mind. As The Great Cessation and Insight says, we must ‘break all ties with everyday life, human affairs, the arts and scholarship’.”

There is not a lower ambition, a poorer way of thought, than that which would confine all excellence, or arrogate its final accomplishment to the present, or modern times

From ‘Introduction to Elizabethan Literature’ in the Penguin William Hazlitt sampler The Fight and Other Writings. That lecture and a series of related but more focused ones are online here. The lectures were delivered and first printed in 1820 and the below seems an appropriate bicentennial tribute:

There is not a lower ambition, a poorer way of thought, than that which would confine all excellence, or arrogate its final accomplishment to the present, or modern times. We ordinarily speak and think of those who had the misfortune to write or live before us, as labouring under very singular privations and disadvantages in not having the benefit of those improvements which we have made, as buried in the grossest ignorance, or the slaves ‘of poring pedantry’; and we make a cheap and infallible estimate of their progress in civilization upon a graduated scale of perfectibility, calculated from the meridian of our own times. If we have pretty well got rid of the narrow bigotry that would limit all sense or virtue to our own country, and have fraternized, like true cosmopolites, with our neighbours and contemporaries, we have made our self-love amends by letting the generation we live in engross nearly all our admiration and by pronouncing a sweeping sentence of barbarism and ignorance on our ancestry backwards, from the commencement (as near as can be) of the nineteenth, or the latter end of the eighteenth century. From thence we date a new era, the dawn of our own intellect and that of the world, like ‘the sacred influence of light’ glimmering on the confines of Chaos and old night; new manners rise, and all the cumbrous ‘pomp of elder days’ vanishes, and is lost in worse than Gothic darkness. Pavilioned in the glittering pride of our superficial accomplishments and upstart pretensions, we fancy that every thing beyond that magic circle is prejudice and error; and all, before the present enlightened period, but a dull and useless blank in the great map of time. We are so dazzled with the gloss and novelty of modern discoveries, that we cannot take into our mind’s eye the vast expanse, the lengthened perspective of human intellect, and a cloud hangs over and conceals its loftiest monuments, if they are removed to a little distance from us—the cloud of our own vanity and shortsightedness. The modern sciolist stultifies all understanding but his own, and that which he conceives like his own. We think, in this age of reason and consummation of philosophy, because we knew nothing twenty or thirty years ago, and began to think then for the first time in our lives, that the rest of mankind were in the same predicament, and never knew any thing till we did; that the world had grown old in sloth and ignorance, had dreamt out its long minority of five thousand years in a dozing state, and that it first began to wake out of sleep, to rouse itself, and look about it, startled by the light of our unexpected discoveries, and the noise we made about them. Strange error of our infatuated self-love!