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The Recreations of a Country Parson
Chapter IX. Concerning Hurry and Leisure


OH what a blessing it is to have time to breathe, and think, and look around one! I mean, of course, that all this is a blessing to the man who has been overdriven: who has been living for many days in a breathless hurry, pushing and driving on, trying to get through his work, yet never seeing the end of it, not knowing to what task he ought to turn first, so many are pressing upon him all together. Some folk, I am informed, like to live in a fever of excitement, and in a ceaseless crowd of occupations: but such folk form the minority of the race. Most human beings will agree in the assertion that it is a horrible feeling to be in a hurry. It wastes the tissues of the body; it fevers the fine mechanism of the brain; it renders it impossible for one to enjoy the scenes of nature. Trees, fields, sunsets, rivers, breezes, and the like, must all be enjoyed at leisure, if enjoyed at all. There is not the slightest use in a man’s paying a hurried visit to the country. He may as well go there blindfold, as go in a hurry. He will never see the country. He will have a perception, no doubt, of hedgerow’s and grass, of green lanes and silent cottages, perhaps of great hills and rocks, of various items which go towards making the country; but the country itself he will never see. That feverish atmosphere which he carries with him will distort and transform even individual objects; but it will utterly exclude the view of the whole. A circling London fog could not do so more completely. For quiet is the great characteristic and the great charm of country scenes; and you cannot see or feel quiet when you are not quiet yourself. A man flying through this peaceful valley in an express train at the rate of fifty miles an hour might just as reasonably fancy that to us, its inhabitants, the trees and hedges seem always dancing, rushing, and circling about, as they seem to him in looking from the window of the flying carriage; as imagine that, when he comes for a day or two’s visit, he sees these landscapes as they are in themselves, and as they look to their ordinary inhabitants. The quick pulse of London keeps with him: he cannot, for a long time, feel sensibly an influence so little startling, as faintly flavoured, as that of our simple country life. We have all beheld some country scenes, pleasing but not very striking, while driving hastily to catch a train for which we feared we should be too late; and afterwards, when we came to know them well, how different they looked!

I have been in a hurry. I have been tremendously busy. I have got through an amazing amount of work in the last few weeks, as I ascertain by looking over the recent pages of my diary. You can never be sure whether you have been working hard or not, except by consulting your diary. Sometimes you have an oppressed and worn-out feeling of having been overdriven, of having done a vast deal during many days past; when lo! you turn to the uncompromising record, you test the accuracy of your feeling by that unimpeachable standard j and you find that, after all, you have accomplished very little. The discovery is mortifying, but it does you good ; and besides other results, it enables you to see how very idle and useless people, who keep no diary, may easily bring themselves to believe that they are among the hardest-wrought of mortals. They know they feel weary; they know they have been in a bustle and worry; they think they have been in it much longer than is the fact For it is curious how readily we believe that any strongly-felt state of mind or outward condition—strongly felt at the present moment—has been lasting for a very long time. You have been in very low spirits: you fancy now that you have been so for a great portion of your life, or at any rate for weeks past: you turn to your diary,—why, eight-and-forty hours ago you were as merry as a cricket during the pleasant drive with Smith, or the cheerful evening that you spent with Snarling. I can well imagine that when some heavy misfortune befalls a man, he soon begins to feel as if it had befallen him a long, long time ago: he can hardly remember days which were not darkened by it: it seems to have been the condition of his being almost since his birth. And so, if you have been toiling very hard for three days—your pen in your hand almost from morning to night perhaps—rely upon it that at the end of those days, save for the uncompromising diary that keeps you right, you would have in your mind a general impression that you had been labouring desperately for a very long period— for many days, for several weeks, for a month or two. After heavy rain has fallen for four or five days, all persons who do not keep diaries invariably think that it has rained for a fortnight. If keen frost lasts in winter for a fortnight, all persons without diaries have a vague belief that there has been frost for a month or six weeks. You resolve to read Mr Word's valuable History of the Entire Human Race throughout the whole of Time (I take for granted you are a young person): you go at it' every evening for a week. At the end of that period you have a vague uneasy impression, that you have been soaked in a sea of platitudes, or weighed down by an incubus of words, for about a hundred years. For even such is life.

Every human being, then, who is desirous of knowing for certain whether he is doing much work or little, ought to preserve a record of what he does. And such a record, I believe, will in most cases serve to humble him who keeps it, and to spur on to more and harder work. It will seldom flatter vanity, or encourage a tendency to rest on the oars, as though enough had been done. You must have laboured very hard and very constantly indeed, if it looks much in black and white. And how much work may be expressed by a very few words in the diary ! Think of Elihu Burrit’s “forged fourteen hours, then Hebrew Bible three hours.” Think of Sir Walter’s short memorial of his eight pages before breakfast,— and what large and closely-written pages they were! And how much stretch of such minds as they have got—how many quick and laborious processes of the mental machinery—are briefly embalmed in the diaries of humbler and smaller men, in such entries as, “After breakfast, walk in garden with children for ten minutes; then Sermon on 10 pp.; working hard from 10 till i p.m.; then left off with bad headache, and very weary?” The truth is, you can’t represent work by any record of it As yet, there is no way known of photographing the mind’s exertion, and thus preserving an accurate memorial of it You might as well expect to find in such a general phrase as a stormy sea the delineation of the countless shapes and transformations of the waves throughout several hours in several miles of ocean, as think to see in Sir Walter Scott’s eight pages before breakfast an adequate representation of the hard, varied, wearing-out work that went to turn them off. And so it is, that the diary which records the work of a very hard-wrought man, may very likely appear to careless, unsympathising readers, to express not such a very laborious life after all. Who has not felt this, in reading the biography of that amiable, able, indefatigable, and over-wrought man, Dr Kitto 1 He worked himself to death by labour at his desk : but only the reader who has learned by personal experience to feel for him, is likely to see how he did it.

But besides such reasons as these, there are strong arguments why every man should keep a diary. I cannot imagine how many reflective men do not. How narrow and small a thing their actual life must be! They live merely in the present; and the present is only a shifting point, a constantly-progressing mathematical line, which parts the future from the past. If a man keeps no diary, the path crumbles away behind him as his feet leave it; and days gone by are little more than a blank, broken by a few distorted shadows. His life is all confined within the limits of to-day. Who does not know how imperfect a thing memory is? It not merely forgets; it misleads. Things in memory do not merely fade away, preserving as they fade their own lineaments so long as they can be seen : they change their aspect, they change their place, they turn to something quite different from the fact. In the picture of the past, which memory unaided by any written record sets before us, the perspective is entirely wrong. How capriciously some events seem quite recent, which the diary shews are really far away; and how unaccountably many things look far away, which in truth are not left many weeks behind us! A man might almost as well not have lived at all as entirely forget that he has lived, and entirely forget what he did on those departed days. But I think that almost every person would feel a great interest in looking back, day by day, upon what he did and thought upon that day twelvemonths, that day three or five years. The trouble of writing the diary is very small. A few lines, a few words, written at the time, suffice, when you look at them, to bring all (what Yankees call) the surroundings of that season before you. Many little things come up again, which you know quite well you never would have thought of again but for your glance at those words, and still which you feel you would be sorry to have forgotten. There must be a richness about the life of a person who keeps a diary, unknown to other men. And a million more little links and ties must bind him to the members of his family circle, and to all among whom he lives. Life, to him, looking back, is not a bare line, stringing together his personal identity; it is surrounded, intertwined, entangled, with thousands and thousands of slight incidents, which give it beauty, kindliness, reality. Some folk's life is like an oak walking-stick, straight and varnished; useful, but hard and bare. Other men’s life (and such may yours and mine, kindly reader, ever be) is like that oak when it was not a stick but a branch, and waved, leaf-enveloped, and with lots of little twigs growing out of it, upon the summer tree. And yet more precious than the power of the diary to call up again a host of little circumstances and facts, is its power to bring back the indescribable but keenly-felt atmosphere of those departed days. The old time comes over you. It is not merely a collection, an aggregate of facts, that comes back; it is something far more excellent than that: it is the soul of days long ago ; it is the dear auld langsyne itself! The perfume of hawthom-hedges faded is there; the breath of breezes that fanned our gray hair when it made sunny curls, often smoothed down by hands that are gone; the sunshine on the grass where these old fingers made daisy chains; and snatches of music, compared with which anything you hear at the Opera is extremely poor. Therefore keep your diary, my friend. Begin at ten years old, if you have not yet attained that age. It will be a curious link between the altered seasons of your life; there will be something very touching about even the changes which will pass upon your handwriting. You will look back at it occasionally, and shed several tears of which you have not the least reason to be ashamed. No doubt when you look back, you will find many very silly things in it; well, you did not think them silly at the time; and possibly you may be humbler, wiser, and more sympathetic, for the fact that your diary will convince you (if you are a sensible person now) that probably you yourself, a few years or a great many years since, were the greatest fool you ever knew. Possibly at some future time you may look back with similar feelings on your present self: so you will see that it is very fit that meanwhile you should avoid self-confidence and cultivate humility; that you should not be bumptious in any way; and that you should bear, with great patience and kindliness, the follies of the young. Therefore, my reader, write up your diary daily. You may do so at either of two times: 1st, After breakfast, whenever you sit down to your work, and before you begin your work; 2nd, After you have done your indoors work, which ought not to be later than two p.m., and before you go out to your external duties. Some good men, as Dr Arnold, have in addition to this brought up their history to the present period before retiring for the night This is a good plan; it preserves the record of the day as it appears to us in two different moods: the record is therefore more likely to be a true one, uncoloured by any temporary mental state. Write down briefly what you have been doing. Never mind that the events are very little. Of course they must be; but you remember what Pope said of little things. State what work you did. Record the progress of matters in the garden. Mention where you took your walk, or ride, or drive. State anything particular concerning the horses, cows, dogs, and pigs. Preserve some memorial of the progress of the children. Relate the occasions on which you made a kite or a water-wheel for any of them; also the stories you told them, and the hvmns you heard them repeat.

You may preserve some mention of their more remarkable and old-fashioned sayings. Forsitan et olifn hcec meminisse juvabit: all these things may bring back more plainly a little life when it has ceased; and set before you a rosy little face and a curly little head when they have mouldered into clay. Or if you go, as you would rather have it, before them, why, when one of your boys is Archbishop of Canterbury and the other Lord Chancellor, they may turn over the faded leaves, and be the better for reading those early records, and not impossibly think some kindly thoughts of their governor who is far away. Record when the first snow-drop came, and the earliest primrose. Of course you will mention the books you read, and those (if any) which you write. Preserve some memorial, in short, of everything that interests you and yours; and look back each day, after you have written the few lines of your little chronicle, to see what you were about that day the preceding year. No one who in this simple spirit keeps a diary, can possibly be a bad, unfeeling, or cruel man. No scapegrace or blackguard could keep a diary such as that which has been described. I am not forgetting that various blackguards, and extremely dirty ones, have. kept diaries; but they have been diaries to match their own character. Even in reading Byron’s diary, you can see that he was not so much a very bad 'fellow, as a very silly fellow, who thought it a grand thing to be esteemed very bad. When, by the way, will the day come when young men will cease to regard it as the perfection of youthful humanity to be a reckless, swaggering fellow, who never knows how much money h« has or spends, who darkly hints that he has done many wicked things which he never did, who makes it a boast that he never reads anything, and thus who affects to be even a more ignorant numskull than he actually is! When will young men cease to be ashamed of doing right, and to boast of doing wrong (which they never did).

“Thank God,” said poor Milksop to me the other day, “although I have done a great many bad things, I never did, fire. &c. &c.” The silly fellow fancied that I should think a vast deal of one who had gone through so much, and sown such a large crop of wild oats. I looked at him with much pity. Ah! thought I to myself, there are fellow’s wrho actually do the things you absurdly pretend to have done; but if you had been one of those, I should not have shaken hands with you five minutes since. With great difficulty did I refrain from patting his empty head, and saying, “Oh, poor Milksop, you are a tremendous fool!”

It is indeed to be admitted that by keeping a diary you are providing what is quite sure in days to come to be an occasional cause of sadness. Probably it will never conduce to cheerfulness to look back over those leaves. Well, you will be much the better for being sad occasionally. There are other things in this life than to put things in a ludicrous light, and laugh at them. That\ too, is excellent in its time and place: but even Douglas Jerrold sickened of the forced fun of Punch, and thought this world had better ends ‘than jesting. Don’t let your diary fall behind: write it up day by day: or you will shrink from going back to it and continuing it, as Sir Walter Scott tells us he did. You will feel a double unhappiness in thinking you are neglecting something you ought to do, and in knowing that to repair your omission demands an exertion attended with especial pain and sorrow. Avoid at all events that discomfort of diary-keeping, by scrupulous regularity: there are others which you cannot avoid, if you keep a diary at all, and occasionally look back upon it It must tend to make thoughtful people sad, to be reminded of things concerning which we feel that we cannot think of them; that they have gone wrong, and cannot now be set right; that the evil is irremediable, and must just remain, and fret and worry whenever thought of; and life go on under that condition. It is like making up one’s mind to live on under some incurable disease, not to be alleviated, not to be remedied, only if possible to be forgotten. Ordinary people have all some of these things: tangles in their life and affairs that cannot be unravelled and must be left alone: sorrowful things which they think cannot be helped. I think it highly inexpedient to give way to such a feeling; it ought to be resisted as far as it possibly can. The very worst thing that you can do with a skeleton is to lock the closet door upon it, and try to think no more of it  No: open the door: let in air and light: bring the skeleton out, and sort it manfully up: perhaps it may prove to be only the skeleton of a cat, or even no skeleton at all. There is many a house, and many a family, in which there is a skeleton, which is made the distressing nightmare it is, mainly by trying to ignore it There is some fretting disagreement, some painful estrangement, made a thousand times worse by ill-judged endeavours to go on just as if it were not there. If you wish to get rid of it, you must recognise its existence, and treat it with frankness, and seek manfully to set it right It is wonderful how few evils are remediless, if you fairly face them, and honestly try to remove them. Therefore, I say it earnestly, don’t lock your skeleton-chamber door. If the skeleton be there, I defy you to forget that it is. And even if it could bring you present quiet, it is no healthful draught, the water of Lethe. Drugged rest is unrefreshful, and has painful dreams. And further; don’t let your diary turn to a small skeleton, as it is sure to do if it has fallen much into arrear. There will be a peculiar soreness in thinking that it is in arrear; yet you will shrink painfully from the idea of taking to it again and bringing it up. Better to begin a fresh volume. There is one thing to be especially avoided. Do not on any account, upon some evening when you are pensive, downhearted, and alone, go to the old volumes, and turn over the yellow pages with their faded ink. Never recur to volumes telling the story of years long ago, except at very cheerful times, in very hopeful moods:—unless, indeed, you desire to feel, as did Sir Walter, the connexion between the clauses of the scriptural statement, that Ahithophel set his house in order, and hanged himself. In that setting in order, what old, buried associations rise up again: what sudden pangs shoot through the heart, what a weight comes down upon it, as we open drawers long locked, and come upon the relics of our early selves, and schemes and hopes! Well, your old diary, of even five or ten years since, (especially if you have as yet hardly reached middle age,) is like a repertory in which the essence of all sad things is preserved. Bad as is the drawer or the shelf which holds the letters sent you from home when you were a schoolboy; sharp as is the sight of that lock of hair of your brother, whose grave is baked by the suns of Hindostan; riling (not to say more) as is the view of that faded ribbon or those withered flowers which you still keep, though Jessie has long since married Mr Beest, who has ten thousand a-year: they are not so bad, so sharp, so riling, as is the old diary, wherein the spirit of many disappointments, toils, partings, and cares, is distilled and preserved. So don’t look too frequently into your old diaries, or they will make you glum. Don’t let them be your usual reading. It is a poor use of the past, to let its remembrances unfit you for the duties of the present

I have been in a hurry, I have said; but I am not so now. Probably the intelligent reader of the preceding pages may surmise as much. I am enjoying three days of delightful leisure. I did nothing yesterday: I am doing nothing to-day: I shall do nothing to-morrow. This is June : let me feel that it is so. When in a hurry, you do not realise that a month, more especially a summer month, has come, till it is gone. June: let it be repeated: the leafy month of June, to use the strong expression of Mr Coleridge. Let me hear you immediately quote the verse, my young lady reader, in which that expression is to be found. Of course you can repeat it It is now very warm, and beautifully bright I am sitting on a velvety lawn, a hundred yards from the door ot a considerable country-house, not my personal property. Under the shadow of a large sycamore is this iron chair; and this little table, on which the paper looks quite green from the reflection of the leaves. There is a very little breeze. Just a foot from my hand, a twig with very large leaves is moving slowly and gently to and fro. There, the great serrated leaf has brushed the pen. The sunshine is sleeping (the word is not an affected one, but simply expresses the phenomenon) upon the bright green grass, and upon the dense masses of foliage which are a little way off on every side. Away on the left, there is a well-grown horse-chestnut tree, blazing with blossoms. In the little recesses where the turf makes bays of verdure going into the thicket, the grass is nearly as white with daisies as if it were covered with snow, or had several table-cloths spread out upon it to dry. Blue and green, I am given to understand, form an incongruous combination in female dress; but how beautiful the little patches of sapphire sky, seen through the green leaves! Keats was quite right; any one who is really fond of nature must be very far gone indeed, when he or she, like poor Isabella with her pot of basil, “forgets the blue above the trees.” I am specially noticing a whole host of little appearances and relations among the natural objects within view, which no man in a hurry would ever observe; yet which are certainly meant to be observed, and worth observing. I don’t mean to say that a beautiful thing in nature is lost because no human being sees it; I have not so vain an idea of the importance of our race. I do not think that that blue sky, with its beautiful fleecy clouds, was spread out there just as a scene at a theatre is spread out, simply to be looked at by us; and that the intention of its Maker is balked if it be not. Still, among a host of other uses, which we do not know, it cannot be questioned that one end of the scenes of nature, and of the capacity of noting and enjoying them which is implanted in our being is, that they should be noted and enjoyed by human minds and hearts. It is now 11.30 A.M., and I have nothing to do that need take me far from thi

s spot till dinner, which will be just seven hours hereafter. It requires an uninterrupted view of at least four or five hours ahead, to give the true sense of leisure. If you know you have some particular engagement in two hours, or even three or four, the feeling you have is not that of leisure. On the contrary, you feel that you must push on vigorously with whatever you may be about; there is no time to sit down and muse. Two hours are a very short time. It is to be admitted that much less than half of that period is very long, when you are listening to a sermon; and the man who wishes his life to appear as long as possible can never more effectually compass his end than by going very frequently to hear preachers ot that numerous class whose discourses are always sensible and in good taste, and also sickeningly dull and tiresome. Half-an-houi under the instruction of such good men has oftentimes appeared like about four hours. But for quiet folk, living in the country, and who have never held the office of attorney-general or secretary of state, two hours form quite too short a vista to permit of sitting down to begin any serious work, such as writing a sermon or an article. Two hours will not afford elbow-room. One is cramped in it Give me a clear prospect of five or six; so shall I begin an essay. It is quite evident that Hazlitt was a man of the town, accustomed to live in a hurry, and to fancy short blinks of unoccupation to be leisure,—even as a man long dwelling in American woods might think a little open glade quite an extensive clearing. He begins his essay on Living to One’s-self by saying that being in the country he has a fine opportunity of writing on that long-contemplated subject, and of writing at leisure, because he has three hours good before him, not to mention a partridge getting ready for his supper. Ah, not enough! Very well for the fast-going, high-pressure London mind; but quite insufficient for the deliberate, slow-running country one, that has to overcome a great inertia. How many good ideas, or at least ideas which he thinks good, will occur to the rustic writer; and be cast aside when he reflects that he has but two hours to sit at his task, and that therefore he has not a moment to spare for collateral matters,' but must keep to the even thread of his story or his argument! A man who has four miles to walk within an hour has little time to stop and look at the view on eithei hand; and no time at all for scrambling over the hedge to gather some wild flowers. But now I rejoice in the feeling of an unlimited horizon before me, in the regard of time. Various- new books are lying on the grass; and on the top of the heap, a certain number of that trenchant and brilliant periodical, the Saturday Review. This is delightful! It is jolly! And let us always be glad, if through training or idiosyncrasy we have come to this, my reader, that whenever you and I enjoy this tranquil feeling of content, there'mingles with it a deep sense of gratitude. I should be very sorry to-day, if I did not know Whom to thank for all this. I like the simple natural piety which has given to various seats, at the top of various steep hills in Scotland, the homely name of Rest and be thankful! I trust I am now doing both these things. O ye men who have never been over-worked and over-driven, never kept for weeks on a constant strain and in a feverish hurry, you don’t know what you miss! Sweet and delicious as cool water is to the man parched with thirst, is leisure to the man just extricated from breathless hurry! And nauseous as is that same water to the man whose thirst has been completely quenched, is leisure to the man whose life is nothing but leisure.

Let me pick up that number of the Saturday Revitio, and turn to the article which is entitled Smith's Drag That article treats of a certain essay which the present writer once contributed to a certain monthly magazine; t and it sets out the desultory fashion in which his compositions wander about I have read the article with great amusement and pleasure. In the main it is perfectly just Does not the avowal say something for the -writer’s good humour? Not frequently does the reviewed acknowledge that he was quite rightly pitched into. Let me, however, say to the very clever and smart author of Smith's Drag; that he is to some extent mistaken in his theory as to my system of essay-writing. It is not entirely true that I begin my essays with irrelevant descriptions of scenery, horses, and the like, merely because when reviewing a book of heavy metaphysics I know nothing about my subject, and care nothing about it, and have nothing to say about it; and so am glad to get over a page or two of my production without bond, fide going at my subject. Such a consideration, no doubt, is not without its weight; and besides this, holding that every way of discussing all things whatsoever is good except the tiresome, I think that even Smith’s Drag serves a useful end if it pulls one a little way through a heavy discussion; as the short inclined plane set Mr Hensom’s aerial machine off with a good start, without which it could not fly. But there is more than this in the case. The writer holds by a grand principle. The writer’s great reason for saying something of the scenery amid which he is writing is, that he believes that it materially affects the thought produced, and ought to be taken in connexion with it. You would not give a just idea of a country house by giving us an architect’s elevation of its facade,, and shewing nothing of the hills by which it is backed, and the trees and shrubbery by which it is surrounded. So, too, with thought We think in time and space; and unless you are a very great man, writing a book like Butler’s Analogy, the outward scenes amid which you write will colour all your abstract thought Most people hate abstract thought Give it in a setting of scene and circumstances, and then ordinary folk will accept it Set a number of essays in a story, however slight, and hundreds will read them who would never have looked twice at the bare essays. Human interest and a sense of reality are thus communicated. When any one says to me, “I think thus and thus of some abstract topic,” I like to say to him, “Tell me where you thought it, how you thought it, what you were looking at when you thought it, and to whom you talked about it” I deny that in essays what is wanted is results. Give me processes. Shew me how the results are arrived at In some cases, doubtless, this is inexpedient You would not enjoy your dinner if you inquired too minutely into the previous history of its component elements before it appeared upon your table. You might not care for one of Goldsmith’s or Sheridan’s pleasantries if you traced too curiously the steps by which it was licked into shape. Not so with the essay. And by exhibiting the making of his essay, as well as the essay itself when made, the essayist is enabled to preserve and exhibit many thoughts which he could turn to no account did he exhibit only his conclusions. It is a grand idea to represent two or three friends as discussing a subject For who that has ever written upon abstract subjects, or conversed upon them, but knows that very often what seem capital ideas occur to him, which he has not had time to write down or to utter before he sees an answer to them, before he discovers that they are unsound. Now, to the essayist writing straightforward these thoughts are lost; he cannot exhibit them. It will not do to write them and then add that now he sees they are wrong. Here, then, is the great use— one great use—of the Ellesmere and Dunsford, who shall hold friendly council with the essayist. They, understood to be talking off-hand, can state all these interesting and striking though unsound views; and then the more deliberate Milverton can shew that they are wrong. And the three friends combined do but represent the phases of thought and feeling in a single individual: for who does not know that every reflective man is, at the very fewest, “three gentlemen at once?" Let me say for myself, that it seems to me that no small part of the charm which there is about the Friends in Council and the Companions of My Solitude arises from the use of the two expedients : of exhibiting processes as well as results, of shewing how views are formed as well as the views themselves; and also of setting the whole abstract part of the work in a frame' work of scenes and circumstances. All this makes one feel a life-like reality in the entire picture presented, and enables one to open the leaves with a home-like and friendly sympathy. Do not fancy, my brilliant reviewer, that I pretend to write like that thoughtful and graceful author, so rich in wisdom, in wit, in pathos, in kindly feeling. All I say is, that I have learned from him the grand principle, that abstract thought, for ordinary readers, must gain reality and interest from a setting of time and place.

There is the green branch of the tree, waving about The breeze is a little stronger, but still the air is perfectly warm. Let me be leisurely; I feel a little hurried with writing that last paragraph; I wrote it too quickly. To write a paragraph too quickly, putting in too much pressure of steam, will materially accelerate the pulse. That is an end greatly to be avoided. Who shall write hastily of leisure ! Fancy Izaak Walton going out fishing, and constantly looking at his watch every five minutes, for fear of not catching the express train in half-an-hour! It would be indeed a grievous inconsistency. The old gentleman might better have stayed at home.

It is all very well to be occasionally, for two or three days, or even for a fortnight, in a hurry. Every earnest man, with work to do, will find that occasionally there comes a pressure of it; there comes a crowd of things which must be done quickly if they are done at all; and the condition thus induced is hurry. I am aware, of course, that there is a distinction between haste and hurry—hurry adding to rapidity the clement of painful confusion; but in the case of ordinary people, haste generally implies hurry. And it will never do to become involved in a mode of life which implies a constant breathless pushing on. It must be a horrible thing to go through life in a hurry. It is highly expedient for all, it is absolutely necessary for most men, that they should have occasional leisure. Many enjoyments—perhaps all the tranquil and enduring enjoyments of life—cannot be felt except in leisure. And the best products of the human mind and heart can be brought forth only in leisure. Little does he know of the calm, unexciting, unwearying, lasting satisfaction ol life, who has never known what it is to place the leisurely hand in the idle pocket, and to saunter to and fro. Mind, I utterly despise the idler —the loafer, as Yankees term him, who never does anything—whose idle hands are always in his idle pockets, and who is always sauntering to and fro. Leisure, be it remembered, is the intermission of labour; it is the blink of idleness in the life of a hard-working man. It is only in the case of such a man that leisure is dignified, commendable, or enjoyable. But to him it is all these, and more. Let us not be ever driving on. The machinery, physical and mental, will not stand it It is fit that one should occasionally sit down on a grassy bank, and look listlessly, for a long time, at the daisies around, and watch the patches of bright-blue sky through green leaves overhead. It is right to rest on a large stone by the margin of a river; to rest there on a summer day for a long time, and to watch the lapse of the water as it passes away, and to listen to its silvery ripple over the pebbles. Who but a blockhead will think you idle ? Of course blockheads may; but you and I, my reader, do not care a rush for the opinion of blockheads. It is fit that a man should have time to chase his little children about the green, to make a kite and occasionally fly it, to rig a ship and occasionally sail it, for the happiness of these little folk. There is nothing unbecoming in making your Newfoundland dog go into the water to bring out sticks, nor in teaching a lesser dog to stand on his hinder legs. No doubt Goldsmith was combining leisure with work when Reynolds one day visited him; but it was leisure that aided the work. The painter entered the poet’s room unnoticed. The poet was seated at his desk, with his pen in his hand, and with his paper before him; but he had turned away from The Traveller, and with uplifted hand was looking towards a comer of the room, where a little dog sat with difficulty on his haunches, with imploring eyes. Reynolds looked over the poet’s shoulder, and read a couplet whose ink was still wet:—

By sports like these are all their cares beguiled;
The sports of children satisfy the child.

Surely, my friend, you will never again read that couplet, so simply and felicitously expressed, without remembering the circumstances in which it was written. Who should know better than Goldsmith what simple pleasures satisfy the child.

It is fit that a busy man should occasionally be able to §tand for a quarter of an hour by the drag of his friend Smith; and walk round the horses, and smooth down their fore-legs, and pull their ears, and drink in their general aspect, and enjoy the rich colour of their bay coats gleaming in the sunshine; and minutely and critically inspect the drag, its painting, its cushions, its fur robes, its steps, its spokes, its silver caps, its lamps, its entire expression. These are enjoyments that last, and that cannot be had save in leisure. They are calm and innocent; they do not at all quicken the pulse, or fever the brain; it is a good sign of a man if he feels them as enjoyments; it shews that he has not indurated his moral palate by appliances highly spiced with the cayenne of excitement, all of which border on vice, and most of which imply it.

Let it be remembered, in the praise of leisure, that only in leisure will the human mind yield many of its best products. Calm views, sound thoughts, healthful feelings, do not originate in a hurry or a fever. I do not forget the wild geniuses who wrote some of the finest English tragedies—men like Christopher Marlowe, Ford, Massinger, Dekkej-, and Otway. No doubt they lived in a whirl of wild excitement, yet they turned off many fine and immortal thoughts. But their thought was essentially morbid, and their feeling hectic: all their views of life and things were unsound. And the beauty with which their writings are flushed all over, is like the beauty that dwells in the brow too transparent, the cheek too rosy, and the eye too bright, of a fair girl dying of decline. It is entirely a hot-house thing, and away from the bracing atmosphere of reality and truth. Its sweetness palls, its beauty frightens; its fierce passion and its wild despair are the things in which it is at home. I do not believe the stories which are told about Jeffrey scribbling off his articles while dressing for a ball, or after returning from one at four in the morning: the fact is, nothing good for much was ever produced in that jaunty, hasty fashion, which is suggested by such a phrase as scribbled off. Good ideas flash in a moment on the mind: but they are very crude then; and they must be mellowed and matured by time and in leisure. It is pure nonsense to say that the Poetry of the Anti-jacobin was produced by a lot of young men sitting over their wine, very much excited, and talking very loud, and two or three at a time. Some happy impromptu hits may have been elicited by that mental friction; but, rely upon it, the Needy Knife-Grinder; and the song whose chorus is University of Gottingen, were composed when their author was entirely alone, and had plenty of time for thinking. Brougham is an exception to all rules; he certainly did write his Discourse of Natural Theology while rent asunder by all the multifarious engagements of a Lord Chancellor; but, after all, a great deal that Brougham has done exhibits merely the smartness of a sort of intellectual legerdemain; and that celebrated Discourse, so far as I remember it, is remarkably poor stuff. I am now talking not of great geniuses, but of ordinary men of education, when I maintain that to the labourer whose work is mental, and especially to the man whose work it is to write, leisure is a pure necessary of intellectual existence. There must be long seasons of quiescence between the occasional efforts of production. An electric eel cannot always be giving off shocks. The shock is powerful, but short, and then long time is needful to rally for another. A field, however good its soil, will not grow wheat year after year. Such a crop exhausts the soil: it is a strain to produce it; and after it the field must lie fallow for a while,— it must have leisure, in short So is it with the mind. Who does not know that various literary electric eels, by repeating their shocks too frequently, have come at last to give off an electric result which is but the faintest and washiest echo of the thrilling and startling ones of earlier days'? Festus was a strong and unmistakable shock; The Angel World was much weaker; The Mystic was extremely weak; and The Age was twaddle. Why did the author let himself down in such a fashion1? The writer of Festus was a grand, mysterious image in many youthful minds: dark, wonderful, not quite comprehensible. The writer of The Age is a smart but silly little fellow, whom we could readily slap upon the back and tell him he had rather made a fool of himself. And who does not feel how weak the successive shocks of various eminent authors are growing1? They strike out nothing new. Anything good in their recent productions is just the old thing, with the colours a good deal washed out, and with salt which has lost its savour. Poor stuff comes of constantly cutting and cropping. The potatoes of the mind grow small; the intellectual wheat comes to have no ears; the moral turnips are infected with the finger-and-toe disease. The mind is a reservoir which can be emptied in a much shorter time than it is possible to fill it. It fills through an infinity oi small tubes, many so small as to act by capillary attraction. But in writing a book, or even an article, it empties as through a twelve-inch pipe. It is to me quite wonderful that most of the sermons one hears are so good as they are, considering the unintermittent stream in which most preachers are compelled to produce them. I have sometimes thought, in listening to the discourse of a really thoughtful and able clergyman—If you, my friend, had to write a sermon once a month instead of once a week, how very admirable it would be!

Some stupid people are afraid of confessing that they ever have leisure. They wish to palm off upon the human race the delusion that they, the stupid people, are always hard at work. They arc afraid of being thought idle unless they maintain this fiction. I have known clergymen who would not on any account tak& any recreation in their own parishes, lest they should be deemed lazy. They would not fish, they would not ride, they would not garden, they would never be seen leaning upon a gate, and far less carving their name upon a tree. What absurd folly J They might just as well have pretended that they did without sleep, or without food, as without leisure. You cannot always drive the machine at its full speed. I know, indeed, that the machine may be so driven, for two or three years at the beginning of a man’s professional life; and that it is possible for a man to go on. for such a period with hardly any appreciable leisure at all. But it knocks up the machine: it wears it out: and after an attack or two of nervous fever, we learn what we should have known from the beginning, that a far larger amount of tangible work will be accomplished by regular exertion of moderate degree and continuance, than by going ahead in the feverish and unrestful fashion in which really earnest men are so ready to begin their task. It seems, indeed, to be the rule rather than the exception, that clergymen should break down in strength and spirits in about three years after entering the Church. Some die : but happily a larger number get well again, and for the remainder of their days work at a more reasonable rate. As for the sermons written in that feverish stage of life, what crude and extravagant things they are: stirring and striking, perhaps, but hectic and forced, and entirely devoid of the repose, reality, and daylight feeling of actual life and fact Yet how many good, injudicious people, are ever ready to expect of the new curate or rector an amount of work which man cannot do; and to express their disappointment if that work is not done. It is so very easy to map out a task which you are not to do yourself: and you feel so little wearied by the toils of other men! As for you, my young friend, beginning your parochial life, don’t be ill-pleased with the kindly-meant advice of one who speaks from the experience of a good many years, and who has himself known all that you feel, and foolishly done all that you are now disposed to do. Consider for how many hours of the day you can labour, without injury to body or mind: labour faithfully for those hours, and for no more. Never mind about what may be said by Miss Limejuice and Mr Snarling. They will find fault at any rate; and you will mind less about their fault-finding if you have an unimpaired digestion, and unaffected lungs, and an unenlarged heart Don’t pretend that you are always working: it would be a sin against God and Nature if you were. Say frankly, There is a certain amount of work that I can do; and that I will do: but I must have my hours of leisure. I must have them for the sake of my parishioners as well as for my own; for leisure is an essential part of that mental discipline which wall enable my mind to grow and turn off sound instruction for their benefit. Leisure is a necessary part of true life; and if I am to live at all, I must have it Surely it is a thousand times better candidly and manfully to take up that ground, than to take recreation on the sly, as though you were ashamed of being found out in it, and to disguise your leisure as though it were a sin. I heartily despise the clergyman who reads Adam Bede secretly in his study, and when any one comes in, pops the volume into his waste-paper basket An innocent thing is wrong to you if you think it wrong, remember. I am sorry for the man who is quite ashamed if any one finds him chasing his little children about the green before his house, or standing looking at a bank of primroses, or a bed of violets, or a high wall covered with ivy. Don’t give in to that feeling for one second. You are doing right in doing all that; and no one but an ignorant, stupid, malicious, little-minded, vulgar, contemptible blockhead will think you are doing wrong. On a sunny day, you are not idle if you sit down and look for an hour at the ivied wrall, or at an apple-tree in blossom, or at the river gliding by. You are not idle if you walk about your garden, noticing the progress and enjoying the beauty and fragrance of each individual rose-tree on such a charming June day as this. You are not idle if you sit down upon a garden seat, and take your little boy upon your knee, and talk with him about the many little matters which give interest to his little life. You are doing something which may help to establish a bond between you closer than that of blood; and the estranging interests of after years may need it all And you do not know, even as regards the work (if of composition) at which you are busy, what good ideas and impulses may come of the quiet time of looking at the ivy, or the blossoms, or the stream, or your child’s sunny curls. Such things often start thoughts which might seem a hundred miles away from them. That they do so, is a fact to which the experience of numbers of busy and thoughtful men can testify. Various thick skulls may think the statement mystical and incomprehensible: for the sake of such let me confirm it by high authority. Is it not curious, by the way, that in talking to some men and women, if you state a view a little beyond their mark, you will find them doubting and disbelieving it so long as they regard it as resting upon your own authority; but if you can quote anything that sounds like it from any printed book, or even newspaper, no matter how little worthy the author of the article or book may be, you will find the view received with respect, if not with credence? The mere fact of its having been printed gives any opinion whatsoever much weight with some folk. And your opinion is esteemed as if of greater value, if you can only shew that any human being agreed with you in entertaining it. So, my friend, if Mr Snarling thinks it a delusion that you may gain some thoughts and feelings of value, in the passive contemplation of nature, inform him that the following lines were written by one Wordsworth, a stamp-distributor in Cumberland, regarded by many competent judges as a very wise man:—

Why, William, on that old gray stone,
Thus for the length of half-a-day,
Why, William, sit you thus alone,
And dream your time away?
One morning thus, by Esthwaite lake,
When life was sweet, I knew not why,
To me my good friend Matthew spake,
And thus I made reply:
The eye,—it cannot choose but see;
We cannot bid the ear be still:
Our bodies feel, where’er they be,
Against or with our will.

Nor less I deem that there are
Powers Which of themselves our minds impress:
That we can feed this mind of ours
In a wise passiveness.
Think you, ’mid all this mighty sum,
Of things for ever speaking,
That nothing of itself will come,
But we must still be seeking?
Then ask not wherefore, here, alone,
Conversing as I may,
I sit upon this old gray stone,
And dream my time away!

Such an opinion is sound and just Not that I believe that instead of sending a lad to Eton and Oxford, it would be expedient to make him sit down on a gray stone, by the side of any lake or river, and Wait till wisdom came to him through the gentle teaching of nature. The instruction to be thus obtained must be supplementary to a good education, college and professional, obtained in the usual way; and it must be sought in intervals of leisure, intercalated in a busy and energetic life. But thus intervening, and coming to supplement other training, I believe it will serve ends of the most valuable kind, and elicit from the mind the very best material which is there to be elicited. Some people say they work best under presure: De Quincey, in a recent volume, declares that the conviction that he must produce a certain amount of writing in a limited time has often seemed to open new cells in his brain, rich in excellent thought; and I have known preachers (very poor ones) declare that their best sermons were written after dinner on Saturday. As for the sermons, the best were bad; as for De Quincey, he is a wonderful man. Let us have elbow room, say I, when we have to write anything 1 Let there be plenty of time, as well as plenty of space. Who could write if cramped up in that chamber of torture, called Little Ease, in which a man could neither sit, stand, nor lie, but in a constrained fashion! And just as bad is it to be cramped up into three days, when to stretch one’s self demands at least six. Do you think Wordsworth could have written against time! or that In Memoriam was penned in a hurry!

Said Miss Limejuice, I saw Mr Swctter, the new rector, to-day. Ah I she added, with a malicious smile, I fear he is growing idle already, though he has not been in the parish six months. I saw him, at a quarter before two precisely, standing at his gate with his hands in his pockets. I observed that he looked for three minutes over the gate into the clover field he has got. And then Smith drove up in his drag, and stopped and got out j and he and the rector entered into conversation, evidently about the horses, for I saw Mr Swetter walk round them several times, and rub down their fore-legs. Now / think he should have been busy writing his sermon, or visiting his sick. Such, let me assure the incredulous reader, are the words which I have myself heard Miss Limejuice, and her mother, old Mrs Snarling Limejuice, utter more than once or twice. Knowing the rector well, and knowing how he portions out his day, let me explain to those candid individuals the state of facts. At ten o’clock precisely, having previously gone to the stable and walked round the garden, Mr Swetter sat down at his desk in his study and worked hard till one. At two he is to ride up the parish to see various sick persons among the cottagers. But from one to two he has laid his work aside, and tried to banish all thought of his work. During that period he has been running about the green with his little boy, and even rolling upon the grass; and he has likewise strung together a number of daisies on a thread, which you might have seen round little Charlie’s neck if you had looked sharply. He has been unbending his mind, you see, and enjoying leisure after his work. It is entirely true that he did look into the clover field and enjoy the fragrance of it, which you probably regard as a piece of sinful self-indulgence. And his friend coming up, it is likewise certain that he examined his horses (a new pair) with much interest and minuteness. Let me add, that only contemptible humbugs will think the less of him for all this. The days are past in which the ideal clergyman was an emaciated eremite, who hardly knew a cow from a horse, and was quite incapable of sympathising with his humbler parishioners in their little country cares. And some little knowledge as to horses and cows, not to mention potatoes and turnips, is a most valuable attainment to the country parson. If his parishioners find that he is entirely ignorant of those matters which they understand best, they will not unnaturally draw the conclusion that he knows nothing. While if they find that he is fairly acquainted with those things which they themselves understand, they will conclude that he knows everything. Helplessness and ignorance appear contemptible to simple folk, though the helplessness should appear in the lack of power to manage a horse, and the ignorance in a man’s not knowing the way in which potatoes are planted. To you, Miss Limejuice, let me further say a word as to your parish clergyman. Mr Swetter, you probably do not know, was Senior Wrangler at Cambridge. He chose his present mode of life, not merely because he felt a special leaning to the sacred profession, though he did feel that strongly; but also because he saw that in the Church, and in the care of a quiet rural parish, he might hope to combine the faithful discharge of his duty with the enjoyment of leisure for thought; he might be of use in his generation without being engaged to that degree that, like some great barristers, he should grow a stranger to his children. He concluded that it is one great happiness of a country parson’s life, that he may work hard without working feverishly; he may do his duty, yet not bring on an early paralytic stroke. Swetter might, if he had liked, have gone in for the Great Seal; the man who was second to him will probably get it; but he did not choose. Do you not remember how Baron Alderson, who might well have aspired at being a Chief-Justice or a Lord Chancellor, fairly decided that the prize wa? not worth the cost, and was content to turn aside from the worry of the bar into the comparative leisure of a puisne judgeship 1 It was not worth his while, he rightly considered, to run the risk of working himself to death, or to live for years in a breathless hurry. No doubt the man who thus judges must be content to see others seize the great prizes of human affairs. Hot and trembling hands, for the most part, grasp these. And how many work breathlessly, and give up the tranquil enjoyment of life, yet never grasp them after all!

There is no period at which the feeling of leisure is a more delightful one, than during breakfast and after breakfast on a beautiful summer morning in the country. It is a slavish and painful thing to know that instantly you rise from the breakfast-table you must take to your work. And in that case your mind will be fretting and worrying away all the time that the hurried meal lasts. But it is delightful to be able to breakfast leisurely; to read over your letters twice; to skim the Times, just to see if there is anything particular in it (the serious reading of it being deferred till later in the day); and then to go out and saunter about the garden, taking an interest in whatever operations may be going on there; to walk down to the little bridge and sit on the parapet, and look over at the water foaming through below; to give your dogs a swim; to sketch out the rudimentary outline of a kite, to be completed in the evening; to stick up, amid shrieks of excitement and delight, a new coloured picture in the nursery; to go out to the stable and look about there;—and to do all this with the sense that there is no neglect, that you can easily overtake your day’s work notwithstanding. For this end the country human being should breakfast early: not later than nine o’clock. Breakfast will be over by half-past nine; and the half hour till ten is as much as it is safe to give to leisure, without running the risk of dissipating the mind too much for steady application to work. After ten one does not feel comfortable in idling about on a common working-day. You feel that you ought to be at your task; and he who would enjoy country leisure must beware of fretting the fine mechanism of his moral perceptions by doing anything which he thinks even in the least degree wrong.

And here, after thinking of the preliminary half hour of leisure before you sit down to your work, let me advise that when you fairly go at your work, if of composition, you should go at it leisurely. I do not mean that you should work with half a will, with a wandering attention, with a mind running away upon something else. What I mean is, that you should beware of flying at your task, and keeping at it, with such a stretch, that every fibre in your body and your mind is on the strain, is tense and tightened up; so that when you stop, after your two or three hours at it, you-feel quite shattered and exhausted. A great many men, especially those of a nervous and sanguine temperament, write at too high a pressure. They have a hundred and twenty pounds on the square inch. Every nerve is like the string of Robin Hood’s bow. All this.does no good. It does not appreciably affect the quality of the article manufactured, nor does it much accelerate the rate of production. But it wears a man out awfully. It sucks him like an orange. It leaves him a discharged Leyden jar, a torpedo entirely used up. You have got to walk ten miles. You do it at the rate of four miles an hour. You accomplish the distance in two hours and a half; and you come in, not extremely done up. But another day, with the same walk before you, you put on extra steam, and walk at four and a half miles an hour, perhaps at five. (Metn.: People who say they walk six miles an hour are talking nonsense. It cannot be done, unless by a trained pedestrian.) You are on a painful stretch all the journey: you save, after all, a very few minutes; and you get to your journey’s end entirely knocked up. Like an over-driven horse, you are off your feed; and you can do nothing useful all the evening. I am well aware that the good advice contained in this paragraph will not have the least effect on those who read it Fungar itiani munere. I know how little all this goes for with an individual now not far away. And, indeed, no one can say that because two men have produced the same result in work accomplished, therefore they have gone through the same amount of exertion. Nor am I now thinking of the vast differences between men in point of intellectual power. I am content to suppose that they shall be, intellectually, precisely on a level: yet one shall go at his work with a painful, heavy strain; and another shall get through his lightly, airily, as if it were pastime. One shall leave off fresh and buoyant; the other, jaded, languid, aching all over. And in this respect, it is probable that if your natural constitution is not such as to enable you to work hard, yet leisurely, there is no use in advising you to take things easily. Ah, my poor friend, you cannot 1 But at least you may restrict yourself from going at any task on end, and keeping yourself ever on the fret until it is fairly finished. Set yourself a fitting task for each day; and on no account exceed it. There are men who have a morbid eagerness to get through any work on which they are engaged. They would almost wish to go right on through all the toils of life and be done with them; and then, like Alexander, “sit down and rest.” The prospect of anything yet to do appears to render the enjoyment of present repose impossible. There can be no more unhealthful state of mind. The day will never come when we shall have got through our work: and well for us that it never will. Why disturb the quiet of to-night by thinking of the toils of to-morrow? There is deep wisdom, and accurate knowledge of. human nature, in the advice, given by the Soundest and Kindest of all advisers, and applicable in a hundred cases, to “Take no thought for the morrow.”

It appears to me, that in these days of hurried life, a great and valuable end is served by a class of things which all men of late have taken to abusing,—to wit, the extensive class of dull, heavy, uninteresting, good, sensible, pious sermons. They afford many educated men almost their only intervals of waking leisure. You are in a cool, quiet, solemn place: the sermon is going forward : you have a general impression that you are listening to many good advices and important doctrines, and the entire result upon your mind is beneficial; and at the same time there is nothing in the least striking or startling to destroy the sense of leisure, or to painfully arouse the attention and quicken the pulse. Neither is there a syllable that can jar on the most fastidious taste. All points and comers of thought are rounded off. The entire composition is in the highest degree gentlemanly, scholarly, correct ; but you feel that it is quite impossible to attend to it And you do not attend to it; but at the same time, you do not quite turn your attention to anything else. Now, you remember how a dying father, once upon a time, besought his prodigal son to spend an hour daily in solitary thought: and what a beneficial result followed. The dull sermon may serve an end as desirable. In church you are alone, in the sense of being isolated from all companions, or from the possibility of holding communication with anybody: and the wearisome sermon, if utterly useless otherwise, is useful in giving a man time to think, in circumstances which will generally dispose him to think seriously. There is a restful feeling, too, for which you are the better. It is a fine thing to feel that church is a place where, if even for two hours only, you are quite free from worldly business and cares. You know that all these are waiting for you outside : but at least you are free from their actual endurance herp. I am persuaded, and I am happy to entertain the persuasion, that men arc often much the better for being present during the preaching of sermons to which they pay very little attention. Only some such belief as this could make one think, without much sorrow, of the thousands of discourses which are preached every Sunday over Britain, and of the class of ears and memories to which they are given. You see that country congregation coming out of the ivy-covered church in that beautiful churchyard. Look at their faces, the ploughmen, the dairy-maids, the drain-diggers, the stable-boys: what could they do towards taking in the gist of that well-reasoned, scholarly, elegant piece of composition which has occupied the last half-hour? Why, they could not understand a sentence of it. Yet it has done them good. The general effect is wholesome. They have got a little push, they have felt themselves floating on a gentle current, going in the right direction. Only enthusiastic young divines expect the mass of their congregation to do all they exhort them to do. You must advise a man to do a thing a hundred times, probably, before you can get him to do it once. You know that a breeze, blowing at thirty-five miles an hour, does very well if it carries a large ship along in its own direction at the rate of eight. And even so, the practice of your hearers, though truly influenced by what you say to them, lags tremendously behind the rate of your preaching. Be content, my friend, if you. can maintain a movement, sure though slow, in the right way. And don’t get angry with your rural flock on Sundays, if you often see on their blank faces, while you are preaching, the evidence that they are not taking in a word you say. And don’t be entirely discouraged. You may be doing them good for all that. And if you do good at all, you know better than to grumble, though you may not be doing it in the fashion that you would like best. I have known men, accustomed to sit quiet, pensive, half-attentive, under the sermons of an easygoing but orthodox preacher, who felt quite indignant when they went to a church where their attention was kept on the stretch all the time the sermon lasted, whether they would or no. They felt that this intrusive interest about the discourse, compelling them to attend, was of the nature of an assault, and of an unjustifiable infraction of the liberty of the subject There feeling was, “What earthly right has that man to make us listen to his sermon, without getting our consent? We go to church to rest: and lo! he compels us to listen!”

I do not forget, musing in the shade this beautiful summer day, that there may be cases in which leisure is very much to be avoided. To some men, constant occupation is a thing that stands between them and utter wretchedness. You remember the poor man, whose story is so touchingly told by Borrow in The Romany Rye, who lost his wife, his children, all his friends, by a rapid succession of strokes; and who declared that he would have gone mad if he had not resolutely set himself to the study of the Chinese language. Only constant labour of mind could “ keep the misery out of his head.” And years afterwards, if he paused from toil for even a few hours, the misery returned. The poor fisherman in The Antiquary was wrong in his philosophy, when Mr Oldbuck found him, with trembling hands, trying to repair his battered boat the day after his son was buried. “It’s weel wi’ you gentles,” he said, “that can sit in the house wi’ handkerchers at your een, when ye lose a freend; but the like o’ us maun to our wark again, if our hearts were beating as hard as my hammer"” We love the kindly sympathy that made Sir Walter write the words: but bitter as may be the effort with which the poor man takes to his heartless task again, surely he will all the sooner get over his sorrow. And it is with gentles, who can “ sit in the house” as long as they like, that the great grief longest lingers. There is a wonderful efficacy in enforced work to tide one over every sort of trial. I saw not long since a number of pictures, admirably sketched, which had been sent to his family in England by an emigrant son in Canada, and which represented scenes in daily life there among the remote settlers. And I was very much struck with the sad expression which the faces of the emigrants always wore, whenever they were represented in repose or inaction. I felt sure that those pensive faces set forth a sorrowful fact. Lying on a great bluff, looking down upon a lonely river; or seated at the tent-door on a Sunday, when his task was laid apart;—however the backwoodsman was depicted, if not in energetic action, there was always a very sad look upon the rough face. And it was a peculiar sadness—not like that which human beings would feel amid the scenes and friends of their youth : a look pensive, distant, full of remembrance, devoid of hope. You glanced at it, and you thought of Lord Eglintoun’s truthful lines:—

From the lone shieling on the misty island,
Mountains divide us, and a world of seas:
But still the blood is strong, the heart is Highland,
And we in dreams behold the Hebrides:
Fair these broad meads, these hoary woods are grand,—
But we are exiles from our fathers’ land!

And you felt that much leisure will not suit there. Therefore, you stout backwoodsman, go at the huge forest-tree; rain upon it the blows of your axe, as long as you can stand; watch the fragments as 'they fly; and jump briskly out of the way as the reeling giant falls;—for all this brisk exertion will stand between you and remembrances that would unman you. There is nothing very philosophical in the plan, to “dance sad thoughts away,” which I remember as the chorus of some Canadian song. I doubt whether that peculiar specific will do much good. But you may work sad thoughts away; you may crowd morbid feelings out of your mind by stout daylight toils; and remember that sad remembrances, too long indulged, tend strongly to the maudlin. Even Werter was little better than a fool; and a contemptible fool was Mr Augustus Moddle.

How many of man’s best works take for granted that the majority of cultivated persons, capable of enjoying them, shall have leisure in which to do so. The architect, the artist, the landscape-gardener, the poet, spend their pains in producing that which can never touch the hurried man. I really feel that I act unkindly by the man who did that elaborate picking-out in the painting of a railway carriage, if I rush upon the platform at the last moment, pitch in my luggage, sit down and take to the Times, without ever having noticed whether the colour of the carriage is brown or blue. There seems a dumb pleading eloquence about even the accurate diagonal arrangement of the little woollen tufts in the morocco cushions, and the interlaced network above one’s head, where umbrellas go, as though they said, “We are made thus neatly to be looked at, but we cannot make you look at us unless you choose; and half the people who come into the carriage are so hurried that they never notice us.” And when I have seen a fine church-spire, rich in graceful ornament, rising up by the side of a city street, where hurried crowds are always passing by, not one in a thousand ever casting a glance at the beautiful object, I have thought, Now surely you are not doing what your designer intended.' When he spent so much of time, and thought, and pains in planning and executing all those beauties of detail, surely he intended them to be looked at; and not merely looked at in their general effect, but followed and traced into their lesser graces. But he wrongly fancied that men would have time for that; he forgot that, except on the solitary artistic visitor, all he has done would be lost, through the nineteenth century’s want of leisure. And you, architect of Melrose, when you designed that exquisite tracery, and decorated so perfectly that flying buttress, were you content to do so for the pleasure of knowing you did your work thoroughly and well; or did you count on its producing on the minds of men in after-ages an impression which a prevailing hurry has prevented from being produced, save perhaps in one case in a thousand? And you, old monk, who spent half your life in writing and illuminating that magnificent Missal; was your work its own reward in the pleasure its execution gave you; or did you actually fancy that mortal man would have time or patience— leisure, in short—to examine in detail all that you have done, and that interested you so much, and kept you eagerly engaged for so many hours together, on days the world has left four hundred years behind? I declare it touches me to look at that laborious appeal to men with countless hours to spare : men, in short, hardly now to be found in Britain. No doubt, all this is the old story: for how great a part of the higher and finer human work is done in the hope that it will produce an effect which it never will produce, and attract the interest of those who will never notice it. Still, the ancient missal-writer pleased himself with the thought of the admiration of skilled observers in days to come; and so the fancy served its purpose.

Thus at intervals through that bright summer-day, did the writer muse at leisure in the shade; and note down the thoughts (such as they are) which you have here at length in this essay. The sun was still warm and cheerful when he quitted the lawn; but somehow, looking back upon that day, the colours of the scene are paler than the fact, and the sunbeams feel comparatively chill. For memory cannot bring back things freshly as they lived, but only their faded images. Faces in the distant past look wan; voices sound thin and distant; the landscape round is uncertain and shadowy. Do you not feel somehow, when you look back on ages forty centuries ago, as if people then spoke in whispers and lived in twilight?


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