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new diligences; and, as usual, many persons were, from mere stupidity and obstinacy, disposed to clamor against the innovation, simply because it was an innovation.
It was vehemently argued that this mode of conveyance would be fatal to the breed of horses, and to the noble art of horsemanship; that the Thames, which had long been an important nursery of seamen, would cease to be the chief thoroughfare from London up to Windsor and down to Gravesend ; that saddlers and spurriers would be ruined by hundreds; that numerous inns, at which mounted travelers had been in the habit of stopping, would be deserted, and would no longer pay any rent; that the new carriages were too hot in summer and too cold in winter; that the passengers were grievously annoyed by invalids and crying children ; that the coach sometimes reached the inn so late that it was impossible to get supper, and sometimes started so early that it was impossible to get breakfast.
On these grounds it was gravely recommended that no public coach should be permitted to have more than four horses, to start oftener than once a week, or to go more than thirty miles a day. It was hoped, that, if this regulation ? were adopted, all except the sick and the lame would return to the old mode of traveling. Petitions embodying such opinions as these were presented to the king in council from several companies of the City of London, from several provincial towns, and from the justices of several counties.
1 spurriers. What is the root ? |
2 regulation. Give a synonym.
We smile at these things. It is not impossible that our descendants, when they read the history of the opposition offered 1 by cupidity and prejudice to the improvements of the nineteenth century, may smile in their turn.
2.- SAMUEL JOHNSON.
[The following is from Macaulay's elaborate essay on Dr. Johnson, written in review of Boswell's Johnson, edited by John Wilson Crocker.]
From nature, Johnson had received an uncouth figure, a diseased constitution, and an irritable temper. The manner in which the earlier years of his manhood had been passed had given to his demeanor, and even to his moral character, some peculiarities appalling to the civilized beings who were the companions of his old age. The perverse irregularity of his hours, the slovenliness of his person, his fits of strenuous exertion interrupted by long intervals of sluggishness, his strange abstinence and his equally strange voracity, his active benevolence, contrasted with the constant rudeness and the occasional ferocity of his manners in society, made him, in the opinion of those with whom he lived during the last twenty years of his life, a complete original.
An original he was, undoubtedly,4 in some respects. But if we possessed full information concerning those
i opposition offered, etc. This 2 strenuous exertion . . . slugis an allusion to the ridiculous ob- gishness. Point out the pairs of jections urged against railroads at contrasted terns in this sentence. the time of their introduction into 3 benevolence. See Glossary. England.
4 undoubtedly. Analyze.
who shared his early hardships, we should probably find that what we call his singularities of manner were, for the most part, failings which he had in common with the class to which he belonged. He eat at Streatham Park, as he had been used to eat behind the screen at St. John's Gate, when he was ashamed to show his ragged clothes. He eat as it was natural that a man should eat, who, during a great part of his life, had passed the morning in doubt whether he should have food for the afternoon. The roughness and violence which he showed in society were to be expected from a man whose temper, not naturally gentle, had been long tried by the bitterest calamities, — by the want of meat, of fire, and of clothes; by the importunity of creditors; by the insolence of booksellers; by the derision of fools ; by the insincerity of patrons; by that bread which is the bitterest of all food ; by those stairs 3 which are the most toilsome of all paths; by that deferred hope which makes the heart sick.
Through all these things the ill-dressed, coarse, ungainly pedant had struggled manfully up to eminence
1 Streatham Park. Johnson's | a man very happy t’other day.' – friends, the Thrales, lived at Streat- How could that be?' says Harte; ham.
' nobody was there but ourselves.' 2 St. John's Gate. The allusion Cave answered by reminding hini to St. John's Gate, where Mr. Cave that a plate of victuals was sent the publisher resided, is explained behind a screen, which was to in the following note to Boswell's Johnson, dressed so shabbily that Johnson : “Soon after Savage's Life he did not choose to appear; but was published, Mr. Harte dined on hearing the conversation, he with Edward Cave, and occasion was highly delighted with the ally praised it. Soon after, meet- encomiums on his book.” ing him, Cave said, 'You made 3 those stairs. What figure ?
and command. It was natural, that in the exercise of his power, though his heart was undoubtedly generous and humane, his demeanor in society should be harsh and despotic. For severe distress he had sympathy, and not only sympathy but munificent relief. But for the suffering which a harsh world inflicts upon a delicate mind, he had no pity; for it was a kind of suffering which he could scarcely conceive.
He would carry home on his shoulders a sick and starving girl from the streets. He turned his house into a place of refuge for a crowd of wretched old creatures who could find no other asylum ; nor could all their peevishness and ingratitude weary out his benevolence. But the pangs of wounded vanity seemed to him ridiculous, and he scarcely felt sufficient compassion even for the pangs of wounded affection. He had seen and felt so much of sharp misery, that he was not affected by paltry vexations; and he seemed to think that everybody ought to be as much hardened to those vexations as himself.
He was angry with Boswell1 for complaining of a headache, -with Mrs. Thrale for grumbling about the dust on the road or the smell of the kitchen. These were, in his phrase, “foppish lamentations,” which people ought to be ashamed to utter in a world so full of sin and sorrow. Goldsmith crying because The Good-natured Man 2 had failed, inspired him with no
1 Boswell. Johnson's famous | catastrophe. On the evening of biographer.
the first performance, Goldsmith, 2 The Good-natured Man. This to use his own expression, suffered play by Goldsmith, when placed on “horrid tortures,” and ended by the stage in 1768, had a run of only bursting into tears, and swearing ten nights, and narrowly escaped a that he never would write again.
pity. Though his own health was not good, he detested and despised valetudinarians. Pecuniary losses, unless they reduced the loser absolutely to beggary, moved him very little. People whose hearts had been softened by prosperity might weep, he said, for such events; but all that could be expected of a plain man was not to laugh. He was not much moved even by the spectacle of Lady Tavistock dying of a broken heart for the loss of her lord. Such grief he considered as a luxury reserved for the idle and the wealthy. A washerwoman, left a widow with nine small children, would not have sobbed herself to death.
The judgments which Johnson passed on books were, in his own time, regarded with superstitious veneration, and in our time are generally treated with indis. criminate contempt. They are the judgments of a strong but enslaved understanding. The mind of the critic was hedged round by an uninterrupted fence of prejudices and superstitions. His whole code of criticism rested on pure assumption, for which he sometimes quoted a precedent or an authority, but rarely troubled himself to give a reason drawn from the nature of things.
He took it for granted that the kind of poetry which flourished in his own time, which he had been accustomed to hear praised from his childhood, and which he had himself written with success, was the best kind of poetry. In his biographical work he has repeatedly laid it down as an undeniable proposition, that du the latter part of the seventeenth century, and the earlier part of the eighteenth, English poetry had been