« السابقةمتابعة »
The recollection of these lines, and the sight of the sarcophagus, remind us of the power of Death and Time, over all that is perishable. Yet we still flatter ourselves that Fame is everlasting; that although death has reduced the hero to dust, and time has dispersed his remains over the desert, yet his fame has lived unimpaired through two thousand years, and his deeds are still fresh in the recollection of mankind. How different a lesson do we receive in the tomb of the once great and renowned, but now unknown and forgotten, Psammis! Here paintings, the most perishable of the works of man, have been preserved for ages after ages. But the slow and neverfailing scythe of Time has swept the brazen letters of fame from the tablets of memory. This is more than we are used to; we are not accustomed to see posthumous fame-that monumentum are perennius," upon which the great rely, and which the ambitious are so eager to acquire,-yielding in durability to the fading colours of the painter.
The Monarch, for whose mummy this mausoleum was excavated, seems to have been a pretender to the palm of renown, and to have sought it by those means which usually accomplish their end. By the magnificence of his sepulchre he appears to have been a mighty sovereign; and by his triumphs which are there recorded, one of those scourges of the earth, conquerors;-and apparently a great one for that his conquests extended over all the neighbouring nations appears evident. Three different races of men are painted as his captives on the walls of his tomb; the white, the Ethiopian, and the tawny African. Farther than this we know nothing: he may, for aught we know, have counterbalanced this evil part of his character by other virtues; he may have been the father of his people, when the fit of war, which prompted him to sacrifice their blood to his ambition, was over; have been generous and merciful to his vanquished enemies; he reigned in a country whence arose the first dawn of the arts and sciences, he may have
encouraged them, and contributed to the civilization, and consequently to the happiness, of mankind. On the other hand, he may have been a tyrant over his subjects, inhuman and unmerciful to his enemies; the pestilence of his tyranny may have blighted the infant arts, and the storm of war and devastation may, during his reign, have darkened the glimmering beams of civilization under its cloud of blood. That he was powerful and renowned is all that his tomb proves to us. His name
may have been coupled with curses or benedictions. His contemporaries relied upon posterity either to reward his virtues with praise, or punish his vices with an eternal stigma: Posterity has forgotten him. Time has poured the tide of oblivion over his actions; his virtues or crimes are as completely hidden from our knowledge, by the veil of centuries, as the once fertile soil, over which he reigned, is concealed from our sight by its eternal sands.
While it wounds human vanity to reflect upon this total oblivion into which the great of the species have sunk, it is a consolation, and a great one, to find that the subject immediately before our eyes was a conquering Monarch. It may console those who have suffered from these licensed depredators, that the oppressors may be disappointed in their hopes of immortal fame, the prize for which they have sacrificed the lives and happiness of mankind entrusted to their care; and it holds out a warning to others not to follow that path which has hitherto been considered a royal road to immortality. When ambition, heated and nursed by flattery, reminds royal youth of the fame of a Cyrus, an Alexander, or a Napoleon, let cold truth interpose, and tell the tale of Psammis; that he was great, victorious, triumphant, and-forgotten.
It is not from man that we are to hope for immortality. To all that mortals project, undertake, or accomplish, there is a sure, though not fixed, termination. The actions and greatness of man will be veiled by a
never-failing oblivion, whose advance seems protracted, when compared with human life; yet but an instant, when compared with eternity. If we have acquired fame at the expense of virtue, we may gaze upon the drop of time which is our own with the false pleasure of vanity; but we dare not turn our eyes towards the ocean into which that drop has fallen. The only real immortality for which we can hope, or to which we have courage to look forward, is that which is prepared by the Deity, as an inestimable reward for a well-spent life; σε τα δ' άλλα συγχει πανθ' ὁ παγκρατης χρόνος.”
A. L. B.
Lies in his hamstring, and doth think it rich
To hear the wooden dialogue and sound
"Twixt his stretch'd footing and the scaffoldage."
I HAVE got a pair of old Boots.
I bought them at Exeter last Summer, and they withstood all the malice of Devonshire paviors in a most inconceivable style. The leather was of a most Editorial consistency, and the sole resembled a Quarto. It was in them that I revisited the desolate habitation of my infancy; it was their heavy changing sound which echoed through those deserted apartments. It was in them, too, that I tottered upon the perilous summit of the Ness; and it was in them that I got wet to the knees in the disagreeable tempest which waited upon the Dawlish Regatta. How many pleasant moments, how many dear friends, do they recall to my recollection! It was with their ponderous solidity that I astonished the weak nerves of one, and trod upon the weak toes of another.
Every inch of them, old and emeriti as they are, is pregnant with some delightful, some amiable sensation. was in them that I excogitated the First Number of the Etonian. They shall live to look upon the last! I cannot say they were ever very elegant in shape or texture. Like the genius of my friend Swinburne, they possessed more intrinsic strength than outward polish. They served me well, however, and travelled with me to Town.
I happened to put them on one wet morning in April. Whatever form or fashion they formerly boasted, was altogether extinct; they were as shapeless as an unlicked cub, and as dusky as a cloud on a November morning. I beheld their fallen appearance with some dismay. "I shall be stared at;" I said, "I had better take them off!"--but I thought of their former services, and resolved to keep them on.
They had brought their plated heels from the country, and they made a confounded noise upon the pavement as I walked along. Ding, dong, they went at every step, as if I carried a belfry swung at my toes. "This is a disagreeable sort of accompaniment," I said;-“ I had better dismiss the Musicians!" Just at that moment a young Baronet passed me, attended by a fine dog. The dog was in high spirits, and made rather too much noise for the contemplative mood of his master. "Silence, Cæsar!-be quiet, Cæsar!"—No, it was all in vain, and Cæsar was kicked into the gutter. "That was cruel!" I said, "to dismiss an old servant, because he was a note too loud! I think I will keep my Boots!"
I walked in the Park with Golightly. By the side of my stabile footcase his neat and dapper instep cut a peculiarly smart figure; it was a Molossus tête-à-tête with a Pyrrhic; an Etonian's skiff moored along-side of a coal-barge. Golightly's meditations seemed to be of the same cast; he once or twice turned his eyes to the ground, as I thought with no very complacent aspect. "My friends grow ashamed of me," I said to myself
"I must part with my Boots!" As I made up my mind to the sacrifice, Lady Eglantine met us, with her husband. She was constantly looking another way, nodding familiarly to the young men she met, and endeavouring to convince the world how thoroughly she despised the lump of earth which she was obliged to drag after her. "There is a woman," said Frederick, "who married Sir John for his money, and has not the sense to appear contented with the bargain she has made. What can be more silly than to look down thus upon a man of sterling worth, because he happened to be born a hundred miles from the Metropolis?""What can be more silly?” I repeated inwardly;-" I will never look down on my Boots again!"
We continued our walk, and Golightly began his usual course of strictures upon the place and the company. Hurried away by the constant flow of jest and wildness with which he embellishes his sketches, I soon forgot both the Boots, which had been the theme of my reflections, and the moral lessons which the subject had produced. There was an awkward stone in the way! Oh! my unfortunate heels! I broke down terribly, and was very near bringing my companion after me. I rose, and went on in great dudgeon." This will never do," I muttered; "this will never do! I must positively cashier my Boots!" Boots!" I looked up;-an interesting girl was passing, leaning on the arm of a young man, whose face I thought I recognised. She looked pale and feeble; and, when my friend bowed to her with unusual attention, she seemed embarrassed by the civility. "That is Anna Leith," said Golightly; "she made an imprudent match with that young man about a year ago, and her father has refused to see her ever since. Poor girl! she is in a rapid decline, and the remedies of her physicians have no effect upon a broken spirit.-I would never cast off a beloved object for a single false step!
"I will keep my Boots," I exclaimed," though they make a thousand!"