Patrins To Which Is Added an Inquirendo Into the Wit & Other Good Parts of His Late Majesty King Charles the Second
M.R.D., from her affectionate
old friend who wrote it. 1897
TO WHICH IS ADDED
An INQUIRENDO Into the WIT &
Other Good Parts of HIS LATE MAJESTY
KING CHARLES the Second
LOUISE IMOGEN GUINEY
Printed for Copeland and Day
69 Cornhill 1897
COPYRIGHT 1897 BY COPELAND AND DAY
TO BLISS CARMAN
A patrin, according to Romano Lavo-Lil, is "a Gypsy trail:handfuls of leaves or grass cast by the Gypsies on the road, todenote, to those behind, the way which they have taken." Well, thesewild dry whims are patrins dropped now in the open for our tribe;but particularly for you. They will greet you as you lazily come up,and mean: Fare on, and good luck love you to the end! On each have Iput the date of its writing, as one might make memoranda of littleleisurely adventures in prolonged fair weather; and you will read, inbetween and all along, a record of pleasant lonely paths never veryfar from your own, biggest of Romanys! in the thought-country of ourcommon youth.
Ingraham Hill, South Thomaston, Maine,
October 19, 1896.
|On the Rabid versus the Harmless Scholar||3|
|The Great Playground||13|
|On the Ethics of Descent||29|
|Some Impressions from the Tudor Exhibition||39|
|On the Delights of an Incognito||63|
|The Puppy: A Portrait||73|
|On Dying Considered as a Dramatic Situation||83|
|A Bitter Complaint of the Ungentle Reader||99|
|Animum non Coelum||109|
|The Precept of Peace||117|
|On a Pleasing Encounter with a Pickpocket||131|
|Reminiscences of a Fine Gentleman||139|
|An Open Letter to the Moon||169|
|The Under Dog||181|
|On Teaching One's Grandmother How to Suck Eggs||223|
|Wilful Sadness in Literature||233|
|An Inquirendo into the Wit and Other Good Parts|
of His Late Majesty, King Charles the Second
A PHILOSOPHER now living, and too deserving for any fate but choiceprivate oblivion, was in Paris, for the first time, a dozen yearsago; and having seen and heard there, in the shops, parks, andomnibus stations, much more baby than he found pleasing, he remarked,upon his return, that it was a great pity the French, who are so inlove with system, had never seen their way to shutting up everythingunder ten years of age! Now, that was the remark of an artist inhuman affairs, and may provoke a number of analogies. What is in themaking is not a public spectacle. It ought to be considered veryoutrageous, on the death of a painter or a poet, to exhibit thoserough first drafts, which he, living, had the acumen to conceal.And if, to an-4- impartial eye, in a foreign city, native innocentsseem too aggressively to the fore, why should not the seclusiondesired for them be visited a thousandfold upon the heads, let ussay, of students, who are also in a crude transitional state, andundergoing a growth much more distressing to a sensitive observerthan the physical? Youth is the most inspiring thing on earth, butnot the best to let loose, especially while it carries swaggeringlythat most dangerous of all blunderbusses, knowledge at half-cock.There is, indeed, no more melancholy condition than that of healthyboys scowling over books, in an eternal protest against their fatherAdam's fall from a state of relative omniscience. Sir Philip Sidneythought it was "a piece of the Tower of Babylon's curse that a manshould be put to school to learn his mother-tongue!" The throes ofeducation are as degrading and demoralizing as a hanging, and, whenthe millennium sets in, will be as carefully screened from the laity.Around the master and the pupil will be reared a portly and decorousChinese wall, which shall pen within their proper precincts the dinof hic, hśc, hoc,-5- and the steam of suppers sacrificed to Pallas.
The more noxious variety of student, however, is not young. He is"in the midway of this our mortal life"; he is fearfully foraging,with intent to found and govern an academy; he runs in squads afterAnglo-Saxon or that blatant beast, Comparative Mythology; he stopsyou on 'change to ask if one has not good grounds for believing thatthere was such a person as Pope Joan. He can never let well enoughalone. Heine must be translated and Junius must be identified. Theabodes of hereditary scholars are depopulated by the red flag ofthe nouveau instruit. He infests every civilized country; thearmy-worm is nothing to him. He has either lacked early disciplinealtogether, or gets tainted, late in life, with the notion thathe has never shown sufficiently how intellectual he really is. Inevery contemplative-looking person he sees a worthy victim, andhis kindling eye, as he bears down upon you, precludes escape: hecan achieve no peace unless he is driving you mad with all whichyou fondly dreamed you had left behind in old-6- S.'s accursedlecture-room. You may commend to him in vain the reminder whichErasmus left for the big-wigs, that it is the quality of what youknow which tells, and never its quantity. It is inconceivable to himthat you should shut your impious teeth against First Principles,and fear greatly to displace in yourself the illiteracies you havepainfully acquired.
Judge, then, if the learner of this type (and in a bitterer degree,the learneress) could but be safely cloistered, how much simplerwould become the whole problem of living! How profoundly wouldit benefit both society and himself could the formationary mind,destined, as like as not, to no ultimate development, be sequesteredby legal statute in one imperative limbo, along with babes, lovers,and training athletes! Quicquid ostendis mihi sic, incredulus odi.
For the true scholar's sign-manual is not the midnight lamp on afolio. He knows; he is baked through; all superfluous effort andenergy are over for him. To converse consumedly upon the weather,and compare notes as to "whether it is likely to hold up forto-morrow,"—this,-7- says Hazlitt, "is the end and privilege of a lifeof study." Secretly, decently, pleasantly, has he acquired his mentalstock; insensibly he diffuses, not always knowledge, but sometimesthe more needful scorn of knowledge. Among folk who break theirworthy heads indoors over Mr. Browning and Madame Blavatsky, he movescheerful, incurious, and free, on glorious good terms with arts andcrafts for which he has no use, with extraneous languages which hewill never pursue, with vague Muses impossible to invite to dinner.He is strictly non-educational:
"Thou wast not born for death, immortal bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down."
He loathes information and the givers and takers thereof. Like Mr.Lang, he laments bitterly that Oxford is now a place where manythings are being learned and taught with great vigor. The mainbusiness to him is to live gracefully, without mental passion, and toget off alone into a corner for an affectionate view of creation. Amystery serves his turn better than a history. It is to be rememberedthat had the Rev. Laurence Sterne gone to gaze-8- upon the spandrilsof Rouen Cathedral, we should all have lost the fille de chambre,the dead ass, and Maria by the brookside. Any one of these is worthmore than hieroglyphics; but who is to attain that insight that theseare so, except the man of culture, who has the courage to forget attimes even his sole science, and fall back with delight upon a choiceassortment of ignorances?
The scholar's own research, from his cradle, clothes him in privacy;nor will he ever invade the privacy of others. It is not with a lightheart that he contemplates the kindergarten system. He himself,holding his tongue, and fleeing from Junius and Pope Joan, from cubicroots and the boundaries of Hindostan, from the delicate differencebetween the idiom of Maeterlinck and that of Ollendorff, must be anevil sight to Chautauquans, albeit approved of the angels. He haslittle to utter which will sound wise, the full-grown, finished soul!If he had, he would of his own volition seek a cell in that asylumfor protoplasms, which we have made bold to recommend.
The truth is, very few can be trusted-9- with an education. In theold days, while this was a faith, boredom and nervous prostrationwere not common, and social conditions were undeniably picturesque.Then, as now, quiet was the zenith of power: the mellow mind wasunexcursive and shy. Then, as now, though young clerical Mastersof Arts went staggering abroad with heads lolling like Sisyphus'stone, the ideal worth and weight grew "lightly as a flower." Sweetlywrote the good Sprat of his famous friend Cowley: "His learning satexceedingly close and handsomely upon him: it was not embossed onhis mind, but enamelled." The best to be said of any knowing oneamong us, is that he does not readily show what deeps are in him;that he is unformidable, and reminds whomever he meets of a distantor deceased uncle. Initiation into noble facts has not ruined himfor this world nor the other. It was a beautiful brag which JamesHowell, on his first going beyond sea, March the first, in the yearsixteen hundred and eighteen, made to his father. He gives thanksfor "that most indulgent and costly Care you have-10- been pleased, inso extraordinary a manner, to have had of my Breeding, (tho' but onechild of Fifteen) by placing me in a choice Methodical School so fardistant from your dwelling, under a Learned (tho' Lashing) Master;and by transplanting me thence to Oxford to be graduated; and soholding me still up by the chin, until I could swim without Bladders.This patrimony of liberal Education you have been pleased to endowme withal, I now carry along with me abroad as a sure inseparableTreasure; nor do I feel it any burden or incumbrance unto me at all!"
There, in the closing phrase, spoke the post-Elizabethan pluck.Marry, any man does well since, who can describe the aggregatedagonies of his brain as no incumbrance, as less, indeed, thana wife and posterity! To have come to this is to have earned thefreedom of cities, and to sink the schoolmaster as if he had neverbeen.
IT has seemed to many thoughtful readers, within the last fifty orsixty years, that Wordsworth's Ode on the Intimations is altogethermistaken in its assumption that the open-air world is dearer to thechild than to the man: or that the Heaven which so easily fuses withit in our idea lies nearer to the former than to the latter. Someabnormally perceptive child (like the infant W.W. himself) may havea clear sense of "glory in the grass, of splendor in the flower."But the appreciation of natural objects is infinitely stronger, letus say, in the babe of thirty; and so is even the appreciation ofthe diversions which they provide. Were it not for the prospects ofunforeseen and adventurous company abroad, the child prefers to playin the shed. But the post-meridian child,-14- who is not a "grown-up,"but only a giant, desires "the house not made with hands": he has adelicate madness in his blood, the moment he breathes wild air.
Scipio and Laelius cannot keep, to save them, from stone-skipping onthe strand, though they have come abroad for purposes of politicalconversation. Poets and bookmen are famous escapers of this sort.Surrey shooting his toy arrows at lighted windows; Shelley sailinghis leaves and bank-notes on the Hampstead ponds; Dr. Johnson, ofall persons, rolling down the fragrant Lincolnshire hills; ElizabethInchbald ("a beauty and a virtue," as her epitaph at Kensingtonprettily says) lifting knockers on April evenings and running away,for the innocent deviltry of it;—these have discovered the fun andthe solace of out-of-doors at a stroke, and with a conscious raptureimpossible to their juniors. Master Robin Hood, Earl