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when the hour of death comes, that comes to high and low, -long and late may it be yours-O my leddy, then, it is na what we have dune for oursells, but what we have dune for others, that we think on maist pleasantly. And the thoughts, that ye hae intervened to spare the puir thing's life, will be sweeter in that hour, come when it may, than if a word of your mouth could hang the hail Porteous mob at the tail of ae tow."
Tear followed tear down Jeanie's cheek, as, with features glowing and quivering with emotion, she pleaded her sister's cause, with a pathos which was at once simple and solemn.
"This is eloquence," said her majesty to the Duke of Argyle. "Young woman," she continued, addressing herself to Jeanie, "I cannot grant pardon to your sister, but you shall not want my warm intercession with his majesty. Take this housewife case," she continued, putting a small embroidered needle-case into Jeanie's hands; "do not open it now, but at your leisure; you will find something in it which will remind you that you have had an interview with Queen Caroline."
Jeanie, having her suspicions thus confirmed, dropped on `her knees, and would have expanded herself in gratitude; bat the duke, who was upon thorns lest she should say more or less than just enough, touched his chin once more.
"Our business is, I think, ended for the present, my lord duke," said the queen, 66 and, I trust, to your satisfaction. Hereafter I hope to see your grace more frequently, both at Richmond and St. James's. Come, Lady Suffolk, we must wish his grace good morning."
They exchanged their parting reverences, and the duke, so soon as the ladies had turned their backs, assisted Jeanie, to rise from the ground, and conducted her back through the avenue, - which she trod with the feeling of one who walks in her sleep.
35. Letter on Punning.
WHEN you have leisure from teaching the world to think and to feel in matters of vital importance to the community, I beg leave to recommend to your notice an evil, which by poisoning the springs of taste and knowledge, by bringing forward the flippant, and throwing back the reflective speaker, tends to imbitter and destroy all the profit and pleasure of conversation. I allude to the vice of punning.
It is my fate to mix with a knot of individuals, each of them capable of sustaining a part in rational discourse, and of bringing to the intellectual conflict minds armed with vigor and stored with learning; who, nevertheless, meet together to fritter away time, patience, and attention, with a series of unconnected quibbles and conceits.
Their talk is not narrative, for nothing is related; not demonstrative, for nothing is maintained; not dictative, for nothing can be learned; not argumentative, for nothing can be proved; not confidential, for nothing can be believed. Instead of the rich web of fancy, glowing with the vivid creations of lively and intelligent minds, the hearers are presented with a motley intermixture of shreds of wit and patches of conceit, a checker-work of incongruous images, the very orts and leavings of the "feast of reason," the dregs and scum of science and literature. If I relate to this group of punsters the most affecting circumstance, I am heard with impatience and inattention, till I chance, unwittingly, to utter a word susceptible of a double or triple interpretation. The mischievous spark of folly is applied; the moral interest of my tale is undermined, and a loud report of laughter announces the explosion of folly.
The Genius of Orthography frowns in vain; puns are, by the laws of custom, entitled to claim entrance into the sensorium, either by the eye or the ear; but then a pseudo-pun
"for indeed there are counterfeits abroad, and it behoves men to be careful"—is perceptible to neither sense, — when
read, it cannot be seen, and when heard, it cannot be understood, and to avoid the horror of an explanation, I find I am obliged to perjure myself, by laughing in ignorance and very sadness, and thus sanction the practice I would fain abolish.
The evil, in fact, is subversive of the first principle of soci ety. Is it little to hunger for the bread of wisdom, and to be fed with the husks of folly? Is it little to thirst for the Castalian fount, and see its waters idly wasted in sport or malice? Is it little to seek for the interchange of souls, and find only the reciprocation of nonsense?
36. Byron, the Poet, and the Man.
ADMIRE the goodness of Almighty God!
What seemed the best; and knowing, might not do?
And he who acted thus fulfilled the law
Take one example, to our purpose quite:
Who riches had, and fame, beyor d desire,
He touched his harp, and nations heard, entranced
Where Fancy halted, weary in her flight,
And soared untrodden heights, and seemed at home
Suns, moons, and stars, and clouds his sisters were,
All that was hated, and all that was dear ;