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the wisdom of our ancestors, such, for instance, as
66 rotten boroughs,” are arbitrarily cut off by elision. When John Bull is in the imperative mood, he is now, at the same time, in the potential; while the present tense has no longer the smallest reference to the past, provided it can improve the future. But we have still more startling changes ;-Lady A. is a masculine, and Lord B. is a feminine person. What can be expected but irregularity and disturbance, when our grammar is in such a state of anarchy ? This comes of Reform!! Ah! it is to be feared that we shall none of us have the consolation of Danjeau, the French grammarian, who, when told that a revolution was approaching, exclaimed, rubbing his hands, “ Well, come what may, I have two hundred verbs well conjugated in my desk !"
ABLUTION-a duty somewhat too strictly inculcated in the Mahometan ritual, and sometimes too laxły observed in Christian practice. As a man may have a dirty body, and an undefiled mind, so may he have clean hands in a literal, and not in a metaphorical sense. All washes and cosmetics without, he may yet labour under a moral hydrophobia within. Pleasant to see an im-puritan of this stamp holding his nose, lest the wind should come between an honest scavenger
and his gentility, while his own character stinks in the public nostrils. Oh, if the money and the pains that we bestow upon perfumes and adornments for the body, were applied to the purification and embellishment of the mind! Oh, if we were as careful to polish our manners as our teeth, to make our temper as sweet as our breath, to cut off our peccadilloes as to pare our nails, to be as upright in character as in person, to save our souls as to shave our chins, what an immaculate race should we become! Exteriorly, we are not a filthy people. We throw so much dirt at our neighbours, that we have none left for ourselves. We are only unclean in our hearts and lives. As occasional squalor, is the worst evil of poverty and
labour, so should constant cleanliness be the greatest luxury of wealth and ease ; yet even our aristocracy are not altogether without reproach in this respect. It is well known, that the celebrated Lord Nelson had not washed his hands for the last eight years of his life. Alas! upon what trifles may our reputation for cleanliness depend ! Even a foreign accent may ruin us.
In a trial, where a German and his wife were giving evidence, the former was asked by the counsel, “ How old are you ?"_“I am dirty.”—“ And what is your wife ?”—“Mine wife is dirty-two.”—“Then, Sir, you are a very nasty couple, and I wish to have nothing further to say to either of you."
ABRIDGMENT—anything contracted into a small compass; such, for instance, as the abridgment of the statutes in twenty volumes, folio. To make a good abridgment, requires as much time and talent as to write an original work; a fact of which the reader will find abundant proof as he proceeds! When Queen Anne told Dr. South that his sermon had only one fault—that of being too short,--he replied, that he should have made it shorter if he haù had more time. How comes it that no enterprising bookseller has ever thought of publishing an Abridgment of the Lives of the Fathers ?" I know not whether the religious public would give it encouragement, but I am confident, that in this land of primogeniture and entailed estates, there is not an heir in the three kingdoms who would not exert himself to insure its success.
ABSCESS—a morbid tumour, frequently growing above the shoulders, and swelling to a considerable size, when it comes to a head, with nothing in it. It is not always a natural disease, for nature abhors a vacuum; yet fools, fops, and fanatics are very subject to it, and it sometimes attacks old women of both sexes. "I wish to consult you upon a little project I have formed,” said a noodle to his friend. “I have an idea in my head—” “ Have you?" interposed the friend, with a look of great surprise; “then you shall have my opinion at once: keep it there!-it may be some time before you get another."
ABSOLUTE GOVERNMENT_There is a simplicity and unity in despotism, which is not without its advantages, if every despot were to be a Titus or a Vespasian-to unite great talents with a clement and benevolent heart. But the chances against such a fortunate conjunction are almost incalculable; and even where it occurs, its effects may be suddenly defeated, and the best sovereign be converted into the worst by an attack of gout, or a fit of indigestion. Besides, there are few who drink of unrestrained power, without being intoxicated, or, perhaps, maddened. Nero, before he succeeded to the crown, was remarkable for his moderation and humanity. So true is the dictum of Tacitus, that the throne of a despot is generally ascended by a wild beast. Free institutions are the best, indeed the only security, both for the governed and the governor; for there is no remedy against a tyrant but assassination, of which ultima ratio populi, even our own times have furnished instances at St. Petersburg and Constantinople. An hereditary monarchy with institutions adapted to the state of knowledge, and the diffusion of moral power, or, in other words, leaning towards republicanism, seems to be the form of government most appropriate for a civilized and enlightened nation in the nineteenth century. The greatest strength should be at the base, not at the top; for it is as difficult to overturn a pyramid, as to preserve the equilibrium of an inverted cone. What an illustration of the spirit of the times, and what an instructive lesson to monarchs, is the startling fact, that the present rulers of Sweden, France, and Belgium, are not the regular inheritors of the crowns they wear, but sovereigns elected by the most powerful of all sovereigns—the people; while the pseudo-legitimate kings of Portugal and Spain have been formally repudiated, and are wanderers on the face of the earth! Few modern despots can calculate on being so fortunate as the Turk Mustapha, who having rebelled against his brother, was_.taken prisoner, and ordered for execution on the following morning. The Sultan, however, being suddenly seized with the cholic, accompanied, perhaps, with some fraternal, as well"as internal qualms, ordered the decapitation to be deferred for two days, during which he died, and his imprisoned brother quietly succeeded to the throne. “O happy Mustapha !” exclaimed the Sultaness “ you were born to be lucky, for you have not only derived life from your mother's stomach, but from your brother's!”
ABSOLUTION, SELF-generously pronouncing our own pardon. Such is the power in the human mind of adapting itself to circumstances, that we can reconcile ourselves, at least, partially, to our own crimes and infamy. The stings of conscience would be intolerable, could we not lay some flattering unction to our souls, and steal relief from self-delusion. It may be doubted, whether the greatest villain in the world ever thought himself much worse than some of his neighbours, or was ever without his share of those extenuating pleas, subterfuges, and shufflings, in which the mind is so subtle a casuist. A man is sure of his own good word, and if it be the only one he has to expect, he draws upon it the more liberally. Another is worse than himself, or he fancies him to be so, and he forthwith imagines that he is a moral character, because he is not the basest profligate in existence. We claim praise for not having pushed our vices farther, but we feel no shame for having carried them so far; as if there were a positive merit in sinning, provided we stop short of the ne plus ultra of turpitude.
An amusing instance of these extenuating processes was lately afforded by a poor woman, who was brought before a magistrate for applying a name, that shall be nameless, to a female neighbour. “ You are the last person,” observed the magistrate, “ who should have used this opprobrious word, for, if I have been rightly informed, you yourself had a natural child two or three years ago.”—“ Yes, your Worship,” whimpered the culprit, “ but mine was a very small one.”
ABSURDITY-anything advanced by our opponents, contrary to our own practice, or above our comprehension,-and, therefore, a term very. liberally used, because it is applied in exact proportion to our own ignorance. Nothing to which we are so quick-sighted in another, so blind in ourselves, not only individually, but nationally. “Comment !" exclaims the French sailor in Josephus Molitor, when he saw Ironmonger Lane written on the corner of a street in London, which he read “ Irons manger l'ane."— Comment! Es ce qu'on mange des anes dans ce pays ci? Mais, quelle absurdité !" How many of us, in travelling, exhibit our own, in imputing an imaginary absurdity to others ! 6. How ridiculous !” exclaims the travelled servant in one of Dr. Moore's novels, “ to dress the French regiments of the line in blue,
-a colour which, as all the world knows, is only proper for the Oxford Blues and the Artillery.” Some of our highest classes are unconscious imitators of the knight of the shoulder-knot.
Of the Reductio ad absurdum, a very useful weapon of logic in arguing with ultras of any class, I know not a happier illustration than the Duke of Buckingham's reply to Dryden's famous line
“ My wound is great, becáuse it is so small."
ABUSE-intemperate, excites our sympathies, not for the abuser, but the abusee, a fact which some of our virulent critics and political writers are very apt to forget. Like other poisons, when administered in too strong a dose, it is thrown off by the intended victim, and often relieves, where it was meant to destroy. If the wielder of the weapon be such an unskilful sportsman as to overcharge his piece, he must not be