It would not be easy to describe the odd look of surprise and perplexity of the parson, at this proposal; or the difficulty the Squire had in making the general comprehend, that though a jovial song of the present day was but a foolish sound in the ears of wisdom, and beneath the notice of a learned man, yet a trowl, written by a tosspot several hundred years since, was a matter worthy of the gravest research, and enough to set whole colleges by the ears.
I have since pondered much on this matter, and have figured to myself what may be the fate of our current literature, when retrieved, piecemeal, by future antiquaries, from among the rubbish of ages. What a Magnus Apollo, for instance, will Moore become, among sober divines and dusty schoolmen! Even his festive and amatory songs, which are now the mere quickeners of our social moments, or the delights of our drawing-rooms, will then become matters of laborious research and painful collation. How many a grave professor will then waste his midnight oil, or worry his brain through a long morning, endeavouring to restore the pure text, or illustrate the biographical hints of “Come, tell me, says Rosa, as kissing and kissed;” and how many an arid old bookworm, like the worthy little parson, will give up in despair, after vainly striving to fill up some fatal hiatus in “Fanny of Timmol”!
Nor is it merely such exquisite authors as Moore that are doomed to consume the oil of future antiquaries. Many a poor scribbler, who is now, apparently, sent to oblivion by pastrycooks and cheese-mongers, will then rise again in fragments, and flourish in learned immortality.
After all, thought I, time is not such an invariable destroyer as he is represented. If he pulls down, he likewise builds up; if he impoverishes one, he enriches another; his very dilapidations furnish matter for new works of controversy, and his rust is more precious than the most costly gilding. Under his plastic hand, trifles rise into importance; the nonsense of one age becomes the wisdom of another; the levity of the wit gravitates into the learning of the pedant, and an ancient farthing moulders into infinitely more value than a modern guinea.
------“Love and hay Are thick sown, but come up full of thistles.”
—BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER.
I was so much pleased with the anecdotes which were told me of Ready-Money Jack Tibbets, that I got Master Simon, a day or two since, to take me to his house. It was an old-fashioned farm-house built with brick, with curiously twisted chimneys. It stood at a little distance from the road, with a southern exposure, looking upon a soft green slope of meadow. There was a small garden in front, with a row of bee-hives humming among beds of sweet herbs and flowers. Well-scoured milking tubs, with bright copper hoops, hung on the garden paling. Fruit trees were trained up against the cottage, and pots of flowers stood in the windows. A fat, superannuated mastiff lay in the sunshine at the door; with a sleek cat sleeping peacefully across him.