He has himself failed; he sees errors in successful writers; he knows he possesses certain merits, and knows what the perfection of them should be. This is the ground work of envy, which makes a man of parts a comparative fool, and a confederate against “true genius.”
No. III. Mental Scales
I make out my case thus—
There is an exact balance in the distribution of causes of pleasure and pain: this has been satisfactorily proved in my next paper, upon “Cause and Effect,” therefore I shall take it for granted. What, then, is there but the mind to determine its own state of happiness, or misery: just as the motion of the scales depends upon themselves, when two equal weights are put into them. The balance ought to be truly hung; but if the unpleasant scale is heavier, then the motion is in favor of the pleasant scale, and vice versa. Whether the beam stands horizontally, or otherwise, does not matter (that only determines the key): draw a line at right angles to it, then put in your equal weights; if the angle becomes larger on the unpleasant scale’s side of the line, happiness is the result, if on the other, misery.
It requires but a slight acquaintance with mechanics to see that he who would be happy should have the unpleasant side heavier. I hate corollaries or we might have a group of them equally applicable to Art and Models.
Some Account of the Life and Adventures of Sir Reginald Mohun, Bart. Done in Verse by George John Cayley. Canto 1st. Pickering. 1849.
Inconsistency, whether in matters of importance or in trifles, whether in substance or in detail, is never pleasant. We do not here impute to this poem any inconsistency between one portion and another; but certainly its form is at variance with its subject and treatment. In the wording of the title, and the character of typography, there is a studious archaism: more modern the poem itself could scarcely be.
“Sir Reginald Mohun” aims, to judge from the present sample, at depicting the easy intercourse of high life; and the author enters on his theme with a due amount of sympathy. It is in this respect, if in any, that the mediaeval tone of the work lasts beyond the title page. In Mr. Cayley’s eyes, the proof of the comparative prosperity of England is that
“Still Queen Victoria sits upon
Our aristocracy still keep alive,
And, on the whole, may still be said to thrive,—
Tho’ now and then with ducal acres groan
The honored tables of the auctioneer.
Nathless, our aristocracy is dear,
Tho’ their estates go cheap; and all must own
That they still give society its tone.”—p. 16.
He proceeds in these terms: