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Let that vast gap be made, and then behold-
This was the youth, and he is thus when old;
Then we at once the work of Time survey,
And in an instant see a life's decay;
Pain mix'd with pity in our bosoms rise,*
And sorrow takes new sadness from surprise.†

The poet of "Human Life" moralises in a like strain :

No eye observes the growth or the decay.
To-day we look as we did yesterday;
And we shall look to-morrow as to-day.

Yet while the loveliest smiles, her locks turn grey!
And in her glass could she but see the face
She'll see so soon amid another race,
How would she shrink!‡

Portraits of this, that, or the other celebrity, "taken when quite a child," are therefore particularly suggestive of moody marvel, to beholders whose knowledge of the original belongs to so different a phase in his physique. Horace Walpole says of a certain portrait of Philippe de Vendôme, the famous Grand Prieur, a worthy brother of the more famous, gross, bestial Duc,-"How lucky that a Prince who had so interesting a countenance when a boy, should have had common sense afterwards. I cannot say his beauty remained. Lord Dacre has a whole length of him at last, in an habit de chasse. It looks like one of those drunken, redfaced, old women, who follow a camp, and half of whose clothes are scoured regimentals."§ None the worse likeness for that, we reckon. The engaging visage of a man like the Grand Prieur was likely enough, not to say absolutely sure, to get a "drunken, red-faced" look before youth and he had very long parted company.

It is a kindly, humanising employ, however, to let imagination expatiate in the spring-time of any celebrated man's existence. For, be he who he may, and let time and care and sin and strife have altered him as they may, the man's life had its spring-tide, the man was once a child. Writers like Mr. Carlyle seldom miss an opportunity of showing us in infancy or boyhood the note-worthies they are concerned withal. The historian just named, for instance, in a glimpse he opens to us of the King of Prussia's visit at Loo in 1738, thus introduces the then infantine Charles of Brunswick: "His Majesty came on Sunday; goes on Wednesday, 'home now at a stretch; and, we hope, has had a good time of it here, these three days. Daughter Charlotte and her Serene Husband, well with their subjects, well with one another, are doing well; have already two little Children; a Boy, the elder, of whom we have heard; Boy's name is Karl, age now three; sprightly, reckoned very clever, by the fond parents;-who has many things to do in the world, by-and-by; to attack the French Revolution, and be blown to pieces by it on the Field of Jena, for final thing! That is the fate of little Karl, who frolics about here, so sunshiny and ingenuous at present."||

* Rise. This is not the only instance in which Crabbe puts the plural verb for the singular. He had loose principles, or else loose practice, in this matter. Rogers, Human Life.

† Crabbe's Tales: The Parting Hour.

§ Walpole to the Earl of Harcourt, May 18, 1781.

Carlyle's Hist. of Friedrich II. of Prussia, vol. ii. book x. ch. v.

It is a pleasant thing, as Mr. Lewes remarks, to think of Spinoza as a boy, playing at boyish games. "He has for so long been the bugbear of theologians and timid thinkers; he has for so long been looked upon as a monster, an atheist, and (to add to the horror) a Jewish atheist; and looked upon, even by those who were not so aghast at the consequences of his system, as nothing more than a frigid logician, that we dwell with singular pleasure on any more human aspect of his character."* In fact, it is always with sympathy we follow biographer or poet to contemplate his hero in embryo. Passages always tell, like that in Wordsworth's autobiographic poem, which record the writer's visit to Milton's room at Cambridge, and the picture he conjured up of that austere genius when yet in statu pupillari.

Yea, our blind Poet, who in his later day
Stood almost single; uttering odious truth-
Darkness before, and danger's voice behind,
Soul awful-if the earth has ever lodged
An awful soul-I seemed to see him here
Familiarly, and in his scholar's dress
Bounding before me, yet a stripling youth-
A boy, no better, with his rosy cheeks
Angelical, keen eye, courageous look,
And conscious step of purity and pride.†

(We need scarcely remind the reader how, for the only time in his life,
William Wordsworth was
"overcome on this occasion,-Milton the
cause and plea of his offending.)

Those who have lived long enough to observe the rise and progress of their juniors in life, and can compare notes of what the man now is with what he was as a child, must often be moved to mirth or lamentation, according as they are of the laughing or the crying philosopher's school. If they have been placed in circumstances to scrutinise close at hand the opening characters of those observed, and verify for themselves the maxim


The Child is father of the Man,

the greater will be their meditative interest in the transforming process and its mature result. Crabbe, in his "Borough" picture-gallery, presents us with a sagacious preparatory schoolmistress whose experiences have justified her previsions of this kind:

She early sees to what the mind will grow,
Nor abler judge of infant-powers I know...

.. Long has she lived, and much she loves to trace
Her former pupils, now a lordly race;
Whom when she sees rich robes and furs bedeck,
She marks the pride which once she used to check:
A burgess comes, and she remembers well
How hard her task to make his worship spell;
Cold, selfish, dull, inanimate, unkind,
"Twas but by anger he display'd a mind;
Now civil, smiling, complaisant, and gay,
The world has worn th' unsocial crust away;

* Biograph. Hist. of Philosophy, p. 384. (Edit. 1857.)
† Wordsworth, The Prelude, book iii.

That sullen spirit now a softness wears,
And, save by fits, e'en dulness disappears:
But still the matron can the man behold,
Dull, selfish, hard, inanimate, and cold.*

We fancy we can see his worship, with shining morning face, in prim preparatory petticoats, greedy and grasping, a stolid little sneak, the miniature mannikin when on the bench at school, of what he would expand into, in full-blown pomp and pride, on the bench at the TownHall.

The very first chronicle disembedded from Master Humphrey's Clock introduces us to "a very substantial citizen indeed," who united in his single person the dignities of wholesale fruiterer, alderman, commoncouncilman, and member of the worshipful company of Patten-makers. This very substantial dignitary, whose face, we are told, was like the full moon in a fog, who breathed like a heavy snorer, and whose voice in speaking came thickly forth, "as if it were oppressed and stifled by feather-beds," who trod the ground like an elephant, and ate and drank like "like nothing but an alderman as he was"-this ponderous personage, of corporation all compact, was however once a child. "This worthy citizen had risen to his great eminence from small beginnings. He had once been a very lean, weazen little boy, never dreaming of carrying such a weight of flesh upon his bones or of money in his pockets, and glad enough to take his dinner at a baker's door, and his tea at a pump. But he had long ago forgotten all this." The more shame for him, and the more the pity. Not to be envied is the elder's prosperous eld who willingly has forgotten tha the was once a child-unless, indeed, his childhood has been of that dreary, dismal sort,-real or quasi orphanage,which might warrant the assertion that he, for one, was never a child. On any other supposition, it is self-condemnation for any senior, howsoever potent, grave, or reverend, to own or affect indifference to his earliest self.

We ourselves while backward seeing
Gain a beauty and a bliss,
Which once more restores the being

That received a mother's kiss.‡

One of what we may call (after the Germans) the fantasy-pieces in the Chronicles of Clovernook,-a style in which Nathaniel Hawthorne is so approved a master,-records the birthday festival of a certain Maximus Mouse, whom, on the arrival of his fortieth year, we see in the act of entertaining nine-and-thirty guests: unbidden guests, who, whether he would or not, seat themselves at his board this day, and look-hard at, and, some of them, hard upon, the feast-giver. "For these nine-andthirty guests are the ghosts of the nine-and-thirty birthdays of the host: the birthdays past into the sepulchre of time, but rendered up for this day's awful festival-meeting their fortieth brother." On his right hand, innocent and beautiful, sits and smiles the ghost of his First Year: the spectre of the Twentieth faces him from the bottom of the table; and

Crabbe, The Borough, Letter XXXV.

† Master Humphrey's Clock: Introduction to the Giant Chronicles. Chauncy Hare Townshend, The Law of Love. VOL. XLVIII.


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the shade of the Thirty-ninth shoulders him close on the left. "Look at the host-the man of forty. With what regretful love, with what wondering tenderness he gazes at the babe at his right hand, the Twelvemonth Self. And that was he!

"And then his eye passes rapidly adown the file, saddening as it glances. And then he turns again to that bud of life upon his right, and sighs and smiles. And so along the table, watching that opening bud, unclosing in the Second, Third, Fourth, Sixth, Eighth, enlarging guest. And at the Ninth or Tenth again he pauses; for one of them may be the early time-mark between the happy thoughtlessness of childhood, and the sudden shadow of too early care."* There we leave him— not altogether in the mood that Wordsworth philosophically describes in the lines

A tranquillising spirit presses now

On my corporeal frame, so wide appears
The vacancy between me and those days
Which yet have such self-presence in my mind,
That, musing on them, often do I seem
Two consciousnesses, conscious of myself
And of some other Being.†

"C one summer

The same philosophy is touched on, and no more, in Mr. Chauncy Hare Townshend's "Three Gates"-where the poet is seen, day, watching a sportive boy, who with wild gleeful step did bound and stray about those bowers:"

I read within his heart: its throbbings said,
"How lovely is this world-how good, how fair!"
And for the moment my own bosom made,
Like his, an orison transcending prayer :
Then unto me strange memory did repair,
That I and that same child had once been one.
But soon again I changed to cloudy care,
Feeling how evil knowledge had o'erspun
My spirit, so that I far from myself had run.‡

This is the bitterness of the thought, of each man in his own heart, I too was once a child-and in every thoughtful man's case, the heart knoweth its own bitterness, how bitter it is. Other changes may be sad enough in their way-changes produced by outward and trying circumstances; but it is the inwrought change for the worse, the conscious decline from what one has been, what one fain would have been, what one fairly might have been, that gives the sharpest pang of all. The mere change of blithe childhood into lone and withered age has its own sterling pathos; and though humour blend with descriptions of it in fiction or fact, the pathos is quite patent to every kind soul. In Mrs. Gaskell's admirable photograph of country-town life, the narrator is looking over some old, old letters written by ancient Miss Jenkyns's mother, soon after the said Miss came into this troublesome world (out of which she was now just departed), and quotes one of these misspelt pieces of affection, with a not unkindly but matter-of-fact addendum of her own: "... the prettiest little baby that ever was seen!" affirms the letter.

"Dear mother, I

†The Prelude, book ii.: "School-time." The Three Gates: The Mystery of Evil.

* Chronicles of Clovernook.

wish you could see her! Without any parshality, I do think she will grow up a regular bewty!' I thought [this is the addendum] of Miss Jenkyns, grey, withered, and wrinkled; and I wondered if her mother had known her in the courts of heaven; and then I knew that she had, and that they stood there in angelic guise."* It is essentially the same pathos, though accidentally the strain we hear is in the higher mood of chivalry and wild romance, that gives beauty and force to Scott's wellknown lines, descriptive of the seeming Palmer "the faded palm-branch in whose hand, showed pilgrim of the Holy Land."

But his gaunt frame was worn with toil;
His cheek was sunk, alas the while!
And when he struggled at a smile,
His eye looked haggard wild.
Poor wretch! the mother that him bare,
If she had been in presence there,
In his wan face and sunburnt hair

She had not known her child.†

But, as we said, it is in the subjective change, the moral deterioration, the lapse from innocence and a lofty ideal to the dead level, or lower still, of the grovelling million,-in this it is that consists the worst pang awakened by remembrances of having been once a child. And it is the mournful commonness of this experience which brings keenly home to all hearts, in its humbling truthfulness, the poet's apostrophe to childhood,

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Thou vindication

Of God; thou living witness against all men
Who have been babes; thou everlasting promise
Which no man keeps.‡

The Norfolk Islander was once a child. The systematic, wholesale poisoner was once a child. The hoary Fagins, the rugged Bill Sykeses, the blackest blackguards and worst reprobates of society-shunned by her, banned by her, sent out of the world by her,-each of these sovereigns in scoundrelism was once a child. Nero, whose name is become a byword for all that is "base, brutal, bloody," was once a child. The historian records of him-after saying that "the loss of his fierce and brutal father, when he was but three years old, was certainly no matter of regret," and that his mother, Agrippina, had a princely sense of the duty which devolved upon her," The child was docile and affectionate, apt to learn and eager for praise."§ Like the parricide and suicide in one of Lovell Beddoes' tragedies:

A parricide

Here sleeps, self-slaughtered. 'Twas a thing of grace,
In his early infancy: I've known him oft
Outstep his pathway, that he might not crush
The least small reptile. But there is a time
When goodness sleeps; it came, and vice was grafted
On his young thoughts, and grew, and flourished there:
Envenomed passions clustered round that prop;
A double fruit they bore; a double fruit of death.||
Cranford, ch. v.

Sydney Dobell, The Roman.

Merivale, Romans under the Empire, vol. vi. ch. lii.
Thos. Lovell Beddoes, The Brides' Tragedy, Act II. Sc. 6.

† Marmion, canto i. st. xxviii.

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