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Edinburgh

LIBRARY

OF THE

RSITY OF MICHIG

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A SERIES OF ESSAYS ON LIFE, LITERATURE, AND MANNERS.

By the Author of 'The Caxton Family.'

PART XVII.

NO. XXIII.-POSTHUMOUS REPUTATION.

who entire forgetfulness would

be a

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POSTHUMOUS reputation! can honestly say that posthumous sharp pang to his human heart. reputation, in one sense of the He does not take leave of the earth phrase, is of no value in his eyes? without the yearning hope to retain If it were only heroes and poets, a cherished place in the love or those arch-cravers of renown, who esteem of some survivors, after his cared what was said of them after remains have been removed into death, our village burial-grounds the coffin and thrust out of sight would lack their tombstones.. A into the grave. The last "Vale certain desire for posthumous repu- were, indeed, a dreary word withtation is so general that we might out the softening adjuration, "Sis fairly call it universal. But I shall memor mei." Even criminals themattempt to show that, being thus uni- selves, in that confusion of reasonversal, it springs from sources which ing which appears inseparable from are common in human breasts, and crime, reconciled, in death as in not from that hunger for applause life, to names scorned by the honwhich is the exceptional character- est (who to them, indeed, form a istic of the candidates for Fame. strange and foreign race), still hope It grows out of the natural affec- for posthumous reputation among tions or the moral sentiment, rather their comrades, for qualities which than the reasonings of intellectual criminals esteem. ambition.

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The Pirates in Byron's poem are not content to sink, without such honours as pirates afford, into the ocean that "shrouds and sepulchres their dead."

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in the the craving, not of the heart nor of the moral sentiment, but rather of the intellect, and therefore limA day ited to those who have the skill Fide the and the strength to vie for the ing o'er palm awarded to the victor only when his chariot-wheels halt and styki exulted the race is done. Competitors are many; victors, alas! are few. Out

banish a de- of all the myriads who have ten> the affec- anted our earth, the number even where is the of eminent intellects which retain trained throughout place in its archives is startlingly var, car torn cynic small. The vast democracy of the se and say, “Let me dead are represented by an oligarchy Te dove the profitable credit to which that of Venice was liberal. and i care not if, after Although successive races of laboridant Dame be held that of a ous compilers and reverential antial of us, then, however humble, serve in dusty shelves the bones fur ovet posthumous reputation and fossils of every specimen of that we would fain be spoken and man which has left a vestige of its thought of with affection and esteem being in the layers and strata of those whose opinions we have the past, it were as well, to a lover beyond of fame, to sleep in his grave ig

pened, even when we are

vion- the suspense of a year, a

quarians do their utmost to pre

a for

Let us suppose some youthful

clasp of their hands. Such reputa- lorn fragment of what he once was, the sound of their voices and the nored, as to be dishumed tion may be (as with most of us it and catalogued alphabetically in a is) but a brief deferment of obli- Biographical Dictionary. month, a day, before the final can- poet whose heart is now beating cel and effacement of our footprint loud with "the immense desire of kindly reminiscence in some human angel lifts the veil of Futurity, and on the sands of Time. But some praise," to whom his guardian intuitively yearns to saith, "Thy name shall be prebequeath; and the hope of it com- served forts him as he turns his face to place in yon compendium of em

hearts man

the wall to die

from oblivion. Lo! its

balmed celebrities, which scholars

But if this be a desire common shall compile five centuries after must evidently rise out of the affec- The poet (his name be Jones) reads as to the great mass of our species, it thy decease. tious common to all-it is a desire follows under the letter J :

for love, not a

thirst

for glory.

Read and exult !"

"Jones, David, a British author

humous reputation; it is not the contemporaries, some few fragments understood by the phrase of post- many poems much esteemed by his This is not what is usually meant and in the reign of Victoria I. Wrote renowe accorded to the exceptional of which have been collected in the an intelligences which soar recent Anthology' of his learned abere the level of mankind. approach

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And and ingenious countryman, Profesa subject of no sor Morgan Apreece; and, though

interesting speculation — viz., the characterised by the faults prevain between that love for lent in his period, are not without ous though brief repute elegance and fancy. Died at Caeremanates from the affections marthen A.D. 1892." moral sentiment, and that Such would be a very honourable of posthumous and lasting mention more than is said in a which has been considered Biographical Dictionary of many a

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