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TABLE TALK.

IT

T is no business of mine to dilate upon the breadth of view, the

accuracy of statement, and the clearness of utterance which mark Mr. Justin McCarthy's now completed “ History of Our Own Times.” As a matter of permanent interest it seems worth while to notice the influence over the style of that familiarity with fiction which is to be expected in the author of “Miss Misanthrope,” “Donna Quixote,” and “Dear Lady Disdain.” I know of no work of solid thought and learning, such as this may claim to be, which is so eminently happy in the illustrations from past literature it affords. A few only of those which have struck me in the pleasant task of perusal shall be mentioned. When, in 1858, Lord Palmerston was turned from office by that Peace party he had derided, Mr. McCarthy's reflection, drawn from Othello, is, “ Cassio hath beaten thee, and thou by that small hurt hast cashiered Cassio." Sir John Wrottesley, in a debate upon the Removal of Jewish Disabilities, declared that “when it was notorious that seats were to be had in that House for money, he could not consent to allow any one to become a member who was not also a Christian.” To this statement Mr. McCarthy appends a quotation from Master Slender, “If I be drunk, I'll be drunk with those that have the fear of God, and not with drunken knaves.” England's intervention in the affairs of Poland rendered, he holds, the same service to Poland " that the interposition of Don Quixote did for the boy whose master was fogging him.” Mr. Layard out of office is described as a swashbuckler and soldado of parliamentary conflict, “a very Drawcansir of political debate.” It would be easy to multiply instances of this singular facility, but those I have supplied will serve to indicate its nature. The only point on which I feel disposed to break a lance with Mr. McCarthy is a propos of his statement in his very interesting summary of literary effort during the period with which he deals, that “We have had no great poet in these latter days.” As I cannot fight out the matter with Mr. McCarthy, I will simply express my dissent from his opinion.

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to say that we have passed over, almost without allusion, some of the most hideous of the revelations. We have kept ourselves to abominations which, at all events, bear to be spoken of." I wish editors of newspapers would be equally reticent. Not long ago some shameful revelations concerning proceedings in Manchester brought to the knowledge of thousands the existence in modern society of offences supposed by the majority of men to be characteristic of past times, and stirred in others a large amount of unhealthy curiosity. In every newspaper office there should be written up the splendidly solemn argument of Sir Thomas Browne, in a chapter of his "Enquiries into Vulgar and Common Errors,” entitled “Of some relations whose truth we fear.” These noble words are as follows : “Many other accounts like these” (foregoing) “we meet sometimes in history, scandalous unto Christianity, and even unto humanity; whose verities not only but whose relations honest minds do deprecate. For of sins heteroclitical, and such as want either name or precedent, there is ofttimes a sin even in their histories. We desire no records of such enormities; sins should be accounted new, that so they may be esteemed monstrous. They omit of monstrosity as they fall from their rarity ; for men count it veniall to err with their forefathers, and foolishly conceive they divide a sin in its society. The pens of men may sufficiently expatiate without these singularities of villany; for as they increase the hatred of vice in some, so do they enlarge the theory of wickedness in all. And this is one thing that may make latter ages worse than were the former. For the vicious examples of ages past poyson the curiosity of these present, affording a hint of sin unto seduceable spirits and soliciting those unto the imitation of them whose heads were never so perversely principled as to invent them. In this kind we commend the wisdom of Galen, who would not leave unto the world too subtile a theory of poysons, unarming thereby the malice of venomous spirits, whose ignorance must be contented with sublimate and arsenick. For surely there are subtiler venenations such as will invisibly destroy, and like the Basilisks of Heaven. In things of this nature silence commendeth History ; 'tis the veniable part of things lost, wherein there must never rise a Pancirollus nor remain any register but that of liell.”— “Pseudodoxia Epidemica,” Bk. vji. cap. 19, PP. 315-16, ed. 1686.

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MONG questions of the day, the inquiry, "What is to be done

with juvenile offenders?” is one of the most difficult and perplexing. The rod, with all due respect to the Preacher, is not an unfailing deterrent, and its administration for all classes of offence is not to be seriously advocated. That imprisonment, as it is now

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administered, is, in the case of juvenile offenders, an abominable penalty is conceded. Fines fall upon the parent, and it is a terrible business for a mother, earning her own livelihood and that of her children, to find herself called upon to pay a pecuniary mulct for one who, by his previous extravagance, has possibly half ruined her. Yet some penalty which the boy fears has to be inflicted, or juvenile gamesomeness and mischief, seldom too pleasant in their manifestations, will come to rank as serious evils. Let the boy know that the law cannot touch him, and he will soon show you the extent of his capacity for annoyance. Not much preferable for residential purposes over an English city in the 17th century, when the Mohocks were abroad, and when, to use the words of Milton, there

Issued forth the sons
Of Belial flown with insolence and wine

a French town in German occupation, or an Irish borough through which a religious party procession is passing, would be a city like London, if once its youth should learn that the laws cannot reach it. It should surely be within the reach of ingenuity to establish a species of prison in which a boy should be kept from the terribly degrading effects of association with hardened criminals, and yet should be in a state of so complete wretchedness that the inexpediency of returning to such a place would be forced upon him. Some one-I do not recall whom-has said that the entire problem of civilisation has to be fought out again in the education of the boy. A period of subjection is, in the case of a people, an ordinary preliminary to civilisation. A similar experience, judiciously applied, so far from harming a boy, would probably facilitate his acquisition of the lessons it is sought to teach him.

MR.

R. THOMAS HUGHES is stated, in a lecture at Philadel

phia, entitled “ The Crookedest Stick in all the Pileourselves,” to have given utterance to the following sentiment, “I would rather be read in America than paid.” Whether we should be quite justified in quoting Mr. Hughes's own opinion that he is “a stick” is doubtful; but it is certain that his head was turned early in life by exaggerated praise, and that the adulation of a clique has since prevented it from assuming its original position. In order to conciliate the Yankees, at the expense of the dead, he did not hesitate at the beginning of his tour to tell them that the great Satirist and Observer of mankind who wrote Martin Chuzzlewit" went through America with his eyes shut.” And now, on his return, he suggests that piracy, in literature, is no blot upon the American

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name. “I would rather be read in America than paid.” Perhaps, sooner than not be read, he would prefer to pay them to read him.

THE

HE French, always witty, are beginning to be humorous,

though, it must be confessed, after a rather ghastly manner. One comes to the Morgue to enquire after a lost relative. “ Has he any peculiarity by which he can be recognised ?” enquires the official. “Yes, Monsieur; he is dumb."

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OT so unexpected, because more characteristic, is the

amusing hiatus which they pretend to have discovered in their Statistics of Marriage. There are, it seems, 7,587,259 married men in France, and only 7,567,080 married women. “What has become," asks the Parisian, of the balance ? ”

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VEN Victor Hugo exhibits a vein of unconscious humour.

“I am conscious of having worked," he says, “and I shall go into the Infinite untroubled : but I have more books to write than I have already written.” In this case all our Life Assurance Companies are based upon false calculations.

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give a receipt in acknowledgment of a communication is

common enough, to give one for an excommunication is rare. The last and best example of French humour is the offering by a police officer, engaged in dissolving the religious communities, of a legal acknowledgment in return for an anathenia ; anything so methodical and business-like in reply to the thunders of the Vatican has never yet been attempted. If it is not offering the other cheek to the smiter, it is at any rate giving a good deal of cheek. And all done so coolly : except for the stamp on the document, there does not seem to have been a sign of irritation.

'HE Duke of Cambridge is very enthusiastic about the private

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coat should shut out its wearer “from any place to which the public have access," and demands his admission. Yet, is there any officer in her Majesty's service who would mix socially with his men ? A soldier belongs to an honourable calling ; but so does the railway porter and the mechanic. There is nothing in the trade of war which gives its professor better manners than other people. Indeed, to speak the truth, experience seems to point the other way.

SYLVANUS URBAN,

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