9 MAY 1840, Page 14


THANK God, great men must die!

This may not appear a very gracious sentiment, but we warrant it a very sound and a very philosophical one. If great men did not die, there never would be any more great men—that is, of the world's acknowledgment. For the world has a certain quantity of absorbing power in the way of admiration, and no more ; this will, as it were, hold a certain relative quantity of great men in solution, and then it is saturated ; mid after that you may throw in fifty of the choicest heroes, and an equal number of indisputable poets, and they only sink to the bottom of the glass.

In speaking of greatness and great men, we must not forget that they imply and include the idea of littleness and little men, which in feet are essential to the very existence of the former, whether as an idea or a fact. Great men must be admired, and little men must admire them. It is a proceeding founded in the laws of demand and supply ; the one want a commodity, and the others have it to give. But now it happens unfortunately that the little men, NOM require objects for their admiration, being so little, have but little wit, and if set to selecting their own idols, make such a work of it, that what the choice, "an dens an Dams," is often the purest result of accident ; or, if ever it comes to a poll, be sure it goes against the god. However, we do not intend a crusade against the tithe idols of public admiration ; that would be an interminable affitir : we only mean to show that the little men— whose propensity to admire, and, if possible, marvel at something superior to themselves in this world, is a happy circumstance for us all—do unfortunately not join any equal noes or discrimination in their choice of objects ; and that it is therefore desirable that they should by all means be led and persuaded in that business by better caterers.

This usually happens, in fact, in the long run. Vexed with the quantity of monkies and African hogs they have successively mistaken for "the king of the forest," and with certain knee-worship done to the same, which they would now willingly forget, the little men are not slow to accept the services of those a size larger than themselves, and are even not ungrateful when the latter, pointing to a particular den, say, " This is the lion." Oh! then, having found their lion a real lion,—having, moreover, chalked his cage and measured his tail, and traced his form on paper, that they may not to-morrow peradventure mistake him for the great baboon,— what bounds can they set to their praise and admiration of the wonderful animal? They praise him because he is a lion; they yectiou slate praise him because others praise him ; they praise hliamini

they never praised him before. In the midst of all which, one thing we discern p

a lion may count on being known eventually from boas and mon. kies, if he live long enough. Your great man, if he shall lisse gone through his appointed period of unthanked services and unhonoured afflictions—if he shall have weathered some forty years of scorn—comes to renown usually about his great climacteric, when, it being too late for retail justice, the generous world lumps all the cardinal virtues together, and makes him a present of them, "as a small tribute to a character it never understood, and never means to understaud, but which it will bennost happy to applaud to the last echo, having authority for it." And from that time forward your great man—if it be any compensation to hhn—may safely reckon on becoming (alas, that we should say it !) one of the most intolerable bores in the world l—a painful truth, but it must be spoken. Held in just estimation only by a few, thousands worship him as a god: his smallest word is oracular, his least action divine ; there is no other doctrine but his, no other principles or opinions that can or may be attended to. Wherever you go, he is thrown in your teeth : " he said it," is the clencher in any argument, after which nothing further can be urged. If you would cast off so severe a yoke, prepare to be persecuted by all the little men in society.

Thus, while the great man is "fooled to the top of his bent"— a process which he may or may not bear like a Hamlet—the public receives a much deeper v in the stop which is put to the due progress of improvement. To make the exact purport of our remarks clearer, we must choose an individual ease. "Great men" are claimed for all the pursuits of life, and may be statesmen, generals, poets, philosophers, and what not : we will choose a philosopher. Our philosopher, then, has toiled all his lite at plaisophy, and we suppose that his labours have fully earned him the appellation of a "great man ;" he has demolished many falsehoods and vulgar errors, and he has brought forward many truths; his opinions are bold and original, and he has contrived, as usual, to weave them into something like a whole texture. Of course he could not die without a system, so be has made one of those which lie thinks will do. This is the twin who, in his old age, without another idea in his head beyond the described circle, finds himself suddenly chucked into a throne, and made an object of homage to all the world. Progression is impossible to him now ; he has fulfilled his task on this earth—said all he had in him to say; he can but repeat the old lessons. Meanwhile the human mind is not stationary, but rejoicing in continual new intellectual discoveries; which many a young and vigorous spirit is impatient to put forth to the world, but finds itself repelled and prevented by the paralyzing state of public opinion, which, directed from those higher quarters, kills it either with hostility or with indifference.

We think we are beginning to be understood now, and that there is probably nd one of our readers in any rank of life, but especially in any profession—including the military and naval professions— that could not single out several "great men," who, with the monopoly of all public attention and admiration, at an age when their actions can no longer possibly image any former greatness, but are much more likely to produce mischief and inconvenience, offer both moral and physical obstructions to the progress of improvement, that cannot but be counted one of the worst amongst the petty evils of life, social or political.