I afterwards saw five or six of different ages
, the youngest not above two hundred years old, who were brought to me at several times by some of my friends; but although they were told, "that I was a great traveller, and had seen all the world," they had not the least curiosity to ask me a question; only desired "I would give them SLUMSKUDASK," or a token of remembrance; which is a modest way of begging, to avoid the law, that strictly forbids it, because they are provided for by the public, although indeed with a very scanty allowance.
The active moral impulse which Chaucer and Gower lacked, and a consequent direct confronting of the evils of the age, appear vigorously in the group of poems written during the last forty years of the century and known from the title in some of the manuscripts as 'The Vision of William Concerning Piers the Plowman.
In its own age the influence of 'Piers the Plowman' was very great.
What is the foundation of that interest all men feel in Greek history, letters, art, and poetry, in all its periods from the Heroic or Homeric age down to the domestic life of the Athenians and Spartans, four or five centuries later?
The student interprets the age of chivalry by his own age of chivalry, and the days of maritime adventure and circumnavigation by quite parallel miniature experiences of his own.
All the fictions of the Middle Age explain themselves as a masked or frolic expression of that which in grave earnest the mind of that period toiled to achieve.
Newton and Laplace need myriads of age and thick-strewn celestial areas.
I shall find in him the Foreworld; in his childhood the Age of Gold, the Apples of Knowledge, the Argonautic Expedition, the calling of Abraham, the building of the Temple, the Advent of Christ, Dark Ages, the Revival of Letters, the Reformation, the discovery of new lands, the opening of new sciences and new regions in man.
And there are compositions of the same strain to be found in the books of all ages.
Such things have continued to be made in all ages, and are now, wherever a healthy physique exists; but, as a class, from their superior organization, they have surpassed all.
Except that I still had some trouble with my wound, behold me now to all appearance one of the most enviable of existing mortals; promoted to the position of a wealthy gentleman; possessor of a house in London and of a country-seat in Perthshire; and, nevertheless, at twenty-three years of age, one of the most miserable men living!
The story of my life, in the interval between these two ages, is a story that can be soon told.