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George Burgess
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A Victorian Scrapbook

A Scrapbook of Newspaper Articles Compiled by George Burgess (1829-1905)

Victorian Culture and Life

1. Passion for Display
2. Family Courtesies
3. National Ideas of Paradise

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Transcript from original newspaper articles: -
Passion for DisplayPASSION FOR DISPLAY. – The world is crazy for show. There is not one person in a thousand who dares fall back on nothing but his real simple self for power to get through the world, and to extract enjoyment as he goes along. There is too much of that living in the eyes of other people. There is no end to the aping, the mimicry, the false airs, and the superficial arts. It requires rare courage, we admit, to live up to one’s enlightened convictions in these times. Unless you consent to join in the general cheat, you are jostled out of reach, there is no room for you among the great mob of pretenders. If a man dares to live considerably within his means, and is resolute in his purpose not to appear more than he, really is, let him be applauded, for there is something fresh and rare in such an example.

In the family the law of pleasing ought to extend from the highest to the lowest. You are bound to please your children; and your children are bound to please each other; and you are bound to please your servants, if you expect them to please you. Some men are pleasant in the household, and nowhere else. I have known such men. They were good fathers, and kind husbands. If you had seen them in their own home you would have thought they were almost angels; but if you had seen them in the street, or in the counting-house, or anywhere else outside of their own house, you would have thought them almost demoniac. But the opposite is apt to be the case. When we are among our neighbours, or among strangers, we hold ourselves with self-respect, and endeavour to act with propriety; but when we get home, we say to ourselves, “I have played a part long enough, and now I am going to be natural.” So we sit down, and are ugly, and snappish, and blunt, and disagreeable. We lay aside those little courtesies that make the roughest floor smooth, that make the hardest things like velvet, and that make life pleasant. We expand all our politeness in places where it will be profitable – where it will bring silver and gold.

THE Laplander believes Paradise to be situated in the centre of the snows of Sweden. The Muscogulgees imagine it among the islands of the vast Pacific. The Mexicans conceived that those who died of wounds, or were drowned, went to a cool and delightful place, there to enjoy all manner of pleasure; those who died in battle or captivity were wafted to the palace of the sun, and led a life of endless delight. After an abode of four more years in this splendid habitation, they animate clouds and birds of beautiful feather, and or sweet song; having at the same time liberty to ascend to heaven, or descend to earth, to such sweet flowers, and warble enchanting songs. The Tonquinese imagine the forest and the mountains to be peopled with a peculiar kind of genii, who exercise and influence over the affairs of mankind; and in their ideas relative to a state of future happiness, they regard a delightful climate, and atmosphere surcharged with a throne profusely covered with garlands of flowers, as the summit of earthly felicity. Among the Arabs, a fine country, with abundance of shade, forms the principal object of their promised bliss. There is a tribe of America who believe that the souls of good men are conveyed to a pleasant valley, abounding the guavas and other delicious fruits. The heaven of the Celts was called “Flashinnis,” the “island of the good and brave;” their hell, “Ilfurin,” “the island of cold climate.” While the Druids, as we are informed by Ammianus Marcellus, believed that the souls of good men were wafted, in progressive course, from planet to planet, enjoying, at every successive change, a more sublime felicity than in the last.