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IN Boswell's Life of Johnson it is related
of OLIVER GOLDSMITH that he one day broke
his shins in attempting to show his friends
that he could perform a certain feat of
agility, which had conferred great celebrity
on a Clown who was the popular favourite of
the day. The anecdote is generally accepted,
with a high sense of relish, as one among
many other amusing proofs of Goldsmith's
ridiculous vanity. Speaking for myself, I
have never been able to look at it in that
light. I have always believed that the
misadventure to Goldsmith's shins was caused
by his acute sense of the neglected state of
his muscular education. He knew that he
possessed the same bodily apparatus as the
Clown; he was ashamed of not being able
to turn it to the same dexterous use; he
gallantly endeavoured to make up for
deficiencies in early training by self-directed
efforts in later life; and, like many another
man, who, in default of proper schooling,
has tried to teach himself, he failed in
accomplishing his meritorious purpose. Superficial
spectators, who could not look beyond the
broken shins, all burst out laughing at the
accident, and cried: There is his vanity again!
And, since that time, a superficial public has
unanimously echoed the exclamation.

Grateful remembrances of The Vicar of
Wakefield make me hope that I am right in
the view I take of this anecdote. At the
same time, common candour compels me to
confess that all public exhibitions of great
skill and dexterity have the same curious effect
on my own mind, which I suppose the Clown's
feat to have had on the mind of Goldsmith.
"When, for example, I attend the performances
of a conjuror; when I observe that his hands
are in every respect like mine; and when I
see the amazing uses to which he can put
them, I blush at the mortifying sight of my
own fingers and thumbs; I think of the
dormant dexterities which my parents never
cultivated, and which I can now never hope
to acquire; and I leave the entertainment,
secretly ashamed of my grossly ignorant
hands, and secretly relieved when I find myself
hiding them from the public eye in the
kindly refuge of my pockets.

It must be a very strong feeling indeed
which makes an Englishman ashamed of his
own legs. The observant reader who has
travelled abroad, will, I think, support me
when I assert that no respectable Frenchman,
German, or Italian, was ever yet seen
to bend his head down while walking in the
street, and survey the spectacle of his own
legs with a grave and vacant satisfaction.
The same observant reader, on returning to
London from foreign parts, cannot fail to
have noticed that all respectable Englishmen
perform this action, at one period or another
of their progress through the streets. It may
be that we admire our own legs as a nation;
or it may be that we are scrupulously anxious
to see that our trousers are properly brushed.
At any rate, there is no doubt of the fact
that the Englishman enjoys the sight of his
own legs in a state of progressionespecially
when they are taking him to Church.
National in all other matters, I used to be
national also in this. Some years since,
unfortunately for myself, I saw a famous
male opera-dancer. The sprightly leapings,
twistiugs, twirlings, and twinklings of those
incomparable and never-to-be-forgotten legs,
sank deep into my mind, and dried up in me
for ever, those sources of innocent national
enjoyment, to which I have referred, I hope,
with becoming tenderness and respect. I
left the theatre, so heartily disgusted with
the stolidity of my own uneducated legs, that
I have never had the courage or the curiosity
to look at them since.

Something of the same eccentric mental
operation has been lately stirred into action
within me by the perusal of a very remark-
able book which is just now interesting the
public in an unusual degree. I have been
following a narrative of great dangers and
trials, encountered in a good cause, by as
honest and as courageous a man as ever
lived. In other words, I have been reading
DOCTOR LIVINGSTONE'S Account of his Travels
in South Africa. What various results this
book may have produced upon the minds of
its very large circle of readers, I cannot pre-
tend to say. One of the results which it has
produced on my mind, is of a kind which I
suspect neither its author, its publisher, nor
its critics foresaw, when it was first presented
to the world. The effect of it on me has
been to lower my opinion of my own character