A Morning's Walk from London to Kew by Phillips, R. (Richard), Sir
A MORNING'S WALK FROM
LONDON TO KEW.
By SIR RICHARD PHILLIPS.
PRINTED BY J. ADLARD, 23, BARTHOLOMEW-CLOSE; SOLD BY JOHN SOUTER, 1, PATERNOSTER-ROW; AND BY ALL BOOKSELLERS.
The Author of the following Observations, made during #A MORNING'S WALK#, will doubtless be allowed to possess but a moderate degree of literary ambition. He has not qualified himself, by foreign travels, to transport his readers above the clouds, on the Andes, the Alps, or the Apennines; to alarm them by descriptions of Earthquakes, or Eruptions; or to astonish them by accounts of tremendous Chasms, Caverns, and Cataracts: but he has restricted his researches to subjects of home scenery, which thousands can daily examine after him; and consequently has not enjoyed that _latitude_ of fancy, or been able to exercise any of those rare powers of _hearing_ and _seeing_, by means of which travellers into distant regions are enabled to stimulate curiosity and monopolize fame.
The class of readers who seek for sources of pleasure beyond the ordinary course of nature, will therefore feel disappointment in attempting to follow a pedestrian tourist through a route so destitute of wonders. Nor will this feeling, it is to be feared, be confined to searchers after supernatural phenomena in regard to the facts which appertain to such a work. In the sentiments which accompany his narrations, it will be found that the Author, accustomed to think for himself, admits no standards of truth superior to the evidence of the senses and the deductions of reason; consequently, that his conclusions on many important topics are at variance with existing practices, whenever it appears they have no better foundation than the continuity of prejudices and the arbitrary laws of custom. He therefore entertains very serious doubts whether his work will be acceptable to those #learned Professors# in Universities, who teach no doctrines or opinions but those of their predecessors; or whether it will suit #Students#, whose advancement depends on their submission to the dogmata of such superiors. He questions whether it will ever be quoted as an authority by #Statesmen# who consider the will of princes as standards of wisdom;--by #Legislators# who barter away their votes, and decide on the presumed integrity of ministers and leaders;--by #Politicians# who banish the moral feelings from their practices;--or by #Economists# who do not consider individual happiness as the primary object of their calculations. Nor is he more sanguine that his work will prove agreeable to those #Natural Philosophers# who account for phenomena by the operation of virtues or influences which have no mechanical contact;--or to those #Metaphysicians# who conceive that truth can be exhibited only in the sophistical subtleties of the schools displayed in the mazy labyrinths of folios and quartos;--or to those #Theologians# who maintain that the obligations of reason and morality are superseded by those of Faith. While, in regard to those #Topographers# and #Antiquaries# whose studies are bounded by dates of erection, catalogues of occupants, and copies of tomb-stones;--to those #Naturalists# who receive delight from enumerations of Linnaean names of herbs, shrubs, and trees, and from Wernerian descriptions of rocks;--to those #Bibliomaniacs# who value a book in the inverse ratio of the information it contains;--and to those #learned Philologists# who see no beauties in modern tongues, and affect to find (_but without anticipating any of them_,) all modern discoveries of Natural Philosophy in Homer, and all improvements of mental Philosophy in the mysteries of Plato--the author deeply laments his utter inability to accommodate either his taste, his feelings, or his conclusions.
In regard to the spirit, tone, and character of the author's opinions, they have necessarily emanated from the state of knowledge, in an era when, at the termination of four centuries after the adoption of Printing, mankind have achieved _four_ great objects; (1,) in the #REVIVAL# of Literature, and #REGENERATION# of Philosophy; (2,) in the #EMANCIPATION# of Christendom from the systematic thraldom of Popery; (3,) in the assertion of #THE RIGHTS OF MAN#, against overwhelming usurpations; and (4,) in the establishment of #A SPIRIT OF FREE ENQUIRY#, which constitutes the vivifying energy of the age in which we live, and promises the most important results in regard to the future condition and happiness of the human race.
The accomplishment of these circumstances has generated, in all countries, a numerous class of readers, among whom are many #Professors#, #Philosophers#, #Statesmen#, #Politicians#, #Theologians#, #Antiquaries#, #Naturalists#, and #eminent Scholars#; besides #Amateurs# of general Literature, with whose taste, feelings, and principles, the Author of this volume is anxious to identify his own, and whose favourable opinion he is ambitious to enjoy;--these are the free and honest searchers after #MORAL#, #POLITICAL#, and #NATURAL TRUTH#,--the votaries of #COMMON SENSE#,--the patients of their #NATURAL SENSIBILITIES#,--all, who are neither #TOO OLD#, #TOO POWERFUL#, nor #TOO WISE#,--and, finally, all those #WHO PASS THEIR LIVES IN SEARCH OF HAPPINESS#, and who are not unwilling to be pleased, in whatsoever form, or by whomsoever the attempt may be made:
TO SUCH ESTIMABLE PERSONS, IN ALL COUNTRIES, AND IN ALL SITUATIONS, THE AUTHOR RESPECTFULLY DEDICATES THIS VOLUME.
_Holloway, Middlesex;_ _February 8, 1817._
#St. James's Park# Beggars Milk Fair Regent's Palace Washington and Alfred Public Offices Military Slaves Country Residents St. James's Palace Promenade in the Mall Suggested Improvements #Pimlico# The Ty-bourn Isle of St. Peter's #Chelsea# Ranelagh Chelsea Buns ---- Hospital Villany of War Invalid without Arms A Centenarian Securities of Peace Caesar's Ford The Botanic Garden Don Saltero's Sir Thomas More Sir Hans Sloane #Battersea# Waste of Public Wealth Cupidity of Trade Insufficiency of Wealth Mr. Brunel's Saw Mills ---- Shoe Manufactory Evils of Machinery Lord Bolingbroke's House York House An American Aloe Reflections on Pride #Wandsworth# Phenomena of Rivers Distilleries and Drunkenness Haunted House Causes of Superstition Population of Villages Iron-Rail Roads Borough of Garrat Garrat Elections Value of Popular Elections An Oil Mill An Iron Foundry Inutility of Machinery Demon of War A Country Assembly Vice of Balloting Plan for rendering Society social Characteristics of Novels ---- Villages round London Condition of Poverty Poverty and Wealth contrasted Inadequate Remuneration of Labour Visit to Wandsworth Workhouse Philosophy of Roads Cruelty to Horses Value of good Foot-paths Citizen's Villas Axioms of Political Economy #Putney Heath# The Smoke of London Earl Spencer's Park Hartley's Fire-House Means of Preventing Fires in Houses, and on Female Dress The Telegraph System Suggested Extension of Interesting Prospect Reflections on the Metropolis Criminal Neglect of Statesmen Removal of Misery Death and Character of Mr. Pitt Indifference of Statesmen Fruit Trees preferable to Lumber Trees #Roehampton# Monastic Dwellings Inhabitants of Cottages Humility of Pride Pilton's Invisible Fences House and Character of Mr. Goldsmid Destructive Electric Storm Nature of Electricity investigated Secondary Causes discussed Security against Lightning The District described Dundas and Tooke contrasted #Barnes# Its Poor-House on a Common Wretchedness of Parish-Poor Geology of Barnes-Common Fitness and Harmony of Things Kit-Cat Club Rooms Tonson the Bookseller Effect of distant Bells Chiswick Church Barnes Church Enclosed Cemeteries Benevolence of Mr. Morris Tragedy of the Count and Countess D'Antraigues Horticultural Speculation of the Marquis de Chabannes Supply of London with Vegetables Shropshire and Welsh Girls Neglect of Public Cleanliness Cleanliness an Incentive of Virtue #Mortlake# Tomb of Partridge Pretensions of Astrology Doctrines of Fatality examined Free-Will and Necessity discussed Success of Predictions referable to the Doctrine of Chances Art of Fortune-Telling illustrated Tomb and Character of Alderman Barber Union and Multiplication of the Human Race Mortlake Church Picture of Parochial Happiness Cause of its Failure Genuine Religion characterized Vulgar Notions of Churches Belief in Ghosts exploded Reflections on the Deity Effluvia of Dead Bodies Impostures of Dr. Dee Virtues of Sir John Barnard Tomb of the Viscountess Sidmouth False Foundation of the late War Lesson to Mankind Patriotism of the Common Council of London Improved Psalmody of Gardiner Religious Statistics of Mortlake Uses and Abuses of Church Bells Dee's House Female Education discussed General Causes of Human Errors Proposed Improvement of Education Manufactory of Delft Ware Progress of the Arts Archiepiscopal Residence Mercy dispensed by the Catholic Priesthood Food and Charity by the same Enormous Walnut-Trees Box-Tree Arbour Disinterment of the Dead Abundant Manure of Religious Houses Reflections on Past Ages Origin of Superstition Progress of Mythology Intolerance of Philosophical Schools Invocation to Philosophy The Author's System of Physics Popular Schools recommended Addresses of Females Changes wrought by Rivers Alternate Conversion of Land and Sea The Primitive Earth Origin of Organization Laws of Inorganic Matter ---- Vegetable Existences ---- Loco-Motive Existences Principle of Vitality Questions of the First Philosophy Compatibility, Fitness, and Harmony, illustrated The Tides explained Phenomena of Rivers Causes of Sterility The Errors of Man in Society Interview with Gipsies Social Slavery characterized Gipsy Fortune-telling illustrated Instance of Vulgar Terror Kew Priory described #Kew# Its Chapel Tomb of Meyer Church Fees Tomb of Gainsborough Comparison of Poetry and Painting Tomb of Zoffany ---- Hogarth ---- Thomson The Author's Reflections and Conclusion
*.* _To guard the work against some apparent anachronisms, it is proper to state, that the substance of the following Pages appeared in various Numbers of the Monthly Magazine, between the Years 1813 and 1816. In reprinting, in this form, many interpolations have been made, and some subjects of a temporary nature have been omitted: but it was often impossible, in treating of local situations, to avoid some reference to temporary circumstances._
A MORNING'S WALK FROM LONDON TO KEW.
We roam into unhealthy climates, and encounter difficulties and dangers, in search of curiosities and knowledge, although, if our industry were equally exerted at home, we might find in the tablets of Nature and Art, within our daily reach, inexhaustible sources of inquiry and contemplation. We are on every side surrounded by interesting objects; but, in nature, as in morals, we are apt to contemn self-knowledge, to look abroad rather than at home, and to study others instead of ourselves. Like the French Encyclopaedists, we forget our own Paris; or, like editors of newspapers, we seek for novelties in every quarter of the world, losing sight of the superior interests of our immediate vicinity.
These observations may perhaps serve as a sufficient apology for the narrative which follows:--existing notions, the love of the sublime, and the predilections above described, render it necessary for a _home_ tourist to present himself before the public with modesty. The readers of voyages round the whole world, and of travels into unexplored regions of Africa and America, will scarcely be persuaded to tolerate a narrative of an excursion which began at nine in the morning and ended at six in the afternoon of the same day! Yet such, truly, are the _Travels_ which afford the materials of the present narrative; they were excited by a fine morning in the latter days of April, and their scene was the high-road lying between #London# and #Kew#, on the banks of the Thames.
With no guide besides a map of the country round the metropolis, and no settled purpose beyond what the weather might govern, I strolled towards St. James's Park. In proceeding between the walls from Spring Gardens, I found the lame and the blind taking their periodical stations on each side of the passage.--I paused a few minutes to see them approach one after another as to a regular calling; or as players to take their stations and _enact_ their settled parts in this drama. One, a fellow, who had a withered leg, approached his post with a cheerful air; but he had no sooner seated himself, and stripped it bare, than he began such hideous moans as in a few minutes attracted several donations. Another, a blind woman, was brought to her post by a little boy, who carelessly leading her against the step of a door, she petulantly gave him a smart box of the ear, and exclaimed, "D----n you, you rascal, can't you mind what you're about;"--and then, leaning her back to the wall, in the same breath, she began to chaunt a _hymn_, which soon brought contributions from many pious passengers.
The systematic movements of these people led me to inquire in regard to their conduct and policy from an adjacent shop-keeper, who told me, that about a dozen of them obtained a good living in that passage; that an attendance of about two hours per day sufficed to each of them, when, by an arrangement among themselves, they regularly succeed each other. He could not guess at the amounts thus collected, but he said, that he had once watched a noisy blind fellow for half an hour, and in that time saw thirty-four people give him at least as many halfpence; he thence, and from other observations, concluded that in two or three hours each of them collects five or six shillings! We cannot wonder then at the aversion entertained by these unhappy objects to the indiscriminate discipline of our common work-houses; nor can we blame the sympathy of those benevolent persons who contribute their mite to relieve the cries of distress with which they are assailed. But it excites our wonder and grief that statesmen, who have superfluous means for covering the country with barracks, should find themselves unable to establish comfortable asylums for all the poor who are incurably diseased, in which they should be so provided for, that it would be as criminal in them to ask, as in others to afford them, eleemosynary relief.
On my entrance into the Park, I was amused and interested by an assemblage of a hundred mothers, nurses, and valetudinarians, accompanied by as many children, who are drawn together at this hour every fine morning by the metropolitan luxury of milk warm from the cow. Seats are provided, as well as biscuits, and other conveniences, and here from sun-rise till ten o'clock continues a _milk fair_, distinguished by its peculiar music in the _lowing_ of cows, and in the discordant _squalling_ of the numerous children. The privilege of keeping these cows, and of selling their milk on this spot, belongs to the gate-keepers of the Park; and it must be acknowledged to be a great convenience to invalids and children, to whom this wholesome beverage and its attendant walk are often prescribed.
On the right hand stands the garden-wall of the puny, though costly, palace of the Regent, Prince of Wales. It is, however, fortunate, that it is not larger, if the expenditure of palaces, like that of private houses, were to keep pace with their bulk. The inside is adorned like the palace of Aladin; and a better notion of its splendour may be formed, by stating that it has cost the labours of twenty thousand men for a year, or of one thousand for twenty years, than that above a million sterling has at different times been expended upon the building and furniture. Yet, it is said that it forms but the eastern wing of a palace, which the architects of this Prince have projected, and that half the south side of Pall-Mall and considerable tracts of the Park will be appropriated to complete their plans, if approved by their royal patron. I am aware, that the love of shew in princes, and persons in authority, is often justified by the alledged necessity of imposing on the vulgar; but I doubt whether any species of imposition really produces the effect which the pomp of power is so willing to ascribe to it, as an excuse for its own indulgences. Nor ought it ever to be forgotten, that no tinsel of gaudy trappings, no architectural arrangements of stone or wood, no bands of liveried slaves, (however glossed in various hues, or disguised by various names,) can sustain the glory of any power which despises public opinion, forgets the compact between all power and the people, violates the faith of public treaties, and measures its moral obligations, not by the sense of justice, but by considerations of expediency and self-interest! On this important, though almost exhausted, topic, it should be known by all Princes who covet true glory, that #Washington the Great# hired no armed men to sustain his power, that his habits were in all things those of a private citizen, and that he kept but one coach, merely for occasions of state--his personal virtues being his body-guards--the justice of his measures constituting the strength of his government,--the renown of his past deeds enshrining him with more splendour than could be conferred by the orders of all the courts in Europe--his unquestionable love of public liberty endearing him to the people over whom he presided--and the pure flame of his patriotism causing him to appear in their eyes as a being more than mortal! Britain might envy America her #Washington#, if she could not herself boast of #an Alfred#, worthy also of being called #the Great#--a sovereign who voluntarily conceded liberty to his people, and founded it on bases which all the inglorious artifices of his successors have been unable to undermine--but, alas! such men, like Epic poets, seem destined to succeed but once in a thousand years!
On the left hand I beheld, in various magnificent erections, the germs of innumerable associations, gratifying to the vice of national pride; but affording little pleasure to one whose prejudices of principle, and habits of thinking, have taught him to estimate all human labours by their influence on the happiness of the sentient creatures to whom the earth is a common inheritance. There was #the British Admiralty#--the just pride of a people's defence against foreign invaders--but less worthy of admiration, if ever used as an instrument of ambition, or as a means of gratifying base passions. There was the #British War-Office#, of which a Briton can say little, who doubts the policy of the colonial system, who feels a conviction that "Britain's best bulwarks are her wooden walls," and who thinks that the sword should never be wielded but by citizen soldiers, nor ever be used till the constable's staff has been exerted in vain. And there was #the British Treasury#, the talisman of whose power has destroyed the efficacy of title-deeds, and converted the land and houses of the empire into paper-money and stock-debts, for the purpose of carrying on wars and performing deeds, which impartial history will justly characterize, when alas! the truth will be useless to the suffering victims!
Just at this moment I beheld several bands of armed men, disguised in showy liveries, drawn up in array to exercise themselves for combat. But, having no taste for such mistakes of power, and being in no degree deluded by the gloss of their clothes, the glitter of their murderous weapons, or the abuse of celestial harmony in the skill of their musicians, I silently invoked the energies of truth to remove from the understandings of men, that cloud which permits such illusions to be successful. No legitimate power, like that of the government of England, founded on such bases as Magna Charta, the laws of Edward the First, the Petition of Right, the Bill of Rights, and the Act of Settlement, can, for its lawful purposes, ever stand in need, in a properly educated community, of the support of a single man armed with a murderous weapon.
These piles of buildings, ranged in a semi-circular form, are imposing on, the eye from their magnitude, and on the imagination from their fame. I paused to enjoy their perspective; but, is not senseless #WAR#, I exclaimed, even now ravaging or disturbing the four quarters of the world, and is it not from this scite that it receives its impulse and direction? I charitably hoped that mere errors of judgment had guided the councils of the men who inhabit these buildings--but I sickened as I thought of the consequences of their errors, perhaps at that moment displayed in distant parts of the earth in agonies of despair and in smoking ruins--and, to avoid the succession of feelings which were so painful, yet so unavailing, I turned away from the spot.
In my way towards and along the Mall, I remarked that few were walking in my direction; but that all the faces and foot-steps were earnestly directed towards London. The circumstance exemplified that feature of modern manners which leads thousands of those who are engaged in the active business of the metropolis to sleep, and to keep their families, in neighbouring villages. These thousands walk or ride, therefore, every day to and from London, at hours corresponding with the nature and urgency of their employments. Before nine o'clock the various roads are covered with clerks of the public offices, and with bankers' and merchants' clerks, who are obliged to be at their posts at that hour, all exhibiting in their demeanor the ease of their hearts. From nine till eleven, you see shop-keepers, stock-brokers, lawyers, and principals in various establishments, bustling along with careful and anxious countenances, indicative of their various prospects and responsibilities. At twelve, saunters forth the man of wealth and ease, going to look at his balances, orders, or remittances; or merely to read the papers and hear the news; yet demonstrating the folly of wealth by his gouty legs, or cautious rheumatic step. Such is the routine of the Park, along which no carriages are allowed to pass; but other avenues into the metropolis present, through every forenoon, besides lines of pedestrians, crowded stage-coaches, private coaches, and chariots, numerous gigs and chaises, and many equestrians.
I amused myself with a calculation of the probable number of persons who thus every day, between eight and six, pass to and from London within a distance of seven miles. In the present route I concluded the numbers to be something like the following, 200 from Pimlico, 300 from Chelsea, 200 from the King's Road and Sloane Street, 50 from Fulham and Putney, and 50 from Battersea and Wandsworth; making 800 per day. If then, there are twenty such avenues to the metropolis, it appears that the total of the regular ingress and egress will be 16,000 persons, of whom perhaps 8,000 walk, 2,000 arrive in public conveyances, and 6,000 ride on horseback, or in open or close carriages. Such a phenomenon is presented no-where else in the world; and it never can exist except in a city which unites the same combined features of population, wealth, commerce, and the varied employments which belong to our own vast metropolis.
I observed with concern that this Park presents a neglected appearance. The seats are old and without paint, and many vacancies exist in the lines of the trees. The wooden railing round the centre is heavy and decayed, and the appearance of every part is unworthy of a metropolitan royal domain, adjoining the constant residence of the court. I was also struck with the aspect of St. James's Palace in ruins! A private dwelling after a fire would have been restored in a few weeks or months; but the nominal palace of the four preceding sovereigns of England, the last of the Stuarts and three first of the Guelphs, and the scene of their chief grandeur, presents even to the contemporary generation a monument of the instability of every human work. The door at which Margaret Nicholson made her attempt on the life of George the Third, and at which the people were used to see that monarch enter and depart for many years past, is now a chaos of ruins; as is that entire suite of apartments which led to those drawing-rooms in which the Court was accustomed to assemble, till within these five years, on birth and gala days!--He would have been deemed a false and malignant prophet, who seven years ago might have foretold that the public Palace of the Kings of England would so soon become a heap of unrepaired ruins, and its splendid chambers "the habitation of the fowls of the air." Yet, such has been the fact, in regard to the eastern apartments of this famous Palace!
My spirits sunk, and a tear started into my eyes, as I brought to mind those crowds of beauty, rank, and fashion, which, till within these few years, used to be displayed in the centre Mall of this Park on Sunday evenings during the spring and Summer. How often in my youth had I been a delighted spectator of the enchanted and enchanting assemblage! Here used to promenade, for one or two hours after dinner, the whole British world of gaiety, beauty, and splendour! Here could be seen in one moving mass, extending the whole length of the Mall, five thousand of the most lovely women, in this country of female beauty, all splendidly attired, and accompanied by as many well-dressed men! What a change, I exclaimed, has a few years wrought in these once happy and cheerful personages!--How many of those who on this very spot then delighted my eyes are now mouldering in the silent grave!--And how altered are all their persons, and perhaps their fortunes and feelings! Alas, that gay and fascinating scene no longer continues, and its very existence is already forgotten by the new generation! A change of manners has put an end to this unparalleled assemblage, to this first of metropolitan pleasures, though of itself it was worth any sacrifice. The dinner hour of four and five, among the great, or would-be great, having shifted to the unhealthy hours of eight or nine, the promenade after dinner, in the dinner full-dress, is consequently lost. The present walk in the Green-Park does not possess therefore the attractions of high rank; while the morning assemblages in Hyde-Park and Kensington-Gardens, though gay and imposing, have little splendour of dress, and lose the effect produced by the presence of rank and distinguished character, owing to the greater part of the company being shut up in carriages.
The modern custom of abandoning the metropolis for the sea-coast, or the country, as soon as the fine weather sets in, operates too as another draw-back from the fascination and agreeableness of our Sunday promenades. Ancient manners, in the capricious whirl of fashion, may however again return; and, if the dinner-hour should recede back to four, I trust the luxury and splendour of this delightful Mall will be restored.
These Parks may be denominated the Lungs of the metropolis, for they are essential to the healthful respiration of its inhabitants, by contributing to their cheap and innocent pleasures. Under a wise and benevolent administration, they might be made to add still more to the public happiness, and it would be a suitable homage of the government to the people, to render these promenades as attractive as possible. The two bands of the Guards might be allowed to play in the Malls for two hours every evening, between Lady-day and Michaelmas, and the number and construction of the seats might be increased and improved. Such measures would indicate, at least, a desire in the governors to contribute to the happiness of the governed, and would occasion the former to appear to the latter in a more grateful character than as mere assessors of taxes, and as organs of legal coercion.
At Pimlico, the name of Stafford-Row reminded me of the ancient distinction of Tart-Hall, once the rival in size and splendour of its more fortunate neighbour, Buckingham-House, and long the depository of the Arundelian Tablets and Statues. It faced the Park, on the present scite of James-Street; its garden-wall standing where Stafford-Row is now built, and the extensive livery-stables being once the stables of its residents.
I turned aside on the left, to view the river Tye, or _Ty-bourn_, which runs from the top of Oxford-street, under May-Fair, across Piccadilly, south-east of Buckingham-House, under the pavement of Stafford-Row, and across Tothill-Fields, into the Thames. It is a fact, equally lost, that the creeks which run from the Thames, in the swamps, opposite Belgrave-Place, once joined the canal in St. James's-Park, and, passing through White-Hall, formed, by their circuit, the ancient isle of St. Peter's. Their course has been filled up between the wharf of the water-works and the end of the canal in St. James's-Park; and the Isle of St. Peter's is no longer to be traced. It is singular that such a marsh should have become the focus of the government, jurisprudence, and power, of this great empire! Yet, so it is, the offices of Government, the Houses of Parliament, and the Supreme Courts of Law, stand on the lowest ground in or near the metropolis; the greater part of which is still the swamp of Tothill and Milbank-Fields; and the whole is exposed to the inundations of land-floods or extraordinary tides. A moralist would say, that such bulwarks of a nation ought to have been seated on a rock--a wit would refer to the nature of the soil, the notorious corruptions of the body-politic--and a votary of superstition would ascribe the splendid fortunes of the scite to the favour of heaven, as announced in the vision to the monks who, eleven hundred years since, built Westminster-Abbey, in so unpromising a situation!
The wall of what are called the Gardens of Buckingham House, form one side of the main street of Pimlico; but these gardens consist merely of a gravel walk, shaded by trees, with a spacious and unadorned area in the centre. The whole, is the property of Queen Charlotte, and is inaccessible to a visit of mere curiosity.
The water-works, to the left of the road, supply Pimlico and part of Westminster with water, and, I may add, with smoke, of which it emits large volumes, though there are so many contrivances for consuming it. It consists simply of a steam and forcing engine, not remarkable for novelty or ingenuity of construction. Opposite stands the manufactory of the ingenious #Bramah#, whose locks baffle knavery, and whose condensing engines promise such important results to philosophy and the mechanic arts. Belgrave-Place, lower and upper, proves the avidity of building-speculations, which could thus challenge the prejudices against the opposite marshes. But I was assured by a resident of twenty years, that he and his family had enjoyed uninterrupted health in Upper Belgrave-Place, and that such was the general experience.
On entering Chelsea, I was naturally led to inquire for the scite of the once gay Ranelagh! I passed up the avenue of trees, which I remember often to have seen blocked up with carriages. At its extremity, I looked for the Rotunda and its surrounding buildings; but, as I could not see them, I concluded, that I had acquired but an imperfect idea of the place, in my nocturnal visits! I went forward, on an open space, but still could discern no Ranelagh! At length, on a spot covered with nettles, thistles, and other rank weeds, I met a working man, who, in answer to my inquiries, told me, that he saw I was a stranger, or I should have known that Ranelagh had been pulled down, and that I was then standing on the scite of the Rotunda!
Reader, imagine my feelings, for I cannot analyze them! This vile place, I exclaimed, the scite of the once-enchanting Ranelagh!--It cannot be--the same eyes were never destined to see such a metamorphosis! All was desolation!--A few inequalities appeared in the ground, indicative of some former building, and holes filled with muddy water shewed the foundation walls--but the rest of the space, making about two acres, was covered with clusters of tall nettles, thistles, and docks!
On a more accurate survey, I traced the circular foundation of the Rotunda, and at some distance discovered the broken arches of some cellars, once filled with the choicest wines, but now with dirty water! Further on were marks against a garden wall, indicating, that the water-boilers for tea and coffee had once been heated there! I traced too the scite of the orchestra, where I had often been ravished by the finest performances of vocal and instrumental music! My imagination brought the objects before me; I fancied I could still hear an air of Mara's; I turned my eye aside, and what a contrast appeared!--No glittering lights!--No brilliant happy company!--No peals of laughter from thronged boxes!--No chorus of a hundred instruments and voices!--All was death-like stillness! Is such, I exclaimed, the end of human splendour?--Yes, truly, all is vanity--and here is a striking example!--Here are ruins and desolation, even without antiquity! I am not mourning said I, over the remains of Babylon or Carthage--ruins sanctioned by the unsparing march of time!--But here it was all glory and splendour, even yesterday! Here, but seven years have flown away, and I was myself one of three thousand of the gayest mortals ever assembled, in one of the gayest scenes which the art of man could devise--aye, on this very spot--yet the whole is now changed into the dismal scene of desolation before me!--Full of such reflections, I cast my eyes eastward, when Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Church presented themselves in a continued line--Ah! thought I, that line may at some distant epoch enable the curious antiquary to determine the scite of our British Daphne; but I could not avoid feeling, that if the pile of Ranelagh and its glories have so totally disappeared, in so short a season, no human work, even yonder colossal specimens of Gothic and Grecian art, or the great Metropolis itself, can be deemed a standard of locality for the guide of distant ages! I moved pensively from a spot which exciting such solemn and affecting emotions, had diminished the vigour of my frame by exhausting my nervous energies.
I soon turned the corner of a street which took me out of sight of the space on which once stood the gay Ranelagh; but it will be long ere I can remove from my heart the poignant sensations to which its sudden destruction had given rise.
 I afterwards learnt in Chelsea, that, latterly, Ranelagh did not pay the proprietors five per cent. for their capital, and therefore they sold the materials to the best bidder.
Before me appeared the shops so famed for _Chelsea buns_, which, for above thirty years, I have never passed without filling my pockets. In the original of these shops, for even of Chelsea buns there are counterfeits, are preserved mementos of domestic events, in the first half of the past century. The bottle-conjuror is exhibited in a toy of his own age; portraits are also displayed of Duke William and other noted personages; a model of a British soldier, in the stiff costume of the same age; and some grotto-works, serve to indicate the taste of a former owner, and were perhaps intended to rival the neighbouring exhibition at Don Saltero's. These buns have afforded a competency, and even wealth; to four generations of the same family; and it is singular, that their delicate flavour, lightness and richness, have never been successfully imitated. The present proprietor told me, with exultation, that George the Second had often been a customer of the shop; that the present King, when Prince George, and often during his reign, had stopped and purchased his buns; and that the Queen, and all the Princes and Princesses, had been among his occasional customers.
A little further to the west, is a vulgar sign of _Nell Gwyn_, to whose female sensibility, and influence on royalty, are ascribed the foundation of the adjoining hospital for invalid soldiers. If the mistresses of Princes always made a similar use of their ascendency, and were to teach their royal lovers to respect the duties of humanity, and build hospitals for the victims of their idiotic ambition, the world would complain less of their extravagancies and vices. The excellent hearts of women might warrant such an expectation; but, unhappily, this depraved portion of the sex generally part with their feminine sensibilities, at the same time that they part with their character and modesty. Contemned, despised, or neglected by the world, they become haters of their species, and too commonly make use of their power, to avenge on society the personal affronts which they are compelled to endure.
The approach to the hospital was indicated by the appearance of numbers of mutilated soldiers. It afflicted me, to see young men of two or three and twenty, some of whom had lost both their arms, and others both their legs! I learnt, on enquiry, that a few living objects of this description are all that now remain of regiments of their comrades! The rest had been killed in battle, or had died of fatigue, or camp diseases! The querulous _why_, and _for what_, still crossed my imagination; but I again referred such busy doubts to ministers! I _may_ be wrong; they _cannot_ be wrong! No! they _must_ be right, or such things would not be. I confess, notwithstanding, that it deeply afflicts me that such things _are_; yet how is the play of human passions to be avoided, and how are the mischiefs of _living_ errors to be corrected? Words, arguments, morality, and religion, at the commencement of a quarrel, are exerted in vain--the storm of bad passions carries, for a season, all before it--and after mischiefs are irretrievably perpetrated, reason and experience produce repentance, when, alas, it is useless! Princes and statesmen are too proud and powerful to permit themselves to be instructed, or I would advise them on such occasions to _doubt_ their imaginary infallibility. Let them solemnly _doubt_ whenever some mischief, which they cannot repair, must be the consequence of their decision; and when that decision may, _perchance_, arise from some mistake! But I fear this just maxim of Philosophy will never become a practical rule of policy strong enough to counteract the benefits of extended patronage enjoyed during wars by corrupt ministers; to allay the puerile love of glory cherished by weak princes; or to subdue the demoniacal passions and irrational prejudices artfully excited by rulers, and too often cherished by infatuated nations.
I accosted a young man, who had lost both arms, and was walking pensively between the trees. After some expressions of heart-felt commisseration, I enquired by what mischance he had met with so untoward a wound? He told me that he was in the act of loading his musket, when a cannon-ball, passing before him, carried off one arm above the elbow, and so shattered the other, that it was necessary to amputate it. He then named some paltry battle where this accident befel him; the issue of which to either of the contending parties was, as I recollected, not worth the joint of a little finger, even if the entire object of the campaign, or war, was worth so much! But, said I, you are of course well provided for in the hospital--"No, (he replied,) there is not room for me at present; but, owing to the severity of my wounds, I have a double allowance as an out-pensioner--yet, (he modestly remarked,) it may easily be supposed that even a double allowance is not enough for a man who cannot help himself in any thing--I cannot dress myself, nor even eat or drink, but am obliged to be fed like a child; I have a poor old mother who does her best for me, or"----here the young man's voice faultered, and some tears hung on his cheeks--for, alas, even these he could neither wipe away nor conceal! Parched must have been the eye that would not mingle tears with those of this poor fellow, on hearing the tale of his unchangeable fate! I found too that my own utterance sympathized with his--but, shewing him a shilling--and indicating, by signs, the difficulty I felt in putting him in possession of it--"here sir," said he, "and God bless you;" then, stooping with his mouth, I put it between his lips!--Ah, thought I, as I turned from this wretched object, the most hard-hearted of those who were concerned in breaking public treaties, and rejecting overtures for peace, would have relented, if with my feelings they had beheld this single victim of the millions that have been imolated, to the calculations of their fallible policy.
I now enquired for veterans--for Fontenoy men--Culloden men--Minden men--Quebec men! To some of the two last I was introduced; but I found them blind, deaf, maimed, and childish! What a sickening picture of human nature, whether we consider the causes, objects, or consequences! Among these hoary and crippled heroes, I was introduced to one who is now in his hundred and first year! His name is Ardenfair, and he is a native of Dorsetshire. He entered into the Marines about the year 1744; was in Anson's action, in 1747; and in Hawke's, in 1759. This veteran sees, talks, hears, and remembers well; and it is remarkable, that he performs the daily drudgery of sweeping the gravel-walks, and wheeling water in a barrow! One wonders at the ability to perform such labour, in a Centenarian; that such a one should be allowed to be the sweeper of the hospital; and still more, that his age had not recommended him to the special bounty of the officers. It might be expected, that the successive _fathers_ of these invalids would, at all times, be exempted from ordinary duties, and receive some additional means of cheering their extension of life, so long beyond the ordinary duration.
On the north-east border of this hospital, I was shewn a new erection, nearly of the same size, devoted to the education of the children of soldiers. It is, I am told, a very interesting establishment to those who view with complacency the favourite system of Germanizing the English people--but how inadequate are all such institutions, to repay the obligations of any government to its invalided soldiers, if ambition, prejudice, or a love of false glory, may, on light grounds, cover the earth with bleeding and mangled victims! As each of the veterans in such hospitals is often the solitary survivor of a thousand, of whom the complement have fallen premature victims of the cruel accidents of war, the authors ought not to conclude that they atone for their crimes by lodging, feeding, and cloathing the thousandth man, when he is no longer able to serve their purposes!
Mankind are, however, so selfish, that nothing but the experience or the imminent danger of great sufferings seems likely to correct the errors of governments and the infatuations of people on the subject of war. The best security of peace is, consequently, the danger that the chances of war may bring its scourges home to the fire-sides of either of the belligerents. The fears of nations have, therefore, taught them the duty of doing to each other as they would be done unto. It forms, however, a new epoch in the history of society, that, owing to their insular situation, the passions of one great people are unchecked by this salutary fear; and public morality, in consequence, has stood in need of some new stimulus, to relieve the world from the danger of suffering interminable slaughters. What a #TEST# this new situation afforded to the powers of #Christianity#! But for twenty years, alas, Christianity has #TOTALLY FAILED#, and pretended zealots of the religion of peace and charity have been even among the most furious abettors of implacable war!
Opposite the superb terrace of the Hospital gardens, stands a tea-drinking house, called _the Red House_; and about fifty yards on the western side of it is the place at which Caesar crossed the Thames. The reader who has read Stukeley's reasons for fixing on Chertsey as the place of this celebrated passage, may startle at the positive affirmation here made. Stukeley says that the name of Chertsey is all Caesar; so also is Chelsea, by analogies equally natural. London, or Lyn-dyn, was then the chief town in South Britain, and would, as matter of course, be the place towards which the Britons would retreat and the Romans advance. Landing near Deal, they would cross the river at the ford nearest their place of landing, and would not be likely to march to Chertsey, if they could cross at Chelsea; and the marshes of the Thames, to which the Britons retreated, would correspond better with the marshes of Lambeth and Battersea than with the low lands near Chertsey, where the river is inconsiderable, and where there is no tide to confer strength and military character on the marshes. This ford, from the Red House to the Bank, near the scite of Ranelagh, still remains; and I have surveyed it more than once. At ordinary low water, a shoal of gravel, not three feet deep, and broad enough for ten men to walk abreast, extends across the river, except on the Surrey side, where it has been deepened by raising ballast. Indeed, the causeway from the south bank may yet be traced at low water; so that this was doubtless a ford to the peaceful Britons, across which the British army retreated before the Romans, and across which they were doubtless followed by Caesar and the Roman legions. The event was pregnant with such consequences to the fortunes of these islands, that the spot deserves the record of a monument, which ought to be preserved from age to age, as long as the veneration due to antiquity is cherished among us. Who could then have contemplated that the folly of Roman ambition would be the means of introducing arts among the semi-barbarous Britons, which, in eighteen hundred and forty years, or after the lapse of nearly sixty generations, would qualify Britain to become mistress of Imperial Rome; while one country would become so exalted, and the other be so debased, that the event would excite little attention, and be deemed but of secondary importance? Possibly after another sixty generations, the posterity of the savage tribes near Sierra Leone, or New Holland, may arbitrate the fate of London, or of Britain, as an affair of equal indifference!
I passed a few minutes in the famous Botanic Garden of the Apothecaries' Company, founded at Chelsea by #Sir Hans Sloane#. It was the first establishment of the kind in England, but has now for some years been superseded in fame and variety by the Royal Gardens at Kew. It still however merits notice, as containing specimens of all the plants recognized in the _Materia Medica_, and with that view is maintained, at a heavy expence to the company, for the use of medical students. The company's Professor of Botany annually gives lectures at this institution to the apprentices of the members, and accompanies them in _simpling_ excursions in the country round the metropolis. The statue of the public spirited founder still adorns the garden; and the famous cedars of Lebanon add an air of solemn grandeur to the whole, which could be conferred by no other objects of nature or art. The conservatories are on a grand scale; and so many interesting exotics claimed my notice, that I could have passed a week or a month in contemplating them.
In Cheyne Walk, facing the Thames, I sought for the Museum and Coffee-house of Don Saltero, renowned in the swimming exploits of Franklin. Here stands the same house, and it is still a place of entertainment; but, about ten years ago, the lease expired, when the rarities, presented by so many collectors, to the spirited Barber Salter, (nicknamed, Don Saltero,) were sold by public auction.
A little farther stands the ancient and unostentatious palace of the Bishops of Winchester, and here has resided the venerable Brownlow North, during the thirty-three years that he has filled that wealthy see; and, a hundred yards to the west, I surveyed, with becoming interest, the decayed premises, now a paper-hanging manufactory, which once was the residence of the witty Sir Thomas More, and where, as it is recorded, he entertained Erasmus. I was, therefore, on classic ground; though Faulkner, in his amusing History of Chelsea, ascribes the residence of the Chancellor to another situation. The men who adorned the era of the revival of learning, and, as its patrons, furnished us with weapons by which to deprive imposition of its powers, are well entitled to our esteem; but many of them were entangled in the bridle, by whose means more crafty persons had long rode on the backs of mankind. Thus the friendship and intercourse of sir Thomas More and Erasmus were founded on their mutual zeal in behalf of those ecclesiastical frauds which for so many ages had subdued every scintillation of reason. They were, in their days, among the adherents of Popish superstition, what Symmachus had been to the Roman polytheists in the age of Theodosius--what Peter the Hermit was to the fanatics of the darker ages--and what Burke was to the bigotted politicians at the dawn of liberty in France. Erasmus, it is true, exposed, with great ability much priestcraft and statecraft, yet his learning and labours were, for the chief part, devoted to the support of certain irrational points of theological faith; and poor Sir Thomas More lost his head on the scaffold rather than aid his less fastidious sovereign in overturning the spiritual supremacy of the bishops of Rome. We may honour the conscientious scruples of such men; but, enabled, as we now are, to view their errors at a proper focal distance, we are warranted, by their example, in drawing the inference that the highest human authorities are no tests of truth, and that great energies of intellect often serve but to strengthen prejudices, and give mischievous force to aberrations of reason.
The tomb of Sir Hans Sloane caught my eye as I passed the corner of the church-yard, but not in so good a condition as the improved value of his estates might warrant one to expect. It is surmounted by the mystic symbols of the _egg_ and _serpent_, in a good style of sculpture. Part of the church is precisely what it was when the Chancellor More regularly formed part of its congregation.
In crossing the bridge to Battersea, I was called upon to pay toll, and was informed, that this bridge is _private_ property.--A bridge across a great river, in a _civilized_ country, _private_ property!--Is not this monstrous, thought I, in a country in which seventy millions of taxes are collected per annum, and which has accumulated a debt of nine hundred millions since the accession of the house of Guelph? Yet, if bridges remain private property, #FOR WHAT BENEFIT# has so much money been expended? Have bridges, or hospitals, or schools, or houses for the poor, been built with the money?--It seems not!--Have roads been made--canals cut--rivers widened--harbours improved?--No, these are private and interested speculations! What then, I exclaimed, has been done with it?
If this bridge cost twenty thousand pounds, one million of the nine hundred would have built fifty such bridges!--Yet, the war in the Peninsula, for the purpose of setting up the bigotted Ferdinand in place of the liberal Joseph, costs the country three millions per month; or as much as would build a hundred and fifty fine bridges over the principal rivers of the empire! Another three millions would build a hundred and fifty great public hospitals for the incurable poor! A third such sum would make fifty thousand miles of good roads! And a fourth would construct three thousand miles of canal, or ten or twelve such as the Grand Junction Canal! That is to say, all these _substantial_ benefits might be produced to the country by a few weeks' cost of the war in the Peninsula; a war of such doubtful benefit, either to England, to Spain, or to humanity!
At the distance of a hundred yards from Battersea Bridge, an extensive pile of massy brickwork, for the manufactory of Soap, has recently been erected, at a cost, it is said, of sixty thousand pounds. I was told it was inaccessible to strangers, and therefore was obliged to content myself with viewing it at a distance. Such vast piles are not uncommon in and near London; yet how great and certain must be the profits of a commodity to warrant the expenditure of such large capitals before there can be any return! It might seem too that a man possessed of sixty thousand pounds, or of as much as, at the present value of money, would purchase for ever the constant labour of from above sixty to eighty men, would have avoided the hazards of trade.--Yet in England it is not so--the avaricious spirit of commerce despises all mediocrity--care is preferred to enjoyment--and the ends of life are sacrificed to the means! It has always been the foible of man not to be contented with the good he possesses, but to look forward to happiness in the anticipation of something which he hopes to attain. Thus, few congratulate themselves on the comforts they enjoy, or consider the consequences of losing them; but, neglectful of blessings in hand, rush forward in quest of others which they may never be able to obtain, and which, when possessed, are again as little enjoyed.
Poets, divines, and moralists, have asserted this important truth in all ages; but have failed to cure the delusion, though it is at once the cause of the greater part of the miseries of individuals, and of the mischievous errors of governments. Moses guarded against it by new subdivisions of property in every year of jubilee; but the fraternal regulations of the family of Abraham are not conceived to be applicable to the whole family of man, as blended in modern nations; and statesmen and economists now think it better that endless competitions should be encouraged, and indefinite accumulations tolerated, than that industry should be checked by any regard to the personal happiness which might result from moderated and bounded wealth. Hence, he that has health and strength to labour for his own subsistence is not contented unless he can accumulate enough to purchase the labour of others--and he who has enough to purchase the labours of fifty, is miserable if another can purchase the labours of sixty--while he who can purchase the labours of a thousand is still wretched if some other can purchase the labours of two thousand. In the wilds of Africa and America, men suffer every species of misery for want of the impulse created by the reward of labour; whereas the suffering is little less, though varied in kind, from the gradations created in long-established societies by the insatiable cravings of avarice! I am aware that it is hazardous to discuss a subject which probes to the quick the sensibility of pride; yet this is a social problem which merits the consideration of all statesmen who are anxious to promote the happiness of communities; and it ought not to be lost sight of by any future Solon who may be called upon to ameliorate the condition of his country.
At a few yards from the toll-gate of the bridge, on the Western side of the road, stand the work-shops of that eminent, modest, and persevering mechanic, Mr. #Brunel#; a gentleman of the rarest genius, who has effected as much for the Mechanic Arts as any man of his time. The wonderful apparatus in the dock-yard at Portsmouth, by which he cuts blocks for the navy, with a precision and expedition that astonish every beholder, secures him a monument of fame, and eclipses all rivalry. In a small building on the left, I was attracted by the solemn action of a steam-engine of a sixteen-horse or eighty-men power, and was ushered into a room, where it turned, by means of bands, four wheels fringed with fine saws, two of eighteen feet in diameter, and two of them nine feet. These circular saws were used for the purpose of separating veneers, and a more perfect operation was never performed. I beheld planks of mahogany and rose-wood sawed into veneers the sixteenth of an inch thick, with a precision and grandeur of action which really was sublime! The same power at once turned these tremendous saws, and drew their work upon them. A large sheet of veneer, nine or ten feet long by two feet broad, was thus separated in about ten minutes, so even, and so uniform, that it appeared more like a perfect work of Nature than one of human art! The force of these saws may be conceived when it is known that the large ones revolve sixty-five times in a minute; hence, 18 × 3,14 = 56,5 × 65 gives 3672 feet, or two-thirds of a mile in a minute; whereas, if a sawyer's tool give thirty strokes of three feet in a minute, it is but ninety feet, or only the fortieth part of the steady force of Mr. Brunel's saws!
In another building, I was shewn his manufactory of shoes, which, like the other, is full of ingenuity, and, in regard to subdivision of labour, brings this fabric on a level with the oft-admired manufactory of pins. Every step in it is effected by the most elegant and precise machinery; while as each operation is performed by one hand, so each shoe passes through twenty-five hands, who complete from the hide, as supplied by the currier, a hundred pair of strong and well-finished shoes per day. All the details are performed by ingenious applications of the mechanic powers, and all the parts are characterized by precision, uniformity, and accuracy. As each man performs but one step in the process, which implies no knowledge of what is done by those who go before or follow him, so the persons employed are not shoemakers, but wounded soldiers, who are able to learn their respective duties in a few hours. The contract at which these shoes are delivered to government is 6_s._ 6_d._ per pair, being at least 2_s._ less than what was paid previously for an unequal and cobbled article.
While, however, we admire these triumphs of mechanics, and congratulate society on the prospect of enjoying more luxuries at less cost of human labour, it ought not to be forgotten, that the general good in such cases is productive of great partial evils, against which a paternal government ought to provide. No race of workmen being proverbially more industrious than shoemakers, it is altogether unreasonable, that so large a portion of valuable members of society should be injured by improvements which have the ultimate effect of benefitting the whole.
The low price of labour deprives these classes of the power of accumulating any private fund, on which to subsist while they are learning new trades; it seems therefore incumbent on governments to make sufficient provision, from the public stock, for all cases of distress, which arise out of changes of this kind. If governments were benevolent, and vigilant in their benevolence, no members of the community would, under any circumstances, suffer from causes which are productive, or supposed to be productive, of general benefit. I qualify the position by the word _supposed_, because, owing to social monopolies, and to the advantages taken of poverty by the habits of wealth, the mass of the people are less benefited by the introduction of machinery than they ought to be. If a population have been drawn or driven from agriculture to manufactures, and the lands which maintained in humble independance the ancestors of the manufacturers are, in consequence, united into single farms, the manufacturers should not be left without resource, if their trade fails, or their labour is superseded by machinery. Against the ill effects of such changes, paternal governments should provide means of relief, so as to render them as little prejudicial to individuals as possible; and no transitions in the productive value of various labour, should be allowed to destroy the industrious part of the population, or force them to seek subsistence in foreign climes. It being the object of all machinery to save human labour, of course society at large ought to enjoy the benefit; and all who are in danger of suffering for a benefit to be enjoyed by the whole, should be liberally indemnified out of the common stock. Nothing could be more easy than for a board of commissioners or arbitrators to assess on the public such individual losses; and, in cases of great transitions, imposts should be so levied on monopoly as to restore the equilibrium of great branches of industry. For what but for such purposes of equalizing happiness are governments constituted and maintained?
I passed from the premises of Mr. Brunel, to the nearly adjoining ones of Mr. Hodgson, an intelligent maltster and distiller, and the proprietor of the elevated horizontal air-mill, which serves as a landmark for many miles round. But his mill, its elevated shaft, its vanes, and weather or wind boards, curious as they would have been on any other scite, lost their interest on premises once the residence of the illustrious Bolingbroke, and the resort of the philosophers of his day. In ascending the winding flights of its tottering galleries, I could not help wondering at the caprice of events which had converted the dwelling of Bolingbroke into a malting-house and a mill. This house, once sacred to philosophy and poetry, long sanctified by the residence of the noblest genius of his age, honoured by the frequent visits of Pope, and the birthplace of the immortal Essay on Man, is now appropriated to the lowest uses! The house of Bolingbroke become a windmill! The spot on which the Essay on Man was concocted and produced, converted into a distillery of pernicious spirits! Such are the lessons of time! Such are the means by which an eternal agency sets at nought the ephemeral importance of man! But yesterday, this spot was the resort, the hope, and the seat of enjoyment of Bolingbroke, Pope, Swift, Arbuthnot, Thomson, Mallet, and all the contemporary genius of England--yet a few whirls of the earth round the sun, the change of a figure in the date of the year, and the groupe have vanished; while in their place I behold hogs and horses, malt-bags and barrels, stills and machinery!
Alas, said I, to the occupier, and have these things become the representatives of more human genius than England may ever witness on one spot again--have you thus satirized the transitory fate of humanity,--do you thus become a party with the bigotted enemies of that philosophy which was personified in a Bolingbroke and a Pope? No, he rejoined, I love the name and character of Bolingbroke, and I preserve the house as well as I can with religious veneration; I often smoke my pipe in Mr. Pope's parlour, and think of him with due respect as I walk the part of the terrace opposite his room. He then conducted me to this interesting parlour, which is of brown polished oak, with a grate and ornaments of the age of George the First; and before its window stood the portion of the terrace upon which the malt-house had not encroached, with the Thames moving majestically under its wall. I was on holy ground!--I did not take off my shoes--but I doubtless felt what pilgrims feel as they approach the temples of Jerusalem, Mecca, or Jaggernaut! Of all poems, and of all codes of wisdom, I admire the Essay on Man, and its doctrines, the most; and in this room, I exclaimed, it was probably planned, discussed, and written!
Mr. Hodgson assured me, this had always been called "Pope's room," and he had no doubt it was the apartment usually occupied by that great poet, in his visits to his friend Bolingbroke. Other parts of the original house remain, and are occupied and kept in good order. He told me, however, that this is but a wing of the mansion, which extended in Lord Bolingbroke's time to the church-yard, and is now appropriated to the malting-house and its warehouses.
The church itself is a new and elegant structure, but chiefly interesting to me, as containing the vault of the St. John family, in which lies the great Lord, at whose elegant monument, by Roubilliac, I lingered some minutes.
On inquiring for an ancient inhabitant of Battersea, I was introduced to a Mrs. Gilliard, a pleasant and intelligent woman, who told me, she well remembered Lord Bolingbroke; that he used to ride out every day in his chariot, and had a black patch on his cheek, with a large wart over his eye-brows. She was then but a girl, but she was taught to look upon him with veneration as a great man. As, however, he spent little in the place, and gave little away, he was not much regarded by the people of Battersea. I mentioned to her the names of several of his contemporaries, but she recollected none, except that of Mallet, who, she said, she had often seen walking about in the village, while he was visiting at Bolingbroke House. The unassuming dwelling of this gentlewoman affords another proof of the scattered and unrecorded wealth of Britain, in works of superior art. I found in her retired parlour, a fine historical picture, by Vandyke, for which she said she had been offered 500l. but which she refused to part with, not less from a spirit of independence, than from a tasteful estimate of the beauties of the picture.
It was in the warm alluvial plain adjoining this village, the very swamp into which the Britons retreated before Caesar, that the first asparagus was cultivated in England. I could learn no particulars of this circumstance, but such vast quantities are still grown here, that one gardener has fifty acres engaged in the production of this vegetable, and there are above two hundred acres of it within a mile of Battersea church.
Proceeding onward between some ancient walls which bound the grounds of various market gardeners, I was told that here resided the father of Queen Anne Boleyn; but I could not fix any thing with precision on the subject, though it appears from the monument of Queen Elizabeth, in Battersea church, that the Boleyns were related to the St. John's.
A manufacturer of pitch and turpentine politely shewed me over his works. I trembled as I passed among his combustible cauldrons, and not without cause, for the place had recently been burnt to the ground, and it experienced the same fate a second time, but a few weeks after my visit. May we not hope that the applicable powers of heated gas will enable such manufactories to be carried on without the inevitable recurrence of such conflagrations.
This walk brought me to a large distillery, which still bears the name of York House, and was a seat of the Archbishops of York, from the year 1480 to its alienation. Here resided Wolsey, as Archbishop of York--here Henry VIII. first saw Anne Boleyn--and here that scene took place which Shakespeare records in his play of Henry VIII; and which he described truly, because he wrote it for Elizabeth, the daughter of Anne Boleyn, within fifty years of the event, and must himself have known living witnesses of its verity. Hence it becomes more than probable, that Sir Thomas Boleyn actually resided in the vicinity, and that his daughter was accidentally among the guests at that princely entertainment. I know it is contended, that this interview took place at York House, Whitehall; but Shakespeare makes the King come by Water; and York House, Battersea, was beyond all doubt a residence of Wolsey, and is provided with a creek from the Thames, for the evident purpose of facilitating intercourse by water. Besides, the owner informed me, that a few years since he had pulled down a superb room, called "the ball-room," the pannels of which were curiously painted, and the divisions silvered. He also stated that the room had a dome and a richly ornamented ceiling, and that he once saw an ancient print, representing the first interview of Henry VIII. with Anne Boleyn, in which the room was portrayed exactly like the one that, in modernizing his house, he had found it necessary to destroy.
My polite host took me to his green-house, and shewed me a fine specimen of that wonder of the second degree of organized existence--an American aloe, about to put forth its blossoms. Its vigorous upright stem was twelve feet high, and its head promised a rich profusion of splendid flowers. It is indeed no fable, that this perennial plant grows about a hundred years (a few more or less,) before it blooms; and, after yielding its seed, the stem withers and dies! I could not avoid being struck with the lesson which this centenarian affords to the Pride of man, when, on asking its owner, how he knew that it was a hundred years old, he informed me that "it had been in his possession the half of his life," that is, the mighty period of five-and-twenty years! "That it had previously been the property of the Hon. Mrs. ----," whose name, in spite of her _honour_, is now as lost to fame as she herself is lost to that existence which gave rise to any self-importance! That he "had heard, that, before _her time_, it belonged to Lord ----," a name which I have also forgotten, because it was unnecessary to remember it, the common-place peer having also exhausted the measure of his days since our still-flourishing aloe was in its dawn! "Ah, Sir," said I, "so the aloe has seen out all those who vainly called it their property--They have been swept away, generation after generation, yet it still survives a living commentary on their utter insignificance; and it laughs at the proud assumption of those who called themselves its proprietors, but could not maintain a property in themselves! Just so the same creature of yesterday asserts his property in that ancient globe, which he is destined to enjoy but an hour; and he asserts, that all was made for him, though in another hour he leaves all and becomes again, as to the planet which nurtured him, the nonentity of yesterday.
Pride, the bane of man--I exclaimed, as I passed the gate--what are its claims? Does it arise from fine clothing?--let it be remembered that every part has been stolen from the lowest of Nature's works--that the finest glitter is but a modification of the very surface--and that the garments which this year deck beauty and rank, will in the next be rotting on the dunghill! Does Pride feed on the records of ancestry?--let it visit the family tomb, and examine the bones and dust of that ancestry on which it founds its self-importance! Is Pride derived from titles of distinction?--let it inquire who conferred them--for what--and by what intrigues--and let it be considered, that titles or names confer no inherent quality, and do not alter the nature of any thing to which they are applied! Does an inexperienced girl take a lesson of Pride from her looking-glass?--she may be cured of her foible, by conceiving 10 to be added to the date of the year, or by looking on those ten years older than herself! Is it an office of power which serves as the basis of a lofty and insulting Pride?--let him who fills it remember that he is but the puppet of knaves, or fools; and at best but a mere _servant_ of the public! Does wealth intoxicate the weakness of man?--let it never be forgotten that the possession is distinct from the possessor, and that the most contemptible of the human race have been the accumulators of wealth! Does the name of wisdom, puff up any of its professors?--of such it may truly be said, that their wisdom is foolishness--for none truly wise ever felt, in the researches of man, any ground of arrogance, while pursuits of philosophy serve only to teach humility!--But to what purpose tend such observations? Every man is his own microcosm, and his case, in his own view, is that of no other man! Pride will always find food in self-love, which in spite of exhortations, it will devour with ravenous appetite! If men were immortal, how intolerable would be existence from the arrogance and perpetuity of Pride! While this passion infects and misleads the governors of the world, the only consolation in looking on weak princes, wicked statesmen, unfeeling lawyers, and military butchers, is that, in the course of nature, Death will soon relieve the world from the pest of their influence! And there are few men who would, not prefer death as their own fate, and who would not hail death as a common blessing, rather than live an eternity under the dominion of the weak, the crafty, or the cruel Proud!
The road from York House towards Wandsworth, lay across a Plain of unenclosed fields, which, before the Thames had carved out the boundaries of its course, was, I have no doubt, generally covered with its waters. After the ocean left the land, and the hills became the depositaries of the clouds, how many ages must have elapsed before the beds of rivers were circumscribed as we now see them in England. The water always followed the lowest level, but, being of different quantities at different seasons, vegetation would flourish on the sides occasionally covered, and in time would generate banks; while the stream itself, by carrying off the argillaceous bottom, would add to the depth--the two combined causes producing all the phenomena of bounded rivers. The Thames, after heavy rains, or thaws of snow, still overflows its banks, thereby adding to the vegetable productions of its meadows, which, if not consumed, or carried away by man, would, long ere this, have fixed unalterably the limits of its course. The effect of these inundations in our days, or in past ages, has been to render its banks the fertile scite of all those fine garden-grounds which supply the metropolis so abundantly with fruits and vegetables.
 It is difficult to assign limits to the gradual effects of the circuit of the waters by evaporation and rain on the creation of land, from the decay of vegetable organizations. All the rain which falls on such a country as England, from two to three feet deep per annum, tends to raise the surface of the soil with the substances generated by it, which we call solids. How small a portion reaches the rivulets, and how little returns to the sea! The consideration seems at least to justify the notion, that the waters desiccate in spite of the encroachments of currents, and that all things have proceeded from the silent agency of water.
Some large Distilleries, on the banks of the river, reminded me of the bad policy of governments, which, sacrificing the end to the means, that is, the health and morals of the people to purposes of revenue, tolerates and even encourages manufactories so pernicious. I am aware I may be answered, that the working classes love this poison, and must be gratified; and that in 1813 the duty on British spirits produced £1,636,504. But I reply, first, that it is obligatory on good governments to protect the people against the effects of their vices; and second, that, if the people were not indulged in the ruinous habit of gin-drinking, and destroyed by it in body and mind, they would be able to pay a greater sum to the revenue from productions of a salutary nature. Such are the pernicious effects of drunkenness, and the numerous miseries created by drinking fermented and spirituous liquors, that I have often been tempted to consider it as an atonement for the impostures of Mahomet, that he so forcibly prohibited the practice, and so far succeeded, that a rigid forbearance is observed by his followers, and a Musselman rendered beastly, vicious, and diseased, by habits of drunkenness is never seen. The doctrines of the New Testament and the example of the Founder of our religion inculcate an equal degree of abstemiousness, yet how contrary are the practices of Christians! There seems indeed, in regard to this vice, to be no middle course. Spirituous, and perhaps also fermented, liquors, will be abused, or they must be wholly prohibited; because the stimulus which they create at one time, is sought at another, and the oftener it is repeated, the oftener it is desired and required; till at length it becomes necessary to the sense of well-being, or apparently essential to the power of sustaining the fatigue of life.
In the middle of these fields I passed a handsome house, which appeared to have been empty for a considerable time. On enquiring the cause of a young woman, who passed at the moment; she told me, with an artless countenance, that "_it was haunted_." I smiled, and asked how she knew it. "Ah, Sir," said she, "its nothing to laugh at--every body here-abouts knows it well enough--such strange noises are heard in it, and such lights flit about it at midnight."--Have you seen them? "No, Sir, but I knows those that have, and I'm sure its true." Seeing a labouring man at a distance, I enquired what he knew of the haunted house, when he told me, with a face full of faith, that "he knew gentlefolks laughed at such things, but seeing was believing--that, passing the house one night, he was quite sartain he had seen a light in one of the rooms, and had heard groans---that he got home as well as he could, but all the world should not induce him to pass the house again at that time of the night." "And others," said I, "have perhaps seen the the same?"--"Aye, by goles, have they," exclaimed the fellow with terror in his countenance.--I then told him, I would with pleasure sit up in the house to see these ghosts--"Rather you than I, Sir," said he.--"Nay, nay," said I, "I dare say now for five shillings you would sit up with me!" "Naugh, dang me if I would, nor for the best five pounds in the world, much as I wants money! I don't fear man, but I am naugh match for the devil!--I believes in God, and does nobody any harm; and therefore don't think he'd let the old-one hurt me: but some main wicked ones lived, as I've hard, in that there house, so I'll have naught to do with it; and dang me if any of 'em shall catch me in it after night."
The poor fellow uttered these sentiments with such earnestness, that my risible emotions were converted into pity. I forebore, however, to argue the point with him, for many instances of superstition equally gross had long convinced me that the untaught and half-taught of my countrymen are, in this respect, little superior to the savage tribes, whom we pity, in Tartary, Africa, and America: yet in this instance the man's inference was a consequence of his premises, and his error in these it might have been deemed heretical to expose.
The nursery becomes the means of fixing similar impressions in the families of the most enlightened, and the unformed minds of children propagate in public schools the stories of their nurses. The lowest superstition pervades therefore all ranks, even of a population so comparatively enlightened as that of England; and, being imbibed in infancy and confirmed, through the entire period of youth, no impressions are more strong, or more universally operative. The poet and the priest either encourage the feeling, or do not take any pains to remove it. The agency of spirits and abstract principles, is countenanced by some of the records of religion, and by philosophers and physicians in their reasonings about occult causes, sympathies, coincidencies, and destinies. It is urged in vain, that ghosts and supernatural effects are never seen, except by the weakest or most ignorant of mankind, in ages or states of society when the people might be made to believe any thing; or at times so distant, or places so remote, that the narrators run no risk of detection or exposure. The love of the marvellous, the force of early impressions, the craft of many persons, and the folly of others, will however occasion every village to have its haunted house for ages to come, in spite of the press, and of those discoveries of philosophy which are every day narrowing the sphere of miracles and prodigies.
In considering this subject with the attention that is due to it, it has appeared to me that all the stories of ghosts and super, or, un-natural appearances, may be referred to some of the following causes:
1. To the augmentation produced by fear in any effect on the senses--thus the ear of a terrified man will convert the smallest noise into the report of thunder, or his eye will change the stump of a tree into a monster twenty feet high. As the senses are furnished for protection, their irritability, under the impression of fear, is part of their economy, as the means of preserving our being; but it is absurd to refer back the effects thus augmented, to external causes which might be capable of producing the augmentation. To such an error of the senses and of reasoning, is, however, to be referred half the ghosts and supernaturals of which we hear in village ale-houses, in nurseries and schools.
2. To diseased organs of sensation; as an inflamed eye producing the effect of flashes of light in the dark, or fulness of blood producing a ringing or singing in the ears. Sometimes diseases of the visual organs are accompanied by hallucinations of mind; and persons ill in fevers often see successions of figures and objects flit before their eyes till the disease has been removed. The workings of conscience or nervous affections will also produce diseases of the senses, and such hallucinations of mind as to occasion a person to fancy he sees another, or to be haunted by him. But there is nothing supernatural in all this; it is sometimes a local disease, sometimes an effect of fever, sometimes a nervous affection, and sometimes partial insanity.
3. To natural causes not understood by the parties. Thus, anciently the northern lights were mistaken for armies fighting; meteors and comets for flaming swords, portending destruction or pestilence; the electrified points of swords to the favour of heaven; the motions of the planets to attractive effluvia; and all the effects of the comixture of the gases to benign or diabolical agency, as they happened to produce on the parties good or evil. So in the like manner old houses are generally said to be haunted, owing to the noises which arise from the cracking and yielding of their walls and timbers, and from the protection and easy passage which in the course of time they afford to rats, mice, weasels, &c. whose activity in the night-time affords the foundation of numerous apprehensions and fancies of the credulous.
4. To spontaneous combustions or detonations, which produce occasional lights and noises, or, under unchanged circumstances, recurring lights and noises, chiefly claiming attention in the night. Thus houses shut up and unaired are apt, from the putrefaction of animal and vegetable matter, to generate hydrogen gas, the accidental combustion of which by contact with phosphoric matter, naturally generated in the same situation, will produce those effects of lights and noises heard in empty houses. So Church-yards, Churches in which the dead are buried, Cemeteries, and Ruins of old buildings, must frequently give out large quantities of these gases; and consequently, from exactly similar causes, they are likely to produce the very effects which we witness in the will-o'-the-wisp, or in hydrogen gas when inflamed during calm weather in marshy situations.
5. To the prevailing belief that effects, which cannot readily be accounted for, or which are caused by the contact of the invisible fluids or media always in action in the great laboratory of nature, are produced by the agency of spirits or demons; which belief, concurring with the unknown causes of the effects, and affording a ready solution of difficulties, prevents further inquiry, silences reasoning, and tends in consequence to sustain the prevailing errors and superstitions.
Such are the general causes of ghosts, spirits, charms, miracles, and supernatural appearances. They all arise either from hallucinations of the mind or senses; from the mutual action of the natural, though invisible, powers of gaseous and ethereal fluids; from the delusions of ignorance, implicit faith, or the absence of all reasoning.
While occupied in these speculations, I arrived at the entrance of the populous, industrious, and opulent village of Wandsworth. A reader in the highlands of Scotland, in the mountains of Wales, or the wilds of Connaught, will startle when he hears of a village containing 5,644 inhabitants, and 2,020 houses, in which 620 families are returned as engaged in trade and manufactures. Yet, such are the overgrown villages round our overgrown metropolis. Even in this vicinity, Chelsea contains 18,262 inhabitants; Fulham 5,903; Clapham 5,083; Hammersmith 7,393; Kensington 10,886; Brentford, New and Old, 7,094; and Richmond 5,219. This village of Wandsworth, in truth, is of the size of most second-rate towns in distant counties, its main street, of compact and well-built houses, being half a mile in length, with several collateral ones a quarter of a mile. It also contains, or has in its vicinity, many considerable manufactories, which flourished exceedingly before the silly vanity of ambition and military parade led a nation of merchants to endeavour to dictate to their foreign customers, and forced them to subsist without their commodities! The manufactories of Wandsworth are created or greatly aided by the pure stream of the Wandle, and by the Surry iron rail-way, which runs from Croydon to a spacious and busy wharf, on the Thames at this place. They consist of dyers, calico-printers, oil-mills, iron-founderies, vinegar-works, breweries, and distilleries. I found leisure to inspect the two or three which were employed; and I felt renewed delight on witnessing at this place the economy of horse-labour on the iron rail-way. Yet a heavy sigh escaped me, as I thought of the inconceivable millions which have been spent about Malta, four or five of which might have been the means of extending _double lines of iron rail-ways_ from London to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Holyhead, Milford, Falmouth, Yarmouth, Dover and Portsmouth! A reward of a single thousand would have supplied coaches, and other vehicles of various degrees of speed, with the best tackle for readily turning out; and we might, ere this, have witnessed our mail coaches running at the rate of ten miles an hour, drawn by a single horse, or impelled fifteen miles by Blenkinsop's steam-engine! Such would have been a legitimate motive for overstepping the income of a nation, and the completion of so great and useful a work would have afforded _rational_ grounds for public triumph in general jubilees!
Wandsworth having been the once-famed scene of those humorous popular elections of a mayor, or member for #Garrat#; and the subject serving to illustrate the manners of the times, and abounding in original features of character, I collected among some of its elder inhabitants a variety of amusing facts and documents, relative to the eccentric candidates and their elections.
Southward of Wandsworth, a road extends nearly two miles to the village of Lower Tooting, and nearly midway are a few houses, or hamlet, by the side of a small common, called _Garrat_, from which the road itself is called _Garrat Lane_. Various encroachments on this common led to an association of the neighbours about three-score years since, when they chose a president, or _mayor_, to protect their rights; and the time of their first election, being the period of a new parliament, it was agreed that the mayor should be re-chosen after every general election. Some facetious members of the club gave, in a few years, local notoriety to this election; and, when party spirit ran high in the days of _Wilkes and Liberty_, it was easy to create an appetite for a burlesque election among the lower orders of the metropolis. The publicans at Wandsworth, Tooting, Battersea, Clapham, and Vauxhall, made a purse to give it character; and Mr. Foote rendered its interest universal, by calling one of his inimitable farces, "_the Mayor of Garrat_." I have indeed been told, that Foote, Garrick, and Wilkes, wrote some of the candidates' addresses, for the purpose of instructing the people in the corruptions which attend elections to the legislature, and of producing those reforms by means of ridicule and shame, which are vainly expected from solemn appeals of argument and patriotism.
Not being able to find the members for Garrat in Beatson's Political Index, or in any of the Court Calendars, I am obliged to depend on tradition for information in regard to the early history of this famous borough. The first mayor of whom I could hear was called Sir John Harper. He filled the seat during two parliaments, and was, it appears, a man of wit, for, on a dead cat being thrown at him on the hustings, and a bye-stander exclaiming that it stunk worse than a fox, Sir John vociferated, "that's no wonder, for you see it's a _poll_-cat." This noted baronet was, in the metropolis, a retailer of brick-dust; and, his Garrat honours being supposed to be a means of improving his trade and the condition of his ass, many characters in similar occupations were led to aspire to the same distinctions.
He was succeeded by Sir Jeffrey Dunstan, who was returned for three parliaments, and was the most popular candidate that ever appeared on the Garrat hustings. His occupation was that of buying #OLD WIGS#, once an article of trade like that in old clothes, but become obsolete since the full-bottomed and full-dressed wigs of both sexes went out of fashion. Sir Jeffrey usually carried his wig-bag over his shoulder, and, to avoid the charge of vagrancy, vociferated, as he passed along the streets, "old wigs;" but, having a person like Esop, and a countenance and manner marked by irresistible humour, he never appeared without a train of boys, and curious persons, whom he entertained by his sallies of wit, shrewd sayings, and smart repartees; and from whom, without begging, he collected sufficient to maintain his dignity of mayor and knight. He was no respecter of persons, and was so severe in his jokes on the corruptions and compromises of power, that, under the iron regime of Pitt and Dundas, when freedom was treason, and truth was blasphemy, this political punch, or street-jester, was prosecuted for using what were then called seditious expressions; and, as a caricature on the times, which ought never to be forgotten, he was in 1793 tried, convicted, and imprisoned! In consequence of this affair, and some charges of dishonesty, he lost his popularity, and, at the general election for 1796, was ousted by Sir Harry Dimsdale, muffin-seller, a man as much deformed as himself. Sir Jeffrey could not long survive his fall; but, in death as in life, he proved a satire on the vices of the proud, for in 1797 he died, like Alexander the Great, and many other heroes renowned in the historic page--of suffocation from excessive drinking!
Sir Harry Dimsdale dying also before the next general election, and no candidate starting of sufficient originality of character, and, what was still more fatal, the victuallers having failed to raise a #PUBLIC PURSE#, which was as stimulating a bait to the _independent_ candidates for Garrat, as it is to the _independent_ candidates for a certain assembly; the borough of Garrat has since remained vacant, and the populace have been without a _professed_ political buffoon.
None but those who have seen a London mob on any great holiday can form a just idea of these elections. On several occasions, a hundred thousand persons, half of them in carts, in hackney-coaches, and on horse and ass-back, covered the various roads from London, and choaked up all the approaches to the place of election. At the two last elections, I was told, that the road within a mile of Wandsworth was so blocked up by vehicles, that none could move backward or forward during many hours; and that the candidates, dressed like chimney-sweepers on May-day, or in the mock-fashion of the period, were brought to the hustings in the carriages of peers, drawn by six horses, the owners themselves condescending to become their drivers!
Whether the effect of inculcating useful principles by means of these mock politicians, was compensated by the ridicule thrown on the sacred exertions of patriotism, may perhaps be doubted. These elections served, however, to keep alive the feelings of the people on public questions, and tended to increase those discussions and enquiries which support the arterial circulation of the body politic. The deadly plague of despotism, and the equally fatal disease of ministerial corruption, find victims of their influence only among people who are devoid of moral energies and public spirit, and whose stagnant and torpid condition generates morbid dispositions that invite, rather than resist, the attacks of any public enemy.
I am a friend, therefore, on principle, to the bustle and tumult of popular elections. They are the flint and steel, the animating friction, the galvanic energy, of society. Virtue alone can face them. Vice dreads them as it dreads the light. With uncourtly hands, they tear the mask from Hypocrisy; they arraign at the bar of public opinion, political Culprits, amenable to no other tribunal; and they probe to the quick, the seared consciences of Peculators and Oppressors. If the sycophants of courts, and the sophistical apologists of arbitrary power, should craftily urge that the people are sometimes misled by fraud and falsehood, and therefore unable to distinguish between patriots and plunderers, we should not forget that occasional errors are misfortunes which do not abrogate general rights; and that popular elections are never adopted in well-trained despotisms, as part of the machinery of the state, calculated to subjugate the bodies and minds of their slaves. Do we hear of the suffrages of the people among the Turks, the Russians, the Moors, or the Algerines? Rather, as the means of eliciting the public voice, and of exciting enquiry, are they not of all despotisms, the bane; and of all usurpations and abuses of power, the terror; while, by generating that public spirit which is the animating soul of freedom, they serve as tests of dauntless public virtue, afford the last and the best hope of patriotism, and constitute national schools, in which impressive Lessons of Liberty are taught to the whole people.
In my walk towards Garrat, my attention was attracted by a pretty mansion, which pleased my eye, though the monotonous blows of its adjoining oil-mill annoyed my ear. The owner, Mr. Were, politely exhibited its details; and more mechanical ingenuity than is here displayed could not well be applied to aid the simple operation of extracting oil from linseed. A magnificent water-wheel, of thirty feet, turns a main shaft, which gives motion to a pair of vertical stones, raises the driving-beams, and turns a band which carries the seed, in small buckets, from the floor to the hopper. The shock on the entire nervous system, produced by the noise of the driving-beams as they fall on the wedges, is not to be described. The sense of hearing for the time is wholly destroyed, and the powers of voice and articulation are vainly exerted. The noise is oppressive, though a rebound, comparatively tuneful, takes place, till the wedge is driven home; but afterwards, the blows fall dead, and produce a painful jarr on the nerves, which affected me for several hours with a sense of general lassitude. The gardens of this sensible manufacturer evince considerable taste, and produce that agreeable effect which always results from the combination of comfort, rural beauty, and useful industry. A manufactory in a picturesque situation, surrounded by the usual characters of opulence, is one of the most pleasing features of an English landscape, combining whatever we most admire in nature and art, with moral associations, that produce in the mind a sentiment of perfect satisfaction.
Nearer to Wandsworth, Homer would have found imagery by which to improve his description of the abode of Vulcan; for how feeble must have been the objects of this nature, which a poet could view on the shores of the Mediterranean, compared with the gigantic machinery of an English iron-foundry. The application of the expansive powers of nature, as a moving agent in the steam-engine; the means of generating and concentrating heat in our furnaces; the melting of iron; the casting of the fluid; the colossal powers of the welding hammer, the head of which, though a ton in weight, gives a stroke per second; the power of shears, which cut thick bars of iron like threads; the drawing out of iron hoops by means of rollers, and the boring of cannon, are the every-day business of one of these manufactories, all of which I saw going on at the same instant, without bustle or effort. Iron, the most universal, the most durable, and most economical of the metals, is thus made subservient to the wants of man, at a time when his improvidence in the use of timber has rendered some substitute necessary. New applications are daily made of it, and a new face is, by its means, promised to society. Used as sleepers and bond-pieces in the brick-work of houses, it will extend their duration through many ages; and, as joists, rafters, and plates for roofs, it will defy the assaults of storms and the ravages of fire. As railing for gardens, parks, and other enclosures, it combines elegance with security. As pipes for gas, or for water, it is justly preferred to lead or wood. As frames for windows, it unites lightness with durability. As bedsteads, it excludes vermin; and, as square frames for bridge-pieces, it presents the triumph of human art. Yet these are only a few of its modern applications, for they are illimitable, and a description of the manufactories of Birmingham and Sheffield, of which iron is the staple, would fill a volume. On my remarking to the proprietor of this foundry, that the men mingled themselves with the fire like salamanders; he told me, that, to supply the excessive evaporation, some of them found it necessary to drink eight or ten pots of porter per day. Many of them presented in their brawny arms, which were rendered so by the constant exertion of those limbs; and in their bronzed countenances, caused by the action of the heat and the effluvia, striking pictures of true sons of Vulcan; and, except in occasional accidents, they enjoyed, I was told, general good health, and often attained a hearty old age.
In regard to these manufactories, I learnt, that the application of machinery in them saves two-thirds of the manual labour; or, in other words, that a triple effect is produced by the union of a given number of hands, with appropriate machinery. In this we rejoice; but, from our past experience of the effects, I ask emphatically, #Why#? If in this age the same necessaries and luxuries are produced by one-third of the manual labour which was required in the age of Elizabeth, it is evident that the English of this day ought to subsist as well by working not more than half as much as in the days of Elizabeth, or our boasted machinery is useless. By making the wind, the water, the elastic fluids, and new combinations of the mechanical powers, perform our labour, we compel Nature to work for us; and, though in a northern latitude, we place ourselves in the very situation of the inhabitants of the Tropics, where the ever-bountiful climate feeds the people with slight exertions of manual labour. Yet, is such the effect? Enquire of our labouring classes, who toil for inadequate subsistence from twelve to fifteen hours per day! Does not some malevolent influence then deprive us of the advantages of our ingenuity? Doubtless it is so; and the #Demon of War#, who has so long hovered over this deluded nation, and whose calls for blood and treasure are so insatiable, is the sufficient cause. But on this subject the voice of reason and humanity have been raised so often, that it seems to be as useless as the appeals of a mother, standing on the seashore, to the tempest which is destroying her children in a visible wreck. Infatuated nations are like exhilarated dram-drinkers; they ridicule and despise warning, till a palsy or apoplexy renders them a proverb among their neighbours, and brings on a death-bed, but unavailing, repentance!
I had not time to view any of the other ingenious and valuable manufactories of this place; but, perceiving that the manufacturers formed a numerous and opulent class of inhabitants, and that there were many elegant mansions of families living on their fortunes, besides many respectable shop-keepers, I was induced to seek information in regard to the state of society and mutual intercourse in a country-town possessing such capabilities. On enquiring at the principal Inn, I found that a subscription-assembly was held six times in the year, at an expence of three guineas, but it had only thirty-two subscribers, though within a mile there then were a hundred families that kept their own carriages, and another hundred qualified by habit and manners to give and receive pleasure at such an entertainment. I learnt, however, that this solitary establishment, the only means by which the inhabitants can practically feel that they do not live in a wilderness, is poisoned at its source by a strict ballot, which places the privilege of admission in the discretion of any two or three narrow-minded and impertinent persons, who may have become directors. Of course, no man of sense or delicacy would ever expose himself and family to the insult of being black-balled; and these institutions, which are calculated to promote general happiness, become, in consequence, a source of mortification to the majority of a neighbourhood, and of petty and inadequate gratification to those whose inanity of character, or obsequiousness of manners, have rendered them tolerable to the family, or small junto, who usually take it upon themselves to govern such assemblies.
Some observations on this subject merit record, because happiness is the end of life, the proper business of study, and the true object of all disquisition; and there is no point in which families are rendered more uncomfortable, and in which the spirit of caprice and tyranny is more successfully exerted, than in the institution and conduct of country assemblies; while, at the same time, nothing would be easier than to render them a means of happiness to all who are capable of it. It is evident, that many persons, by habit and education, are ill-adapted to take part in the polite amusements of an assembly; that some men are odious by their vices; and that many females of equivocal character ought not to be allowed to mix with the virtuous part of the sex; consequently, every inhabitant of a district ought not to be admitted to join in amusements which imply the contact of dancing and cards. It is also too certain, that a contemptible and unworthy pride often accompanies the wealth which assumes an ascendancy in assemblies; that scandal and falsehood more commonly govern the decisions of society than charity and truth; and that the base passions of envy and malice mix themselves more or less with all human conduct. What then is the security against the intrusion of the vicious? A ballot, in which one black-ball in ten, or sometimes two or three among the whole body of the subscribers, operate as an exclusion, that is to say, are a means of setting a mark on a family, and placing it at issue with a considerable portion of the neighbourhood! What a pernicious engine for the gratification of pride, scandal, envy, and malice! What an inquisition of the few bad by which to torment the many good! What a dagger in the hands of tolerated assassins! In short, what a perversion of reason, what a disease in the very bosom of society, what a lurking demon stationed at the threshold of every happy family, to blast and thwart the modest ambition of its amiable members! Doubtless, in and near Wandsworth, a mistaken constitution in the system of ballot renders a hundred families uncomfortable, while the thirty-two elect are not benefitted. The principle, therefore, is erroneous, and exclusion should result only from a _majority_ of black-balls. For the honour of our nature we may presume, that a majority of men are not governed by bad passions; at least, our only security consists in its not being so: it may, therefore, be presumed, that a majority of black-balls would be fair evidence of a fault in the candidate rather than in the electors. Perhaps, a simple majority ought to be decisive; but, to guard against the intrigues of bad passions, the decision would be more just if two-thirds were required to be black-balls; for it may be safely trusted, that no third of a respectable assembly will ever vote for the admission of a character truly objectionable.
"But am I to mix," exclaims one of my starch female readers, "with members whom I do not like, or give up my subscription to the assembly." "Unquestionably, Madam; your dislikes ought not to be gratified--your hatred and prejudice are odious vices, which you ought to keep at home, where you can invite whomsoever you like, and reject those whom you dislike; but a public assembly is the property of society, whose happiness ought to be consulted in its arrangements, and which ought to be governed by general rules of morals and justice, and not by the bad passions of the unworthy few."
After all, is it not matter of wonder, that only once a month, during the winter, any congregation of part of the inhabitants of Wandsworth takes place for purposes of amusement? Yet, is not this the general characteristic of English society, from the Orkneys to the Land's-End? The inhabitants of populous districts or towns in Britain might as well, in regard to their intercourse with the community, live in the wilds of America or Siberia! 'Tis true, they assemble on Sundays at church or chapel when their devotions forbid the gaiety which ought to vary the grave pursuits of life--and they meet also in the common receptacle of mortality in the parish cemetery--but they seldom or never meet to cheer life's dull round, to soften asperities, to remove formal distances, to cultivate friendships, and to perform social and neighbourly offices of courtesy and kindness. Why is there not, in every populous vicinage or adjoining to every town, a public gravelled, or paved, Walk, provided with covered and open seats, to which, from spring to autumn, the inhabitants might resort, and promenade between the hours of six and eight or nine. Might not such walk be rendered attractive, during those hours, by being provided with two, three, or four Musicians to play marches and lively airs, and increase the hilarity of the scene? A district would thus become social, and the inhabitants would know each other; though the proud need not mix with the humble more than would be agreeable. Such an arrangement would render less necessary those costly and vitiating excursions to watering-places, which are made in quest of similar gratifications; and they would render two hours of every twenty-four a period of enjoyment to tens of thousands, who now enjoy no relief from gloomy cares, except at the public-house, the card-table, or the backgammon-board. It would, moreover, be a cheap pleasure, supported by a rate of half-a-guinea per house per annum, while it would afford at least 1000 hours of innocent and healthful gratification to their families. To enumerate all the direct and collateral advantages must be unnecessary, because it would be difficult to imagine a single objection that could weigh against the obvious benefits. Society would then become a social state; and it would no longer be problematical, whether a man in a wilderness, separated from the bad passions of his fellow-men, were not happier than he who is surrounded by them, but who has no counterpoise in their intercourse and affections? May these considerations sink deep into the minds of "Men of Ross," wherever they are to be found; and, if acted upon as they merit, I may perhaps live to form one of many happy groupes of village or parish promenades, which owe their origin to these observations.
As an infallible test of the intellectual cultivation and social dispositions of any town, I enquired of two dealers in books, whether there existed any Book-club, but was answered in the negative. A small collection of those beguilers of time, or cordials for _ennui_, called Novels constitute a circulating library; and, judging from the condition of the volumes, this degree of literary taste is general among the females of this village. Far be it from me to depreciate the negative merits of novel-reading, because the majority tend to improve the heart, to direct the sensibilities and sympathies of the mind, and to create many liberal and rational reflections, to which without Novels their readers might have been total strangers. This is no small praise of any pursuit; yet the same and still higher purposes would be attained, if real, rather than fictitious, life were the object of study; if we enquired after man as he was, is, and ever will be, instead of satisfying ourselves with the contemplation of him in the false colourings, distorted positions, and caricature resemblances, of many works of fiction. There can, however, exist no moral agent more effective than a good novel, wherein Attention is rivetted by the author's fancy, Taste is fascinated by his style, and Errors, Prejudices, and Follies of the hour are corrected by his powers of ridicule or argument. To instruct as well as to amuse--to speak great truths in epigrams--to exhibit the substance of sermons without sermonizing--to be wise without appearing so--to make philosophers trifle, and triflers philosophize--to exhibit precept in action--and to surprise the judgment through the medium of the passions and the love of the marvellous,--ought to be the purposes of those who cultivate this interesting branch of literary composition.
Yet, unsociable as is Wandsworth, it is in that respect like all the villages round London. Gay and splendid as they appear to the summer visitor, nothing can be more dull and monotonous than the lives of their constant residents. Made up of the mushroom aristocracy of trade, whose rank, in its first generation, affords no palpable ground of introduction--of pride, whose importance, founded on the chances of yesterday, is fed on its self-sufficiency--of individuals whose consequence grows neither out of manners, intellectual endowments, superior taste, nor polished connections--and of inhabitants of a metropolis, among whom shyness of intercourse is necessary as a security against imposture--it is not to be wondered that most of the showy mansions in these villages are points of repulsion rather than of attraction. It must, however, be conceded, that many of these families are hospitable, charitable, sociable, and anxious to be agreeable--qualities which would serve as the basis of systems of more liberal intercourse, if properly directed, and if cherished in such establishments as book-clubs, periodical assemblies, and evening promenades. Nor should it be forgotten that many of the proprietors of these mansions consider them as mere retreats from the craft and selfish jargon of the world, in which, to enjoy the contrast afforded by the simplicity of nature, they court Solitude, for its own sake, during their temporary residence from evening till morning, and from Saturday till Monday.
In a Village once famous for its manufactories, which, as the effect of the wicked Policy that involved the country in twenty years' warfare, have lost their powers of giving employment to the population whom they had drawn together, I was naturally led to inquire the condition of these helpless victims of deluded and deluding statesmen. What an affecting topic for the contemplation of Sensibility! How painful the condition of Poverty, contrasted with that of Wealth; yet how closely are they allied, and how adventitiously separated! The Rich solace themselves in a fancied exemption from the miseries and ignominy which attach to the Poor, though their daily experience of the caprice of fortune ought to teach them, that, while they have the power, it would be wiser to diminish the contrast by ameliorating the condition of Poverty! How glorious is the spectacle afforded by the contrast of civilized society, with the wretched condition of savages, though that justly admired civilization is often but a result of artifices that create the distinctions of rich and poor! What a gulph between the ancient Britons in the social equality of their woods and caverns, and the favoured English in their luxurious cities and magnificent palaces! Yet, alas! wealth and splendour and greatness are such only by contrast!--Wherever there are rich there must be poor--wherever there is splendour there must be misery--and wherever there are masters there must be servants. These conditions of men in society are like the electrical power in nature, which never indicates its positive qualities without creating corresponding negations; and which, when equally diffused, exhibits no phenomena. If then men are rich merely because they have abstracted or absorbed the wealth of others, their obligations, as moral and sympathetic creatures towards those by whose abasement they are exalted, can require no formal proof. The laws may allow, and the arrangements of society may require, as a condition of civilization, that the rich should enjoy their ascendency; but it is neither just, nor wise, nor decent, nor humane, nor necessary, that the poor should be deprived of benefits which ought to result to the whole family of man, from the triumphs of Art over Nature. All are bound cheerfully to concede to superiority in virtue and intellect, those advantages which are the result of virtuous and intellectual exertions; but, as common descendants of the once-equal Britons, the lowest are warranted in claiming, as matter of right, to be as well fed and as comfortably provided for, on performing, or on evincing a willingness to perform, the duties of their stations, as their equal ancestors among the Britons, or society at large cannot be said to have profitted by our boasted civilization. To adjust these intricate relations, so that all virtue may partake in its sphere of the gifts of nature, augmented by the ingenuity of man, is the arduous, but interesting, task of wise legislation. It would not be reasonable to expect, that every case should be met, and every exigency anticipated, by adequate arrangements; but it is the duty of power, in whomsoever it is placed, to exert itself with unremitting anxiety, so as in the arrangements of man to approximate to the dispositions of nature, which are always marked by inexhaustible abundance, by appropriate benevolence, and by means commensurate to suitable and desirable ends.
Under the influence of such reasoning, I made a variety of enquiries between Battersea and Wandsworth, relative to the condition of the poor. I learnt with grief that the payment of day-labourers varies from 2_s._ 6_d._ to 1_s._ 6_d._ per day, or on an average is not more than 12_s._ per week; of women from 1_s._ 3_d._ to 1_s._ or about 6_s._ per week; and of children from 9_d._ to 6_d._ or 4_s._ per week; though, for the two last classes there is sufficient employment for only half the year. A poor man, who had a wife and three children to maintain on 14_s._ per week, told me, that for many months he and his family had been strangers to meat, cheese, butter, or beer--that bread, potatoes, nettles, turnips, carrots, and onions, with a little salt, constituted the whole of their food--that during the winter months he was obliged to rely on the parish--that in case of sickness he and his children had no resource besides the workhouse--and that, though it had pleased God to take two of his children, it was better they should go to heaven than continue in this wicked and troublesome world. "But I don't think," said he, "the gentlefolk saves much by running down we poor so nation hard, for we are obligated to get it on the parish, which they pay; so it's all one; though it grieves a poor man, as one may say, to apply to them overseers, and to have no hope but the workhouse at last."
I agree with this humble Economist that it seems to be as ungenerous as impolitic to throw on the poor's rates a burthen which ought to be borne by those who profit from the labour thus inadequately remunerated. It could not, and ought not, to be difficult to fix a minimum (not a maximum) on twelve hours' labour per day, such as should be sufficient to support an average-sized family. Suppose for bread and flour 6_s._ were allowed; for meat, cheese, butter, milk, and beer, 4_s._; for potatoes, &c. 2_s._ candles, soap, and coals, 2_s._ cloathing 3_s._ 6_d._ house-rent 2_s._ 6_d._ sundries 1_s._--total 21_s._ Here is nothing superfluous, nothing but what appertains to the earliest stages of civilization, and what every well-arranged society ought to be able to give in return for manual labour of the lowest kind. With inferior means the labourer must suffer the obloquy of being remunerated from the parish rates, to which all are forced to contribute as fully as though the employer paid the fair value of the labour in the first instance, and the amount were assessed on the price of his commodity, instead of being assessed in the form of poor's rates.
It being, however, the _favourite_ system to pay the difference between what the labourer receives, and what he ought to receive, through the medium of the workhouse or parish officers, I anxiously directed my way to #Wandsworth Workhouse#, to examine whether it was an asylum of comfort or a place of punishment? On my entrance I found the hall filled with a crowd of poor persons, then applying to receive a weekly stipend from the overseers, who, with other parish-officers, were assembled in an adjoining apartment. Many women with infants at their breasts, and other children clinging round their knees, presented interesting subjects for poets and painters. Every feeling of the human heart, though in the garb of rags, and bearing the aspect of misery, evidently filled the various individuals composing this groupe. I pressed forward to the room, where I found the overseers were sitting at a table, covered with bank-tokens and other silver for distribution. They received me politely, and, on learning my wish to view the interior, directed the matron to accompany me. The manners and countenances of these overseers flatly contradicted the prejudices which are usually entertained against persons filling the office; and it gratified me to hear several of the poor, whose characteristic is said to be discontent, exclaim, "God bless 'em, they're noble gentlemen."
The matron conducted me into a spacious yard, round which are suites of rooms, built in the manner of alms-houses, a plan which cannot be too much commended, because it sufficiently detaches the tenants of each, secures to every set their peculiar comforts, and may be rendered the means of separating virtue from vice. In the middle of the area stand the offices and kitchen, dividing it into two yards, one for the men, and the other for the women. The whole had been recently white-washed, and, but for the name of work-house, and certain restraints on their habits and liberty, it seemed calculated to secure the comfort of its inmates.
The matron took me into several of the men's rooms, and here I found tottering grey hairs, crippled youth, inveterately diseased of all ages, and artizans destitute of employment. Six or eight were in a room, though I was informed they slept for the most part but one in a bed. A fine young girl about twelve years old, who had slipped out of the women's yard, was seated by the side of her father, an interesting looking artizan, whose trade had ceased to afford him employment. This, I found, was contrary to the discipline of the house, and the matron chid the girl for coming there; "however," said she to me in an under-tone, with great good nature--"one can't blame a child for getting to her father, nor the father for encouraging his child to come over to him."--"No, madam," said I, "and no one can blame you for granting such an indulgence, while all must admire the goodness of heart which dictates that sentiment." Would to God, thought I, that all workhouses were governed by matrons as capable of sympathizing with the feelings of the unfortunate inmates; and that all those who embitter poverty by directing the separation of parents from their children, and husbands from their wives, may themselves become the object of their own law!
My guide now led me to a room where lived a man, his wife, and children, a sawyer out of work, whose eyes were so affected by the dust that falls into the pit, as to render him incapable of following his employment. His pride, as well as that of his wife, seemed to be piqued at being exhibited to view in the workhouse, and they took much pains to convince me that it was their misfortune, not their fault or their wish. Two fine children, one of them a chubby happy creature, playing on the floor, added to the groupe an interest that was deeply affecting. Doubtless, thought I, these simple people once entertained many projects of humble ambition, which, if explained, might draw a smile from the great--but here, alas! they seem to be entombed for ever!
I now took a cursory view of the women's yard, in which I found the same appearances of cleanliness and comfort as on the men's side. But the most interesting scene was the nursery, where sixteen little cherubs, the oldest about five years, were engaged in their innocent diversions, regardless whether they were in a workhouse or a palace, and unsuspicious of the ills that await them in a world governed by selfishness, where the greatest of all crimes, and the forerunner of all calamities, is poverty! I was pleased to find that the mother of three of them was allowed to fill the office of nurse, and the tears trickled down the poor woman's face, as I particularly admired one fine boy, who, it happened, was her child. "Ah! Sir, (said she,) he's so like his poor father!--my poor husband little thought, when he died, that his dear children would so soon be in a workhouse"--here her tears and loud sobs stopt her utterance; but, recovering herself--"if I can't maintain 'em with the labour of my hands, (said she,) I will do what I can for 'em here; there is no other happiness for me in this world, and I will continue to do for them till God shall please to take me also." A woman's and mother's tears are so contagious, and the scene before me formed so deep a drama of real life, that I hurried from the room!
The good matron now showed her cleanly kitchen, her well-arranged laundry, pantry, bakehouse, &c. &c., with which my feelings were not at that moment in unison; I saw, however, much to admire and nothing to condemn. On inquiry, I found that these excellent regulations were the effect of a late revolution in the establishment. Till a very recent period, it had been the criminal practice of the overseers, and the negligent sufferance of the parish, to #FARM# or #LET OUT# the poor to some grim tyrant or task-master, at the average rate of 5_s._ 6_d._ per head! This man was to provide for these wretched victims of the public neglect, and of his miscalculation, out of 5_s._ 6_d._ per week, rent exclusive; and his remuneration consisted in the difference between their cost and that pitiful allowance. The cries of the poor at length forced their way to the ears of the opulent, the contractor was turned out, and it was then humanely determined that the overseers, aided by a master and matron, should in future superintend the workhouse as trustees for the parish.
I understood that they had hitherto performed this duty with great attention and humanity, giving meat-dinners four days in the week, and soup-dinners on the other days, the cost proving about 6_s._ 9_d._ per head, on the one hundred poor in the house, of whom forty were children. In the petty labours with which the aged, crippled, and infant poor are too often harassed in these receptacles, they had, as yet, made no essays. The stipends out of the house amounted, I learned, to nearly as much as the cost within, or to about 30_l._ per week, which, at 2_s._ 6_d._ per head, assists two hundred and forty objects, making a total charge on the parish of from 3 to 4000_l._ per annum.
How many parishes in the metropolis still, however, persist in the negligent practice of farming their wretched poor at only 4_s._ or even 3_s._ 6_d._ per week! And how few of the opulent, idle, and well-intentioned of the parishioners, concern themselves about their condition or sufferings! When the overseer calls for the rates, they perhaps complain so heavily of the amount, that he fears to increase the allowance, however sensible he may be of its necessity; or, perhaps, when accosted by a beggar in the street, they excuse themselves by quoting their large contributions to the rates, and refer the despairing wretch to the workhouse! How incumbent then to see what that workhouse is!--Whether its arrangements are not more fitted for dogs or pigs, than for rational and heart-broken fellow-creatures, however unequal in fortune, or however differing even in virtue! Let us then neither wonder nor complain, that our streets or highways are filled with objects of misery, preferring the cold ground, the unsparing storm, and the inclemency of seasons, to the provisions legally provided for them; if we have not had the industry to ascertain, the courage to reform, and the benevolence to improve, the condition of their parochial asylums!
The reader of sensibility will not, I trust, complain of the length of details on an object which interests every son and daughter of Britain. The other demands on my time allowed me to spend but twenty minutes in this receptacle of the helpless and unfortunate; yet what a volume of feelings and reflections were excited in that short period! We have had a #Howard#, I exclaimed, who visited our gaols and alleviated the condition of those who are forced to drink the dregs of the cup of misery, from the iron-hearted and unsparing hands of lawyers, whose practices are sometimes countenanced by the incorrigible character of criminals! We have a #Webb#, who vainly assaults the giant Penury on the King's highway, but whose frightful strides outstrip his generous speed!--We want then some #ANGEL#, in the form of man, who, uniting the courage and perseverance of a #Howard# with the liberality of a #Webb#, will visit and report on the condition of our Workhouses. But, if, as every parish contains its workhouse, and every county but one gaol, the task in consequence is too great for one life, though actuated by the godlike zeal of a #Wesley#; then it is a task worthy of parish committees, composed of groupes of Angels, in the form of benignant Women, who will find, that the best-spent and the happiest morning of every month would be passed in a visit to the workhouse; where, with slender alms, kind advice, and fostering care, they would be able to soothe the sorrows of the aged widow,--to comfort the sick and helpless,--to pour balm into the mental wounds of those who are reduced from affluence by misfortune,--to raise from hopeless indigence modest merit, which never found a friend,--and to protect orphan children, who need advice and pilotage in their outset in life. No pampered minion of fortune need complain of _ennui_, or be anxious for new amusements, in whose parish there exists a workhouse. It is a Stage on which Dramas, serious or tragical, are every day performed; the interest of which is created by no tricks of the author or machinist, but in which the performers play their parts according to nature, always touching the most sensitive chords of the heart. No spectator ever came away from one of these houses without having his feelings wrought up by actors of all ages, who far outstrip our Siddonses, Kembles, Bettys, Youngs, or Keans, and whose petit dramas excel those of Shakespeare, Rowe, or Otway, in the degree in which suffering and unsophisticated Nature is superior to the trappings and blandishments of Art.
Wandsworth having engaged me above an hour, I endeavoured to recover my loitering, by a rapid pace towards #Putney Heath#, where a crowd of objects presented themselves for description and observation.
The road from #Wandsworth# to #Putney Heath# ascends with a gentle slope, which is inclined about six degrees from the horizontal plane. Wandsworth itself lies little above the level of the Thames at high water; and, as this road ascends nearly a mile, with an angle which averages six degrees, the height of Putney and the adjoining Wimbledon Common may be taken at about the tenth of a mile, 180 yards, or 540 feet. The ascent of one yard in ten gives that gentle fall to the road, which, in a smaller degree, ought to be conferred artificially on all roads, in order that they might drain lengthways, and that the argillaceous earth might be carried off in solution, and only the hard bed of silex remain behind. This beautiful piece of road is a fine exemplification of that principle; but an elevation of two degrees, or nearly one yard in thirty, would be sufficient for the purpose; and, if the rise and fall in flat roads were made to take place at every quarter of a mile, the difference between the bottoms and tops would be about fifteen yards. In general, the natural inequalities of the country would assist such a system of philosophical road-making; but, notwithstanding the first labour, it merits no less respect in all dead levels, as the only means of carrying off their standing water and clay, and of establishing a hard bottom, which, when once formed, would last for many years. Any person who has not duly regarded this principle, will be struck with its justness, by taking notice, during a journey, of any piece of road from which the road-makers have been unable to turn a stream of running water; and he will find, that it possesses a hard smooth bottom, and stands less in need of repair than any road in the same vicinity. Let us then take a lesson from nature on this subject, as we do on all others when we evince our modesty and wisdom.
The objection to this form of roads, founded on the increase of draught required in ascending one side of the inclined plane, has no validity. An inclination of two degrees rises one yard in thirty; consequently, such a power as would draw thirty tons on level ground, must, other circumstances alike, be equal to thirty-_one_ tons on a road so inclined. The resistance of friction in roads which permit the wheels to sink into them, rises, however in a much higher proportion. It may be assumed, that wheels which sink but half an inch, would require an increased draught of an eighth, or, in the above instance, of 2-1/2 tons; if an inch, they would require a fourth more, or 7-1/2 tons; if two inches, a half increase, or fifteen tons; and at three inches, the power would be required to be double. Different soils, and different wheels, would indicate different proportions, but the above may be taken as averages; and, when contrasted with the small increase of power, rendered necessary by the ascent of an inclined plane, the latter, on the ascending half of any road, will appear to be unimportant.
The Emperor Napoleon, who endeavoured to apply philosophy to all the arts of life, decreed, that no public road in France should exceed an inclination of 4° 46', or rise more than one metre in twelve. This proportion, it was estimated, would combine the maxima and minima of the powers; and, in spite of those malignant confederacies which he was so often called upon to overthrow, the labour of reducing many steep roads of France to this practicable inclination was accomplished, and hence the praises of the roads of that country which we read in the narratives of our tourists. England, which set the first example to Europe, in this branch of economy, ought not to allow itself to be outdone by the measures of a reign which it asserted was incompatible with regal dignity; but, proceeding on correct principles, it ought in this case to imitate even a _bad_ example, and to correct its system of patching up its roads under the direction of surveyors, ignorant of general principles, and at the expence of local commissioners, who are interested in making their improvements on the narrowest scale. The rapid advancement of Great Britain in social comforts, within the last sixty years, may be ascribed to the turnpike system, which took the jurisdiction of the public roads out of the hands of parish-officers, and transferred it to commissioners of more extensive districts. A still further improvement is now called for by superadding the controul of a #NATIONAL ROAD POLICE#, which should equalize the tolls, or apply the whole to the unequal wants of various districts; so that roads of nearly equal goodness might characterize all parts of an empire which ought to be rendered one great metropolis, and to be united in means and fraternity by all the facilities of human art.
A stage-coach toiling against this road of six degrees inclination, and a flour-waggon traversing from side to side to lengthen the hypotheneuse, yet stopping at every hundred yards to enable the horses to recover their ordinary tone of breathing, proved the good policy of that law in France, which would have lowered this road at the top full thirty yards, and have extended the hypotheneuse three hundred and sixty yards under the level road at the summit. If the barbarity of the practice of tight-reining the heads of wretched horses needed any exaggeration, its superlative absurdity was evidenced in the horses which I saw labouring up this hill. Nature, which does nothing in vain, had a final purpose in giving motion to the vertebrae that join the head of an animal to the trunk. The moving head is, in truth, one of the extremities of that compound animal lever, whose fulcrum is the centre of gravity. The latter point is disturbed in its inertia, and acquires progressive motion by the action of the extremities of the lever, which are themselves moved by volition, whose seat is in the cranium; and the head, in consequence, is in all instances the first mover. The propulsion or vibration of the head puts the entire muscular system in motion, disturbs the balance on the centre of gravity, and so effects the sublime purposes of loco-motion in all animals. Yet it is this prime mover which the greater brutes, who profess themselves _knowing_ in the economy of horses, so tie up that it can in no way exert itself; and then they whip and spur the animal to force it to make new and unnatural exertions! Let any man, himself an erect animal, the powers of whose _primum mobile_ are divided between his head and his hands, cause his head to be so tied back and fastened behind as to force out his chest. In that position let him try his comparative powers in walking or running with speed and safety, or in carrying or drawing a load, and he will soon be convinced of the cruelty of the practice of tying up the head of a horse for no other purpose than that he may _look_ bold and noble! #Wesley# and #Bakewell#, who rode more than any men of their time, told me that they had suffered from frequent falls, till, by attending to the evident designs of nature, they suffered the bridle of their horses to festoon in a semicircle; and since then, in riding thousands of miles, they had never endured even the anxiety of a stumble.
A pedestrian like the writer could not avoid feeling grateful to the constructor of this piece of road, for its beautiful and spacious causeway, which extends from the village of Wandsworth to Putney Heath. It is in most parts seven feet wide, and it doubtless owes much of its hardness, smoothness, and dryness, to its declining position, which causes the water to run off, carrying with it in solution the argillaceous earth, and leaving a basis of pure but well pulverized silex. All who reside in the country, ladies particularly, know how to estimate the worth of a broad, smooth, and dry walk, by the miseries so generally suffered from those of a contrary description. For the sake, therefore, of the example and the precept, they will candidly excuse the eulogy extorted from a wandering pedestrian on meeting with so agreeable an accommodation in a district, which, in many respects, seems appropriated to the caprice of wealth. To supply the deficiency of our Road Bills, one sweeping law ought to enact that all turnpike roads should be provided with a raised causeway for foot passengers, at least five feet wide, with cross posts at every furlong to prevent equestrians from abusing it, and with convenient seats at the end of every mile. It is too much to expect in these times to see realized the writer's favourite plan of #MILE-STONE# and #MARINE COTTAGES#, among a people who have passionately mortgaged all their estates, and blindly encumbered all their industry, in paying the interest of money raised to carry on wars made for the purpose of regulating the independant governments of other countries!
The sides of this road and the openings of the distant landscape, excite the admiration of the eye of taste by the architectural and horticultural beauties of mansions which have sprung out of the profits or artifices of trade. The multiplication of these dormitories of avarice is considered by too many as the sign of public prosperity. Fallacious, delusive, and mischievous notion! Was the world made for the many, or the few? Can any one become rich from domestic trade without making others poor; or can another bring wealth from foreign countries except by adding to the circulating medium, and thereby diminishing the value of money? In either case, what is the benefit to the public or the community? Yet a benefit is rendered visible--a fine house has arisen where there stood before but a wretched hovel--and a paradise has been created out of a sheep pasture!--The benefit, however, is merely to the individual! His pride and taste have been gratified, and this gratification is called a benefit--yet with him the benefit, if to him it really be so, begins and ends. But he employs the neighbourhood, patronizes the arts, and encourages trade? Granted,--but whence come his means? His wealth is not miraculous. It has no exclusive or original properties. If he spend it at Putney, he must draw it from other places, either from rents of land or houses, or from interest of money, both the fruit of other's industry, and the sign of corresponding privations in those who pay them!
For the sake of the elegant arts, which derive their encouragement from the superfluities of the few, I am no enemy to any moderate inequalities of means which enable men to become examples of the good effects of industry; I merely object to the vulgar inference that splendid mansions serve as signs of the increasing wealth of a country. Better criterions would be the diffusion of plenty and comfort--abundance of smoking farm-houses and well-stored barns--#CHEAP PROVISIONS# and #DEAR LABOUR#--enough with moderate exertions for home consumption, and something to exchange for the luxuries of different climates. But it is no index of national prosperity that elegant villas rise like sun-flowers, as gaudy as unprofitable, while gaols are crammed with insolvents or needy culprits, and poor-houses are filled with wretchedness! Poland astonishes travellers by the splendour of its palaces; while in the same prospect they are shocked at the huts of the people, exhibiting the characteristics of English hog-sties! Let the increase of splendour, therefore, be considered rather as a proof of the derangement of social order, than as any sign of its triumph; and let us not forget that, however much fine houses may benefit and gratify the blameless and often meritorious occupants, they do not, as such, serve as any signs of increased opulence in the community at large.
On arriving near the top of this road, I obtained a distinct view of a phenomenon, which can be seen no where in the world but at this distance from London. The Smoke of nearly a million of coal fires, issuing from the two hundred thousand houses which compose London and its vicinity, had been carried in a compact mass in the direction which lay in a right angle from my station. Half a million of chimneys, each vomiting a bushel of smoke per second, had been disgorging themselves for at least six hours of the passing day, and they now produced a sombre tinge, which filled an angle of the horizon equal to 70°, or in bulk twenty-five miles long, by two miles high. As this cloud goes forward it diverges like a fan, becoming constantly rarer; hence it is seldom perceived at its extremity, though it has been distinguished near Windsor. As the wind changes, it fills by turns the whole country within twenty or thirty miles of London; and over this area it deposits the volatilized products of three thousand chaldrons, or nine millions of pounds of coals per day, producing peculiar effects on the country. In London this smoke is found to blight or destroy all vegetation; but, as the vicinity is highly prolific, a smaller quantity of the same residua may be salutary, or the effect may be counteracted by the extra supplies of manure which are afforded by the metropolis. Other phenomena are produced by its union with fogs, rendering them nearly opaque, and shutting out the light of the sun; it blackens the mud of the streets by its deposit of tar, while the unctuous mixture renders the foot-pavement slippery; and it produces a solemn gloom whenever a sudden change of wind returns over the town the volume that was previously on its passage into the country. One of the improvements of this age, by which the next is likely to benefit, has been its contrivances for more perfect combustion; and for the condensation and sublimation of smoke. The general adoption of a system of consuming the smoke would render the London air as pure as that of the country, and diminish many of the nuisances and inconveniences of a town residence. It must in a future age be as difficult to believe that the Londoners could have resided in the dense atmosphere of coal-smoke above described, as it is now hard to conceive that our ancestors endured houses without the contrivance of chimneys, from which consequently the smoke of fires had no means of escape but by the open doors and windows, or through a hole in the roof!
On the left I passed the entrance into the tastefully planned, but very useless, park of the justly esteemed #Earl Spencer#. It contains about seven hundred acres, disposed so as to please the eye of a stranger, but which, like all _home-spots_, soon lose, from their familiarity, the power of delighting a constant occupant. Why then appropriate so fine a piece of ground to so barren a purpose? Does the gratification of strangers, and the first week's pleasure to the owner, counterpoise the consideration that the same spot would afford the substantial ornament of ten farms, or subsistence to three hundred and forty cottages, with two acres of garden and pasture? The superb mansion of Lord Spencer, with all necessary garden-ground and pasturage, would not less ornament the landscape, nor be less ornamented by such an assemblage of humbler happiness. Though a #Repton# might exhaust his magic art in arranging the still beauties of a park, yet how certainly would they pall on the eye after the daily survey of a month! Why then sacrifice to the pride of custom that which in other dispositions might add so much to the sum of happiness? Let the means of promoting the felicity of others constitute part of our own; and, with the aid of the ornamental gardener, both objects might be combined. He would so dispose of his white-washed cottages, so groupe his farm-yards, and so cluster his trees, that from every window of the feudal mansion the hitherto solitary occupant might behold incessant variety, accompanied by the pleasing associations growing out of prosperous industry and smiling plenty. Does Claude ever revel in solitudes? Does Poussin fascinate in exhibitions of mechanical nature? And when does Woollet enchant us but in those rich landscapes in which the woods are filled with peeping habitations, and scope given for the imagination by the curling smoke of others rising behind the trees?
On entering Putney Heath, my attention was drawn towards an obelisk which stands by the road-side, recording a wonder of the last age; and the liberal attention of the public authorities to a discovery which promised ulterior advantages to the community. Several recent Fires had led ingenious men to consider of the means of preventing similar catastrophes. One person improved water-engines, another suggested floors of stucco, and others contrived means of escape; but David Hartley, esq. a son of the illustrious writer who traced to their sources the associations of Ideas, and then a member of parliament, contrived to build a house which no ordinary application of ignited combustibles could be made to consume.
This house, still standing at the distance of a hundred yards from the obelisk, serves as a monument of the inventor's plans; but, like every thing besides, it recently excited the avarice of speculation, and, when I saw it, was filled with workmen, who where converting it into a tasteful mansion, adding wings to it, throwing out verandas, and destroying every vestige of its original purpose. One of the workmen shewed me the chamber in which, in 1774, the King and Queen took their breakfast; while, in the room beneath, fires were lighted on the floor, and various inflammable materials were ignited, to prove that the rooms above were fire-proof. Marks of these experiments were still visible on the charred boards. In like manner there still remained charred surfaces on the landings of the staircase, whereon fires had been ineffectually lighted for the purpose of consuming them, though the stairs and all the floorings were of ordinary deal! The fires in the rooms had been so strong that parts of the joists in the floor above were charred, though the boards which lay upon them were in no degree affected.
The alterations making at the moment enabled me to comprehend the whole of Mr. Hartley's system. Parts of the floors having been taken up, it appeared that they were double, and that his contrivance consisted in interposing between the two boards, sheets of laminated iron or copper. This metallic lining served to render the floor air-tight, and thereby to intercept the ascent of the heated air; so that, although the inferior boards were actually charred, the less inflammable material of metal prevented the process of combustion from taking place in the superior boards. These sheets of iron or copper, for I found both metals in different places, were not thicker than tinfoil or stout paper; yet, when interposed between the double set of boards, and, deprived of air, they effectually stopt the progress of the fire.
The House of Commons voted 2500_l._ to Mr. Hartley to defray the expences of this building; the sovereign considered it a popular act to give him countenance; and a patriotic lord-mayor and the corporation of London, to impress the public with deeper convictions of its importance, witnessed the indestructible property of the structure on the 110th anniversary of the commencement of the great fire of London. Yet the invention sunk into obscurity, and few records remain of it except the pompous obelisk and the wreck of this house.
It merits observation, that in modern-built Houses taste or accident has effected sufficient security against fires without any special preventives. Flame is only ungovernable when in its ascent it meets with combustible materials. Heat, as the principle of expansion, rarefies and volatilizes all bodies; and then, as the heavier give place to the lighter, so bodies subject to its action ascend, and carry up with them the principle, matter, or action of heat. A chief object therefore of man's policy in economizing fire, in subduing it to his use, and in governing its decomposing and destructive powers, should be to prevent its finding fuel in the ascent. No connected timbers ought therefore to join an inferior floor with a superior, so that, if one floor were on fire, its feeble lateral combustion might easily be extinguished with a mop and a pail of water, provided no train of combustibles were extended to the floor above. Such is the language of philosophy, and such the slight process of reason, by attending to which the habitations of men may at all times be secured against the calamity of fire. How absurd however was the construction of our houses till within the last twenty or thirty years! Wooden staircases, exposed wooden balusters, and wainscotted walls, coated with paints composed of oil and turpentine, and put together more like a train of combustibles, than the habitations of beings calling themselves rational! The taste of modern architecture has, however, corrected the evil; and stone staircases, iron balusters, plastered walls, and lofty rooms, contribute to cut off the communication, though a fire may have seized on a flooring, or on any articles of furniture. This security might however be further increased by more strictly regarding the principle; by cutting off all contact between floor and floor, made by wooden pilasters, window-shutters, &c.; by the more liberal introduction of iron; and by the occasional use of Hartley's iron or copper sheets.
By analogous reasoning it is suggested to us, that, if those females whose clothes have taken fire, and whose head, throat, breasts, and arm-pits, are consequently exposed to the increasing intensity of an ascending flame, were instantly to throw themselves into an horizontal position, their vital parts would not only not be affected, but the lateral flame would be so trifling as to be easily and safely extinguished. What in human life can exceed in horror, the circumstance of a woman in full health, often in the middle of her friends and family, being roasted alive by combustibles fastened to her person, from which it is impossible to escape till her most sensitive parts have been reduced to a cinder! What crime ever perpetrated by human turpitude could have warranted a more dreadful fate! What demons, contriving mischief and torments, could have invented a combination of miseries so terrible and heart-rending? The decorations of beauty--the gratification of pride--even the humble means of health and comfort, are thus rendered the unmerciful instruments of the keenest sufferings, the most frightful sudden deaths, and the most dismal domestic tragedies! Yet the entire evil arises from the principle of the ascent of all heat; from the flame meeting in that ascent with fresh fuel to feed on, by which its intensity is progressively augmented; and then acting at its summit on the head, throat, and sensitive vital parts of the agonized victim. The remedy therefore is simply to lie down, when the roaring flame of several feet high will be so reduced that it may be put out with the hands, with the other parts of the garments, or by any extraneous covering.
About a hundred yards from this fire-proof house, stands the Telegraph which communicates with Chelsea, and forms part of the chain from the Admiralty to Portsmouth and Plymouth. I learnt that there are twelve stations between London and Portsmouth, and thirty-one between London and Plymouth, of which eight are part of the Portsmouth line till they separate in the New Forest. Another chain, extending from London to Yarmouth, contains nineteen stations; and another from London to Deal contains ten stations; making in the whole system sixty-four telegraphs. The distances average about eight miles, yet some of them are twelve or fourteen miles; and the lines are often increased by circuits, for want of commanding heights. In the Yarmouth line particularly, the chain makes a considerable detour to the northward.
After about twenty years' experience, they calculate on about two hundred days on which signals can be transmitted throughout the day; about sixty others on which they can pass only part of the day, or at particular stations; and about one hundred days in which few of the stations can see the others. The powers of the stations in this respect are exceedingly various. The station in question is generally rendered useless during easterly winds by the smoke of London, which fills the valley of the Thames between this spot and Chelsea hospital; or more commonly between the shorter distance of the Admiralty and Chelsea. Dead flats are found to be universally unfavourable; and generally stations are useless nearly in the proportion of the miles of dead flat looked over. On the contrary, stations between hill and hill, looking across a valley, or series of valleys, are mostly clear; and water surfaces are found to produce fewer obscure days than land in any situation. The period least favourable of the same day is an hour or two before and after the sun's passage of the meridian, particularly on dead levels, where the play of the sun's rays on the rising exhalations renders distant vision exceedingly obscure. The tranquillity of the morning and evening are ascertained to be the most favourable hours for observation.
A message from London to Portsmouth is usually transmitted in about fifteen minutes; but, by an experiment tried for the purpose, a single signal has been transmitted to Plymouth and back again in three minutes, which by the Telegraph route is at at least five hundred miles. In this instance, however, notice had been given to make ready, and every captain was at his post to receive and return the signals. The progress was at the rate of one hundred and seventy miles in a minute, or three miles per second, or three seconds at each station; a rapidity truly wonderful! The number of signals produced by the English telegraph is sixty-three--by which they represent the ten digits, the letters of the alphabet, many generic words, and all the numbers which can be expressed by sixty-three variations of the digits. The signals are sufficiently various to express any three or four words in twice as many changes of the shutters.
The observers at these telegraphs are not expected to keep their eye constantly at the glass, but look only every five minutes for the signal to make ready. The telescopes are Dolland's Achromatics, at which one would wonder, if every thing done for governments were not converted into a job. The intention should have been to enable the observer to see the greatest number of hours; consequently the light should be intercepted by the smallest quantity of glass. Dollond's achromatics contain, however, six lenses, and possess no recommendation but their enlarged field, and their freedom from prismatic colours in that field; points of no consequence in looking through a fixed glass at a fixed and circumscribed object. The field of the Galilean telescope is quite large enough, and, having but two lenses, one of which is a thin concave, it exhibits the object with greater brightness, and therefore ought to have been preferred for this purpose. It seems strange also, that, to ease the operator, it has never been contrived to exhibit the fixed spectrum on the principle of a portable camera, so that, without wearying the eye, the changes of the distant telegraph might have been exhibited on a plain surface, and seen with both eyes like the leaf of a book. The application of optical instruments, between a fixed station and fixed object, ought to have been made in an appropriate manner, and not influenced by the practices which prevail in regard to moveable telescopes for various objects.
I have long thought that a system of telegraphs for domestic purposes would constitute one perfection of civilization in any country. Multifarious are the occasions in which individual interests require that events should be communicated with telegraphic celerity. Shipping concerns alone would keep telegraphs constantly at work, between all the ports of the kingdom and Lloyd's coffee-house; and commerce would be essentially served, if, during 'Change-hours at London, Bristol, Liverpool, Hull, and Glasgow, communications could be interchanged relative to the state of markets, purchases, sales, and other transactions of business. How convenient too would be such a rapid intercourse between London and country bankers, in regard to balances, advances, and money transactions; how desirable in law business between London and country practitioners; and how important in cases of bankruptcy or insolvency! In family concerns, notices of deaths, births, accidents, progressive sickness, &c. it would often be deeply interesting. The state of elections, the issues of lawsuits, determinations of the legislature, questions for answers, and numberless events of more or less importance, would occur sufficient to keep telegraphs in constant requisition, and abundantly repay the cost of maintaining them. A guinea might be paid per hundred miles, for every five or six words, which, in matters of private concern, might, by pre-concert, be transmitted in cypher. Instead of sixty-four telegraphs, we might then require five hundred, and an establishment costing 100,000_l._ per annum; yet five hundred messages and replies per day, between different parts of the kingdom, taken at 2_l._ each, would in two hundred and fifty days produce 250,000_l._ or a net revenue of 150,000_l._ But to achieve so vast a purpose, and to confer on men a species of ubiquity, even if 50,000_l._ per annum were lost to the government, would it not be worth the sacrifice, thus to give to the people of England an advantage not possessed, and never likely to be possessed, by any other people on earth? What a triumph of civilization would be afforded by such an extension of the telegraphic system! The combinations of the #TELESCOPE# began what those of the #TELEGRAPH# would complete. United, they would produce a kind of _finite ubiquity_, rendering the intercourse of an industrious community independent of time and distance, and binding the whole in ties of self-interest, by means which could be achieved only in a high state of civilization through fortunate combinations of human art.
As I looked around me from this eminence, a multitude of ideas, sympathies, and affections, vibrated within me, which it would be impossible or tedious to analyse. The organ of the Eye was here played upon like that of the Ear in a musical concert. Nor was it the sense alone which was touched by this visual harmony; but every chord and tone found a separate concord or discord, in innumerable associations and reminiscences. It was, in truth, a chorus to the eye, unattended by the noise and distraction produced by the laboured compositions of #Handel#; while it filled the whole of its peculiar sense with an effect like one of the tender symphonies of #Haydn#. It was a Panorama, better adapted, however, to a poet than a painter; for it had no foreground, no tangible objects for light and shade, nor any eminences which raise the landscape above an angle of six or eight degrees; yet, to a poet, how rich it was in associations--how endless in pictures for the imagination!
The north and north-east were still obscured by the dingy, irregular, and dense Smoke issuing from the volcano of the Metropolis; and, in looking upon it, how difficult it was to avoid tracing the now mingled masses back to their several sources, considering the happiness or misery which they reflected from their respective fire-sides, and gaging the aspirations of hope, or the sighs of wretchedness, which a fertile imagination might conceive to be combined with this social atmosphere! Convenient alike to every condition of humanity, it might be considered as flowing at once from the dungeons of despairing convicts, the cellars and garrets of squalid poverty, the busy haunts of avarice, the waste of luxury, and the wantonness of wealth.
Straight before me, the metropolis, like a devouring monster, exhibited its equivocal and meretricious beauties, its extensive manufactories, its a_spir_ing churches and towers, and other innumerable edifices. #Westminster Abbey# stood prominent, at once reviving the recollection of its superstitious origin, and exciting deep veneration as the depository of the relics of so much renown. What topics for commentary, if they had not been recently exhausted in the classical stanzas of a #Maurice#! St. #Paul's#, the monument of Wren, was but just visible through the haze, though the man at the Telegraph asserted, that he could sometimes tell the hour by its dial without the aid of a telescope! How characteristic is this structure become of the British metropolis, and how flat the mass of common spires and smoky chimneys would now seem without it! The Monument, recording the delusions of faction, and the Tower, with all its gloomy associations, were visible in the reach of the river. Of Churches there appeared a monotonous groupe; while the houses presented a dingy and misshapen mass, as uninteresting at the distance of seven miles as an ant-hill at the distance of seven feet. Indeed, any wretch capable of setting his foot upon an ant-hill, and of destroying it, because it made no palpable appeals to his sympathy, might at this distance, by parity of feeling, let fall a mill-stone on this great city, and extinguish in an instant the hopes and cares of its inhabitants. On this spot then I behold an assemblage of the greatest wonders of man's creation, at a focal distance, which reduces them to the measure of an #ANT-HILL#; and still further off they would be diminished even to a #POINT#! Such is the estimate of the eye, nor is it heightened by that of the ear; for I was assured that during tranquil nights, particularly by listening near the ground, the confused hum of the vast British metropolis could here be compared only to the buz of a #BEE-HIVE#, or the sound of a #CONCH#! What a lesson do these considerations afford to the pride of man, whose egotism represents him to himself as the most important object of the infinite creation; for whose use, he asserts, all things were made, and to whom all things are subservient! It is, however, natural that the nearest object should fill the largest angle, whether viewed by the mind or the eye; though it is the business of wisdom and philosophy to correct such illusions of our intellectual or sensitive powers.
Of the moral condition, and feelings, concentrated within a spot thus embraced by a glance of the eye, how impossible to form an estimate! Supposing 900,000 human beings are thus huddled together, in 150,000 houses, we may conclude, that 100,000 will always be lying on the bed of sickness, and that 30,000 are constantly afflicted by mortal diseases, eighty of whom expire every day, or three in every hour! Of the 150,000 house-keepers, above 50,000 are racked by poverty, or by the dread of its approach; other 50,000 maintain a precarious independence; while the remaining 50,000 enjoy comfort and happiness, chequered, however, by care and the conflict of human passions. The greater part of the first class are either already plunged, or predisposed to plunge, into vices and crimes unknown except in such a city; those of the second class maintain a virtuous struggle, but more frequently sink into the lower, than rise into the higher class; while, among the third class, there are found all degrees of virtue and worth, although mixed with an envious spirit of rivalry, and an indulgence in expense and luxury that greatly reduce the number of truly happy families.
On the north, north-west, and east, I still beheld the signs of this overgrown metropolis in villages, which branch, like luxuriant shoots, on every side. And it was only on the south and south-west, in the swelling downs and in the charms of Box-hill, Leith-hill, and Dorking, that I could discover the unsophisticated beauties of nature, which seemed to mock the toils of man, in the contrast they afforded to the scene in the opposite direction. Yet men, who never receive instruction except through their own experience, flock in tens of thousands to share in the lottery presented to their ambition in great cities, where thousands perish while in pursuit of the prize, where other thousands obtain nothing but blanks and disappointments, and whence the tens who achieve their object, gladly escape to enjoy their wealth, free from the disturbance of city passions, amid the placid and unchangeable beauties of nature.
In looking around me from the windows of Hartley's Fire-house, it was impossible to avoid reflecting on the wretchedness of Want existing in the sooty metropolis, and the waste of Means in the uncultivated country immediately around me. I had just been sympathizing with the forlorn inhabitants of the workhouse at Wandsworth, at the distance of only a mile; and half a dozen other such receptacles of misery invited commiseration within equal distances, in other directions; yet a radius of a few hundred yards round this spot would have included as much unappropriated and useless land as might have sufficed to confer independence and plenty on their hopeless inmates! In the north-eastern direction, within a distance of ten miles, at least twenty thousand families might be discovered pining in squalid misery; though here I found myself in an unpeopled and uncultivated tract, nearly four miles square, and containing above fifteen thousand acres of good soil, capable of affording independent subsistence to half as many families!
I could not help exclaiming against the perversity of reason--the indifference of power--the complication of folly--and the ascendancy of turpitude, which, separately or conjointly, continue to produce circumstances so cruel and preposterous! Let it be recorded, said I, to the eternal disgrace of all modern statesmen, of many hundreds of ambitious legislators, and of our scientific economists, that in this luxuriant county of Surrey, there still exist, without productive cultivation, no less than 25,000 acres of open commons; 30,000 acres of useless parks, 48,000 acres of heaths, and 30,000 acres of chalk hills, serving but to subsist a few herds of deer and cattle, and to grow some unproductive trees, though at the very instant 10,000 families in the same county are dependent on the bounty of their respective parishes! Is this, said I, the vaunted age of reason? Are these the genuine fruits of civilization? Do such circumstances indicate the ascendency of benevolence? Do they not rather demonstrate that the principle of doing to others as we would be done unto, has little influence on the practices of our Statesmen and Legislators?
I may be told, that the principle of enclosing waste lands has long been recognised in the prevailing system of economy, and that the Legislature is incessantly active in passing Bills for new enclosures. But, I ask, for whom, and for whose benefit, are these bills passed? Do they provide for the poor? Do they help those who require help? Do they, by augmenting the supply, make provisions cheaper? Do they increase the number of independent fire-sides?--Rather, do they not wantonly add to the means of monopolists? Do they not give where nothing is wanted, however much may be coveted? Do they not add to the number of vassals, and diminish the number of freemen? Do they not abridge the scanty means of the poor in the free use of their bare-cropt commons? And do they not transfer those means to others who do not want them, and who, without the aid of new laws could never have enjoyed them?
Yet does reason afford no alternative? Is benevolence forced to prefer barren heaths from which cottagers may derive scanty meals, merely because those who have the power fail to reconcile the rights ©f others who want, with the benefit of the whole community? Is our wisdom confined in so narrow a circle? Has nature provided abundance, and do we create insuperable bars to its enjoyment? Is such the line of demarcation between the selfish ordinances of man, and the wise dispensations of Providence?
Let me recommend our legislators for once to put their greedy, covetous, and inordinate Selves out of consideration. The poor may not be qualified to plead their rights, except by acts of rioting; but let them find clamorous advocates in the consciences of some of their law-makers. In spite, then, of the fees of parliament, I exhort the Legislature to pass a #GENERAL ENCLOSURE BILL#, not such a one, however, as would be recommended by the illustrious Board of Agriculture, but founded on such principles as might appropriately confer on it the title of #A BILL FOR THE EXTINCTION OF WANT#!
In discussing and enacting its provisions, let it be borne in mind, that the surface of the earth, like the atmosphere in which we breathe, and the light in which we see, is the natural and common patrimony of man. Let it be considered, that by nature we are tillers of the soil, and that all the artifices of society, and the employments of towns, are good and desirable in the degree only in which they promote the comforts of the country. Let it be felt, that the 10,000 destitute families in this county of Surrey, and the half million in England and Wales, are so, merely because servitude or manufactures have failed to sustain them; and that they require, in consequence, the free use of the means presented by nature for their subsistence. In fine, let it be considered, that the unappropriated wastes are a national stock, fortunately in reserve as a provision for the increasing numbers of destitute; and that no more is required of the law than to arrange and economize the distribution, consistently with the wants of some, and the rights of all.
I indulged myself in a pleasing reverie on this subject, while I rambled from the spot where it originated towards an adjacent house, in which died the late Mr. #Pitt#, a man who had the opportunity of executing that which I have the power only to speculate upon, and who, though resident in this tract, was blind to its capabilities. Ah! thought I, perhaps in a less selfish age, this very heath, and all the adjoining heaths, waste tracts, and commons, from Bushy to Wimbledon, and from Barnes to Kingston, may be covered with cottages, each surrounded by its two or three acres of productive garden, orchard, and paddock! The healthful and happy inhabitants, emerged from the workhouses, the gaols, the cellars, the stews, the St. Giles's, the loathsome courts, alleys, and lanes of the metropolis, would have reason to return thanksgivings to the wise Legislature, who had thus restored them to the condition of men, and enabled them to exhibit the moral effects of the change. Such, in the opinion of the writer, would be a radical cure for several of the complicated and deep-rooted diseases which now afflict British society; at least, it is a remedy without cost or sacrifice; and, as such, an homage due from affluence and power to indigence and misfortune. Such a plan would draw from the over-peopled towns, that destitute portion of the population, whose means of living have been reduced or superseded by shoals of adventurers from the country. It would render workhouses useless, except for the vicious or incorrigibly idle; would diminish the poor-rates, and deprive the inmates of gaols of the powerful excuse afforded to crime by the hopeless and galling condition of poverty.
The house in which that darling of Fame, the late Mr. #Pitt#, lived a few years, and terminated his career, is a modest and irregularly-built mansion, surrounded by a few acres of pleasure-ground, and situated about a quarter of a mile from the paling of Richmond Park. My curiosity led me to visit the chamber in which this minister died, to indulge in the vivid associations produced by the contemplation of remarkable localities. I seated myself in a chair near the spot where stood the couch on which he took his eternal slumber. I fancied, at the instant, that I still saw the severe visage and gaunt figure of the minister standing between the Treasury-bench and the table of the House of Commons, turning around to his admiring partisans, and filling the ear of his auditory with the deep full tones of a voice that bespoke a colossal stature. Certain phrases which he used to parrot still vibrated on my brain: "Bonaparte, the child and champion of Jacobinism,"--"the preservation of social order in Europe,"--"the destruction of whatever is dear to our feelings as Englishmen,"--"the security of our religion, liberties, and property,"--"indemnity for the past and security for the future," with which he used to bewilder or terrify the plain country gentlemen, or the youths from Eton, Oxford, or Cambridge, who constitute a majority of that House. His success in exciting the passions of such senators in favour of discord and war, his lavish expenditure of the public money in corrupting others, and his insincerity in whatever he professed for the public benefit, rendered him through life the subject of my aversion: but, in this chamber, reduced to the level of ordinary men, and sinking under the common infirmities of humanity, his person, character, and premature decease became objects of interesting sympathy. Perhaps he did what he thought best; or, rather, committed the least possible evil amidst the contrariety of interests and passions in which he and all public men are placed. This, however, is but a poor apology for one who lent his powerful talents to wage wars that involved the happiness of millions, who became a willing firebrand among nations, and who, as a tool or a principal, was foremost in every work of contemporary mischief. The love of office, and a passion for public speaking, were, doubtless, the predominant feelings of his soul. To gratify the former, he became the instrument of others, and thence the sophistry of his eloquence and the insincerity of his character; while, in the proud display of his acknowledged powers as an orator, he was stimulated not less by vanity, than by the virtuous rivalry of Fox. As a financier, he played the part of a nobleman who, having estates, worth 20,000_l._ per annum, mortgages them to enable him to spend 100,000_l._ and then plumes himself on his power, with the same freeholds, to make a greater figure than his predecessors. But, except for the lesson which he afforded to nations never to trust their fortunes in the hands of inexperienced statesmen, why do I gravely discuss the measures and errors of one who did not live long enough to prove his genuine character? No precocity of talents, no mechanical splendour of eloquence, can stand in the place of judgment founded on Experience. At forty-six, Pitt would have begun, like all other men of the same age, to correct the errors of his past life; but, being then cut off--#HIS STORY IS INCOMPLETE#! He had within him the elements of a great man, yet they were called into action before their powers were adjusted and matured; and the world suffered by experiments made in teaching himself, instead of profiting by the union of his experience with his intellectual energies. He was an actor on the stage, while he ought to have been in the closet studying his part; his errors, therefore, merit pity, and those alone are to be blamed for them who made a dishonest use of his precocious powers.
I learnt in the immediate vicinity, that he was much respected, and was a kind master to his domestics. A person, who a little before his death was in this room, told that it was heated to a very high and oppressive temperature; and that the deep voice of the dying minister, as he asked his valet a question, startled this visitor, who had been unused to it. He died calmly, and apparently under none of those political perturbations which, at the period, were mistakenly ascribed to his last moments. The Bishop of Lincoln, who acted the part of his friend and confessor, published an interesting account of his decease, the accuracy of which has never been questioned.
It being my intention, on leaving this spot, to descend the hill to Barnes-Elms, and to proceed by that once classical resort through Barnes and Mortlake to Kew, I left Mr. Pitt's house on the right, and crossed the common to the retired village of Roehampton.
Opposite to me were the boundaries of Richmond Park; and, little more than half a mile from the house of Pitt, in one of the most picturesque situations of that beautiful demesne, stands the elegant mansion which was presented, it is said, to the then favourite minister, Mr. #Addington#. Thus it appears, that two succeeding ministers of England, in an age reputed enlightened, lived in a district possessing the described capabilities for removing the canker-worm of poverty, yet neither of them displayed sufficient energy or wisdom to apply the remedy to the disease. I am not, however, arrogant enough to adduce my plans as tests of the patriotism of statesmen; but I venture to appeal from the judgment of this age to that of the next, whether any minister could deserve the reputation of sagacity, who, in an over-peopled country, in which large portions of the inhabitants of the towns were destitute of subsistence, lived themselves in the midst of waste tracts capable of feeding the whole, and yet took no measures nor made a single effort to apply the waste to their wants. If the same facts were related of a ruler in any foreign country, or in any remote age, what would be the inference of a modern English reader in regard to his genuine benevolence, wisdom, or patriotism?
I am desirous of advancing no opinions which can be questioned, yet I cannot refrain from mentioning, in connexion with this wooded horizon, my surprise that peculiar species of trees have not yet formed a line of distinction between inhabited and civilized, and uninhabited and barbarous countries. Does not the principle which converts a heath into pasturage and corn-fields, or a collection of furze-bushes or brambles into a fruit-garden, demand that all unproductive trees should give way as fast as possible, in a civilized country, to other trees which afford food to the inhabitants? Are there not desolate countries enough in which to grow trees for the mere purposes of timber? Are there not soils and situations even in England, where none but timber-trees can grow? And is not the timber of many fruit-trees as useful as the timber of many of the lumber-trees which now encumber our soil? It is true, that, when wood constituted the fuel of the country, the growth of lumber-tree was essential to the comforts of the inhabitants; but that is no longer our condition. I conceive, therefore, that a wise and provident government, which, above all other considerations, should endeavour to feed the people at the least cost and labour, ought to allow no lumber-trees to encumber the soil until fruit-trees were planted sufficient to supply the inhabitants with as much fruit as their wants or luxuries might require. The primary object of all public economy should be to saturate, a civilized country with food. Why should not pear and walnut-trees supply the place of oaks, elms, and ash; the apple, plum, cherry, damson, and mulberry, that of the birch, yew, and all pollards? It would be difficult, I conceive, to adduce a reason to the contrary; and none which could weigh against the incalculable advantages of an abundant supply of wholesome provisions in this cheap form. Nor does my plan terminate with the ornaments of forests, parks, and hedge-rows; but I ask, why many hedges themselves might not, in like manner, consist of gooseberry and currant trees in their most luxuriant varieties, intermingled with raspberries, nuts, filberts, bullaces, &c.? Not to give this useful and productive face to a country, appears to me to be shutting our eyes to the light; to prefer the useless to the useful; to be so inconsistent as to expect plenty where we take no means to create it; or, in other words; to sow tares and desire to gather wheat, or expect grapes where we have planted only thorns. Let us, even in this point, condescend to borrow a lesson from an illustrious, though oft despised, neighbour, who, it appears by the evidence of all travellers, has taken care that the roads and hedges of France should be covered with productive fruit trees. If such also were the condition of Britain, how insignificant would become the anxious questions about a Corn Bill, or the price of any single article of food. We should then partake of the ample stores provided, and perhaps contemplated, by our forefathers, when they rendered indigenous the fruit-trees of warmer climates; and, feeling less solicitude in regard to the gross wants of animal subsistence, we should be enabled to employ our faculties more generally in improving our moral and social condition. We should thus extend the principle, and reduce the general purpose of all productive cultivation to an analogous economy, enjoying the fullest triumph which our climate would admit, of the fortunate combinations of human art over the inaptitude and primitive barbarity of nature.
The sequestered village of Roehampton consists of about thirty or forty small houses, in contact; and of a dozen monastic mansions, inhabited by noblemen and well-accredited traders. Each of the latter being surrounded by twenty or thirty acres of garden and pleasure-grounds, and bounded by high brick walls, which in every direction line the roads, Roehampton presents to a stranger a most cheerless aspect. As the plantations are old, the full-grown oaks, elms, and chesnuts, within the walls, add to the gloom, and call to mind those ages of mental paralysis when Druids and Monks gave effect to their impostures by similar arrangements.
They serve to prove how slavishly men are the creatures of imitation; how seldom, in how few things, and by what small gradations genius gives a novel direction to their practices! When this island was overrun with beasts of prey, in the shape of quadrupeds, and lawless bipeds, the baron and the man of wealth found it necessary to shut themselves within castellated mansions and circumvallated domains; and hence the vulgar association between such establishments and a presumed high rank in their occupiers. The state of the country and of modern society renders them no longer essential to security; yet they are maintained as the effect of a false association; and half the stimulus of avarice would be lost without the anticipated grandeur of a monastic establishment, buried in the centre of a wood, and cut off from the cheerful world, and the healthful circulation of the atmosphere, by damp and mouldering walls! It does not signify how apparently dull, how unappropriate to fixed habits, how unvarying the inanimate scene, how much the inmates may be visited by low fevers, agues, rheumatisms, and pulmonary affections; the manor-house, or the ancient monastery, which has for ages been the residence of nobility, becomes, in consequence, the meed of wealth, and the goal of vulgar hope, to be patiently endured, however little it may be enjoyed! Pride will feed upon the possession; and, if that master-passion be gratified, minor inconveniences will have little weight in making the election.
I confess it--and I make the declaration in the humble form of a confession, in the hope that those who think I have sinned, will be led to forgive my error--that I could not help thinking that the inhabitants of the humble cottages by the way-side, whose doors stood wide open, whose children were intermingling and playing before them, whose society is restricted by no formal reserve, whose means depend on their industry, #WHO HAVE NOT LEISURE TO BE UNHAPPY#, who cannot afford to stimulate their appetites so as to enfeeble themselves by the languor of repletion, or disease themselves by the corruptions of plethora, and who would have no wants if the bounties of nature were not cruelly intercepted--I could not help feeling, that such unsophisticated beings experience less care, less self-oppression, less disease, more gaiety of heart, more grateful sympathy, and more even of the sense of well-being, than the artificial and constrained personages who, however amiable, and however free from the common vices of rank and wealth, inhabit the adjacent mansions, with all their decorations of art, and all their luxuries of hot-houses, graperies, pineries, ice-houses, temples, grottoes, hermitages, and other fancies, with which power hopes to cheat itself into enjoyment, as an apology for its insatiable monopolies.
The inefficacy of wealth to raise man above his cares and mortal feelings has, however, of late years been so honestly conceded, that the rich have begun, at least in external appearance, to assume the condition of the poor. Hence, few of those mansions are built, or even restored, on whose gloomy character I have been remarking; and our proudest nobility now condescend to inhabit the cheerful, though humble, Cottage. They find, or by their practices they seem to prove they have found, that the nearest approach to happiness, is the nearest approach to the humility of poverty! The thatched roof--the tiny flower-garden--the modest wicket--the honey-suckle bower--the cleanly dairy--the poultry yard--the dove-cote--the piggery--and the rabbit-pen,--comprehended under the names of the _Ferme Ornée_, or _Cottage Ornée_, now constitute the favourite establishments of those who found so few comforts in marble porticoes, in walls hung with the works of the Gobelins or the Italian school, in retinues of servants, and extensive parks. What a concession of pride--what a homage rendered to nature--what a consolation to discontented poverty--what a warning to inconsiderate ambition!
Yet our taste ought to be governed by our reason and our wants. Large families require large houses; it is therefore the business of good taste to combine capacity with cheerfulness. Nothing, at the same time, within the sphere of human enjoyment, equals the delight afforded by well-planned garden-grounds; and it is consequently the duty of the artist to unite these with the cheerful family mansion. Here, then, begin the obtrusion, and the alledged necessity of those boundary walls, against which I have been protesting. No such thing--such walls, thanks to the genius and good taste of a #Pilton#, are become unnecessary. We may now, without walls, have secure boundaries--we may keep out trespassers without excluding the fresh air--and we may circumscribe our limits without diminishing our external prospects. In that case, how different in appearance would be this village of Roehampton--how much more tolerable to its residents--how far more healthy--and how enchanting to strangers,--if, instead of monotonous brick-walls, the boundaries were formed by the magical fences of #Pilton#, allowing the free passage of the solar rays and the vital air, reciprocating delightful prospects from plantation to plantation, and adding the essential charms of variety to the pleasures of possession.
The first house in the lane is the classical seat of the Earl of Besborough, enriched with specimens of ancient statuary from Italy and Greece, and with exquisite pictures of the Italian, Flemish, and Dutch schools. Adjoining, is the highly finished residence of the Marchioness of Downshire; and farther on, are the superb mansions of Mr. Gosling, a banker; and of Mr. Dyer. In the lane leading to Richmond Park, across which there is a delightful drive to the Star-and-Garter, is the charming residence of Mr. Temple; and, farther north, is the splendid mansion of the late Mr. Benjamin Goldsmid, since become the property of Lord Chief Justice Ellenborough.
Various associations in regard to its first and its present proprietor, drew my attention to the site last mentioned. I had not leisure to examine its interior, but the exterior is in the best style of such edifices. The house looks to the north-west, and, being the last in the descent of the hill, commands an uninterrupted prospect over the country towards Harrow and Elstree. The front consists of a superb portico of white marble columns, in the Corinthian order; but in other respects the house is not very striking, and its dimensions are inconsiderable. The lawn falls pleasingly towards a piece of water, and on its eastern side is a fascinating drive of half-a-mile, terminated by a pair of cast-iron gates of singular beauty. But the object which more particularly called to mind the unbounded wealth of its former proprietor, is a subterraneous way to the kitchen-garden and lawns on the opposite side the road. It is finished with gates resembling those of a fortified castle, with recesses and various ornaments, all of Portland-stone; and on the near side is a spacious hermitage.
In this house the late Mr. B. Goldsmid resided, while he balanced the finances of the British empire, and raised for the Pitt Administration those vast sums which enabled it to retard the progress of liberal opinions during the quarter of a century! After the instance of a Goldsmid, the reputed wealth of a Croesus sinks into insignificance. The Jew broker, year after year, raised for the British government sums of twenty and thirty millions, while the Lydian monarch, with all his boasted treasures, would have been unable to make good even the first instalment! Such, however, is the talisman of credit in a commercial and banking country! In addition to their own funds, and to the funds permanently confided to their prudence from foreign correspondents, amounting to three or four millions, the brothers, Benjamin and Abraham Goldsmid, commanded for many years, from day to day, the floating balances of the principal London bankers; and they were among bankers, what bankers are among private traders. It was their daily practice to visit most of the bankers' counting-houses, and address them briefly--"Will you borrow or lend fifty thousand to-day?"--According to the answer, the sum required was deposited on the spot, or carried away--no memorandum passed, and a simple entry in their respective books served merely to record the hour when the sum was to be repaid, with its interest. With such credit, and such ready means, it is not to be wondered that the Goldsmids commanded the wealth of the world; nor that their services were courted by an administration which never suffered its projects to languish while these brokers could raise money on exchequer-bills! A paper circulation is, however, a vortex, out of which neither individuals nor governments ever escaped without calamity, and from whose fatal effects the prudence and integrity of these worthy men served as no adequate protection. A whisper that they had omitted to repay a banker's loan at the very hour agreed, first shook their credit; while some changes in the financial arrangements of government, and the malignity of some envious persons, (for rivals they could have none,) led to a fatal catastrophe in regard to one brother in this house; afterwards to a similar tragedy in regard to the other, at Merton; and finally to the breaking-up of their vast establishment. Whether their exertions were beneficial to the country may be doubted; this, however, is certain, that the Goldsmids were men of a princely spirit, who possessed a command of wealth, during the twelve or fifteen years of their career, beyond any example in the domestic history of nations. In this house Benjamin repeatedly gave banquets, worthy of his means, to the chief branches of the royal family, and most of the nobility and gentry of the realm: and it deserves to be mentioned, to his honour, that he was the constant patron of literature and of distressed men of letters. Abraham, in like manner, gave royal entertainments, and was the unshaken friend of Lord Nelson, and of the interesting widow of Sir William Hamilton, whose premature death in a state of poverty, was a consequence of the misfortunes of her generous protector.
Adjoining the splendid iron gates which lead into these grounds, stands a house memorable for the violent effects of a thunder storm. The records of the year 1780 probably describe the details of these phenomena; but, happening to meet, on the premises, with a man who had witnessed the whole, I collected from him the following particulars:--He related, that, after a pleasant day in September, a sudden storm of thunder and lightning, accompanied by rain and wind, took place, which lasted not more than ten or fifteen minutes. That, believing "the world at an end, his master and family went to prayers;" but, on the noise abating, they found that their extensive barn, with various out-buildings, had been entirely carried away. Parts of them were found, on the following morning, on Barnes Common, at the distance of a mile, while other parts were scattered around the fields. He related also, that two horses which were feeding in a shed, were driven, with their manger, into the ditch on the opposite side of the lane; and that a loaded cart was torn from the shafts and wheels, and wafted into an adjoining field. A crop of turnips were mowed down as with a scythe, and a double row of twenty or thirty full-grown elms, which stood on the sides of the lane, were torn up by the roots. One man was killed in the barn, and six others were wounded, or so severely shocked as to require relief in an hospital.
Having never before met with a case of such total destruction from the action of electricity, I considered these facts as too interesting to be lost. It may be worth while to add, in elucidation, that the mischief was doubtless occasioned by an ascending ball; or rather, as the action extended over a surface of three or four acres, by a succession of ascending balls. The conducting substances were dry or imperfect, and thence the violence of the explosions. This is neither the time nor place to speak of the erroneous views still entertained of a power which is only known to us by experiments made within a non-conducting atmosphere, whose antagonist properties, or peculiar relations to it, afford results which are mistakenly ascribed to the power itself, as properties _per se_. Are we warranted in calling in an independent agent to account for phenomena which are governed in their appearances by every different _surface_ in connexion with which they are exhibited, and which can be produced only in certain classes of _surfaces_ in fixed relations to other _surfaces_? Can the cause of phenomena, of which we have no knowledge but in the antagonist relations of _surfaces_ called conducting and non-conducting, be philosophically considered but as _the mere effect_ of those nicely-adjusted relations? Can that power be said to be distinct from the inherent properties of various matter, which can never be exhibited except in contrast, as _plus_ on one surface, and _minus_ in another, or, if positive on A. necessarily and simultaneously negative on B.? Are the phenomena called #LIGHT#, #HEAT#, #GRAVITATION#, #COHESION#, #ELECTRICITY#, #GALVANISM#, and #MAGNETISM#, produced by different powers of nature, or by the action of one power on different bodies, or by the action of different bodies on one active power? Do not the phenomena appear constantly to accompany the same bodies, and are they not therefore occasioned by the qualities of the bodies? May not the different qualities of bodies be sufficient to explain the phenomena on the hypothesis of one active power? Is it necessary that the phenomena should be confined to particular bodies, if there are as many active fluids as phenomena? Is not the exact limitation of each set of phenomena to particular bodies conclusive evidence that the phenomena grow out of some antagonist qualities of those bodies? In fine, do not the varying powers calculated to produce the phenomena, consist of the varying qualities of bodies, and the varying circumstances in which they are placed in regard to each other; and may not the active power be fixed and always the same? Does not this conclusion best accord with the simplicity of nature? Is it probable that two active powers could be co-existent? May not the elasticity of a universal medium account for most of the intricate phenomena of bodies? May not motion grow out of the vacuum between the atoms of that universal medium? May there not be set within set, each necessary to the motion of the other, till we approximate a plenum? May not certain varieties of these involved series of atoms constitute the several media which produce the several phenomena of matter?
 I use the word _ball_, because I consider the power called electric, which shews itself between four containing and contained surfaces, as a physical point bearing geometrical relations to those surfaces; which point, by the rapidity of its motion to restore some disturbed equilibrium, generates a continuous fire, and deceives the eye by the semblance of a stream.
Prudence forbids me to extend these queries on subjects which will ever interest the speculative part of mankind, but on which it will be difficult, if not impossible, to arrive at certain and indubitable conclusions: as, however, I have been led into this digression by existing errors relative to Electricity, I may remark, in conclusion, that the phenomena produced by this power arise from the action of opposing surfaces through intervening media; that the excitement impels the surfaces towards each other; and that all the phenomena grow out of the motive quality of intervening bodies, whose surfaces are alternately attracted by the comprehending excited surfaces, or out of the want of perfect smoothness in the opposing or excited surfaces. Electricity is in fact the phenomena of surfaces, growing out of the sole property of their mutual mechanical attractions, which attractions are governed by some necessary relations of the surfaces of the intervening media to the surfaces of the opposing conductors.
At any rate, it is irrational to suppose that the #CAUSE# of #CAUSES# operates in the production of natural phenomena by the aid of such complicated machinery, and such involved powers, as men have forced into nature, for the purpose of accounting for affections on their senses, or effects of matter on matter; in the measure of which they have no standard but their sensitive powers and the undiscovered relations of the agent and patient. Would it not, on the contrary, be more consistent with the proper views of philosophy to dismiss all occult powers, which are so many signs of our ignorance or superstition, and to search for the #SECONDARY CAUSES# of all phenomena, as well between the smallest as the largest masses, in the undeviating laws of #ARITHMETIC#, #GEOMETRY#, and #MECHANICS#; whose simplicity, sublimity, perfection, and immutability, accord with our deductions in regard to the attributes of an #OMNISCIENT ARCHITECT# and #OMNIPOTENT DIRECTOR# of the universe?
This, however, is certain, that such catastrophes as those described could never occur, if the imperfect conductors of which our buildings are generally composed, were encompassed by more perfect conductors. The ridge of the roof of every house should be of metal; and, if that metallic ridge were connected with the leaden water-pipes, and by them continued into the ground, all buildings would be protected. A descending or an ascending ball would then find a conduit, by which to pass, or freely propagate its powers, without the violent effects that accompany its transition through air and other non-conductors. The rods of Franklin are toys, which were ingeniously contrived in the infancy of this branch of science, but they ought now to be forgotten.
Before I dismiss this interesting topic, I would ask whether the transmission of the power called _electric_, to a particular spot, does not always afford evidence, that at that spot there exists, beneath the surface of the earth, either a vein of metallic ore, a spring, or some other competent conductor, which the power called _electric_ is seeking to reach, when the antagonist non-conductors exhibit their destructive phenomena? Does not the power or vacuum created by the change of volume in the aqueous vapour of the cloud, regard only the perfect conductors prepared to receive it, however deeply they may be concealed beneath the surface of the non-conducting or imperfectly-conducting soil and vegetable surface? If it were not so, would not the stroke always affect the higher objects, or prefer palpable conductors in moderately elevated sites? In this instance 200 degrees of the horizon were more elevated than the place attacked, while the destruction proves that the superficies invited no accumulation here. Must not then the predisposing and operative cause have existed beneath the surface; and, hence, may not the selection of lightning, in most cases where it prefers lower sites, afford evidence of the existence of metallic strata, of springs, or other conducting surfaces, the discovery of which, by such natural test, may sometimes be important to the owner of the soil?
The bottom of Roehampton-lane joins the road which leads from Putney and Wandsworth to Richmond. Here I came again upon the same alluvial Flat which I left when I ascended from Wandsworth to Putney-heath, having since passed a corner of the undulating high land on which stand Wimbledon, its common, Roehampton, Richmond-park, and its lovely hill. A more interesting site of the same extent, is not perhaps to be found in the world. Its picturesque beauty, and its general advantages as a place of residence, are attested by the preference given to it by ministers and public men, who select it as a retreat from the cares of ambition. On this ridge Pitt, Tooke, Addington, Burdett, Goldsmid, and Dundas, were recent contemporary residents. Here, amid the orgies of the latter, were probably concerted many of those political projects which have unfortunately desolated the finest portions of Europe, for the wicked, yet vain, purpose of destroying Truth by the sword! In an adjoining domain, Tooke beguiled, in philological pastime, the evening of a life whose meridian had been employed in disputing, inch by inch, the overwhelming march of corrupt influence; while, as though it were for effect of light and shade, the spacious plain of Wimbledon served to display the ostentatious manoeuvres of those servile agents of equivocal justice, whose permanent organization by an anti-human policy has been engrafted on modern society, but whose aid would seldom or never be necessary, if the purposes of their employers accorded with the omnipotent influence of truth, reason, and justice.
I was now on the border of Barnes Common, consisting of 500 acres of waste; and at a few paces eastward stands #Barnes poor-house#! Yes!--in this enlightened country--in the vicinage of the residence of many boasted statesmen--stands a #PARISH POOR-HOUSE ON A WASTE#! The unappropriated means of plenty and independence surrounding a mansion of hopeless poverty, maintained by collections of nearly 4000_l._ per annum from the industrious parishioners! Lest readers in future ages should doubt the fact, the antiquary of the year 2500 is hereby assured,--that it stood at the angle of the Wandsworth and Fulham roads, at the perpendicular distance of a mile from the Thames, and by the side of the fashionable ride from London to Richmond!--Did so monstrous an incongruity never penetrate the heads or hearts of any of the high personages who daily pass it? Did it never occur to any of them that it would be more rational to convert the materials of this building into cottages, surrounded by two or three acres of the waste, by which the happiness of the poor and the interests of the public would be blended? Can any antiquated feudal right to this useless tract properly supersede the paramount claims of the poor and the public?--From respect to any such right, ought so great a libel on our political economy to be suffered to exist, as a receptacle for the poor in the middle of an uncultivated and unappropriated waste? To dwell further on so mortifying a proof of the fallibility of human wisdom may, however, pique the pride of those who enjoy the power to organize a better system:--I therefore forbear!
These and other considerations prompted me to visit the interior. I found it clean and airy, but the best rooms were not appropriated to the poor. The master and matron were plain honest people, who, I have no doubt, do all the justice that is possible with a wretched pittance of 5_s._ 6_d._ per head per week. Should 4_s._ 6_d._ remain to provide each with twenty-one meals, this is but two-pence half-penny per meal! Think of this, ye pampered minions of wealth, who gorge turtle at a guinea a pound, who _beastialize_ yourselves with wine at a shilling a glass, and who wantonly devour a guinea's worth of fruit after finishing a sumptuous dinner!--The guardians have judiciously annexed to the house an acre or two of ground for a garden, which is cultivated by the paupers, and supplies them with sufficient vegetables. This, though a faint approach to my plan, is yet sufficient to prove what the whole common would effect, if properly applied to the wants and natural claims of the poor. It is too often pretended that these wastes are incapable of cultivation--but the fertile appearance of enclosed patches constantly falsifies such selfish and malignant assertions.
I visited the community of these paupers, consisting in this small parish of only thirty men, women, and children, in one large room. Among them were some disgusting-looking idiots, a class of objects who seem to be the constant nuisance of every poor-house. How painful it must be to honest poverty to be brought into contact with such wretched creatures, who are often vicious, and, in their tricks and habits, always offensive and dirty. Surely, for the sake of these degraded specimens of our kind, as well as out of respect to the parish-poor, who have no choice but to live with them, every county ought to be provided with a special Asylum for idiots; whose purpose should be to smoothen their passage through life, and to render it as little noisome to others, and to one another, as possible.
 Since these observations were first published, a new law has provided for the separate maintenance of these wretched objects, nearly on the plan suggested.
On leaving this poor-house, I crossed Barnes Common in a north-eastern direction, with a view to visit at Barnes-Elms the former residence of Jacob Tonson, the bookseller, and once the place of meeting of the famous Kit-Cat Club.
On this Common, nature still appeared to be in a primeval and unfinished state. The entire Flat from the high ground to the Thames, is evidently a mere freshwater formation, of comparatively modern date, created out of the rocky ruins which the rains, in a series of ages, have washed from the high grounds, and further augmented by the decay of local vegetation. The adjacent high lands, being elevated above the action of the fresh water, were no doubt marine formations, created by the flowing of the sea during the four thousand years when the earth was last in its perihelion during our summer months; which was between twelve and seven thousand years since. The Flat or fresh-water formation, on which I was walking, still only approaches its completion; and the desiccated soil has not yet fully defined the boundaries of the river. At spring-tides, particularly when the line of the moon's apsides coincides with the syzygies, or when the ascending node is in the vernal equinox, or after heavy rains, the river still overflows its banks, and indicates its originally extended scite under ordinary circumstances.
The state of transition also appears in marshes, bogs, and ponds, which, but for the interference of man, would many ages ago have been filled up with decayed forests and the remains of undisturbed vegetation. Rivers thus become agents of the #NEVER-CEASING CREATION#, and a means of giving greater equality to the face of the land. The sea, as it retired, either abruptly from some situations, or gradually from others, left dry land, consisting of downs and swelling hills, disposed in all the variety which would be consequential on a succession of floods and ebbs during several thousand years. These downs, acted upon by rain, were mechanically, or in solution, carried off by the water to the lowest levels, the elevations being thereby depressed, and the valleys proportionally raised. The low lands became of course the channels through which the rains returned to the sea, and the successive deposits on their sides, hardened by the wind and sun, have in five or six thousand years created such tracts of alluvial soil, as those which now present themselves in contiguity with most rivers. The soil, thus assembled and compounded, is similar in its nature to the rocks and hills whence it was washed; but, having been so pulverized and so divided by solution, it forms the finest medium for the secretion of all vegetable principles, and hence the banks of rivers are the favourite residences of man. Should the channel constantly narrow itself more and more, till it becomes choaked in its course, or at its outlet, then, for a time, lakes would be formed, which in like manner would narrow themselves and disappear. New channels would then be formed, or the rain would so diffuse itself over the surface, that the fall and the evaporation would balance each other.
Such are the unceasing works of #CREATION#, constantly taking place on this exterior surface of the earth; where, though less evident to the senses and experience of man, matter apparently inert is in as progressive a state of change from the operation of unceasing and immutable causes, as in the visible generations of the animal and vegetable kingdoms. Thus water, wind, and heat, the energies of which #NEVER CEASE# to be exerted, are constantly producing new combinations, changes, and creations; which, if they accord with the harmony of the whole, are fit and "good;" but, if discordant, are speedily re-organized or extinguished by contrary and opposing powers. In a word, #WHATEVER IS, IS FIT; AND WHATEVER IS NOT FIT, IS NOT, OR SOON CEASES TO BE!#--Such seems to be the governing principle of Nature--the key of all her mysteries--the primary law of creation! All things are the proximate effects of a balance of immutable powers--those powers are results of a #PRIMORDIAL CAUSE#,--while that #CAUSE# is inscrutable and incomprehensible to creatures possessing but a relative being, who live only in #TIME# and #SPACE#, and who feel and act merely by the #IMPULSE# of limited senses and powers.
A lane, in the north-west corner of the Common, brought me to Barnes' Elms, where now resides a Mr. Hoare, a banker of London. The family were not at home; but, on asking the servants if that was the house of Mr. Tonson, they assured me, with great simplicity, that no such gentleman lived there. I named the Kit-Cat Club, as accustomed to assemble here; but the oddity of the name excited their ridicule; and I was told that no such Club was held there; but, perhaps, said one to the other, the gentleman means the Club that assembles at the public-house on the Common. Knowing, however, that I was at the right place, I could not avoid expressing my vexation, that the periodical assemblage of the first men of their age, should be so entirely forgotten by those who now reside on the spot--when one of them exclaimed, "I should not wonder if the gentleman means the philosopher's room."--"Aye," rejoined his comrade, "I remember somebody coming once before to see something of this sort, and my master sent him there." I requested then to be shewn to this room; when I was conducted across a detached garden, and brought to a handsome structure in the architectural style of the early part of the last century--evidently the establishment of the Kit-Cat Club!
A walk covered with docks, thistles, nettles, and high grass, led from the remains of a gate-way in the garden-wall, to the door which opened into the building. Ah! thought I, along this desolate avenue the finest geniuses in England gaily proceeded to meet their friends;--yet within a century, how changed--how deserted--how revolting! A cold chill seized me, as the man unfastened the decayed door of the building, and as I beheld the once-elegant hall, filled with cobwebs, a fallen ceiling, and accumulating rubbish. On the right, the present proprietor had erected a copper, and converted one of the parlours into a wash-house! The door on the left led to a spacious and once superb staircase, now in ruins, filled with dense cobwebs, which hung from the lofty ceiling, and seemed to be deserted even by the spiders! The entire building, for want of ventilation, having become food for the fungus, called dry-rot, the timber had lost its cohesive powers. I ascended the staircase, therefore, with a feeling of danger, to which the man would not expose himself;--but I was well requited for my pains. Here I found the Kit-Cat Club-room, nearly as it existed in the days of its glory. It is eighteen feet high, and forty feet long, by twenty wide. The mouldings and ornaments were in the most superb fashion of its age; but the whole was falling to pieces, from the effects of the dry-rot.
My attention was chiefly attracted by the faded cloth-hanging of the room, whose red colour once set off the famous portraits of the Club, that hung around it. Their marks and sizes were still visible, and the numbers and names remained as written in chalk for the guidance of the hanger! Thus was I, as it were, by these still legible names, brought into personal contact with Addison, and Steele, and Congreve, and Garth, and Dryden, and with many _hereditary_ nobles, remembered, only because they were patrons of those _natural_ nobles!--I read their names aloud!--I invoked their departed spirits!--I was appalled by the echo of my own voice!--The holes in the floor, the forests of cobwebs in the windows, and a swallow's nest in the corner of the ceiling, proclaimed that I was viewing a vision of the dreamers of a past age,--that I saw realized before me the speaking vanities of the anxious career of man! The blood of the reader of sensibility will thrill as mine thrilled! It was feeling without volition, and therefore incapable of analysis!
I could not help lingering in a place so consecrated by the religion of Nature; and, sitting down for a few minutes on some broken boards, I involuntarily shed a tear of sympathy for the departed great--for times gone by,--here brought before my eyes in so tangible a shape! I yielded to the unsophisticated sentiments which I could not avoid reading in this #VOLUME# of ruins; and felt, by irresistible association, that every object of our affections--that our affections themselves--and that all things that delight us, must soon pass away like this place and its former inhabitants! #Beginning yesterday--flourishing to-day--ceasing to-morrow!#--such is the sum of the history of all organized being! Certain combinations excite, and the creative powers proceed with success, till balanced by the inertia of the materials--a contest of maturity arises, measured in length by the activity of the antagonist powers;--but the _unceasing_ inertia finally prevails over the original excitement and its accessary stimuli, and ultimately produces disorganization and dissolution! Such is the abstract view of the physical laws which, in the peculiar career of intellectual man, successively give rise to #HOPE# in youth--#PRIDE# in manhood--#REFLECTION# in decay--and #HUMILITY# in old age. He knows his fate to be inevitable--but every day's care is an epitome of his course, and every night's sleep affords an anticipation of its end!--He is thus taught to die--and, if in spite of his vices or follies he should live till his world has passed away before him, he will then contentedly await the termination of that vital action which, creating no passion, affords no enjoyment. Such, said I, is the scheme of #Benevolence#, which, by depriving the prospect of death of its terrors, makes room, without suffering, for a succession of new generations, to whose perceptions the world is ever young. The only wise use therefore which men can make of scenes like that before me, is to deduce from them a lesson of moderation and humility;--for, such as are these dumb, though visible cares of that generation--such will our own soon be!
On rejoining Mr. Hoare's man in the hall below, and expressing my grief that so interesting a building should be suffered to go to decay for want of attention, he told me that his master intended to pull it down and unite it to an adjoining barn, so as to form of the two a riding-house; and I learn that this design has since been executed! The Kit-Cat pictures were painted early in the eighteenth century, and, about the year 1710, were brought to this spot; but the room I have been describing was not built till ten or fifteen years afterwards. They were forty-two in number, and were presented by the members to the elder Tonson, who died in 1736. He left them to his great nephew, also an eminent bookseller, who died in 1767. They were then removed from this building to the house of his brother, at Water-Oakley, near Windsor; and, on his death, to the house of Mr. Baker, of Hertingfordbury, where they now remain, and where I lately saw them splendidly lodged and in fine preservation. It may be proper to observe, that the house of Mr. Hoare was not the house of Mr. Tonson, and that Mr. Tonson's house stood nearer to the Kit-Cat Club-rooms, having a few years since been taken down. The situation is certainly not a happy one, being on a level with the Thames, and the adjacent grounds being deeply flooded at high tides. It is, however, completely sequestered from vulgar approach, and on that account was, perhaps, preferred as the retreat of a man of business.
At #Barnes' Elms# lived the virtuous minister of Elizabeth, Sir #Francis Walsingham#, and here he once entertained that chivalrous queen. #Cowley#, the poet, afterwards resided here; and, in a later age #Heydegger#, the buffoon, who gave an eccentric entertainment to the second Guelph, and contrived to gratify his listless mind by an ingenious surprize, in at first making him believe that he was not prepared to receive him, and then contriving a sudden burst of lights, music, and gaiety.
In returning through the lane which led from the Kit-Cat Club-room to Barnes Common, the keenest emotions of the human mind were excited by an unforeseen cause. I was admiring the luxuriance and grandeur of the vegetation, in trees which from the very ground expanded in immense double trunks, and in the profusion of weeds and shrubs which covered every part of the untrodden surface--when, on a sudden, I caught the distant sound of a ring of #VILLAGE BELLS#. Nothing could be more in accordance with the predispositions of my mind. All the melancholy which is created by the recurrence of the same succession of tones, instantly controlled and oppressed my feelings. I became the mere patient of these sounds; and I sank, as it were, under the force of gloomy impressions, which so completely lulled and seduced me, that I suffered without being able to exert an effort to escape from their magic spell. Seldom had the power of sound acquired a similar ascendency over me. I seemed to be carried back by it to days and events long passed away. My soul, so to speak, was absorbed; and I leaned upon a gate, partly to indulge the reverie, partly as an effect of lassitude, and partly to listen more attentively to the sounds which caused so peculiar a train of feeling.
There were six bells; and they rang what might be designed for a merry peal, to celebrate some village festival; or, perhaps, thought I, they may be profaning a sanctuary of the religion of peace, and outraging a land of freedom, to announce some bloody victory, gained by legions of trained slaves, over patriots who have been asserting the liberties and defending the independence of their country. Whichever might be the purpose, (for, alas! the latter, among my degenerated countrymen, is as likely as the former,) the recurring tones produced corresponding vibrations on my nerves, and I felt myself played upon like a concordant musical instrument. Presently, however, it occurred to me, that I was not an entire stranger to the tones of those bells, and that part of their fascination arose from an association between them and some of the earliest and dearest objects in my remembrance. "Surely," I exclaimed, "they are #Chiswick bells#!--the very bells under the sound of which I received part of my early education, and, as a school-boy, passed the happiest days of my life!--Well may their tones vibrate to my inmost soul--and kindle uncommon sympathies!" I now recollected that the winding of the river must have brought me nearer to that simple and primitive village than the profusion of wood had permitted me to perceive, and my nerves had been unconsciously acted upon by tones which served as keys to all the associations connected with these bells, their church, and the village of Chiswick! I listened again, and now discriminated the identical sounds which I had not heard during a period of more than thirty years. I distinguished the very words, in the successive tones, which the school-boys and puerile imaginations at Chiswick used to combine with them. In fancy, I became again a school-boy--"Yes," said I, "the six bells repeat the village-legend, and tell me that "_my dun cow has just calv'd_," exactly as they did above thirty years since!"--Did the reader ever encounter a similar key-note, leading to a multitude of early and vivid impressions; for in like manner these sympathetic tones brought before my imagination numberless incidents and personages, no longer important, or no longer in existence. My scattered and once-loved school-mates, their characters, and their various fortunes, passed in rapid review before me;--my school-master, his wife, and all the gentry, and heads of families, whose orderly attendance at Divine service on Sundays, while those well-remembered bells were "chiming for church," (but now departed and mouldering in the adjoining graves!) were rapidly presented to my recollection. With what pomp and form they used to enter and depart from their house of God!--I saw with the mind's eye the widow Hogarth and her maiden relative, Richardson, walking up the aisle, dressed in their silken sacks, their raised headdresses, their black calashes, their lace ruffles, and their high crook'd canes, preceded by their aged servant, Samuel; who, after he had wheeled his mistress to church in her Bath-chair, carried the prayer-books up the aisle, and opened and shut the pew! There too was the portly Dr. Griffiths, of the Monthly Review, with his literary wife in her neat and elevated wire-winged cap! And oft-times the vivacious and angelic Duchess of Devonshire, whose bloom had not then suffered from the canker-worm of pecuniary distress, created by the luxury of charity! Nor could I forget the humble distinction of the aged sexton Mortefee, whose skill in psalmody enabled him to lead that wretched groupe of singers, whom Hogarth so happily pourtrayed; whose performance with the tuning-fork excited so much wonder in little boys; and whose gesticulations and contortions of head, hand, and body, in beating time, were not outdone, even by Joah Bates in the commemorations of Handel! Yes, simple and happy villagers! I remember scores of you;--how fortunately ye had escaped the contagion of the metropolitan vices, though distant but five miles; and how many of you have I conversed with, who, at an adult age, had never beheld the degrading assemblage of its knaveries and miseries!
I revelled in the melancholy pleasure of these recollections, yielding my whole soul to that witchery of sensibility, which magnifies the perception of being, till one of the bells was overset; when, the peal stopping, I had leisure to reflect on the rapid advance of the day, and on the consequent necessity of quickening my speed.
At the end of this lane I crossed a road, which I found led to Chiswick Ferry. The opening gave increased effect to the renewed peal, and I regretted that I could not then indulge in a nearer approach to that beloved spot. I passed a farm-house and some neat villas, and presently came to the unostentatious, but interestingly-ancient structure of Barnes Church, situated on the Common, at the distance of a quarter of a mile from the village. I essayed to enter the church-yard to read some of the chronicles of mortality, particularly as it invited attention by the unusual object of a display of elegant _Roses_, which I afterwards learnt had been cultivated on the same spot about 150 years, to indulge the conceit of a person of the name of _Rose_, who was buried there, and left an acre of ground to the parish to defray the expence; but I found the gate locked, and was told it was never opened, except during service. I confess I was not pleased with this regulation, because it appeared to sever the affections of the living from their proper sympathy with the dead. I have felt in the same manner in regard to the inclosed cemeteries of the metropolis: they separate the dead too abruptly from surviving friends and relatives. Grief seeks to indulge itself unobserved; it desires to be unrestrained by forms and hours, and to vent itself in perfect solitude. The afflicted wife longs to weep over the grave of her husband; the husband to visit the grave of a beloved wife; and the tender mother seeks the spot endeared by the remains of her child: but they cannot submit to the formality of asking permission, or allow their griefs to be intruded upon by strange attendants. Such tributes to our unsophisticated feelings are, however, denied by the locks, bolts, and walls, of the metropolitan cemeteries. The practised grave-digger wonders at the indulgence of unavailing woe--the unconscious tenants of his domain possess no peculiar claims on his sympathy--he cannot conceive how any can be felt by others--and, if he grant permission to enter, it must be for some cause more urgent, and more apparent, than that of bewailing over a grave! Did it never occur, however, to the clergymen who superintend these depositories of mortality, that more respect is due to the feelings of survivors? Is it necessary for any evident purpose, that the gates should be locked at any time, or for more than a few hours in the night? And, if even this privation be suffered merely from the fear of resurrection-men, is it not due to the best feelings of our nature that the severest punishment should attach to the crime of stealing dead bodies? What can now be learnt of anatomy which cannot be found in books and models, or be taught in the dissection of murderers? I would therefore rather bury a detected resurrection-man alive with the body he might be stealing, than shut out the living from all communion with the dead, and from all the sympathies and lessons addressed to the heart and understanding by their unrestricted intercourse.
#Barnes# consists of a few straggling houses opposite the Common, of a mean street leading to the water-side, and of a row of elegant houses facing the Thames, on a broad terrace nearly half a mile long. On the opposite side of the river is a tract of new-made swampy ground, shaped circularly by the winding of the river. The chord of this circle extends from Chiswick to Strand-on-the-Green; and upon it is seen the exquisitely beautiful villa of the Duke of Devonshire, where Charles James Fox lately terminated his patriotic career; and on the left are the house and extensive grounds long occupied by the amiable Valentine Morris, esq. who, on his death-bed in Italy, in 1786, bequeathed these premises and a competent annuity as a provision for about thirty aged horses and dogs,--and here some of them survived till within these seven years, dying, from the gradual decay of their vital powers, at the ages of forty and fifty.
The beauty and seclusion of this terrace have long invited the residence of persons of wealth and distinction. Many of those Frenchmen who, from interested connexions, or the prejudices of education, preferred exile and comparative poverty in foreign lands, to the reign of liberty and reason at home, came to reside on this spot. Here was acted the terrible tragedy of the #Count# and #Countess D'Antraigues#. These famous intriguants, after traversing Europe to enlist the vain prejudices of kings, and the sycophant spirit of courtiers, against the unalterable principles of the rights of man, settled themselves in a small house near the upper end of this terrace. Here their establishment consisted only of a single Italian footman, and two maid-servants. One day in every week they went to London, in a hired coach, to confer with their partizans; and it was on the morning of one of these excursions that these unhappy persons were suddenly butchered by their Italian footman. The coach stood at the door, and the Count and Countess had descended the stairs, when the servant, rushing from the parlour, fired a pistol at the Count; the ball of which struck, but did not injure him. It, however, so much surprised him as to throw him off his guard, when the wretch struck him with a stiletto between the shoulders. The Count at first reeled on the step of the door, but instantly rushed up stairs, as is supposed, to get arms from his bed-chamber, which he reached, but only to fall dead on the floor. In the mean time, the Countess, who was two or three paces in advance, and had reached the carriage-door, not aware of the cause of the report of the pistol, and of the Count's precipitate retreat, asked the man, peevishly, why he did not open the door? He advanced as if to do it; but instantly stabbed her in the breast to the hilt of his weapon: she shrieked, reeled a few yards, and fell dead beside the post which adjoins the house to the West, on the pavement near which her blood was lately visible. The villain himself fled up-stairs to the room where his master lay weltering in his blood, and then, with a razor, cut his own throat. I saw the coachman, who told me that scarcely five minutes elapsed between the time when he heard them approach the carriage and beheld them corpses! The several acts were begun and over in an instant. At first he could not conceive what was passing; and, though he leaped from the box to the aid of the dying lady, he had then no suspicion of the fate of the Count. I took pains to ascertain the assassin's motive for committing such horrid deeds; but none can be traced beyond a feeling of revenge, excited by a supposed intention of his master to discard him, and send him out of the kingdom; a design which, it is said, he discovered by listening on the stairs to the conversation of the Count and Countess, while they were enjoying the water-scene by moon-light, on the preceding evening, from their projecting windows. It was impossible to view the spot where such a tragedy had been acted, without horror, and without deep sympathy for the victims; yet it gratified me to find the house already inhabited by a respectable family, because it thus appeared that there are now dispersed through society many whose minds are raised above the artifices of superstition,--which, in no distant age, would have filled these premises with ghosts and hobgoblins, till they had become a bye-word and a heap of ruins!
Nearly adjoining and behind the residence of Count d'Antraigues, stand the premises and grounds long occupied by another distinguished emigrant, the Marquis de Chabanes, a relation of the notorious and versatile Talleyrand. This marquis here pursued two speculations, by which, at the time, he attracted attention and applause. In the first he undertook to give useful body and consistency to the dust of coals, of which thousands of tons, before their application to gas-lights, were annually wasted in the shipping and coal-wharfs; and for this purpose he erected a manufactory; but, after much loss of labour and property, found it necessary to abandon the project. In the second speculation, he proposed to introduce various French improvements into English horticulture, and undertook to supply the fruiterers of the metropolis with tender and unseasonable fruits and vegetables, in greater perfection, and at a lower rate, than they had heretofore been supplied by the English gardeners. For this purpose he built large and high walls, and very extensive hot-houses and conservatories; but, being unable to contend against the fickleness of our climate, he found it necessary to abandon this scheme also; when the glasses, the frames, &c. were sold by auction; and no vestiges now remain of his labours, but his vines and the ruins of his flues and foundation-walls.
During my inquiries of the working gardener who has succeeded him on the ground, I learnt some particulars in regard to the economy by which the metropolis receives its vast supplies of fruits and fresh vegetables. Mr. #Middleton#, in his philosophical Survey of Middlesex, estimates the quantity of garden-ground, within ten miles of the metropolis, at 15,000 acres, giving employment in the fruit-season to 60,000 labourers. The mode of conveying this vast produce to market creates habits among this numerous class of people which are little suspected by the rest of the community. A gardener's life appears to be one of the most primitive and natural; but, passed near London, it is as artificial and unnatural as any known to our forced state of society. Covent-garden market is held three days in the week, and other markets on the same or other days; and, as vegetables ought to be eaten as soon as possible after they are gathered, it is the business of the gardener to gather one day and sell the next; hence the intervening night is the period of conveyance from the places of growth to those of consumption. All the roads round London, therefore, are covered with market-carts, and waggons during the night, so that they may reach the markets by three, four, or five o'clock, when the dealers attend; and these markets are over by six or seven. The shops of retailers are then supplied by the aid of ill-paid Irish women, who carry loads of a hundredweight to all parts of London on their heads, to meet the demands of good house-wives, who, at ten or eleven, buy their garden-stuff for the day. This rapid routine creates a prodigious quantity of labour for men, women, and horses. Every gardener has his market-cart or carts, which he loads at sun-set; and, they depart at ten, eleven, twelve, or one o'clock, according to the distance from London. Each cart is accompanied by a driver, and also by a person to sell, generally the gardener's wife; who, having sold the load, returns with the team by nine or ten o'clock in the morning; and has thus finished the business of the day, before half the inhabitants of London have risen from their beds. Such is the economy of every gardener's family within ten miles of London,--of some every night, and of others every other night, during at least six months in the year. The high vegetable season in summer, as well as peculiar crops at other times, call for exertions of labour, or rather of slavery, scarcely paralleled by any other class of people. Thus, in the strawberry season, hundreds of women are employed to carry that delicate fruit to market on their heads; and their industry in performing this task is as wonderful, as their remuneration is unworthy of the opulent classes who derive enjoyment from their labour. They consist, for the most part, of Shropshire and Welsh girls, who walk to London at this season in droves, to perform this drudgery, just as the Irish peasantry come to assist in the hay and corn harvests. I learnt that these women carry upon their heads baskets of strawberries, or raspberries, weighing from forty to fifty pounds, and make two turns in the day, from Isleworth to market, a distance of thirteen miles each way; three turns from Brentford, a distance of nine miles; and four turns from Hammersmith; a distance of six miles. For the most part, they find some conveyance back; but even then these industrious creatures carry loads from twenty-four to thirty miles a-day, besides walking back unladen some part of each turn! Their remuneration for this unparalleled slavery is from 8_s._ to 9_s._ per day; each turn from the distance of Isleworth being 4_s._ or 4_s._ 6_d._; and from that of Hammersmith 2_s._ or 2_s._ 3_d._ Their diet is coarse and simple, their drink, tea and small-beer; costing not above 1_s._ or 1_s._ 6_d._ and their back-conveyance about 2_s._ or 2_s._ 6_d._; so that their net gains are about 5_s._ per day, which, in the strawberry season, of forty days, amounts to 10_l._ After this period the same women find employment in gathering and marketing vegetables, at lower wages, for other sixty days, netting about 5_l._ more. With this poor pittance they return to their native county, and it adds either to their humble comforts, or creates a small dowry towards a rustic establishment for life. Can a more interesting picture be drawn of virtuous exertion? Why have our poets failed to colour and finish it? More virtue never existed in their favourite Shepherdesses than in these Welsh and Shropshire girls! For beauty, symmetry, and complexion, they are not inferior to the nymphs of Arcadia, and they far outvie the pallid specimens of Circassia! Their morals too are exemplary; and they often perform this labour to support aged parents, or to keep their own children from the workhouse! In keen suffering, they endure all that the imagination of a poet could desire; they live hard, they sleep on straw in hovels and barns, and they often burst an artery, or drop down dead from the effect of heat and over-exertion! Yet, such is the state of one portion of our female population, at a time when we are calling ourselves the most polished nation on earth, and pretending to be so wealthy that we give away millions a-year to foreigners unsolicited, and for no intelligible purpose! And such too is their dire necessity, that it would be most cruel to suggest or recommend any invention that might serve as a substitute for their slavery, and thereby deprive them of its wretched annual produce!
The transit from Barnes to Mortlake is but a few paces; a small elbow in the road forming their point of separation. Both of them contain some handsome villas, and they are pleasantly situated on the banks of the Thames; yet they are less beautiful than they might be rendered, by very slender attentions. There is no public taste, no love of natal soil, no pride of emulation apparent, though the scite is one of the finest in England. A few mansions of the opulent adorn both villages, and the country fascinates in spite of the inhabitants; but the third and fourth rate houses have a slovenly, and often a kind of pig-sty character, disgusting to those who, in the beautiful towns and villages of Essex, have seen what may be done, to improve the habitations even of humble life. Lovely Witham, and Kelvedon, and Coggeshall! what examples you set to all other towns in your neatly painted and whitened houses--unostentatious, though cheerful--and inviting, though chaste and modest! What a contrast do you present to the towns and villages in Middlesex and Surrey, and even in Kent! If poverty forbids a stuccoed or plastered wall, the cleanly and oft-repeated whitewash proves the generous public spirit of the occupant, while the outside seldom has occasion to blush for the inside. A spirit of harmony runs through the whole, and a pure habitation is indicative of pure inhabitants; thus, cleanliness in the house leads to neatness of apparel--both require order, and out of order grow moral habits, domestic happiness, and the social virtues. Nor is this theory fanciful; Witham, Kelvedon, and Coggeshall, form a district which is at once the most beautiful, the least vicious, and the happiest, in the kingdom. One virtue is doubtless consequent on another, and one good habit generates another; the result is the harmonious triumph of virtue! If it be doubted whether the white-washed exterior is more than "an outward and visible sign" of the purity within, I reply--that virtue is so much the effect of habit, that whatever improves the habits improves the character; and that, if a house were frequently white-washed within and without, it could scarcely fail to banish personal filth from the inmates; while habits of cleanliness, which call for habits of industry, would produce the rest. I have, indeed, often thought that it would be an efficacious means of bettering the morals, as well as the health, of the London poor, if St. Giles's, Hockly-in-the-hole, Fleet-lane, Saffron-hill, and other dens of vice and misery, were by law lime-washed inside and outside twice in every year. But, in whatever degree this doctrine may be just, let me hope these observations will meet the eye of some active philanthropists, who, being thus taught to consider cleanliness as an auxiliary of morals and happiness, will be induced so to paint and whiten our dusky-coloured villages and dirty towns, as to render them worthy of virtuous residents, in the hope that, by reciprocation, they may render themselves worthy of their purified habitations.
I do not charge on Barnes and Mortlake exclusively the characteristics of filth--they are not inferior to other villages within ten miles; but the whole require improvement, and I recommend Witham, Kelvedon, and other places in that district of Essex, to their imitation.
Mortlake church-yard and its ancient church stand pleasantly on the north side of a large field, across which is a picturesque foot-path to East Sheen. I inquired eagerly for the tomb of Partridge, the almanack-maker and astrologer, and found it in the south-east corner, in a tottering condition. Relics so famous would, it might have been supposed, have extorted from the Parish Vestry a single hod of mortar, and an hour's labour of a mason, to sustain it: yet thus it is, not only at Mortlake, but every where. Nothing is conceded to public feeling, and the most venerable monuments are suffered to fall to decay for want of the most trifling repairs. The following inscription is still legible on the slab of the tomb:--
#Johannes Partridge#, Astrologus et Medicinae Doctor, natus est apud East-Sheen, in comitatu Surrey, 8º die Januarii, anno 1644, et mortuus est Londini 24º die Junii, anno 1715. Medicinam fecit duobus Regibus unique Reginae; Carolo scilicet Secundo, Willielmo Tertio, Reginaeque Mariae. Creatus Medicinae Doctor Lugduni Batavorum.
How many are the associations which grow out of this name of #Partridge#! He was one of the last of the learned votaries of Astrology, the mother of the sciences, though herself the daughter of superstition. His works on genitures, and on the errors of his favourite science, are specimens of acute reasoning, not exceeded by the ablest disquisitions on more worthy subjects. Yet he was held up by Swift as an impostor, though Swift himself lived by a show of faith in other mysteries, for which his reverence is very doubtful. Not so Partridge; he evidently believed sincerely that the stars were indices of fate, and he wrote and acted in that belief, however much he may have been deceived by appearances. He found, as all students in astrology find, that every horoscope enabled him to foretel with precision a certain number of events; and, if his prognostics failed in some cases, he ascribed the failure to no defect of his celestial intelligencers, but to the errors or short-sightedness of his art. Good, and even wise men have, in all ages, been deceived by the same appearances. They found that the planets foretold some events; they thence inferred that the planets ruled those and all events; and, if the science often disappointed them, they found an apology for it in their own mistaken judgments, or in the errors introduced into it by different authors. Astrologers were therefore not impostors, as they are often described by the over-righteous, the hasty, or the ignorant. They found a science reared on the observations and experience of the remotest antiquity, and their prognostications were deduced from its established laws. Its practices were directed by the unerring motions of the earth, moon, and planets; and it possessed characteristics of grandeur and sublimity, arising from the magnitude and solemnity of its sources, and from the eternal laws which regulated them.
The errors on which this science was reared, were not, however, peculiar to astrologers. They were engendered by ignorance, and nurtured by superstition and priestcraft. Every event happens in its own way, and cannot happen in any other way than that in which it has actually happened; or, in other words, an event cannot happen and not happen, or a thing cannot be and not be. This necessary determination of every event in a single manner, the consequence of commensurate proximate causes, which it is often difficult to analyse, served as a fruitful source of superstitious feeling, and as a handle for the priests among the early nations of antiquity. In whatever way an event happened, that was said to be its Fate, notwithstanding a slight exercise of reason would have shewn that what has happened in one way could not, at the same time, happen in another way. But, as it did happen in one way rather than another, the way in which it did happen was said to be predetermined; the kind of cause was not examined which determined it to happen as it did happen; the effect was even said to rule the causes; and all the causes, remote and proximate, were said to be operative merely for the sake of producing the ultimate effect!
As every event must happen in the way an which it has happened, a description of it, is but an expression of the _certainty_, that it has happened in such or such a particular manner. If this result be fortunate, then all the circumstances which led to it, however remote, are deemed to have been _lucky_; though, if it prove unfortunate, the same train of causes are then called _unlucky_. There was, however, neither luck nor ill-luck in these trains, because the remote or necessary physical causes did not determine the proximate and fluctuating mental ones. There existed no _necessary_ connexion between these trains, besides the necessity or certainty that some result must be consequent on every train of events growing out of human life and action. These trains must, in all cases, produce some result, that is to say, a result of some kind, and not necessarily any particular result.
In considering the curious enigma in regard to #FATALITY#, men err in conceiving that all the remote causes which lead to an event, operate and combine for the sake of some particular result, instead of considering every personal or social event as the necessary single effect of the proximate causes; and they also confound the species of causes which produce events. There are two distinct sets of causes, the one physical and the other mental. The _physical_ are determined by fixed, and often by known laws, and hence we are enabled to _foretel_ the places of the planets and the moment when eclipses of the Sun and Moon will happen for a thousand years to come. The _mental_ are governed by the varying experience, caprice, and self-love, generated within animal minds; and, being therefore measured by no fixed laws, produce results which cannot be anticipated, except in their proximate operation. These mental causes, so to speak, cross each other in every direction, and at one time may accelerate, though at another time they may retard, or give novel directions to physical causes; and, as they are generated in every successive moment by the errors and passions of fallible beings, and often have an extensive influence on the affairs of mankind, so they constitute an infinite variety of original causes, which, as no law creates them, no law leads to their effects; of course, therefore, their effects are not necessary, and no knowledge can exist, enabling men to anticipate that which is generated by no fixed laws, and which therefore is not necessary.
I lately met a friend, who justly passes for a philosopher. He mentioned the distress of a family which he had just been relieving; "and, would you believe it," said he--"if I had not passed along a street where I seldom go, and met a child of the family, I should have known nothing of their situation? Was it not evidently pre-ordained, therefore, that I should walk along that street, at that time, for the purpose of relieving that family?" "So, then," said I, "you make the consequence determine the cause, rather than take the trouble to examine whether the causes were not equal to the effect, without being themselves necessary or irresistible." "But then," he replied, "there was such an aptness, such a coincidence, such a final purpose!"--"Ah!" I rejoined, "you cheat yourself by not extending your vocabulary--why not say there was sufficient affluence, guided by a benevolent heart--and such distress, that they were called into prompt exertion? Is it to be regarded as a miracle, that a benevolent heart proved the sufficient cause of a good action, and that distress was an excitement equivalent to the effect which you describe? The street was a medium or stage of action, as capable of leading to evil as to good. You could not be in two places at the same time; nor could the result be and not be. Had you been in another place, some other family might have been relieved from the collision of the same causes; and each event would, in like manner, have appeared to have determined the causes, instead of being a single consequence of the causes. Nor were these causes more necessary than the result. Your feelings were spontaneous, but you may in future change the result by hardening your heart, like other rich men." "I will do neither," said he, quickly.--"No," said I, "I know you won't--you will not violate your habitual inclinations. In future, however, do them justice; and, when you perform a kind action, do not make the consequence the cause."
 As doctrines about fate and necessity involve a numerous class of mischievous superstitions, and are the bases of the success of endless impostures, it seems worth while to turn aside for a moment from the high road of my narrative to examine them. Some philosophers assert, that we are the inert patients of necessary causes: others, that we do what we list, without any cause, on the spontaneous impulse of our will: while nine-tenths of the human race maintain that we are governed by an unalterable fate, which is predestined, and that all the events of life take place for the sake of accomplishing some end! What is our real condition? We exist on a globe which, by a balance of mechanical powers, moves round a centre of gravity between it and the centre of the sun; and also round its own centre of gravity, communicating its aggregate motions to all the particles that compose it, and thereby exciting them into various modes of action, producing and sustaining all the phenomena which we witness. The entire mass then is the patient of these arrangements, and every thing on the earth is physically subservient to them. But, in animal organizations, we find a set of powers different from those which characterize inert minerals or plants. An animal has his own powers of loco-motion--he moves on his own centre of gravity--and, though the earth is his stage and the place of his origin, yet he is an independent Microcosm. To assist his loco-motion, to enable him to determine his course, to preserve his being, and to choose between what is good for him, and what is evil to him; he is provided with senses, with which he sees, hears, smells, tastes, and feels; with memory; and with powers of reasoning by analogy, or his senses and his experience would be useless: and yet men say, that such a creature is as much the patient of physical causes, as a stone or a plant! On the contrary, is it not evident, that an animal possesses peculiar powers of sense and reason, in order that he may not be the patient and victim of physical circumstances? But, say they, his actions are determined by his motives, and these are governed by causes over which he has no control; those causes are necessary, and, therefore, his actions are necessary. True--but these exterior causes (granting that they are always necessary links of a chain,) operate on a man only according to his estimate of them, which varies in different men, and in the same men at different times. The causes, at least as far as regards beings which are really their patients, may be regarded as necessary, and they may govern passive existences with absolute dominion; but in all animals they have to encounter the principle of individuality, the feeling of independence, the desire of well-being, and the energies of self-love. These, so to speak, enter into an argument with the causes--a process of reasoning takes place--a decision of judgment is formed--and that judgment it is which directs the will and the action. In other words, an erroneous and varying judgment interposes between the causes and the action; consequently, however absolute and necessary may be the causes, the action governed by an intervening imperfect judgment, and a varying estimate of these causes, is not equally absolute and necessary. Place ten men, or animals, in the same critical situation, and their judgment of the circumstances will lead each of them to act differently; though the necessary causes which ought to have governed their actions were the same; but their judgments, their knowledge, or their experience, were different, and, therefore, their actions. If animals were omniscient, they would have perfect judgments, which would exactly accord with the exterior or necessary circumstances, by which they might then be said to be governed; or, if they were stones and plants, they might be inert patients. But theirs is a mixed species of existence, they are neither plants nor gods. They have powers which plants have not, by which they can freely judge of the means of averting many palpable dangers; though their powers of judging are too limited to enable them to estimate all circumstances correctly, and therefore to move in necessary unison with the immutable physical laws that govern the changes and the motions of inert matter.
I sat on the tomb of Partridge, and thought it a fit place in which to ruminate on these involved points. Do the astrologers (said I) consider the stars as mere indices of pretended fates, or as the causes of the events which they are enabled to anticipate by the anticipated motions of the stars? In nativities, they seem to consider them as _indices_; but, in horary questions, as _causes_. They are treated as indices in all cases wherein arbitrary numbers or measures, or imaginary points are introduced; but deemed material causes when particular events are said to be coincident with actual positions. Both hypotheses cannot, however, be well founded; and his reason will call on the astrologer to give up the doctrine of indices of fate, and prefer that of secondary causes. Here then a still greater difficulty presents itself; the causes are general, and they must operate on the whole earth and all its inhabitants alike. A [Symbol: square] of [Symbol: Mars] and [Symbol: Mercury], or a [Symbol: Triangle] of [Symbol: Saturn] and [Symbol: Jupiter], (that is, a square aspect of Mars and Mercury, or a trine of Saturn and Jupiter,) whenever they happen, are alike applicable to all the inhabitants and regions of the earth. It was plausible to talk of a planetary aspect as productive of rain or wind, when the geography of the astrologer did not extend beyond the plains of Chaldea, or the immediate banks of the Nile; but our better knowledge of cosmography now teaches us, that, at the time of every aspect, every variety of season and of weather is prevalent in different parts of the world; and every contrariety of fortune is happening to individuals in all countries. The doctrine that the planets are secondary causes, is, therefore, not supported by the circumstances of the phenomena.
But the astrologers are not content with natural positions, but, like the eastern priests with their gods, they assign different parts of the heavens, and different countries, to each planet; and then found prognostics on these local positions of the planets. It is evident, however, that the apparent position of a planet depends on the varying position of the earth, and that an inferior planet may be in exactly the same point of space, and yet be seen from the earth in every sign of the zodiac; though, according to the astrologers, it would in that same place have very different powers! This doctrine was admissible when the earth was considered as the centre of the universe; when the geocentric phenomena were considered as absolute; and when the apparently quick and slow motions, the retrogradations, and the stationary positions, were ascribed to caprices of the planets themselves, or to motives of their prime mover, and therefore were received as signs of corresponding events and fates!
But the radical error of the art of prediction is more deeply seated than we are commonly aware of. There is a chance, however difficult it may be in all cases to reduce it to arithmetical precision, that any possible event may happen to a particular person. No possible event can indeed be conceived, that, with regard to a particular person, is not within the range of arithmetical probability; while all the probable events, such as predictors announce, are within very narrow limits. As an example, I assume, that, of any hundred ordinary events of human life, it may be an even chance that sixty of them will happen, or not happen; and, of the other forty, it may be as 20 to 1 that 10 of them will happen; as 10 to 1 that other 10 will happen; as 1 to 10 that other 10 will happen; and as 1 to 20 that the other 10 will happen. Then, by averaging all these chances, it will be found that it is an even chance that the whole will happen, or will not happen; or, in other words, that half will happen, and that half will not happen. If, therefore, a dextrous person foretel one hundred events, by means of _any_ prognosticating key, or any index whose powers are previously settled,--whether stars, cards, sediments of tea, lines of the hand or forehead, entrails of animals, or dreams, signs or omens,--by the doctrine of chances it is an even, or some other fixed chance, that half, or some other portion, of such events will come to pass. Superstition will triumph if only 1 in 5, or 1 in 10, happen as foretold; but, if 1 in 2 or 3 should happen by neutralizing or generalizing the predictions, then the prophet is accounted a favourite of Heaven, or a familiar of Satan! For this purpose it signifies not what it is that constitutes the key of fate; it will sufficiently deceive the practitioner, if it relieve him from the responsibility of his announcements; and, if he prudently announce none but events highly probable, he will himself be astonished at the apparent verity of his art! In truth, he is all the while but the dupe of arithmetic; and a cool examination would shew him that, for the most part, it is an even chance that any predicted event will happen, which has been foretold by any key, or sign, or token. The planets, the signs of the zodiac, &c. serve as one set of these keys, or indices--dreams serve as another--the entrails of animals have been used as another--signs, noises, omens, tokens, sympathies, &c. are a fruitful source--lines of the hand, forehead, wrist, &c. are others--moles, marks, &c. furnish others--cards afford a rich variety--and the sediments of teacups, and I know not what besides, serve as means of announcing events by pre-arranged laws of association. The half, or more than half, of such events, must however necessarily happen by the averages of chances; and this unascertained and unsuspected coincidence has from age to age countenanced and confirmed the delusion.
All that a prophet or fortune-teller requires, therefore, is some set of _indices_, to each of which he can assign particular powers and significations, and then be able so to vary their order as to give them new and endless combinations, representing the fortunes of all mankind. When varied for a particular individual, he has merely to apply to that person the probable events indicated by the new combinations; and, according to the law of chances, he must necessarily succeed in a certain proportion of his prognostics, because it is within a certain numerical chance that any possible event will happen to any individual. The prognosticator in these cases is deceived, because he is solely directed by the order of his indices. As he finds that he has been enabled to _foretel_ by their means a certain number of events, he conceives either that these indices must govern the fates; that the finger of Providence or the agency of the Devil governed his indices; or, with many grave writers, that there is a soul of the world which harmonizes all things, producing an accordance between the #FORTUNES# of the #HUMAN RACE# and the sediments of tea-cups, the arrangements of cards, the aspects and positions of the planets, the lines in the hand or forehead, the indications of dreams, and the entrails of animals! On the other hand, the dupes of these prognostics, when fortunate, often direct their best exertions to fulfil them; or, when unfortunate, they sink into a feeling of despondency, which leads to their fulfilment. And, should one in ten of the predicted events take place, they become firm believers in the doctrines of fatality, necessity, and other superstitions; "for," say they, "how could an event be foretold, if it had not been irrevocably decreed that it must happen?" What a powerful handle for priest-craft, state-craft, and all the crafts by which mankind have been abused in every age of the world!
That this exposition of the true cause of the popular errors, in regard to any supposed connexion between certain accidents of matter, and unconnected future events, will not be without its uses, must be evident from the known influence which some of the means of prognostication possess over every rank of society. Such scenes as that described in the Spectator, where so much unhappiness was created by spilling the salt, are still realized every day in nearly every family in Great Britain. All phenomena which cannot easily be accounted for, and hundreds of trivial incidents, are considered by the gravest as portentous signs of events to come. The coincidence of any event and its prognostic, though it might have been ten to one that it would happen, is received as evidence of their connexion, which it would be impiety to laugh at! But need I quote a more striking instance than the still prodigious annual sale of 300,000 of Partridge's and Moore's Almanacks, whose recommendations are their prognostications, and which a few years since lost most of their patrons, because the Stationers' Company, in the edition of the year, left out the predictions as an experiment on the public wisdom!
In returning from the tomb of Partridge, I beheld another, dear to patriotism and civic glory, that of Alderman Barber, Lord-mayor of London in 1733. His memory is still cherished among aged citizens, and the cause is recorded in the following inscription:--
"Under this stone were laid the remains of #John Barber#, esq. alderman of London, a constant benefactor to the poor, true to his principles in church and state. He preserved his integrity, and discharged the duty of an upright magistrate. Zealous for the rights of his fellow citizens, he opposed all attempts against them; and, being lord mayor in the year 1733, he defeated a scheme of a general Excise, which, had it succeeded, would have put an end to the liberties of his country."
Virtuous citizen! Happy was it that thou didst not live to suffer the mortification of seeing thy degraded country devoured by swarms of excisemen, and the third of its population fattening on the taxes collected from the other two-thirds. Too justly didst thou anticipate that the terrors and corruptions growing out of such an inquisition as the excise, would destroy that sturdy spirit of independence, which in thy day constituted the chief glory of the English country-gentleman and London merchant. Till it was broken or undermined by the evil genius of Taxation, that spirit served as the basis of Britain's prosperity; but now, alas! it seems to be extinguished for ever.--Patriotic Lord-mayor of London! In thy day to watch with jealousy the never-ceasing encroachments of the regal prerogatives, and to render the ministers of the crown accountable at the bar of public opinion, were paths of honour leading to the highest civic distinctions! Many of the race that conducted to a wise end the glorious revolution of 1688 then survived--the genius of liberty continued to inspire the sons of Britain--the holy flame that punished two kings for trespassing on the rights of their people, was not entirely extinguished--the deadly paralysis of the Septennial Act had not then produced its blighting effects on the whole body politic. But London ceased to be influenced by the lost voice of #Barber#, and the Excise system triumphed--the barriers of freedom were passed--trial by jury was, in certain cases, either dispensed with, or nullified by well-trained special juries--the public judgment was misled by venal conductors of the public press--patriotism was deemed faction--liberty was held up as another name for rebellion--and, in consequence, #FORTY-FIVE YEARS OF FOREIGN WAR# have disgraced #SEVENTY-FIVE YEARS# of our annals, though thirty years of foreign war served in the preceding three hundred years to vindicate every British interest!--Venerated name of #Barber#! Where is the monument to be found in the public buildings of London, to record thy virtues for the example of others? Would it not be a worthy companion to the statues of Beckford and Chatham? And would it not keep in countenance the honest exertions of the Waithmans--Woods--and Goodbeheres--who in our days have trod in thy steps, and who, it may be hoped, will have a long line of successors in the same honourable career?
Being anxious to view the inside of Mortlake church, a boy undertook to fetch the key from the house of the sexton. In the mean time I examined around me the humble monuments raised by affection to the memory of the dead. Here were the pyramid, the obelisk, and the tumulus, in their most diminutive forms. Here lay decomposed the mineral parts of those ancestors from whom the contemporary generation have sprung. Yes, said I, we truly are all of one nature, and one family; and we suffer a common fate! We burst as germs into organization, we swell by a common progress into maturity, and we learn to measure by motion what we call Time, till, our motions and our time ceasing, we are thus laid side by side, generation after generation, serving as examples of a similar futurity to those who spring from us, and succeed us.
I reflected that, as it is now more than four hundred years since this ground became the depository of the dead, some of its earliest occupants might, without an hyperbole, have been ancestors of the whole cotemporary English nation. If we suppose that a man was buried in this church-yard 420 years ago, who left six children, each of whom had three children, who again had, on an average, the same number in every generation of thirty years; then, in 420 years, or fourteen generations, his descendants might be multiplied as under:
1st generation 6 2nd 18 3rd 54 4th 162 5th 486 6th 1458 7th 4374 8th 13122 9th 39366 10th 118098 11th 354274 12th 1062812 13th 3188436 14th 9565308
That is to say, #NINE MILLIONS AND A HALF# of persons; or, as nearly as possible, the exact population of South Britain, might at this day be descended in a direct line from any individual buried in this or any other church-yard in the year 1395, who left six children, each of whose descendants have had on the average three children! And, by the same law, every individual who has six children may be the root of as many descendants within 420 years, provided they increase on the low average of only three in every branch. His descendants would represent an inverted triangle, of which he would constitute the lower angle.
To place the same position in another point of view, I calculated also that every individual now living must have had for his ancestor every parent in Britain living in the year 1125, the age of Henry the First, taking the population of that period at 8,000,000. Thus, as every individual must have had a father and a mother, or two progenitors, each of whom had a father and a mother, or four progenitors, each generation would double its progenitors every thirty years. Every person living may, therefore, be considered as the apex of a triangle, of which the base would represent the whole population of a remote age.
1815, Living individual 1 1785, His father and mother 2 1755, Their fathers and mothers 4 1725, ditto 8 1695, ditto 16 1665, ditto 32 1635, ditto 64 1605, ditto 128 1575, ditto 256 1545, ditto 512 1515, ditto 1024 1485, ditto 2048 1455, ditto 4096 1425, ditto 8192 1395, ditto 16384 1365, ditto 32768 1335, ditto 65536 1305, ditto 131072 1275, ditto 262144 1245, ditto 524288 1215, ditto 1048576 1185, ditto 2097152 1155, ditto 4194304 1125, ditto 8388608
That is to say, if there have been a regular co-mixture of marriages, every individual of the living race must of necessity be descended from parents who lived in Britain in 1125. Some districts or clans may require a longer period for the co-mixture, and different circumstances may cut off some families, and expand others; but, in general, the lines of families would cross each other, and become interwoven _like the lines of lattice-work_. A single inter-mixture, however remote, would unite all the subsequent branches in common ancestry, rendering the cotemporaries of every nation members of one expanded family, after the lapse of an ascertainable number of generations!
This principle is curious; and, though in one view it has been applied to calculations of increasing population, yet I am not aware that it has previously received the moral application which I draw from it, in regard to the commixture of the human race. My ideas may be better conceived, if any person draw two parallel lines to represent the respective contemporary populations of two distinct epochs; and then set up on the lower line an indefinite number of triangles. In this scheme we shall have a just picture of the progressive generations of every nation, and we may observe how necessarily, in spite of artifice and pride, they must, by intermarriages, be blended as one family and one flesh, owing to the individuals of each pair springing from a different apex, and to every side being necessarily crossed by the sides of other triangles. By a converse reasoning, or by tracing the lines from the apex to the base, we may trace the descent as well as the ascent; and, by a glance of the eye, ascertain not only that every individual of a living generation must be descended from the whole of the parents of some generation sufficiently remote, but that every parent in such remote generation must necessarily have been the ancestor of every individual of a contemporary generation.
If, during the Crusades, any of the English intermarried with Greeks, or Syrians, or Italians, all of whom must, by intermingling, have been descendants of the great men of antiquity, so all the English of this age must be connected in blood with those intermarriages, and be descended from the heroes of the classic ages. But let not pride triumph in this consideration; for every malefactor in every age, who left children, was equally an ancestor of the living race! The ancient union of France and England, and of Belgium and Germany with England, must have rendered those people near of kin; while each adjoining nation, mixing with its neighbours, must have blended the whole human race in one great family of remote common origin. This reasoning explains the cause of national physiognomy and character, the co-mixture of foreign nations being inconsiderable, and not sufficient to effect general characteristic changes; while each nation becomes, in the course of ages, one common and blended family, in physiognomy, character, and genius. May so plain a demonstration of this great truth be the means of promoting their concord, their love, the interchange of mutual good offices, and their common happiness!
The messenger having brought the key, I was admitted into Mortlake church, the first glance of whose venerable structure, carried my imagination back through many distant ages, and generated a multitude of interesting associations. Every part of the building bore an air of antique simplicity; and it seemed truly worthy of being the place where the inhabitants of a village ought to meet periodically to receive lessons of moral instruction, and pour forth their thanksgivings to the First Cause of the effects which daily operate on them as so many blessings. Happy system!--so well adapted to the actual condition of society, and so capable, when well directed, of producing the most salutary effects on the temper and habits of the people. Thrice happy man, that parish-priest, who feels the extent and importance of his duties, and performs them for their own reward, not as acts of drudgery, or to gratify selfish feelings! Enviable seat, that pulpit, where power is conferred by law and by custom, of teaching useful truths, and of conveying happiness, through the force of principles, to the fire-sides of so many families! Delightful picture!--what more, or what better, could wisdom contrive?--A day of rest--a place sanctified for instruction--habits of attendance--a teacher of worth and zeal--his precepts carried from the church to the fire-side--and there regulating and governing all the actions and relations of life!
Such, however, is the composition of the picture, only as seen on a sunny day! Alas! the passions and weaknesses of men deny its frequent realization! Authorised instructors cannot enjoy the reputation of superior wisdom without being excited by vanity, and led to play the fool--they cannot understand two or three dialects without becoming coxcombs--they cannot wear a robe of office without being uplifted by pride--and they cannot be appointed expounders of the simple elements of morals, without fancying themselves in possession of _a second sight_, and discovering a _double_ sense in every text of Scripture! From this weakness of human nature arise most of the mysteries which discredit religion,--hence the incomprehensible jargon of sects--hence the substitution of the shadow of faith for the substance of good works--hence the distraction of the people on theological subjects--and hence, in fine, its too common inefficacy and insufficiency in preserving public morals, evinced, among other bad effects, in its tolerance of vindictive Christian wars.
I appeal, therefore, to conscientious teachers of the people, whether it is not their duty to avoid discussions in the pulpit on mysteries which never edify, because never understood; and to confine their discourses to such topics as those indicated in _the Sermon of Jesus on the Mount_. Such, at least, appears to be the proper duty of a national establishment! Empirics may raise the fury of fanaticism about mysteries with impunity--every absurdity may, for its season, be embodied in particular congregations--and infidelity, of all kinds, may be proclaimed at the corners of the streets without danger, provided the #NATIONAL CHURCH# be founded on the broad principles of virtue, and on the practice of those morals which are so beautifully expounded in the New Testament; and provided the parochial clergy do not mix themselves with those visionary topics which depend for success more on zeal and credulity, than on argument or reason. Such a church must flourish, as long as common sense, and a respect for virtue, govern the majority. In this view, I lament, however, that a revision has not taken place of those _articles of faith_ which were promulgated in the sixteenth century, by men newly converted, and perhaps but half converted, from the Romish faith, and taught to a people then unprepared to receive all the changes which reason demanded. As a friend, therefore, to that religion which preserves the public morals, I hope to live to see many of those articles qualified which treat of mysteries conceived in the dark ages of monkish superstition, and countenanced by scholastic logic; considering that such qualification would probably lead to greater concord in matters of the highest importance to society, and serve to establish the Anglican Church on the immoveable bases of reason and truth. It seems, indeed, to be high time that Protestant churches, of all denominations, should come to some agreement in regard to the full extent of the errors which, during twelve centuries, were introduced into the Christian religion by the craft or ignorance of the Church of Rome. Did the early reformers detect the whole of them? And, if in the opinion of discreet persons they did not, or, as is reasonable to suppose, they could not, is it not important to examine conscientious doubts, and to restore the religion of Christ, which we profess, to its original purity, and to #THE ONLY STANDARD OF TRUTH#, which God has given to man, #THE LIGHT OF HIS EXPERIENCE AND REASON#.
Such were the considerations that forced themselves upon me, as I paced the aisles of this sanctuary of religion. Nor could I avoid reflecting on the false associations which early prejudices attach to such enclosures of four walls. By day, they are an object of veneration; by night, an object of terror. Perhaps no person in Mortlake would singly pass a long night in this solemn structure, for the fee-simple of half the town! The objects of their fears none could, or would, justify; yet the anticipated horrors of passing a night in a church seems universal! Perhaps some expect, that the common elementary principles which once composed the bodies of the decomposed dead, would, for the occasion, be collected again from the general storehouse of the atmosphere and earth, and would exhibit themselves, on their re-organization, more hurtful than at first. Perhaps others expect that some of those unembodied spirits, with which mythology and priestcraft have in all ages deluded the vulgar,--though no credible evidence or natural probability was ever adduced of the existence or appearance of any such spirits,--would without bodies appear to their visual organs, and torment or injure them!--Yes--monstrous and absurd though it be--such are the prevalent weaknesses created by superstition, and wickedly instilled into infant minds in the nursery, so as to govern the feelings and conduct of ninety-nine of every hundred persons in our comparatively enlightened society.
It should now be well understood, that what is contrary to uniform experience ought to be no object of faith--consequently what no man ever saw, none need expect to see--and what never did harm, none need fear! In this view our poets might aid the work of public education, by dispensing with their machinery of ideal personages, as tending to keep alive that superstition, which a #Wordsworth# has recently proved to be unnecessary, in a poem that rivals the efforts of the Rosicrucian school. Ought not the ghosts of Shakespeare to be _supposed_ merely as the effects of diseased vision, or a guilty imagination? Ought an enlightened audience to tolerate the mischievous impressions produced on the minds of ignorance or youth by the gross exhibitions which now disgrace our stage in Hamlet, Richard, and Macbeth? We all know that fever of the brain produces successions of spectres or images, the result of diseased organs; but no one ever conceived that such melancholy effects of disease could be seen by healthy by-standers, till our stage-managers availed themselves of vulgar credulity, and dared to give substance to diseased ideas as a means of gratifying their avarice? If Shakespeare intended to give visible substance to his numerous ghosts, he merely conformed himself to the state of knowledge in his day, when Demonology was sanctioned by royal authority, and when the calendars at the assizes were filled with victims of superstition, under charges of witchcraft! It is, however, time that we banish such credulity from the minds even of the lowest vulgar, as disgraceful to religion, education, morals, and reason!
Humanly speaking, I exclaimed--Am I not in the House of God? Is not this puny structure a tribute of man to the Architect of the Universe? What a lesson for man's pride!--look at this building, and behold the Universe! Man is but a point of infinite space, with intellectual powers, bound in their sphere of action to his body, and subject with it to the laws of motion and gravitation! For such a being this may properly be the house of God; but it ought never to be forgotten, that the only house of God is a universe as boundless as his powers, and as eternal as his existence! In relation to man and man's pride, what a sublime and overwhelming contrast is presented by the everlasting #NOW#, and the universal #HERE#! Yet how can the creature of mere relations, who exists by generating time, space, and other sensations, conceive of the immutable #CAUSE OF CAUSES#, to whom his past and future, and his above and below, are as a #SINGLE TOTALITY#! Wisest of men is he who knows the most of such a Being; but, chained to a point, and governed in all our reasonings by mere relative powers, we can only conceive of _ubiquity_ by the contrast of our _locality_--of _infinity_ by our _dimensions_--of _eternity_ by our _duration_--and of _omniscience_ by our _reason_! Creatures of yesterday, surrounded by blessings, it is natural we should inquire in regard to the origin and cause of the novel state in which we find ourselves; but the _finite_ cannot reason on the _infinite_--the _transient_ on the _eternal_--or the _local_ on the _universal_; and on such subjects all we can ascertain, is the utter inadequacy of our powers to perceive them clearly. It seems, therefore, to be our duty to #ENJOY#, to #WONDER#, and to #WORSHIP#.
On every side of me I beheld records of the wrecks of man, deposited here merely to increase the sympathy of the living for the place. Perhaps I was even breathing some of the gaseous effluvia which once composed their living bodies: but, the gas of a human body differing in no respect from the gas generated in the great laboratory of the earth's surface, which I breathe hourly; and being in itself innoxious in quantity, if not in quality, I felt no qualms from my consciousness of its source. The putrefactive process decomposes the bodies of all animals, and returns their generic principles to the common reservoirs of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen: through life, the same process, varied in its proportions, is going forward; and the body is constantly resolving itself into the generic principles of nature, which generic principles again serve the purposes of respiration in other animals, and renew other existences as suitably as though they had never before been employed for the same purposes. Hence it is probable that the identical atoms composing any of the elements of nature, may have existed in hundreds of different animals in different ages of the world; and hence we arrive at a principle of metempsychosis, without entangling ourselves in the absurdities with which priestcraft among the Eastern nations has clothed and disguised it.
Various tablets placed around the walls record departed worth in many persons of distinction. I could find no memorials of the impostor #Dee#, whose aged remains were deposited here. He was one of the last of the race of those men of science who made use of his knowledge to induce the vulgar to believe him a conjuror, or one possessed of the power of conversing with #SPIRITS#. His journals of this pretended intercourse were published after his death, by one of the Casaubons, in two folio volumes. Lilly's Memoirs record many of his impostures, and there is no doubt but in his time the public mind was much agitated by his extravagancies. The mob more than once destroyed his house, for being familiar with their devil; and, what is more extraordinary, he was often consulted, and even employed in negociations, by Queen Elizabeth. He pretended to see spirits in a small stone, lately preserved with his papers in the British Museum. His spirits appear to have had bodies and garments thick enough to reflect rays of light, though they passed freely in and out of his stone, and through the walls of his room; and organs for articulation, which they exercised within the glass! How slight an advance in knowledge exposes all such impostures! In his spiritual visions, Dee had a confederate of the name of Kelly, who, of course, confirmed all the oracles of his master. Both, however, in spite of their spiritual friends, died miserably--the man by leaping out of a window, and the master in great poverty. Dee is the less excusable, because he was a man of family and considerable learning, a fellow of Trinity-college, Cambridge, and a good mathematician. But, in an age in which one Queen imprisoned him for practising by enchantment against her life, and her successor required him to name a lucky day for her coronation, is it to be wondered that a mere man, like tens of thousands of our modern religious fanatics, persuaded himself that he was possessed of supernatural powers?
Beneath the same pavement, resolved into kindred elements, though when in chemical union so different a totality, lie the remains of that illustrious patriot, Sir John Barnard, who passed a long life in opposing the encroachments on liberty of the ministers of the first and second of the #Guelphs#. His statue in the Royal Exchange, London, would attest his worth, if the same area was not disgraced by another, of the infamous Charles the Second, thereby confounding virtue and vice. Sir John, like Alderman Barber, acquired fame by his opposition to the Excise Laws, and by other exertions in defence of public liberty, I have been told by one who still remembers him, that he was an active little man, adored by the Common Hall, and much respected by various political parties for his long-tried worth.
On the south side of the Communion-table, I was so well pleased with some verses lately placed on a marble tablet, to record the virtues of the Viscountess Sidmouth, who died June 23, 1811, that I could not refrain from copying them. The Viscount and his family have a pew in the church, and, I am told, are constant attendants at the morning-service on Sundays.
Not that to mortal eyes thy spotless life Shew'd the best form of parent, child, and wife; Not that thy vital current seem'd to glide, Clear and unmix'd, through the world's troublous tide; That grace and beauty, form'd each heart to win, Seem'd but the casket to the gem within: Not hence the fond presumption of our love, Which lifts the spirit to the Saints above; But that pure Piety's consoling pow'r Thy life illum'd, and cheer'd thy parting hour; That each best gift of charity was thine, The liberal feeling and the grace divine; And e'en thy virtues humbled in the dust, In Heav'n's sure promise was thine only trust; Sooth'd by that hope, Affection checks the sigh, And hails the day-spring of eternity.
Whenever the remains of the lord of this amiable woman are deposited on the same spot, I venture humbly and respectfully to suggest, that the tablet to his memory should include a copy of the most eventful document of his life and times. He was prime-minister when, in March 1803, the ever-to-be-lamented message charging the French with making extensive military preparations in the ports of France and Holland, was advised by the ministry to be sent to both Houses of Parliament. During the past year he had obtained the glory of concluding a treaty which restored tranquillity to a suffering world; and yet the virulence of a contemptible Opposition, and the empirical pretensions of an Ex-minister, led him and his colleagues tardily to execute the article which was to restore Malta to its Knights. A demand that this article should be executed, led to discussions since made public, but which, in my opinion, have not justified the character given of them in the message. Nor does it appear that the English ambassador at Paris had inquired or remonstrated with the French Government on the subject of the pretended military preparations. The flame, however, was thus kindled, which spread in due time from kingdom to kingdom; covering the whole earth with blood and desolation, wasting millions of lives in battle, siege, imprisonment, or massacre; and transferring all the rentals and industry of the people of England to the public creditors, to pay the interest of loans and other consequent obligations of the state!
Unhappily the #GENIUS# of #TRUTH# was hoodwinked at the time, by the general corruption of the press; and the #SPIRIT# of #PATRIOTISM# was overawed by the passionate clamours of a whole people to be avenged for various alledged affronts! But at this distance of time these are merely topics for the lamentation of history! It is now, I fear, too late to institute legislative inquiries; but the case will remain as a beacon to all people, who should be taught by it to consider ministers of the Crown, though as amiable in private life as an #Addington#, as fallible men, liable to be misled by intrigue or passion, and therefore, in a public sense, not to be _credited_ without other evidence than their own assertions. Let an exemplary #INSCRIPTION# on the tomb of the minister of that day serve therefore to teach all ministers, never wilfully to depart in the most indifferent act of public policy from #THE TRUTH#; and warn them to pause before they commit the extensive interests of nations, while they or the people are under the influence of passion. Alas! what frightful mischiefs might have been averted if these considerations had governed the English people, or the English ministry, during the fatal discussions of Lord Whitworth at Paris!
In charity, I hope the Ministry believed that this dispute might have ended with a mere demonstration; and I admit that no man can foresee all the consequences of an action: yet, as the feelings which excited that message and directed those deliberations, continued to influence the Ministry during twelve years warfare, and led to the rejection of seven overtures for peace, made at different times by #Napoleon#; the character of the age and the future security of the world against wars of aggression, seem to require that the origin of the late war should even yet become an object of solemn parliamentary inquiry. The Crown may have the constitutional power of declaring war, but the ministers of the Crown are responsible for the abuse of that power; and let it be remembered, that the origin of every war is easily tried by tests to be found in #Grotius#, #Puffendorf#, #Vattel#, or other authorities on the laws of nations; and that, without the combination of justice and necessity in its origin, no true glory can be acquired in its progress or in its results.
 While these pages were printing, the Common Council of London, the second deliberative assembly in the empire, have presented an address to the Throne, in which they describe the late devastating Wars as "RASH AND RUINOUS, UNJUSTLY COMMENCED, AND PERTINACIOUSLY PERSISTED IN, WHEN NO RATIONAL OBJECT WAS TO BE OBTAINED;" and they add, that "IMMENSE SUBSIDIES WERE GRANTED TO FOREIGN POWERS TO DEFEND THEIR OWN TERRITORIES, OR TO COMMIT AGGRESSIONS ON THOSE OF THEIR NEIGHBOURS." No friend of Truth could wish to see a more correct historical record of these melancholy events; and, whether the authors of them are allowed to drop into the grave by the course of nature, or should expiate their offences on a scaffold, there is not likely to be much difference of opinion about them in the year #THREE THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED# and #SIXTEEN#. Perhaps #FIVE MILLIONS# of men, and as many women and children, have fallen victims, in the space of twenty-five years, to attempts, as visionary as wicked, to destroy by the sword the assertion of Principles of Political Justice, which necessarily grew out of the cultivation of reason, and which were corollaries of that #INTELLECTUAL PHILOSOPHY# of which #Bacon# laid the foundation, and which has been matured by #Selden#, #Coke#, #Milton#, #Sidney#, #Locke#, #Bolingbroke#, #Montesquieu#, #Blackstone#, #Rousseau#, #D'alembert#, #Hume#, #De Lolme#, #Mirabeau#, and #Fox#. Rights of social man derived from such sources cannot be overwhelmed, though a divided people may have been overpowered, though hated dynasties may have been restored, and though Popery, the order of Jesuits, and the Holy Inquisition, may for a season have resumed their ascendency.
I learnt with regret that the improved Psalmody of #Gardiner# had not yet been introduced into the service of this church, and that the drawling-monkish tunes are preferred to those sublime passages of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, which that gentleman has so ingeniously adapted to the Psalms of David. It might have been expected that every church in the enlightened vicinage of the metropolis would, ere this, have adopted a means of exalting the spirit of devotion, which has received the high sanction of the Regent and the Archbishop of Canterbury, and which exhibits among its patrons nearly the whole bench of bishops. I suspect, indeed, that the _shops_ of the mere trading Methodists attract as many auditors by their singing as by their preaching; consequently, enlarged churches and improved psalmody would serve to protect many of the people from becoming the dupes of that #CANT# and #CRAFT# of #FANATICISM#, which is so disgraceful to the age, so dangerous to religion, and so inimical to the progress of truth and knowledge.
Viewing this church in a statistical point of view, I counted 85 pews, capable of holding about 550 persons, and I learnt that about 100 charity-school and other children sit in the aisles. Hence, perhaps, 600 attend each service; and, if 300 attend in the afternoon who do not in the morning, then we may calculate the attendants on the church-service, in this parish, at about 900. The population is, however, about 2100; from which, deducting 300 children, it will appear that half the inhabitants are dissenters, methodists, or indifferents. Of these, about 200 belong to a chapel for the Independents, and perhaps others attend favourite preachers in the vicinity. Such are the religious divisions of this parish; yet, as there are no manufactories, and the clergyman is well respected, the attendants on the Church may be considered as above even the general average of the Establishment in other parishes.
I was induced to ascend into the belfry, where I found ropes for eight bells--those musical tones, which extend the sphere of the Church's influence, by associations of pleasure, devotion, or melancholy, through the surrounding country. What an effective means of increasing the sympathies of religion, and exciting them by the fire-sides, and on the very pillows of the people! Who that, as bride or bridegroom, has heard them, in conjunction with the first joys of wedded love, does not feel the pleasurable associations of their lively peal on other similar events? Who, that through a series of years has obeyed their calling chime on the Sabbath morning, as the signal of placid feelings towards his God, and his assembled neighbours, does not hear their weekly monotony with devotion? And who is there that has performed the last rites of friendship, or the melancholy duties of son, daughter, husband, wife, father, mother, brother, or sister, under the recurring tones of the awful Tenor, or more awful Dumb-peal, and does not feel, at every recurrence of the same ceremony, a revival of his keen, but unavailing, regrets for the mouldering dead? Thus does art play with our ingenuous feelings; and thus is an importance given to the established Church in the concords of man's nervous system, which renders it unnecessary for its priesthood to be jealous or invidious towards those who dissent from its doctrines for conscience sake. In truth, such is the imposing attitude of the national Church, that, if the members leave the Church to sit under strange pulpits, the incumbent should suspect his doctrines, his zeal, his talents, or his charity in the collection of his dues and tithes. What but gross misconduct in the priest--what but doctrines incompatible with the intelligence of an enlightened age--or what but the odious impost of tithes-in-kind, can separate the people from the building where they first heard the name of God, and which contains the bones of their ancestors?
In conceding to the influence of bells so many services to the establishment which monopolizes them, I must, however, not forget that the power they possess over the nerves, however agreeable or interesting in health, is pernicious, and often fatal, when the excitability is increased by disease? What medicine can allay the fever which is often exasperated by their clangor? What consoling hope can he feel who, while gasping for breath, or fainting from debility, hears a knell, in which he cannot but anticipate his own?--Hundreds are thus murdered in great cities every year by noisy peals or unseasonable knells. Sleep, the antidote of diseased action, is destroyed by the one; and Hope, the first of cordials, is extinguished by the other. The interesting sympathies and services of bells appear to be, therefore, too dearly purchased. In all countries, death-knells and funeral-tollings ought to be entirely abolished; and even the ringing of peals should be liable to be interdicted, at the request of any medical practitioner. Nor ought the sanctuaries of the professed religion of peace and charity to be disgraced at any time, by celebrations of those murderous conflicts between man and man, which too often take place, to gratify the malice and pride of #WEAK PRINCES#, or sustain the avarice and false calculations of their #WICKED MINISTERS#. Even in justifiable wars of self-defence, such as the resistance to the unprincipled invasion of William the Norman, or of the English people against the tyrannical Charles, the church of Christ ought only to mourn at the unhappy price of the most decisive victory.
The solemn tick of the parish-clock reminding me of the progress of the day, I hastened down the worn stairs, which indicated the busy steps of generations long returned to their gazeous elements, into the church-yard. The all-glorious sun, mocking the fate of mortals, still shed a fascinating lustre on the southern fields, and reminded me, that the village on my left was the eastern #Sheen#, so called from the very effect which I witnessed. Several pretty mansions skirted the fields, and the horizon was beautifully filled by the well-grown woods of Richmond Park, the walls of which were but half a mile distant. The path across the meadow would have tempted me to enjoy its rare beauty; but my course lay westward, and I turned from this brilliant scenery of Nature to the homely creations of man in the village street.
Contemptibly as I think of the morals of Dee, yet, as an able mathematician and an extraordinary character, I could not resist my curiosity to view the house in which he resided. It is now a Ladies' boarding-school; and, on explaining the purpose of my visit, I was politely shown through the principal rooms. In two hundred years, it has of course undergone considerable alterations: yet parts of it still exhibit the architecture of the sixteenth century. From the front windows I was shown Dee's garden, on the other side of the road, still attached to the house; down the central path of which, through iron gates, yet standing, Queen Elizabeth used to walk from her carriage in the Sheen road, to consult the wily conjurer on affairs of love and war.
I found the gouvernante of this establishment perfectly intelligent on the subject of her proper business. Her unaffected politeness induced me to take a chair and recruit my strength with a glass of water and a crust of bread. We talked on Education, and particularly on that of females. She agreed that a female pedant is at best a ridiculous character, and that retired graces, personal accomplishments, and useful domestic acquirements, are best adapted to the destiny of woman. We approved of dancing, because it affords social recreation and wholesome exercise; and of music, for its own sake, and as a means of relieving the monotony of the domestic circle in long evenings and bad weather. She considered the study of a foreign language to be partly necessary, as a means of acquiring exact ideas of the science of language generally; and we agreed in preferring the French, for its conversational powers and its universality as a living tongue. Nor did we differ in our views of the necessity of making the future companions of well-educated men intimately acquainted with the leading facts of geography and history, and with the general principles of natural philosophy and chemistry. I ventured to suggest, that the great objection to female boarding-schools, the neglect of the arts of housewifery might be obviated, by causing two of the pupils, of a certain age, to assist in the management of the store-room and kitchen for a week in rotation, during which they should fill up the items of the house-keeper's account-book, and make purchases of the family tradesmen. At this the good lady smiled--Ah, sir, (said she,) yours is a plausible theory, but not one mother in ten would tolerate a practice which they would consider as a degradation of their daughters.--But, (said I,) is not household economy the chief pursuit of nine of every ten of the sex; and is not the system of education incomplete, if not a waste of time, which does not embrace that pursuit as part of the plan? And just for that reason, (said she,) that one in every ten may not have occasion to concern herself in household affairs, the whole avoid them as degrading--each looks for the prize in the lottery of fortune, and therefore all pitch themselves too high--and it would be offensive to the pride and vanity of parents, to suppose that their daughter might have occasion to know any thing of the vulgar employments of the house and the kitchen.--It is the parents, then, (said I, in conclusion,) who require instruction as much as their children.--We agreed, however, in our estimate of the superior advantages which children of both sexes enjoy in the present day, from the improved and extended views of the authors of school-books. She was warm in her praises of the Interrogative System of some recent authors; and I found she was no stranger to the merits of the Universal Preceptor, and of the elementary Grammars of Geography, History, and Natural Philosophy.
As I continued my course towards the site of the ancient residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury, which lies at the western extremity of the village, I could not avoid asking myself, how, in a country abounding in such means of instruction, political fraud has continued so successful? Has education yet effected nothing for mankind, _owing to its servility to power_? Is the press but a more effective engine for promulgating sophistry, _owing to its ready corruption_? Is religion in the pulpit but a plausible means of palliating the crimes of statesmen, _owing to the ambition of its professors_? Would it now be possible to poison Socrates, banish Aristides, and crucify Jesus, for teaching truth and practising virtue? Alas! a respect for that same truth compelled me to say, Yes!--Yes, said I, there never was a country, nor an age, in which artful misrepresentation could be more successfully practised than at this day in Britain! Can the _press_ effectually sustain truth, while no penal law prevents the purse and patronage of ministers and magistrates from poisoning its channels of communication with the people? Can the _pulpit_ be expected to advocate political truth, while the patronage of the Church is in the hands of the Administration of the day? Can _education_ itself be free from the influence of corrupt patronage, or the force of numerous prejudices, while an abject conformity to the opinions of each previous age is the passport to all scholastic dignities? Does any established or endowed school, and do any number even of private schools, make it part of their professed course to teach their pupils the value of freedom, the duties of freemen, and the free principles of the British constitution? Is the system of the public schools, where our statesmen and legislators are educated, addressed to the #HEART# as well as the #HEAD#? Is poverty any where more degraded; cruelty to the helpless animal creation any where more remorselessly practised; or the pride of pedantry, and the vain-glory of human learning, any where more vaunted? In short, are the vices of gluttony, drunkenness, pugilism, and prodigality, any where more indulged? Yet, may we not say, as in the days of William of Wykeham, that "_Manners make the man!_"--and, on the subject of public duties, might we not derive a lesson even from the ancient institutions of Lycurgus?
The best hopes of society are the progressive improvement of succeeding generations, and the prospect that each will add something to the stock of knowledge to that which went before it. But gloomy is the perspective, if the science of education be rendered stationary or retrograde by the iron hand of power and bigotry, and if errors by these means are propagated from age to age with a species of accelerated force. Yet, what signs of improvement are visible in our public schools, wherein are educated those youths who are destined to direct the fortunes of Britain in each succeeding age? Most of these schools were endowed at the epoch of the revival of learning; yet the exact course of instruction which was prescribed by the narrow policy of that comparatively dark age, is slavishly followed even to this hour! Instead of knowledge, moral and physical, being taught in them, as the true end of all education,--those dead languages, which in the 15th and 16th centuries were justly considered as the fountains of wisdom, are still exclusively taught; as though the English language, now, as then, contained no works of taste and information on a par with those of the ancients; and as though such writers as Bacon, Shakespeare, Milton, Newton, Locke, Addison, Pope, Johnson, Blackstone, Hume, Robertson, and Blair, had never lived! Is it not to mistake the means for the end, to teach any language, except as the medium of superior philosophy? And is it not a false inference, to ascribe exclusively to the study of languages, those habits of industrious application, which would grow with equal certainty out of the study of the useful sciences, if pursued with the same system, and for a similar period of time?
Reason demands, however, on this subject, those concessions from the #PRIDE# of #PEDANTRY# which that pride will never yield. We seem, therefore, to be destined, by the force of circumstances, to make slow or inconsiderable advances in civilization; and it remains for other nations, the bases of whose institutions are less entangled in prejudices, to raise the condition of man higher in the scale of improvement than can be expected in Britain. We may, as a result of geographical position, attain a certain degree of national distinction; but, if our system of public education cannot be made to keep pace with knowledge, and is not calculated to generate a succession of patriots, who are qualified to sustain liberty at home and justice abroad, we cannot fail to sink in our turn to the level of modern Egypt, Greece, and Italy. Those hotbeds of human genius were ultimately degraded by the triumph of prejudices over principles, by the extinction of public spirit, by the preference of despotism over liberty, and by the glare of foreign conquests. The countries, the soil, and even the cities remain; but, as their youth are no longer trained in the love of truth and liberty, they exist but as beacons to warn other people of their fall and its causes.
I turned aside to view a manufactory of Delft and Stone ware, for which, among potters, Mortlake is famous. A silly air of mystery veiled these work-shops from public view; and, as I professed mine to be a visit of mere curiosity, the conductor's taciturnity increased with the variety of my unsatisfied questions. It was in vain I assured him that I was no potter--that experimental philosophy and chemistry had stript empiricism of its garb--and that no secret, worth preserving, could long be kept in a manufactory which employed a dozen workmen, at 20_s._ a week. The principal articles made here are those brown stone jugs, of which the song tells us, one was made of the clay of Toby Filpot; and I could not help remarking, that the groups on these jugs are precisely those on the common pottery of the Romans. I learnt, however, that the patterns employed here are not copied from the antique, but from those used at Delft, of which this manufactory is a successful imitation in every particular: and perhaps the Delft manufactory itself is but a continuation of a regular series of stone or earthenware manufactories, from the age of the Romans. Each may have continued to imitate the approved ornaments of its predecessors, till we trace in the productions of this contemporary pottery, the patterns used by the nations of antiquity when just emerging from barbarism. Hunting, the most necessary of arts to the vagrant and carnivorous savage, is the employment celebrated on all these vessels, A stag, followed by ferocious quadrupeds and hungry bipeds, forms their general ornament. I have picked up the same groups among Roman ruins, have often contemplated them in the cabinets of the curious, and here I was amused at viewing them in creations but a week old.
To take off ornamental impressions on plastic clay, was a contrivance which would present itself to the first potters--but perhaps it was the foundation of all our proud arts of sculpture, painting, hieroglyphic design, writing, seal-engraving, and, finally, of printing and copper-plate engraving! What an interesting series!--But I solemnly put the question, Have we arrived at the last of its terms? Is the series capable of no further application, extension, or variation? Have we conceived the utmost limits of its abstractions? Have we examined the powers of all its terms with equal care? In one sense, we may never get beyond a Phidias or a Canova--in another, beyond a Woollet or a Bartolozzi--or, in a third, beyond a Corregio or a David;--but have we sufficiently examined and husbanded the abstractions of Thoth or Cadmus?--Ought not the signs of ideas, ere this, to have become abstract representations; as universal in their signification as ideas themselves?--Ought we to be obliged to study all languages and many characters, in order to comprehend the ideas which are common to the whole human race? Are ideas more numerous than musical sounds, and tones, and tunes? Do not the powers of musical characters and of the telegraph prove the facility and capacity of very simple combinations? Does not the Christmas game of _Twenty_ indicate the narrow range of all our ideas? And is not a fact thereby ascertained, from which we may conceive the practicability of so combining hieroglyphic with arbitrary characters, as to be able to read men's ideas without the intervention of a hundred tongues?
On leaving this manufactory, I proceeded about a hundred yards, through the main street; and, turning a corner on the right, beheld the ancient gateway, now bricked up, and the ruined walls of an enclosure, sanctified, during five centuries, as the residence of thirty-four successors to the see of Canterbury. Learning that the enclosure was occupied by a market-gardener, I could not avoid observing, as a proof of the sagacity of gardeners, and of the luxury which manured these sites, that I have seldom visited decayed religious houses without finding them in possession of market-gardeners! Ah! thought I, as I stopped before the gate, how many thousands of rich donations used to be brought to that portico by superstitious votaries, who considered it as the emblem of the gate of St. Peter, and believed that, if welcomed at the one, they should be equally welcomed at the other! Poor souls--they and their spiritual protectors have alike passed away--and we can now look with the eye of Philosophy on the impotent impostures of one party, and on the unsuspecting credulity of the other!
I was in haste---yet I could not avoid stopping five minutes--yes, reader, and it is a lesson to human pomp--I could wait but five minutes to contemplate the gate through which had passed thirty-four successive Archbishops of Canterbury, from Anselm, in the time of William the Norman, to Warham and Cranmer, the pliant tools of the tyrant Tudor. As leaders of the Catholic Church, we may now, in this Protestant country, speak, without offence, of their errors and vices. Ambition and the exercise of power were doubtless the ruling passions of the majority, who have shown themselves little scrupulous as to the means by which those passions might be gratified;--yet it would be uncandid not to admit that many men, like the present amiable Protestant archbishop, have filled this See, whose eminent virtue, liberality, and piety, were their principal recommendations--and who doubtless believed all those articles of the Church's faith which they taught to others. They were, in truth, wheels of a machine which existed before their time; and they honestly performed the part assigned them, without disputing its origin or the sources of its powers; prudently considering that, if they endeavoured to pull it in pieces, they were likely themselves to become the first victims of their temerity. Thus doubtless it was with Cicero and the philosophers of antiquity; they found theological machinery powerful enough to govern society; and though, on the subject of the Gods, they prudently conformed, or were silent, yet we are not at this day warranted in supposing that they obsequiously reverenced the absurd theology of the romance of Homer. Of the archbishops who have passed this gate, St. Thomas à Becket was perhaps the greatest bigot; but the exaltation of the ecclesiastical over the temporal power was the fashion of his day; and obedience and allegiance could scarcely be expected of a clergy who, owing all their dignities to the Pope, owned no authority superior to that of the keeper of Peter's Keys to the Gates of Heaven!
I could not, even in thus transiently glancing at these meagre remains, avoid the interesting recollection, that this portico once served as a sanctuary for the contrition of guilt against the unsparing malignity of law. In those days, when bigotry courted martyrdom as a passport to eternal glory, and when, in consequence, the best principle of religion was enabled to triumph over the malice of weak princes and the tyranny of despots, this gate (said I) served as one of many avenues to the emblem of that Divinity to whom the interior was devoted. It justly asserted the authority of the religion of charity, whose Founder ordered his disciples to pardon offences, though multiplied seventy times seven times. Yet, alas! in our days, how much is this divine precept forgotten! Is not the sanguinary power of law suffered to devour its victims for _first_ relapses from virtue, as unsparingly as for any number of repetitions? Do not its sordid agents exult in the youth or inexperience of offenders, and often receive contrition and confession as aggravating proofs of more deliberate turpitude? Has not the modern sanctuary of Mercy long been shut, by forms of state, against the personal supplications of repentance, and against humble representations of venial errors of criminal courts? If sinners would approach that gate, are they not stopped at the very threshold, and obliged to rely on the intercession of some practised minister, or seek the good offices of illiberal clerks? Is this Christendom, the volume of whose faith tells its votaries to knock without fear at the gate of Mercy, and it shall be opened by an Heavenly Father?--or England, where a solemn law enacts, that it is the right of the subject to petition the King, and that all commitments and prosecutions for such petitioning are illegal?--or civilized Europe, where it has so often been asserted that the receiving of petitions, and granting their prayer, is the most enviable branch of royal prerogative? Alas! will the golden mean of reason never govern the practices of men? Must we for ever be the dupes of superstition, or the slaves of upstart authority? Are we doomed never to enjoy, in the ascendancy of our benevolent sympathies, a medium between the bigotry of the #Crozier#, the pride of the #Sceptre#, and the cruelty of the #Sword#?
Nor ought it to be forgotten, that the benevolence which flowed from this portico, served as a substitute for the poor's-rates, throughout the adjoining district. Thus #Food#, as well as #Mercy#, appeared to flow from Heaven, through the agency of the Romish priesthood! Thus they softened the effects of the monopolies of wealth, and assuaged the severities of power! And thus, duration was conferred on a system which violated common sense in its tenets; but, in its practices, exhibited every claim on the affections and gratitude of the people! At this gate, and at a thousand others spread over the land, no poor man sought to satisfy his hunger in vain. He was not received by any grim-visaged overseer; not called on for equivocal proofs of legal claims; not required to sell his liberty in the workhouse as the price of a single meal; not terrified by the capricious justice of a vulgar constable; nor in fear of the infernal machine, called a pass-cart--but it was sufficient that he was an hungered, and they gave him to eat--or that he was sick, and they gave him medicine! Such was the system of those times; not more perfect for being ancient, but worthy of being remembered, because justified by long experience. Thrice the relative wealth, and as much active benevolence, are at this day exerted to relieve the still unsatisfied wants of the poor, simply because our workhouses are not regularly provided with an hospitable monastic portico, where temporary wants might be supplied with a wholesome meal, without the formality of regular admission, without proofs of settlement, without the terrors of the House of Correction, or the horrors of a _middle-passage_ in the pass-cart! The tenderest sympathy would then be able to excuse itself from the obligation of granting eleemosynary aid--the act of begging might be justly punished as a crime--and crimes themselves could never be palliated by pleas of urgent want.
This entire site was too much consecrated by historical associations to be passed without further examination. A slight expression of my feelings procured every attention from Penley, the gardener, who told me that his family had occupied it since the revolution, and that he remembered every part above fifty years. He took me to a summer-house, on the wall next the water, the ruins of which were of the architecture of the time of the Plantagenets; and, indeed, the entire wall, above half a mile in circuit, was of that age. Of the ancient palace no vestige remained; and he could guess its precise site only by means of the masses of brickwork which he discovered by digging in certain parts of the garden.
If I was, however, little gratified by remains of the labours of man, I was filled with astonishment at certain specimens of vegetation, unquestionably as ancient as the last Catholic archbishops. Among these were two enormous walnut-trees, twelve feet round the trunk, the boughs of which were themselves considerable trees, spreading above twenty-six yards across. Each tree covered above a rood of ground; and so massy were the lower branches, that it has been found necessary to support them with props. Their height is equal to their breadth, or about seventy feet; and I was surprised to find, that, notwithstanding their undoubted age, they still bear abundance of fine fruit. Mr. Penley assured me, that in his time he had seen no variation in them; they had doubtless attained their full growth in his boyhood, but since then they had maintained a steady maturity. At present they must be considered as in a state of slow decay; but I have no doubt that in the year 1916 they will continue grand and productive trees.
I was equally struck with some box-trees, probably of far greater antiquity. They were originally planted in a semicircle to serve as an arbour; but in the progress of centuries they have grown to the prodigious height of thirty feet, and their trunks are from six to nine inches in diameter. And what was strikingly curious, in the area which they enclose is seen the oval table of the arbour, evidently of the same age. It is of the species of stone called Plymouth marble,--massy, and so well-wrought as to prove that it was not placed there at the cost of private revenues. It was interesting, and even affecting, to behold these signs of comfort and good cheer still remaining, so many ages after those who enjoyed them have passed away like exhalations or transient meteors! I would have sat down, and, with a better conscience than Don Juan, have invoked their ghosts over a bottle of the honest gardener's currant-wine; but he had filled up the elliptical area of the trees with a pile of fagots, of which the old table serves as a dry basement.
 The box-wood used in England by the engravers on wood is often twelve inches in diameter; this, however, is not of English growth, but comes from Turkey, where it is held in slight estimation. Of course, when engravings on wood are larger than twelve inches in diameter, two blocks are joined together, for it is only the transverse section that can be wrought for this purpose. The most famous plantations of box in England are on the White-hill, near Dorking; but the trees there are mere sticks and shrubs compared with those at Mortlake; yet many of them are known to be two hundred years old.
What was less wonderful, though to the full as interesting--was the circumstance that the gardener has, at different times, in digging up the roots of his old fruit-trees, found them imbedded in skeletons of persons who were interred in or near the chapel of the archbishops. He told me, that a short time before my visit, in removing a pear-tree, he had taken up three perfect skeletons; and that one of them was pronounced by a surgeon in the neighbourhood to be the frame-work of a man full seven feet high. This probably was an accidental circumstance; for it is not to be supposed that any of the interments on this spot took place in those rude ages when bulk and stature led to rank and distinction, and, by consequence, to costly funerals and encasements of stone, which often surprize us with specimens of an apparently gigantic race. Doubtless, however, here were interred hundreds of pious persons, who calculated, in their last moments, on the protection of this consecrated ground till "the Earth should be called to give up its Dead;" and now, owing to the unsatisfied passion which the first "Defender of the Faith" felt for Anna Boleyn, this consecrated spot, and a thousand similar ones, have been converted into cabbage-gardens!
Perhaps more than one archbishop, many bishops, and scores of deans, angelic doctors, and other reverend personages, lie in this now profaned and dishonoured spot! So great an outrage might, one would have supposed, have led them, according to ordinary notions, again to walk the earth, to despoil the garden, and disturb the gardener's rest! I expressed my fears on this point to the worthy man; but he assured me, these good gentlefolks lie very quiet; and that, if they produced any visible effect, it was as manure, in rendering the part where they lie a little more productive than the other parts. I shuddered at this lesson of humility--Alas! thought I, is it for such ends that we pamper ourselves--that some of us boast of being better than others--that we seek splendid houses and superfine clothing--and render our little lives wretched by hunting after rank, and titles, and riches! After all, we receive a sumptuous funeral, and are affectionately laid in what is called consecrated ground, which some political revolution, or change of religion, converting into a market-garden, our bodies then serve but as substitutes for vulgar manure! If such an end of the illustrious and proud men, whose remains now fertilize this garden, had been contemplated by them, how truly would they have become disciples of the humble Jesus--and how horror-struck would they have been at the fantastic airs which, in their lives, they were giving themselves!--Yet, is there a reader of these pages, the end of whose mortal career may not be similar to theirs?--and ought he not to apply to himself the lesson thus taught by the known fate of the former inhabitants of the archiepiscopal palace of Mortlake?
I shook my head at Penley, and told him, that he was a terrible "leveller," and that, in making manure of archbishops and bishops, he was one of the most effective moralists I had ever conversed with!
In walking round this garden, every part proved that its soil had been enriched from all the neighbouring lands. Whether, according to Dr. #Creighton#, there are classes of organic particles adapted to form vegetables and animals over and over again; or whether, according to the modern chemistry, all organized bodies consist of carbonaceous, metallic, and gaseous substances in varied combinations; it is certain, that the well-fed priesthood, who formerly dwelt within these walls, drew together for ages such a supply of the pabulum of vegetation, as will require ages to exhaust. All the trees of this garden are of the most luxuriant size: gooseberries and currants in other gardens grow as shrubs; but here they form trees of four or five feet in height, and a circumference of five or six yards. In short, a luxuriance approaching to rankness, and a soil remarkable for its depth of colour and fatness, characterize every part. The abundant produce, as is usual through all this neighbourhood, is conveyed to Covent-Garden market in the night, and there disposed of by salesmen that attend on behalf of the gardeners.
I took my departure from this inclosure with emotions that can only be felt. I looked again and again across the space which, during successive ages, had given birth to so many feelings, and nurtured so many anxious passions; but which now, for many ages, has, among bustling generations, lost all claim to sympathy or notice; and displays, at this day, nothing but the still mechanism of vegetable life. There might be little in the past to rouse the affections; but, in the difference of manners, there was much to amuse the imagination. It had been the focus, if not of real piety, at least of ostensible religion; and, dead as the spot now appeared, its mouldering walls, some of those gigantic trees, and, above all, the box-tree arbour, had, in remote ages, echoed from hour to hour the melodious chaunts and imposing ceremonials of the Romish Church. Here moral habits sanctified the routine of life, and conferred happiness as a necessary result of restraint and decorum--and here Vice never disgraced Reason by public exhibitions; but, if lurking in any breast, confessed its own deformity by its disguises and its secresy. In surveying such a spot, the hand of Time softens down even the asperities of superstition, and the shade of this gloomy site, contrasted with the bright days of its prosperity, inclined me to forget the intolerant policy which was wont to emanate from its spiritual councils. Under those fruit-trees, I exclaimed, lie all that remains of the follies, hopes, and superstitions of the former occupants; for, of them, I cannot remark as of the torpid remains in Mortlake church-yard, that they live in the present generation.--No! these dupes of clerical fraud devoted themselves to celibacy as a service to the procreative #Cause# of #CAUSES#, and became withered limbs of their family trees. We can, however, now look on their remains, and presume to scan their errors:--but let us recollect, that, though we are gazers to-day, we shall be gazed upon to-morrow--and that, though we think ourselves wise, we are, perhaps, fated to be commiserated in our turn by the age which follows. Alas! said I, when will the generation arrive that will not merit as much pity from succeeding generations as those poor monks? Yet how wise, how infallible, and how intolerant, is every sect of religion--every school of philosophy--every party of temporary politicians--and every nation in regard to every other nation! Do not these objects, and all exertions of reasoning, prove, that the climax of human wisdom is #HUMILITY#?
Commending the bones of the monks to the respect of the gardener, whose feelings, to do him justice, were in unison with my own, I proceeded, by the side of the wall, towards the banks of the Thames.
The relics of exploded priestcraft which I had just contemplated in the adjoining garden, led me into an amusing train of thought on the origin and progress of superstition. I felt that the various mythologies which the world has witnessed, grow out of mistakes in regard to the phenomena of #SECONDARY CAUSES#; all natural phenomena, accordingly as they were _fit_ or _unfit_ to the welfare or caprices of men, being ascribed, by the barbarous tribes who subsequently became illustrious nations, to the agency of _good_ and _evil_ spirits. However absurd might be the follies of these superstitions, they became ingrafted on Society, and were implanted in the opening minds of every successive generation. Of course, the age never arrived which did not inherit the greater part of the prejudices of the preceding age. Reason and philosophy might in due time illumine a few individuals; yet even these, influenced by early prejudices, and a prudent regard for their fortunes and personal safety, would rather support, or give a beneficial direction to, mythological superstitions, than venture to expose and oppose them. Hence it was that the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, continued _polytheists_ through the most brilliant epochs of their history; and hence their philosophers, as #Pythagoras#, #Plato#, and others, gave to the whole the plausibility of system, by affecting to demonstrate that the #FIRST CAUSE# necessarily and proximately generates immortal gods! Hence too it is that philosophers have, in different past ages, undertaken to demonstrate the verity of all religions, and according to the religion of the government under which they lived, they have either supported Polytheism, Theism, Sabinism, Judaism, Popery, or Mahomedanism. The fate of #Socrates# has never been forgotten by any philosopher who possessed the chief attribute of wisdom--#PRUDENCE#; and no benevolent man will ever seek to disturb a public faith which promotes public virtue, because the memorials of history prove that no discords have been so bloody as those which have been generated by attempts to change religious faith. This class of human errors can indeed be corrected only by establishing in civilized countries practical and unequivocal systems of toleration; because, in that case, truth and reason are sure, in due time, to establish themselves, while falsehood and fraud must sink into merited contempt.
The fleeting, wild, and crude notions of savages, constituted therefore the _first stage_ in the progress of mythological superstition. Their invisible agencies would however soon have forms conferred upon them by weak or fertile imaginations, and be personified as men or animals, according to the nature of their deeds. To pray to them for benefits, and to deprecate their wrath, would constitute the _second stage_. In the mean time, individuals who might, by chance or design, become connected with some of these supernatural agencies, would be led, by vivid or gloomy imaginations, to deceive even themselves by notions of _election_ or _inspiration_; and, then superadding ceremonials to worship, they would form a select class, living, without manual labour, on the tributes offered by the people to satisfy or appease the unseen agencies. This would constitute a _third stage_. Each priest would then endeavour to extol the importance of the god, of whom he believed himself to be the minister; and he would give to his deity a visible form, cause a temple to be built for him, deliver from it his oracles or prophecies, and affect to work miracles in his name. This would constitute the _fourth stage_. The terror of unseen powers would now be found to be a convenient engine of usurped human authority, and hence an association would be formed between the temporal and invisible powers, the latter being exalted by the former in having its temples enlarged and its priests better provided for. This would constitute the _fifth stage_; or the consummation of the system as it has been witnessed in India, Persia, Egypt, Greece, and Italy.--Hence among the #Hindoos#, those personified agencies have been systematized under the titles of Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, Crishna, &c. Among the #Egyptians#, they were worshipped in the forms of living animals, and called Osiris, Ammon, Oris, Typhon, Isis, &c. Among the #Chaldeans#, and, after them, among the #Jews#, they were classed in principalities, powers, and dominions of _angels_ and _devils_, under chiefs, who bore the names of Raphael, Gabriel, Michael, Moloch, Legion, Satan, Beelzebub, &c. Among the #Greeks#, the accommodating Plato flattered the priests and the vulgar, by pretending to demonstrate that their personifications were necessary emanations from #THE ONE#; and he, and others, arranged the worship of them under the names of Jupiter, Neptune, Minerva, Venus, Pluto, Mars, &c. Among the #NORTHERN NATIONS#, they assumed the names of Woden, Sleepner, Hela, Fola, &c. Every town and village had, moreover, its protecting divinity, or guardian saint, under some fantastical name, or the name of some fantastical fanatic; and, even every man, every house, every plant, every brook, every day, and every hour, according to most of those systems, had their accompanying genius! In a word, the remains of these superstitions are still so mixed with our habits and language, that, although we pity the hundreds of wretched victims of _legal wisdom_, who under Elizabeth and the Stuarts were burnt to death for witchcraft; and abhor the ghosts of Shakespeare, his fairies, and his enchantments; yet we still countenance the system in most of the personifications of language, and practise it when we speak even of the _spirit_ of Philosophy and the _genius_ of Truth.
Nor have philosophers themselves, either in their independent systems, or in the systems of the schools, steered clear of the vulgar errors of mythologists. They have in every age introduced into nature active causes without contact, continuity, or proximity; and, even in our days, continue to extort worship towards the _unseen and occult_ powers of attraction or sympathy, and of repulsion or antipathy! It is true, they say that such words only express _results_ or _phenomena_, and others equivocate by saying there is in no case any contact:--but I reply, that to give names to proximate causes does not correspond with my notions of the proper business of philosophy; and that, in thousands of instances, there is sensible contact, and in all nature some contact of intermediate media, in the affections of which, may be traced the laws governing the phenomena of distant bodies. At the hour in which I write, the recognized philosophical divinities are called #Space#, #Matter#, #Inertia#, #Caloric#, #Expansion#, #Motion#, #Impulse#, #Clustering Power#, #Elasticity#, #Atomic Forms#, #Atomic Proportions#, #Oxygen#, #Hydrogen#, #Nitrogen#, #Chlorine#, #Iodine#, #Electricity#, #Light#, #Excitability#, #Irritability#, &c. All these have their priests, worshippers, propagandists, and votaries, among some of whom may be found as intolerant a spirit of bigotry as ever disgraced any falling church. As governments do not, however, ally themselves to Philosophy, there is happily no danger that an heretical or reforming Philosopher will, as such, ever incur the hazard of martyrdom; and, as reason decides all disputes in the court of Philosophy, there can be no doubt, but, in this court at least, #Truth# will finally prevail.
Hail, Genius of Philosophy! Hail, thou poetical personification of wisdom! Hail, thou logical abstraction of all experimental knowledge! I hail thee, as thou art represented in the geniuses of Pythagoras, Thales, Aristotle, Archimedes, Ptolemy, Columbus, Bacon, Galileo, Descartes, Newton, Boyle, Euler, Buffon, Franklin, Beccaria, Priestley, Lavoisier, Cavendish, Condorcet, Laplace, Herschel, Berzelius, Jenner, Dalton, Cuvier, and Davy; and I hail thee, as thou excitest the ambition of the solitary student of an obscure village, to raise himself among those gods of the human race! How many privations must thy votaries suffer in a sordid world; and how many human passions must they subdue, before they can penetrate thy mazy walks, or approach the hidden sanctuaries of thy temple of Truth! Little thinks the babbling politician, the pedantic linguist, or the equivocating metaphysician, of the watchful hours which thy worshippers must pass,--of the never-ending patience which they must exert,--of the concurring circumstances which must favour their enthusiasm! Whether we consider the necessary magnitude of the library, the ascending intricacy of the books, the multitude of the instruments, or the variety of the experimental apparatus in the use of which the searchers into thy mysteries must be familiar; we are compelled to reverence the courage of him who seeks preeminence through thee, and to yield to those mortals who have attained thy favours, our wonder, admiration, and gratitude!
 The system of Physics which I have for many years inculcated, in the hope of removing from Philosophy the equivocal word _attraction_, supposes that space is filled with an elastic medium,--that this medium permeates bodies in proportion to their quantities of matter,--that resistance or re-action takes place between the universal medium of space and the novel arrangements of matter in bodies,--that this action and re-action diverge in the medium of space from the surfaces of bodies,--and that, like all diverging forces, they act inversely as the squares of the distances. That, if there were but one body in the universe, it would remain stationary by the uniform action of the surrounding medium,--that the creation of another body would produce phenomena between them, owing to each intercepting the action of the medium of space on the other, in proportion to the angles mutually presented by their bulks,--that two such bodies so acted upon by an universal medium must necessarily fall together, owing to the difference between the finite pressure on their near sides, and the infinite pressure on their outsides,--that a stone falls to the earth, because, with regard to it, the earth intercepts an angle of 180° of the medium of space on its near or under side; while, with regard to the earth, the stone intercepts but a small proportion of a second,--that these actual centripetal forces are very slight, between such distant bodies as the planets,--and, that the law of the forces is necessarily as their bulks directly, and as the squares of their distances inversely. That the centrifugal forces result from the same pressure or impulse,--that the varied densities of the opposite sides of the masses, as land and water, occasion a uniform external pressure to produce rotation on an axis,--that the action or oscillation of the fluid surfaces, a consequence of the rotation, constantly changes the mechanical centre of the mass, so as thereby to drive forward the mathematical centre in an orbit,--and that this is the purpose and effect of the tides, increased by the action and re-action of the fluid and solid parts. That centripetal and centrifugal forces so created, are necessarily varied by the diverse arrangements of the solid and fluid parts of planetary bodies, as we see in the northern and southern hemispheres of the earth,--and that hence arise the varied motions, the elliptical orbits, and all the peculiar phenomena. Attached as the moderns are to the terms _attraction_ and _repulsion_, I produce this theory with due deference to their prejudices; and I venture to presume, that, on examination, it will be found to be a fair induction from the phenomena, and also in perfect accordance with all the laws of motion. It accounts for the uniform direction and moderate exertion of the centripetal force towards the largest body of a system; for the mutual actions of a system of bodies, or of many systems, on each other; and for the constantly varying direction of the centrifugal force, by shewing that it is generated within the mass. The term _repulsion_ is even more disgraceful to Philosophy than that of _attraction_; all repulsion being in truth but a relative phenomenon between at least three bodies; and its most palpable appearance in electricity being but a stronger mechanical action towards opposite surfaces. The local impulses of magnets, and of bodies going into chemical union, are not better explained by Kepler's gravitating sympathy, than by this doctrine of mechanical interception; but, I have no doubt that the former of these will, in due time, be traced to the difference between the rotary motion of the Equatorial and Polar regions; and the latter to some laws of the atomic theory, arising out of the shape and arrangement of the component particles, with reference to those of surrounding bodies.
Overtaking three or four indigent children, whose darned stockings and carefully-patched clothes bespoke some strong motive for attention in their parents, I was induced to ask them some questions. They said they had been to Mortlake School; and I collected from them, that they were part of two or three hundred who attend one of Dr. Bell's schools, which had lately been established for the instruction of poor children in this vicinity. I found that, until this establishment had been formed, these children attended no school regularly--and, in reply to a question, one of them said, "Our father could not afford to pay Mr. ---- sixpence a week for us, so we could not go at all; but now we go to this school, and it costs father nothing." This was as it should be; the social state ought to supply a preparatory education of its members--or, how can a government expect to find moral agents in an ignorant population--how can it presume to inflict punishments on those who have not been enabled to read the laws which they are bound to respect--and how can the professors of religion consider themselves as performing their duty, if they have not enabled all children to peruse the volume of Christian Revelation? We are assured by Mr. Lancaster, that #George the Third# expressed the benevolent wish that every one of his subjects should be enabled to read the Bible; and his successors will, it is to be hoped, not lose sight of so admirable a principle. But a few ages ago, to be able to read conferred the privileges of the clerical character, and exempted men from capital punishments--how improved, therefore, is the present state of society, and how different may it yet become, as prejudices are dispelled, and as liberal feelings acquire their just ascendancy among the rulers of nations! These boys spoke of their school with evident satisfaction; and one of them, who proved to be a monitor, seemed not a little proud of the distinction. Whether the system of Mr. Lancaster or of Dr. Bell enjoy the local ascendancy; or whether these public seminaries be "schools for all," or schools in which the dogmas of some particular faith are taught, I am indifferent, provided there are some such schools, and that all children are enabled to read the Bible, and "_the Catechism of their Social Rights and Duties_."
Seeing several respectable houses facing the meadow which led to the Thames, I inquired of a passing female the names of their owners, and learnt that they were chiefly occupied by widow ladies, to whom she gave the emphatic title of _Madam_--though she called one of them _Mistress_. It appeared that those who were denominated _Madams_ were widows of gentlemen who, in their lives, bore the title of _Esquires_; but that the _Mistress_ was an old maid, whom her neighbours were ashamed longer to call by the juvenile appellation of _Miss_. _Madam ----_, whose name I ought not to have forgotten, has devoted a paddock of four or five acres to the comfortable provision of two super-annuated coach-horses. One of them, I was assured, was thirty-five years old, and the other nearly thirty; and their venerable appearance and pleasant pasture excited a strong interest in favour of their kind-hearted mistress. Such is the influence of good example, that I found her paddock was opposite the residence of the equally amiable #Valentine Morris#, who so liberally provided for all his live-stock about thirty years ago, and whose oldest horse died lately, after enjoying his master's legacy above twenty-four years.
I now descended towards a rude space near the Thames, which appeared to be in the state in which the occasional overflowings and gradual retrocession of the river had left it. It was one of those wastes which the lord of the manor had not yet enabled some industrious cultivator to disguise; and in large tracts of which Great Britain still exhibits the surface of the earth in the pristine state in which it was left by the secondary causes that have given it form. The Thames, doubtless, in a remote age, covered the entire site; but it is the tendency of rivers to narrow themselves, by promoting prolific vegetable creations on their consequently increasing and encroaching banks, though the various degrees of fall produce every variety of currents, and consequently every variety of banks, in their devious course. In due time, the course of the river becomes choaked where a flat succeeds a rapid, and the detained waters then form lakes in the interior. These lakes likewise generate encroaching banks, which finally fill up their basins, when new rivers are formed on higher levels. These, in their turn, become interrupted, and repetitions of the former circle of causes produce one class of those elevations of land above the level of the sea, which have so much puzzled geologists. The only condition which a surface of dry land requires to increase and raise itself, is the absence of salt water, consequent on which is an accumulation of vegetable and animal remains. The Thames has not latterly been allowed to produce its natural effects, because for two thousand years the banks have been inhabited by man, who, unable to appreciate the general laws by which the phenomena of the earth are produced, has sedulously kept open the course of the river, and prevented the formation of interior lakes. The Caspian Sea, and all similar inland seas and lakes, were, for the most part, formed from the choaking up of rivers, which once constituted their outlets. If the course of nature be not interrupted by the misdirected industry of man, the gradual desiccation of all such collections of water will, in due time, produce land of higher levels on their sites. In like manner, the great lakes of North America, if the St. Lawrence be not sedulously kept open, will, in the course of ages, be filled up by the gradual encroachment of their banks, and the raising of their bottoms with strata of vegetable and animal remains. New rivers would then flow over these increased elevations, and the ultimate effect would be to raise that part of the continent of North America several hundred feet above its present level. Even the very place on which I stand was, according to #Webster#, once a vast basin, extending from the Nore to near Reading, but now filled up with vegetable and animal remains; and the illustrious #Cuvier# has discovered a similar basin round the site of Paris. These once were Caspians, created by the choaking and final disappearance of some mighty rivers--they have been filled up by gradual encroachments, and now the Thames and the Seine flow over them;--but these, if left to themselves, will, in their turn, generate new lakes or basins--and the successive recurrence of a similar series of causes will continue to produce similar effects, till interrupted by _superior_ causes.
This situation was so sequestered, and therefore so favourable to contemplation, that I could not avoid indulging myself. What then are those superior causes, I exclaimed, which will interrupt this series of natural operations to which man is indebted for the enchanting visions of hill and dale, and for the elysium of beauty and plenty in which he finds himself? Alas! facts prove, however, that all things are transitory, and that change of condition is the constant and necessary result of that motion which is the chief instrument of eternal causation, but which, in causing all phenomena, wears out existing organizations while it is generating new ones. In the motions of the earth as a planet, doubtless are to be discovered the superior causes which convert seas into continents, and continents into seas. These sublime changes are occasioned by the progress of the perihelion point of the earth's orbit through the ecliptic, which passes from extreme northern to extreme southern declination, and _vice versa_, every 10,450 years; and the maxima of the central forces in the perihelion occasion the waters to accumulate alternatively upon either hemisphere. During 10,450 years, the sea is therefore gradually retiring and encroaching in both hemispheres:--hence all the varieties of marine appearances and accumulations of marine remains in particular situations; and hence the succession of layers or strata, one upon another, of marine and earthy remains. It is evident, from observation of those strata, that the periodical changes have occurred at least three times; or, in other words, it appears that the site on which I now stand has been three times covered by the ocean, and three times has afforded an asylum for vegetables and animals! How sublime--how interesting--how affecting is such a contemplation! How transitory, therefore, must be the local arrangements of man, and how puerile the study of the science miscalled Antiquities! How foolish the pride which vaunts itself on splendid buildings and costly mausoleums! How vain the ostentation of large estates, of extensive boundaries, and of great empires!--All--all--will, in due time, be swept away and effaced by the unsparing ocean; and, if recorded in the frail memorials of human science, will be spoken of like the lost Atalantis, and remembered only as a philosophical dream!
Yet, how different, thought I, is the rich scene of organized existence within my view, from that which presented itself on this spot when our planet first took its station in the solar system. The surface, judging from its present materials, was then probably of the same inorganic form and structure as the primitive rocks which still compose the Alps and Andes; or like those indurated coral islands, which are daily raising their sterile heads above the level of the great ocean, and teaching by analogy the process of fertilization. At that period, so remote and so obscure, all must have been silent, barren, and relatively motionless! But, the atmosphere and the rains having, by decomposition and solution, pulverized the rocks, and reduced them into the various earths which now fertilize the surface, from the inorganic soon sprung the vegetable, and from the vegetable, in due time, sprung the animal; till the whole was resolved into the interesting assemblage of organized existences, which now present themselves to our endless wonder and gratification.
I looked around me on this book of nature, which so eloquently speaks all languages, and which, for every useful purpose, may be read without translation or commentary, by the learned and unlearned in every age and clime. But my imagination was humbled on considering my relative and limited powers, when I desired to proceed from phenomena to causes, and to penetrate the secrets of nature below the surfaces of things. I desire, said I, to know more than my intellectual vision enables me to see in this volume of unerring truth. I can discover but the mere surfaces of things by the accidents of light. I can feel but the same surfaces in the contact of my body, and my conclusions are governed by their reciprocal relations. In like manner, I can hear, taste, and smell, only through the accidents of other media, all distinct from the nature of the substances which produce those accidents. In truth, I am the mere patient of certain illusions of my senses, and I can know nothing beyond what I derive from my capacity of receiving impressions from those illusions! Alas! thought I, I am sensible how little I know; yet how much is there which I do not, and can never, know? How much more am I incapable of knowing, with my limited organs of sense, than I might know if their capacity or their number were enlarged? How can a being, then, of such limited powers presume to examine nature beyond the mere surface? How can he measure unseen powers, of which he has no perception, but in the phenomena visible to his senses? How can he reason on the causes of effects by means of implements which reach no deeper than the accidents produced by the surfaces of things on the media which affect his senses, and which come not into contact with the powers that produce the phenomena? Ultimate causation is, therefore, hidden for ever from man; and his knowledge can reach no deeper or higher than to register mechanical phenomena, and determine their mutual relations. But there is yet enough for man to learn, and to gratify the researches of his curiosity; for, bounded as are his powers, he has always found that _art is too long and life too short_. He may nevertheless feel that his mind, in a certain sense, is within a species of intellectual prison; but, like the terrestrial prison which confines his body to one planet, no man ever lived long enough to exhaust the variety of subjects presented to his contemplation and curiosity by the intellectual and natural world.
We seem, however, said I, to be better qualified to investigate the external laws which govern #INORGANIC MATTER#, than the subtle and local powers which govern organized bodies. We appear (so to speak) to be capable of looking down upon mere matter as matter; but incapable, like the eye in viewing itself, of retiring to such a focal distance as to be able accurately to examine ourselves. It is not difficult to conceive that planetary bodies, and other masses of inorganic matter, may appear to act on each other by mutually intercepting the pressure of the elastic medium which fills space; and the pressure intercepted by each on the inner surface of the other, may, by the un-intercepted external pressure on each, produce the phenomena of mutual gravitation: nor is it improbable that the curvilinear and rotatory motions of such masses may be governed by the arrangement and mutual action of their fixed and their fluid parts; nor impracticable for the geometrician, when the phenomena are determined, to measure the mechanical relations of the powers that produce those phenomena; nor wonderful that a system of bodies so governed by general laws, should move and act in a dependent, consequent, and necessary harmony.
Thus far the intellect of an organized being may reason safely on the mechanical relations of inorganic masses, because an unequal balance of forces produces their motions, and from combined motions result the phenomena; but, in the principle of organic life, and in the duration and final purpose of the powers of vegetables and animals, there are mysteries which baffle the penetration of limited observation and reason. I behold #VEGETABLES# with roots fixed in the ground, and through them raising fluids mechanically; but my understanding is overpowered with unsatisfied wonder, when I consider the animating principle of the meanest vegetable, which constitutes a selfish individuality, and enables it to give new qualities to those fluids by peculiar secretions, and to appropriate them to its own nourishment and growth. My ambition after wisdom is humbled in the dust, whenever I inquire how the first germ of every species came into existence; whenever I consider the details of the varied powers in the energizing agency which originates each successive germ; and the independent, but coincident, passive receptacle which nurtures those germs, and, correcting aberrations, secures the continuity of every species--both acting as joint secondary causes; and whenever I reflect on the growth, maturity, beauty, and variety, of the vegetable kingdom! On these several subjects, my mind renders the profoundest homage to the #MYSTERIOUS POWER# which created and continues such miracles; and, being unable to reason upon them from the analogy of other experience, I am forced to refer such sublime results to agency not mechanical; or, if in any sense mechanical, so arranged and so moved as to exceed my means of conception.
Looking once more upon the volume of nature which lay before me, I behold a superior class of organized beings, each individual of which, constituting an independent microcosm, is qualified to move from place to place, by bodily adaptation and nervous sensibility. This kingdom of #LOCO-MOTIVE BEINGS# ascends, in gradations of power and intellect, from the hydatid to the sympathetic and benevolent philosopher; and rises in the scale of being as much above the organization of vegetables, as vegetables themselves are superior to the inorganic particles in which they flourish. That they may subsist while they move, their roots, instead of being fixed in the soil, are turned within a cavity, or receptacle, called the stomach, into which, appropriate soil, or aliment, is introduced by the industry of the creature; and, that their powers of loco-motion may be exerted with safety and advantage, they are provided with senses for smelling, tasting, feeling, and seeing their food; and with a power of hearing dangers which they cannot see. They are, for the same purpose, enabled to profit by experience in powers of association, of reasoning by analogy, and of willing according to their judgments; and they are governed by an habitual desire to associate in species, accompanied by moral feelings, resulting from obligations of mutual deference and convenience. Here again, humanly speaking, we have a series of natural miracles--a permanent connexion between external objects and the sensations, reasoning, and conduct of the organized being. We trace the animal frame to two constituent parts--the one mechanical, the other sensitive; the mechanical consisting of bones, skin, stomach, blood-vessels, glands, and intestines, provided with muscles and sinews for voluntary motion; and the sensitive, consisting of nerves and brain, which direct the motions by the feelings of the organs of sense--the results of the union constituting creatures whose essence is perception, springing from a system of brain and nerves, which, being nourished by the energies of circulating fluids, moved by a contrivance of muscles, and strengthened by an apparatus of bones, produce all those varieties of feeling, durable, moving, and powerful beings, whose functions continue as long as the original expansive powers balance the unceasing inertia of their materials. But, of that #SUBTLE PRINCIPLE# which distinguishes _organic life_ from _inert matter_--of that principle of individuality which generates the passion of self-love, and leads each individual to preserve and sustain its own existence--of that principle which gives peculiar powers of growth, and maturity, to germs of vegetables and animals--and of that principle which, being stopped, suspended, or destroyed, in the meanest or greatest of them, produces the awful difference between the living and the dead--we have no knowledge, and we seem incapable of acquiring any, by the limited powers of our senses. Whether this principle of vitality is a principle of its own kind, imparted from parent plants and animals to their germs; or whether it is the result of the totality of the being, like the centre of a sphere,--are questions which must perhaps for ever remain undetermined by the reasoning powers of man.
The creature of an hour, whose chief care it is to live and indulge his self-love, who cannot see without light, nor distinctly above a few inches from the eye, is wholly incompetent to determine those questions which have so long agitated philosophy; as, Whether the phenomena of the creation could be made to exist without action and re-action, and without space?--Whether, consequently, there are #THREE# Eternals, or #ONE# Eternal?--Whether the #SUPREME INTELLIGENCE, MATTER# void of form, and #SPACE# containing it, were all eternal--or whether the supreme intelligence alone was eternal, and matter and space created?--Whether the supreme intelligence has only been exerted proximately or remotely on inorganic matter; space being the necessary medium of creation, and organization being the result?--Whether the globe of the earth, in form, is eternal, or, according to Herschel, the effect of "a clustering power" in the matter of space, beginning and ending, according to the general analogy of organized beings?--Whether the earth was a comet, the ellipticality of whose orbit has been reduced; and, if so, what was the origin of the comet?--How the secondary mountains were liquefied--whether by fire or by water--and what were the then relations of the earth to the sun?--How and when that liquefaction ceased; and how, and when, and in what order of time, the several organizations arose upon them?--How those organizations, at least those now existing, received the powers of secondary causes for continuing their kind?--How every species now lives, and grows, and maintains an eternal succession of personal identities?--How these things were before we were, and how they now are on every side of us--are topics which have made so much learning ridiculous, that, if I were to discuss them, in the best forms prescribed by the schools, I might but imitate in folly the crawling myriads, who luxuriate for an hour on a ripening peach; and who, like ourselves, may be led by their vanity to discuss questions in regard to the eternity, and other attributes, of the prodigious globe, which they have inherited from their remote ancestry, and of which the early history is lost in the obscure traditions of their countless generations!
Without presuming, however, to argue on premises which finite creatures cannot justly estimate, we may safely infer, in regard to the world in which we are placed, that all things which #DO EXIST#, owe their existence to their #COMPATIBILITY# with other existences; to the necessary #FITNESS# of all existing things; and to the #HARMONY# which is essential to the existence of any thing in the form and mode in which it does exist: for, without reciprocal #COMPATIBILITY#, without individual #FITNESS#, and without universal #HARMONY#, nothing could #CONTINUE TO EXIST# which #DOES EXIST#; and, therefore, what does exist, is for the time #NECESSARILY COMPATIBLE# with other existences, #FIT# or #NOT INCOMPATIBLE#, and in #HARMONY# with the whole of #CO-EXISTENT BEING#. Every organized #EXISTENCE# affords, therefore, indubitable evidence of #FINAL CAUSES# or #PURPOSES#, competent to produce and sustain it; of certain relations of #FITNESS# to other beings; of #COMPATIBILITY# with other existences; and of #HARMONY# in regard to the whole. And every case of #DESTRUCTION# affords evidence, that certain #FINAL CAUSES# have become unequal to their usual office; that the being is #UNFIT# to exist simultaneously with some other beings; that its existence is #INCOMPATIBLE# with certain circumstances, or that it is contrary to the general #HARMONY# of co-existent being. May not the fifty thousand species of beings now discoverable, be all the species whose existences have continued to be fit, compatible, and harmonious? May not the known extinction of many species be received as evidence, therefore, of the gradual decay of the powers which sustain organized being on our planet? May not the extinction of one species render the existence of others more unfit, by diminishing the number of final causes? And, may not the successive breaking or wearing out of these links of final causes ultimately lead to the end of all organized being, or to what is commonly called, #THE END OF OUR WORLD#?
As I approached a sequestered mansion-house, and some other buildings, which together bear the name of #Brick-stables#, I crossed a corner of the meadow towards an angle formed by a rude inlet of the Thames, which was running smoothly towards the sea at the pace of four miles an hour. The tide unites here with the ordinary current, and, running a few miles above this place, exhibits twice a day the finely-reduced edge of that physical balance-wheel or oscillating fluid-pendulum which creates the earth's centrifugal power, varies the centre of its forces, and holds in equilibrium that delicately adjusted pressure of the medium of space, which pressure, without such balance, would, by its _clustering power_, drive together the isolated masses of suns and planets.--In viewing the beautiful process of Nature, presented by a majestic river, we cease to wonder that priestcraft has often succeeded in teaching nations to consider rivers as of divine origin, and as living emblems of Omnipotence. Ignorance, whose constant error it is to look only to the last term of every series of causes, and which charges Impiety on all who venture to ascend one term higher, and Atheism on all who dare to explore several terms (though every series implies a first term), would easily be persuaded by a crafty priesthood to consider a beneficent river as a tangible branch of the Godhead. But we now know that the waters which flow down a river, are but a portion of the rains and snows which, having fallen near its source, are returning to the ocean, there to rise again and re-perform the same circle of vapours, clouds, rains, and rivers. What a process of fertilization, and how still more luxuriant would have been this vicinity, if man had not levelled the trees and carried away the crops of vegetation! What a place of shelter would thus have been afforded to tribes of amphibiae, whose accumulated remains often surprise geologists, though necessarily consequent on the fall of crops of vegetation on each other, near undisturbed banks of rivers. Happily, in Britain, our coal-pits, or mineralized forests, have supplied the place of our living woods; or man, regardless of the fitness of all the parts to the perfection of every natural result, might here, as in other long-peopled countries, ignorantly have thwarted the course of Nature by cutting down the timber, which, acting on the electricity of the clouds, affects their density, and causes them to fall in fertilizing showers. Such has been the fate of all the countries famous in antiquity. Persia, Syria, Arabia, parts of Turkey, and the Barbary coast, have been rendered arid deserts by this inadvertency. The clouds from the Western Ocean would long since have passed over England without disturbance from the conducting powers of leaves of trees, or blades of grass, if our coal-works had not saved our natural conductors; while this Thames, the agent of so much abundance and so much wealth, might, in that case, have become a shallow brook, like the once equally famed Jordan, Granicus, or Ilyssus.
The dingy atmosphere of London smoke, which I had measured so accurately on Putney Heath, presented itself again over the woods of Chiswick Grove, reminding me of the cares of the busy world, and producing a painful contrast to the tranquillity of nature, to the silently gliding Thames, and to the unimpassioned simplicity of the vegetable creation. #Man#, I reflected, brings upon himself a thousand calamities as consequences of his artifices and pride, and then, overlooking his own follies, gravely investigates the origin of what he calls #EVIL#:--#He# compromises every natural pleasure, to acquire fame among transient beings, who forget him nightly in sleep, and eternally in death; and seeks to render his name celebrated among posterity, though it has no identity with his person, and though posterity and himself can have no contemporaneous feeling--#HE# deprives himself, and all around him, of every passing enjoyment, to accumulate wealth, that he may purchase other men's labour, in the vain hope of adding their happiness to his own--#HE# omits to make effective laws to protect the poor against the oppressions of the rich, and then wears out his existence under the fear of becoming poor, and being the victim of his own neglect and injustice--#HE# arms himself with murderous weapons, and on the lightest instigations practises murder as a science, follows this science as a regular profession, and honours its chiefs above benefactors and philosophers, in proportion to the quantity of blood they have shed, or the mischiefs they have perpetrated--#HE# disguises the most worthless of the people in showy liveries, teaches them the use of destructive weapons, and then excites them to murder men whom they never saw, by the fear of being killed if they will not kill, or of being shot for cowardice--#HE# revels in luxury and gluttony, and then complains of the diseases which result from repletion--#HE# tries in all things to counteract, or improve, the provisions of nature, and then afflicts himself at his disappointments--#HE# multiplies the chances against his own health and life, by his numerous artifices, and then wonders at the frequency of their fatal results--#HE# shuts his eyes against the volume of truth, presented by nature, and, vainly considering that all was made for him, founds on this false assumption various doubts in regard to the justice of eternal causation--#HE# interdicts the enjoyments of all other creatures, and, regarding the world as his property, in mere wantonness destroys myriads on whom have been lavished beauties and perfections--#HE# is the selfish and merciless tyrant of all animated nature, no considerations of pity or sympathy restraining, or even qualifying, his antipathies, his caprices, or his gluttonies; while, more unhappy than his victims, he is constantly arraigning that system in which he is the chief cause of more misery than all other causes joined together--#HE# forgets, that to live and let live, is a maxim of universal justice, extending not only to all man's relations with his fellow-men, but to inferior creatures, to whom his moral obligations are the greater, because their lives and happiness are often within his power--#HE# is the patient of the unalterable progress of universal causation, yet makes a difficulty of submitting to the impartial distribution of the provisions which sustain all other beings--#HE# afflicts himself that he cannot live for ever, though he sees all organized being decay around him, and though his forefathers have successively died to make room for him--#HE# repines at the thought of losing that life, the use of which he so often perverts; and, though he began to exist but yesterday, thinks the world was made for him, and that he ought to continue to enjoy it for ever--#HE# sees no benevolence in the scheme of Nature which provides eternal youth to partake of the pleasures of existence; and which, destroying those pleasures by satiety of enjoyment, produces the blunted feelings of disease and old age--#HE# mars all his perceptions of well-being by anticipating the cessation of his vital functions, though, before that event, he necessarily ceases to be conscious or to suffer--#HE# seeks indulgences unprovided for by the course of Nature, and then anxiously employs himself in endeavouring to cheat others of the labour requisite to procure them--#HE# desires to govern others, but, regardless of their dependence on his benevolence, is commonly gratified in displaying the power entrusted to him, by a tyrannical abuse of it--#HE# professes to love wisdom, yet in all his establishments for promoting it he sets up false standards of truth; and persecutes, even with religious intolerance, all attempts to swerve from them--#HE# makes laws, which, in the hands of mercenary lawyers, serve as snares to unwary poverty, but as shields to crafty wealth--#HE# renders justice unattainable by its costliness; and personal rights uncertain by the intricacy and fickleness of legal decisions--#HE# possesses means of diffusing knowledge, in the sublime art of Printing; but, by suffering wealth and power to corrupt its agents, he has allowed it to become subservient to the gratification of personal malignity and political turpitude--#HE# acknowledges the importance of educating youth, yet teaches them any thing rather than their social duties in the political state in which they live--#HE# adopts the customs of barbarous ages as precedents of practice, and founds on them codes for the government of enlightened nations--in a word, #HE# makes false and imperfect estimates of his own being, of his duties to his fellow-beings, and of his relations to all being; and then passes his days in questioning the providence of Nature, in ascribing Evil to supernatural causes, and in feverish expectations of results contrary to the necessary harmony of the world!
I was thus employed in drawing a species of Indictment against the errors, follies, selfishness, and vices of my fellow-men, while I passed along a pleasant foot-path, which conducted me from Brick-stables to the carriage-road from Mortlake to Kew. On arriving at the stile, I saw a colony of the people called #Gipsies#, and, gratified at falling in with them, I seated myself upon it, and, hailing the eldest of the men in terms of civility, he approached me courteously; and I promised myself, from the interview, a fund of information relative to the economy of those people.
Policy so singular, manners so different, and passions so varied, have for so many ages characterized the race of Gipsies, that the incident of meeting with one of their little camps agreeably roused me from that reverie on Matter and its modifications, into which I had fallen. What can be more strongly marked than the gipsy physiognomy? Their lively jet-black eyes--their small features--their tawny skins--their small bones--and their shrill voices, bespeak them to be a distinct tribe of the human race, as different from the English nation as the Chinese, the North-American Indians, or the woolly-headed Africans. They seem, in truth, as different in their bodies, and in their instincts, from the inhabitants of England and other countries in which they live, as the spaniel from the greyhound, or as the cart-horse from the Arabian. Our instincts, propensities, or fit and necessary habits, seem to lead us, like the ant, to lay up stores; theirs, like the grasshopper, to depend on the daily bounties of nature;--we, with the habits of the beaver, build fixed habitations; and they, like the deer, range from pasture to pasture;--we, with an instinct all our own, cultivate arts; they content themselves with picking up our superfluities;--we make laws and arrange governments; they know no laws but those of personal convenience, and no government beyond that of muscular force growing out of the habits of seniority;--and we cherish passions of ambition and domination, consequent on our other arrangements, to which they are utter strangers. Thus, we indulge our propensities, and they indulge theirs. Which are the happiest beings, might be made a question--but I am led to decide in favour of the arts and comforts of civilized life. These people appear to possess the natural feebleness and delicacy of man, without the power of shielding themselves from the accidents of nature. Their darling object appears to be, to enjoy practical personal liberty. They possess less, and they enjoy fewer, luxuries than others; but they escape slavery in all the Protean shapes by which it ensnares the rest of mankind. They do not act as menial servants, and obey the caprice of a master; nor do they work as labourers for a tythe of the advantages of their industry. They do not, as tenants of land, pay half the produce in rentals; nor do they, as anxious traders, pay half their profits to usurers or capitalists. They are not liable to the conscriptions of a militia-ballot; nor to be dragged from their families by the frightful tyranny of the impress. And, in fine, they are not compelled to contribute a large portion of their earnings in taxes to support folly or prodigality; nor are they condemned to pay, through their successive generations, the interest of money lent for the hire of destroyers of men, who were, like themselves, guilty only of resolving to be free. Yet, if they are exempt from the torture of civilized man, of having the comforts he enjoys torn from him by the sophistry of law, or the tyranny of governments; they suffer from hour to hour the torments of want, and the apprehension of not meeting with renewed supplies. If they are gayer than civilized man, it is because their wants are fewer, and therefore fewer of them are unsatisfied; and probably the gaiety which they assume before strangers may result from their constitution, which, under the same circumstances, may render them gayer than others, just as a Frenchman is gayer than an Englishman, or an Englishman than a North-American Indian. In a word, in looking upon this race, and upon the other recorded varieties of our species, from the woolly-headed African to the long-haired Asiatic, from the blue-eyed and white-haired Goth to the black-eyed and black-haired North American, and from the gigantic Patagonian to the dwarfish Laplander; we are led to believe, that the human species must radically have been as various as any other species of animated beings; and it seems as unphilosophical as impious, to limit the powers of creation to pairs of one kind, and to ascribe their actual varieties to the operations of chance.
As I proceeded from the stile towards their tents, the apparent chief of the gang advanced with a firm step, holding a large knife in one hand, and some eatables in the other; and he made many flourishes with his knife, seemingly in the hope of intimidating me, if I proved an enemy. I civilly begged his pardon for intruding upon their camp, and assured him that mine was a mere visit of curiosity; that I was not a justice of the peace, and had no desire to disturb them. He then told me I was very welcome, and I advanced to their chief tent. "But," said I to this man, "you have not the gipsy colour and features?" "O, no," he replied, "I am no gipsy--the people call us all _gipsies_--but I am by trade a tinker--I live in ---- Court, Shoreditch, in the winter; and during the summer I travel the country, and get my livelihood by my trade." Looking at others of the group, who were sitting at the entrance of two tents, I traced two sets of features among them, one plainly English, and the other evidently Gipsy; and, mentioning this circumstance, he replied, "O yes--though I am not a gipsy, my wife is, and so is her old mother there--they are true gipsies, every inch of 'em. This man, my wife's brother, is a gipsy--we are useful to one another in this way of life--and the old woman there is as knowing a gipsy as any in the country, and can tell your fortune, sir, if you like to hear it."--His character of the elder gipsy, who resembled Munden's witch in Macbeth, produced considerable mirth in the whole party; and the old woman, who was engaged in smoking her pipe, took it from her mouth, and said: "I ayn't told so many gentlefolks their fortunes to no purpose, and I'll tell your's, sir, if you'll give me something to fill my pipe." I smiled, and told her I thanked her; but, as I was not _in love_, I felt no anxiety to hear my fortune.--"Aye, sir," said she, "many's the lover I've made happy, and many's the couple that I've brought together."--Recollecting Farquhar's incident in the Recruiting Officer, I remarked:--"You tell the ladies what their lovers hire you to tell them, I suppose--and the gentlemen what the ladies request you to tell them?"--"Why, yes," said she, "something like it;" and laughing--"aye, sir, I see you're in the secret!"--"And then you touch golden fees, I suppose?"--"Yes," interrupted the first man, "I've known her get five or six guineas on a wedding-day, part from the lady, and part from the gentleman; and she never wants a shilling, and a meal's victuals, when she passes many houses that I could name."--"True," exclaimed the old beldame, "that's all true; and I've made many fine folks happy in my time, and so did my mother before me--she was known far and near!" I had no occasion to remark on the silly dupes on whom they practised these impositions, for the whole party expressed their sentiments by bursts of laughter while the old woman was speaking: but I could not help exclaiming, that I thought she ought to make the fools pay well who gave credit to her prophecies.--"Aye," said she, "I see you don't believe in our art--but we tell all by _the hand_!"--I felt of course that _the hand_ was as good a key to determine the order of _probable_ events as planets, cards, or tea-sediments; and therefore, concluding that gipsies, like astrologers and other prophets, are imposed on by the doctrine of chances, I dropped the conversation; but felt it my duty to give the old woman a shilling to buy some tobacco for her pipe.
I now surveyed the entire party, and in three tents found there were three men, two women, besides the old woman, four girls, and two boys. One of the tents was placed at a little distance from the others, and in that resided a young married couple.--"And pray," said I, "where and how do you marry?"--"Why," said the first man, "we marry like other folks--they were married at Shoreditch Church--I was married to my old woman here at Hammersmith Church--and my brother-in-law here was married at Acton Church."--"Then," said I, "you call yourselves Christians?"--At this question they all laughed; and the first man said, that, "If it depends on our going to church, we can't say much about it; but, as we do nobody any harm, and work for our living, some in one way, and some in another, we suppose we are as good Christians as many other folks."
While this conversation passed, I heard them speaking to each other in a language somewhat resembling Irish, but it had tones more shrill; and the first man, notwithstanding his English physiognomy, as well as the others, spoke with a foreign accent, not unlike that of half-anglicized Hindoos. I mentioned this peculiarity; but he assured me that neither he nor any of the party had been out of England. I now inquired about their own language, when one of them said it was _Maltese_; but the other said it was their _cant_ language. I asked their names for various objects which I pointed out; but, after half a dozen words, the first man inquired, if I had "ever heard of one Sir Joseph Banks--for," said he, "that gentleman once paid me a guinea for telling him twenty words in our language." Perceiving, therefore, that he rated this species of information very high, and aware that the subject has been treated at large by many authors, I forbore to press him further.
The ground served them for a table, and the grass for a table-cloth. The mixture of their viands with dirty rags, and other disgusting objects, proved that they possess no sentiment, in regard to cleanliness, superior to lower animals. Like philosophical chemists, they evidently admitted the elementary analogy of what the delicate sense of society classes under contrasted heads of _dirty_ and _clean_. Necessity, in this respect, has generated fixed habits; and they are, consequently, as great strangers to the refined feeling which actuates cleanly housewives, as lawyers are to a spirit of benevolence, or ministers of state to a passion for reform. Their furniture consisted merely of some dirty rags and blankets, and of two or three bags, baskets, and boxes; while their tents were formed of a pole at each end, with a ridge pole, covered with blanketing, which was stretched obliquely to the ground by wooden pegs. Such rudeness, and such simplicity, afforded a striking contrast to the gorgeous array of oriental splendour in the palaces of Royalty; and to the varied magnificence displayed in those warehouses whence an Oakley, or a Bullock, supplies the mansions of wealth and grandeur.
Indeed, as I stood conversing with these people, how could I help marvelling that, in the most polished district of the most civilized of nations, with the grand pagoda of Kew-Gardens in full view on one hand, and the towers of the new Bastile Palace in sight on the other, I should thus have presented under my eyes a family of eleven persons in no better condition than the Hottentots in their kraals, the Americans in their wigwams, or the Tartars in their equally rude tents. I sighed, however, to think that difference of natural constitution and varied propensities were in England far from being the only causes of the proximity of squalid misery to ostentatious pomp. I felt too that the manners of these gipsies were assimilated to those of the shepherd tribes of the remotest antiquity, and that in truth I saw before me a family of the pastoral ages, as described in the Book of Genesis. They wanted their flocks and herds; but the possession of these neither accorded with their own policy, nor with that of the country in which they reside. Four dogs attached to their tents, and two asses grazing at a short distance, completed such a grouping as a painter would, I have no doubt, have found in the days of Abraham in every part of Western Asia, and as is now to be found among the same people, at this day, in every country in Europe. They exhibit that state of man in which thousands of years might pass away without record or improvement: and, whether they are Egyptians, Arabs, Hindoos, Tartars, or a peculiar variety of our species; whether they exhibit man in the rude state which, according to Lord Montboddo, most nearly approximates to the ourang-outang of the oriental forests; or whether they are considered in their separated character--they form an interesting study for the philosopher, the economist, and the antiquary.
In a few minutes after I had left the gipsy camp, I was overtaken by a girl of fifteen, the quickness of whose breathing indicated excessive alarm. "O, sir," said she, "I'm so glad to come up with you--I'm so frightened--I've been standing this quarter of an hour on the other side of the stile, waiting for somebody to come by."--"And what has so frightened you?" said I.--"O, sir," said the still terrified girl, looking behind her, and increasing her pace, "those gipsies and witches--they frighten every body; and I wo'dn't have come this way for all the world if I'd known they'd been there."--"But," said I, "what are you frightened at? have you heard that they have done harm to any one?"--"O dear! yes, sir, I've heard my mother say they bewitches people; and, one summer, two of them beat my father dreadfully."--"But what did he do to them?"--"Why, he was a little tipsy, to be sure; but he says he only called 'em a pack of fortune-tellers."--"And are all the children in this neighbourhood as much frightened at them as you?"--"O yes, sir; but some of the boys throw stones over the hedge at them, but we girls are afraid they'll bewitch us. Did you see the old hag, sir?" The poor girl asked this question with such simplicity, and with a faith so confirmed, that I had reason once more to feel astonishment at the superstition which infests and disgraces the common people of this generally enlightened nation! Let me hope that the tutors in the schools of Bell and Lancaster will consider it as part of their duties, to destroy the vulgar faith in ghosts, omens, fortune-telling, fatality, and witchcraft.
On my right, my attention was attracted by the battlements of a new Gothic building, which I learnt, from the keeper of an adjoining turnpike, was called #Kew Priory#, and is a summer retreat of a wealthy Catholic maiden lady, Miss Doughty, of Richmond-Hill; after whom a street has recently been named in London. Learning that the lady was not there, I turned aside to take a nearer view; and, ringing at the gate, in the hope of seeing the interior, a female, who opened it, told me that it was a rule of the place, that _no man_ could be admitted besides the Rev. Mr. ----, the Catholic priest. I learnt that the Priory, a beautiful structure on a lawn, consisted merely of a chapel, a room for refreshments, and a library; and that the lady used it for a change of scene in the long afternoons of the summer season. The enclosed space contained about 24 acres, on the banks of the Thames, and is subdivided by Pilton's invisible fences. Behind the priory, there is a house for the bailiff and his wife, a capacious pheasantry, an aviary, and extensive stables. Nothing can be more tasteful as a place of indulgence for the luxury of wealth; but it is exposed to the inconvenience of floods from the river, which sometimes cover the entire site to a considerable depth.
Another quarter of a mile, along a dead flat, brought me upon #Kew-Green#. As I approached it, the woods of Kew and Richmond Gardens presented a varied and magnificent foliage, and the pagoda of ten stories rose in splendour out of the woods. Richmond-hill bounded the horizon on the left, and the smoky atmosphere of Brentford obscured the air beyond the houses on Kew-Green.
As I quitted the lane, I beheld, on my left, the long boundary-wall of Kew-Gardens; on which a disabled sailor has drawn in chalk the effigies of the whole British navy, and over each representation appears the name of the vessel, and the number of her guns. He has in this way depicted about 800 vessels, each five or six feet long, and extending, with intervening distances, above a mile and a half. As the labour of one man, the whole is an extraordinary performance; and I was told the decrepit draughtsman derives a competency from passing travellers.
#Kew-Green# is a triangular area of about thirty acres. Nearly in the centre is the chapel of St. Anne. On the eastern side is a row of family houses; on the north-western side a better row, the backs of which look to the Thames; and on the south side stand the boundary-wall of Kew-Gardens, some buildings for soldiery, and the plain house of Ernest, duke of Cumberland. Among other persons of note and interest who reside here, are the two respectable daughters of Stephen Duck, the poet, who deserve to be mentioned as relics of a former age. In the western corner stand the buildings called Kew Palace, in which George III. passed many of the early years of his reign, and near which he began a new structure a few years before his confirmed malady--which I call the _Bastile Palace_, from its resemblance to that building, so obnoxious to freedom and freemen. On a former occasion, I have viewed its interior, and I am at loss to conceive the motive for preferring an external form, which rendered it impracticable to construct within it more than a series of large closets, boudoirs, and rooms like oratories. The works have, however, been suspended since the unhappy seclusion of the Royal Architect; and it is improbable, at least in this generation, that they will be resumed. The foundation is in a bog close to the Thames, and the principal object within its view is the dirty town of Brentford, on the opposite side of the river.
I had intended to prolong my route to the western corner of the Green; but, in passing St. Anne's Chapel, I found the pew-openers engaged in wiping the pews and washing the aisles. I knew that that child of Genius, #Gainsborough#, the painter, lay interred here; and, desirous of paying my homage to his grave, I inquired for the spot. As is usual in regard to this class of people, they could give me no information; yet one of them fancied she had heard such a name before. I was therefore obliged to wait while the sexton or clerk was fetched, and in the interim I walked into the chapel. I was, in truth, well re-paid for the time it cost me; for I never saw any thing prettier, except Lord Le Despencer's exquisite structure at West Wycombe. As the royal family usually attend here when they reside at Kew, it is superbly fitted up, and the architecture is in the best taste. The seats for the family fill the gallery, and on the ground-floor there are forty-eight pews of brown oak, adapted for four and six persons each. Several marble monuments of singular beauty adorn the walls; but the record of a man of genius absorbed every attraction of ordinary rank and title. It was a marble slab, to the memory of #Meyer#, the painter,--with lines by the amiable poet, #Hayley#; and I was led, by respect for painter and poet, to copy the whole:--
#Jeremiah Meyer#, R.A. Painter in Miniature and Enamel to his Majesty Geo. III. Died January 19, 1789.
Meyer! in thy works, the world will ever see How great the loss of Art in losing thee; But Love and Sorrow find the words too weak, Nature's keen sufferings on thy death to speak; Through all her duties, what a heart was thine; In thy cold dust what spirit used to shine! Fancy, and truth, and gaiety, and zeal, What most we love in life, and, losing, feel; Age after age may not one artist yield Equal to thee, in Painting's ample field; And ne'er shall sorrowing Earth to Heaven commend A fonder parent, or a firmer friend.
_William Hayley_, 1789.
From hence I strolled into the vestry, where I found a table of fees, drawn with a degree of precision which merits imitation. It appears, that the fees for #MARRIAGES# with a licence are 10_s._ 6_d._, and by banns 5_s._ That those for #BURIALS#, to the minister, if the prayers are said in the church, are 5_s._; if only at the grave, 2_s._ 6_d._ The graves are six feet deep; and, in the church, the coffin must be of lead. The clerk is entitled to _half_, and the sexton to about a _third_ more. A vault in the church is charged 21_l._, and in the church-yard 10_l._ 10_s._; with 5_l._ 5_s._ and 2_l._2_s._ respectively for each time of opening. To non-residents they are double.--I had scarcely finished this extract, when the clerk's or sexton's assistant made his appearance; and on the south side of the church-yard he brought me to the tomb of #Gainsborough#.
"Ah! friend," said I, "this is a hallowed spot--here lies one of Britain's favoured sons, whose genius has assisted in exalting her among the nations of the earth."--"Perhaps it was so," said the man, "but we know nothing about the people buried, except to keep up their monuments, if the family pay; and, perhaps, Sir, you belong to this family; if so, I'll tell you how much is due."--"Yes, truly, friend," said I, "I am one of the great family bound to preserve the monument of Gainsborough; but, if you take me for one of his relatives, you are mistaken."--"Perhaps, Sir, you may be of the family, but were not included in the Will, therefore are not obligated." I could not now avoid looking with scorn at the fellow; but, as the spot claimed better feelings, I gave him a trifle for his trouble, and mildly told him I would not detain him.
The monument being a plain one, and making no palpable appeal to vulgar admiration, was disregarded by these people; for it is in death as in life, if you would excite the notice of the multitude, you must in the grave have a splendid mausoleum, or in walking the streets you must wear fine clothes. It did not fall in the way of the untaught, on this otherwise polite spot, to know that they have among them the remains of #THE FIRST PAINTER OF OUR NATIONAL SCHOOL#, in fancy-pictures, and one #OF THE FIRST# in the classes of landscape and portrait;--a man who recommended himself as much by his superiority, as by his genius; as much by the mode in which his genius was developed, as by the perfection of his works; and as much by his amiable private character as by his eminence in the chief of Fancy's Arts. There is this difference between a poet and a painter--that the poet only exhibits the types of ideas in words, limited in their sense by his views, or his powers of expression; but the painter is called upon to exhibit the ideas themselves in a tangible shape, and made out in all their parts and most beautiful forms. The poet may write with a limited knowledge of his subject, and he may produce any partial view of it which his powers enable him to exhibit in a striking manner; but the successful painter must do all this, and he must execute with his hand as well as conceive with his mind. The poet, too, has the advantage of exhibiting his ideas in succession, and he avails himself of stops and pauses; but the great painter is obliged to set his entire subject before the eye at once, and all the parts of his composition, his imagination, and his execution, challenge the judgment as a whole. A great poet is nevertheless a just object of admiration among ordinary persons--but far more so a great painter, who assumes the power of creation, and of improving on the ordinary combinations of the Creator. Yet such a man was #Thomas Gainsborough#, before whose modest tomb I stood! The following are the words engraven on the stone:--
#Thomas Gainsborough#, esq. died August 2, 1788. Also the body of #Gainsborough Dupont#, esq. who died Jan. 20, 1797, aged 42 years. Also, Mrs. #Margaret Gainsborough#, wife of the above Thomas Gainsborough, esq, who died Dec. 17, 1798, in the 72d year of her age.
A little to the eastward lie the remains of another illustrious son of art, the modest #Zoffany#, whose Florence Gallery, Portraits of the Royal Family, and other pictures, will always raise him among the highest class of painters. He long resided on this Green, and, like Michael Angelo, Titian, and our own #West#, produced master-pieces at four-score. The words on the monument are:
Sacred to the Memory of #John Zoffany#, R.A. who died Nov. 11, 1810, aged 87 years.
It was a remarkable coincidence, that the bones of #Gainsborough# and #Zoffany# should thus, without premeditation, have been laid side by side; and that, but a few weeks before I paid my visit to this spot, delighted crowds had been daily drawn together to view their principal works, combined with those of #Wilson# and #Hogarth#, in forming an attractive metropolitan exhibition. On that occasion every Englishman felt proud of the native genius of our #Gainsborough#. It was ably opposed in one line by a #Wilson#, and in another by a #Zoffany#; yet the works of the untutored #Gainsborough# and #Hogarth# served to prove that every great artist must be born such; and that superiority in human works is the result of original aptitude, and cannot be produced by any servile routine of education, however specious, imposing, sedulous, or costly.
This valley of the Thames is, however, sanctified every-where by relics which call for equal reverence. But a mile distant on my right, in Chiswick Church-yard, lie the remains of the painting moralist #Hogarth#; who invented a universal character, or species of moral revelation, intelligible to every degree of intellect, in all ages and countries; who opened a path to the kindred genius of a #Burnett# and a #Wilkie#; and who conferred a deathless fame on the manners, habits, and chief characters of his time. And, but a mile on my left, in Richmond Church, lie the remains of #Thomson#, the poet of nature, of liberty, and of man--who displayed his powers only for noble purposes; who scorned, like the vile herd of modern rhymesters, to ascribe _glory_ to injustice, _heroism_ to the assassins of the champions of liberty, or _wisdom_ to the mischievous prejudices of weak princes; and who, by asserting in every line the moral dignity of his art, became an example of poetical renown, which has been ably followed by #Glover#, #Akenside#, #Cowper#, #Robinson#, #Burns#, #Barlow#, #Barbauld#, #Wolcot#, #Moore#, and #Byron#.
The fast-declining Sun, and my wearied limbs here reminded me that I was the slave of nature, and of nature's laws; and that I had neither time, nor power, to excurse or go farther. My course, therefore, necessarily terminated on this spot; and here I must take leave of the reader, who has been patient, or liberal enough, to accompany me.
For my own part, I had been highly gratified with the great volume, ten or twelve miles long, by two or three broad, in the study of which I had employed the lengthened morning; though this volume of my brief analysis the reader will doubtless find marked by the short-sightedness and imperfections which attend every attempt of human art to compress an infinite variety into a finite compass.
In looking back at the incidents of the day, which the language of custom has, with reference to our repasts, denominated #THE MORNING#, I could not avoid feeling the strong analogy which exists between such an excursion as that which I have here described and #THE LIFE of MAN#. Like that, and all things measured by #TIME# and #SPACE#, it had had its #BEGINNING#--its eventful #COURSE#--and its #END# determined by physical causes.
On emerging in the morning, I foresaw as little as the child foresees his future life, what were to be the incidents of my journey. I proceeded in each successive hour even as he proceeds in each year. I jostled no one, and no one disturbed me. My feelings were those of peace, and I suffered from no hostility. My inclinations were virtuous, and I have experienced the rewards of virtue. Every step had therefore been productive of satisfaction, and I had no-where had cause to look behind me with regret.
In this faithful journal, I have ventured to smile at folly; I have honestly reprehended bad passions, and I have sincerely sympathized with their victims. May all my readers be led to smile, reprehend, and sympathize with me; and I solicit this result--for their sakes--for the sake of truth--and in the hope that, if our feelings have been reciprocal, our mutual labours will not have been wasted! At the end of my short career, I conscientiously looked back on the incidents of my course with the complacency with which all may look back in old-age on the incidents of well-spent lives. Let no one sneer at the comparison, for, when human life has passed away, in what degree are its multiplied cares and chequered scenes more important than the simple events which attend a morning's walk? Look on the graves of that church-yard, and see in #THEM# the representations of hundreds of anxious lives! Are not those graves, then, said I, the end of thousands of busy cares and ambitious projects? Was not life the #MERE DREAM# of their now senseless tenants--like the trackless path of a bird in the air, or of a fish in the waters? Were they not #the Phantasmagoria# which, in their day, filled up the shifting scene of the world,--and are we not, in our several days, similar shadows, which modify the light for a season, and then disappear to make room for others like ourselves? May not the events of a morning which slides away, and leaves no traces behind it, be correctly likened therefore to the entire course of human life? The one, like the other, may be well or ill spent--idly dissipated or beneficially employed;--and the chequered incidents will be found to be similar to those which mark the periods of the longest life.
In conclusion, I cannot avoid wishing that my example may be followed, in other situations, by minds variously stored and directed by different inquiries. Like the day which has just been recorded, the incidents of every situation, and the thoughts which pass without intermission through every mind, would, in a similar portion of time, fill similar volumes, which, as indices of man's intellectual machinery, might serve the purpose of the dial of a clock, or the gnomon of a sun-dial, and prove agreeable sources of amusement, as well as efficacious means of disseminating valuable principles and useful instruction.
[Illustration: MAP OF THE AUTHOR'S ROUTE.]
Accumulation of property, its misery to all Admiralty, British, its characteristics Addington, Mr. his residence ----, political character Almanacks of prognostication, their prodigious sale Alfred the Great, his rare merits American Aloe, reflections on Anne Boleyn, her interview with Henry the Eighth Animal motion, economy of Ancestors, their number ascertained Ancestry, no ground of pride Anglican Church, its true foundation Ant-hill, like the British metropolis Antiquities, folly of the science so called Archbishops of Canterbury, their ancient residence Argument in behalf of poverty Aristocracy of trade characterized Arithmetic, its connexion with nature Articles of faith, necessity of revising Asparagus, its extensive cultivation Assembly, a subscription one described Astrology, its pretensions investigated Author, his feelings on concluding his Walk
Barber, Alderman, his tomb and merit Battersea-bridge, reflections on its toll Ballot, choice by, its pernicious effect and erroneous principle Bakewell, Mr. his mode of riding Barnes Poor-house, libel on political economy ---- Common, its geological phenomena ---- Church-yard, reflections on Bastile Palace, at Kew Beggars, their habits and gains Bee-hive, its buzz that of a distant town Besborough, Lord, his seal Bells, abuse of them Blenkinsop's steam-engine, its convenient powers Black balls, a majority of, how produced Blair's Universal Preceptor, its merits Box-trees, ancient ones Botanic Garden, at Chelsea Bolingbroke, Lord, his house at Battersea ----, recollections of Book-clubs, a test of intellectual improvement Book of Nature, described British society, its radical diseases Brunell, Mr. his workshops Bramah, Mr. his ingenuity Britain, mistress of imperial Rome Buckingham House, notice of Burke, his bigotry Burial fees, account of
Cæsar, his passage of the Thames Causeways, necessity of improving Cards, their absurd prognostics Cause of causes, its instruments ----, its incomprehensibleness Catechism of Social Duties, its importance Causes, physical and mental, defined Causation, original, questions upon Centinarian in Chelsea Hospital Cemeteries, ought to be open Certainty alone necessary Chorus of the eye Chaldeans, their demonology Chances, laws of, govern all prognostication Church, system of attendance ----, National, grounds for its moderation Chabannes, Marquis de, his speculations Chiswick, its bells and Church Charters of Liberty, enumerated Chelsea buns, notice of Christianity, its total failure in preserving peace ----, vulgar definition of Changes, geological, their causes Civilized and savage society contrasted Clerks, their ease of heart Cleanliness, an auxiliary of virtue Courtezans, cause of their turpitude Contentment, its difficult acquisition Commercial enterprise, instance of Commons, their anti-social character Complaints of the poor Cost of the poor at Wandsworth Cottages, mile-stone and marine ones proposed Conch, its sound that of a distant town Cottage ornée described Covent-garden market, mode of supplying Compatibility of relative existences Common Council of London, its patriotic conduct Creation, its never ceasing agents ----, its progress Cuvier, M. his geological discoveries
D'Antraigues, Count and Countess, their horrible assassination Dancing assemblies, their mistaken arrangements Death, how a source of consolation Demon of war described Devonshire, Duchess of, her amiable character Demonology, its absurdities Dead, the sympathy towards Descendants, their numbers ascertained Distilleries, the bad policy of encouraging them Dimsdale, Sir Harry, Mayor of Garrat Don Saltero, his museum Dolland's achromatics, their misapplication Dormitories of avarice described Dreams, no prognostics Dramas of real life Druids, their impostures Drunkenness, its pernicious effects ----, its cause Dundas, his baneful orgies Dunstan, Sir Jeffery, Mayor of Garrat
East-Sheen, its pleasant sights Earth, the, its primative state Economy of a workhouse ----, political, its primary law Education, obligation to make it universal ----, ---- to teach public duties Egyptians, their absurd mythology Ellenborough, Lord, his residence Electricity, illustrations of Election at Garrat, described Eloquence of Pitt, recollections of England, its exemplary road system Enclosure Bill proposed Enclosing parks, objections to Entrails of animals, no prognostics End of the world, phenomena leading to it Erasmus, his character Essex, cleanliness of its towns Eternals, what are so External species infinite in number Excise system, its mischievous effects Experience, a transcendent quality in a statesman ----, a chief test of truth Eye, concert played on it
Family group in a workhouse Farming out the poor, its inhumanity Fate and fatality, discussion on Family of man, its necessary co-mixture Fever of the brain, its mental hallucinations Fertility, means of preserving Ferdinand, cost of his restoration Female education, discussion respecting Fear, its operation on the mind Females on fire, mode of extinguishing Ferme ornée, described Final causes, their nature Fitness in nature, the primary law Fires, mode of preventing Fire-house, Hartley's ---- ----, interesting prospect from Finance, Pitt's absurd system Flame, when ungovernable Food of a labouring family Foot-paths, necessity for good ones Fortune-telling, its errors exposed Fox, Charles James, his patriotic character ---- ----, his death Food distributed from religious houses French Encyclopædists, their oversight France, its improvements under Napoleon Free agency demonstrated Fruit-trees, their general plantation recommended Franklin, Dr. his electrical rods
Gainsborough, his tomb and character Garrat, mock mayor of Galilean telescopes, preferred for telegraphs Gardeners, their habits and slavery Geometry, its connexion with nature Geocentric phenomena, error relative Generations, the law of their mixture George III. his liberal views on education Geological changes, their causes traced Ghosts, vulgar belief in Gipsies, interview with Gluttony, lesson to Goldsmid, Mr. his seat, character and history Goodbehere, Alderman, his character God, attributes of Greeks, their mythological personification Gravitation, its causes Grief, its luxury described Greatness, how best sustained Grammars of Philosophy, &c. their merits Great buildings, no standard of locality ---- men, their opinions no test of truth Griffiths, Dr. anecdote of Gradation of organized beings Guelph, the Second, anecdote of
Happiness, its production the test of worth ---- produced by employment Haunted house, anecdotes of one Harmony of relative existences Harper, Sir John, mayor of Garrat Hartley, David, Esq. his fire-house described Hayley, Mr. his epitaph on Meyer Handel and Haydn compared Hamilton, Lady, her distresses Hedge-rows ought to be productive Heat, its causes Heydegger, his entertainment Herschell, Dr. his clustering power Historical justice, no atonement for suffering Hindoos, their absurd mythology Houses, method of securing them against fire Home Tourist, his expected modesty Howard, Mr. his exemplary character Horses, cruelty of tight-reining them House of Commons, character of its majorities Hoare, Mr. his residence Hogarth, Mrs. anecdote of ----, Mr. his tomb and character Horoscope, its supposed powers House of God, its inadequacy
Ignorance, the basis of superstition Impress, its frightful tyranny Infatuated nations characterized Ingenuity superseded by taxation Inclination of roads, determined Instructors, clerical, their errors Intellectual powers, their limited nature ---- philosophy, its indestructibility Instincts of men compared Iron-foundery, description of one Isle of St. Peter's, its ancient boundaries and modern splendor
Jews, their superstitious demonology Juries, Special, their disgraceful character
Kelvedon, its cleanliness Kew Priory, described ---- Green, ditto Kit-Cat Club, its house at Barnes Elms ----, pictures
Language, its means of improvement Land, the patrimony of man Lancaster, Mr. his system recommended Lakes of North America, their probable fate Law, its malignity and perversion Legislation, summary of its duties Life, compared to a morning's walk Living errors, corrected too late Liberty, taught in popular elections Life of man, described Lincoln, Bishop of, his attendance on Pitt Lightning, destructive effects of ----, means of security from London, its features of ingress and egress ----, reflection suggested by its distant prospect ----, its population characterized ---- smoke, described ---- ----, its moral suggestions Loco-motion, means of producing Loco-motive beings, their peculiar economy Lovers, the dupes of gipsies Lumber trees, unfit for a civilized country Luck and ill-luck, relative terms
Matron of a workhouse, her character Manners of the Londoners Mall in St. James's Park, its ancient splendor Manufactory of pitch and turpentine Manners, effects of a change of Marsh of Westminster, reflection on Madam and Mistress, distinction between Machinery, ought not to injure workmen Maurice, Mr. his merits as a Poet Manufactory, a country one described Matter, inorganic, laws governing ---- ----, whether eternal Manual labour, its economy in manufactories Maternal feelings in a workhouse Man, his false assumption ----, his pride ----, his unsociable character ----, his uncharitableness ----, his numerous wants ----, his vanity ----, his monopolizing spirit ----, opposes himself to Providence ----, his proper employment ----, his true happiness ----, his transitory state ----, his origin, progress, and decay ----, his common nature ----, his definite existence ----, general views of his social state ----, his cruelty to inferior creatures Mercy, an engine of priestcraft Mechanics, their relation to nature Meyer, his tomb Milk-fair, description of Military education reprobated Mile-stone and marine cottages recommended Middleton, Mr. his estimates of Middlesex Misery, dense mass of Ministers of England, their narrow views Monks, disinterment of their bones Morris, Valentine, Esq. his benevolent character Moral deduced from the state of St. James's palace ---- rule against great mischiefs More, Sir Thomas, his residence and character Motion, terrestrial, its general cause Mortlake Church-yard, reflections on Moral condition of London Mortlake Church, reflections within Music, its abuse in war Mutilated Soldiers at Chelsea Hospital Mussulmen, their exemplary sobriety Mysteries, religious, their origin Mythology, its origin and progress
Natural feelings violated in workhouses Nature superior to art ----, its operations uncomplicated ----, its governing principle Napoleon, his improvements of France Nell Gwyn, founder of Chelsea Hospital Necessity, doctrine of, investigated Novels, characterized
Obligations of the rich to the poor Oil mills, description of one Organic life, difficulty of conceiving its principle Organized beings, intricacy of the laws governing Origin of organized beings, its philosophical obscurity
Painting and Poetry, compared Palace of the Regent, its costly fitting Partridge, John, his tomb and errors Parks of London, their utility and capability ----, noblemen's, their inutility Patronage, cause of war Parish allowances to the poor Panorama from Wimbledon Common Paper circulation always ruinous Parish poor-houses described Peace, its security Peach, its crawling myriads Peter the Hermit, his fanaticism Perihelion point, importance of its place in producing terrestrial changes Penley, Mr. his garden at Mortlake Philosophy, modern, its divinities ----, address to Philosophical speculations on unseen powers Pilton's fences recommended Pitt, Mr. his death and character Planetary influences, examined Poetry and Painting, compared Poor, diseased, provision for Pottery, observations on its antiquity and application Pope, Mr. his parlour at Battersea Popular elections, their importance Policy, wicked, its features Poverty and wealth, contrasted Priestcraft, its origin and progress Probabilities, their connexion with fortune-telling Productive powers, their intricacy Promenades, evening ones proposed Prosperity, national, its true signs Principals in trade, their cares Promenade in St. James's Park, its ancient splendor Pride, lessons to correct Printing, its abuse Public Debt, how has it been expended Putney-Heath, objects upon it described Public purse, a necessary stimulus to candidates
Ranelagh, its scite described Railways, proposal for extending them Religious houses turned into market-gardens Reformation of Religion Retreats of men of business Repton, Mr. his powers of arrangement Rivers, absurd worship of ----, phenomena of their banks ----, agents of never-ceasing changes Richmond Park, notice of Rights of man, intrigues against Road Police, suggested Royal Family, fond of Chelsea buns Rome sunk and London exalted Roads, principle of constructing them Roehampton, its cheerless aspect Ruins, without antiquity
Saws, circular, their wonderful powers Self-knowledge, neglect of Secondary causes, their general nature Senses, animal, their limited powers Shoe-making machinery, account of Show, policy of, among princes Shropshire girls, their industry and beauty Slavery, its protean shapes Sloane, Sir Hans, his statue--tomb Smoke, improperly emitted ---- of London, its remarkable phenomena ---- ----, plans for consuming Soldiery, their specious character Society, state of, in England Soldiers, why and for what they are killed and wounded Soldier, who had lost both arms Spontaneous combustion, productive of superstition Spencer, Lord, his park Space, whether eternal Stage-coach horses, mismanagement of Standard of truth defined Sterility of ancient countries, cause of Statesmen, their mistaken policy St. James's palace, its ruined state St. Paul's Cathedral St. Lawrence, the, its probable fate Surfaces, the residence of electric power Surrey, its disgraceful wastes Supernatural appearances, referred to their causes Survivors in regiments, their small numbers Subjects for painters Superstition, instances of ----, its origin and progress Symmachus, his bigotry
Taxes, not the sole business of governments Tart-hall, account of Taxation, its pernicious effects Telegraphs, particulars of ----, their application to domestic purposes Terror, vulgar, instances of Thames, its phenomena and changes Thomson, the Poet, his town and character Tides, their nature explained Time and space characterized Tooke, Mr. Horne, his character Tonson, Jacob, his house at Barnes Elms Trees, their importance in fertilization Treasury, British, its pernicious powers Transitory state of man Treaty-breakers, appeal to them Tragedies, in real life Tybourn, its present course
Vegetables, their organization Vital principle, its incomprehensible nature Virtue, its worth Virtuous exertion entitled to support Village promenades, proposal for Villages round London, their want of society Villas, no signs of public wealth Village bells, cause of their peculiar effect Virtue, promoted by cleanliness Vulcan, his residence
Washington, the great, his character and glory War-office, British, its equivocal merit Water, the cause of change War, its improper duration ----, its horrors, associated with British grandeur Want, the seat of its empire ----, means of extinguishing Wandsworth, its population, &c. ---- workhouse, a visit to Wages of labour Walnut-trees, prodigious ones Waithman, Mr. his patriotic character Waste lands, a libel on political economy Wealth, its personal consequences ----, its relative nature Welding Hammer, described Westminster Abbey, characterized Webb, Mr. his benevolent character Wesley, Mr. his godlike zeal ---- his mode of riding Webster, Mr. his geological discoveries Welch girls, their industry and beauty Witham, its exemplary cleanliness Winchester palace, notice of Wimbledon Common, its elevation ----, its misuse Workmen, entitled to indemnity on the introduction of machinery Woollet, Mr. his skill as an engraver Workhouses, obligation to visit them World, its end explained Wood, Alderman, his patriotic character Wordsworth, Mr. his poetical merit Women, an employment worthy of them
York-house, the residence of Wolsey
Zoffany, Mr. his tomb and character
At page 65, five lines from bottom, insert three commas after "beastly, vicious, and diseased,"--and at page 168, line 8, for _found_ read _formed_.
_Lately were published_,
By the #same Author#,
A LETTER to the LIVERY of LONDON, on the OFFICE of SHERIFF; price 7s.
A TREATISE on the POWERS and DUTIES of JURIES; price 8s.
_In Sheets, for posting in Public Places, price Sixpence each_,
1. GOLDEN RULES for JURYMEN.
2. GOLDEN RULES for ELECTORS.
3. GOLDEN RULES for MAGISTRATES and SHERIFFS.
#J. Adlard#, Printer, 23, Bartholomew Close, London.
_word_ indicates italic in the original #word# indicates small capitals in the original Page numbers have been removed from the Contents and the Index Spellings left as found except as noted below: the Apennines (was 'Appenines'); to alarm them by the state of knowledge, in an era (was 'æra') when and Ruins of old buildings, must frequently (was 'frequenty') Hartley, esq. a son of the illustrious (was 'illustrions') writer progressively (was 'progresssively') augmented; and then acting different (was 'differents') parts of the kingdom, taken at A. necessarily and simultaneously (was 'stimultaneously') negative Chelsea buns (was 'bunns') -- twice in index only Nell Gwyn (was 'Gwin') -- in index only Items noted in the Errata section have been repaired. Index items are in order as printed.