Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Vol. 71, No. 438, April 1852 by Various
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BLACKWOOD'S EDINBURGH MAGAZINE.
NO. CCCCXXXVIII. APRIL, 1852. VOL. LXXI.
THE EARL OF DERBY, 387
MY NOVEL; OR, VARIETIES IN ENGLISH LIFE. PART XX., 410
AMERICAN MILITARY RECONNOISSANCES, 448
OUR LONDON COMMISSIONER, 460
THE COMMERCIAL DISASTERS OF 1851, 473
THE MOTHER'S LEGACY TO HER UNBORN CHILD, 491
THE APPEAL TO THE COUNTRY, 498
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NO. CCCCXXXVIII. APRIL, 1852. VOL. LXXI.
THE EARL OF DERBY.
"----And marvelling went away To muse on scene, and actor, each the other Befitting gracefully. O, good my lord, I would the Lieges had been there, to see Such shining chivalry."--_The Royal Stranger._
On Friday evening, the 27th February 1852, the House of Lords presented a magnificent and profoundly interesting spectacle. Vanishing daylight was being succeeded by that artificial illumination which gradually gave a new aspect to the gorgeous fabric, vivid with innumerable heraldic emblazonments, within which was about to be enacted a scene of vital concernment to the greatest empire upon earth. And the interest of that scene was centred in one individual, not yet within the House, and whose arrival all were awaiting with anxiety and expectation. A nobleman of ancient lineage, of chivalrous honour, of uncompromising character and commanding abilities, the acknowledged leader of the most powerful party in the country, and fresh from the presence of his Royal Mistress, who had cheerfully intrusted to him the direction of public affairs at a momentous crisis, was about to indicate the principles on which his policy would be based. He was to do this in the presence of fervent friends and fierce opponents; of persons representing all the great interests of the country, and professing to regard, and many sincerely, the very existence of those interests as in jeopardy; exponents of every shade of political opinion; the representatives of all the leading civilised nations of the earth, between some of the greatest of whom and ourselves, relations were at that moment delicate, and even precarious. Every syllable, moreover, that he was to utter, would, as it fell from his lips, be then and there exactly and irrevocably recorded, and within an hour or two flying far and wide on the wings of the lightning! to be instantly subjected to jealous scrutiny; exciting alike hopes and fears, reasonable and unreasonable, calling forth admiration, or provoking bitter censure; a single ambiguous or inconsiderate word destined to be disingenuously misrepresented, and become a spark to kindle revolutionary agitation. Everything, again, that he might utter, would come quickly under the anxious eye of the Queen, who had confided so implicitly in his discretion; and finally, what he was that evening to say, would forthwith become matter of historical record and reference.
Is it unreasonable to suppose that some such reflections as the foregoing might flit across the mind of an anxious statesman, on such an eventful evening--thoughts calculated to dispirit and disturb one of inferior mettle and capacity, but greatly to elevate and strengthen a superior intellect, trained to the conduct of affairs, conscious of the exigency, but also of being equal to it? We appeal, indeed, to all whose fortune it has been to make public addresses on very critical occasions, when miscarriage may not only be mischievous and dangerous, whether it is possible to overstate the anxiety with which such occasions are approached.
The Earl of Derby has just stepped into his carriage with a brother peer high in his confidence; and while they are driving down to the House, let us occupy the brief interval by glancing back at a somewhat similar scene in which the Earl figured exactly twelve months before. The scene is the same to which he is now hastening--in one respect the person is changed--Baron Stanley has passed into the Earl of Derby; but are the PRINCIPLES, and is the MAN the same? Let us look at--
LORD STANLEY IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS, ON FRIDAY, THE 28TH FEBRUARY 1851.
On that evening he made an elaborate statement in the presence of his brother Peers, but spoke from another part of the House, and in a capacity different from that in which he is now about to make his appearance. He stood on the Opposition side of the House, and in the character of a statesman come to announce, amidst the blank disappointment of his friends and supporters, the failure of all his efforts to comply with the wishes of his Sovereign, that he should form a new Ministry. Two other Peers had also, on the same evening, made statements in that House, and at the same moment two statesmen were making corresponding statements in the other House; all of them indicating a conjuncture of affairs, and a position of parties, altogether unexampled in the history of the country. Who can appreciate that week's anxiety to the Queen of this great country? A Queen, with an exact knowledge of her own august and transcendant relations and responsibilities to a free state, intimately acquainted with the characters and position of public men, sending for one of them after the other, to form a Ministry in accordance with their own political principles, but in vain; and at length compelled to command her late Ministers to resume, for a time, the reins which they had surrendered, that the country might not be without any Government at all, and at a moment fraught with very special national anxieties. Let us take the opportunity of saying, with proud satisfaction, that all the noblemen and gentlemen in question--Lord Stanley, the Marquis of Lansdowne, the Earl of Aberdeen, Lord John Russell, and Sir James Graham--acquitted themselves as became British statesmen, patriots, and loyal subjects; in a manner which excited universal approbation both at home and abroad: exhibiting a vivid and most instructive illustration of the strength and elasticity of our institutions, and the courage and discretion of both Queen and People. On that occasion, he with whom we have now to deal played his part nobly, and the manner in which he played it has become a matter of high importance; regard being had to his present position--to which his conduct then now affords a key--and bearing in mind that which is very dear to Englishmen, _the simplicity and truthfulness of his personal character, and the consistency of his political career_. Let us see, then, what were the precise circumstances under which he then made so conspicuous and memorable an appearance on the scene of public affairs; and what was the account which he thought proper to give of himself, and the principles on which he should have constructed his policy, had he succeeded in forming a Government. What he said in the House of Lords in February 1851, will throw a flood of light on his position in the House of Lords in February 1852.
We all recollect the special circumstances of anxiety and difficulty with which the last Session of Parliament opened, arising out of the newly balanced strength of parties in the House of Commons, the rickety condition of the Government, and the apprehended consequences of a vast influx of foreigners--many strongly tainted with revolutionary principles--on occasion of the Great Exhibition. Thus, when a Government ought to have been strongest, it was confessedly weakest! The Queen's Speech, whether wisely or not is now no province of ours to consider, contained matter calculated greatly to stimulate party contentions. The Budget of the Chancellor of the Exchequer excited universal dissatisfaction; Lord John Russell's famous letter on the Papal Aggression had excited a prodigious ferment in the public mind, and a just demand for immediate and stringent legislation, which, however, he immediately found almost insuperable difficulties in satisfying. It is said that his Cabinet became the scene of violent dissensions upon this subject, inevitably inducing feebleness and vacillation in action. Again, the Queen's Speech having solemnly recognised the existence of great distress among the agricultural interest, in bitter contradistinction to the prosperity of all other interests, as declared in the same Speech--Ministers, nevertheless, took no steps whatever to remedy or alleviate that distress; on which Mr Disraeli almost immediately brought forward his celebrated motion, "That it was the duty of Ministers to introduce without delay such measures as might be effectual for relieving the ADMITTED agricultural distress." After a protracted debate, the whole strength of the Government being brought to bear against the motion, aided by the Peel party, (with the brilliant exception of Mr Gladstone, _who both spoke and voted in favour of the motion_,) a House of five hundred and forty-eight members negatived the motion, but by a majority of _fourteen_ only! Thus Lord John Russell's Government, having volunteered an admission of great agricultural distress, deliberately resolved to afford it no redress whatever! This was on the 13th February 1851, only nine days after the opening of the session. A week afterwards, viz., on the 20th February, came on Mr Locke King's motion for an extension of the franchise. This motion, also, the Government _professed_ to oppose; but here, in a House of only one hundred and forty-eight members, Ministers were _defeated_ by a majority of forty-eight. Lord Stanley's friends in the House of Commons abstained from attending to oppose the motion; but he told the Queen, and in the House of Lords stated that he had done so,[A] that the reason why they did so, was "because they saw that her Majesty's Ministers were not honestly exercising their influence to defeat the motion." The truth of this statement was tacitly acknowledged by Ministers in both Houses! Immediately after their defeat, which they had clearly invited, Ministers tendered their resignation; the Queen sent for the Earl of Aberdeen, Sir James Graham, and Lord John Russell; then for Lord Stanley; and on all declaring themselves unable to coalesce, or form an Administration, her Majesty, in great anxiety, sent for her venerable and illustrious adviser the Duke of Wellington; who wisely counselled her to continue Lord John Russell's Government in office, at all events for the present, and under the pressing circumstances of the time. This decision having been arrived at, Parliament reassembled on Friday the 28th February, anxious to hear an account of that busy and critical week's doings in Downing Street, St James's Square, and Buckingham Palace. We have here, however, to do with the House of Lords only.--It was almost as greatly crowded as on the corresponding day in the ensuing year; and though Lord Lansdowne and Lord Aberdeen had to address the House, Lord Stanley was he whom all were naturally most anxious to hear. He sate in his usual place, low down on the front seat of the Opposition side of the House, surrounded by a goodly muster of his friends; all of them exhibiting more or less anxiety. He was but little interrupted, and sate with folded arms, his hat coming, as usual, low down on his head, and almost entirely concealing a powerfully-developed forehead. He listened with close attention to Lord Lansdowne, who spoke briefly, temperately, and with extreme gravity of manner. The following sentence, delivered with much energy, elicited from Lord Stanley, unless we are mistaken, an emphatic "Hear, hear, hear:"--
[A] HANSARD, (3d Series,) vol. cxiv., col. 1007.
"There is one sacrifice public men can never be called upon to make; because it is not only a sacrifice of themselves, but a sacrifice of the honour and dignity of the Crown; I mean, that involved in a prolonged attempt, under any circumstances, to carry on the public business of the country, without the promise of that amount of support, which is indispensable to all Governments, for the purpose of enabling them to maintain the honour of the Crown, and to maintain and promote the efficient carrying on of the public service."[B] Lord Aberdeen followed, and declared that it was the _Ecclesiastical Titles Bill_ which alone had frustrated all efforts at combination between himself and his friends, and Lord John Russell. Then rose Lord Stanley, amidst general indications of increased interest, and spoke calmly and gravely. He gave a lucid account of the abortive negotiations in which he had been engaged, speaking with marked caution and exactness of phraseology, in all those passages describing his interviews and communications with the Queen. His speech consisted of two parts;--a narrative of what had passed during the week; and a declaration of intended policy. In two sentences, he disposed of two idle but sedulously disseminated rumours--that he had been coldly received by the Queen, and that she had withheld from him the power of dissolving Parliament. As to the former, "Nothing, my lords, could exceed the condescension and graciousness of manner, _and more than of manner_, with which any proposition from me has been listened to, with which any communication and advice which I felt it my duty to tender to her Majesty, has been received." As to the latter, "There is not the shadow of a foundation for the statement that her Majesty would not have given me the power of dissolving Parliament; and I am authorised by the Queen to say, that no one could be justified in saying, or holding out a belief, to the contrary." Such, then, was her Majesty's confidence in Lord Stanley, that even in the critical condition of the country at that time, she would have intrusted him with the great power of dissolving Parliament. And now what did this faithful and plain-speaking nobleman tell his Royal Mistress? Let him speak for himself; and what he then said to the Queen, it is now of supreme importance for us to know.
"My first statement to the Queen was, that, had I been a member of the House of Commons, I should have certainly supported the motion of Mr Disraeli.[C]... I stated that it would be impossible for me, as an honest man, to take office without a full determination to deal with that distress, and endeavour to apply to it, as a Minister, effective measures of relief." And yet again, with an explicitness defying all possibility of misapprehension--"I stated, that if I could so far forget myself as to sacrifice my honest convictions, the loss of honour which would be involved in such a course of procedure would make my services worse than valueless; ... that I would not take office on any other condition than that of endeavouring, _bonâ fide_, to give effect to my own conviction, of the necessity of legislating for that class [the agricultural] of her Majesty's subjects: _but I did not bind myself to any specific measure._" So much for Lord Stanley's explanation of what had passed between himself and the Queen. Now let us see the policy on which he would have acted with his Ministry; and he explained it with admirable straightforwardness, principally with reference to three great topics--the _Income Tax_, _Agricultural Distress_, and _Papal Aggression_. He began by saying, "I might, I think, have brought to a satisfactory issue two or three important questions, which appear to be the great stumbling-block of politicians at the present moment."
_First_, then, of the INCOME TAX. "Take it as you will, levy it as you please, this is a tax which is full of anomalies and inconveniences, pressing variously upon different classes of the community, with a complicated injustice which no modification can altogether remove." He declared his conviction in strong terms, that if the House of Commons had not implicitly relied on Sir Robert Peel's pledge that the Income Tax was to last for only three years, "it would not have consented to the imposition of it for an hour; ... there was no man living who believed that it would." And he added, "I hold it to be an object, not only of vital importance, but one to which the faith of successive Ministers has been pledged, that the Income Tax should not be permitted to degenerate into a permanent tax."
[B] HANSARD, (3d Series,) vol. cxiv., col. 998-9.
[C] On Agricultural Distress, _ante_, p. 389.
_Secondly_, as to AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS. "I hold it to be an admitted and undisputed fact, that the land is, at this moment, the only suffering interest; and that it is labouring under an amount of taxation, of various descriptions, far exceeding the amount which falls upon other classes of the community.... By imposing a moderate duty on the imposition of foreign corn, you might raise a very considerable revenue for the country, while you would not materially raise the price to the consumer; but you would, by the acquisition of a duty of £1,500,000, or £2,000,000, enable the Government more rapidly to effect that object to which I have referred as of great advantage to the community at large--_the extinction of the Income Tax_.... The relief of the finances of the country, and the removal of that pressure of taxation, would infinitely and immeasurably exceed in advantage any possible trifling alteration in the price of food--and trifling indeed it must be--which could touch the consumer."
We beg particular attention to the following passage:--
"I express my frank opinion, that the question of _Protection_, or, if you please, the question of the unrestricted import of provisions, is one which must be settled _by the country_, once, and for ever, whenever it is appealed to for its decision. Should the next general election prove that the sense of the country is in favour of a perfectly unrestricted import of all provisions, unaccompanied by those duties which in other countries are imposed for purposes of revenue, upon all articles, and which in this country are imposed to a vast extent upon articles of prime necessity for consumption hardly inferior to _bread_ itself, I, for one, and I believe the majority of your lordships and of Parliament, would respectfully bow to that expression of the sense of the country."
_Lastly_, As to PAPAL AGGRESSION. Lord Stanley treated this question, which he solemnly pronounced to be "the most important of all important questions," in a spirit of resolute and comprehensive statesmanship. Sharing the universal indignation, at the impudent and dangerous attempt of the Pope upon the liberties of this country and the Queen's supreme authority, Lord Stanley denounced the petty legislation by which the Government proposed to meet it, as beneath contempt, and predicted precisely that which has come to pass. But what were his own views? And how would he have _acted_ upon them? Let every Protestant in the Empire give ear.
"The real danger is this: The GRADUAL growth and encroachment of the power of the Pope, and of the prelates acting under his authority, in interfering with matters not purely and strictly religious, and in assuming to themselves powers, which if not in violation of the [letter of the] law of the land, are at variance with [the spirit of] that law.
"I conceive that there are grave questions depending upon the position of the Roman Catholics in this country, with regard to the rights of their own church, to the disposition of property, and the manner in which trust property is held for Roman Catholic purposes.
"I think it is a subject for inquiry, how religious houses of various descriptions are carried on in this country; and it is a grave question whether _all_ religious houses should not be subjected to the power of visitation, in order that it may be ascertained that no persons are retained within them contrary to the law of the land.
"I should have recommended that, in both Houses of Parliament, inquiries should take place as to the actual relations in which the Roman Catholic subjects of the Queen stand towards the State, towards any foreign power, and towards their own priests and prelates. I would have advised that this subject should be fully investigated; the present anomalies of the law really exposed, and amendments suggested for the consideration of Parliament."
Such is a faint sketch of the leading portions of Lord Stanley's exposition of his views and intentions in February 1851; and whoever may take the trouble to read it _in extenso_, as it appears in Hansard, will heartily concur in an observation of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, made in the course of his address to the House of Commons on the same evening: "At the moment I am speaking," said Mr Disraeli, "Lord Stanley is explaining all the circumstances connected with that transaction [the attempt to form a Ministry.] And I will express my conviction, that when that statement shall have gone forth to the public, the character of my noble friend will stand, if possible, higher than ever."
Here, then, we have a sketch of Lord Stanley's political character on the 28th February 1851, under his own hand, unconsciously delineating features beaming with manly determination, noble frankness, and sagacious intellect; of a man who, on a signal occasion, proved himself true to his Queen, to his country, to himself, and to that Higher Power _by whom actions are weighed_,[D] and who rules the destinies of mankind. He must have foreseen, and known that everybody else foresaw, that he would inevitably, and very speedily, be called to the head of affairs. We do not think it possible to speak too highly of Lord Stanley's frankness as to his political opinions, on that all-important occasion. He might have wrapped himself up in what might have appeared a discreet reserve, resolving to watch the chapter of accidents, the progress of opinions and events, and _then_ adapt himself to any position which he might be called by the Sovereign to occupy. He was aware, moreover, that the country knew his straightforwardness, and that he was a man of uncompromising determination. Why, then, did he volunteer, in the capacity of a defeated candidate for the highest office, so explicit a declaration of his political principles? Who cannot _now_ give the answer? In order that both the Queen and the country, both friends and opponents, might know exactly the course which he would pursue if placed in power; and he was distinctest on questions of the greatest moment, and on which it would have been easiest to raise a cry against him. That the country might have the opportunity of saying, whoever may come into power, _this_ man shall not; whatever principles shall become dominant, _his_ shall not, for they are those opposed to public opinion, and inconsistent with the common weal. Therefore Lord Stanley deliberately afforded to his opponents, even his most active and virulent, every opportunity they could desire for forming powerful combinations of parties, and eliciting an overpowering expression of the voice of the nation. His _trumpet_ gave _no uncertain sound_. The enemy had ample notice, and might easily have baffled apprehended intrigue, and guarded against suspected surprise. But there has been, confessedly, neither intrigue nor surprise. Well, exactly twelve months have elapsed, during which the weakness of the existing Ministry became every month more apparent, and its speedy dissolution inevitable. What is the result?
[D] 1 Samuel, ii. 3.
THE EARL OF DERBY IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS, ON FRIDAY THE 27TH FEBRUARY 1852.
He stood there with a very eventful year's better acquaintance between himself and the country, than when he had presented himself on the corresponding Friday of the preceding year. During that interval, the importance of which all political parties appreciated, more than one earnest effort was made, as privately as was practicable, to establish a basis of conjoint political action between three classes of the Liberal party, in opposition to a Protectionist policy; but it was found impracticable. And unless our means of information have misled us, it was plainly stated by a highly influential and clear-headed Liberal, to some who sought his advice, that he much doubted whether Free-Trade principles were making the way they ought to be making; and that the probable results of a formal appeal to the country upon the question was a matter requiring serious consideration, for that a great mass of prejudice on the subject yet existed in the country. But the Earl of Derby must by this time have reached the House of Lords.
It is just on the stroke of five o'clock, and we are standing at the bar of the House of Lords, under a grievous pressure of members of the House of Commons. What an exciting, what a splendid scene! The gentle strife between natural and artificial light has ceased, and brilliant jets reveal distinctly the spacious and noble proportions of the Lords' House. Look wherever you will, all is rich and mellow! And see those light graceful galleries half filled with fair female politicians, their gentle hearts beating with quite as keen feelings of rivalry--hopes, fears, and anxieties--as their noble lords, kinsmen, and friends beneath them! The strangers' gallery was packed with a far greater number than it could conveniently accommodate: and those highly important functionaries, the Reporters, seemed to have mustered in almost double strength. The throne end of the House was filled with peers' sons, ambassadors, and others. On the woolsack sate Lord Redesdale, as Deputy-Speaker, the new Lord Chancellor having not yet passed from Sir Edward Sugden into Lord St Leonards; while the late one, Lord Truro, sate, in plain clothes, on the Opposition side of the House, which was considerably more crowded with the ex-Ministry and their supporters, than the Ministerial side with their successors. There is the Marquis of Lansdowne, white-haired, and somewhat feeble in his gait, walking slowly down the House, till he takes his seat near that so recently occupied by the Earl of Derby. He looks depressed and anxious, but is calm and dignified, and apparently not disposed to conversation. Near to him are the Earl of Carlisle and Earl Grey--just above, but in a line with them, Lord Brougham and the Earl of Aberdeen: all these sit quietly enough, with an expectant air, in their places; while the younger folk, especially those just displaced from subordinate office, flit about among their friends, apparently in a state of concern and bewilderment! The cross benches are nearly filled. The Bishops' benches are occupied by only four or five Prelates, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London being of the number. Confronting the long line of the Opposition, sit many of the new Ministry and their friends, a goodly phalanx, generally wearing the appearance of excitement and resolution. At the corner of the second back bench is to be seen the striking figure of Lord Lyndhurst: with folded arms, his commanding countenance, now exhibiting too many of the traces of age, shows that he is at this moment in profound thought. He seems disinclined to speak to anybody. We miss one great familiar figure, the white-haired Duke of Wellington; for he is gone to Strathfieldsaye, giving, this evening, his customary banquet to the Judges of Assize. The whole House is in a subdued buzz of conversation. A slight commotion at the further end attracts all eyes--and--enter the Earl of Derby, accompanied by a friend. He is dressed in a plain black surtout, with crape round his hat; and walks quietly to the place left vacant for him, on the front bench, and for the last five or six years occupied by the Marquis of Lansdowne, who now regards him with an expression of by no means eager hostility. On one side of the new Prime Minister sits the Duke of Northumberland, on the other are the Earls of Eglinton and Malmesbury. Lord Derby is in his fifty-third year, but looks nearly ten years younger. He is tall and well-proportioned; and his countenance displays dignity, frankness, and determination. Its distinguishing feature is the bright and piercing eye now glancing resolutely at the lowering array of the Opposition. On the table before him stand a decanter of water and a glass. As far as we can see, he has not brought with him a single note. He whispers for a moment to the Earl of Malmesbury, then rises, steps to the table, removes his hat, folds his arms, and a loud cry of "Hear! hear! hear!" issues from every quarter of the House, instantly hushed into deep silence--amidst which is heard a clear ringing voice speaking with beautiful distinctness of articulation, and very deliberately.
On that day week, and at that hour, he was pacing the pleasant grounds of Badminton, little dreaming that the electric wire, within a few hours, would be charged with two or three potent syllables addressed to himself, announcing the sudden fall of a Ministry, and summoning him to town, to form a new one! On Saturday evening he received a command to attend her Majesty on the ensuing day, when he presented to her Majesty "an outline of his Administration,"--and, within three days' time, a list of all "those friends whom he had selected to discharge the principal offices of the Government." On the very day on which he was speaking, he and they had kissed hands on receiving the seals of office; and it is easy to imagine how every moment of the last five days must have been occupied with the harassing anxieties of forming an Administration. Yet there he stood, prepared to state, before that brilliant and imposing audience--before the whole country, and representatives of every civilised nation on earth, the policy on which he proposed to govern this vast empire!--An exposition which he well knew would require profound consideration to frame, so as to hit the happy mean between candour and statesmanlike reserve; to satisfy just expectation, and at the same time avoid alarming friends, or provoking captious enemies. Such a speech as the Earl of Derby delivered during the ensuing hour; so prudent in what was said, and omitted; so complete and comprehensive in its scheme and scope; so exact and felicitous in detail and expression--could not have been prepared, and delivered, as it was, by any man but one of great and practised powers, and consummate discretion. With no disposition whatever to flatter the Earl of Derby, and uninfluenced by any consideration except a rigorous regard for truth and justice, we declare our deliberate conviction that this speech alone showed its speaker fit to conduct the affairs of this country, at the grave crisis which undoubtedly exists. It is pervaded by an air of modesty, simplicity, frankness, resolution, discretion, and dignity, that is very lovely to the eyes of Englishmen. It is the speech of a Christian gentleman and statesman, and delineates a policy based upon Principle, as contradistinguished to Expediency. It exhibited a noble spirit, at once conciliatory, and uncompromising; and, in a word, immediately produced a prodigious effect upon the country. Had it been less able and satisfactory than it was, the consequences, as the speaker well knew, would have been immediately serious and prejudicial, to an extent beyond present calculation. As it is, the country, though in a very anxious and exacting humour, appeared to become at once assured and calm; and its pulse--the Funds--has ever since beat, not with feverish fluctuation, but with tranquil regularity. There is no gainsaying that fact, and it is a very pregnant one.
Standing with folded arms, his countenance and demeanour exhibiting a certain mixture of gravity and cheerfulness,--and speaking with the utmost deliberation and distinctness, the Earl of Derby thus began: they are his _ipsissima verba_:--
"My Lords, the place from which I have now the honour of addressing the House, at once not only affords a justification for my rising upon this occasion, but imposes upon me, as I conceive, the necessity of endeavouring to state, as shortly and as distinctly as I can, with as much frankness as may be in my power, and no more reserve than may be imposed by a due sense of my position, not only the motives which induced me to undertake the arduous duty which I thought myself bound not to decline; but also, as far as I can, an outline of the course which, having undertaken such a responsibility, I feel it incumbent on me to pursue."
--"O," whispered, at this point, a leading Liberal member of the House of Commons, to one beside him, "he's going to speak out;" and both listened to Lord Derby from that moment with unbroken silence and attention, and, when he had finished, looked at each other significantly, and for a few moments without uttering a word.
The Earl of Derby paused for a second or two, and directing a look of affectionate sincerity towards Lord Lansdowne, commenced that graceful, eloquent, well-weighed eulogy, which must long live in his memory.[E] The last sentence of it was as follows. It elicited universal cheering, and evidently affected Lord Lansdowne.
[E] Lord Brougham said not long ago, in the hearing of the writer, "Lord Lansdowne is the very best leader of a deliberative assembly that was perhaps ever seen. In courtesy, temper, discretion, and business ability, he is, in my opinion, unequalled."
"My Lords, it must be an encouragement to future statesmen, that they should be able to point to his example; and see how, after a period of, I believe, nearly fifty years spent in the public service, a statesman can retire with the friendship, the warm and cordial friendship, of his political associates, with the cordial and sincere esteem of his political opponents, and with a character unblemished by a single stain on his political virtue or private honour!"
After a lucid statement of the circumstances under which he had been so suddenly and unexpectedly called to the helm of public affairs, the steps which he had taken to form a Government, and a frank avowal that he saw himself, for the present, environed with almost insuperable difficulties, arising principally out of the confused condition of parties in the House of Commons, he proceeded to indicate the principles on which he proposed to conduct the Government of the country. He commenced with his Foreign Policy, and there was perceptible a faint stir in the quarter where stood several ambassadors, and other members of the diplomatic body. As if anxious that all he said on this subject should be well understood by persons not perfectly familiar with the English language, he here spoke with even greater deliberation and distinctness than in any other part of his speech. He doubtless felt no little anxiety that his views of our foreign relations should be thoroughly appreciated by the representatives of foreign states, who would, of course, instantly, on quitting the House, forward accounts of what they had heard to their respective governments. One or two might have been seen taking a pencil note of particular expressions; and this might well be done; for he handled these critical topics with exquisite discretion and delicacy. His tone was cordially pacific, but also dignified and resolute. How would the Funds have fallen the next morning, had he here committed himself! The essence of what he said may be thus expressed--would that we had space to give, throughout, the speaker's own choice and nervous language!--The new Government cherished a profound anxiety to preserve the blessings of universal peace; and, said the Earl of Derby, "there is not one of my noble friends who will not consider that every effort should be made by the Government, with a view of averting _the remotest chance_," (the words in italics he uttered with marked emphasis,) "of incurring the miseries of war." Our demeanour towards foreign governments should be on all occasions frank and conciliatory; we should treat all nations alike, whether great or small, with due respect and consideration, equally in acts, in words, in conduct. Treaties should be observed with punctual fidelity, both as to letter and spirit. Every nation's independence should be held sacred, and on no pretence should we interfere with their internal and individual arrangements. Whatever form of government each thought proper to adopt, we had no right to manifest either sympathy or prejudice in respect of one more than another, "be it the most absolute despotism, limited monarchy, constitutional republic, or--if such a thing can be conceived to continue in existence--absolute Red Republicanism. That which is the choice of a nation, is that which it is the duty of the British Government to recognise." Whenever explanations, or redress, become unfortunately requisite, they should be asked for with temper and frankness, and offered in the same spirit.
Who sees not the significance of this, on adverting to various portions of the foreign policy of the late Government? Then Lord Derby approached very tender ground, treading cautiously, but firmly. It was the proud and ancient characteristic of this country, to afford a home to the homeless, inviolable shelter to the exile; but not to become a nursery for foreign traitors. It not only would not countenance, but would not tolerate, those whom it was hospitably sheltering from the storms of political adversity, intriguing and plotting here against their own governments. We should watch all such movements vigilantly, and apprise foreign governments of what was here hatching against them. Nay, such attempts constitute a high offence against our own laws, "to be visited with exemplary and condign punishment;" but, at the same time, those laws must never be strained, with a view of either conciliating the friendship, or averting the hostility, of foreign powers. All this was said in a noble spirit; and the opportune enunciation of such principles was like shedding oil on the troubled waters. It afterwards elicited from that discreet and experienced Foreign Minister, the Earl of Aberdeen, the following strong expression of concurrence.--"In that portion of my noble friend's speech in which he laid down the course of policy which he means to pursue towards Foreign Powers, I entirely concur. The noble Earl and myself have acted together for the last ten or twelve years, both in and out of office, in full concert and communication on that subject; and, so far as I am aware, there is not a shade of difference between us. In all that he has said on that subject, I fully concur." The Earl of Derby's sentiments on this subject have been since communicated to all Foreign Powers; and we suspect that there is not one of their representatives in this country that has not been ordered to communicate to him the warm satisfaction with which his pacific and honourable declarations have been received, and an increased desire to cultivate the most friendly relations with Great Britain.
As regards our own safety, and our means of repelling foreign aggression, and maintaining internal order and tranquillity, Lord Derby made the important and gratifying announcement, that both our army and navy are in a state of high efficiency, and adequate to all the multifarious calls upon them, arising out of our universally-extended empire. England herself dreams not of aggression in any quarter, or extended dominion, abundantly satisfied with what she possesses. She seeks only to protect her just rights and interests; and though in no wise apprehensive of aggression upon herself, but rather feeling assured of the continuance of peace, this latter consideration of itself justified, and even suggested, the propriety of _deliberately_ organising our own energies, and making them so promptly and effectively available as to place this country beyond the reach of aggression from any quarter. There is, however, no necessity for any increased military force, regular or irregular; and the Earl of Derby concluded this part of his speech by one of the happiest strokes conceivable. Without saying it in words, he invited foreign countries to contemplate our own institutions, and the great strength and happiness which they confer upon us; at the same time affording a faint and delicate intimation of the strength which we can put forth on an adequate occasion! In a few graceful sentences he alluded to the memorable demonstration in London on the 10th of April 1848: "My lords, upon many memorable occasions, and upon none more than in the course of the last three or four years, the people of this country have shown, in a manner to excite the wonder and admiration of foreign powers, that the peace and tranquillity of the kingdom may be safely intrusted to the loyalty of the people of England. I believe, my lords, that it is not the ability of her rulers--I am sure that it is not the multitude of her forces--that keeps this country in a state of tranquillity and contentment; but I must say that it is a due and frank appreciation, on the part of every class of her Majesty's subjects, of the inestimable value of those institutions under which they live, and a conviction that not merely the just prerogatives of the Crown, but the real liberties of the people, are best secured by these institutions!" We know not which most to admire, the perfect good taste, or the masterly tact and sagacity here displayed, in the expression of that which will be--perhaps has been--appreciated abroad, with many a royal sigh of acquiescence.
Such was Lord Derby's Foreign Policy. We have already stated that his speech was equally striking in what it said, and in what it did not say. Among other matters of this negative character, is one which seems to have hitherto attracted no public attention--Lord Derby's silence on the subject of our _Colonial_ policy. His sentiments on that subject are perfectly well known, and he has himself, and recently, brought them prominently before the very assembly whom he was addressing. He is indeed peculiarly familiar with that great section of our national interests, and will doubtless give them much personal attention. Why did he, then, omit all allusion to our colonial policy on that memorable evening? Did he forget it? _There sate before him Earl Grey_, with a millstone of responsibility suspended from his neck, for a long series of colonial exploits, every one of them familiar to the Earl of Derby; who also knew, in common with everybody else, what was the last straw which had broken the camel's back--what was the real reason of the late Ministers' sudden retreat from office--to avoid the blighting exposure, in the House of Commons, of Earl Grey's Kaffir misdoings. With high judgment, and a generous forbearance, the Earl of Derby passed over the legitimate and tempting topic in blank silence--a silence, however, which may have been felt by the ex-colonial Minister as very ominous. Let _us_, however, seize the opportunity of touching, for an instant, only one part of this sore--we mean Earl Grey's last despatch to Sir Harry Smith; one of the most cruel and impudent documents that ever libelled the character of a state paper, or threatened to break a noble heart; a document that ought to be burned at the head of every regiment in the service; one which had been splendidly falsified by the triumphant veteran before it had come into his gallant hands, or been trodden into the dust under the foot of scornful and insulted soldier. Gallant veteran! what a reception awaits you on your return home, from your Queen and from your country, if indeed you live to tread the soil of old England again! You will be welcomed in Downing Street, whence your libeller has been expelled, and from which he is now for ever excluded.
Thus much for Lord Derby's _temporary_ silence on Colonial policy.
Having concluded his observations on his Foreign, he approached our Domestic policy. Here he paused for a few moments; his manner showing a consciousness that he was entering on a topic of the last importance and difficulty--one fraught with absorbing interest, in the eyes of every one present, and with the fate of his newly-formed Administration.
"My Lords," he commenced, and in a very resolute manner, "I have now stated to your lordships the principles on which I think that our foreign policy should be regulated and conducted. I will not shrink, my lords, from dealing with questions of far greater difficulty. I will not shrink from speaking frankly upon the subject of our commercial and financial policy." It is impossible to describe the sudden silent manifestation of intense anxiety and interest excited by these words; rendered the more striking, from the loud cheering which had accompanied the preceding sentence, and which was suddenly succeeded by profound silence. It was at that interesting and exciting moment that we bethought ourselves of Lord Stanley in the House of Lords on that day twelvemonth. Our recollection of what he had then said, on the question which he was now approaching, was vividly distinct. We were certain that he would thoroughly identify Earl Derby of February 1852 with Lord Stanley of February 1851; but who could stifle a feeling of lively anxiety to learn the precise manner in which he proposed to deal with this great stumbling-block to the statesmen of this age? He began by referring to Sir Robert Peel's commercial policy in 1842, stating that he had cordially supported it.
But here let us pause; for this sudden ten years' retrospect awakens painful memories, and suggests a very painful contrast. Let us speak of the dead, the distinguished dead, in a spirit of forbearance and charity. Nay, let us pay the homage due to a man of great political capacity and knowledge, and unsullied purity of personal character!--There is now lying before us, side by side with a reprint of Lord Derby's speech, a fellow reprint[F] of that delivered by the late Sir Robert Peel in 1841, and published, we believe, in a cheap form for extensive circulation, with that late right honourable baronet's sanction. It is the speech which he addressed to his constituents at Tamworth, on the 28th of June 1841, and was a most able and elaborate statement of his leading political opinions, on the occasion of the then pending general election which returned a glorious majority of ninety-one pledged to support the opinions so luminously expounded in that memorable speech. How it reads, by the light of 1852! Alas! the exultation with which he contemplated the great Conservative party, which, he said, "has been pleased to intrust your representative with its confidence! You may rely upon it that that party which has paid me the compliment of taking my advice, and following my counsel, are a united and compact party, among whom there does not exist the slightest difference of opinion in respect of the principles they support, and the cause they may desire to pursue. Gentlemen, _I hope I have not abused the confidence of that great party!_" And the proud appeal evoked "loud cheers." Alas! what is man? Again, how eloquently, and upon what grand considerations of morality and religion, he deprecated England's "running the risk of losing the benefit of its sacrifices for the abolition of slavery, and tarnishing for ever that glory, by admitting to the British markets, sugar, the produce of foreign slavery!" At length, said he, "I now come to the most important question of all, the introduction of foreign corn into this country." We beg earnest attention to what follows, for it bears directly and powerfully upon the same great question, and in the precise form in which it now stands before the country, and with which the Earl of Derby has to deal.
[F] "Tamworth Election. Speech of Sir Robert Peel."--Ollivier, Pall Mall, 1841.
"When I look at the burdens the land is subject to in this country, I do not consider the fixed duty of eight shillings a quarter on corn from Poland, Russia, and Prussia, where no such burdens exist, a sufficient protection for it. (_Great cheering._) Gentlemen," continued the eloquent and gifted speaker, warming with the enthusiasm which he had elicited, "it is certainly a very tempting thing in theory, to buy your corn at the cheapest market; but before you adopt that theory in practice, you must, as a matter of common justice, compare the burdens on the land in other countries, with the burdens on the land in this country. (_Cheers._) The land in this country is most heavily burdened--you cannot conceal _that_. Look at the amount of the poor-rate levied, on land, as compared with that levied on the productive means of manufacturing industry. (_Cheering._) Who pay the highway rates?--who pay the church-rates?--who pay the poor-rate?--who pay the tithes? I say, not perhaps altogether, but chiefly, the landed occupiers of this country. And, gentlemen, if corn be the product of other land not subject to those burdens, it surely would not be just to the land of this country, which bears them all, to admit such corn at a low duty!" Sir Robert Peel then quoted from a pamphlet which had just before been published by Mr M'Culloch, the following striking passage:--"Considering the vast importance of agriculture--that nearly half the population of the empire is dependent upon it, directly or indirectly, for employment, and the means of subsistence--a prudent statesman would pause before he gave his sanction to any measures, however sound in principle, or beneficial to the mercantile or manufacturing classes, which might endanger the prosperity of agriculture, or check the rapid spread of improvement." "Gentlemen," continued Sir Robert Peel, "I need not say that I fully concur with this sentiment; and I certainly think that a prudent statesman _would_ pause before he meddled with it.... I do think that if you disturb agriculture, and divert the employment of capital from the land, you may not increase your foreign trade, (for that is a thing to doubt, under existing circumstances,) _but will assuredly reduce the home trade, by reducing the means to meet the demand_, and thus permanently injure yourselves also." Towards the close of that most able address, he taunted Lord John Russell with having "made an appeal to public feeling, on account of cheap sugar and cheap bread. My firm belief is, that the people of this country have not at all responded to this cry!" Sir Robert was right, and Lord John was wrong. The country repudiated the "cry;" and, in spite of desperate exertions on the part of the Government, returned an overwhelming majority, pledged to the support of agricultural protection. Lord John was instantly swept away by it, and Sir Robert floated proudly into his place.
Let us, however, with a sigh over the past--a sigh over the dead--turn from the departed to the living statesman of 1852. Here again we lament being unable to adopt, except occasionally, the felicitous language in which the Earl of Derby expressed himself; but here follows the pith of what he said.
He had cordially concurred with Sir Robert Peel's revision of the customs duties in 1842, and in the policy of imposing duties on all the principal articles of import, not only for purposes of revenue, but also for that of levying duties, in a given proportion, to the extent to which the articles subjected to such duties admitted, or did not admit, of the expenditure of future British labour. "I thoroughly agreed in the principle understood to be there laid down as to the freest possible admission of all raw materials which formed the basis of our native industry. My lords, that system has been, to a certain extent, adopted since that period; and I cannot but think, that if we look to the whole of our financial system, there is ground for believing that it is open, in point of principle, and in point of practice, to considerable and useful revisions." Our present policy contrasts disadvantageously with that of America, which is lauded as a free-trade country,--"yet they avowedly levy high duties on those articles which compete with the produce of their own soil and industry; whereas we both admit such articles with perfect freedom, and load with inordinate taxation a certain small number of articles, entering, to an immense extent, into the necessary consumption of the masses of the community!"
"In my individual opinion, I can see no grounds why the single article of corn should be made a solitary exception to the general system of imposing duties on foreign imports.... _I state this as my opinion_; but I think the question one which can be satisfactorily solved only by reference to the well-understood and clearly-expressed opinion of the intelligent portion of the community." This appears tolerably distinct, and is an echo of what the speaker had said in the same House twelve months previously. It failed, however, to convey any distinct meaning to the mind of Earl Grey, whose head was, doubtless, running on other matters--and who succeeded in afterwards eliciting from the Premier a still more explicit declaration. "What I meant to say was, that this was a question which ought to be settled, and could not be settled, except by the deliberate opinion of the large and intelligent communities in the country. And I stated, that neither with regard to that question, nor to the great and complicated question of finance, had I any intention of making a proposition to Parliament, _until public opinion should have been decidedly and emphatically expressed_.... Any scheme for dealing with a system so vast and intricate as our financial policy, including within its range not only duties on foreign imports, but also the incidents and the pressure of local and domestic taxation, requires to be dealt with by a government strong in the confidence, not only of the country, but of Parliament, and able to carry, with the concurrence of Parliament and the country, measures adopted and matured with great deliberation, and with such care and foresight as it is impossible that any Administration could give to such a subject, called suddenly to deal with public affairs, at the commencement of a parliamentary session." These statements met with a very cordial reception from the House, which seemed to feel that nothing could be more just and reasonable, regard being had to the trying position in which the Earl and his Ministry found themselves, through no fault or procurement of their own. He proceeded to say, that he owned they were in a decided minority in the House of Commons; nay, further, that he was even by no means assured of being in a majority in the House of Lords--circumstances surely entitling them, he thought, to the forbearance of opponents, and even, occasionally, to the indulgence of friends. In the mean time, and till he was able to ascertain and act upon the decided opinion of the country and Parliament on the cardinal question of the day, the new Government had abundant work before it, and had prescribed to itself a temperate and moderate course of action, devoting all its energies to measures for improving the social condition and adding to the comforts of the people, and especially simplifying and improving the administration of justice in the courts of law and equity. "I believe," said the Earl of Derby, with dignity, "that in acting thus, even as a minority in the House of Commons, we shall not uselessly or dishonourably conduct the public affairs; and, my lords, I must say, that if interrupted in such a course by a merely factious opposition, I have that confidence in the good sense of the country, that that faction will, at no distant period, recoil upon its authors." This passage produced a loud burst of cheering.
The new Government recognised the existence of a shameless system of bribery and corruption at parliamentary elections, which had greatly extended itself during the last twenty years, but which they were fixedly resolved to deal with effectually, and visit every one proved to be guilty of it with condign punishment. With reference to a measure which Lord John Russell had introduced during the present session into the House of Commons, "comprising a somewhat miscellaneous assortment of topics, and containing, as a leading feature, a large and extensive alteration of the elective system, and the electoral districts of the country," it was not the intention of the Government to proceed with it. He accompanied that intimation, however, with another, pointedly contrasting with the "finality" declaration of Lord John Russell. The Earl disclaimed altogether the opinion that the Reform Act of 1831 "was a perfect system, incapable of improvement." "I do not, my lords, for a moment pretend to say that the system of representation introduced in 1831 was a perfect system, or incapable of improvement. I think that there may have arisen, and will arise in the course of time, abuses requiring change, and evils demanding a remedy; but, my lords, I say, before you seek to apply a remedy--at all events, before you pledge yourself to a definite plan, and unsettle that which is, be quite sure that you know the course which you are about to pursue. Be satisfied that the evils which you mean to meet do exist; that the remedy which you propose to apply is not calculated to aggravate existing evils. And, my lords," continued the Earl of Derby, speaking with a kind of deferential emphasis, "if I were speaking in the presence of members of the other House of Parliament, I would entreat them seriously to consider the incalculable injury, not only to the monarchy of this country, but ultimately to the real and true liberties of the country, which may arise from constantly--from time to time--unsettling everything and settling nothing; rendering the country dissatisfied with that which is, without in the slightest degree removing the dissatisfaction of those who are prepared to go much further than any of your lordships could desire!... If you will show or prove to us the existence of any substantial grievances, no men will be more ready than my colleagues and myself to endeavour to remove those grievances in the manner which we consider best calculated to insure that end, without endangering the constitution or the internal peace of the country." When the Earl of Derby uttered these weighty sentences, which were received with loud and earnest cries of "Hear! hear! hear!" many of which issued from the cross-benches, he was doubtless aware that Lord John Russell's absurd but mischievous new Reform Bill had alienated from him the countenance of some of his staunchest and most powerful, though silent supporters, whom the Earl of Derby's moderation and firmness of tone upon that topic had commensurately conciliated--a fact of which he received a decisive intimation that very evening.
The last topic of the Earl of Derby's speech was one of transcendent importance--the education of the people; and he dealt with it in a noble and exalted spirit. Our own convictions on this subject are profound and unalterable, and we are satisfied that they are shared with a very great majority of the people of England. This is a matter lying at the very root of the national safety and prosperity; and it is with unspeakable satisfaction that we transcribe the passage, that it may stand recorded in our own columns. It is worthy of being written in letters of gold, as the glory of Christian statesmanship.
"My Lords,[G] I believe, and I rejoice to believe, that the feelings of the community at large--that the convictions of all classes, high and low, rich and poor, have now come to this conclusion, that the greater the amount of education which you are able to give, and the more widely it is spread among all classes of the community, the greater prospect there is of the tranquillity, the happiness, and well-being of the community. But, my lords, when I use the term _education_, let me not be misunderstood. By _education_, I do not mean the mere development of the mental faculties--the mere acquisition of temporal knowledge--the mere instruction--useful as, no doubt, that may be--which enables a man simply to improve his condition in life, gives him fresh tastes and fresh habits, and also the means of gratifying such improved tastes. Valuable as that instruction may be, when I speak of _education_, I speak of this, and of this alone, an education involving culture of the mind and culture of THE SOUL; laying the basis and foundation upon a knowledge of the Scripture, and revealed religion. My lords, I desire to look upon all those who are engaged in the work of spreading knowledge, even though they be of communions different from that of which I am a sincere and attached member, rather as fellow soldiers than as rivals, in the warfare against vice and ignorance. But I trust, my lords, I shall say nothing which can be offensive to those who differ with me, and belong to other communions, when I say that for the promotion of education and of religious knowledge, I rest mainly and chiefly upon the exertions, the able, the indefatigable and enlightened exertions, of the parochial clergy of the United Church of England and Ireland. My lords, I look upon that Church as the depository of what I believe to be the truth, and as an instrument of incalculable good here, and leading to still more incalculable good hereafter. I say, my lords, that it is not only the interest, but the duty of her Majesty's Government to uphold and maintain that Church in its integrity, not by penal enactments against those who dissent from her communion, or by violent abuse and invective against the religious faith of those whose errors we may deplore, but to whose consciences we have no right to dictate; but by steadfastly resisting all attempts at aggression against that Church, come from what quarter, and backed by what authority it may, and by lending every power of the Government to support and extend the influence of that Church, in its high and holy calling, with the view of diffusing throughout the length and breadth of the empire (and I speak not of this country alone) that knowledge which can be derived only from the diffusion of the Holy Scriptures."
[G] Almost every other sentence of this paragraph was followed by loud cheering; but the Earl of Derby continued to speak with calmness and solemnity.
By this passage of his speech, even had it stood alone, the Earl of Derby established a claim to the hearty confidence, the zealous and enthusiastic support, of every sincere member, lay and clerical, of the Church of England--nay, we go fearlessly much further, and say, of every sincere Christian in the empire, in the portentous times in which we live. And, indeed, we entertain no doubt whatever that this noble declaration has already produced great, though silent, effect, which will be made manifest when the time _for action_ shall have arrived. While breathing a spirit of pure and ardent affection for the Church of England, this declaration is not disfigured by the faintest trace of bigotry, intolerance, or uncharitableness; and we thank God that such words are now going forth all over the world, as having been spoken, and on so great an occasion, by the Prime Minister of the Queen of England.
The concluding passage of Lord Derby's memorable exposition was very finely delivered; not with oratorical art, but in a manner which exactly befitted the affecting simplicity and solemnity of the matter. He spoke with a dignified manliness, which went to the heart of every one who heard him, friend or opponent, who had a heart that could be reached and influenced by anything worthy and great.
"My Lords, for my own part, when I look to the difficulties which surround my friends and myself, when I look to the various circumstances which must combine to give us a chance of successfully encountering the various difficulties which beset our path, I confess that I am, myself, appalled by the magnitude of the task which I have undertaken. But I believe, and know, that the destinies of nations are in the hands of an overruling Providence! I know that it is often the pleasure of that great Being to work out His own objects by weak and unworthy means. In His presence, I can solemnly aver,[H] that no motives of personal ambition have led me to aspire to that dangerous eminence on which the favour of my Sovereign has placed me. In the course of my duties, no considerations will sway me, except those which have led me to that eminence--the paramount considerations of public duty. And with this feeling in my mind, and with a deep conviction of the sincerity of my own motives, and trusting to the guidance and blessing of higher powers than my own, I venture to undertake a task from which I should otherwise have shrunk with apprehension of its dangers. And, my lords, be the period of my Administration longer or shorter, not only shall I have obtained the highest object of my personal ambition, but I shall have fulfilled one of the highest ends of human being, if, in the course of that Administration, I can in the slightest degree advance the great object of peace on earth, and good-will among men--if I can advance the social, moral, and religious improvement of my country, and at the same time contribute to the safety, honour, and welfare of our Sovereign and her dominions!" For nearly a minute after Lord Derby had resumed his seat, the House echoed with hearty cheering, which then subsided into a loud hum of conversation; amidst which--suddenly up jumped Earl Grey! and, apparently much to the surprise of the House, proceeded to address it. Without wishing to say or to insinuate anything offensive or discourteous, we cannot help observing that there is a great contrast between the two Earls, in countenance, demeanour, and style of speaking; and the advantage is not on the side of Earl Grey. On the present occasion, he was heated and querulous. He did not rise for the purpose of noticing Lord Derby's marked silence as to colonial policy, and eliciting some indication of his views on a subject in which the late Colonial Secretary might have been presumed to take special interest; but he rose exactly in the spirit of a Manchester Corn-law-Exchange agitator--for the purpose of endeavouring to entangle the new Minister in a corn-law discussion! He declared that he had been filled with '_consternation_' on hearing that which Lord Derby instantly rose to assure him had not been said! Notwithstanding Lord Derby explicitly repeated what he had said, Lord Grey proceeded to argue on his own repudiated version, though professing, amidst the laughter of the House, to have been "greatly relieved by the explanation!" Conceiving this to be rather too bad, the Earl of Derby rose a second time, and, in a tone of calm sarcasm, thus indicated to the House the course which his eager opponent seemed bent upon pursuing. "I have already, with the view of correcting the misapprehension of the noble Earl, stated what I believe I _did_ say, and what I know I _meant_ to say, and the noble Earl thereupon says he is relieved by my explanation. And then he gives a version of what he says he had understood me to say!--but what, I hope, I have satisfactorily explained to your lordships that I did _not_ say; and upon that misunderstanding he is proceeding to argue, as if I had not already corrected his misapprehension!" Notwithstanding even this rebuke, delivered with a singularly expressive smile, Earl Grey returned to the charge, manifestly bent upon kindling, at the earliest possible moment, popular excitement, and "consternation" in sympathy with his own. Had he foreseen, however, what was to happen, he would probably not have risen that evening; for he called up a Peer sitting on one of the cross benches--no less a person than Earl Fitzwilliam, a powerful patron of the late Government. His appearance seemed to be welcomed with great complacency by Earl Grey and his friends; for who could doubt what Earl Fitzwilliam was about to say on the subject of a Protectionist Ministry? Of course he was going to denounce, as absurd and impracticable, their attempt to govern the country, and to predict, in comfortable terms, the immediate resumption of office by their predecessors. But alas! what blank surprise and mortification overspread their countenances--with the exception of the Marquis of Lansdowne--when the liberal Earl proceeded to administer a stern and forcible rebuke to Earl Grey for having risen to make such a speech as his, "after the ample, frank, and honourable manner in which the noble lord at the head of the Government had stated to the House the position in which he stood, and the circumstances under which he had been induced to undertake the great task of forming an Administration!... I lament also, my lords, that the noble Earl, instead of taking a comprehensive view of the speech of the noble Earl [Derby,] had chosen to single out one particular topic, and that the most exciting of all.... I do not think the noble Earl was entitled to animadvert as he has done, upon the speech of my noble friend." After briefly expressing his own well-known views on the subject of corn-laws, and charging both the contending parties with entertaining and fostering delusions on the subject, he proceeded to declare "the great satisfaction with which he had heard one part of the speech of the noble Earl at the head of the Government--that in which he announced that he should not carry on the bill of the late Government for altering the Parliamentary representation, because, I believe," continued Earl Fitzwilliam, "it will not do for the Government to be continually tampering with constitutional rights. And with respect to the new Government, generally, I hope there will be no factious opposition to the measures which they intend to propose; and I think that the noble Earl has been unfairly called upon to make, within so very short a period, a farther declaration of the principles on which he intends to carry on the Government. I shall regret to see any sort of opposition which many persons out of doors will be disposed to characterise with the epithet--_factious_." The Marquis of Clanricarde upon this rushed to the rescue of his discomfited friend--to "protest against the censure which my noble friend has thought fit to pronounce upon the noble Earl near me;" but the feeling of the House was manifestly with Earl Fitzwilliam, who had suddenly given utterance, with admirable candour, to a great amount of that public opinion, which _has_ so decisively pronounced, for itself, "out of doors." When Lord Clanricarde sate down, two grey-haired peers rose together, at the opposite end of the Opposition side of the House--the Earl of Aberdeen and Lord Brougham, but the latter readily gave way; on which Lord Aberdeen, who spoke with unusual earnestness, and very impressively, declared his determined adherence to the corn-law policy of the late Sir Robert Peel, and that he should oppose any attempt to re-impose duties, under the name of either protection or revenue. He proceeded then to say, and with emphatic cordiality of manner, that he entirely concurred in every other part of the Earl of Derby's speech, especially, as we have already seen, that relating to foreign policy. "I can assure my noble friend," said Lord Aberdeen, in conclusion, "that I am fully aware of the difficulties which he has to encounter; and he may rely on receiving from me, whenever it is in my power, a cordial and most sincere support"--an announcement giving evident satisfaction to the House. Lord Brougham then rose again, evidently in a very friendly spirit towards the Earl of Derby, to express his great gratification at finding that the multifarious public and private business before Parliament was not to be interrupted by "an early dissolution, which was out of the question;" and that the subject of the corn-laws must be postponed till after the general election. He had risen, however, to ask only one question--whether the measures for law amendment could not be at once proceeded with? The Earl of Derby rose with alacrity, to answer in the affirmative; adding, "I am sure that my noble and learned friend will agree with me, that when the Lord Chancellor [Lord St Leonards] takes his seat in this House, he will apply his vigorous powers of mind to the careful consideration of all those measures which have been recommended by the commissioners." How satisfactorily that pledge was redeemed on the very first night that Lord St Leonards presided in the House of Lords, viz., on the 12th March, our readers must be well aware. A more important speech than that which the new Lord Chancellor then delivered, has rarely been heard from any one of his predecessors; assuring the country that his vast practical knowledge of the subject should be forthwith honestly and zealously applied to the effecting a thorough radical reform in the courts, not only of Chancery, but of common law.
[H] We shall never forget the tone and the look with which this solemn asseveration was uttered.
With the Earl of Derby's answer to Lord Brougham, the two hours' sitting of that eventful evening terminated, exactly one of those two hours having been occupied by the Earl of Derby.
No candid person who was present when the Earl delivered his speech, will hesitate to acknowledge that it produced a deep and most favourable impression. We ourselves know that the case was such with several able and determined members of the Liberal party in the House of Commons who stood at the Bar of the House of Lords; one of whom observed, "It is certainly a great speech, and likely to do Lord Derby service with the country." Mr Villiers, however, was also an auditor of the noble Earl; and might have been seen rushing from the House of Lords, and by-and-by in eager and excited conversation with that great statesman Mr Cobden; the result of which was that absurd notice of motion which, the crude product of their joint sagacity, the former gave that evening in the House of Commons, doubtless expecting that it would produce a sensation. Such, however, was not the case: it was received with but faint indications of satisfaction by his own friends; has ludicrously failed to excite attention out of doors; and is already discarded by its astute originators! It bore upon it the glaring brand of Faction; and the country is in far too serious and stern a humour, knowing what it has at stake, to tolerate either trifling or trickery on the part of those who have too long falsified public opinion, and inflicted serious injury on several of the greatest public interests.
Lord Derby's speech was characterised throughout by consummate discretion, and displayed a profound appreciation of the sense and spirit of the country. That great country has received him cordially, and in the spirit in which he had advanced to it. His most sanguine opponents must acknowledge that matters have not hitherto gone as could have been desired, and seems certainly to have been expected, by themselves. The Funds _will_ not go down! and yet Lord Derby has stood on the heights, with flag unfurled, ever since the 27th February 1852--nay, ever since the 28th February 1851! He is pledged to nothing but Principles, and has wisely abstained from gratifying his factious enemies, by precipitately pledging himself to specific measures. But such he will in due time bring forward; and that they will be in strict accordance with his principles, the whole country is sure of, for it knows the firmness, honour, and consistency of his character and conduct. It also knows, and his enemies also well know, that they have to deal, in him, with a man not easily to be daunted, by even the loudest squeaks of the penny trumpets of the Manchester Anti-Corn-Law League gentry. They may rely upon it that they cannot terrify the Earl of Derby, however otherwise it may have been with one of his predecessors. They may depend upon it that he has had ample time and opportunity during the last year to ascertain the true sources of his strength and of his weakness; to mature a policy, based on settled principles; and select able men to carry it out. He has looked his dangers steadily in the face; and without affecting to underrate them, has declared his determination to encounter them with patient resolution. Our own belief is, that he possesses more extensive resources than his adversaries are at present aware of, and will use them prudently. One of these resources consists of the conviction prevalent among the vast majority of moderate men of intelligence, that if the Earl of Derby's Administration should fail to keep its place, the inevitable alternative is a fearful revolutionary struggle, which would shake our strongest institutions to their very foundations, and convulse society. We lament feeling constrained to express our strong belief, that Lord John Russell, conscious of having forfeited the confidence of some of his most important supporters, is prepared to throw himself unreservedly into the arms of those who, he knows, and cannot but know, will force him infinitely farther than in his own recently _declared_ opinion he asserted, and in his conscience he believes to be consistent with the safety of the throne, and the preservation of the liberties of the country. We believe that hundreds of thousands in this country take this justly alarming view of his position and purposes; and are prepared to encounter with a resolute "no!" the inquiry, whether he shall return again to power with _seven spirits more wicked than himself_.[I]
[I] If Lord John Russell should contrive to resume power, his cabinet would unquestionably include Messrs Villiers, Bright, Cobden, Hume, Fox, and probably Wilson. What would be the figure of the _Funds_ the next morning?
We are writing far on in the first month of the new Administration, anxiously watching the signs of the times; and are totally at a loss to discover a single symptom of national dissatisfaction or disquietude, at the establishment of a thoroughly Conservative Administration. We have noticed, on the contrary, indications of a cheerful acquiescence in the new arrangements, a contemptuous indifference to the worn-out machinery of agitation, and a quiet determination to see fair play. How foolish, indeed, and dangerous would it be to act otherwise! The late Administration crumbled gradually to pieces before the eyes of the contemptuous country, which then looked about it, and deliberately substituted the present: and do Lord John Russell and his friends really suppose that this great enlightened country is going to blow down that new Administration like a child's house built of cards?
We see, however, plainly one part of the tactics which are to be resorted to. They are based on a very natural, a perfectly intelligible, dread lest the new Ministry should be able to show the country that they understand, and can manage its affairs better than their rivals; and a suspicion that they have it in their power to go to the country, when the proper time arrives, with immense advantages, and a repetition of the result of the general election of 1841. The country, for instance, is groaning under the back-breaking pressure of the Tax upon Incomes, precariously derived from trades and professions; we know--the country knows, what is the Earl of Derby's present view of that iniquitous, that cruel, that abominable tax, which has broken many an honourable heart, and filled many a house with bitter privation, anxiety, and mortification. And why was it imposed? With what declared purpose? And has the solemnly-plighted faith been kept with the public? We have shown how Lord Derby would now answer these questions, because we have shown how he answered them in 1851. A glimpse of daylight lately broke in upon a clear-headed Liberal, as appears by the columns of that very consistent, but candid, advocate of Free Trade, the _Spectator_.[J] On the day after Lord Derby had delivered his speech in the House of Lords, there appeared conspicuously in that journal an ably-written letter, "_From a vigilant politician of the Liberal school_," who evidently stands high in the confidence of the editor. Let us hear this gentleman.--"Let us imagine that Lord Derby proposes a 5s. duty, together with a repeal of the Income Tax, as respects professions and trades. _The whole pill, so compounded, would be swallowed by a vast number of Free-Traders_, as well as by the bulk of the agricultural interest, glad to get anything at all in the shape of protection. There _is_[K] some little reaction of opinion about Free Trade.... A 5s. duty would _not_ make bread 'dear.'... I think it probable that a general election on the proposal of a 5s. duty, combined with the aforesaid modification of the Income Tax, would yield Lord Derby a majority in the House Of Commons." We are ourselves of this opinion; and believe that Lord John Russell and his friends are desperately apprehensive of the effect which may attend some such appeal to the country, and the substantial popularity which it may earn an honest and firm Government. We verily believe that great numbers of Lord John's friends, and he himself, would see with secret satisfaction the imposition of a fixed duty on foreign corn; but Lord Derby is assuredly not pledged to that particular measure; and in the most honourable manner has declared that nothing shall prevent him from submitting the great question _fairly_ to the country itself, and carrying out its deliberate decision faithfully. What can mortal man--the most scrupulously conscientious of mankind--say, or do, more? That justice must be done to the suffering interests of agriculture, in some way or other, only the most blind and bigoted faction will deny, or those _whose craft is in danger_, and who are unconsciously exhibiting the extent of their selfish interest in upholding the existing system, by the large sums which they profess to have subscribed in order to stir up and keep alive agitation. The disgusting effrontery of a handful of Manchester manufacturers, in thus presuming to dictate to the country at large, is already widely appreciated, and will be more so; and Lord Derby can afford to despise it, while keeping a calm, a vigilant, a comprehensive superintendence over all the great national interests intrusted to his keeping by the Sovereign and the country.
It would be foolish to predict with confidence the result of the next general election; but if anything, appears tolerably clear, it is this--that those who are resolved to take the opinion of the country on a great national question, _deliberately_, are, _ipso facto_, infinitely better entitled to its confidence than those who would precipitate such an appeal. Very little that is said by a paid agitator, like Mr Cobden, is entitled to respect; but he involuntarily spoke the truth, and disclosed his inward quaking for the result, when the other day he publicly acknowledged the great difficulty of "keeping up the enthusiasm of the people beyond a few weeks!" Does this voluble declaimer suppose that such an admission of the truth is lost upon the great statesman now at the head of affairs?
[J] February 28, 1852.
[K] The Italics are those of the writer in the _Spectator_.
The Earl of Derby's Ministry may stand--the Earl of Derby's Ministry may fall; but the country feels that it will do either with honour, and that there will be no "paltering with it in a double sense." We believe that it will stand, numerous and serious as are the obstacles with which it has to contend; and we also believe, that the opinion is gaining ground among even the more clear-headed of its miscellaneous enemies, that it will not be so very easy to dislodge it from the position which it has now thoroughly occupied. All its honourable opponents recognise the fair spirit in which the Earl of Derby asserted his claims to the forbearance of foes, and the indulgence of friends, while endeavouring honestly to conduct public affairs at a moment when no one else offered, or seemed able, to do so. That forbearance, that indulgence, he is justly entitled to, and, to a great extent, will receive. We feel that we cannot go far wrong in trusting freely one who has never deceived or betrayed us, and whose whole personal and political character and conduct show that it is impossible he should ever do so. Let, then, both friends and enemies be at their ease for a while; an honourable country trusting implicitly, in a great conjuncture, to one of the most honourable of her sons. As long as he can retain the reins with safety and advantage to his gracious Mistress and the country, he will do so firmly and steadily, and not one moment longer. _But to whom will they have to be surrendered?_ It is a fearful question. He is now nobly doing his duty to the country--towards the great party which is proud to see him, standing at the helm of the vessel of the State. Let them, in turn, do their duty towards him who has come forward so chivalrously at their bidding; and we say, with a swelling heart,--_On, Stanley! on!_
Every line of the foregoing pages was in type, before the length and breadth of the land was thrilling with delight inspired by the Earl of Derby's splendid reappearance on the scene of the two former triumphs celebrated in those pages; and if we had written after perusing the report of the noble Earl's speech on Monday evening the 15th of March, we should not have modified a single expression, or varied a hair's-breadth from the course which we had taken, after much deliberation concerning the position and prospects of the new Administration, except perhaps in two respects:--First, to note the rapidity with which the noble Earl is visibly satisfying all the conditions, moral and intellectual, of the highest responsible statesmanship; while his noble but unhappy predecessor is dwindling down into a mere baffled tactician and partisan. At the very moment that mere petty spite and virulence were exuding from the leader of an Opposition consisting of a suddenly-fused aggregate of incompatibilities, his noble successor was ascending to a still higher vantage-ground, and calmly unfurling afresh the glittering standard of conservative statesmanship. Calm, resolute, circumspect, the higher the altitude he has reached, and the more comprehensive the view he has taken, the stronger appears his position, the distincter his enemies' real weakness under the guise of apparent strength. It is now clear to our minds that Lord John Russell and his friends had calculated on prodigious effects springing from causes deemed by himself adequate to produce them, namely, an array of untried officials; and that confusion and "_consternation_" throughout the country which his friend Lord Grey had, to the very utmost of his little power, striven to excite, under the prospect of a suddenly-reversed commercial policy. _But it will not do._ Faction already "'gins pale its ineffectual fires" before patriotism; and the star of Stanley is unquestionably at this moment in the ascendant. Passing over Lord Derby's overpowering _ad hominem_ argument to Lord John Russell, reminding him of the day when he was in Lord Derby's position, and held the language which he now denounces in his successor; and the quiet contempt with which the noble Earl disposes of the little worn-out tricks of agitators and demagogues, unable to do more than develop virulent pustules of local irritation in divers parts, without hurrying the pulse or corrupting the circulation of the general body politic, we come to the Premier's appeal to the state of the public Funds--a topic of confident congratulation in the preceding pages.[L] Lord Beaumont had made a piteous appeal to the new minister, on behalf of certain petitioners, complaining of the fearful consequences, apparent and apprehended, of the recent changes, and of uncertain policy. "Where," asks the cheerful Earl, speaking upwards of a fortnight after the delivery of his great speech--which we are more than ever satisfied ought to remain prominently under the eye of the country, for the guidance alike of candidates and electors in the approaching great struggle--"where are _the indications_ of alarm, anxiety, and uncertainty? The public mind seems to be peaceable and content! Is there a more accurate barometer of public feeling than the public funds? Yet, will the noble lord point out a single moment, during the whole time the late Government was in office, when the Funds were so high, were so steady, and had a more decided tendency to advance, than they have at this moment, when, according to the noble Baron, the whole country is in a state of suspense and excitement?" _The Premier's bold challenge remained unanswered_--though Earl Grey, Lord Beaumont, and several other Peers, attempted to reply to other portions of his brilliant, overpowering, and spontaneous speech. But what said, on the ensuing afternoon, the City Article of that able, honourable, but truthful opponent of Protection, the _Sun_ newspaper, which has done itself honour by its manly course during the recent crisis? While its leading article vied with the _Times_ of that morning in splendid eulogy of Lord Derby's speech, and stern denunciation of the factiousness against which it had been fulminated, the dry money aspect of the question was thus faithfully indicated: "The English Funds have been very buoyant [Tuesday 16th March, 1852,] and the speech of Lord Derby has given pretty general satisfaction. _Consols have been 98⅛ for transfer, and 98⅛ to ¼ for account!_" And they have since steadily risen higher! Well might Lord Derby appeal to the beating of this "pulse," and well might discarded state doctors abstain from gainsaying the declaration of their rival!
[L] _Ante_, p. 405.
The mention of Earl Grey's name reminds us of another coincidence between our own foregoing speculations, and the subsequent speech of Earl Derby. We noted pointedly his silence on the Colonial question--though in the provoking presence of Earl Grey. On the evening to which we are now referring, Earl Derby showed how nearly we had groped towards the truth of the case, by letting fall one or two sentences, like ominous drops of a coming storm, against which it would be prudent for Earl Grey to be looking out for shelter. Earl Derby was speaking of the presumed causes of the late Ministry's fall. "When the division on the Militia Bill had taken place, it was the ostensible cause; _the real cause may be different--and perhaps the noble Earl [Grey] whom I see taking notes, may be cognisant of the real cause!_" Let us hope that when the day of reckoning shall have arrived, that insulted and outraged veteran, Sir Harry Smith, will, amidst the indignant sympathy of the whole country, be alive and present, to witness Lord Derby's squaring of accounts with the late Colonial Secretary.
The whole of Earl Derby's second manifesto is pervaded by a mingled tone of moderation and resolution, eminently calculated to win the favour of those on whose _fiat_ all ministers must depend--the enlightened public. Some days have elapsed since we penned the preceding pages of this article; and during that interval, having carefully watched the current of events, we declare that all our previous conclusions, not hastily arrived at, are confirmed--that the Earl of Derby will surmount his difficulties, and baffle his desperate, and, we regret being forced to say it, unscrupulous parliamentary opponents. His spirit is thoroughly English. As a people, we love courage, hate injustice, and despise trickery; and every day, every hour's experience shows that it is a vile combination of trickery and injustice with which the noble Premier has to deal. With one topic more, we close our article. The tactics of the Opposition, as far as developed on the evening of Monday the 15th March--especially in the House of Commons, where Sir James Graham, was to be seen publicly and eagerly bidding for revolutionary support--to our eye clearly indicate that their trump card is--a premature dissolution, and on one particular question, selected by themselves--and framed so as to admit of their war-cry being, as of old, "bread-tax--cheap bread!" It is evident, however, that here is a little reckoning without the host; who has a few words of serious import to say upon the matter. Earl Derby was at that precise moment announcing elsewhere, in resolute and well-weighed terms, that he will "go to the country," in his own way--and bring out broadly, for the decision of the country, two distinct entire systems of general policy, domestic and foreign, and the conduct and pretensions of the two classes of men--himself and his opponents--concerned in working them out. We invite earnest attention to every word of the ensuing three paragraphs. As to the question concerning a _Duty on Foreign corn_, nothing can be more assuring to his friends, more decisive of waverers, and more embarrassing to enemies, than the following single sentence:--
"I shall leave it to the general concurrence of the country, without which I shall not bring forward that proposition (_loud and general cheering_); and I will not, by a bare majority, force on the country a measure against which a great proportion of the country shall have expressed an opinion." (_Here the cheering was renewed._) That declaration alone takes the wind out of the sails of the enemy. As to being goaded into an immediate dissolution:--
"I say that the appeal to the country ought to be made as early as the great interests of the country will permit; but I say further--that, so far as I am individually concerned, no taunt, no challenge, no difficulties to which I may be subjected, no mortification to which I may be exposed, shall induce me to recommend to my Sovereign that the dissolution of Parliament, however anxious I may be for a decision, shall take place AN HOUR SOONER than those great and paramount interests render necessary." We wish that every member of the House of Commons had been bodily transported into the House of Lords, to observe, and meditate upon, the tone and air, indicative of inflexible purpose, with which this sentence was delivered.
It was, however, the last paragraph of his address, which, weightily worded, and magnificently delivered, carried away the whole House, and has produced a commensurate effect upon the public mind. "We are threatened with far more serious difficulties than opposition to the imposition of a five shilling, six shilling, or seven shilling duty on corn. It is a question whether the government of this country can be carried on, and on what principles, and through what medium; and when I shall appeal to the country, I shall do so on this ground--Will you, who desire well to all the interests of the country, place your confidence in, and give your support to a Government which, in the House of Lords, did not hesitate to take the post of danger, when the helmsman had left the helm? (_Great cheering._) Will you support a Government which is against hostile attacks; which will maintain the peace of the world; which will uphold the Protestant institutions of the country; which will give strength, and increased power, to religious and moral education throughout the land; and which will exert itself, moreover, I will not hesitate to say, to oppose some barrier against the current, continually encroaching, of democratic influence, which would throw power _nominally_, into the hands of the masses, _practically_, into those of the demagogues who lead them? Will you resist a Government which desires to oppose that noxious and dangerous influence, and to maintain the prerogative of the Crown, the rights of your lordships' House, and the privileges of the other freely-elected and fairly-represented House of Parliament?
"THESE are the principles on which I shall make my appeal, on behalf of myself and colleagues; and in words which are placed in the mouths of the meanest felons in the dock, and which are not unworthy of the lips of a First Minister of the Crown, 'I elect that we shall be tried by God, and our country!'"
It is recorded by some of the Journals, that this noble appeal, with which the Earl of Derby sate down, was received "with tremendous cheering"--a reception it richly deserved: and a similar one it deserves, and will receive, and is receiving already, in every loyal and patriotic assemblage which may have an opportunity of considering it, throughout the nation. It contains the exact issue to be ere long decided by the country. A very solemn issue it is, fraught with momentous consequences, alike to Sovereign and subject--an issue of enormously larger proportions than those to which Lord Derby's enemies seek so eagerly to reduce it. This pregnant paragraph ought to be a kind of watchword during the coming fight. It shows a distinct perception by the speaker of a fact indicated by ourselves in the preceding pages--that Lord Derby's Government is separated from its predecessors, and its present newly-combined opponents, by a GREAT GULF. That gulf is REVOLUTION; and every moderate politician and staunch lover of his country, without respect to Whig or Tory, Protectionist or Free-Trader, at this moment has that gulf yawning before his eyes.
We see a signal beauty and force in the Earl of Derby's concluding reference to a formula of our ancient criminal jurisprudence: and completing that reference, we fervently add--"_God send thee_ A GOOD DELIVERANCE!"
MY NOVEL; OR, VARIETIES IN ENGLISH LIFE.
BY PISISTRATUS CAXTON.
BOOK X. CONTINUED.--CHAPTER X.
The next morning Harley appeared at breakfast. He was in gay spirits, and conversed more freely with Violante than he had yet done. He seemed to amuse himself by attacking all she said, and provoking her to argument. Violante was naturally a very earnest person; whether grave or gay, she spoke with her heart on her lips, and her soul in her eyes. She did not yet comprehend the light vein of Harley's irony; so she grew picqued and chafed; and she was so lovely in anger; it so brightened her beauty and animated her words, that no wonder Harley thus maliciously teased her. But what, perhaps, she liked still less than the teasing--though she could not tell why--was the kind of familiarity that Harley assumed with her--a familiarity as if he had known her all her life--that of a good-humoured elder brother, or a bachelor uncle. To Helen, on the contrary, when he did not address her apart, his manner was more respectful. He did not call _her_ by her Christian name, as he did Violante, but "Miss Digby," and softened his tone and inclined his head when he spoke to her. Nor did he presume to jest at the very few and brief sentences he drew from Helen; but rather listened to them with deference, and invariably honoured them with approval. After breakfast he asked Violante to play or sing; and when she frankly owned how little she had cultivated those accomplishments, he persuaded Helen to sit down to the piano, and stood by her side while she did so, turning over the leaves of her music-book with the ready devotion of an admiring amateur. Helen always played well, but less well than usual that day, for her generous nature felt abashed. It was as if she was showing off to mortify Violante. But Violante, on the other hand, was so passionately fond of music that she had no feeling left for the sense of her own inferiority. Yet she sighed when Helen rose, and Harley thanked her for the delight she had given him.
The day was fine. Lady Lansmere proposed to walk in the garden. While the ladies went up-stairs for their shawls and bonnets, Harley lighted his cigar, and stept from the window upon the lawn. Lady Lansmere joined him before the girls came out.
"Harley," said she, taking his arm, "what a charming companion you have introduced to us! I never met with any that both pleased and delighted me like this dear Violante. Most girls who possess some power of conversation, and who have dared to think for themselves, are so pedantic, or so masculine; but _she_ is always so simple, and always still the girl. Ah, Harley!"
"Why that sigh, my dear mother?"
"I was thinking how exactly she would have suited you--how proud I should have been of such a daughter-in-law--and how happy you would have been with such a wife."
Harley started. "Tut," said he, peevishly, "she is a mere child; you forget my years."
"Why," said Lady Lansmere, surprised, "Helen is quite as young as Violante."
"In dates--yes. But Helen's character is so staid;--what it is now it will be ever; and Helen, from gratitude, respect, or pity, condescends to accept the ruins of my heart;--while this bright Italian has the soul of a Juliet, and would expect in a husband all the passion of a Romeo. Nay, mother, hush. Do you forget that I am engaged--and of my own free will and choice? Poor dear Helen! Apropos, have you spoken to my father, as you undertook to do?"
"Not yet. I must seize the right moment. You know that my lord requires management."
"My dear mother, that female notion of managing us, men, costs you, ladies, a great waste of time, and occasions us a great deal of sorrow. Men are easily managed by plain truth. _We_ are brought up to respect it, strange as it may seem to you!"
Lady Lansmere smiled with the air of superior wisdom, and the experience of an accomplished wife. "Leave it to me, Harley; and rely on my lord's consent."
Harley knew that Lady Lansmere always succeeded in obtaining her way with his father; and he felt that the Earl might naturally be disappointed in such an alliance, and, without due propitiation, evince that disappointment in his manner to Helen. Harley was bound to save her from all chance of such humiliation. He did not wish her to think that she was not welcomed into his family; therefore he said, "I resign myself to your promise and your diplomacy. Meanwhile, as you love me, be kind to my betrothed."
"Am I not so?"
"Hem. Are you as kind as if she were the great heiress you believe Violante to be?"
"Is it," answered Lady Lansmere, evading the question--"is it because one is an heiress and the other is not that you make so marked a difference in your own manner to the two; treating Violante as a spoiled child, and Miss Digby as"--
"The destined wife of Lord L'Estrange, and the daughter-in-law of Lady Lansmere--yes."
The Countess suppressed an impatient exclamation that rose to her lips, for Harley's brow wore that serious aspect which it rarely assumed save when he was in those moods in which men must be soothed, not resisted. And after a pause he went on--"I am going to leave you to-day. I have engaged apartments at the Clarendon. I intend to gratify your wish, so often expressed, that I should enjoy what are called the pleasures of my rank, and the privileges of single-blessedness--celebrate my adieu to celibacy, and blaze once more, with the splendour of a setting sun, upon Hyde Park and May Fair."
"You are a positive enigma. Leave our house, just when you are betrothed to its inmate! Is that the natural conduct of a lover?"
"How can your woman eyes be so dull, and your woman heart so obtuse?" answered Harley, half-laughing, half-scolding. "Can you not guess that I wish that Helen and myself should both lose the association of mere ward and guardian; that the very familiarity of our intercourse under the same roof almost forbids us to be lovers; that we lose the joy to meet, and the pang to part. Don't you remember the story of the Frenchman, who for twenty years loved a lady, and never missed passing his evenings at her house. She became a widow. 'I wish you joy,' cried his friend; 'you may now marry the woman you have so long adored.' 'Alas,' said the poor Frenchman, profoundly dejected; 'and if so, where shall I spend my evenings?'"
Here Violante and Helen were seen in the garden, walking affectionately, arm in arm.
"I don't perceive the point of your witty, heartless anecdote," said Lady Lansmere, obstinately. "Settle that, however, with Miss Digby. But, to leave the very day after your friend's daughter comes as a guest!--what will _she_ think of it?"
Lord L'Estrange looked steadfastly at his mother. "Does it matter much what she thinks of me?--of a man engaged to another; and old enough to be--"
"I wish to Heaven you would not talk of your age, Harley; it is a reflection upon mine; and I never saw you look so well nor so handsome." With that, she drew him on towards the young ladies; and, taking Helen's arm, asked her, aside, "if she knew that Lord L'Estrange had engaged rooms at the Clarendon; and if she understood why?" As, while she said this she moved on, Harley was left by Violante's side.
"You will be very dull here, I fear, my poor child," said he.
"Dull! But why _will_ you call me child? Am I so very--very childlike?"
"Certainly, you are to me--a mere infant. Have I not seen you one; have I not held you in my arms?"
VIOLANTE.--"But that was a long time ago!"
HARLEY.--"True. But if years have not stood still for you, they have not been stationary for me. There is the same difference between us now that there was then. And, therefore, permit me still to call you child, and as child to treat you!"
VIOLANTE.--"I will do no such thing. Do you know that I always thought I was good-tempered till this morning."
HARLEY.--"And what undeceived you? Did you break your doll?"
VIOLANTE, (with an indignant flash from her dark eyes).--"There!--again!--you delight in provoking me!"
HARLEY.--"It _was_ the doll, then. Don't cry; I will get you another."
Violante plucked her arm from him, and walked away towards the Countess in speechless scorn. Harley's brow contracted, in thought and in gloom. He stood still for a moment or so, and then joined the ladies.
"I am trespassing sadly on your morning; but I wait for a visiter whom I sent to before you were up. He is to be here at twelve. With your permission, I will dine with you to-morrow, and you will invite him to meet me."
"Certainly. And who is your friend? I guess--the young author?"
"Leonard Fairfield," cried Violante, who had conquered, or felt ashamed, of her short-lived anger.
"Fairfield!" repeated Lady Lansmere. "I thought, Harley, you said the name was Oran."
"He has assumed the latter name. He is the son of Mark Fairfield, who married an Avenel. Did you recognise no family likeness?--none in those eyes,--mother?" said Harley, sinking his voice into a whisper.
"No," answered the Countess, falteringly.
Harley, observing that Violante was now speaking to Helen about Leonard, and that neither was listening to him, resumed in the same low tone, "And his mother--Nora's sister--shrank from seeing me! That is the reason why I wished you not to call. She has not told the young man _why_ she shrank from seeing me; nor have I explained it to him, as yet. Perhaps I never shall."
"Indeed, dearest Harley," said the Countess, with great gentleness, "I wish you too much to forget the folly--well, I will not say that word--the sorrows, of your boyhood, not to hope that you will rather strive against such painful memories than renew them by unnecessary confidence to any one; least of all to the relation of--"
"Enough!--don't name her; the very name pains me. And as to confidence, there are but two persons in the world to whom I ever bare the old wounds--yourself and Egerton. Let this pass. Ha!--a ring at the bell--that is he!"
Leonard entered on the scene, and joined the party in the garden. The Countess, perhaps to please her son, was more than civil--she was markedly kind to him. She noticed him more attentively than she had hitherto done; and, with all her prejudices of birth, was struck to find the son of Mark Fairfield the carpenter so thoroughly the gentleman. He might not have the exact tone and phrase by which Convention stereotypes those born and schooled in a certain world; but the aristocrats of Nature can dispense with such trite minutiæ. And Leonard had lived, of late at least, in the best society that exists, for the polish of language and the refinement of manners,--the society in which the most graceful ideas are clothed in the most graceful forms--the society which really, though indirectly, gives the law to courts--the society of the most classic authors, in the various ages in which literature has flowered forth from civilisation. And if there was something in the exquisite sweetness of Leonard's voice, look, and manner, which the Countess acknowledged to attain that perfection in high breeding, which, under the name of "suavity," steals its way into the heart, so her interest in him was aroused by a certain subdued melancholy which is rarely without distinction, and never without charm. He and Helen exchanged but few words. There was but one occasion in which they could have spoken apart, and Helen herself contrived to elude it. His face brightened at Lady Lansmere's cordial invitation, and he glanced at Helen as he accepted it; but her eye did not meet his own.
"And now," said Harley, whistling to Nero, whom his ward was silently caressing, "I must take Leonard away. Adieu! all of you, till to-morrow at dinner. Miss Violante, is the doll to have blue eyes or black?"
Violante turned her own black eyes in mute appeal to Lady Lansmere, and nestled to that lady's side as if in refuge from unworthy insult.
"Let the carriage go to the Clarendon," said Harley to his servant; "I and Mr Oran will walk to town. Leonard, I think you would rejoice at an occasion to serve your old friends, Dr Riccabocca and his daughter?"
"Serve them! O yes." And there instantly returned to Leonard the recollection of Violante's words when, on leaving his quiet village he had sighed to part from all those he loved; and the little dark-eyed girl had said proudly, yet consolingly, "But to SERVE those you love!" He turned to L'Estrange with beaming inquisitive eyes.
"I said to our friend," resumed Harley, "that I would vouch for your honour as my own. I am about to prove my words, and to confide the secrets which your penetration has indeed divined;--our friend is not what he seems." Harley then briefly related to Leonard the particulars of the exile's history, the rank he had held in his native land, the manner in which, partly through the misrepresentations of a kinsman he had trusted, partly through the influence of a wife he had loved, he had been driven into schemes which he believed bounded to the emancipation of Italy from a foreign yoke by the united exertions of her best and bravest sons.
"A noble ambition," interrupted Leonard, manfully, "And pardon me, my lord, I should not have thought that you would speak of it in a tone that implies blame."
"The ambition in itself was noble," answered Harley. "But the cause to which it was devoted became defiled in its dark channel through Secret Societies. It is the misfortune of all miscellaneous political combinations, that with the purest motives of their more generous members are ever mixed the most sordid interests, and the fiercest passions of mean confederates. When those combinations act openly, and in daylight, under the eye of Public Opinion, the healthier elements usually prevail; where they are shrouded in mystery--where they are subjected to no censor in the discussion of the impartial and dispassionate--where chiefs working in the dark exact blind obedience, and every man who is at war with law is at once admitted as a friend of freedom--the history of the world tells us that patriotism soon passes away. Where all is in public, public virtue, by the natural sympathies of the common mind, and by the wholesome control of shame, is likely to obtain ascendancy; where all is in private, and shame is but for him who refuses the abnegation of his conscience, each man seeks the indulgence of his private vice. And hence, in Secret Societies, (from which may yet proceed great danger to all Europe,) we find but foul and hateful Eleusinia, affording pretexts to the ambition of the great, to the license of the penniless, to the passions of the revengeful, to the anarchy of the ignorant. In a word, the societies of these Italian Carbonari did but engender schemes in which the abler chiefs disguised new forms of despotism, and in which the revolutionary many looked forward to the overthrow of all the institutions that stand between Law and Chaos. Naturally, therefore," (added L'Estrange, dryly,) "when their schemes were detected, and the conspiracy foiled, it was for the silly honest men entrapped into the league to suffer--the leaders turned king's evidence, and the common mercenaries became--banditti." Harley then proceeded to state that it was just when the _soi-disant_ Riccabocca had discovered the true nature and ulterior views of the conspirators he had joined, and actually withdrawn from their councils, that he was denounced by the kinsman who had duped him into the enterprise, and who now profited by his treason. Harley next spoke of the packet despatched by Riccabocca's dying wife, as it was supposed, to Mrs Bertram; and of the hopes he founded on the contents of that packet, if discovered. He then referred to the design which had brought Peschiera to England--a design which that personage had avowed with such effrontery to his companions at Vienna, that he had publicly laid wagers on his success.
"But these men can know nothing of England--of the safety of English laws," said Leonard, naturally. "We take it for granted that Riccabocca, if I am still so to call him, refuses his consent to the marriage between his daughter and his foe. Where, then, the danger? This Count, even if Violante were not under your mother's roof, could not get an opportunity to see her. He could not attack the house and carry her off like a feudal baron in the middle ages."
"All this is very true," answered Harley. "Yet I have found through life that we cannot estimate danger by external circumstances, but by the character of those from whom it is threatened. This Count is a man of singular audacity, of no mean natural talents--talents practised in every art of duplicity and intrigue; one of those men whose boast it is that they succeed in whatever they undertake; and he is, here, urged on the one hand by all that can whet the avarice, and on the other, by all that can give invention to despair. Therefore, though I cannot guess what plan he may possibly adopt, I never doubt that some plan, formed with cunning and pursued with daring, will be embraced the moment he discovers Violante's retreat, unless, indeed, we can forestall all peril by the restoration of her father, and the detection of the fraud and falsehood to which Peschiera owes the fortune he appropriates. Thus, while we must prosecute to the utmost our inquiries for the missing documents, so it should be our care to possess ourselves, if possible, of such knowledge of the Count's machinations as may enable us to defeat them. Now, it was with satisfaction that I learned in Germany that Peschiera's sister was in London. I know enough both of his disposition and of the intimacy between himself and this lady, to make me think it probable he will seek to make her his instrument and accomplice, should he require one. Peschiera (as you may suppose by his audacious wager) is not one of those secret villains who would cut off their right hand if it could betray the knowledge of what was done by the left--rather one of those self-confident vaunting knaves, of high animal spirits, and conscience so obtuse that it clouds their intellect--who must have some one to whom they can boast of their abilities and confide their projects. And Peschiera has done all he can to render this poor woman so wholly dependent on him, as to be his slave and his tool. But I have learned certain traits in her character that show it to be impressionable to good, and with tendencies to honour. Peschiera had taken advantage of the admiration she excited, some years ago, in a rich young Englishman, to entice this admirer into gambling, and sought to make his sister both a decoy and an instrument in his designs of plunder. She did not encourage the addresses of our countryman, but she warned him of the snare laid for him, and entreated him to leave the place lest her brother should discover and punish her honesty. The Englishman told me this himself. In fine, my hope of detaching this poor lady from Peschiera's interests, and inducing her to forewarn us of his purpose, consists but in the innocent, and, I hope, laudable artifice, of redeeming herself--of appealing to, and calling into disused exercise, the better springs of her nature."
Leonard listened with admiration and some surprise to the singularly subtle and sagacious insight into character which Harley evinced in the brief clear strokes by which he had thus depicted Peschiera and Beatrice, and was struck by the boldness with which Harley rested a whole system of action upon a few deductions drawn from his reasonings on human motive and characteristic bias. Leonard had not expected to find so much practical acuteness in a man who, however accomplished, usually seemed indifferent, dreamy, and abstracted to the ordinary things of life. But Harley L'Estrange was one of those whose powers lie dormant till circumstance applies to them all they need for activity--the stimulant of a motive.
Harley resumed--"After a conversation I had with the lady last night, it occurred to me that in this part of our diplomacy you could render us essential service. Madame di Negra--such is the sister's name--has conceived an admiration for your genius, and a strong desire to know you personally. I have promised to present you to her; and I shall do so after a preliminary caution. The lady is very handsome, and very fascinating. It is possible that your heart and your senses may not be proof against her attractions."
"O, do not fear that!" exclaimed Leonard, with a tone of conviction so earnest that Harley smiled.
"Forewarned is not always forearmed against the might of Beauty, my dear Leonard; so I cannot at once accept your assurance. But listen to me: Watch yourself narrowly, and if you find that you are likely to be captivated, promise, on your honour, to retreat at once from the field. I have no right, for the sake of another, to expose you to danger; and Madame di Negra, whatever may be her good qualities, is the last person I should wish to see you in love with."
"In love with her! Impossible!"
"Impossible is a strong word," returned Harley; "still, I own fairly (and this belief alone warrants me in trusting you to her fascinations) that I do think, as far as one man can judge of another, that she is not the woman to attract you; and, if filled by one pure and generous object in your intercourse with her, you will see her with purged eyes. Still I claim your promise as one of honour."
"I give it," said Leonard positively. "But how can I serve Riccabocca? How aid in--"
"Thus," interrupted Harley. "The spell of your writings is, that, unconsciously to ourselves, they make us better and nobler. And your writings are but the impressions struck off from your mind. Your conversation, when you are roused, has the same effect. And as you grow more familiar with Madame di Negra, I wish you to speak of your boyhood, your youth. Describe the exile as you have seen him--so touching amidst his foibles, so grand amidst the petty privations of his fallen fortunes, so benevolent while poring over his hateful Machiavel, so stingless in his wisdom of the serpent, so playfully astute in his innocence of the dove--I leave the picture to your knowledge of humour and pathos. Describe Violante brooding over her Italian poets, and filled with dreams of her fatherland; describe her with all the flashes of her princely nature, shining forth through humble circumstance and obscure position; waken in your listener compassion, respect, admiration for her kindred exiles;--and I think our work is done. She will recognise evidently those whom her brother seeks. She will question you closely where you met with them--where they now are. Protect that secret: say at once that it is not your own. Against your descriptions and the feelings they excite, she will not be guarded as against mine. And there are other reasons why your influence over this woman of mixed nature may be more direct and effectual than my own."
"Nay, I cannot conceive that."
"Believe it, without asking me to explain," answered Harley.
For he did not judge it necessary to say to Leonard, "I am high-born and wealthy--you a peasant's son, and living by your exertions. This woman is ambitious and distressed. She might have projects on me that would counteract mine on her. You she would but listen to, and receive, through the sentiments of good or of poetical that are in her--you she would have no interest to subjugate, no motive to ensnare."
"And now," said Harley, turning the subject, "I have another object in view. This foolish sage friend of ours, in his bewilderment and fears, has sought to save Violante from one rogue by promising her hand to a man who, unless my instincts deceive me, I suspect much disposed to be another. Sacrifice such exuberance of life and spirit to that bloodless heart, to that cold and earthward intellect! By Heavens, it shall not be!"
"But whom can the exile possibly have seen of birth and fortunes to render him a fitting spouse for his daughter? Whom, my lord, except yourself?"
"Me!" exclaimed Harley, angrily, and changing colour. "I worthy of such a creature? I--with my habits! I--silken egotist that I am! And you, a poet, to form such an estimate of one who might be the queen of a poet's dream!"
"My lord, when we sate the other night round Riccabocca's hearth--when I heard her speak, and observed you listen, I said to myself, from such knowledge of human nature as comes, we know not how, to us poets--I said, 'Harley L'Estrange has looked long and wistfully on the heavens, and he now hears the murmur of the wings that can waft him towards them.' And then I sighed, for I thought how the world rules us all in spite of ourselves. And I said, 'What pity for both, that the exile's daughter is not the worldly equal of the peer's son!' And you too sighed, as I thus thought; and I fancied that, while you listened to the music of the wing, you felt the iron of the chain. But the exile's daughter _is_ your equal in birth, and you are hers in heart and in soul."
"My poor Leonard, you rave," answered Harley, calmly. "And if Violante is not to be some young prince's bride, she should be some young poet's."
"Poet's! O, no!" said Leonard, with a gentle laugh. "Poets need repose where _they_ love!"
Harley was struck by the answer, and mused over it in silence. "I comprehend," thought he; "it is a new light that dawns on me. What is needed by the man, whose whole life is one strain after glory--whose soul sinks, in fatigue, to the companionship of earth--is not the love of a nature like his own. He is right--it is repose! While I, it is true! Boy that he is, his intuitions are wiser than all my experience! It _is_ excitement--energy--elevation, that Love should bestow on me. But I have chosen; and, at least, with Helen my life will be calm, and my hearth sacred. Let the rest sleep in the same grave as my youth."
"But," said Leonard, wishing kindly to arouse his noble friend from a reverie which he felt was mournful, though he did not divine its true cause--"but you have not yet told me the name of the Signora's suitor. May I know?"
"Probably one you never heard of. Randal Leslie--a placeman. You refused a place;--you were right."
"Randal Leslie? Heaven forbid!" cried Leonard, revealing his surprise at the name.
"Amen! But what do you know of him?"
Leonard related the story of Burley's pamphlet.
Harley seemed delighted to hear his suspicions of Randal confirmed. "The paltry pretender!--and yet I fancied that he might be formidable! However, we must dismiss him for the present;--we are approaching Madame di Negra's house. Prepare yourself, and remember your promise."
Some days have passed by. Leonard and Beatrice di Negra have already made friends. Harley is satisfied with his young friend's report. He himself has been actively occupied. He has sought, but hitherto in vain, all trace of Mrs Bertram; he has put that investigation into the hands of his lawyer, and his lawyer has not been more fortunate than himself. Moreover, Harley has blazed forth again in the London world, and promises again _de faire fureur_; but he has always found time to spend some hours in the twenty-four at his father's house. He has continued much the same tone with Violante, and she begins to accustom herself to it, and reply saucily. His calm courtship to Helen flows on in silence. Leonard, too, has been a frequent guest at the Lansmeres': all welcome and like him there. Peschiera has not evinced any sign of the deadly machinations ascribed to him. He goes less into the drawing-room world: he meets Lord L'Estrange there; and brilliant and handsome though Peschiera be, Lord L'Estrange, like Rob Roy Macgregor, is "on his native heath," and has the decided advantage over the foreigner. Peschiera, however, shines in the clubs, and plays high. Still scarcely an evening passes in which he and Baron Levy do not meet.
Audley Egerton has been intensely occupied with affairs. Only seen once by Harley. Harley then was about to deliver himself of his sentiments respecting Randal Leslie, and to communicate the story of Burley and the pamphlet. Egerton stopped him short.
"My dear Harley, don't try to set me against this young man. I wish to hear nothing in his disfavour. In the first place, it would not alter the line of conduct I mean to adopt with regard to him. He is my wife's kinsman; I charged myself with his career, as a wish of hers, and therefore as a duty to myself. In attaching him so young to my own fate, I drew him necessarily away from the professions in which his industry and talents (for he has both in no common degree) would have secured his fortunes; therefore, be he bad, be he good, I shall try to provide for him as I best can; and, moreover, cold as I am to him, and worldly though perhaps he be, I have somehow or other conceived an interest in him--a liking to him. He has been under my roof, he is dependent on me; he has been docile and prudent, and I am a lone childless man; therefore, spare him, since in so doing you spare me; and ah, Harley, I have so many cares on me _now_, that--"
"O, say no more, my dear, dear Audley," cried the generous friend; "how little people know you!"
Audley's hand trembled. Certainly his nerves began to show wear and tear.
Meanwhile, the object of this dialogue--the type of perverted intellect--of mind without heart--of knowledge which had no aim but power--was in a state of anxious perturbed gloom. He did not know whether wholly to believe Levy's assurance of his patron's ruin. He could not believe it when he saw that great house in Grosvenor Square, its hall crowded with lacqueys, its sideboard blazing with plate; when no dun was ever seen in the antechamber; when not a tradesman was ever known to call twice for a bill. He hinted to Levy the doubts all these phenomena suggested to him; but the Baron only smiled ominously and said--
"True, the tradesmen are always paid; but the _how_ is the question! Randal, _mon cher_, you are too innocent. I have but two pieces of advice to suggest, in the shape of two proverbs--'Wise rats run from a falling house,' and 'Make hay while the sun shines.' Apropos, Mr Avenel likes you greatly, and has been talking of the borough of Lansmere for you. He has contrived to get together a great interest there. Make much of him."
Randal had indeed been to Mrs Avenel's _soirée dansante_, and called twice and found her at home, and been very bland and civil, and admired the children. She had two, a boy and a girl, very like their father, with open faces as bold as brass. And as all this had won Mrs Avenel's good graces, so it had propitiated her husband's. Avenel was shrewd enough to see how clever Randal was. He called him "smart," and said "he would have got on in America," which was the highest praise Dick Avenel ever accorded to any man. But Dick himself looked a little care-worn; and this was the first year in which he had murmured at the bills of his wife's dressmaker, and said with an oath, that "there was such a thing as going _too_ much ahead."
Randal had visited Dr Riccabocca, and found Violante flown. True to his promise to Harley, the Italian refused to say where, and suggested, as was agreed, that for the present it would be more prudent if Randal suspended his visits to himself. Leslie, not liking this proposition, attempted to make himself still necessary, by working on Riccabocca's fears as to that espionage on his retreat, which had been among the reasons that had hurried the sage into offering Randal Violante's hand. But Riccabocca had already learned that the fancied spy was but his neighbour Leonard; and, without so saying, he cleverly contrived to make the supposition of such espionage an additional reason for the cessation of Leslie's visits. Randal, then, in his own artful, quiet, roundabout way, had sought to find out if any communication had passed between L'Estrange and Riccabocca. Brooding over Harley's words to him, he suspected there had been such communication, with his usual penetrating astuteness. Riccabocca, here, was less on his guard, and rather parried the sidelong questions than denied their inferences.
Randal began already to surmise the truth. Where was it likely Violante should go but to the Lansmeres'? This confirmed his idea of Harley's pretensions to her hand. With such a rival what chance had he? Randal never doubted for a moment that the pupil of Machiavel would 'throw him over,' if such an alliance to his daughter really presented itself. The schemer at once discarded from his project all further aim on Violante: either she would be poor, and he would not have her; or she would be rich, and her father would give her to another. As his heart had never been touched by the fair Italian, so the moment her inheritance became more than doubtful, it gave him no pang to lose her; but he did feel very sore and resentful at the thought of being supplanted by Lord L'Estrange, the man who had insulted him.
Neither, as yet, had Randal made any way in his designs on Frank. For several days Madame di Negra had not been at home, either to himself or young Hazeldean; and Frank, though very unhappy, was piqued and angry; and Randal suspected, and suspected, and suspected, he knew not exactly what, but that the devil was not so kind to him there as that father of lies ought to have been to a son so dutiful. Yet, with all these discouragements, there, was in Randal Leslie so dogged and determined a conviction of his own success--there was so great a tenacity of purpose under obstacles, and so vigilant an eye upon all chances that could be turned to his favour, that he never once abandoned hope, nor did more than change the details in his main schemes. Out of calculations apparently the most far-fetched and improbable, he had constructed a patient policy, to which he obstinately clung. How far his reasonings and patience served to his ends, remains yet to be seen. But could our contempt for the baseness of Randal himself be separated from the faculties which he elaborately degraded to the service of that baseness, one might allow that there was something one could scarcely despise in this still self-reliance, this inflexible resolve. Had such qualities, aided as they were by abilities of no ordinary acuteness, been applied to objects commonly honest, one would have backed Randal Leslie against any fifty picked prizemen from the colleges. But there are judges of weight and metal, who do that now, especially Baron Levy, who says to himself as he eyes that pale face all intellect, and that spare form all nerve, "This is a man who must make way in life; he is worth helping."
By the words "worth helping," Baron Levy meant "worth getting into my power, that he may help me."
But Parliament had met. Events that belong to history had contributed yet more to weaken the administration. Randal Leslie's interest became absorbed in politics; for the stake to him was his whole political career. Should Audley lose office, and for good, Audley could aid him no more; but to abandon his patron, as Levy recommended, and pin himself, in the hope of a seat in Parliament, to a stranger--an obscure stranger, like Dick Avenel--that was a policy not to be adopted at a breath. Meanwhile, almost every night, when the House met, that pale face and spare form, which Levy so identified with shrewdness and energy, might be seen amongst the benches appropriated to those more select strangers who obtained the Speaker's order of admission. There Randal heard the great men of that day, and with the half contemptuous surprise at their fame, which is common enough amongst clever, well-educated young men, who know not what it is to speak in the House of Commons. He heard much slovenly English, much trite reasoning, some eloquent thoughts, and close argument, often delivered in a jerking tone of voice, (popularly called the Parliamentary _twang_,) and often accompanied by gesticulations that would have shocked the manager of a provincial theatre. He thought how much better than these great dons (with but one or two exceptions) he himself could speak--with what more refined logic--with what more polished periods--how much more like Cicero and Burke! Very probably he might have so spoken, and for that very reason have made that deadest of all dead failures--an excellent spoken essay. One thing, however, he was obliged to own, viz., that in a popular representative assembly it is not precisely knowledge which is power, or if knowledge, it is but the knowledge of that particular assembly, and what will best take with it;--passion, invective, sarcasm, bold declamation, shrewd common sense, the readiness so rarely found in a very profound mind--he owned that all these were the qualities that told; when a man who exhibited nothing but "knowledge," in the ordinary sense of the word, stood an imminent chance of being coughed down.
There at his left--last but one in the row of the ministerial chiefs--Randal watched Audley Egerton, his arms folded on his breast, his hat drawn over his brows, his eyes fixed with steady courage on whatever speaker in the Opposition held possession of the floor. And twice Randal heard Egerton speak, and marvelled much at the effect that minister produced. For of those qualities enumerated above, and which Randal had observed to be most sure of success, Audley Egerton only exhibited to a marked degree--the common sense, and the readiness. And yet, though but little applauded by noisy cheers, no speaker seemed more to satisfy friends, and command respect from foes. The true secret was this, which Randal might well not divine, since that young person, despite his ancient birth, his Eton rearing, and his refined air, was not one of Nature's gentlemen;--the true secret was, that Audley Egerton moved, looked, and spoke, like a thorough gentleman of England. A gentleman of more than average talents and of long experience, speaking his sincere opinions--not a rhetorician aiming at effect. Moreover, Egerton was a consummate man of the world. He said, with nervous simplicity, what his party desired to be said, and put what his opponents felt to be the strong points of the case. Calm and decorous, yet spirited and energetic, with little variety of tone, and action subdued and rare, but yet signalised by earnest vigour, Audley Egerton impressed the understanding of the dullest, and pleased the taste of the most fastidious.
But once, when allusions were made to a certain popular question, on which the premier had announced his resolution to refuse all concession, and on the expediency of which it was announced that the cabinet was nevertheless divided--and when such allusions were coupled with direct appeals to Mr Egerton, as "the enlightened member of a great commercial constituency," and with a flattering doubt that "that right honourable gentleman, member for that great city, identified with the cause of the Burgher class, could be so far behind the spirit of the age as his official chief,"--Randal observed that Egerton drew his hat still more closely over his brows and turned to whisper with one of his colleagues. He could not be _got up_ to speak.
That evening Randal walked home with Egerton, and intimated his surprise that the minister had declined what seemed to him a good occasion for one of those brief, weighty replies by which Audley was chiefly distinguished, an occasion to which he had been loudly invited by the "hears" of the House.
"Leslie," answered the statesman briefly, "I owe all my success in Parliament to this rule--I have never spoken against my convictions. I intend to abide by it to the last."
"But if the question at issue comes before the House, you will vote against it?"
"Certainly, I vote as a member of the cabinet. But since I am not leader and mouthpiece of the party, I retain the privilege to speak as an individual."
"Ah, my dear Mr Egerton," exclaimed Randal, "forgive me. But this question, right or wrong, has got such hold of the public mind. So little, if conceded in time, would give content; and it is so clear (if I may judge by the talk I hear everywhere I go) that, by refusing all concession, the government must fall, that I wish"--
"So do I wish," interrupted Egerton, with a gloomy impatient sigh--"so do I wish! But what avails it? If my advice had been taken but three weeks ago--now it is too late--we could have doubled the rock; we refused, we must split upon it."
This speech was so unlike the discreet and reserved minister, that Randal gathered courage to proceed with an idea that had occurred to his own sagacity. And before I state it, I must add that Egerton had of late shown much more personal kindness to his _protégé_; that, whether his spirits were broken, or that at last, close and compact as his nature of bronze was, he felt the imperious want to groan aloud in some loving ear, the stern Audley seemed tamed and softened. So Randal went on.
"May I say what I have heard expressed with regard to you and your position--in the streets--in the clubs?"
"Yes, it is in the streets and the clubs that statesmen should go to school. Say on."
"Well, then, I have heard it made a matter of wonder why you, and one or two others I will not name, do not at once retire from the ministry, and on the avowed ground that you side with the public feeling on this irresistible question."
"It is clear that in so doing you would become the most popular man in the country--clear that you would be summoned back to power on the shoulders of the people. No new cabinet could be formed without you, and your station in it would perhaps be higher, for life, than that which you may now retain but for a few weeks longer. Has not this ever occurred to you?"
"Never," said Audley, with dry composure.
Amazed at such obtuseness, Randal exclaimed, "Is it possible! And yet, forgive me if I say I think you are ambitious, and love power."
"No man more ambitious; and if by power you mean office, it has grown the habit of my life, and I shall not know what to do without it."
"And how, then, has what seems to me so obvious never occurred to you?"
"Because you are young, and therefore I forgive you; but not the gossips who could wonder why Audley Egerton refused to betray the friends of his whole career, and to profit by the treason."
"But one should love one's country before a party."
"No doubt of that; and the first interest of a country is the honour of its public men."
"But men may leave their party without dishonour!"
"Who doubts that? Do you suppose that if I were an ordinary independent member of Parliament, loaded with no obligations, charged with no trust, I could hesitate for a moment what course to pursue? Oh, that I were but the member for ----! Oh, that I had the full right to be a free agent! But if a member of a cabinet, a chief in whom thousands confide, because he is outvoted in a council of his colleagues, suddenly retires, and by so doing breaks up the whole party whose confidence he has enjoyed, whose rewards he has reaped, to whom he owes the very position which he employs to their ruin--own that though his choice may be honest, it is one which requires all the consolations of conscience."
"But you will have those consolations. And," added Randal energetically, "the gain to your career will be so immense!"
"That is precisely what it cannot be," answered Egerton gloomily. "I grant that I may, if I choose, resign office with the present government, and so at once destroy that government; for my resignation on such ground would suffice to do it. I grant this; but for that very reason I could not the next day take office with another administration. I could not accept wages for desertion. No gentleman could! And therefore--" Audley stopped short, and he buttoned his coat over his broad breast. The action was significant: it said that the man's mind was made up.
In fact, whether Audley Egerton was right or wrong in his theory depends upon much subtler, and perhaps loftier views in the casuistry of political duties, than it was in his character to take. And I guard myself from saying anything in praise or disfavour of his notions, or implying that he is a fit or unfit example in a parallel case. I am but describing the man as he was, and as a man like him would inevitably be, under the influences in which he lived, and in that peculiar world of which he was so emphatically a member. "_Ce n'est pas moi qui parle, c'est Marc Aurèle._"
He speaks, not I.
Randal had no time for further discussion. They now reached Egerton's house, and the minister, taking the chamber candlestick from his servant's hand, nodded a silent good-night to Leslie, and with a jaded look retired to his room.
But not on the threatened question was that eventful campaign of Party decided. The government fell less in battle than skirmish. It was one fatal Monday--a dull question of finance and figures. Prosy and few were the speakers. All the government silent, save the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and another business-like personage connected with the Board of Trade, whom the House would hardly condescend to hear. The House was in no mood to think of facts and figures. Early in the evening, between nine and ten, the Speaker's sonorous voice sounded, "Strangers must withdraw!" And Randal, anxious and foreboding, descended from his seat, and went out of the fatal doors. He turned to take a last glance at Audley Egerton. The whipper-in was whispering to Audley; and the minister pushed back his hat from his brows, and glanced round the house, and up into the galleries, as if to calculate rapidly the relative numbers of the two armies in the field; then he smiled bitterly, and threw himself back into his seat. That smile long haunted Leslie.
Amongst the strangers thus banished with Randal, while the division was being taken, were many young men, like himself, connected with the administration--some by blood, some by place. Hearts beat loud in the swarming lobbies. Ominous mournful whispers were exchanged. "They say the government will have a majority of ten." "No; I hear they will certainly be beaten." "H---- says by fifty." "I don't believe it," said a Lord of the Bedchamber; "it is impossible. I left five government members dining at the 'Travellers.'" "No one thought the division would be so early." "A trick of the Whigs--shameful." "Wonder some one was not set up to talk for time; very odd P---- did not speak; however, he is so cursedly rich, he does not care whether he is out or in." "Yes; and Audley Egerton too, just such another; glad, no doubt, to be set free to look after his property; very different tactics if we had men to whom office was as necessary as it is--to me!" said a candid young placeman. Suddenly the silent Leslie felt a friendly grasp on his arm. He turned and saw Levy.
"Did I not tell you?" said the Baron with an exulting smile.
"You are sure, then, that the government will be outvoted?"
"I spent the morning in going over the list of members with a parliamentary client of mine, who knows them all as a shepherd does his sheep. Majority for the Opposition at least twenty-five."
"And in that case must the government resign, sir?" asked the candid young placeman, who had been listening to the smart well-dressed Baron, 'his soul planted in his ears.'
"Of course, sir," replied the Baron blandly, and offering his snuff-box, (true Louis Quinze, with a miniature of Madame de Pompadour, set in pearls.) "You are a friend to the present ministers? You could not wish them to be mean enough to stay in?" Randal drew aside the Baron.
"If Audley's affairs are as you state, what can he do?"
"I shall ask him that question to-morrow," answered the Baron, with a look of visible hate. "And I have come here just to see how he bears the prospect before him."
"You will not discover that in his face. And those absurd scruples of his! If he had but gone out in time--to come in again with the New Men!"
"Oh, of course, our Right Honourable is too punctilious for that!" answered the Baron, sneering.
Suddenly the doors opened--in rushed the breathless expectants. "What are the numbers? What is the division!"
"Majority against ministers," said a member of Opposition, peeling an orange, "twenty-nine."
The Baron, too, had a Speaker's order; and he came into the House with Randal, and sate by his side. But, to their disgust, some member was talking about the other motions before the House.
"What! has nothing been said as to the division?" asked the Baron of a young county member, who was talking to some non-parliamentary friend in the bench before Levy. The county member was one of the Baron's pet eldest sons--had dined often with Levy--was under 'obligations' to him. The young legislator looked very much ashamed of Levy's friendly pat on his shoulder, and answered hurriedly, "O yes; H---- asked, 'if, after such an expression of the House, it was the intention of ministers to retain their places, and carry on the business of the government?'"
"Just like H----! Very inquisitive mind! And what was the answer he got?"
"None," said the county member; and returned in haste to his proper seat in the body of the House.
"There comes Egerton," said the Baron. And, indeed, as most of the members were now leaving the House, to talk over affairs at clubs or in saloons, and spread through town the great tidings, Audley Egerton's tall head was seen towering above the rest. And Levy turned away disappointed. For not only was the minister's handsome face, though pale, serene and cheerful, but there was an obvious courtesy, a marked respect, in the mode in which that rough assembly made way for the fallen minister as he passed through the jostling crowd. And the frank urbane nobleman, who afterwards, from the force, not of talent but of character, became the leader in that House, pressed the hand of his old opponent, as they met in the throng near the doors, and said aloud, "I shall not be a proud man if ever I live to have office; but I shall be proud if ever I leave it with as little to be said against me as your bitterest opponents can say against you, Egerton."
"I wonder," exclaimed the Baron aloud, and leaning over the partition that divided him from the throng below, so that his voice reached Egerton--and there was a cry from formal, indignant members, "Order in the strangers' gallery!"--"I wonder what Lord L'Estrange will say!"
Audley lifted his dark brows, surveyed the Baron for an instant with flashing eyes, then walked down the narrow defile between the last benches, and vanished from the scene in which, alas! so few of the most admired performers leave more than an actor's short-lived name!
Baron Levy did not execute his threat of calling on Egerton the next morning. Perhaps he shrank from again meeting the flash of those indignant eyes. And indeed Egerton was too busied all the forenoon to see any one not upon public affairs, except Harley, who hastened to console or cheer him. When the House met, it was announced that the ministers had resigned, only holding their offices till their successors were appointed. But already there was some reaction in their favour; and when it became generally known that the new administration was to be formed of men, few indeed of whom had ever before held office--that common superstition in the public mind that government is like a trade, in which a regular apprenticeship must be served, began to prevail; and the talk at the clubs was, that the new men could not stand; that the former ministry, with some modification, would be back in a month. Perhaps that too might be a reason why Baron Levy thought it prudent not prematurely to offer vindictive condolences to Mr Egerton. Randal spent part of his morning in inquiries, as to what gentlemen in his situation meant to do with regard to their places; he heard with great satisfaction that very few intended to volunteer retirement from their desks. As Randal himself had observed to Egerton, "their country before their party!"
Randal's place was of great moment to him; its duties were easy, its salary amply sufficient for his wants, and defrayed such expenses as were bestowed on the education of Oliver and his sister. For I am bound to do justice to this young man--indifferent as he was towards his species in general, the ties of family were strong with him; and he stinted himself in many temptations most alluring to his age, in the endeavour to raise the dull honest Oliver and the loose-haired pretty Juliet somewhat more to his own level of culture and refinement. Men essentially griping and unscrupulous, often do make the care for their family an apology for their sins against the world. Even Richard III., if the chroniclers are to be trusted, excused the murder of his nephews by his passionate affection for his son. With the loss of that place, Randal lost all means of support, save what Audley could give him; and if Audley were in truth ruined? Moreover, Randal had already established at the office a reputation for ability and industry. It was a career in which, if he abstained from party politics, he might rise to a fair station and to a considerable income. Therefore, much contented with what he learned as to the general determination of his fellow officials, a determination warranted by ordinary precedent in such cases, Randal dined at a club with good relish, and much Christian resignation for the reverse of his patron, and then walked to Grosvenor Square, on the chance of finding Audley within. Learning that he was so, from the porter who opened the door, Randal entered the library. Three gentlemen were seated there with Egerton: one of the three was Lord L'Estrange; the other two were members of the really defunct, though nominally still existing, government. He was about to withdraw from intruding on this conclave, when Egerton said to him gently, "Come in, Leslie; I was just speaking about yourself."
"About me, sir?"
"Yes; about you and the place you hold. I had asked Sir ---- (pointing to a fellow minister) whether I might not, with propriety, request your chief to leave some note of his opinion of your talents, which I know is high, and which might serve you with his successor."
"Oh, sir, at such a time to think of me!" exclaimed Randal, and he was genuinely touched.
"But," resumed Audley with his usual dryness, "Sir ----, to my surprise, thinks that it would better become you that you should resign. Unless his reasons, which he has not yet stated, are very strong, such would not be my advice."
"My reasons," said Sir ----, with official formality, "are simply these: I have a nephew in a similar situation; he will resign, as a matter of course. Every one in the public offices whose relatives and near connections hold high appointments in the government, will do so. I do not think Mr Leslie will like to feel himself a solitary exception."
"Mr Leslie is no relation of mine--not even a near connection," answered Egerton.
"But his name is so associated with your own--he has resided so long in your house--is so well known in society, (and don't think I compliment when I add, that we hope so well of him,) that I can't think it worth his while to keep this paltry place, which incapacitates him too from a seat in parliament."
Sir ---- was one of those terribly rich men, to whom all considerations of mere bread and cheese are paltry. But I must add, that he supposed Egerton to be still wealthier than himself, and sure to provide handsomely for Randal, whom Sir ---- rather liked than not; and, for Randal's own sake, Sir ---- thought it would lower him in the estimation of Egerton himself, despite that gentleman's advocacy, if he did not follow the example of his avowed and notorious patron.
"You see, Leslie," said Egerton, checking Randal's meditated reply, "that nothing can be said against your honour if you stay where you are; it is a mere question of expediency; I will judge that for you; keep your place."
Unhappily the other member of the government, who had hitherto been silent, was a literary man. Unhappily, while this talk had proceeded, he had placed his hand upon Randal Leslie's celebrated pamphlet, which lay on the library table; and, turning over the leaves, the whole spirit and matter of that masterly composition in defence of the administration (a composition steeped in all the essence of party) recurred to his too faithful recollection. He, too, liked Randal; he did more--he admired the author of that striking and effective pamphlet. And, therefore, rousing himself from the sublime indifference he had before felt for the fate of a subaltern, he said with a bland and complimentary smile, "No; the writer of this most able publication is no ordinary placeman. His opinions here are too vigorously stated; this fine irony on the very person who in all probability will be the chief in his office, has excited too lively an attention, to allow him the _sedet eternumque sedebit_ on an official stool. Ha, ha! this is so good! Read it, L'Estrange. What say you?"
Harley glanced over the page pointed out to him. The original was in one of Burley's broad, coarse, but telling burlesques, strained fine through Randal's more polished satire. It was capital. Harley smiled, and lifted his eyes to Randal. The unlucky plagiarist's face was flushed--the beads stood on his brow. Harley was a good hater; he loved too warmly not to err on the opposite side; but he was one of those men who forget hate when its object is distressed and humbled. He put down the pamphlet and said, "I am no politician; but Egerton is so well known to be fastidious and over scrupulous in all points of official etiquette, that Mr Leslie cannot follow a safer counsellor."
"Read that yourself, Egerton," said Sir ----; and he pushed the pamphlet to Audley.
Now Egerton had a dim recollection that that pamphlet was unlucky; but he had skimmed over its contents hastily, and at that moment had forgotten all about it. He took up the too famous work with a reluctant hand, but he read attentively the passages pointed out to him, and then said gravely and sadly--
"Mr Leslie, I retract my advice. I believe Sir ---- is right; that the nobleman here so keenly satirised will be the chief in your office. I doubt whether he will not compel your dismissal; at all events, he could scarcely be expected to promote your advancement. Under the circumstances, I fear you have no option as a"----Egerton paused a moment, and, with a sigh that appeared to settle the question, concluded with--"as a gentleman."
Never did Jack Cade, never did Wat Tyler, feel a more deadly hate to that word "gentleman," than the well-born Leslie felt then; but he bowed his head, and answered with his usual presence of mind--
"You utter my own sentiment."
"You think we are right, Harley?" asked Egerton, with an irresolution that surprised all present.
"I think," answered Harley, with a compassion for Randal that was almost over generous, and yet with an _équivoque_ on the words, despite the compassion--"I think whoever has served Audley Egerton, never yet has been a loser by it; and if Mr Leslie wrote this pamphlet, he must have well served Audley Egerton. If he undergoes the penalty, we may safely trust to Egerton for the compensation."
"My compensation has long since been made," answered Randal with grace; "and that Mr Egerton could thus have cared for my fortunes, at an hour so occupied, is a thought of pride which--"
"Enough, Leslie! enough!" interrupted Egerton, rising and pressing his _protégé's_ hands. "See me before you go to bed."
Then the two other ministers rose also and shook hands with Leslie, and told him he had done the right thing, and that they hoped soon to see him in parliament; and hinted smilingly, that the next administration did not promise to be very long-lived; and one asked him to dinner, and the other to spend a week at his country seat. And amidst these congratulations at the stroke that left him penniless, the distinguished pamphleteer left the room. How he cursed big John Burley!
It was past midnight when Audley Egerton summoned Randal. The statesman was then alone, seated before his great desk, with its manifold compartments, and engaged on the task of transferring various papers and letters, some to the waste-basket, some to the flames, some to two great iron chests with patent locks, that stood, open-mouthed, at his feet. Strong, stern, and grim, they looked, silently receiving the relics of power departed; strong, stern, and grim as the grave. Audley lifted his eyes at Randal's entrance, signed to him to take a chair, continued his task for a few moments, and then turning round, as if with an effort he plucked himself from his master passion--Public Life--he said with deliberate tones--
"I know not, Randal Leslie, whether you thought me needlessly cautious, or wantonly unkind, when I told you never to expect from me more than such advance to your career as my then position could effect--never to expect from my liberality in life, nor from my testament in death--an addition to your private fortunes. I see by your gesture what would be your reply, and I thank you for it. I now tell you, as yet in confidence, though before long it can be no secret to the world, that my pecuniary affairs have been so neglected by me, in my devotion to those of the state, that I am somewhat like the man who portioned out his capital at so much a-day, calculating to live just long enough to make it last. Unfortunately he lived too long." Audley smiled--but the smile was cold as a sunbeam upon ice--and went on with the same firm, unfaltering accents: "The prospects that face me I am prepared for; they do not take me by surprise. I knew long since how this would end, if I survived the loss of office. I knew it before you came to me, and therefore I spoke to you as I did, judging it manful and right to guard you against hopes which you might otherwise have naturally entertained. On this head I need say no more. It may excite your surprise, possibly your blame, that I, esteemed methodical and practical enough in the affairs of the state, should be so imprudent as to my own."
"Oh, sir! you owe no account to me."
"To you at least, as much as to anyone. I am a solitary man; my few relations need nothing from me. I had a right to spend what I possessed as I pleased; and if I have spent it recklessly as regards myself, I have not spent it ill in its effect on others. It has been my object for many years to have no _Private Life_--to dispense with its sorrows, joys, affections; and as to its duties, they did not exist for me.--I have said." Mechanically, as he ended, the minister's hand closed the lid of one of the iron boxes, and on the closed lid he rested his firm foot. "But now," he resumed, "I have failed to advance your career. True, I warned you that you drew into a lottery; but you had more chance of a prize than a blank. A blank, however, it has turned out, and the question becomes grave--What are you to do?"
Here, seeing that Egerton came to a full pause, Randal answered readily--
"Still, sir, to go by your advice."
"My advice," said Audley, with a softened look, "would perhaps be rude and unpalatable. I would rather place before you an option. On the one hand, recommence life again. I told you that I would keep your name on your college books. You can return--you can take your degree--after that, you can go to the bar--you have just the talents calculated to succeed in that profession. Success will be slow, it is true; but, with perseverance, it will be sure. And, believe me, Leslie, Ambition is only sweet while it is but the loftier name for Hope. Who would care for a fox's brush, if it had not been rendered a prize by the excitement of the chase?"
"Oxford--again! It is a long step back in life," said Randal drearily, and little heeding Egerton's unusual indulgence of illustration. "A long step back--and to what? To a profession in which one never begins to rise till one's hair is grey! Besides, how live in the meanwhile?"
"Do not let that thought disturb you. The modest income that suffices for a student at the bar, I trust, at least, to insure you from the wrecks of my fortune."
"Ah, sir, I would not burthen you farther. What right have I to such kindness, save my name of Leslie?" And in spite of himself, as Randal concluded, a tone of bitterness, that betrayed reproach, broke forth. Egerton was too much the man of the world not to comprehend the reproach, and not to pardon it.
"Certainly," he answered calmly, "as a Leslie you are entitled to my consideration, and would have been entitled perhaps to more, had I not so explicitly warned you to the contrary. But the bar does not seem to please you?"
"What is the alternative, sir? Let me decide when I hear it," answered Randal sullenly. He began to lose respect for the man who owned he could do so little for him, and who evidently recommended him to shift for himself.
If one could have pierced into Egerton's gloomy heart as he noted the young man's change of tone, it may be a doubt whether one would have seen there, pain or pleasure--pain, for merely from the force of habit he had begun to like Randal--or pleasure, at the thought that he might have reason to withdraw that liking. So lone and stoical had grown the man, who had made it his object to have no private life. Revealing, however, neither pleasure nor pain, but with the composed calmness of a judge upon the bench, Egerton replied--
"The alternative is, to continue in the course you have begun, and still to rely on me."
"Sir, my dear Mr Egerton," exclaimed Randal, regaining all his usual tenderness of look and voice, "rely on you! But that is all I ask! Only--"
"Only, you would say, I am going out of power, and you don't see the chance of my return?"
"I did not mean that."
"Permit me to suppose that you did: very true; but the party I belong to is as sure of return as the pendulum of that clock is sure to obey the mechanism that moves it from left to right. Our successors profess to come in upon a popular question. All administrations who do that are necessarily shortlived. Either they do not go far enough to please present supporters, or they go so far as to arm new enemies in the rivals who outbid them with the people. 'Tis the history of all revolutions, and of all reforms. Our own administration in reality is destroyed for having passed what was called a popular measure a year ago, which lost us half our friends, and refusing to propose another popular measure this year, in the which we are outstripped by the men who halloo'd us on the last. Therefore, whatever our successors do, we shall, by the law of reaction, have another experiment of power afforded to ourselves. It is but a question of time; you can wait for it; whether I can, is uncertain. But if I die before that day arrives, I have influence enough still left with those who will come in, to obtain a promise of a better provision for you than that which you have lost. The promises of public men are proverbially uncertain. But I shall intrust your cause to a man who never failed a friend, and whose rank will enable him to see that justice is done to you--I speak of Lord L'Estrange."
"Oh, not him; he is unjust to me; he dislikes me; he--"
"May dislike you, (he has his whims,) but he loves me; and though for no other human being but you would I ask Harley L'Estrange a favour, yet for _you_ I will," said Egerton, betraying, for the first time in that dialogue, a visible emotion--"for you, a Leslie, a kinsman, however remote, to the wife from whom I received my fortune! And despite all my cautions, it is possible that in wasting that fortune I may have wronged you. Enough: You have now before you the two options, much as you had at first; but you have at present more experience to aid you in your choice. You are a man, and with more brains than most men; think over it well, and decide for yourself. Now to bed, and postpone thought till the morrow. Poor Randal, you look pale!"
Audley, as he said the last words, put his hand on Randal's shoulder, almost with a father's gentleness; and then suddenly drawing himself up, as the hard inflexible expression, stamped on that face by years, returned, he moved away and resettled to Public Life and the iron box.
Early the next day Randal Leslie was in the luxurious business-room of Baron Levy. How unlike the cold Doric simplicity of the statesman's library! Axminster carpets three inches thick, _portières à la Française_ before the doors; Parisian bronzes on the chimney-piece; and all the receptacles that lined the room, and contained title-deeds, and post-obits, and bills, and promises to pay, and lawyer-like japan boxes, with many a noble name written thereon in large white capitals--"making ruin pompous"--all these sepulchres of departed patrimonies veneered in rosewood that gleamed with French polish, and blazed with ormolu. There was a coquetry, an air of _petit maître_, so diffused over the whole room, that you could not for the life of you recollect you were with a usurer! Plutus wore the aspect of his enemy Cupid; and how realise your idea of Harpagon in that Baron, with his easy French "_Mon cher_," and his white warm hands that pressed yours so genially, and his dress so exquisite, even at the earliest morn? No man ever yet saw that Baron in a dressing-gown and slippers! As one fancies some feudal baron of old (not half so terrible) everlastingly clad in mail, so all one's notions of this grand marauder of civilisation were inseparably associated with varnished boots, and a camelia in the button-hole.
"And this is all that he does for you!" cried the Baron, pressing together the points of his ten taper fingers. "Had he but let you conclude your career at Oxford, I have heard enough of your scholarship to know that you would have taken high honours--been secure of a fellowship--have betaken yourself with content to a slow and laborious profession--and prepared yourself to die on the woolsack."
"He proposes to me now to return to Oxford," said Randal. "It is not too late!"
"Yes it is," said the Baron. "Neither individuals nor nations ever go back of their own accord. There must be an earthquake before a river recedes to its source."
"You speak well," answered Randal, "and I cannot gainsay you. But now!"
"Ah, the _now_ is the grand question in life--the _then_ is obsolete, gone by--out of fashion; and _now_, _mon cher_, you come to ask my advice."
"No, Baron; I come to ask your explanation."
"I want to know why you spoke to me of Mr Egerton's ruin; why you spoke to me of the lands to be sold by Mr Thornhill; and why you spoke to me of Count Peschiera. You touched on each of these points within ten minutes--you omitted to indicate what link can connect them."
"By Jove," said the Baron, rising, and with more admiration in his face than you could have conceived that face so smiling and so cynical could exhibit--"by Jove, Randal Leslie, but your shrewdness is wonderful. You really are the first young man of your day; and I will 'help you,' as I helped Audley Egerton. Perhaps you will be more grateful."
Randal thought of Egerton's ruin. The parallel implied by the Baron did not suggest to him the rare enthusiasm of gratitude. However, he merely said, "Pray, proceed--I listen to you with interest."
"As for politics, then," said the Baron, "we will discuss that topic later. I am waiting myself to see how these new men get on. The first consideration is for your private fortunes. You should buy this ancient Leslie property--Rood and Dulmansberry--only £20,000 down; the rest may remain on mortgage for ever--or at least till I find you a rich wife--as in fact I did for Egerton. Thornhill wants the twenty thousand now--wants them very much."
"And where," said Randal, with an iron smile, "are the £20,000 you ascribe to me to come from?"
"Ten thousand shall come to you the day Count Peschiera marries the daughter of his kinsman with your help and aid--the remaining ten thousand I will lend you. No scruple--I shall hazard nothing--the estates will bear that additional burden. What say you--shall it be so?"
"Ten thousand pounds from Count Peschiera!" said Randal, breathing hard. "You cannot be serious? Such a sum--for what?--for a mere piece of information? How otherwise can I aid him? There must be trick and deception intended here."
"My dear fellow," answered Levy, "I will give you a hint. There is such a thing in life as being over suspicious. If you have a fault, it is that. The information you allude to is, of course, the first assistance you are to give. Perhaps more may be needed--perhaps not. Of that you will judge yourself, since the £10,000 are contingent on the marriage aforesaid."
"Over suspicious or not," answered Randal, "the amount of the sum is too improbable, and the security too bad, for me to listen to this proposition, even if I could descend to--"
"Stop, _mon cher_. Business first--scruples afterwards. The security too bad--what security?"
"The word of Count di Peschiera."
"He has nothing to do with it--he need know nothing about it. 'Tis my word you doubt. I am your security."
Randal thought of that dry witticism in Gibbon, "Abu Rafe says he will be witness for this fact, but who will be witness for Abu Rafe?" but he remained silent, only fixing on Levy those dark observant eyes, with their contracted wary pupils.
"The fact is simply this," resumed Levy: "Count di Peschiera has promised to pay his sister a dowry of £20,000, in case he has the money to spare. He can only have it to spare by the marriage we are discussing. On my part, as I manage his affairs in England for him, I have promised that, for the said sum of £20,000, I will guarantee the expenses in the way of that marriage, and settle with Madame di Negra. Now, though Peschiera is a very liberal, warm-hearted fellow, I don't say that he would have named so large a sum for his sister's dowry, if in strict truth he did not owe it to her. It is the amount of her own fortune, which, by some arrangements with her late husband not exactly legal, he possessed himself of. If Madame di Negra went to law with him for it, she could get it back. I have explained this to him; and, in short, you now understand why the sum is thus assessed. But I have bought up Madame di Negra's debts. I have bought up young Hazeldean's, (for we must make a match between these two a part of our arrangements.) I shall present to Peschiera, and to these excellent young persons, an account that will absorb the whole £20,000. That sum will come into my hands. If I settle the claims against them for half the money, which, making myself the sole creditor, I have the right to do, the moiety will remain. And, if I choose to give it to you, in return for the services which provide Peschiera with a princely fortune--discharge the debts of his sister--and secure her a husband in my promising young client, Mr Hazeldean, that is my look-out--all parties are satisfied, and no one need ever be the wiser. The sum is large, no doubt; it answers to me to give it to you; does it answer to you to receive it?"
Randal was greatly agitated; but, vile as he was, and systematically as in thought he had brought himself to regard others merely as they could be made subservient to his own interest, still, with all who have not hardened themselves in actual crime, there is a wide distinction between the thought and the act; and though, in the exercise of ingenuity and cunning, he would have had few scruples in that moral swindling which is mildly called "outwitting another," yet thus nakedly and openly to accept a bribe for a deed of treachery towards the poor Italian who had so generously trusted him--he recoiled. He was nerving himself to refuse, when Levy, opening his pocket-book, glanced over the memoranda therein, and said, as to himself, "Rood Manor--Dulmansberry, sold to the Thornhills by Sir Gilbert Leslie, knight of the shire; estimated present net rental £2250, 7s. 0d. It is the greatest bargain I ever knew. And with this estate in hand, and your talents, Leslie, I don't see why you should not rise higher than Audley Egerton. He was poorer than you once!"
The old Leslie lands--a positive stake in the country--the restoration of the fallen family; and, on the other hand, either long drudgery at the bar--a scanty allowance on Egerton's bounty--his sister wasting her youth at slovenly, dismal Rood--Oliver debased into a boor!--or a mendicant's dependence on the contemptuous pity of Harley L'Estrange--Harley who had refused his hand to him--Harley who perhaps would become the husband of Violante! Rage seized him as these contrasting pictures rose before his view. He walked to and fro in disorder, striving to re-collect his thoughts, and reduce himself from the passions of the human heart into the mere mechanism of calculating intellect. "I cannot conceive," said he abruptly, "why you should tempt me thus--what interest it is to you!"
Baron Levy smiled, and put up his pocket-book. He saw from that moment that the victory was gained.
"My dear boy," said he, with the most agreeable _bonhomie_, "it is very natural that you should think a man would have a personal interest in whatever he does for another. I believe that view of human nature is called utilitarian philosophy, and is much in fashion at present. Let me try and explain to you. In this affair I shan't injure myself. True, you will say, if I settle claims, which amount to £20,000, for £10,000, I might put the surplus into my own pocket instead of yours. Agreed. But I shall not get the £20,000, nor repay myself Madame di Negra's debts, (whatever I may do as to Hazeldean's,) unless the Count gets this heiress. You can help in this. I want you; and I don't think I could get you by a less offer than I make. I shall soon pay myself back the £10,000 if the Count get hold of the lady and her fortune. Brief--I see my way here to my own interests. Do you want more reasons--you shall have them. I am now a very rich man. How have I become so? Through attaching myself from the first to persons of expectations, whether from fortune or talent. I have made connections in society, and society has enriched me. I have still a passion for making money. _Que voulez vous?_ It is my profession, my hobby. It will be useful to me in a thousand ways, to secure as a friend a young man who will have influence with other young men, heirs to something better than Rood Hall. You may succeed in public life. A man in public life may attain to the knowledge of state secrets that are very profitable to one who dabbles a little in the Funds. We can perhaps hereafter do business together that may put yourself in a way of clearing off all mortgages on these estates--on the encumbered possession of which I shall soon congratulate you. You see I am frank; 'tis the only way of coming to the point with so clever a fellow as you. And now, since the less we rake up the mud in a pond from which we have resolved to drink, the better, let us dismiss all other thoughts but that of securing our end. Will you tell Peschiera where the young lady is, or shall I? Better do it yourself; reason enough for it, that he has confided to you his hope, and asked you to help him; why should not you? Not a word to him about our little arrangement; he need never know it. You need never be troubled." Levy rang the bell: "Order my carriage round."
Randal made no objection. He was deathlike pale, but there was a sinister expression of firmness on his thin bloodless lips.
"The next point," Levy resumed, "is to hasten the match between Frank and the fair widow. How does that stand?"
"She will not see me, nor receive him."
"Oh, learn why! And if you find on either side there is a hitch, just let me know; I will soon remove it."
"Has Hazeldean consented to the post-obit?"
"Not yet; I have not pressed it; I wait the right moment, if necessary."
"It will be necessary."
"Ah, you wish it. It shall be so."
Randal Leslie again paced the room, and after a silent self-commune, came up close to the Baron, and said--
"Look you, sir, I am poor and ambitious; you have tempted me at the right moment, and with the right inducement. I succumb. But what guarantee have I that this money will be paid--these estates made mine upon the condition stipulated?"
"Before anything is settled," replied the Baron, "go and ask my character of any of our young friends, Borrowell, Spendquick--whom you please; you will hear me abused, of course; but they will all say this of me, that when I pass my word, I keep it; if I say, '_Mon cher_, you shall have the money,' a man has it; if I say, 'I renew your bill for six months,' it is renewed. 'Tis my way of doing business. In all cases my word is my bond. In this case, where no writing can pass between us, my only bond must be my word. Go, then, make your mind clear as to your security, and come here and dine at eight. We will call on Peschiera afterwards."
"Yes," said Randal, "I will at all events take the day to consider. Meanwhile I say this, I do not disguise from myself the nature of the proposed transaction, but what I have once resolved I go through with. My sole vindication to myself is, that if I play here with a false die, it will be for a stake so grand, as, once won, the magnitude of the prize will cancel the ignominy of the play. It is not this sum of money for which I sell myself--it is for what that sum will aid me to achieve. And in the marriage of young Hazeldean with the Italian woman, I have another, and it may be a larger interest. I have slept on it lately--I wake to it now. Insure that marriage, obtain the post-obit from Hazeldean, and whatever the issue of the more direct scheme for which you seek my services, rely on my gratitude, and believe that you will have put me in the way to render gratitude of avail. At eight I will be with you."
Randal left the room.
The Baron sat thoughtful. "It is true," said he to himself, "this young man is the next of kin to the Hazeldean estate, if Frank displease his father sufficiently to lose his inheritance; that must be the clever boy's design. Well, in the long-run, I should make as much, or more, out of him than out of the spendthrift Frank. Frank's faults are those of youth. He will reform and retrench. But _this_ man! No, I shall have _him_ for life. And should he fail in this project, and have but this encumbered property--a landed proprietor mortgaged up to his ears--why, he is my slave, and I can foreclose when I wish, or if he prove useless;--no, I risk nothing. And if I did--if I lost ten thousand pounds--what then? I can afford it for revenge!--afford it for the luxury of leaving Audley Egerton alone with penury and ruin, deserted, in his hour of need, by the pensioner of his bounty--as he will be by the last friend of his youth--when it so pleases me--me whom he has called 'scoundrel!' and whom he--" Levy's soliloquy halted there, for the servant entered to announce the carriage. And the Baron hurried his hand over his features, as if to sweep away all trace of the passions that distorted their smiling effrontery. And so, as he took up his cane and gloves, and glanced at the glass, the face of the fashionable usurer was once more as varnished as his boots.
When a clever man resolves on a villanous action, he hastens, by the exercise of his cleverness, to get rid of the sense of his villany. With more than his usual alertness, Randal employed the next hour or two in ascertaining how far Baron Levy merited the character he boasted, and how far his word might be his bond. He repaired to young men whom he esteemed better judges on these points than Spendquick and Borrowell--young men who resembled the Merry Monarch, inasmuch as
"They never said a foolish thing, And never did a wise one."
There are many such young men about town--sharp and able in all affairs except their own. No one knows the world better, nor judges of character more truly, than your half-beggared _roué_. From all these, Baron Levy obtained much the same testimonials: he was ridiculed as a would-be dandy, but respected as a very responsible man of business, and rather liked as a friendly accommodating species of the Sir Epicure Mammon, who very often did what were thought handsome, liberal things; and "in short," said one of these experienced referees, "he is the best fellow going--for a money-lender! You may always rely on what he promises, and he is generally very forbearing and indulgent to _us_ of good society; perhaps for the same reason that our tailors are;--to send one of us to prison would hurt his custom. His foible is to be thought a gentleman. I believe, much as I suppose he loves money, he would give up half his fortune rather than do anything for which we could cut him. He allows a pension of three hundred a-year to Lord S----. True; he was his man of business for twenty years, and, before then, S---- was rather a prudent fellow, and had fifteen thousand a-year. He has helped on, too, many a clever young man;--the best boroughmonger you ever knew. He likes having friends in Parliament. In fact, of course he is a rogue; but if one wants a rogue, one can't find a pleasanter. I should like to see him on the French stage--a prosperous _Macaire_; Le Maître could hit him off to the life."
From information in these more fashionable quarters, gleaned with his usual tact, Randal turned to a source less elevated, but to which he attached more importance. Dick Avenel associated with the Baron--Dick Avenel must be in his clutches. Now Randal did justice to that gentleman's practical shrewdness. Moreover, Avenel was by profession a man of business. He must know more of Levy than these men of pleasure could; and, as he was a plain-spoken person, and evidently honest, in the ordinary acceptation of the word, Randal did not doubt that out of Dick Avenel he should get the truth.
On arriving in Eton Square, and asking for Mr Avenel, Randal was at once ushered into the drawing-room. The apartment was not in such good solid mercantile taste as had characterised Avenel's more humble bachelor's residence at Screwstown. The taste now was the Honourable Mrs Avenel's; and, truth to say, no taste could be worse. Furniture of all epochs heterogeneously clumped together;--here a sofa _à la renaissance_ in _Gobelin_--there a rosewood Console from Gillow--a tall mock-Elizabethan chair in black oak, by the side of a modern Florentine table of mosaic marbles. All kinds of colours in the room, and all at war with each other. Very bad copies of the best-known pictures in the world, in the most gaudy frames, and impudently labelled by the names of their murdered originals--"Raffaele," "Corregio," "Titian," "Sebastian del Piombo." Nevertheless, there had been plenty of money spent, and there was plenty to show for it. Mrs Avenel was seated on her sofa _à la renaissance_, with one of her children at her feet, who was employed in reading a new Annual in crimson silk binding. Mrs Avenel was in an attitude as if sitting for her portrait.
Polite society is most capricious in its adoptions or rejections. You see many a very vulgar person firmly established in the _beau monde_; others, with very good pretensions as to birth, fortune, &c., either rigorously excluded, or only permitted a peep over the pales. The Honourable Mrs Avenel belonged to families unquestionably noble, both by her own descent and by her first marriage; and if poverty had kept her down in her earlier career, she now, at least, did not want wealth to back her pretensions. Nevertheless, all the dispensers of fashion concurred in refusing their support to the Honourable Mrs Avenel. One might suppose it was solely on account of her plebeian husband; but indeed it was not so. Many a woman of high family can marry a low-born man not so presentable as Avenel, and, by the help of his money, get the fine world at her feet. But Mrs Avenel had not that art. She was still a very handsome, showy woman; and as for dress, no duchess could be more extravagant. Yet these very circumstances had perhaps gone against her ambition; for your quiet little plain woman, provoking no envy, slips into the _coteries_, when a handsome, flaunting lady--whom, once seen in your drawing-room, can be no more overlooked than a scarlet poppy amidst a violet bed--is pretty sure to be weeded out as ruthlessly as a poppy would be in a similar position.
Mr Avenel was sitting by the fire, rather moodily, his hands in his pockets, and whistling to himself. To say truth, that active mind of his was very much bored in London, at least during the fore part of the day. He hailed Randal's entrance with a smile of relief, and rising and posting himself before the fire--a coat tail under each arm--he scarcely allowed Randal to shake hands with Mrs Avenel, and pat the child on the head, murmuring, "Beautiful creature." (Randal was ever civil to children--that sort of wolf in sheep's clothing always is--don't be taken in, O you foolish young mothers!) Dick, I say, scarcely allowed his visitor these preliminary courtesies, before he plunged far beyond depth of wife and child, into the political ocean. "Things now were coming right--a vile oligarchy was to be destroyed. British respectability and British talent were to have fair play." To have heard him you would have thought the day fixed for the millennium! "And what is more," said Avenel, bringing down the fist of his right hand upon the palm of his left, "if there is to be a new parliament, we must have new men--not worn-out old brooms that never sweep clean, but men who understand how to govern the country, sir. I INTEND TO COME IN MYSELF!"
"Yes," said Mrs Avenel, booking in a word at last, "I am sure, Mr Leslie, you will think I did right. I persuaded Mr Avenel that, with his talents and property, he ought, for the sake of his country, to make a sacrifice; and then you know his opinions now are all the fashion, Mr Leslie; formerly they would have been called shocking and--vulgar!"
Thus saying, she looked with fond pride at Dick's comely face, which at that moment, however, was all scowl and frown. I must do justice to Mrs Avenel; she was a weak silly woman in some things, and a cunning one in others, but she was a good wife, as wives go. Scotchwomen generally are.
"Bother," said Dick! "What do women know about politics. I wish you'd mind the child--it is crumpling up, and playing almighty smash with that flim-flam book, which cost me a one pound one."
Mrs Avenel submissively bowed her head and removed the Annual from the hands of the young destructive; the destructive set up a squall, as destructives generally do when they don't have their own way. Dick clapped his hands to his ears. "Whe-e-ew, I can't stand this; come and take a walk, Leslie; I want stretching!" He stretched himself as he spoke, first half way up to the ceiling, and then fairly out of the room.
Randal, with his May Fair manner, turned towards Mrs Avenel as if to apologise for her husband and himself.
"Poor Richard!" said she, "he is in one of his humours--all men have them. Come and see me again soon. When does Almacks open?"
"Nay, I ought to ask you that question, you who know everything that goes on in our set," said the young serpent. Any tree planted in "our set," if it had been but a crab tree, would have tempted Mr Avenel's Eve to a jump at its boughs.
"_Are_ you coming, there?" cried Dick from the foot of the stairs.
"I have just been at our friend Levy's," said Randal when he and Dick were outside the street door. "He, like you, is full of politics--pleasant man--for the business he is said to do."
"Well," said Dick slowly, "I suppose he _is_ pleasant, but make the best of it--and still--"
"Still what, my dear Avenel?" (Randal here for the first time discarded the formal Mister.)
MR AVENEL.--"Still the thing itself is not pleasant."
RANDAL, (with his soft hollow laugh.)--"You mean borrowing money upon more than five per cent!"
"Oh, curse the percentage. I agree with Bentham on the Usury Laws--no shackles in trade for me, whether in money or anything else. That's not it. But when one owes a fellow money even at two per cent, and 'tis not convenient to pay him, why, somehow or other, it makes one feel small; it takes the British Liberty out of a man!"
"I should have thought you more likely to lend money than to borrow it."
"Well, I guess you are right there, as a general rule. But I tell you what it is, sir; there is too great a mania for competition getting up in this rotten old country of ours. I am as liberal as most men. I like competition to a certain extent, but there is too much of it, sir--too much of it!"
Randal looked sad and convinced. But if Leonard had heard Dick Avenel, what would have been his amaze? Dick Avenel rail against competition! Think there could be too much of it! Of course, "heaven and earth are coming together," said the spider when the housemaid's broom invaded its cobweb. Dick was all for sweeping away other cobwebs; but he certainly thought heaven and earth coming together when he saw a great Turk's-head besom poked up at his own.
Mr Avenel, in his genius for speculation and improvement, had established a factory at Screwstown, the first which had ever eclipsed the church spire with its Titanic chimney. It succeeded well at first. Mr Avenel transferred to this speculation nearly all his capital. "Nothing," quoth he, "paid such an interest. Manchester was getting worn out--time to show what Screwstown could do. Nothing like competition." But by-and-by a still greater capitalist than Dick Avenel, finding out that Screwstown was at the mouth of a coal mine, and that Dick's profits were great, erected a still uglier edifice, with a still taller chimney. And having been brought up to the business, and making his residence in the town, while Dick employed a foreman and flourished in London, this infamous competitor so managed, first to share, and then gradually to sequester, the profits which Dick had hitherto monopolised, that no wonder Mr Avenel thought competition should have its limits. "The tongue touches where the tooth aches," as Dr Riccabocca would tell us. By little and little our juvenile Talleyrand (I beg the elder great man's pardon) wormed out from Dick this grievance, and in the grievance discovered the origin of Dick's connection with the money-lender.
"But Levy," said Avenel, candidly, "is a decentish chap in his way--friendly too. Mrs A. finds him useful; brings some of your young highflyers to her _soirées_. To be sure, they don't dance--stand all in a row at the door, like mutes at a funeral. Not but what they have been uncommon civil to me lately--Spendquick particularly. By-the-by, I dine with him to-morrow. The aristocracy are behindhand--not smart, sir--not up to the march; but when a man knows how to take 'em, they beat the New Yorkers in good manners. I'll say that for them. I have no prejudice."
"I never saw a man with less; no prejudice even against Levy."
"No, not a bit of it! Every one says he's a Jew; he says he's not. I don't care a button what he is. His money is English--that's enough for any man of a liberal turn of mind. His charges, too, are moderate. To be sure, he knows I shall pay them; only what I don't like in him is a sort of way he has of _mon-cher_-ing and my-good-fellowing one, to do things quite out of the natural way of that sort of business. He knows I have got parliament influence. I could return a couple of members for Screwstown, and one, or perhaps two, for Lansmere, where I have of late been cooking up an interest; and he dictates to--no, not _dictates_--but tries to _humbug_ me into putting in his own men. However, in one respect we are likely to agree. He says you want to come into parliament. You seem a smart young fellow; but you must throw over that stiff red-tapist of yours, and go with Public Opinion, and--Myself."
"You are very kind, Avenel; perhaps when we come to compare opinions we may find that we agree entirely. Still, in Egerton's present position, delicacy to him--however, we'll not discuss that now. But you really think I might come in for Lansmere--against the L'Estrange interest, too, which must be strong there?"
"It _was_ very strong, but I've smashed it, I calculate."
"Would a contest there cost very much?"
"Well, I guess you must come down with the ready. But, as you say, time enough to discuss that when you have squared your account with 'delicacy;' come to me then, and we'll go into it."
Randal, having now squeezed his orange dry, had no desire to waste his time in brushing up the rind with his coat-sleeve, so he unhooked his arm from Avenel, and, looking at his watch, discovered he should be just in time for an appointment of the most urgent business--hailed a cab, and drove off.
Dick looked hipped and disconsolate at being left alone; he yawned very loud, to the astonishment of three prim old maiden Belgravians who were passing that way; and then his mind began to turn towards his factory at Screwstown, which had led to his connection with the Baron; and he thought over a letter he had received from his foreman that morning, informing him that it was rumoured at Screwstown that Mr Dyce, his rival, was about to have new machinery on an improved principle; and that Mr Dyce had already gone up to town, it was supposed with the intention of concluding a purchase for a patent discovery to be applied to the new machinery, and which that gentleman had publicly declared in the corn-market, "would shut up Mr Avenel's factory before the year was out." As this menacing epistle recurred to him, Dick felt his desire to yawn incontinently checked. His brow grew very dark; and he walked, with restless strides, on and on, till he found himself in the Strand. He then got into an omnibus, and proceeded to the city, wherein he spent the rest of the day, looking over machines and foundries, and trying in vain to find out what diabolical invention the over-competition of Mr Dyce had got hold of. "If," said Dick Avenel to himself, as he returned fretfully homeward--"if a man like me, who has done so much for British industry and go-a-head principles, is to be catawampously champed up by a mercenary selfish cormorant of a capitalist like that interloping blockhead in drab breeches, Tom Dyce, all I can say is, that the sooner this cursed old country goes to the dogs, the better pleased I shall be. I wash my hands of it."
Randal's mind was made up. All he had learned in regard to Levy had confirmed his resolves or dissipated his scruples. He had started from the improbability that Peschiera would offer, and the still greater improbability that Peschiera would pay, him ten thousand pounds for such information or aid as he could bestow in furthering the Count's object. But when Levy took such proposals entirely on himself, the main question to Randal became this--could it be Levy's interest to make so considerable a sacrifice? Had the Baron implied only friendly sentiments as his motives, Randal would have felt sure he was to be taken in; but the usurer's frank assurance that it would answer to him in the long-run to concede to Randal terms so advantageous, altered the case, and led our young philosopher to look at the affair with calm contemplative eyes. Was it sufficiently obvious that Levy counted on an adequate return? Might he calculate on reaping help by the bushel if he sowed it by the handful? The result of Randal's cogitations was, that the Baron might fairly deem himself no wasteful sower. In the first place, it was clear that Levy, not without reasonable ground, believed that he could soon replace, with exceeding good interest, any sum he might advance to Randal, out of the wealth which Randal's prompt information might bestow on Levy's client, the Count; and, secondly, Randal's self-esteem was immense, and could he but succeed in securing a pecuniary independence on the instant, to free him from the slow drudgery of the bar, or from a precarious reliance on Audley Egerton, as a politician out of power--his convictions of rapid triumphs in public life were as strong as if whispered by an angel or promised by a fiend. On such triumphs, with all the social position they would secure, Levy might well calculate for repayment through a thousand indirect channels. Randal's sagacity detected that, through all the good-natured or liberal actions ascribed to the usurer, Levy had steadily pursued his own interests--he saw that Levy meant to get him into his power, and use his abilities as instruments for digging new mines, in which Baron Levy would claim the right of large royalties. But at that thought Randal's pale lip curled disdainfully; he confided too much in his own powers not to think that he could elude the grasp of the usurer, whenever it suited him to do so. Thus, on a survey, all conscience hushed itself--his mind rushed buoyantly on to anticipations of the future. He saw the hereditary estates regained--no matter how mortgaged--for the moment still his own--legally his own--yielding for the present what would suffice for competence to one of few wants, and freeing his name from that title of Adventurer, which is so prodigally given in rich old countries to those who have no estates but their brains. He thought of Violante but as the civilised trader thinks of a trifling coin, of a glass bead, which he exchanges with some barbarian for gold dust;--he thought of Frank Hazeldean married to the foreign woman of beggared means, and repute that had known the breath of scandal--married, and living on post-obit instalments of the Casino property;--he thought of the poor Squire's resentment;--his avarice swept from the lands annexed to Rood on to the broad fields of Hazeldean;--he thought of Avenel, of Lansmere, of Parliament;--with one hand he grasped fortune, with the next power. "And yet I entered on life with no patrimony--(save a ruined hall and a barren waste)--no patrimony but knowledge. I have but turned knowledge from books to men; for books may give fame after death, but men give us power in life." And all the while he thus ruminated, his act was speeding his purpose. Though it was but in a miserable hack cab that he erected airy scaffoldings round airy castles, still the miserable hack cab was flying fast, to secure the first foot of solid ground whereon to transfer the mental plan of the architect to foundations of positive slime and clay. The cab stopped at the door of Lord Lansmere's house. Randal had suspected Violante to be there; he resolved to ascertain. Randal descended from his vehicle and rang the bell. The lodge-keeper opened the great wooden gates.
"I have called to see the young lady staying here--the foreign young lady."
Lady Lansmere had been too confident of the security of her roof to condescend to give any orders to her servants with regard to her guest, and the lodge-keeper answered directly--
"At home, I believe, sir. I rather think she is in the garden with my lady."
"I see," said Randal. And he did see the form of Violante at a distance. "But, since she is walking, I will not disturb her at present. I will call another day."
The lodge-keeper bowed respectfully, Randal jumped into his cab--"To Curzon Street--quick!"
Harley had made one notable oversight in that appeal to Beatrice's better and gentler nature, which he intrusted to the advocacy of Leonard--a scheme in itself very characteristic of Harley's romantic temper, and either wise or foolish, according as his indulgent theory of human idiosyncracies in general, and of those peculiar to Beatrice di Negra in especial, was the dream of an enthusiast, or the inductive conclusion of a sound philosopher.
Harley had warned Leonard not to fall in love with the Italian--he had forgotten to warn the Italian not to fall in love with Leonard; nor had he ever anticipated the probability of that event. This is not to be very much wondered at; for if there be anything on which the most sensible men are dull-eyed, where those eyes are not lighted by jealousy, it is as to the probabilities of another male creature being beloved. All, the least vain of the whiskered gender, think it prudent to guard themselves against being too irresistible to the fair sex; and each says of his friend, "Good fellow enough, but the last man for _that_ woman to fall in love with!"
But certainly there appeared on the surface more than ordinary cause for Harley's blindness in the special instance of Leonard.
Whatever Beatrice's better qualities, she was generally esteemed worldly and ambitious. She was pinched in circumstances--she was luxurious and extravagant; how was it likely that she could distinguish any aspirant, of the humble birth and fortunes of the young peasant author? As a coquette, she might try to win his admiration and attract his fancy; but her own heart would surely be guarded in the triple mail of pride, poverty, and the conventional opinions of the world in which she lived. Had Harley thought it possible that Madame di Negra could stoop below her station, and love, not wisely, but too well, he would rather have thought that the object would be some brilliant adventurer of fashion--some one who could turn against herself all the arts of deliberate fascination, and all the experience bestowed by frequent conquest. One so simple as Leonard--so young and so new! Harley L'Estrange would have smiled at himself, if the idea of that image subjugating the ambitious woman to the disinterested love of a village maid, had once crossed his mind. Nevertheless, so it was, and precisely from those causes which would have seemed to Harley to forbid the weakness.
It _was_ that fresh, pure heart--it was that simple, earnest sweetness--it was that contrast in look, in tone, in sentiment, and in reasonings, to all that had jaded and disgusted her in the circle of her admirers--it was all this that captivated Beatrice at the first interview with Leonard. Here was what she had confessed to the sceptical Randal she had dreamed and sighed for. Her earliest youth had passed into abhorrent marriage, without the soft, innocent crisis of human life--virgin love. Many a wooer might have touched her vanity, pleased her fancy, excited her ambition--her heart had never been awakened: it woke now. The world, and the years that the world had wasted, seemed to fleet away as a cloud. She was as if restored to the blush and the sigh of youth--the youth of the Italian maid. As in the restoration of our golden age is the spell of poetry with us all, so such was the spell of the poet himself on her.
Oh, how exquisite was that brief episode in the life of the woman palled with the "hack sights and sounds" of worldly life! How strangely happy were those hours, when, lured on by her silent sympathy, the young scholar spoke of his early struggles between circumstance and impulse, musing amidst the flowers, and hearkening to the fountain; or of his wanderings in the desolate, lamp-lit streets, while the vision of Chatterton's glittering eyes shone dread through the friendless shadows. And as he spoke, whether of his hopes or his fears, her looks dwelt fondly on the young face, that varied between pride and sadness--pride ever so gentle, and sadness ever so nobly touching. She was never weary of gazing on that brow, with its quiet power; but her lids dropped before those eyes, with their serene, unfathomable passion. She felt, as they haunted her, what a deep and holy thing love in such souls must be. Leonard never spoke to her of Helen--that reserve every reader can comprehend. To natures like his, first love is a mystery; to confide it is to profane. But he fulfilled his commission of interesting her in the exile and his daughter. And his description of them brought tears to her eyes. She inly resolved not to aid Peschiera in his designs on Violante. She forgot for the moment that her own fortune was to depend on the success of those designs. Levy had arranged so that she was not reminded of her poverty by creditors--she knew not how. She knew nothing of business. She gave herself up to the delight of the present hour, and to vague prospects of a future, associated with that young image--with that face of a guardian angel that she saw before her, fairest in the moments of absence: for in those moments came the life of fairyland, when we shut our eyes on the world, and see through the haze of golden reverie. Dangerous, indeed, to Leonard would have been the soft society of Beatrice di Negra, had his heart not been wholly devoted to one object, and had not his ideal of woman been from that object one sole and indivisible reflection. But Beatrice guessed not this barrier between herself and him. Amidst the shadows that he conjured up from his past life, she beheld no rival form. She saw him lonely in the world as she was herself. And in his lowly birth, his youth, in the freedom from presumption which characterised him in all things, (save that confidence in his intellectual destinies, which is the essential attribute of genius,) she but grew the bolder by the belief that, even if he loved her, he would not dare to hazard the avowal.
And thus, one day, yielding as she had been ever wont to yield, to the impulse of her quick Italian heart--how she never remembered--in what words she could never recall--she spoke--she owned her love--she pleaded, with tears and blushes, for love in return. All that passed was to her as a dream--a dream from which she woke with a fierce sense of agony, of humiliation--woke as the "woman scorned." No matter how gratefully, how tenderly Leonard had replied--the reply was refusal. For the first time she learned she had a rival; that all he could give of love was long since, from his boyhood, given to another. For the first time in her life that ardent nature knew jealousy, its torturing stings, its thirst for vengeance, its tempest of loving hate. But, to outward appearance, silent and cold she stood as marble. Words that sought to soothe fell on her ear unheeded: they were drowned by the storm within. Pride was the first feeling that dominated the warring elements that raged in her soul. She tore her hand from that which clasped hers with so loyal a respect. She could have spurned the form that knelt not for love, but for pardon, at her feet. She pointed to the door with the gesture of an insulted queen. She knew no more till she was alone. Then came that rapid flash of conjecture peculiar to the storms of jealousy; that which seems to single from all nature the one object to dread and to destroy; the conjecture so often false, yet received at once by our convictions as the revelation of instinctive truth. He to whom she had humbled herself loved another; whom but Violante?--whom else, young and beautiful, had he named in the record of his life? None! And he had sought to interest her, Beatrice di Negra, in the object of his love--hinted at dangers, which Beatrice knew too well--implied trust in Beatrice's will to protect. Blind fool that she had been! This, then, was the reason why he had come, day after day, to Beatrice's house; this was the charm that had drawn him thither; this--she pressed her hands to her burning temples, as if to stop the torture of thought. Suddenly a voice was heard below, the door opened, and Randal Leslie entered.
Punctually at eight o'clock that evening, Baron Levy welcomed the new ally he had secured. The pair dined _en tête à tête_, discussing general matters till the servants left them to their wine. Then said the Baron, rising and stirring the fire--then said the Baron, briefly and significantly--
"As regards the property you spoke of," answered Randal, "I am willing to purchase it on the terms you name. The only point that perplexes me is how to account to Audley Egerton, to my parents, to the world, for the power of purchasing it."
"True," said the Baron, without even a smile at the ingenious and truly Greek manner in which Randal had contrived to denote his meaning, and conceal the ugliness of it--"true, we must think of that. If we could manage to conceal the real name of the purchaser for a year or so--it might be easy--you may be supposed to have speculated in the Funds; or Egerton may die, and people may believe that he had secured to you something handsome from the ruins of his fortune."
"Little chance of Egerton's dying."
"Humph!" said the Baron. "However, this is a mere detail, reserved for consideration. You can now tell us where the young lady is?"
"Certainly. I could not this morning--I can now. I will go with you to the Count. Meanwhile, I have seen Madame di Negra; she will accept Frank Hazeldean if he will but offer himself at once."
"Will he not?"
"No! I have been to him. He is overjoyed at my representations, but considers it his duty to ask the consent of his parents. Of course they will not give it; and if there be delay, she will retract. She is under the influence of passions, on the duration of which there is no reliance."
"What passions? Love?"
"Love; but not for Hazeldean. The passions that bring her to accept his hand are pique and jealousy. She believes, in a word, that one, who seems to have gained the mastery over her affections with a strange suddenness, is but blind to her charms, because dazzled by Violante's. She is prepared to aid in all that can give her rival to Peschiera; and yet, such is the inconsistency of woman, (added the young philosopher, with a shrug of the shoulders,) that she is also prepared to lose all chance of securing him she loves, by bestowing herself on another!"
"Woman indeed, all over!" said the Baron, tapping the snuff-box, (Louis Quinze,) and regaling his nostrils with a scornful pinch. "But who is the man whom the fair Beatrice has thus honoured? Superb creature! I had some idea of her myself when I bought up her debts; but it might have embarrassed me, on more general plans, as regards the Count. All for the best. Who's the man? Not Lord L'Estrange?"
"I do not think it is he; but I have not yet ascertained. I have told you all I know. I found her in a state so excited, so unlike herself, that I had no little difficulty in soothing her into confidence so far. I could not venture more."
"And she will accept Frank?"
"Had he offered to-day she would have accepted him!"
"It may be a great help to your fortunes, _mon cher_, if Frank Hazeldean marry this lady without his father's consent. Perhaps he may be disinherited. You are next of kin."
"How do you know that?" asked Randal, sullenly.
"It is my business to know all about the chances and connections of any one with whom I do money matters. I do money matters with young Mr Hazeldean; so I know that the Hazeldean property is not entailed; and, as the Squire's half-brother has no Hazeldean blood in him, you have excellent expectations."
"Did Frank tell you I was next of kin?"
"I rather think so; but I am sure _you_ did."
"When you told me how important it was to you that Frank should marry Madame di Negra. _Peste! mon cher_, do you think I'm a blockhead?"
"Well, Baron, Frank is of age, and can marry to please himself. You implied to me that you could help him in this."
"I will try. See that he call at Madame di Negra's to-morrow, at two precisely."
"I would rather keep clear of all apparent interference in this matter. Will you not arrange that he call on her?"
"I will. Any more wine? No;--then let us go to the Count's."
The next morning Frank Hazeldean was sitting over his solitary breakfast-table. It was long past noon. The young man had risen early, it is true, to attend his military duties, but he had contracted the habit of breakfasting late. One's appetite does not come early when one lives in London, and never goes to bed before daybreak.
There was nothing very luxurious or effeminate about Frank's rooms, though they were in a very dear street, and he paid a monstrous high price for them. Still, to a practised eye, they betrayed an inmate who can get through his money, and make very little show for it. The walls were covered with coloured prints of racers and steeple-chases, interspersed with the portraits of opera-dancers--all smirk and caper. Then there was a semicircular recess, covered with red cloth, and fitted up for smoking, as you might perceive by sundry stands full of Turkish pipes in cherry-stick and jessamine, with amber mouthpieces; while a great serpent hookah, from which Frank could no more have smoked than he could have smoked out of the head of a boa constrictor, coiled itself up on the floor; over the chimney-piece was a collection of Moorish arms. What use on earth, ataghan and scimitar, and damasquined pistols, that would not carry straight three yards, could be to an officer in his Majesty's Guards, is more than I can conjecture, or even Frank satisfactorily explain. I have strong suspicions that this valuable arsenal passed to Frank in part-payment of a bill to be discounted. At all events, if so, it was an improvement on the bear that he had sold to the hairdresser. No books were to be seen anywhere, except a Court Guide, a Racing Calendar, an Army List, the Sporting Magazine complete, (whole bound in scarlet morocco, at about a guinea per volume,) and a small book, as small as an Elzevir, on the chimney-piece, by the side of a cigar-case. That small book had cost Frank more than all the rest put together; it was his Own Book, his book _par excellence_; book made up by himself--his BETTING BOOK!
On a centre table were deposited Frank's well-brushed hat--a satin-wood box, containing kid-gloves, of various delicate tints, from primrose to lilac--a tray full of cards and three-cornered notes--an opera-glass, and an ivory subscription ticket to his opera stall.
In one corner was an ingenious receptacle for canes, sticks, and whips--I should not like, in these bad times, to have paid the bill for them;--and, mounting guard by that receptacle, stood a pair of boots as bright as Baron Levy's--"the force of brightness could no further go." Frank was in his dressing-gown--very good taste--quite Oriental--guaranteed to be true India cachmere, and charged as such. Nothing could be more neat, though perfectly simple, than the appurtenances of his breakfast-table;--silver tea-pot, ewer and basin--all fitting into his dressing-box--(for the which may Storr and Mortimer be now praised, and some day paid!) Frank looked very handsome--rather tired, and exceedingly bored. He had been trying to read the _Morning Post_, but the effort had proved too much for him.
Poor dear Frank Hazeldean!--true type of many a poor dear fellow who has long since gone to the dogs. And if, in this road to ruin, there had been the least thing to do the traveller any credit by the way! One feels a respect for the ruin of a man like Audley Egerton. He is ruined _en roi!_ From the wrecks of his fortune he can look down and see stately monuments built from the stones of that dismantled edifice. In every institution which attests the humanity of England, was a record of the princely bounty of the public man. In those objects of party, for which the proverbial sinews of war are necessary--in those rewards for service, which private liberality can confer--the hand of Egerton had been opened as with the heart of a king. Many a rising member of Parliament, in those days when talent was brought forward through the aid of wealth and rank, owed his career to the seat which Audley Egerton's large subscription had secured to him; many an obscure supporter in letters and the press looked back to the day when he had been freed from the gaol by the gratitude of the patron. The city he represented was embellished at his cost; through the shire that held his mortgaged lands, which he had rarely ever visited, his gold had flowed as a Pactolus; all that could animate its public spirit, or increase its civilisation, claimed kindred with his munificence, and never had a claim disallowed. Even in his grand careless household, with its large retinue and superb hospitality, there was something worthy of a representative of that time-honoured portion of our true nobility--the untitled gentlemen of the land. The great commoner had, indeed, "something to show" for the money he had disdained and squandered. But for Frank Hazeldean's mode of getting rid of the dross, when gone, what would be left to tell the tale? Paltry prints in a bachelor's lodging; a collection of canes and cherry-sticks; half-a-dozen letters in ill-spelt French from a _figurante_; some long-legged horses, fit for nothing but to lose a race; that damnable Betting-Book; and--_sic transit gloria_--down sweeps some hawk of a Levy, on the wings of an I O U, and not a feather is left of the pigeon!
Yet Frank Hazeldean has stuff in him--a good heart, and strict honour. Fool though he seem, there is sound sterling sense in some odd corner of his brains, if one could but get at it. All he wants to save him from perdition is, to do what he has never yet done--viz., pause and think. But, to be sure, that same operation of thinking is not so easy for folks unaccustomed to it, as people who think--think!
"I can't bear this," said Frank suddenly, and springing to his feet. "This woman, I cannot get her out of my head. I ought to go down to the governor's; but then if he gets into a passion and refuses his consent, where am I? And he will too, I fear. I wish I could make out what Randal advises. He seems to recommend that I should marry Beatrice at once, and trust to my mother's influence to make all right afterwards. But when I ask, '_Is_ that your advice?' he backs out of it. Well, I suppose he is right there. I can understand that he is unwilling, good fellow, to recommend anything that my father would disapprove. But still--"
Here Frank stopped in his soliloquy, and did make his first desperate effort to--think!
Now, O dear reader, I assume, of course, that thou art one of the class to which thought is familiar; and, perhaps, thou hast smiled in disdain or incredulity at that remark on the difficulty of thinking which preceded Frank Hazeldean's discourse to himself. But art thou quite sure that when thou hast tried to _think_ thou hast always succeeded? Hast thou not often been duped by that pale visionary simulacrum of thought which goes by the name of _reverie?_ Honest old Montaigne confessed that he did not understand that process of sitting down to think, on which some folks express themselves so glibly. He could not think unless he had a pen in his hand, and a sheet of paper before him; and so, by a manual operation, seized and connected the links of ratiocination. Very often has it happened to myself, when I have said to Thought peremptorily, "Bestir thyself--a serious matter is before thee--ponder it well--think of it," that that same Thought has behaved in the most refractory, rebellious manner conceivable--and instead of concentrating its rays into a single stream of light, has broken into all the desultory tints of the rainbow, colouring senseless clouds, and running off into the seventh heaven--so that after sitting a good hour by the clock, with brows as knit as if I was intent on squaring the circle, I have suddenly discovered that I might as well have gone comfortably to sleep--I have been doing nothing but dream--and the most nonsensical dreams! So when Frank Hazeldean, as he stopped at that meditative "But still"--and leaning his arm on the chimney-piece, and resting his face on his hand, felt himself at the grave crisis of life, and fancied he was going "to think on it," there only rose before him a succession of shadowy pictures. Randal Leslie with an unsatisfactory countenance, from which he could extract nothing;--the Squire, looking as black as thunder in his study at Hazeldean;--his mother trying to plead for him, and getting herself properly scolded for her pains;--and then off went that Will-o'-the-wisp which pretended to call itself Thought, and began playing round the pale charming face of Beatrice di Negra in the drawing-room at Curzon Street, and repeating, with small elfin voice, Randal Leslie's assurance of the preceding day, "as to her affection for you, Frank, there is no doubt of _that_; she only begins to think you are trifling with her." And then there was a rapturous vision of a young gentleman on his knee, and the fair pale face bathed in blushes, and a clergyman standing by the altar, and a carriage and four with white favours at the church door; and of a honeymoon, which would have astonished as to honey all the bees of Hymettus. And in the midst of these phantasmagoria, which composed what Frank fondly styled "making up his mind," there came a single man's elegant rat-tat-tat at the street door.
"One never _has_ a moment for _thinking_," cried Frank, and he called out to his valet "Not at home."
But it was too late. Lord Spendquick was in the hall, and presently within the room. How d'ye do's were exchanged and hands shaken.
LORD SPENDQUICK.--"I have a note for you, Hazeldean."
FRANK, (lazily.)--"From whom?"
LORD SPENDQUICK.--"Levy. Just come from him--never saw him in such a fidget. He was going into the city--I suppose to see X. Y. Dashed off this note for you--and would have sent it by a servant, but I said I would bring it."
FRANK, (looking fearfully at the note.)--"I hope he does not want his money yet. _Private and confidential_--that looks bad."
SPENDQUICK.--"Devilish bad indeed."
Frank opens the note and reads half aloud, "Dear Hazeldean."
SPENDQUICK, (interrupting.)--"Good sign! He always 'Spendquicks' me when he lends me money; and 'tis 'My dear Lord' when he wants it back. Capital sign!"
Frank reads on, but to himself, and with a changing countenance--
"Dear Hazeldean,--I am very sorry to tell you that, in consequence of the sudden failure of a house at Paris with which I had large dealings, I am pressed, on a sudden, for all the ready money I can get. I don't want to inconvenience you; but do try and see if you can take up those bills of yours which I hold, and which, as you know, have been due some little time. I had hit on a way of arranging your affairs; but when I hinted at it, you seemed to dislike the idea; and Leslie has since told me that you have strong objections to giving any security on your prospective property. So no more of that, my dear fellow. I am called out in haste to try what I can do for a very charming client of mine, who is in great pecuniary distress, though she has for her brother a foreign Count, as rich as Croesus. There is an execution in her house. I am going down to the tradesman who put it in, but have no hope of softening him; and I fear there will be others before the day is out. Another reason for wanting money, if you can help me, _mon cher!_--An execution in the house of one of the most brilliant women in London--an execution in Curzon Street, May Fair! It will be all over the town, if I can't stop it.--Yours in haste, LEVY.
"_P.S._--Don't let what I have said vex you too much. I should not trouble you if Spendquick and Borrowell would pay me something. Perhaps you can get them to do so."
* * * * *
Struck by Frank's silence and paleness, Lord Spendquick here, in the kindest way possible, laid his hand on the young Guardsman's shoulder, and looked over the note with that freedom which gentlemen in difficulties take with each other's private and confidential correspondence. His eye fell on the postscript. "Oh, damn it," cried Spendquick, "but that's too bad--employing you to get me to pay him! Such horrid treachery. Make yourself easy, my dear Frank; I could never suspect you of anything so unhandsome. I could as soon suspect myself of--paying him--"
"Curzon Street! Count!" muttered Frank, as if waking from a dream. "It must be so." To thrust on his boots--change his dressing-robe for a frock-coat--catch at his hat, gloves, and cane--break from Spendquick--descend the stairs--a flight at a leap--gain the street--throw himself into a cabriolet; all this was done before his astounded visitor could even recover breath enough to ask "What's the matter?"
Left thus alone, Lord Spendquick shook his head--shook it twice, as if fully to convince himself that there was nothing in it; and then re-arranging his hat before the looking-glass, and drawing on his gloves deliberately, he walked down stairs, and strolled into White's, but with a bewildered and absent air. Standing at the celebrated bow-window for some moments in musing silence, Lord Spendquick at last thus addressed an exceedingly cynical, sceptical, old _roué_:--
"Pray, do you think there is any truth in the stories about people in former times selling themselves to the devil?"
"Ugh," answered the _roué_, much too wise ever to be surprised. "Have you any personal interest in the question?"
"I!--no; but a friend of mine has just received a letter from Levy, and he flew out of the room in the most extra-or-di-na-ry manner--just as people did in those days when their time was up! And Levy, you know, is--"
"Not quite as great a fool as the other dark gentleman to whom you would compare him; for Levy never made such bad bargains for himself. Time up! No doubt it is. I should not like to be in your friend's shoes."
"Shoes!" said Spendquick, with a sort of shudder; "you never saw a neater fellow, nor one, to do him justice, who takes more time in dressing than he does in general. And, talking of shoes--he rushed out with the right boot on the left foot, and the left boot on the right. Very mysterious." And a third time Lord Spendquick shook his head--and a third time that head seemed to him wond'rous empty.
But Frank had arrived in Curzon Street--leapt from the cabriolet--knocked at the door, which was opened by a strange-looking man in a buff waistcoat and corduroy smalls. Frank gave a glance at this personage--pushed him aside--and rushed up stairs. He burst into the drawing-room--no Beatrice was there. A thin elderly man, with a manuscript book in his hands, appeared engaged in examining the furniture and making an inventory, with the aid of Madame di Negra's upper servant. The thin man stared at Frank, and touched the hat which was on his head. The servant, who was a foreigner, approached Frank, and said, in broken English, that his lady did not receive--that she was unwell, and kept her room. Frank thrust a sovereign into the servant's hand, and begged him to tell Madame di Negra that Mr Hazeldean entreated the honour of an interview. As soon as the servant vanished on this errand, Frank seized the thin man by the arm--"What is this?--an execution?"
"For what sum?"
"Fifteen hundred and forty-seven pounds. We are the first in possession."
"There are others, then?"
"Or else, sir, we should never have taken this step. Most painful to our feelings, sir; but these foreigners are here to-day, and gone to-morrow. And--"
The servant re-entered. Madame di Negra would see Mr Hazeldean. Would he walk up stairs? Frank hastened to obey this summons.
Madame di Negra was in a small room which was fitted up as a boudoir. Her eyes showed the traces of recent tears, but her face was composed, and even rigid, in its haughty though mournful expression. Frank, however, did not pause to notice her countenance--to hear her dignified salutation. All his timidity was gone. He saw but the woman whom he loved, in distress and humiliation. As the door closed on him, he flung himself at her feet. He caught at her hand--the skirt of her robe.
"Oh! Madame di Negra!--Beatrice!" he exclaimed, tears in his eyes, and his voice half-broken by generous emotion; "forgive me--forgive me; don't see in me a mere acquaintance. By accident I learned, or, rather, guessed--this--this strange insult to which you are so unworthily exposed. I am here. Think of me--but as a friend--the truest friend. Oh! Beatrice"--and he bent his head over the hand he held--"I never dared say so before--it seems presuming to say it now--but I cannot help it. I love you--I love you with my whole heart and soul--to serve you--if only but to serve you!--I ask nothing else." And a sob went from his warm, young, foolish heart.
The Italian was deeply moved. Nor was her nature that of the mere sordid adventuress. So much love and so much confidence! She was not prepared to betray the one, and entrap the other.
"Rise--rise," she said, softly; "I thank you gratefully. But do not suppose that I--"
"Hush--hush!--you must not refuse me. Hush!--don't let your pride speak."
"No--it is not my pride. You exaggerate what is occurring here. You forget that I have a brother. I have sent for him. He is the only one I can apply to. Ah! that is his knock! But I shall never, never forget that I have found one generous noble heart in this hollow world."
Frank would have replied, but he heard the Count's voice on the stairs, and had only time to rise and withdraw to the window, trying hard to repress his agitation and compose his countenance. Count di Peschiera entered--entered as a very personation of the beauty and magnificence of careless, luxurious, pampered, egotistical wealth. His surtout, trimmed with the costliest sables, flung back from his splendid chest. Amidst the folds of the glossy satin that enveloped his throat, gleamed a turquoise, of such value as a jeweller might have kept for fifty years before he could find a customer rich and frivolous enough to buy it. The very head of his cane was a masterpiece of art, and the man himself, so elegant despite his strength, and so fresh despite his years!--It is astonishing how well men wear when they think of no one but themselves!
"Pr-rr!" said the Count, not observing Frank behind the draperies of the window; "P-rr--. It seems to me that you must have passed a very unpleasant quarter of an hour. And now--_Dieu me damne_--_quoi faire!_"
Beatrice pointed to the window, and felt as if she could have sunk into the earth for shame. But as the Count spoke in French, and Frank did not very readily comprehend that language, the words escaped him; though his ear was shocked by a certain satirical levity of tone.
Frank came forward. The Count held out his hand, and, with a rapid change of voice and manner, said, "One whom my sister admits at such a moment must be a friend to me."
"Mr Hazeldean," said Beatrice, with meaning, "would indeed have nobly pressed on me the offer of an aid which I need no more, since you, my brother, are here."
"Certainly," said the Count, with his superb air of _grand seigneur_; "I will go down and clear your house of this impertinent _canaille_. But I thought your affairs were with Baron Levy. He should be here."
"I expect him every moment. Adieu! Mr Hazeldean." Beatrice extended her hand to her young lover with a frankness which was not without a certain pathetic and cordial dignity. Restrained from farther words by the Count's presence, Frank bowed over the fair hand in silence, and retired. He was on the stairs, when he was joined by Peschiera.
"Mr Hazeldean," said the latter, in a low tone, "will you come into the drawing-room?"
Frank obeyed. The man employed in his examination of the furniture was still at his task; but at a short whisper from the Count he withdrew.
"My dear sir," said Peschiera, "I am so unacquainted with your English laws, and your mode of settling embarrassments of this degrading nature, and you have evidently showed so kind a sympathy in my sister's distress, that I venture to ask you to stay here, and aid me in consulting with Baron Levy."
Frank was just expressing his unfeigned pleasure to be of the slightest use, when Levy's knock resounded at the street-door, and in another moment the Baron entered.
"Ouf!" said Levy, wiping his brows and sinking into a chair as if he had been engaged in toils the most exhausting--"Ouf! this is a very sad business--very; and nothing, my dear Count, nothing but ready money can save us here."
"You know my affairs, Levy," replied Peschiera, mournfully shaking his head, "and that though in a few months, or it may be weeks, I could discharge with ease my sister's debts, whatever their amount, yet at this moment, and in a strange land, I have not the power to do so. The money I brought with me is nearly exhausted. Can you not advance the requisite sum?"
"Impossible!--Mr Hazeldean is aware of the distress under which I labour myself."
"In that case," said the Count, "all we can do to-day is to remove my sister, and let the execution proceed. Meanwhile I will go among my friends, and see what I can borrow from them."
"Alas!" said Levy, rising and looking out of the window--"alas! we cannot remove the Marchesa--the worst is to come. Look!--you see those three men; they have a writ against her person: the moment she sets her foot out of these doors she will be arrested."[M]
"Arrested!" exclaimed Peschiera and Frank in a breath.
"I have done my best to prevent this disgrace, but in vain," said the Baron, looking very wretched. "You see, these English tradespeople fancy they have no hold upon foreigners. But we can get bail; she must not go to prison--"
"Prison!" echoed Frank. He hastened to Levy and drew him aside. The Count seemed paralysed by shame and grief. Throwing himself back on the sofa, he covered his face with his hands.
"My sister!" groaned the Count--"daughter to a Peschiera, widow to di Negra!" There was something affecting in the proud woe of this grand patrician.
"What is the sum?" whispered Frank, anxious that the poor Count should not overhear him; and indeed the Count seemed too stunned and overwhelmed to hear anything less loud than a clap of thunder!
"We may settle all liabilities for £5000. Nothing to Peschiera, who is enormously rich. _Entre nous_, I doubt his assurance that he is without ready money. It may be so, but--"
"£5000! How can I raise such a sum!"
[M] At that date the law of _mesne process_ existed still.
"You, my dear Hazeldean? What are you talking about? To be sure, you could raise twice as much with a stroke of your pen, and throw your own debts into the bargain. But--to be so generous to an acquaintance!"
"Acquaintance--Madame di Negra!--the height of my ambition is to claim her as my wife!"
"And these debts don't startle you?"
"If a man loves," answered Frank simply, "he feels it most when the woman he loves is in affliction. And," he added, after a pause, "though these debts are faults, kindness at this moment may give me the power to cure for ever both her faults and my own. I can raise this money by a stroke of the pen! How?"
"On the Casino property."
Frank drew back.
"No other way?"
"Of course not. But I know your scruples; let us see if they can be conciliated. You would marry Madame di Negra; she will have £20,000 on her wedding-day. Why not arrange that, out of this sum, your anticipative charge on the Casino property be paid at once? Thus, in truth, it will be but for a few weeks that the charge will exist. The bond will remain locked in my desk--it can never come to your father's knowledge, nor wound his feelings. And when you marry, (if you will but be prudent in the meanwhile,) you will not owe a debt in the world."
Here the Count suddenly started up.
"Mr Hazeldean, I asked you to stay and aid us by your counsel; I see now that counsel is unavailing. This blow on our house must fall! I thank you, sir--I thank you. Farewell. Levy, come with me to my poor sister, and prepare her for the worst."
"Count," said Frank, "hear me. My acquaintance with you is but slight, but I have long known and--and esteemed your sister. Baron Levy has suggested a mode in which I can have the honour and the happiness of removing this temporary but painful embarrassment. I can advance the money."
"No--no!" exclaimed Peschiera. "How can you suppose that I will hear of such a proposition? Your youth and benevolence mislead and blind you. Impossible, sir--impossible! Why, even if I had no pride, no delicacy of my own, my sister's fair fame--"
"Would suffer indeed," interrupted Levy, "if she were under such obligation to any one but her affianced husband. Nor, whatever my regard for you, Count, could I suffer my client, Mr Hazeldean, to make this advance upon any less valid security than that of the fortune to which Madame di Negra is entitled."
"Ha!--is this indeed so? You are a suitor for my sister's hand, Mr Hazeldean?"
"But not at this moment--not to owe her hand to the compulsion of gratitude," answered gentleman Frank.
"Gratitude! And you do not know her heart, then? Do not know--" the Count interrupted himself, and went on after a pause. "Mr Hazeldean, I need not say, that we rank among the first houses in Europe. My pride led me formerly into the error of disposing of my sister's hand to one whom she did not love--merely because in rank he was her equal. I will not again commit such an error, nor would Beatrice again obey me if I sought to constrain her. Where she marries, there she will love. If, indeed, she accept you, as I believe she will, it will be from affection solely. If she does, I cannot scruple to accept this loan--a loan from a brother-in-law--loan to me, and not charged against her fortune! _That_, sir, (turning to Levy, with his grand air,) you will take care to arrange. If she do not accept you, Mr Hazeldean, the loan, I repeat, is not to be thought of. Pardon me, if I leave you. This, one way or other, must be decided at once." The Count inclined his head with much stateliness, and then quitted the room. His step was heard ascending the stairs.
"If," said Levy, in the tone of a mere man of business--"if the Count pay the debts, and the lady's fortune be only charged with your own--after all it will not be a bad marriage in the world's eye, nor ought it to be in a father's. Trust me, we shall get Mr Hazeldean's consent, and cheerfully too."
Frank did not listen; he could only listen to his love, to his heart beating loud with hope and with fear.
Levy sate down before the table, and drew up a long list of figures in a very neat hand--a list of figures on _two_ accounts, which the _post-obit_ on the Casino was destined to efface.
After a lapse of time, which to Frank seemed interminable, the Count reappeared. He took Frank aside, with a gesture to Levy, who rose, and retired into the drawing-room.
"My dear young friend," said Peschiera, "as I suspected, my sister's heart is wholly yours. Stop; hear me out. But unluckily, I informed her of your generous proposal; it was most unguarded, most ill-judged in me, and that has wellnigh spoiled all; she has so much pride and spirit; so great a fear that you may think yourself betrayed into an imprudence you may hereafter regret, that I am sure she will tell you she does not love you, she cannot accept you, and so forth. Lovers like you are not easily deceived. Don't go by her words; but you shall see her yourself and judge. Come."
Followed mechanically by Frank, the Count ascended the stairs and threw open the door of Beatrice's room. The Marchesa's back was turned; but Frank could see that she was weeping.
"I have brought my friend to plead for himself," said the Count in French; "and take my advice, sister, and do not throw away all prospect of real and solid happiness for a vain scruple. _Heed me!_" He retired and left Frank alone with Beatrice.
Then the Marchesa, as if by a violent effort, so sudden was her movement, and so wild her look, turned her face to her wooer, and came up to him, where he stood.
"Oh!" she said, clasping her hands, "is this true? You would save me from disgrace, from a prison--and what can I give you in return? My love! No, no. I will not deceive you. Young, fair, noble, as you are, I do not love you, as you should be loved. Go; leave this house; you do not know my brother. Go, go--while I have still strength, still virtue enough to reject whatever may protect me from him! whatever--may-- Oh--go, go."
"You do not love me," said Frank. "Well, I don't wonder at it; you are so brilliant, so superior to me. I will abandon hope--I will leave you as you command me. But at least I will not part with my privilege to serve you. As for the rest--shame on me if I could be mean enough to boast of love, and enforce a suit, at such a moment."
Frank turned his face and stole away softly. He did not arrest his steps at the drawing-room; he went into the parlour, wrote a brief line to Levy charging him quietly to dismiss the execution, and to come to Frank's rooms with the necessary deeds; and, above all, to say nothing to the Count. Then he went out of the house and walked back to his lodgings.
That evening Levy came to him, and accounts were gone into, and papers signed; and the next morning Madame di Negra was free from debt; and there was a great claim on the reversion of the Casino estates; and at the noon of that next day Randal was closeted with Beatrice; and before the night, came a note from Madame di Negra, hurried, blurred with tears, summoning Frank to Curzon Street. And when he entered the Marchesa's drawing-room, Peschiera was seated beside his sister; and rising at Frank's entrance, said, "My dear brother-in-law!" and placed Frank's hand in Beatrice's.
"You accept me--you accept me--and of your own free will and choice?"
And Beatrice answered, "Bear with me a little, and I will try to repay you with all my--all my--" She stopped short, and sobbed aloud.
"I never thought her capable of such acute feeling, such strong attachment," whispered the Count.
Frank heard, and his face was radiant. By degrees Madame di Negra recovered composure, and she listened with what her young lover deemed a tender interest, but what, in fact, was mournful and humbled resignation, to his joyous talk of the future. To him the hours passed by, brief and bright, like a flash of sunlight. And his dreams, when he retired to rest, were so golden! But, when he awoke the next morning, he said to himself, "What--what will they say at the Hall?"
At that same hour Beatrice, burying her face on her pillow, turned from the loathsome day, and could have prayed for death. At that same hour, Giulio Franzini, Count di Peschiera, dismissing some gaunt, haggard Italians, with whom he had been in close conference, sallied forth to reconnoitre the house that contained Violante. At that same hour, Baron Levy was seated before his desk casting up a deadly array of figures, headed "Account with the Right Hon. Audley Egerton, M.P., _Dr._ and _Cr._"--title-deeds strewed around him, and Frank Hazeldean's post-obit peeping out fresh from the elder parchments. At that same hour, Audley Egerton had just concluded a letter from the chairman of his committee in the city he represented, which letter informed him he had not a chance of being re-elected. And the lines of his face were as composed as usual, and his foot rested as firm on the grim iron box; but his hand was pressed to his heart, and his eye was on the clock; and his voice muttered--"Dr F---- should be here!" And at that hour Harley L'Estrange, who the previous night had charmed courtly crowds with his gay humour, was pacing to and fro the room in his hotel with restless strides and many a heavy sigh;--and Leonard was standing by the fountain in his garden, and watching the wintry sunbeams that sparkled athwart the spray;--and Violante was leaning on Helen's shoulder, and trying archly, yet innocently, to lead Helen to talk of Leonard;--and Helen was gazing steadfastly on the floor, and answering but by monosyllables;--and Randal Leslie was walking down to his office for the last time, and reading, as he passed across the Green Park, a letter from _home_, from his sister; and then, suddenly crumpling the letter in his thin pale hand, he looked up, beheld in the distance the spires of the great national Abbey; and recalling the words of our hero Nelson, he muttered--"Victory _and_ Westminster, but _not_ the abbey!" And Randal Leslie felt that, within the last few days, he had made a vast stride in his ambition;--his grasp on the old Leslie lands--Frank Hazeldean betrothed, and possibly disinherited;--and Dick Avenel, in the back ground, opening, against the hated Lansmere interest, that same seat in Parliament which had first welcomed into public life Randal's ruined patron.
"But some must laugh, and some must weep; Thus runs the world away!"
AMERICAN MILITARY RECONNOISSANCES.
_Notes of a Military Reconnoissance from Fort Leavenworth, in Missouri, to San Diego in California, including parts of the Arkansas, Del Norte, and Gila rivers._ By W. H. EMORY, Brevet-major, Corps Topographical Engineers. New York, 1848. London, Delf.
_Reconnoissances in New Mexico, Texas_, &c. (Reports of the American Secretary at War.) Washington, 1850.
Military works are not exactly the kind of literature we look for from the United States. The gigantic European wars which ensanguined the early years of the century, make us apt to depreciate all contests that have since occurred. With Austerlitz and Jena, Leipzig and Toulouse, Salamanca and Waterloo, fresh in our memory, we scarcely heed the gallant actions of which Hungary and Northern Italy have recently been the scene. Still less do we regard, otherwise than with a smile, the easy triumphs obtained by Anglo-Americans over Indians and Mexicans. And, therefore, we were glad to find, on examining these two bulky volumes of _Military Reconnoissances_, that they had other claims to interest besides the narration of unequal combats between the stalwart and intrepid children of the Union and the degenerate descendants of the Spanish Conquistadores. Their military portions are quite subordinate, and they may be read as books of travel, written by highly intelligent and scientific men. They comprise the notes and reports of several American staff and engineer officers sent at different times to explore New Mexico, Texas, the country of the Navajos Indians, and other wild and little known districts south and west of the States--to which much of the territory thus travelled over has since been annexed. The most copious and interesting of the reports is that of Major (then Lieutenant) Emory, who, in June 1846, received orders to repair to Fort Leavenworth, with three junior officers, and to report himself and party to Colonel Kearney, as field and topographical engineers to his command. Colonel Kearney's column, rather magniloquently styled "The Army of the West," was destined to strike a blow at the northern provinces of Mexico, particularly at New Mexico and California. This "Army of the West" was on a very diminutive scale, consisting of two batteries of six-pounders, three squadrons of dragoons, a regiment of Missouri cavalry, and two companies of infantry. It was part of Lieutenant Emory's instructions that, when military duties permitted, he and his subalterns should give their time and attention to the observation of the regions they were to traverse. The calls upon their military services proving extremely limited, they diligently pursued their peaceable and scientific researches, to which we are now indebted for a closely printed volume of notes, a large number of drawings of scenery, plants, antiquities, Indians, &c., and a map, as large as a table-cloth, of the route of the expedition. The other and more lately printed volume, more miscellaneous, and perhaps less generally interesting in its printed contents, surpasses its companion in the merits of its pictorial portion, consisting of seventy-five plates, many of them very curious, and some of them remarkably good specimens of the new art of printing in colours.
Any common map of North America will show in an instant the route followed by Lieutenant Emory. Starting from Fort Leavenworth, which is situated a little north of the junction of the Kanzas with the Missouri, he marched in a south-westerly direction to Santa Fé, then nearly due south through the country of the Navajos and Apaches Indians, and then west to San Diego on the Pacific. A great portion of this route was through regions previously little explored. The contrary was the case with its earliest portion, namely, from Fort Leavenworth to Bent's Fort, which has been much visited. It is not till he quits the latter place that Lieutenant Emory commences his miscellaneous notes, previously confining himself to scientific, and especially astronomical, observations. From Bent's Fort to Santa Fé was little more than a fortnight's march. At Santa Fé the Mexican general, Armijo, was in command, and there might probably be fighting. But on the approach of the invaders, Armijo's heart failed him: he abandoned, without a shot, his advantageous and very defensible position, and fled southwards.
"As we approached the ruins of the ancient town of Pecos, a large fat fellow, mounted on a mule, came towards us at full speed, and extending his hand to the general, congratulated him on the arrival of himself and army. He said, with a roar of laughter, 'Armijo and his troops have gone to h--, and the Cañon is all clear.' This was the Alcalde of the settlement, two miles up the Pecos from the ruins where we encamped. Pecos, once a fortified town, is built on a promontory or rock, somewhat in the shape of a foot. Here burned, until within seven years, the eternal fires of Montezuma, and the remains of the architecture exhibit, in a prominent manner, the engraftment of the Catholic church upon the ancient religion of the country. At one end of the short spur forming the terminus of the promontory, are the remains of the _estufa_, (stove or furnace for the preservation of the eternal fire,) with all its parts distinct; at the other are the remains of the Catholic church, both showing the distinctive marks and emblems of the two religions. The fires from the _estufa_ burned and sent their incense through the same altars from which was preached the doctrine of Christ. Two religions so utterly different in theory were here, as in all Mexico, blended in harmonious practice until about a century since, when the town was sacked by a band of Indians. Amidst the havoc of plunder, the faithful Indian managed to keep his fire burning in the _estufa_, and it was continued till a few years since, when the tribe became almost extinct. Their devotions rapidly diminished their numbers, until they became so few as to be unable to keep their immense _estufa_ (forty feet in diameter) replenished, when they abandoned the place and joined a tribe of the original race over the mountains, about sixty miles south. There, it is said, to this day they keep up their fire, which has never yet been extinguished. The labour, watchfulness, and exposure to heat, consequent on this practice of their faith, is fast reducing this remnant of the Montezuma race; and a few years will, in all probability, see the last of this interesting people."
The Indians in general, Mr Emory states, were delighted to exchange Mexican for American masters. The day after his arrival at Santa Fé, the chiefs of the large and formidable tribe of the Pueblo Indians came to give in their joyful adhesion to the invaders. These Indians are some of the best and most peaceable inhabitants of New Mexico. Very soon after the Spanish conquest they embraced the religion, manners, and customs of their masters. A tradition was long current amongst them, they told the American officers, that the white man would come from the far east and release them from Spanish bondage. From Taos and other places deputations arrived to give in their allegiance, and to ask protection from hostile Indians; and a band of Navajos, naked savage-looking fellows, also dropped in and took up their quarters with the interpreter to the expedition, just opposite Mr Emory's lodging. "They ate, drank, and slept all the time, noticing nothing but a little cinnamon-coloured naked brat that was playing in the court, which they gazed at with the eyes of gastronomes." The Navajos are a robber tribe, dwelling in holes and caverns in lofty mountains, difficult of access, westward from Santa Fé and the Rio del Norte, and descending at night into the valleys to carry off the fruit, cattle, women, and children of the Mexicans. To assail and subdue them in their strongholds is an enterprise which the Mexicans never dreamed of attempting, and which Mr Emory believed would be no easy task even for his own countrymen. Armijo, during his government of New Mexico, would not allow the inhabitants to make war on these banditti, whom he took advantage of as a means of intimidation and extortion, as a thief might avail of a savage dog. Any who offended him were pretty sure to have a visit from the Navajos. Three years after Mr Emory's expedition, a military reconnoissance was made from Santa Fé to the Navajo country, under command of Colonel Washington, governor of New Mexico. Lieutenant Simpson, of the Topographical Engineers, accompanied it, and we turn to his report (included in the second volume under notice) for some particulars of this predatory tribe and its district. The object of the expedition was to enforce compliance with a treaty made with the Navajos by a United States officer, by which they had pledged themselves to give up all Mexican captives, all murderers of Mexicans, who might be secreted amongst them, and all the Mexican stock they had driven off since the establishment of the government of the United States in that province. Several head-men of the Navajos came into camp for a talk with Colonel Washington and Mr Calhoun, (the Indian agent,) and it was agreed that on the following day the chiefs of the tribe should hold a conference with the American officers. Accordingly, at noon the next day, which was the 31st August, Narbona, the head chief of the Navajos, a man of eighty, whose portrait (that of a handsome old man, with a straight nose, a high forehead, and little or nothing of the savage in his aspect,) is given by Lieutenant Simpson, came into camp, accompanied by two other chiefs, and a colloquy was held with them through Sandoval, Navajo guide and interpreter to the expedition. The Indians agreed to the demands of the white men, who promised them protection and presents, and it was settled that another council should shortly be held at Chelly, for the arrangement of further details.
"The council breaking up, Sandoval harangued some two or three hundred Navajos, ranged before him on horseback; the object, as it occurred to me, being to explain to them the views and purposes of the government of the United States. Sandoval himself, habited in his gorgeous dress, [we could give no idea of its richness and brilliant colouring without here presenting Mr Simpson's 52d plate, a coloured print of a Navajo in full costume,] and all the Navajos as gorgeously decked in red, blue, and white, with rifle erect in hand; the spectacle was very imposing. But soon I perceived there was likely to be some more serious work than mere talking. It appears that it was ascertained very satisfactorily that there was then amongst the horses, in the possession of the Navajos present, one which belonged to a Mexican, a member of Colonel Washington's command. The colonel, particularly as the possessor of it acknowledged it to be stolen, demanded its immediate restoration. The Navajos demurred. He then told them that, unless they restored it immediately, they would be fired into. They replied that the man in whose possession the horse was had fled. Colonel Washington then directed Lieutenant Tores to seize one in reprisal. The Navajos scampered off at the top of their speed. The guard present was then ordered to fire upon them--the result of which was that their head chief, Narbona, was shot dead on the spot; and six others, as the Navajos subsequently told us, were mortally wounded. Major Peck also threw amongst them, very handsomely, much to their terror, when they were afar off and thought they could with safety relax their flight, a couple of round shot. These people evidently gave signs of being tricky and unreliable, and probably never will be chastened into perfect subjection _until troops are stationed immediately amongst them_."
This wholesale shooting, for so trifling a thing as a stolen horse, seems rather sharp practice; but perhaps it was judicious to intimidate the Navajos at first starting. They certainly showed no such formidable resistance as had been anticipated, three years previously, by Lieutenant Emory. The expedition continued its march, preceded by forty Pueblo Indians as an advanced guard, through a most formidable defile, which received the name of Washington Pass. The Pueblos were commanded by a chief of their own election, Owtewa by name, whose portrait, given by Mr Simpson, is more like that of some old weather-beaten Spanish guerilla-leader than of an Indian. Indeed, most of the portraits contained in these two volumes have much of the Spanish character of physiognomy, easily explicable by three centuries of license and oppression. Mariano Martinez, another Navajo chief, has the very features and expression of a Castilian or Biscayan peasant. He came into camp a few days after Narbona's death, embraced Colonel Washington, and declared his wish for peace, and his willingness to comply with the conditions of the treaty. Then, again embracing the American officers, "very impressively and with much endearment," he departed to seek and restore the captives and plunder claimed from his tribe. Fear had probably something to do with his humility and submission, for by this time the expedition was in the very heart of the Navajo country, close to the renowned _cañon_ of Chelly. The word _cañon_, sometimes applied to a shallow valley, more commonly means a very deep and narrow one, or rather a ravine, enclosed between lofty escarpments. The _cañon_ of Chelly is of the latter description, and of most remarkable configuration. It has long been celebrated in Mexico for its great depth and for the impregnable positions it affords, as well as for a strong fort it was said to contain, and which, according to Caravajal, Mr Simpson's Mexican guide, was so high as to require fifteen ladders to scale it, seven of which the said Caravajal affirmed that he, on one occasion, ascended, but was not permitted to go higher. From their camp, within five miles of Chelly, a large party of the American officers visited the _cañon_, which more than fulfilled their anticipations--so great was its depth, so precipitous its rocks, so beautiful and regular its stratification. Plate 48, "View of the cañon of Chelly near its head," although only a rough lithograph on a minute scale, gives an imposing idea of the gloomy depths of this natural wonder. At that spot Mr Simpson estimated it to be about eight hundred feet deep.
"At its bottom," he says, "a stream of water could be seen winding its way along it, the great depth causing it to appear like a mere riband. As far as time would permit an examination, for a depth of about three hundred feet--I could descend no further, on account of the wall becoming vertical--the formation appeared to be sandstone, horizontally stratified with drift conglomerate. At this depth I found, protruding horizontally from the wall, its end only sticking out, a petrified tree of about a foot in diameter, a fragment of which I broke off as a specimen. How did this tree get there? I also picked up at this point, upon the shelf on which I was standing, a species of iron ore, probably red hematite. The colonel commanding returning to camp, after a cursory look at the _cañon_, in order to put the troops in motion for the day's march, I had not the time necessary to make the full examination which I would have liked. I saw, however, enough to assure me that this _cañon_ is not more worthy the attention of the lover of nature than it is of the mineralogist and geologist."
Three days later, Lieutenant Simpson, attended by his assistant engineers and draughtsmen, and escorted by sixty men and several officers, went to reconnoitre the cañon. The account he gives of it is most curious and interesting. At its mouth the walls were low; but as he proceeded, their altitude increased, until, at about three miles from the entrance, they assumed a stupendous appearance. The floor of the ravine, which in some places was no more than one hundred and fifty feet wide--although generally more than double that width--is a heavy sand. "The escarpment walls, which are a red amorphous sandstone, are rather friable, and show imperfect seams of stratification--the dip being slight, and towards the west. Almost perfectly vertical, they look as if they had been chiselled by the hand of art; and occasionally cizous marks, apparently the effect of the rotary attrition of contiguous masses, could be seen on their faces." Having proceeded about three miles, the party turned into a left-hand branch of the cañon. This branch was one hundred and fifty to two hundred yards wide, and its walls of the same towering height as those of the main line of ravine. Two or three patches of corn, with melons and pumpkins growing amongst it, were met with on the way; and then, after following this left-hand branch for half a mile, Mr Simpson turned to his right up a narrow secondary branch, enclosed between vertical walls three hundred feet high, which in some places are without a seam in their surface from top to bottom.
"About half a mile up this branch," continues Mr Simpson, "in the right-hand escarpment wall, is a hemispherical cave, canopied by some stupendous rocks, a small, cool, acceptable spring being sheltered by it. A few yards further, this branch terminates in an almost vertical wall, affording no pathway for the ascent or descent of troops. At the head of this branch I noticed two or three hackberry trees, and also the _stramonium_, the first plant of the kind we have seen. Retracing our steps to the primary branch we had left, we followed it up to its head, which we found but two or three hundred yards above the fork--the side walls still continuing stupendous, and some fine caves being visible here and there within them. I also noticed here some small habitations, made up of natural overhanging rock, and artificial walls, laid in stone and mortar--the latter forming the front portion of the dwelling."
It would be necessary to transcribe the whole of Mr Simpson's minute account of his visit to the cañon and its branches, in order to convey to the reader a just idea of that most extraordinary and gigantic fissure. Even then the idea obtained might be incommensurate with the grandeur of the subject, if the description were unaided by the three plates, dashed off with a bold, rough pencil, in which Simpson's draughtsman has given us a better notion of the grim aspect and huge proportions of the ravine than words could well supply. Having explored the lateral branches, without seeing any sign of the celebrated fort, the party then continued their progress up the main channel, passing some ruined villages, perched on shelves of the rock wall. Near one of these, about five miles from the entrance, they observed, in the bed of the cañon, the ordinary Navajo hut, (a common Indian lodge of conical form, constructed of poles united at the apex, and covered with bark, bushes, and mud,) and, hard by it, a peach orchard.
"A mile further, observing several Navajos, high above us, on the verge of the north wall, shouting and gesticulating as if they were very glad to see us, what was our astonishment when they commenced tripping down the almost vertical wall before them as nimbly and dexterously as minuet-dancers! Indeed, the force of gravity, and their descent upon a steep inclined plane, made such a kind of performance absolutely necessary to insure their equilibrium. All seemed to allow that this was one of the most wonderful feats they had ever witnessed."
After this meeting, the party passed more ruins of considerable villages, mostly built on shelves, and accessible only by ladders. Fragments of curiously-marked pottery were picked up, of which drawings are given. The walls, still of red sandstone, increased in the magnificence of their proportions, at intervals presenting _façades_ hundreds of feet in length, and three or four hundred in height, beautifully smooth and vertical. About eight miles up the cañon, a small rill, previously lost in the deep sand, reappeared above ground. At last, at nine and a half miles from the entrance, the horses of the Pueblo Indians who accompanied him not being strong enough to go farther, and the much talked-of _presidio_ or fort not appearing, Mr Simpson resolved to return to camp. The height of the walls, at the point where he turned back, he ascertained to be five hundred and two feet, and still increasing. The length of the cañon he conjectures--he does not mention on what grounds--to be about twenty-five miles. Its average width, as far as he ascended it, was two hundred yards.
"Both in going up and returning through the cañon, groups of Navajos and single persons were seen by us, high above our heads, gazing upon us from its walls. A fellow upon horseback, relieved as he was sharply against the sky, and scanning us from his elevation, appeared particularly picturesque. Whenever we met them in the cañon, they were very friendly--the principal chief, Martinez, joining and accompanying us in our exploration, and the proprietors of the peach orchards bringing out blanket-loads of the fruit (at best but of ordinary quality) for distribution among the troops. I noticed the cross, the usual emblem of the Roman Catholic faith, stuck up but in one instance in the cañon, and this is the only one I have seen in the Navajo country."
Mr Simpson was assured by Martinez that he and his companions were the first American troops that had visited Chelly. His visit, he considers, has solved the mystery of the wonderful cañon, and dissipated the notion previously entertained that upon a plateau, near its mouth, stood a high insulated fort, to which the Navajos repaired when danger approached. The report was very likely to be originated by the elevated position of some of the old Mexican villages, and also, perhaps, by the lofty shelves of the rock walls, to which the sure-footed Navajos may have fled when enemies were at hand, and to scale some of which would have taken more than the "fifteen ladders" spoken of by Caravajal. We cannot but regret that Mr Simpson did not prosecute his researches till he reached the extremity of the main cañon. However unnecessary in a military point of view, the results of such an expedition could not have been otherwise than highly interesting to science, and especially to the geologist. We can hardly doubt that the perusal of his report will stimulate adventurous travellers to an early exploration of the wonderful cañon. It offers, indeed, a wide field for speculation, and abounds in points of the strongest interest. Its origin--whether a natural fissure or from aqueous agents (Mr Simpson seems to incline to the former hypothesis)--its ruins, broken pottery, and other antiquities--its minerals and plants, are all fresh and fascinating subjects for investigation. The Navajos, too, are a people well worth making acquaintance with; presenting, as they do, a singular mixture of barbarism with ingenuity and civilisation. From what Mr Simpson had seen of them, he fully expected, on ascending the cañon, to find they had better habitations than the wretched wigwams we have already described. But no others did he discover, save ruined houses and villages, of whose origin the Navajos could give no account; and he was struck by the anomaly, that dwellers in miserable mud lodges should be the best blanket manufacturers in the world. "The _sarape_ Navajo," says Gregg, in his _Commerce of the Prairies_, "is of so close and dense a texture, that it will frequently hold water almost as well as gum-elastic cloth. It is, therefore, highly prized for protection against the rains. Some of the finer qualities are often sold among the Mexicans as high as fifty or sixty dollars each." Gregg also speaks of the Navajos producing "some exquisite styles of cotton textures," and of their ingenuity in feather embroidery; but Mr Simpson could discover amongst them no traces of either of these two arts, although they are fond of decorating their persons with plumage of birds, and display much taste in its selection and arrangement. Mr Simpson particularly noticed their wickerwork bowls and vases, which, like the blankets, held water, and were superior to anything of the kind he had seen in the States. The credit of making these was attributed, not to the Navajos, but to the Coystero Indians.
After quitting the neighbourhood of the Navajos, Lieutenant Emory and "The Army of the West" marched due south, following the course of the Del Norte for a distance of more than two hundred miles from Santa Fé. Turning off from the river, after parting with their waggons by reason of the badness of the road, their progress continued, without anything of particular interest occurring, until they reached the neighbourhood of the river Gila, when a number of Apache Indians, a tribe celebrated for their thievish propensities, came into camp, headed by their chief, Red Sleeve, swore eternal friendship to the Americans, and everlasting hatred to the Mexicans. Henceforward, they protested, the white man might pass alone and unharmed through their country: if on foot, he should be mounted--if hungry, they would give him food. Carson, the guide, only twinkled his keen eye, and declared he would not trust one of them. They were eager to trade.
"They had seen some trumpery about my camp which pleased them, and many of them collected there. My packs were made. One of my gentlest mules at that moment took fright, and went off like a rocket on the back trail, scattering to the right and left all who opposed him. A large, elegant-looking woman, mounted a straddle, more valiant than the rest, faced the brute, and charged upon him at full speed. This turned his course back to the camp; and I rewarded her by half-a-dozen biscuits, and through her intervention, succeeded in trading two broken-down mules for two good ones, giving two yards of scarlet cloth in the bargain. By this time, a great number of Indians had collected about us, all differently dressed, and some in the most fantastical style. The Mexican dress and saddles predominated, showing where they had chiefly made up their wardrobe. One had a jacket made of a Henry Clay flag, which aroused unpleasant sensations; for the acquisition, no doubt, cost one of my countrymen his life. Several wore beautiful helmets, decked with black feathers, which, with the short shirt, waist-belt, bare legs, and buskins, gave them the look of antique Grecian warriors. Most were furnished with the Mexican cartridge-box, which consists of a strap round the waist, with cylinders inserted for the cartridges."
The Apaches are a nomadic tribe, living in huts of twigs, easily constructed, and abandoned with indifference. In the saddle from infancy, they are perfect horsemen, and usually well mounted--their horses being kept in excellent condition by the abundant pasture that clothes the pleasant hills between the Del Norte and the Gila. Round the skirts of these they hover, overlooking the plains of Chihuahua and Sonora, and watching for those caravans whose slender escort encourages an attack. They are inveterate thieves, faithless and treacherous; but their treatment by the Mexicans was ill calculated to improve their character, or to turn them from their evil courses. The Mexicans slew them unmercifully whenever they could catch them, and used every species of stratagem to decoy them into their power.
"The former governor of Sonora," Mr Emory informs us, "employed a bold and intrepid Irishman, named Kirker, to hunt the Apaches. He had in his employment whites and Delaware Indians, and was allowed, besides a per diem, 100 dollars per scalp, and 25 dollars for a prisoner. A story is also told of one Johnson, an Englishman, an Apache trader, who, allured by the reward, induced a number of these people to come to his camp, and placed a barrel of flour for them to help themselves. When the crowd of men, women, and children was thickest, he fired a six-pounder amongst them from a concealed place, and killed great numbers."
What wonder if tribes which have met such perfidious and cruel treatment are eminently distrustful of the white men! Two poor wretches, with whom the head of the American column fell in, could not believe their senses when suffered to ride away unmolested. They spoke no Spanish, but a language described by Mr Emory as resembling the bark of a mastiff; and it was thought they belonged to the tribe of Tremblers, so called from the emotion they display at meeting white men. Some distance down the Gila, a second band of Apaches was met. They were anxious to have "a talk," and the Americans wished to trade; but it was difficult to dispel Indian mistrust. Alone and unarmed, Mr Emory went to meet them at the top of a hill, where their chief, although well mounted, and surrounded by six or eight of his armed followers, showed great trepidation on receiving the weaponless white man. Mr Emory remained as a hostage, whilst a young Indian, bolder than his fellows, went into camp. The ice thus broken, intercourse followed. Amongst others, a middle-aged and particularly garrulous Apache lady visited the American bivouac.
"She had on a gauze-like dress, trimmed with the richest and most costly Brussels lace, pillaged, no doubt, from some fandango-going belle of Sonora. She straddled a fine grey horse; and whenever her blanket dropped from her shoulders, her tawny form could be seen through the transparent gauze. After she had sold her mule, she was anxious to sell her horse, and careered about to show his qualities. Charging at full speed up a steep hill, the fastenings of her dress broke, and her bare back was exposed to the crowd, who ungallantly raised a shout of laughter. Nothing daunted, she wheeled short round with surprising dexterity, and seeing the mischief done, coolly slipped the dress from her arms, and tucked it between the seat and the saddle. In this state of nudity she rode through camp, from fire to fire, until, at last, attaining the object of her ambition, a soldier's red flannel shirt, she made her adieu in that new costume."
Scattered through Mr Emory's journal, and especially after passing Santa Fé, and whilst following, with occasional deviations, the course of the Gila, are many notes and observations of much interest to the naturalist. Traversing the plains near the little town of Socoro on the Del Norte, Mr Emory noticed, as the chief growth of the sandy soil, the iodeodonda, or _Larrea Mexicana_--a new plant, which, when crushed, gives out a most offensive smell of creosote. It grows to about the height of a man on horseback, and is the only bush which mules, even when extremely hungry, refuse to eat. On the 8th October, shortly before attaining one of the southernmost points of his journey, Mr Emory found himself surrounded by a vegetable world totally different from that of the United States. The variety of enormous cacti was so great that it was impossible, with his slender means of transport, to carry away a complete collection of them. Just after turning off from the Del Norte, he passed through a valley where grew a new variety of the evergreen oak, with leaves like the holly, and which was covered with round red balls, the size and colour of apricots, the effects of disease, or of the sting of an insect. Three days later he fell in with the famous mezcal, (an agave,) "about three feet in diameter, having broad leaves, armed with shark-like teeth, and arranged in concentric circles, which terminate in the middle of the plant in a perfect cone. Of this the Apaches make molasses, and cook it with horse meat." In the districts where this plant flourishes, artificial craters are found, into which the Indians throw the fruit, with heated stones, to remove the sharp thorns and reduce it to its saccharine state. In the course of one of his botanical rambles, during a day's halt, rendered necessary by severe marches, Mr Emory came upon a settlement of tarantulas, which, on his approach, rushed fearlessly to the front of their little caves and assumed an attitude of defence. He threw a peeble at them, and it would be hard to imagine, he says, concentrated in so small a space, so much expression of defiance, fury, and ability to do mischief, as the pleasant little colony presented.
From the 1st to the 9th of November, we find frequent mention in the "Notes" of an extraordinary species of cactus, to which Dr Engelmann of St Louis, in an interesting botanical letter appended to Mr Emory's work, proposes to give the name of _Cereus Giganteus_. Under this name we find it depicted at page 96, in a plate where a mounted Indian, halted at its base, gives, by comparison, an imposing idea of its height. It also forms a most singular and striking feature of several of the landscapes scattered through this volume--of one particularly, on the Gila, where it has the effect of a chain of artificial columns or signal-posts. One of its most curious characteristics appears to be its invariable perpendicularity both of stem and branches; the latter, as soon as they bud out from the main trunk or from each other, hastening to turn their heads heavenwards, and to spring up in an exactly parallel direction to the parent stem. "The stem," says Dr Engelmann, "is tall, 25 to 60 feet high, and 2 to 6 feet in circumference--erect, simple, or with a few erect branches." Mr Emory's first mention of this pillar-like plant is as follows:--
"At the point where we left the Gila, there stands a cereus six feet in circumference, and so high that I could not reach half way to the top of it with the point of my sabre by many feet; and a short distance up the ravine is a grove of these plants, much larger than the one I measured, and with large branches. These plants bear a saccharine fruit much prized by the Indians and Mexicans. They are without leaves, the fruit growing to the boughs. The fruit resembles the burr of a chesnut, and is full of prickles; but the pulp resembles that of the fig, only more soft and luscious. In some it is white, in some red, and in others yellow, but always of exquisite taste."
The name of _pitahaya_ is given to this cactus by the Californians; but that, according to Dr Engelmann, is a general name applied in Mexico and South America to all the large columnar cacti which bear an edible fruit. "We encamped in a grove of cacti of all kinds," writes Mr Emory on the 4th November; "amongst them the huge pitahaya, one of which was fifty feet high." The next day "we followed the Gila for six miles. The pitahaya and every other variety of cactus flourished in great luxuriance. The pitahaya, tall, erect, and columnar in its appearance, grew in every crevice from the base to the tops of the mountains, and in one place I saw it growing nearly to its full dimensions from a crevice not much broader than the back of my sabre. These extraordinary-looking plants seem to seek the wildest and most unfrequented places." Although the course of the Gila is nine degrees to the north of the tropics, the vegetation, as exhibited in a plate at page 112, has something very tropical in its gigantic luxuriance and strange character. The geological features of the country are of corresponding peculiarity. On the 8th November, the course of the expedition was traversed by "a seam of yellowish-coloured igneous rock, shooting up into irregular spires and turrets, one or two thousand feet in height. It ran at right angles to the river, and extended to the north and to the south, in a chain of mountains as far as the eye could reach. One of these towers was capped with a substance many hundred feet thick, disposed in horizontal strata of different colours, from deep red to light yellow." A sketch of this singular chain of natural spires and towers is annexed to Mr Emory's description by one of his companions. At this part of the journey, although beaver "sign" and tracks of game were seen, few animals made their appearance. On the 6th November, the only creatures observed were lizards, scorpions, and tarantulas. Five days after, however, Mr Emory secured a long-sought bird, an inhabitant of the mezquite tree, having indigo-blue plumage, with top knot and a long tail, and whose wings, when spread, exhibit a white ellipse. "Strolling over the hills alone," says Mr Emory, "in pursuit of seeds and geological specimens, my thoughts went back to the States; and when I turned from my momentary aberrations, I was struck most forcibly with the fact that not one object in the whole view, animal, vegetable, or mineral, had anything in common with the products of any State in the Union, with the single exception of the cotton-wood, which is found in the Western States, and seems to grow wherever water flows from the vertebral range of mountains of North America."
On the 9th November, the expedition, which had long been struggling over precipitous mountains and through deep _cañones_, emerged upon the plain, and for a moment all considered the difficulties of the journey at an end. The real gain was confined to the howitzers, which, dragged by main force of men and mules over a terribly rugged country, had by this time had every part of their running gear repeatedly broken and replaced. The artillerymen rejoiced at the level which lightened their labour. It was, however, but an exchange of one set of difficulties for another. Grass ceased when the mountains were left behind, and the mules were fain to feed on willow and cotton-wood. And soon there were short commons for men as well as for beasts. Their first day's march over the plain brought them into the vicinity of two Indian tribes of a very different stamp from the predatory Navajos and perfidious Apaches. The Maricopas and Pimos almost realise those virtuous and heroic savages whom we had hitherto thought to exist nowhere but in Fenimore Cooper's novels. They gallopped into the American camp in a frank confident style, delighted to find they had to do with white men instead of with their enemies the Apaches, of whose approach a report had been spread. There was a Pimo village nine miles off, and in three hours its inhabitants crowded into the camp, laden with corn, beans, honey, and water-melons, and opened a brisk trade. It was Mr Emory's observing night, but the throng, and, the perpetual galloping to and fro, interfered greatly with the correctness of his observations. He was struck by the unsuspicious character of these people, who would leave their packs in the camp and absent themselves for hours. Theft was apparently unknown amongst them. With the mounted party, which first came in, was a man on foot, who appeared able to keep pace with the fleetest horse, and who, on recovering his breath, announced himself as interpreter to Juan Antonio Llunas, chief of the Pimos. With him for a guide, Mr Emory and other officers visited some neighbouring ruined buildings, concerning whose origin he could give them no information except a wild tradition in which he himself did not believe. They then proceeded to the Pimos village, the interpreter going a pace which kept their mules at a long trot.
"We were much impressed with the beauty, order, and disposition of the arrangements for irrigating and draining the land. Corn, wheat, and cotton are the crops of this peaceful and intelligent race of people. All the crops have been gathered in, and the stubbles show they have been luxuriant. The cotton has been picked, and stacked for drying on the top of sheds. The fields are subdivided by ridges of earth into rectangles of about 200 x 100 feet, for the convenience of irrigating. The fences are of sticks wattled with willow and mezquite and, in this particular, set an example of economy in agriculture worthy to be followed by the Mexicans, who never use fences at all. The houses of the people are mere sheds, thatched with willow and corn stalks."
This is rather a surprising account of the agricultural accomplishments of a tribe of North American Indians. It is to be remarked, however, of all these tribes, that their progress is generally confined to one of the arts of civilised life. We have seen the Navajos, whose costume is brilliant and complete, dwelling in wretched wigwams, and scarcely cultivating a few scanty patches of corn. The Pimos, who, as tillers of the ground, are superior in some respects to the Mexicans, go naked, save a breech cloth and a cotton blanket, whilst their women wear the blanket only, pinned around their loins. And beads and red cloth are as much prized by them as by any savages on the face of the earth. For these coveted articles, for blankets, and for cotton cloth, the Americans obtained a supply of corn and beans, and two or three bullocks, but no horses or mules. These were not plentiful amongst the Pimos, who extravagantly prized the few they had. One dashing young fellow, with ivory teeth and flowing hair, dashed full speed into camp on a wild unruly horse, which flew from side to side as he approached, alarmed at the unusual appearance of the white men.
"The Maricopa--for he was of that tribe--was without saddle or stirrups, and balanced himself to the right and left with such ease and grace, as to appear part of his horse. He succeeded in bringing his fiery nag into the heart of the camp, and was immediately offered a very advantageous trade by a young officer. Stretching himself on his horse's neck, he caressed it tenderly, at the same time shutting his eyes--meaning thereby that no offer could tempt him to part with his charger.... To us it was a rare sight, to be thrown in the midst of a large nation of what are termed wild Indians, surpassing many of the Christian nations in agriculture, little behind them in the useful arts, and immeasurably before them in honesty and virtue. During the whole of yesterday, our camp was full of men, women, and children, who sauntered amongst our packs unwatched, and not a single instance of theft was reported. This peaceful and industrious race are in possession of a beautiful and fertile basin. Living remote from the civilised world, they are seldom visited by whites, and then only by those in distress, to whom they generously furnish horses and food. Aguardiente (brandy) is known among their chief men only, and its abuse and the vices it entails are yet unknown. They are without other religion than a belief in one great and overruling spirit. Their peaceful disposition is not the result of incapacity for war, for they are at all times enabled to meet and vanquish the Apaches in battle; and when we passed, they had just returned from an expedition into the Apache country to revenge some thefts and other outrages, with eleven scalps and thirteen prisoners. The prisoners are sold as slaves to the Mexicans."
Soon after quitting the country of the friendly Pimos and Maricopas, the Army of the West came upon the trail of an enemy, and at night fires were seen upon the opposite side of the Gila, which were thought to be those of the Mexican general, Castro. Mr Emory took a few dragoons and went to reconnoitre. It was not Castro, but a party of Mexicans conveying five hundred horses to Sonora for his use. This was a precious capture, for long marches and scanty forage, besides frequent want of water, had dismounted most of the American cavalry. Unfortunately, the prize horses were unbroken, and ill adapted for immediate service. They were good for meat, however, for by this time the expedition was on horseflesh rations. On the 28th November, "Major Swords found in a concealed place one of the best pack-mules slaughtered, and the choice bits cut from his shoulders and flanks--stealthily done by some mess less provident than others." The next day, it is recorded by Mr Emory that a horse was killed for food, which was eaten with great appetite, and all of it consumed; and when the expedition reached the beautiful valley of the Agua Caliente, all waving with yellow grass, and halted at the farm of an American named Warner, so sharp set were they that Mr Emory assures us that seven of his men ate, at one single meal, a fat full-grown sheep. Near Warner's _rancheria_ is the fountain whence the valley derives its name. From the fissure of a granite rock, there gushes forth a magnificent hot spring, of the temperature of 137° Fahrenheit. The volume of water is very large, and for a long distance the air is loaded with the fumes of sulphuretted hydrogen. Flowing down the same valley is a cold spring, of the temperature of 45°; and, without the aid of machinery, the cold and warm water may be mingled to the required temperature.
"The Indians have made pools for bathing. They huddle round the basin of the spring to catch the genial warmth of its vapours; and in cold nights immerse themselves in the pools to keep warm. A day will come, no doubt, when the invalid and pleasure-seeking portion of the white race will assemble here to drink and bathe in these waters, to ramble over the hills which surround them on all sides, and to sit under the shade of the great live oaks that grow in the valley."
This remarkable spring, destined, perhaps, at no remote period, to become the Saratoga of the Pacific States, rises in the heart of California; and, after marching away from it, the American troops might daily expect an encounter with the enemy. This occurred two days later. The Americans were victorious over greatly superior numbers, but with the loss of several officers killed and badly wounded. Mr Emory refers his readers to General Kearny's despatch for the account of the affair, but himself furnishes an elaborate topographical sketch of the positions and movements of the contending parties, in what he calls the "action" at San Pasqual, which seems to have been a smart but very brief combat. The next day the Californians were driven with the utmost ease from a hill which they occupied, abandoning it on the approach of only six or eight Americans. By this time the Army of the West was, without exception, "the most tattered and ill-fed body of men that ever the United States mustered under her colours." The dragoons were diminished to a single squadron, provisions were exhausted, horses dead, mules on their last legs, men emaciated and reduced to a third of their numbers. For want of proper conveyances, it would have taken half the fighting men to transport the wounded; so it was held expedient to wait till these could ride. After dark on the 8th December, a naval lieutenant, Kit Carson the guide, and an Indian, set out for San Diego, thence twenty-nine miles distant, to ask reinforcements. There was but slender hope of their passing the enemy's pickets, which occupied all the passes to the town. Nevertheless they succeeded; and, during the night of the 10th, two hundred sailors and marines came into camp. Next morning the Californians, panic-struck at this accession to their enemies, fled precipitately, leaving most of their cattle behind them; and, on the 12th, the way-worn expedition entered San Diego.
English readers will find little to interest them in Mr Emory's narrative of some subsequent military operations in California, of sundry skirmishes, and of the capture of Pueblo de los Angeles. This, however, fills but a few pages. In the volume there is much to reward perusal, whether by the antiquarian, the geologist, the botanist, or the reader for mere amusement's sake. The same must be said of Lieutenant Simpson's report, to which we are indebted for the curious account of the cañon of Chelly and the Navajos Indians; and also of the report of Captain Marcy, who, during the summer of 1849, marched, with an escort of thirty dragoons and fifty infantry, from Fort Smith, in Arkansas territory, to Santa Fé, and back again. The objects of the movement were to afford protection to the American citizens then emigrating to the newly-acquired provinces of New Mexico and California, to ascertain and establish the best route from the old to the new states, and to conciliate, as far as possible, the various Indian tribes inhabiting the extensive region through which lay his road. The whole distance gone over was about two thousand miles; and Captain Marcy's notes and observations are valuable to travellers and emigrants in that direction. The Comanches and Kioways (famous horse-stealers both of them) were the principal Indian tribes he met with; and, of the degree of civilisation prevailing amongst them, we may form some notion by an extract from his journal of the 19th June:--
"The Comanche women are, as in many other wild tribes, the slaves of their lords; and it is a common practice for their husbands to lend or sell them to a visitor for one, two, or three days at a time. There is no alternative for the women but to submit, as their husbands do not hesitate, in case of disobedience, to punish them by cutting off an ear or a nose. I should not imagine, however, that they would often be subjected to this degradation; for, if we may judge of them by the specimens before us, they are the most repulsive-looking objects of the female kind on earth--covered with dirt, their hair cut close to their heads, and with features ugly in the extreme. The men who visited us this morning were armed with the bow, quiver, and shield; and they gave us an opportunity of witnessing the force with which they can throw the arrow. As we were about to slaughter an ox, one of the Indians requested to use his bow for that purpose; and, approaching to within about twenty yards of the animal, strained his bow to the full extent, and let fly an arrow, which buried itself in the vitals of the ox, passing through and breaking two ribs in its course. It is thus that they kill the buffalo, upon which these Indians, who are called the Upper Comanches, or 'buffalo-eaters,' mainly depend for a subsistence."
This description contrasts strongly with that given of the gentle, intelligent, and highly moral Pimos and Maricopas, amongst whom polygamy is unknown, and the crime of adultery entails universal contempt and detestation upon the criminals. These two tribes, apparently, form the only exception to the general character for treacherous and marauding propensities attributed to the Indians of Western Texas, New Mexico, and California. Lieutenant Whiting, in his report of a reconnoissance on the Texan frontier, denounces the Comanches as the fiercest and most formidable of all--the very pest of the western route; but gives scarcely a better character to Lipans, Wacos, and the other tribes inhabiting that region. Their speedy extermination will probably be an indirect result of Californian discoveries, and of the prodigious growth of the Anglo-Saxon race on the northern continent of America.
OUR LONDON COMMISSIONER.
On presenting our credentials from _Maga_, we have been received in all quarters with the greatest possible respect. We have had private boxes presented to us at both the Italian Operas, and a free ticket, entitling the bearer to a glass of gin and water, at the Yorkshire Stingo. Museums are thrown open to us on the mere announcement of our name; Kew Gardens burst into bloom on our approach; and with regard to levee and drawing-room, we content ourselves with a distant and respectful allusion to the obliging behaviour of some of the loftiest personages in this realm; we will only say that the Lord Chamberlain and the Lord Steward have behaved in a manner to secure our highest approbation and esteem. May it be long--in the figurative language of the Coal-hole--before they cut their sticks! Nor is it only with regard to the existent objects of art or elegance that we are called upon to express our acknowledgments. Artists have already waited on us to express their anxiety to do honour to our employer by attentions showered upon ourselves. To three of the most venerated members of the Royal Academy we were reluctantly compelled to refuse our consent, when they proposed a peristrephic panorama--eight miles in length--to be called The Commissioner's Voyage to London. We declined the glory of being the central figure in a linked sweetness so very long drawn out, more especially as we are conscious of not being in our best looks if represented at the rougher periods of our experience as passenger in a Leith smack. We omit an enumeration of the tributary offerings from Truman, Hanbury & Co., as also from Sir Felix Booth. A blush of pleasure settles on our countenance when we reflect on these friendly gifts, as you may observe, perhaps, on our return, by a close inspection of our nose. Churches and chapels, no less than distilleries and museums, have vied with each other in the warmth of their reception. From gentlemanly High-Church, as from puritanical Dissent, we have received the most pressing invitations, particularly on occasion of a charity sermon. Country or colour no object, we have been equally addressed by the United-Negro-Mental-Cultivation-Society, and the Red-Republican-topsy-turvy Association, under the presidency of Louis Blanc. With such an "open sesame" in our possession as is supplied by the appointment we now hold, it will be our own fault if a single object worthy of observation is omitted from our report; and we have only to say, before we proceed to the serious business of our commission, that we shall discharge the duties of our office with a high and fearless disregard of all consequences whatsoever. If we are a little too severe on the vanity or other bad feelings of any of the thin-skinned subjects of our remarks, we will observe that we are of an Irish family, in which the shortest of our three brothers is six feet two; and that we are still in the possession of the hair-triggers, with which our grandfather fought his way to the head of the Bar at the expense of twelve meetings with the various leading counsel on the opposite side. For the satisfaction of less belligerent but equally sensitive opponents, we will mention that one of our cousins is an attorney in very little practice, and that his address will be forthcoming on the slightest hint of legal proceedings. After this flourish of trumpets, we toss our hat into the ring, shake hands all round with all the world, and proceed to work.
The objects which we take into our charge in the present communication, are the places of amusement. First in the rank of these are, of course, the theatres; but whether from their now existing merits, or from ancient prescription, it is useless at the present time to inquire. To many the word itself has still a magical charm; and, in spite of what is called the decadence of the stage, the inferiority of actors, and the general change of taste, to them the theatre has still unequalled attractions: the poorest side-scenes are superior to Stanfield's finest landscapes; orange-peel is sweeter than Sabæan odours from the spicy shores of Araby the blest; and something, a sentiment, a regret, a recollection, rises to them from the seediest of dresses, and dirtiest of boards, and,
"Like the memory of the just, Smells sweet, and blossoms from the dust."
There are others to whom the theatre is an abomination, who see nothing in it but the abode of misery and the school of vice, who frown upon the steadiest of people sitting quietly in the boxes, and look fiercely down on the humbler tenants of the pit. Let us have a few words, as used often to be observed by a witty and oleaginous friend of ours, on the "general question." People _must_ be amused. That is a universal proposition. It is impossible for all mankind to be for ever bending over books, or calculating ventures, or studying mathematics, or writing history or other works of imagination. "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," and Janet an insufferable girl. All metaphysics and no liveliness, would make them incredibly stupid. All sermons and no relaxation would make them very wicked. Imagine a world of statists and geometricians, strong-minded women and intellectual young ladies, a whole generation of M'Cullochs, and Lardners, and Jellibies, and Miss Bunions! The thing is impossible. We have too many of that sort of people already; and if it were the type of the English character, and we were all condemned by law to the same dreary, useful, honourable, dull, elevated, worthy-of-an-immortal-being and detestable existence, we can only say that a French invasion would to us lose all its terrors, and that we would instantly sell our minié rifle for half price. If people are to be amused, how are we to amuse them?--Respectably of course; improvingly by all means; intellectually if possible. Now, in this united Rome-Babylon-and-Nineveh which rejoices in the name of London, there are two millions and a half of the most active, energetic, bustling, sagacious, and exacting human beings who were ever assembled together before. The variety of tastes must be infinite in the style of their amusements, as in all other things. Mr Muggleton Stentor derives the greatest possible gratification from roaring to a dimly-lighted audience a series of denunciations and forebodings, which excite his congregation like gin; but it would be very hard if Mr Muggleton Stentor were the "arbiter of the elegancies" for everybody else, and there was no way whatever left of getting through an evening unless by listening to the howls and bellowings that are the delight of his warm and philanthropic heart. Would we put an end to the eloquence of Stentor? By no means. Horrible as may be his discord, and bitter as may be his sentiments, his auditors are better employed there than in swilling beer or cheering Bronterre O'Brien. There must be a hundred and fifty thousand people in this city who require relaxation, mental, or bodily, after the toils of the day; or some healthful stimulant after the idleness and listlessness of a rich and luxurious existence. What is to be done for them? You say you can't ask them, or even permit them, to go to the theatre, for there is nothing there to be heard but ribaldry, and nothing learned but immorality and vice. The people who tell you this will tell you in the same breath they have never been in a theatre in their lives! Oh, no! it is too shocking a place for such holy personages to visit; and the ninth commandment is rolled firmly up into a sharp and angular parcel, and sent with all their might against the faces of Henry Hart Milman, Henry Taylor, and Justice Talfourd.
This squeamish horror of the theatre is the result, we are willing to believe, of mere ignorance and stupidity. The word theatre itself is partly to blame for this; for the old meaning has never altogether eradicated itself from the half-educated mind. The amphitheatre still rises up with its burning Christians, its murdered gladiators, and fights of wild beasts. Before another class of objectors, the theatre rises as the chosen headquarters of the irreverence, iniquity, and debauchery of the wits of Charles's time. The one class of entertainments is just as much exploded as the other. It is not more likely that the lovers of Congreve and Wycherly will be restored to the stage, than the slaughtering of French prisoners, or the conversion of oily churchmen into a row of lamps. Depend upon it, in no play of English manufacture within these twenty years, has there occurred a line, or a thought, which the most fastidious censor would be inclined to blot. The force of ancient custom, or the prestige of long-established fame, may still cause a play to be represented which is not adapted to the pure taste or morals of the present day--the spectator may have the pain of seeing equivocal situations received with applause, or coarse expressions escaping the condemnation they deserve; but if the lofty in station and mind, the matrons and daughters of England, the highly-polished gentlemen who keep the drawing-room and ball-room as pure from the whispers of evil as the inner court of Diana's temple, were to frequent the theatre, a still farther advance would be made in the refinement of the drama; vice would be shown its own image, but stript of all its allurements; and no better school of truth, or honour, or morality, could possibly be imagined, than a stage teeming with the poetic fancies of our noblest authors, and subdued and chastened by the presence and approbation of our best and wisest men. The faults, then, such as they still exist upon the stage, are caused, not by the people who patronise the theatre, but by those who desert it. It is really too bad to hear a stiff-neckclothed individual, who can spout you off a few hundred lines from the Greek dramatists that would make the gods in the shilling gallery shudder with horror and indignation, find fault with the productions of the modern playwrights as licentious or revolting. A man perhaps has gained his mitre by a knowledge of the scanning of the lines, and an intimate acquaintance with the most frightful allusions of Aristophanes, and would disfrock his chaplain if that worthy dignitary were seen in a box at the Princess's, laughing at the honest humour of "She Stoops to Conquer." This is by no means a light question, if you grant our first postulate, that people must be amused. Not more necessary to village children are national or parochial schools--not more beneficial to mechanics and artificers are literary and scientific institutes--not more useful to the humble classes are lectures on temperance or education, than the elevation of the theatre to the hundreds of thousands in populous city pent, who fly to them for information--for a lifting up of their thoughts into a world of imagination, and run the risk, through the negligence, the pharisaism, the ignorance, or the pride of those who should regulate public taste, of finding poison set before them in the place of wholesome food--of having the melodies and humanities of Shakspeare supplanted by "Dick Turpin" and "Jack Sheppard." As long as "Macbeth" and "Hamlet" are looked upon with the same detestation as the "Fiend of the Hollow," and the "Mysteries of Paris," so long will the chances be equal that the angel of darkness will expel the angel of light. Remember, therefore, O ye who indiscriminately abuse the theatre, and sanctimoniously turn away your eyes from the stage! that you are not only deserting a strong post, but basely surrendering it to the enemy; that you are building up the school-room door, and transferring the possession of it to people who may perhaps convert it into a gin-shop. Let us therefore hear no more hootings against theatrical performances in the abstract, but let them stand or fall by their own merits.
These are our wise saws; now for our modern instances. The night is cold. We have been busy all day, no matter in what occupation, even if it were writing a few pages in Maga; our chop is done; our lodging looks "lone and eerie;" of books for the moment we are tired; besides, our eyes require repose--our spirits need refreshment--the sight of human faces will be a charm--the sound of human voices will teach us to answer, as of old, to the "still, sad music of humanity;" we will wend our way to a theatre, and take an interest in the fates and fortunes, the loves and sufferings, of some lovely imaginary beings--and forget our bills, our labours, our disappointments, in following the strange eventful history that shall be unrolled before us, without any effort of our own. Muffling ourselves in our paletôt, and well enwrapt in a belcher fogle, we pursue our way through the still crowded streets, illuminated by the gorgeous windows, and find ourselves in the Haymarket. We are in ample time, and find the house only now beginning to fill. Let us look at the irreligious and disreputable pagans who occupy the boxes. Did you ever commit a murder, you old ruffian with the benevolent countenance so tenderly taking charge of those three blooming grandchildren of yours? You are a frightful hypocrite, sir, to look so calm and happy when you know very well that you come very often into this hotbed of iniquity, where you have constantly been taught to poison your oldest port in order to hocus and rob your friends. And as to you, you Messalina Manning! in the black satin, do you think all your graceful manners and pleasant smiles will conceal your real character from the Jeremiah Tawells and Doctor Dodds, who saw you bring your own nieces in your own quiet family coach into this high-school of Satan, where they will be most powerfully advised to deceive any husband they may catch, and elope with a captain in the Blues? The pit also is now nearly full. How we shudder to think of the forgers, swindlers, housebreakers, horse-stealers, drunkards, and smugglers, who are all looking so intolerably respectable, many of them accompanied by dowdy comfortable-looking companions, who pass themselves off for their wives, but all assembled here for the express purpose of taking lessons in depravity! Our eye is upon you--you there on the sixth bench from the orchestra! You are a farmer, sir, fresh from Essex; and having achieved an unenviable notoriety in Colchester, by perjury and highway robbery, you come up to perfect your education by listening to the shameful instruction communicated to you by an atrocious play. Yes, pig-stealer, our eye is upon you, and we give you up already, in spite of your expanse of greatcoat, and your shiny top-boots, your joyous face, and rubicund complexion, as a rascal fit only for transportation or the gallows. Mr Rush was once seen at a play! See, there is a quiver of expectation in the house--the curtain rapidly rises, and the play of "Woman's Heart" is begun. We are in a sculptor's studio; statues are placed all round the room; on a table is a block of marble just beginning to feel the breath of genius and flush into life; and on a sofa reclining in a graceful drapery, and watched by the intense eyes of the enraptured artist, we see a tall poetic-looking girl, with fine light hair parted on her majestic forehead, and an expression on her countenance as if she listened with her heart as well as with her ears. That is Isolina, a foster-sister of Angiolo the artist; his model, his all in all, his bride. Their language is charming, from its purity and affection; her voice is soft and low, an excellent thing in woman--but her motions have a strange constraint. She puts out her arms uncertainly; she stretches forth her feet searchingly; and with a full winning trustingness, places her hand on Angiolo's shoulder--for she is blind. But all other senses are sharpened to a painful degree. She feels his coldness in a single tone of his voice; detects the waning of the sympathy that once existed between them in the slightest motion of his form, and inquires with those sightless eyes, and scarcely in articulate words, what can be the reason of the change? He offers her the affection of a brother--the carefulness of a guardian; and she feels that she is deserted. Ambition has entered his heart. Princes invite him to their tables; the sovereign himself is honoured in the friendship of the artist and man of genius, who will bestow an immortality on his reign. There is no room for love in a heart so occupied, and he casts her off; not angrily, not even unkindly, but selfishly, and at the instigation of his pride. She throws herself for consolation on the kindness of the old peasant, the father of Angiolo, and the protector of her infancy; she utters no word against the deserter, but, as is the nature of woman's heart, loves him still. One interview she resolves to have, and finds her way to the magnificent palace in which the sculptor now pursues his art; fatigued with her walk, and overcome by her emotions, she lies down upon the sofa concealed in her cloak, and falls asleep. Angiolo comes in; his great friends visit him--a noble--a prince--and finally the duke. The beautiful girl is discovered, and makes an impression on the sovereign; but Angiolo is unyielding--a struggle there evidently is; but the world comes between him and the tenderness of his affection, and the blind girl finds that she is hopelessly forsaken. Two years have passed; her father, the Marquis of Albrizzi, has recognised her, taken her from the hands of the peasant, educated her, refined her, and by the touch of science removed the cloud from her sight, and she is now the noblest heiress in the land, and her hand is petitioned for by the duke. She rejects his suit, but agrees, at her father's request, to sit for her portrait to the most celebrated artist of his time. She has never _seen_ Angiolo; the Marquis has made it imperative on the painter not to speak; for he dreads the effect of the recognition on his child, and in dumb show a very pretty scene takes place. But envy has been at work against the painter: a seditious picture, imitating his style, and even containing his forged initials on the canvass, has been exhibited in the market-place; a warrant has been issued for his arrest, and in the very midst of Isolina's vague anticipations and involuntary expectations--mysterious intimations, conveyed to her by magnetic sympathies, that her lover is before her--all doubts are converted into certainty, when the emissaries of the police rush into the room, attaint him of treason, and extract from him the indignant exclamation of his innocence. The voice has done it all! That sound has brought back all the past. Angiolo is hurried off to prison; but the purpose of Isolina is fixed. She follows him to his dungeon--obtains his pardon from the duke, who magnanimously foregoes his pretensions to her hand, brings better thoughts to Angiolo, whose infatuation was only momentary, and who had dearly paid, by two years of misery, for the heartlessness of his ambition; and even the proud Marquis is reconciled to the nuptials by the pleadings of his daughter, and the fame and genius of her lover.
Such is the feeble outline of the story. The language sometimes rises into exquisite poetry--is at all times smooth and graceful--and conveys a lesson, we think, that must "mend the manners and improve the heart." The authoress is the performer of the part of the heroine; and a charming performer of it she is. Never was anything more pure and classic than her appearance in the earlier scenes. The same feminine softness continues through the play, but elevated by occasional force and dignity when she "shapes her heart with woman's meekness to all duties of her rank." We will be bound to say, that not one thought unfit for cloistered nun or vestal pale was awakened throughout that play. The audience took a touch of decorum from the subdued and melting tenderness of the story; and even the oranges, soda-water, and ginger-beer, were announced to a thirsty and pleased audience in quieter tones than usual. The painter-sculptor was represented by Mr Barry Sullivan, a gentleman with a most Milesian name, but an unimpeachable English pronunciation. In this character there was no room for the display of tempestuous passion or energetic declamation; the flow of his words, as of his actions, was calm and equable; and if it had not been for the pleasantness of his look, and the gentlemanly propriety of his movements, it would have been impossible for him to regain the sympathies of the audience, after his cold rejection of the blind girl's affection. We confess _we_ have not forgiven him for it yet; and if Isolina had been a sister of ours, nothing should have prevented our having a shot at him at twelve paces. Several of the other characters were executed in a very remarkable manner; and by the word "executed" here, we mean that they were fairly put to death. Some men have blank impassive features--mouths and eyes that have no expression at all; but compensate for it by the possession of legs of the most marked individuality, which there is no possibility of mistaking for anybody else's legs; regular, round, unfeatured sausages, which entirely destroy the assumption of any part by the unfortunate being who is perched upon them; but in this unchanging, stiff, unimaginative stolidity always reduce the Italian prince or Roman senator, or Grecian hero, to be nothing more nor less than plain Jack Vickers, or whatever his name may be, with his unimpulsive, unintellectual pins. A sad misfortune this; and the misery is aggravated by the apparent obtuseness of the owner of them, to the obvious bar they interpose between him and success in his profession. Can't those miserable individuals stuff the sawdust into different shapes, so as not to torment us for ever with Jack Vickers's legs? Come, let us off to the Adelaide gallery, and take a look at the Marionettes.
A pretty place this. A long narrow room, with a slight elevation from the stage, filled with comfortable seats, and closed in at the upper end with a few private boxes. A snug warm habitable apartment; and the stage so small, so low, so narrow, that any of the magnates of Baker Street could find room for it at the end of their drawing-rooms. It doesn't seem more than about nine feet wide, and the proscenium not more than eight feet high. But the proportions throughout are excellently kept; and when the manager walks in, drest in the first style of fashion, and makes a bow to the audience, it is difficult to believe he is about a foot and a half in height; and not very easy to remember that he is merely a stuffed doll. There are some peculiarities, to be sure, about him, which lead you to perceive that he differs from other men. For instance, he comes in rolling sideways, and planting his feet upon the floor in a manner not usual among gentlemen of the present day; nor have we observed that he is imitated by this generation in having his motions steadied by a rope of considerable size attached to the top of his head. But he begins: his attitudes are very good; he suits the action to the word with unfailing correctness, and passes judgment on the different actors, who display their skill before him, with a force and acumen which we look for in vain in the _Edinburgh Review_. Signor Bari Tone is a singer of extraordinary power, and has a perception of the humorous yet unattained by Lablache. He expresses his sentiments on the legitimate drama with an uncompromising truthfulness, which gains our respect even when we differ from him in opinion; and, for our own parts, we consider that his annotations and emendations of the Swan of Avon are worthy of the earliest attention of Mr Charles Knight. A tremendous drama succeeds these introductory flourishes, and the actors exert themselves to the utmost in the Bottle Imp. They enter, we are bound to say, more into the spirit of the author than is usually the case at larger theatres among larger performers. Here there is no underling bending his listless eyes towards the pit in the midst of the very agony of the action, nor any apathetic murderer standing utterly unconcerned when on the eve of executing the fatal deed. Here all is in excellent keeping. The dull dead eyes of the puppets are all turned to the proper part of the stage; their stiff arms are raised in horror, or extended in surprise, at the fitting moment; and, with the exception of four, or perhaps five, of the principal actors in the real stage, we consider that there is less appearance of sawdust and wool in the _dramatis personæ_ at this theatre than at ---- or ----. Here, in this chosen temple of originality and genius, there is nothing to tempt the principal tragedian into tricks of voice or style: the wooden attitude and timber tones are here natural property of the intelligent puppet; no sudden contractions of the countenance convulse the features into an ideal ugliness, such as Fuseli might have envied after his supper of raw pork; no sudden exclamations distend these leather-covered bosoms, like alarms of fire and battle, to subside as suddenly into low whispers or inarticulate groans, like the last agonies of an expiring trombone. No, charming, natural, and truly business-like Marionettes! if one thrill of gratified ambition pervades your hearts at the perusal of these lines, our purpose will have been fully obtained. We pronounce you in your _tout-ensemble_ the most perfect corps of artistes in London; and though we are bound to confess that your performance is tiresome after the first ten minutes, that after the first display of your mechanism you become positively a nuisance, from your imitating humanity so abominably, justice compels us to pass the same judgment on the great majority of your living brethren, larger than you--as merely mechanical, and not a whit more intelligent.
For, after all, what is the use of our Commissionership if we do not speak the truth? We say, then, that in few theatres of London can a fair representation be presented to the public of any dramatic work whatever, which contains more than one principal part; there is scarcely one theatre, in short, where a _play_ can be acted. Let us not blame the unfortunate modern author, therefore, if he accommodates himself to circumstances, and produces a drama with one strongly developed character surrounded by nonentities. It is the sad necessity of his condition, entailed on him by the fact that there exists no power on any one stage of doing justice to more than one part. Mr Phelps, to whom every one interested in the British stage owes a deep debt of gratitude, may illuminate the suburban shades of Islington with flashes of power or pathos, with Hamlet or Othello--such as awakened the rapture or evoked the tears of the thousands of Drury Lane--but how is he supported? The Marionettes would be more natural, the Bateman monstrosities more richly endowed with the human voice divine! And the same holds good in almost every other theatre, unless that in some of them even the one redeeming actor is wanting. But are we less prepared to defend the stage for this? nay, are we less hopeful of its eventful restoration? By no means. The very darkness that has settled upon it at present, foretells the near approach of dawn. It will be found that the free trade in theatres, which was to fill our land with the highest works of art and noblest specimens of acting--which has scattered in a thousand small streams, too shallow to be fertilising, too slow to be sanitary, the majestic river which (contained within its just banks) was deep enough to bear the merchandise of Shakspeare and the war-galleys of the ancient dramatists--it will be found, we repeat, that Dramatic Free Trade has been a failure, and that we must go back to the grand old days of Protection, when native talent was supported by applauding millions in the companies of the larger houses; when the Keans and Kembles were not surrounded by shades and phantoms, but by the largest "thews of men;" when Young, Macready, Kemble, Elliston, Dowton, Liston, and Munden, trod the same boards; where Mrs Jordan's merry laugh had scarcely ceased to vibrate in our ears, till our eyes and hearts began to pay tribute to O'Neil.
That theatres as places of amusement should die out we hold to be impossible. What is, therefore, to be done, is to fit them for the high uses to which they may be applied, by obtaining for them the support of a class of people, whose mere presence would be at once a cause and a guarantee of the improvement both of plays and actors. One noble personage, whom it is every Englishman's privilege to "love, honour, and obey," sets a good example in this behalf. In the halls of Windsor, Shakspeare's voice is heard; surrounded by knights and nobles, by dames and demoiselles, she disdains not to shudder at the villanies of King John, or melt at the relentings of Hubert; to glow with patriotic pride at the denunciation of the Italian priest, or to refresh herself, after the excitement of "Macbeth," with the sparkling wit and genial humour of some of our modern dramatists. Who are the audience there? Her sage cousins and counsellors, her statesmen, warriors, nobles, matrons as spotless as Cornelia, maidens with their blue veins filled with the blood of Saxon Thanes and Norman conquerors: nor are there lacking the representatives of law and learning; the masters of the noble seminary beyond the walls, the dignitaries of the most tolerant, the most pure, the most intellectual Church that ever was set up as a guide and teacher among men: and what is the result? Is there any shock given to the most sensitive feeling by word or act? Are the young scions of the house, the future hopes of England and the world, contaminated by what they see or hear? Not at all. They hear
"The quality of mercy is not strained, But droppeth like the gentle dew from heaven."
"The power I have upon you is to pardon."
And who can tell what may be at some future time the result on the happiness of one hundred millions of subjects, of sentiments like these implanted in so pure a soil? The actor's province is not far distant from the preacher's. A happy time, if it should ever arrive, when this unity of purpose will be acknowledged by both, when the "reverend gentleman" will think it no part of his calling to rail upon the stage; and the actor will not find a strong inclination to retort by accusations of Mawworm and Tartuffe. But an objection is made in many quarters more to the theatre than to what is represented there. A play in a drawing-room is very different from a play at the Haymarket. One is all correct and proper; the other wicked and intolerable. This objection must therefore arise either from the different characters of the performers or of the audience. An officer of the Guards, who is great at theatricals, is an edifying sight in the part of Joseph Surface in the hall of a great country house in the Christmas week; and the same part is revolting and dangerous in the hands of poor Bob Finings on the regular stage. And yet the Honourable Captain Muff has been before the Consistory Court, has also made a brilliant appearance in Basinghall Street, has shot his kindest friend at Chalkfarm, and is an authority in the betting-ring second only to Mr Davis. Bob Finings is a steady, dull, respectable man, who has seen hard times, and struggled manfully against them; has brought up his children to honest callings, and totters through the part with the most helpless and reassuring imbecility. Is there danger there? But if the cases were reversed, and poor Bob Finings were the _roué_, and the honourable captain the respected _pater-familias_, why should that interfere with our appreciation of their dramatic skill? Surely most inoffensive would the wildest of Bob's transgressions be to the morals or feelings of the spectators in the boxes, pit, or gallery, who were never brought into contact with him in any other character than that of Joseph Surface, and neither sup with him after the play, nor waltz with him after the supper, as might possibly be the case with the gallant Lothario Muff. Then it must be the miscellaneousness of the company assembled in a theatre. Less select, certainly, than in the county gathering to the private play; but surely quite as safe. Is there a magnetic sympathy with vice that makes one or two sinners, locked up, we will suppose, in a private box, the electro-biologists of the whole assembly? Insolent faces will occasionally be turned to where we sit, hair-covered faces, and eyes that are uncomfortable to look upon; foreign-looking men dressed in the extremest fashion of Paris or Vienna, but whether British imitation or the real article is quite immaterial;--to this vulgar and audacious stare we shall certainly be exposed. But not more than in the street, or in the park, or in the Crystal Palace, or occasionally in a Belgravian chapel of ease to Rome, where we have observed the rosaried nun by no means inconvenienced by the unmistakable glances of those whiskered pandours. But let us, for the satisfaction of all squeamish spinsters, and for the honour of the Haymarket lessee, announce a small fact which we think redounds greatly to his honour. Brazen-faced men in elegant apparel, it is, of course, impossible to exclude, but the moment the royal patronage was extended to the theatre, most rigid orders were given to the door-keepers and attendant police to exclude every brazen-faced personage of the other sex, however elegant might be her apparel. This holds good, not only on the evenings on which royalty condescends to share the gay or sad feelings of loyalty, but on all nights and on all occasions. This is a sacrifice to propriety and decorum, which persons acquainted with the interior workings of a theatre have stated to us to amount to several thousands a-year. Independent of the five-shilling payments made every night by forty or fifty of the Jezebels who used to flaunt in the upper circle, it is a moderate calculation to assume that the attraction of their presence allured to the theatre at least double that number of Tittlebats, and the other pillars of Mr Tagrag's establishment; and if any person with a competent knowledge of arithmetic will find out the sum total of a hundred and fifty crowns, and multiply it by six, he will find out the weekly effect on the treasury, of this very noble and praiseworthy conduct. The royal box brings in about two hundred a-year, and can never be let for the benefit of the theatre on the most crowded nights. Go, therefore, in perfect safety to the Haymarket. If wickedness is there, it is completely in eclipse. Go, and the farces will improve in humour and refine in plot; Buckstone will be as ridiculous as ever, and give full scope to his wit and drollery without the slightest touch of the buffoon.
In all the theatres of London, a race is run in the variety and beauty of the decorations. If actors have fallen off, the scene-painter and machinist are in the ascendant. Now, this is far from a good sign, or, in the end, of any good effect in the advancement of the drama. A decent amount of illustration is indispensable--a proper attention to truthfulness of costume is highly commendable; but truly absurd is it to see the length to which this zeal is carried. In the Elizabethan time, the spectator was informed of the scene of the play by a board with the name of the locality suspended from the roof. Side-scenes then crept in; appropriate dresses were introduced at a later period; and now there is not a button wrong, not a single anachronism in the shape of a shoe, or ribbon of a cap; gorgeous landscapes are presented to the eye; noble chambers open their treasures of furniture and vertu; and in the midst of all this internal improvement, the histrionic, art diminishes day by day. "Man is the only plant that dwindles here." Thus we find that almost every manager plumes himself on restoring Shakspeare when he surrounds the play with gorgeous accessories--when the balcony scene is painted by Stanfield, or the hall of Macbeth's castle by David Roberts. This is the mode of decoration adopted by the warriors of old, when they covered the Roman traitress with their ornaments of silver and gold. This is to smother Shakspeare, not to illustrate him. This is to bury Cæsar, not to praise him. Let us assure those enterprising caterers for the public, that a play well acted is worth all the correct dresses, and all the befitting scenery in the world. Half the money wasted on these expensive accessories would tempt men of talent and education once more to look to the stage as a profession. Rather give us Burbage as Coriolanus in Sir Philip Sidney's clothes, than a modern declaimer in the most faultless of togas. But when scenery, dresses, and decorations, from being the casual accompaniments of a noble tragedy, which they only encumber with their help, form of themselves the staple commodity with which an appeal is made to the favour of the town, the matter becomes of very serious importance, and is probably more injurious to the dramatic taste than anything that can be named. Nothing has so depreciated the drama as the frequency, during late years, of burlesques--a contemptible species of entertainment, where parody is substituted for wit, and glitter and show for interest or language. A fairy tale, that enchanted our childhood, is chosen for a theme, and soon stript, by the ruthless playwright, of all its poetry and romance. Aladdin makes puns about the Crystal Palace. Camaralzaman and Badoura are witty about the electric telegraph; and all the time their miserable jargon is illustrated by the scenery of men of genius--with landscapes that Poussin would not be ashamed to own, and wing-covered nymphs that would have been the astonishment of all the glowries. Why vulgarise the fairy mythology by mixing it up with the oratory of the cabstand? Why not leave it as they find it?--and if they are determined to lavish ornament on whatever they produce on the stage, why not give us, from end to end, a real dear old fairy story, with scenery as gorgeous as they please--strange apparitions of power or beauty--clothing the tale in language fit for the fairy interlocutors; and show us all the spouting waterfalls, and ticking clocks, and chattering pages, and lovely companions, of Tennyson's "Sleeping Beauty?" In this the airy dances, and splendid robes, and marble palaces, would all be in keeping. The eye would be pleased without the taste being offended; and there would be no tremendous burst of human passion cast into the background by the predominance of hats and feathers. "King John" at the Princess's, we pronounce, on this ground, to be a great success as a spectacle, but a failure as a play. Mr Kean has great merits; quick appreciation, sound intelligence, and occasionally a burst of something which, if it is not genius, is describable by no other word; but he is certainly mistaken in relying so much on the resources of his painter and _costumier_. The chivalrous audacity of Wigan is sufficient of itself to attract attention, which is too likely to be distracted by the magnificence of the scene in which it is displayed by that versatile and accomplished actor. John himself ceases to be the human centre figure in a group of other men--with passions, fears, remorses, all chasing each other along his cruel and haggard countenance--and becomes the centre figure of a noble historic tableau, where the words even of Shakspeare grow subsidiary to colour and effect. But let us go into that prettiest of theatres in Oxford Street, ascend the handsome steps into the dress circle, and see what entertainment is provided by the present bearer of the name of Kean. The playbills tell us the name of the drama to-night is the "Corsican Brothers;" so with vague reminiscences of old Madame Mère, and the four young Buonapartes in the attorney's mansion in Ajaccio, we wait for the drawing up of the curtain. The house is quite full. The stage is admirably commanded from all parts of the building; the boxes are most comfortable and wide; a thousand expectant faces are all turned towards the scene; a great crash takes place among the fiddles; a little bell rings, and we are in a room in the house of the Dei Franchis, a poor but noble family of Corsica. A maid is singing at her wheel--a song which was evidently not the composition of either Burns or Moore--and is interrupted by the entrance of a traveller, who brings a letter of introduction from Paris from Louis Dei Franchi, a son of the house, who has resided there for some time. The countess comes in and receives him graciously. Fabian Dei Franchi, the stay-at-home brother, also is very kind, and inquires anxiously after Louis's health. He is well, and happy; but the stranger has not seen him for three weeks! Fabian makes a motion of disappointment. "I have heard of him more recently."--"How?--when?" exclaims the mother.--"Last night," replies Fabian; "and he is ill." He takes the stranger apart; hurriedly tells him not to be incredulous, or, at all events, disdainful, of their old Corsican superstitions; informs him that he and his brother are twins, and so like each other as to be almost undistinguishable; that from their birth, absent or united, a strange sympathy exists between them; that one cannot experience joy or grief that is not in this mysterious manner shared by the other; and, seeing a smile on the gay Frenchman's countenance, he relates an anecdote of a similar case which occurred three hundred years before, and in the very house in which they then stood. A strange wild story it was, and prepares us for what is to come. To prepare us also for the bitterness of a Corsican vendetta, a tumultuous scene is introduced of the compulsory reconcilement of a quarrel between two peasants, which, in a few years, had cost nine lives, and took its origin from some indignity offered to a hen of the Orlandos. Colonna makes the _amende_ by presenting his adversary with a white cock; and Fabian is again left alone. The stage grows dark; something wild and unearthly is felt in the sudden hush of the dim hall; he sits down at the side to write to Louis. "Brother," he says, "I feel so miserable, that I am certain you are in pain. Write--write!" While he is setting down these words, a pallid, dreadful countenance rises from the boards at the other end of the stage--rising gradually and without sound--neck, shoulders, body--and advancing at the same time towards the table at which Fabian writes; it reaches its feet when it comes within touch of his shoulder. The features of the brothers are the same; the height, the figure, even the dress--for Fabian has taken off his coat before he began to write,--and all the difference is a speck of blood on the left breast of Louis' shirt; and gazing on the group before him, (for the mother has entered in the mean time,) he slowly sinks. But this is not the end. The window at the back of the hall opens, and through that vista, what do we see? The brother exactly as we saw him a moment before, lying dead beneath the stump of a tree, supported in the arms of his seconds--a gentleman in his shirt sleeves wiping his sword--two other gentlemen in attitudes of watchfulness: it is the Bois de Boulogne; a duel has been fought. Louis dei Franchi is the victim, and the drop-scene falls, leaving the Countess and Fabian transfixed with horror at this wondrous sight.
The next act takes us into the actual events of which these are but the shadowings. It is a masked ball at the opera in Paris. There are waltzes, gallops, and polkas, with shouts of demoniac revelry; women career from end to end of the enormous salle, dancing, singing, shrieking; they are dressed in all costumes--as men, as mountebanks--but in all the unmistakable presence of wild enjoyment and a spirit of depravity, worthy of the orgies of Circe. Some gentlemen come in. Among them, M. de Chateau Renaud, whose ambition it is to be considered the greatest _roué_ in Paris; when he fails to triumph over female virtue, he withers a woman's reputation with a lie. He is accused of having boasted, without foundation, of his intimacy with Madame de Lesharre. He bets he will bring her that very night into the supper-room, where there has been prepared a symposium for the prettiest of the _debardeurs_, and wickedest of the men. Louis dei Franchi is of the party, for Madame de Lesharre has been the object of his love before her marriage, and he has heard of her reported _liaison_ with Chateau Renaud. He invites himself to the supper--is cold, abstracted, severe--and keeps his eye on the boaster's face. The ball is over; the supper-room is gorgeously lighted; the clock strikes four--the appointed hour at which Chateau Renaud had betted he would introduce Madame de Lesharre. Her he had inveigled hither, under the false pretence of restoring to her some letters which she had imprudently, but innocently, written to him before her wedding, and before she had discovered the character of her admirer. He blinds her still; and as the last sound of the clock dies upon the ear, he walks in with Madame de Lesharre upon his arm. There is a shout of derision from the women assembled; a shrug of surprise from the men; the wager is acknowledged to be lost; but Madame de Lesharre, perceiving the shameful trick that has been played, indignantly pours forth her scorn on the pitiful scoundrel who had been guilty of it; recognises her old lover, Louis dei Franchi, and throws herself on his protection. He steps forward, accepts the charge, and is challenged of course by Chateau Renaud, who is the best swordsman in France. Madame do Lesharre retires supported by Louis, and a laugh of contempt and hatred resounds through the room. We are now in the Bois de Boulogne. The scene we had seen in the first act is exactly reproduced here: Louis is lying under the tree; Chateau Renaud is wiping his sword; the seconds are in attitudes of expectation--suddenly the wood opens at the back, and we see Fabian and his mother in the old hall in Corsica, gazing with rigid eyes on the scene before them; and we have now arrived at the exact position we attained half-an-hour ago. The whole of the third act passes in a glade in the forest of Fontainbleau. Chateau Renaud, flying with his second from justice, is upset on the high-road; comes into the wood in search of aid; sends a peasant for a blacksmith to repair the carriage; and sits down, depressed and feverish, on the stump of a tree. Suddenly he looks round, and recognises the scene. It is the place where, five days before, he had had the encounter with Louis dei Franchi, and he is anxious to leave the spot. He is met by Fabian dei Franchi, in form and semblance so exactly similar to Louis, that it amounts almost to identity; a similar accident has happened to his carriage. He looks around, and he also recognises the scene presented to him in the vision. On that intimation, and no other, he has hurried from Corsica, in search of Chateau Renaud; he has found him here. He is calm; there is no room for human passion in a mission so evidently laid upon him by fate. He challenges the murderer. The challenge is refused; he twits him with his crimes--with cowardice--with falsehood--with assassination; and the bravo is compelled to fight. They fence long and warily; they rest by mutual consent. In trying the sword preparatory to the next bout, it breaks in Chateau Renaud's hand. The second declares the combat at an end, for the weapons are unequal. "No!" said Fabian quietly, and breaks his across his knee. They muffle their hands in their handkerchiefs, and seize the broken weapons. The fight is renewed. One must die. Which? They hold the fragments of their blades like daggers, point downward, and at one lucky opening Fabian strikes the blow, and Chateau Renaud falls unpitied, unforgiven--a sacrifice to Corsican honour. "Now I can weep for you, dear Louis," says the conqueror, and covers his face with his hands. Again the murdered Louis crosses the stage in the same mysterious manner as before. The brothers recognise each other; vengeance is obtained, and the curtain falls.
The language contained in this play would occupy about twenty minutes; the duration of the piece is two hours. It is a ghost story put into shape--a chapter of Mrs Radcliffe, done into _tableaux vivants_. The company at this theatre comprises Mr and Mrs Kean, Mr Wigan, Mr Meadows, Mr Ryder, Mr Bartley, and last, not least, Mr and Mrs Keeley. There is not a barn in England that could not furnish quite good enough representatives of any person in the drama. The speeches are vapid and commonplace; the situations, as regards the development of character, very weak; and it possesses no strength whatever but the admirable stage management of the supernatural and the frightful verisimilitude of the carnival ball. Are these legitimate means of support to a theatre like this? Should the Princess's be reduced to a _salle de spectacle_--
"Where from below the trap-door demons rise, And from above hang dangling deities?"
But, more than all, it certainly is no place for the production of so revolting a scene as the open license of the ball, or the more quiet but quite as offensive supper-party after it. Real water, real horses, and real elephants have been banished from the stage, it being found that the real things interfere essentially with the truthfulness of the scene. A great distinction should always be taken between mere representation and identity--a difference clearly established and rigidly preserved between the fiction and the fact, or why not have a real fight with true swords? Why not go back at once to Thurtell's gig and Weir's pistol? Now, in the instance of the carnival ball, the resemblance is carried beyond all bounds. It ceases to be an imitation, and becomes a reproduction. We will be bound to say, at no saturnalia in the opera ball-room of Paris was there ever exhibited a wilder scene of revelry and debauch--women, indelicately clothed in male attire, whirl in fantastic attitudes to a noisy crash of music--their voices in the mad excitement of the moment are joined to the noise of the orchestra; petticoats, where preserved at all, assume the dimensions of kilts; it is evidently the crowning hour of the night's festivity--modesty, decorum, propriety, all laid aside, and a grinning buffoon in white gown, with chalk-covered face and ludicrous contortions, adding a new feature of disgust to the display, which is sickening enough already. We can easily imagine that this vivid scene may have injurious effects--that it may be even more hurtful than a visit to the original meeting would have been; for there is probably here a heightening of the attractions of the show, in as much as the dancers are chosen for their beauty, and the dresses selected for the very purpose of captivation and allurement. If such a scene was required at all, it should, certainly, have been produced in a less attractive form. We should not have been so severe on this subject if we did not feel that no theatre in London less needs to depend on such displays for success. No theatre in London has it so completely in its power to show to what noble uses a stage may be applied; for on none is there so near an approach to the ancient glory of the drama in the skill and _ensemble_ of the actors. Exercising talents like these on ghosts and festivals is a mere waste of power. It is turning a steam-engine to the manufacture of pins--of pins that are useless in spite of their polished heads, and poisonous if they penetrate the skin. Let not this one departure from taste be urged against theatrical amusements in general, or the entertainments at this house in particular. It is a French importatation--this ghostly melodrama, this unmeasured ball. But Shakspeare is here with his English heart, and "empire absolute" over the feelings. The poetry of "Twelfth Nigh" alternates with the wondrous picture in the "Merry Wives of Windsor." The gentle Viola speaks in tones that never die away from the memory. Mrs Ford answers smile for smile and grip for grip to Mrs Brook--Caius, for the first time, is the perfect gentleman which only Wigan can depict; and scene after scene floats away before us, till it is only by an effort we wake from a dream of Herne the Hunter's Oak to the harsh realities of eighteen hundred and fifty-two.
In some future communication we will extend our Commissionership to the other theatres, and to various places of amusement not often brought forward 'neath the glimpses of the moon. Beware, then, ye managers and caterers of public shows; be conscious of the importance and responsibilities of your position. When we see talent, enterprise, and skill, not slow shall we be to give the word of cheer; but where we observe the smallest deviation into the coarse or the insipid, remember you have nothing to expect but rebukes sharper than swords.
"A chield's amang ye takin' notes, And, faith, he'll print it."
THE COMMERCIAL DISASTERS OF 1851.
(TO THE EDITOR OF BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE.)
SIR,--The country is shortly to be called upon to decide the important question whether the policy, under which it has for the last few years been governed, is, or is not, susceptible of some modification; and, as one portion of this question, the soundness of our present commercial policy must undoubtedly be discussed. Indeed, it seems to be taken for granted on all hands that this must be the case; and in a great empire like our own, whose main source of strength has been conceived to rest upon the pre-eminence of its mercantile and industrial character, it would be singular if it could be otherwise. And it would be lamentable, too, and little calculated to inspire the hope of peace for the future, and confidence in the stability of our institutions, should that portion of the question at issue be discussed in any other spirit than that of an anxious and careful desire to arrive at the truth. No policy not based upon the truth has ever long prevailed in any civilised country. No Christian man, conscious as such a man ought to be of the imperfections of merely human judgment, could ever set himself up above his fellows as infallible. We have surely a perfect right to appeal to past experience in order to discover what has been the effect of our policy upon the different interests of the country; and in the following pages I shall endeavour to examine dispassionately what has been that effect upon our mercantile and trading classes, and particularly upon those engaged in conducting our large importing and exporting operations.
It is, of course, an acknowledged principle, that an increased import of foreign commodities, to be a profitable one, must be attended by increased means of consuming in the importing country, and be balanced ultimately by increased exports, at paying prices to the producer. The question, then, so far as the mercantile body is concerned, is simply this,--Have the transactions of the past year been satisfactory to that body, or not? I do not hesitate to say in reply, that, with the solitary exception of the year 1847--if indeed it be an exception--there has been no such disastrous epoch in the annals of British commerce for the past quarter of a century as the year 1851. If the year 1847 was more disastrous, it was because it was one of monetary revulsion, of potato rot, and of the collapse of absurd railway speculation. During the past year we have had nothing of this kind to encounter. We entered upon 1851 with prognostications, all but unanimous, of a coming year of prosperous business. During the course of the year we had neither civil commotion nor foreign embroilment to trouble the even tenor of our way. Yet we have closed the year with the mercantile and trading interests of Great Britain poorer than they commenced it, by, I am satisfied, at least _twenty millions sterling and upwards_. During the whole of the past year, the reports of our commercial circulars have told an unvarying tale of declining prices and unprofitable imports. Scarcely a single foreign product has remunerated the merchant, or even realised the cost at which it was purchased abroad; and stocks of all kinds, not only in our seaports, but in every retailer's shop or warehouse throughout the country, have been every week deteriorating in saleable value. In no single commodity of importance has the consumption kept pace with the increase of importations; and had we at any period of the year been visited with monetary difficulty, had the Bank of England not been full of specie, and anxious to extend its accommodation to the public, the losses upon our accumulation of stocks would have been sufficient to prostrate one-half of the mercantile community.
In endeavouring to form an estimate of the actual losses of the year upon imports, I shall commence with the important article COTTON. We entered upon 1851 with a stock, according to Mr Burn's _Commercial Glance_, of 581,120 bales in the entire kingdom, in the hands of importers, spinners, and speculators, spinners being estimated by Mr Burn to hold 60,000 bales. Messrs G. Holt and Co. of Liverpool, calculate the quantity at 100,000 bales in the hands of _spinners and dealers_. The bulk of this stock had been purchased at the high prices which had ruled during the last four months of 1850; and, in the first week of January, the price of "fair upland," which may be taken as a standard, was 7⅞d. per lb. Such were the rates ruling in the countries of its growth, it could not have been bought there within at least ¼d. per lb. of that price. Although such stock would naturally find its way gradually into the market, and its place be supplied by fresh imports, and as there was a nearly similar one--estimated by Messrs Holt at 594,000 bales--left at the close of the past year, it will simplify the process of calculation, and at the same time be correct as to the general result, if I treat the stock of January 1851 as having borne the fall of the entire year. The price, then, of fair uplands having been, in the last week of December, 4⅞d. to 5d., and other sorts in nearly that proportion, there would be a reduction of from 2⅞d. to 3d. upon those American sorts which form the bulk of the consumption, and 2⅛d. to 2¼d. upon the next in importance. Bearing in mind that the prices on the 1st of January were not remunerative to the importer, I believe I am within the mark in fixing the loss at £5 per bale of 400 lb. average weight, which, upon the stock of 581,120 bales, amounts to the large sum of £2,905,600 sterling. We now come to the imports of the year, which were, of all kinds, into the United Kingdom, 1,903,506 bales. With respect to these, the first striking fact which presents itself, on a comparison of the prices current in this country and the cotton-growing countries, is that, throughout the whole of the year, the foreign purchases of our importing merchants were made at a large advance over the prices which could be realised on their arrival here. I have gone carefully through files of the most authoritative foreign circulars, and, with respect to American cotton particularly, the unvarying result has been to find prices considerably higher than in the British market. Thus, on the 4th of January, I find "middling to fair" cotton from the Atlantic ports, corresponding with our Liverpool classification of "fair upland," quoted in New York at 13⅞ to 14 cents per lb.; on the 15th, at 14 to 14¼ cents on the 22d, the same; and on the 29th, 13⅞ cents. Assume the average of the month to have been 14 cents, and allowing a penny per lb. for freight, commission, landing charges, &c., which I am assured is too little, the cotton shipped in that month would cost in Liverpool fully 8d. per lb. Prices here, however, began to decline after the first week in January, when fair upland was quoted at 7⅞d.; and on the 31st of that month the quotation was only 7½d. to 7⅝d. On the 14th and 21st of February they were quoted at 7d. to 7⅛d.; and in all March, when the purchases of the month of January would be reaching us, the average was about 7¼d.--showing a loss on importation of ¾d. per lb. In February, prices in America commenced at 13 cents to 13⅛ cents; but on the 1st of May they had fallen to 11 cents to 11½ cents. The early purchases of February, which would cost, landed in Liverpool, about 7⅝d., would probably arrive about the middle of March, when prices here averaged about 7¼d.--a loss of ⅜d. per lb., or nearly 10s. per bale. Those of the closing week of the month--about a week's transactions--might possibly save themselves, if sold in the beginning or middle of April. Throughout March prices rallied in America; and were sustained until nearly the middle of April at from 11¾ cents to 12¼ cents--about 7⅛d. here. Prices in Liverpool, however, had been falling rapidly; and a portion of these purchases arrived in Liverpool in the middle of May, to be sold at 5¾d. to 5⅞d--a loss of above 1¼d. per lb., or £2, 5s. per bale. By the end of April, prices in America had receded slightly; but in the beginning of May there was another attempt to rally them--the quotations being, on the 7th, 11⅜ cents to 11⅝ cents, or about 6¾d. to 6⅞d. here. In the whole of June, however, when the cotton bought at these prices would arrive here, the average in Liverpool was little over 5⅞d.--showing a loss of from 30s. to 35s. per bale. From this point a gradual decline took place in all May, June, July, and August, reaching the lowest point--8¾ cents to 9 cents--on the 9th of the last month. The decline in America, however, never overtook that experienced here--the bulk of the transactions of these months resulting in a loss. A slight rally again took place in September, and prices were forced up to an average of about 10 cents, or 6d. laid down in this country. No corresponding movement, however, took place here; and the average losses of September shipments would be nearly 25s. per bale. An unprofitable result, less disastrous, however, attended the remainder of the year's arrivals.
The loss has been nearly as serious in our transactions with the East Indies, the length of the voyage operating to aggravate the unhappy position of the importer. Thus cotton orders, transmitted by overland mail in the first three months of the year, whilst prices of Surat were about 4d. to 6½d., would arrive here in June, July, and August, when the quotations were from 1¼d. to 1½d. per lb. less, or from 45s. to 50s. per bale.
The question then arises, At what are we to estimate the loss on imports for the year? And the following circumstance appears to me to have an important bearing upon its solution. The bulk of the arrivals during the year--1,212,377 bales--took place from the beginning of March to the end of August, the period in which the greatest decline below cost price occurred. Taking this and other circumstances into consideration, I cannot consider that I am exceeding the truth in averaging the loss on importation during the year at ¾d. per lb., or 25s. per bale, upon the whole quantity received, deducting the stock on hand at the close of 1851--594,500 bales. This will give upon 1,409,046 bales a loss of £1,761,307, which, with £2,905,600, previously ascertained as the difference between the value of the stock on hand at the commencement of the year, and the same quantity of the article at its close, makes up a total loss upon cotton of £4,667,000. Of this, at the very least, the British merchants' share is _four millions sterling!_
A large sum might fairly be added to this as the manufacturers' and spinners' share in the loss sustained upon their stocks from the declining prices of the raw material during the whole of the year's operations. I will not, however, enter into detail with respect to this part of my subject; but glance at it briefly when I come to estimate the losses, sustained by holders of produce generally, whilst _in transitu_ from the importers' hands to the marts of its final consumption.
Next in importance to the article of cotton is that of SUGAR, a great staple of food, which it has been the express object of our recent legislation to cheapen, regardless whether or not in doing so we inflicted ruin upon the colonial proprietor. It is not within the limits of the inquiry which I have prescribed to myself to trace the course of that legislation which, from whatever motives prompted, bids fair ultimately to reduce our once flourishing tropical possessions to their pristine condition of waste and jungle, and to throw back their coloured population into the barbarism from which, a few years ago, it was the pride of every lover of his kind to see them rapidly emerging. A brief reference to that legislation, however, is necessary, in order to render intelligible the mode in which I have calculated the extent of the past year's losses upon our imports of the article. At the period of emancipation, (1834,) our West Indian colonies, producing for British consumption 3,844,244 cwt. of sugar out of a total import of 4,743,415 cwt. for the year, were owned by a distinct class of proprietors, partly resident, but chiefly consisting of capitalists in this country. Up to that period the "West Indian Interest," as it was termed, was one of the most powerful in Great Britain, and afforded, through its import and export transactions, a most profitable source of employment to our merchants at home, as well as to their numerous branch establishments in the colonies. The measure of that year--exchanging compulsory labour for the apprenticeship system in the first instance, and shortly afterwards for free labour--precipitated the whole of this class into a fearful struggle, required from them to maintain production up to the wants of the home consumer. It was found necessary to import additional labourers to supply the place of those who, on receiving their freedom, had betaken themselves to other avocations than those of the sugar plantation; and every effort of science and improved culture had to be resorted to, in order to keep down the cost of production, and increase the yield of the soil. Whilst immersed in this struggle--a most unprofitable one, as it proved--the Free-Trader stepped in, and introduced the new element of competition with the foreign slave-grown article. The result of the much too sudden rate of reduction of the differential duties then adopted has been to render cultivation utterly unprofitable; and, so far as the original proprietors of the West Indies are concerned, the last measure directed against these unfortunate colonies may be justly termed one of direct confiscation. Under these circumstances, the bulk of the West Indian sugar and other estates have virtually lapsed to mortgagees--principally merchants in this country, who have advanced money upon them for the increased outlay required to keep up and cheapen production; and hence, so far as the West Indies are concerned, it is necessary to treat the importer and planter _as one_ in such an inquiry as the present. There can scarcely be said to be a price at all in the West Indies--the bulk of the exports coming to the British market on the planter's and merchant's account. The same remark applies to coffee, rum, and every other description of West Indian produce. With respect to the produce of the East Indies and Mauritius, there does exist a price at the port of shipment, the articles being bought for the British markets in the ordinary way; and the result of the importation, as a purely mercantile transaction, can therefore be more correctly ascertained.
The importation of sugar during the past year was, in round numbers, 400,000 tons against 330,000 in 1850, and 340,000 in 1849. Of this quantity 270,000 tons consisted of colonial, (two-thirds of which was West Indian,) 110,000 tons of foreign, and 20,000 tons of foreign refined. In a general summary of the year's proceedings, the editor of the _London New Price-Current_--an authority of high standing--of Tuesday, Jan. 6, remarks:--
"The excess in stock of all sorts is 57,000--viz., 157,000 tons against 107,000 at the close of 1850. Prices are lower by 7s. to 9s. per cwt. for low to mid prices of colonial, and 5s. to 6s. per cwt. for good to fine."
Another authority, Messrs Littledale & Co., of Liverpool, remark upon this article as follows, in their circular of the 1st January:--
"Great indeed has been the disappointment during the past year of importers and holders of nearly every description of produce; but to no parties has it been so severe as to those interested in the article of sugar, cotton excepted. The year 1851 opened with high prospects--moderate stocks, an average supply, and a largely increased consumption, arising from the satisfactory condition of the manufacturing districts, and the great prospects which were generally entertained of the approaching _Exhibition_; but these hopes were soon dissipated, the imports of foreign continuing on an unusually large scale, and the consumption, instead of increasing, barely supporting that of the previous year. _The increased production of sugar from beetroot on the Continent is fast displacing all foreign, and the latter, in turn, displacing our colonial_, or forcing it down to so low a figure that its production will be unremunerative. In little more than two years the duties will be equalised; and we can see no salvation for our colonies but a complete change, both in the manufacture and curing of this article, as it is quite evident that the taste of the large consumers in the country is changing year by year more in favour of crushed refined.... The decline in the value of sugar throughout the past year has been gradual, though marked; and prices now rule 5s. to 6s. per cwt. lower on better descriptions, and 8s. to 10s. on the common and low brown sorts."
With respect, then, to that portion of the supply of sugar derived from the West Indies, the only question which can arise is--Can the grower have succeeded during the past year in reducing the cost of production so far as to have allowed the _Gazette_ _average_ of British plantation to fall from 29s. 2d. nett in February of last year, to 20s. 2d. in the February of this year? We know that during this period no economising of labour has been achieved to warrant a decline of 9s. per cwt.--nearly thirty per cent; and the conclusion is obvious, that the bulk of this saying to the British consumer has come out of the pockets of the colonial proprietor and the British colonial merchant. The price at the commencement of the year, it is admitted, was a barely remunerative one; and every shilling of reduction since has been positive loss.
With respect to East India sugar, which is actually purchased in the country of its growth, the loss has fallen directly upon the importer--the fact being notorious, that prices throughout the year have ruled higher in the colonial markets, and in China, Java, &c., by from 4s. to 5s. per cwt. than it could be sold for on its arrival here. Messrs Littledale & Co. quote the prices of Bengal, Madras, and Mauritius, best and good descriptions, in bond, from 6s. to 6s. 6d. lower in January this year than in January last year, and common and inferior descriptions as much as 8s. to 9s. lower. Upon China and Manilla the fall has been from 3s. to 4s. 6d.
The same authority to which I have before referred--the _New London Price Current_--remarks of Mauritius sugar, that the "rates are 5s. _to_ 8s. _per cwt. lower_, the difference being most apparent on brown and inferior qualities;" and of East India, "Stock is 6950, (in London,) and in 1850 it was 5500 tons. _Prices range_ 4s. _to_ 8s. _per cwt. under that period_, the difference being more apparent on brown and inferior qualities, of which there is a loss upon importation."
With respect to foreign sugar, a few preliminary explanations are necessary. As is the case with East India produce, the sugar which we draw from foreign countries--the bulk from Cuba and the Brazils--is purchased by British merchants at a price in the country of its growth, regulated of course by the cost of production, and the probable market price in Great Britain. The foreign planter, however, is seldom more than a nominal proprietor, working with borrowed capital, for which he pays an interest of from fifteen to twenty per cent, and living, in all respects, only like a superior servant or agent. With the question, whether of late he has been enabled to reap a profit on his cultivation, I have here nothing to do, although it is most probable that he has not done so, even at the prices which he has been able to secure from the British purchaser. He has had labour foisted upon him beyond his requirements, and at an exorbitant price, the slave-dealer being in many cases the party supplying capital for sugar cultivation, and the virtual proprietor of the soil and stock. So far as regards the operations of British merchants in the produce of Brazil, Cuba, and other foreign tropical produce, the result has been almost equally disastrous with that attending the trade with our own possessions. Prices in these countries have, throughout nearly the whole of the past year, been from 3s. to 5s. above those which could be realised in this country; and the loss upon the entire importation has been little, if at all, less than that upon British colonial produce. The _London New Price-Current_ sums up its remarks upon the trade in foreign sugar by saying,--"Prices, compared with this date last season, exhibit a decline of 3s. on the better, and 4s. to 6s. per cwt. on the brown and inferior qualities." A comparison of the prices in the country of production, with those realised here, will prove this part of my case. From the _Pernambuco Price Current_, of the 24th of February 1851, I find that the following were the prices of Brazilian sugar, free on board; and I have set opposite to the figures the price which it would command in bond, on its arrival here, as furnished by one of our leading brokers:--
IN BRAZIL, 24th February, 1851. IN LIVERPOOL, April 1851. First white, 25s. 3d. to 26s. 3d. } Second and third do. 20s. 7d. to 24s. 3d. } None in stock. Fourth do. 18s. 9d. to 19s. 8d. } Fifth and sixth do. 16s. 7d. to 17s. 5d. } 21s. to 22s. 6d. Muscovado, yellow, 15s. 2d. to 15s. 8d. 19s. 6d. to 20s. Brown, 14s. 8d. 16s. to 19s.
The first qualities of the above are not imported into this market; and adding to the other, for freight at 60s. per ton, 3s.--buyer's commission in Brazil, 3 per cent--insurance, interest, brokerage, and other charges, say 4s. 6d. to 5s. per cwt.--there would be a small loss upon the importation.
I select a later date, in order to ascertain the cost of the stocks on hand at the commencement of this year. On the 29th November last the quotations were--
IN BRAZIL, November. IN LIVERPOOL, January. First and second, 24s. to 24s. 4d. } Third, 22s. 4d. to 23s. 8d. } None in stock. Fourth, 20s. 9d. to 21s. 6d. } Fifth and sixth, 17s. 1d. to 19s. 4d. } 17s. 6d. to 19s. 6d. Muscovado, yellow, 15s. 7d. to 16s. 6d. 16s. to 17s. 6d. Brown, 14s. 7d. to 15s. 1d. 13s. 6d. to 15s.
At this period freights ruled low, 35s. to 40s.; and, as is always the case when there is an abundance of shipping seeking cargo, the foreigner advanced his rates for produce. Adding 3s. 6d. to 4s. for charges upon imports, there would be a loss of, say 3s. 6d. to 5s. 6d. upon white; 3s. 6d. upon yellow; 5s. 6d. upon low brown, and 3s. 6d. upon the better quality. The same result is found to have resulted upon Cuban and other foreign sugars.
The reduction in this article has not been so sudden as to entitle us to put down more than a portion of it as loss to either importer or producer. Bearing in mind, however, that, from the commencement of the year to the close, it has been arriving in this country at a cost considerably over what it would realise, and that we had a good stock to begin the year with, which has kept accumulating, I believe I am justified in assuming the result of the year's business to be a loss, upon the whole of our sugar imports, of at least £5 per ton; which, upon 400,000 tons of all descriptions, amounts to the sum of £2,000,000 sterling. In this I am borne out by some of our leading authorities, whose names I hand you for your own satisfaction. Having in this calculation merged the stock in hand at the commencement of the year, (107,000 tons,) which was imported at extreme prices, and lost much more than I have taken as an average, it is but fair to add something for the depreciation of the _increase of stock_ held at the close of the year, 50,000 tons, (the total stock having been 157,000 tons against 107,000 at the commencement.) If I estimate this depreciation at £3 per ton--it fell nearly £1 in the beginning of January, and has since been quoted lower--I am satisfied that I am within the mark. This will make the _total loss on sugar_ £2,150,000 _sterling_.
In the important article of COFFEE there has also been a serious loss upon the year's transactions; and this notwithstanding the fact that the import was lighter in 1851 than in either of the two preceding years, having been 22,100 tons of all descriptions against 22,700 in 1850, and 27,000 in 1849. The prices at the close of the year are stated by the _London New Price-Current_ to have been "from 8s. to 16s. per cwt. below this date last season." Messrs Littledale's annual circular shows a fall, in "native ordinary Ceylon" of 16s., and of 15s. in "middling plantation." The fall is less in some of the scarcer sorts. The greatest reduction, however, was in the middle of the year, "good ordinary native Ceylon," which was worth 57s. per cwt. in January, having fallen to 37s. in June. The total loss to importers, I am advised, cannot be estimated at less than £10 per ton, which, upon the total import of 22,100 tons, makes up an amount of £221,000 sterling. It is worth while remarking here, as an instance of the blindness of Whig legislation, that although the duties on coffee were reduced last year from 6d. on foreign, and 4d. on colonial, to a uniform rate of 3d., to the serious injury of colonial interests, and apparently with no other object in view, the consumption was very little increased, having been 31,226,840 lb. in 1850, and only 32,564,164 lb. in 1851. The actual vend by retailers of _what is called coffee_--the adulterated article--is, however, known to have largely increased; and the grocer and fraudulent dealer, by the use of chicory, the admixture of which with coffee the Chancellor of the Exchequer refused to restrict, and of other worse ingredients, have been enabled to put far more than the amount of the duty remitted into their own pockets. The stock held over from 1850 was 19,300 tons; and as this was very little reduced in December 1851, and the bulk of it was bought at even higher prices than those ruling at the commencement of the year, it will not be unfair to estimate the loss upon it at £10 per ton, the same as that upon the importations. I will, however, assume it to have been only, in round numbers, £150,000. This will make the _total loss on coffee_ £371,000.
In another important article--TEA--there have been very heavy losses. We commenced the year with prices of _congou_, the leading article of _black tea_, at 1s. to 1s. 0½d. for "ordinary to good ordinary," and better sorts proportionally higher. The year closed with the same teas at 8d. to 8½d., and a proportionate fall in other descriptions of black. In some sorts of _green_ there has not been so great a fall; but upon all kinds (two excepted, of which the consumption is not large) I find the decline estimated by Messrs Littledale & Co. _at_ 25 _to_ 35 _per cent._ The fall _per lb._ may, with tolerable safety, be set down at 4d. It has not been so gradual as in the case of other descriptions of produce, having, on the contrary, occurred rather suddenly towards the middle and close of the season; and this fact has an important bearing upon the amount actually lost by importers. In the first four months of the year prices gave way a little; but the demand was good, and no serious disaster in the trade was expected. Imports, however, flowed in freely, beyond the requirements for consumption; and the new crop arriving unusually early by the clipper ships, now engaged between this country and China, a sort of panic ensued, and reductions of 2d. to 4d. per lb. were submitted to. With a view to render my calculations with regard to this article perfectly intelligible, I subjoin the state of imports, stock, and consumption, as given in Messrs Littledale's _Circular_ of _Jan. 3_:--
The imports for the year will be about 72,000,000 lb. against 48,300,000 in 1850. Deliveries, do. 59,000,000 " 56,400,000 " Stock, do. 48,000,000 " 34,500,000 "
Thus, although the deliveries in 1851 exceeded those of 1850, there was an increased stock, caused by the unusually early arrival of the new crop. Under these circumstances, I find that I am fully justified in taking the loss upon the entire imports at 2d. per lb., which, upon 72,000,000 lb., will be £600,000. The stock on hand at the commencement of the year, 34,500,000 lb., may be estimated as having lost 4d. per lb., or £575,000, leaving in its place an accumulation of 48,000,000 lb. at the close of the year, upon most of which there is a farther loss upon the price at which it was imported, even assuming that it was well bought, according to the range of prices here in November and December, when the bulk of the new crop reached us. I do not take into account, however, any loss upon this stock, or even upon its excess over that of the preceding year; and only set down the result as above, at _a total loss of_ £1,175,000 _for the year_.
Even in the import of FOREIGN GRAIN the transactions of the year have been of a most unsatisfactory character, and the general result has been a loss, estimated at a very moderate computation to amount to, at the least, £500,000. The whole of this, however, has not fallen directlyi upon British merchants, who are regularly engaged in the trade, but in part upon foreign houses; and upon speculators who, having been misled by the miscalculations of the Free-Trade press, and by an over-sanguine temperament, to anticipate a considerable revival of prices during the close of 1850 and the beginning of 1851, were induced to become holders of the article. In the most favourable cases, however, up to the slight revival which took place at the close of the past year, the importer has been unable to secure more than a bare brokerage, except upon French flour; and taking every redeeming circumstance into consideration, I am warranted in setting down _the loss of the year at_ £500,000, as above stated.
Upon a number of other important articles, the loss has been very heavy throughout the year, both to importers and holders of stock. Amongst these, I may mention many kinds of American provisions, colonial molasses, silk, indigo, jute, hides, linseed, and other seeds, linseed oil, gums, madder roots, dyes, dye-woods, spices, foreign fruits, &c. I shall only trouble your readers with a few, and give, in doing so, the stock and total decline during the year, not being able to give the aggregate loss in detail:--
Stock. Decline. Indigo, 60,000 cwt. 9d. to 1s. per lb. £280,000 Molasses, 10,897 tons. (London) £3, 10s. per ton. 38,000 Jute (imports, Liverpool), 86,450 bales. £3, 0s. per ton. Linseed (Do.), 115,600 bales and pkts. 4s. to 5s. per qr. Linseed oil (Do.), 516 cases. £4 to £5 per ton. Cochineal, 9,040 packages. 9d. per lb. Raw silk, 5 to 7½ per cwt.
On dye-woods the loss has been fearful, cargoes imported having in many cases not realised more than actual freights; and foreign fruits have been a drug throughout the year, and have perished, or else been sold at ruinous reductions from import cost. The total loss upon the import of these articles, added to what I have already estimated, will make up a gross amount of _ten millions sterling_.
I have already stated that, in addition to the loss in first hands, there must have been a very serious one sustained by manufacturers, dealers, and retailers, throughout the country. In all cases of falling markets of either raw materials or produce, the cheaper import presses upon previously made purchases, and compels a sacrifice of a portion of stock in hand. The manufacturer who is consuming cotton bought at 7d. per lb., finds, when he has converted the raw material into goods, that he has to compete with his neighbour, who is willing to make a contract for the same article with cotton at 6d. per lb. The calico printer and dyer finds a competitor who has bought his dyes ten per cent below him. The grocer and tea-dealer has in the same way to accommodate his prices to those which happen to rule in the wholesale market. With respect to the cotton manufacturer, we have been told that his business has been satisfactory; that he had made contracts in advance, which paid him a profit upon the raw material purchased for the purpose of fulfilling them. Suppose this to have been the case, which is only partially so, the loss must have fallen upon _the buyer_, who would have to take his goods into the home or the foreign market, in competition with more recent and cheaper purchases. Every speculative holder of produce, and every dealer, must have been similarly affected. I conceive, then, that I am not exaggerating the loss sustained by these parties, by estimating it at one-fifth of that which I have traced to importers, and adding another two millions sterling to the previous amount of ten millions.
And now, let me ask, at what are we to estimate the loss sustained by the shipping interest during the past year?
The amount of British tonnage entered inwards during the year ended 5th January 1852 was 4,388,245 tons, against 4,078,544 tons in the preceding year; the entries outwards were 4,147,007 tons against 3,960,764 tons; making a total, inwards and outwards, of 8,535,252 tons in 1851, against 8,039,308 in 1850--an increase of 495,944 tons. I refer to these returns with a view to base upon them my estimate of loss sustained; and certainly am not inclined to follow those superficial observers who are in the habit of taking the increase of tonnage, shown by them from time to time, as evidence of increased prosperity of the shipowner. It is well known that our steamers engaged in the foreign trade have enormously swelled the entries, both inwards and outwards, during the last two years. From this port alone we have now a fleet of five vessels of 300 tons and upwards, making fortnightly and monthly trips to the North of Europe and the Mediterranean, each trip of which counts for as much in the entries as the long voyage of a sailing vessel. The Cunard Line to the United States has been augmented; and we are establishing other lines to the Brazils, to Australia, &c. Our West Indian and Oriental Fleets have been similarly augmented. As a further cause of the apparent increase of sailing tonnage, the more rapid passages made by vessels of the clipper build may be mentioned--some of which, it is well known, have during the past year made the voyage out and home to China, the East Indies, &c., in from eight to ten months; whereas ships of the ordinary build and rig would have occupied above twelve months, and thus have come once only, instead of twice, into the returns. Deducting the steam and clipper ships, a correct return would, I believe, show a decrease instead of an increase in our mercantile marine; for it is well known that a large amount of British tonnage has during the past three years been rotting in the waters of California. Far better would it have been for some of the remainder, if, instead of contributing to swell these returns with a tale of delusive prosperity, it could have been laid up in dock, saving the cost of unprofitable wear and tear and of wages. But our New Navigation Laws have rendered such a course of no avail to the British shipowner. If a portion of our mercantile navy had been laid up for a time, the foreigner would have promptly assumed its place, and benefited by the advance in freights which would have resulted from competition being withdrawn. As it is, during the whole of the past year, the British shipowner, in carrying on the struggle which has been forced upon him by our Free-Trade policy, has been injuriously met by this competition in every foreign port, and especially in the ports of our Eastern possessions and their dependencies, the carrying trade of which, formerly secured to the shipping of this country, afforded such a valuable source of remuneration to the British shipowner. In the ports of China we have been met with the same depressing competition. There is not, in fact, a country on the surface of the globe to which a ship could be sent, in cargo or in ballast, with any certainty of earning a return freight which would pay even ordinary expenses of wages and port-dues--necessary repairs being out of the question. In the attempt, which I propose to make, to form an estimate of the losses sustained upon shipping during the past year, it must be borne in mind that the year 1850, with which I shall have to compare it, was notoriously one of severe suffering to all parties interested in shipping. We had then begun to feel the effects of the ruinous policy upon which we had embarked; and the amount of loss sustained in that year had been previously unparalleled in the annals of our commerce. There was a decline, for example, of the rates current in 1848, of the extent of which the following figures, taken from the June number of _Blackwood_, furnishes a correct idea. The figures in question, I may remark, were based upon actual transactions:--
Calcutta, March 1848, Jute, £5 5 0 December 1850, £3 5 0 " " " Sugar, 7 0 0 " " 3 0 0 and £3 5 0 Bombay, March 1848, Rice, 3 5 0 May 1850, 1 12 6 Valparaiso, Oct. " Copper, 4 0 0 March 1851, 3 7 6
Other freights bore a similar ratio of decrease. During the past and present year we have had sugar brought from Calcutta at as low as 30s. per ton, and cotton from Bombay at £2, 5s. From China we have had tea as low as 40s.; whereas, in 1850, "The Oriental," American clipper, got £6 per ton, an ordinary British ship being able to command about £4. From the west coast of America we have lately had guano brought to this country for as low as 30s. to 40s. per ton. In March last the freight actually realised was £3, 12s. per ton. These, however, it will be said, are extreme cases. I give, therefore, a more general statement, although it is almost impossible to arrive at a fixed rate of freights for any portion of our long-voyage trade. Throughout the whole of our Eastern ports, and of China, as well as in the ports of the west coast of America, the rates have depended, as they did in 1850, upon the number of American vessels arriving in ballast from round Cape Horn in search of freight, after having earned a very ample remuneration from their previous voyage from the Atlantic ports of the United States--a voyage in the benefits of which British shipping is not allowed to participate;--and these have been most arbitrary and uncertain in amount. As a rule, I find that I may safely put down the long-voyage freights, both from the East and West, as having fallen 30 per cent during the past twelve months. This is the case even with regular traders; and with transient ships it is much more. With respect to Mediterranean and other European freights, the reduction is over 10 per cent for British vessels. In Canadian timber freights there has been an average fall to large ports of from 33s. to 30s. per load in 1850, to about 25s. in 1851. With respect to these ships, the bulk of the tonnage is taken up by timber-importers, some of whom are also owners; and the result of the voyage, so far as the profit to the ship is concerned, is mixed up with the result of the sale of the freight. The Australian voyage has been a set-off against the general loss on shipping. Emigrants and goods for these settlements have been in abundance, but ships' expenses have been increased. Only for great and costly precautions, these settlements threaten to be the grave of as large an amount of shipping as that which is now rotting idle in the waters of San Francisco.
In endeavouring to arrive at an estimate of the gross amount of loss to British shipping during the past year, I avail myself of a calculation made by a gentleman who occupies the position of secretary to the Underwriters' Association--the Lloyd's--of Liverpool. In an estimate of the amount to be put down as the freight paid to British shipowners upon the imports of 1850, that gentleman considered that a fair average earning of freight upon long and short voyages would be £2 per register ton. The total entries inwards of 1851 have been 4,388,245 tons, the freight upon which, at the estimated rate of the year 1850, would have been thus, in round numbers, £8,776,490. Bearing in mind that a large portion of British shipping goes out in ballast, and that the earnings outwards are considerably less at all times than inwards, I shall not estimate the outward freight in 1850 at more than 25s. per register ton. Taking the tonnage outwards of 1851--4,147,007 tons--at this rate, the amount would be £5,183,750--making a total, inwards and outwards, of, in round numbers, £13,900,000. I have already said, and shown from its antecedents, that the year 1850 was a year of heavy sacrifice of British shipping. It is much if the bulk of our shipping during that year earned more than would pay for necessarily-occurring repairs, which in many cases were postponed until better times--which were hoped for--should arrive. Taking all things into account--the actual reduction of freights, and the necessity which has accrued for executing those repairs--I cannot set down the loss to the British shipowner during the past year at less than 20 per cent upon his freight, or £2,700,000 sterling. In addition to the shipping engaged in the foreign trade, I have to estimate as well the loss sustained upon our coasting tonnage, which amounted, in 1851, to 12,394,902 tons inwards, and 13,466,155 tons outwards. Upon the earnings of this class of vessels there was a reduction, in 1850, of fully 30 per cent. In fact, during that year, it brought to the owners only loss and annoyance. During the past year it cannot be said that the freights earned have been materially reduced; but they have been earned only whilst the vessels were in rapid course of being thoroughly worn out, repairs bestowed upon them, being felt to be hopeless outlay. I take, as the basis of my calculation, a tonnage about half of the aggregate "inwards and outwards"--viz. 13,000,000; and estimate the freight both ways--and it is not much over the average of one way--at 5s. per ton. We have thus a gross amount of freight earned, of £3,250,000. I might treat the whole of this sum as absolute loss; for it is notorious that, as compared with former years' earnings, it is so. Not one in a hundred of our coasters are paying interest and wages. Cost of necessary repairs they do not pay; and, in fact, they are only sailed either in the fallacious hope of better days to come, or until _they go to pieces_, and are destined to be broken up for the timber and the copper and iron bolts which they contain. I shall only estimate them, therefore, at the probable amount of their deterioration, which cannot be less than £2,000,000, making _a total loss upon British shipping of_ £4,700,000 _sterling_. This may appear an extreme amount of loss to those who do not take into consideration the peculiar nature of shipping property, its constant deterioration, and the large proportion which expenses upon it ordinarily bear to the freights earned. With respect to the estimate which I have made of the loss upon our coasters, it will probably be exclaimed against as very vague and incapable of being proved. It must be borne in mind, however, that this class of property has been injuriously affected by a combination of causes, some of which it is only fair to refer to, as, to a certain extent, removing it out of the scope of my general arguments. Our coasting vessels have had to encounter severe competition with steam craft, particularly with respect to the traffic in merchandise and produce capable of bearing the higher rates of freights. Our internal railway communications have also interfered seriously with their traffic coastwise. A considerable amount of our coal and iron carriage has been abstracted from the small vessels formerly employed by it. For example, I heard within the last few weeks, of a government contract for engine-coals from the northern coal-fields having been entered into, such coals to be laid down at one of our dockyards for a little over 16s. per ton _per rail_--if I remember right, the Great Northern. Still, much of the deterioration in this property is attributable to our new system, which virtually hands over a portion of our coasting trade to the foreign shipowner. Cargoes of Baltic timber, grain, and other produce from Europe, are constantly arriving in the Irish and the British Channel, to be ordered thence to whatever port they may be required, and be most marketable at, rendering a portion of the voyage to all intents and purposes a coasting voyage. And it is much to be feared that, not only as respects this class of shipping, but our ocean-going vessels as well, the British shipowner has not seen the worst, and that he will have to regret the expenditure which he is now making in the attempt, by increasing the sailing qualities of his ships, to compete with his active and more favourably situated rivals. The screw will shortly supersede the "clipper" in carrying merchandise, as the paddle-wheel has superseded every other mode of propulsion in carrying passengers and correspondence. And, in the meanwhile, the latter neutralises the advantages of early arrivals of merchandise, by preparing the consumer to expect it, and to make his arrangements accordingly. A cargo of tea, advised of by steamer and overland mail, although at a distance of two or three months' voyage, exercises nearly the same influence upon the market price as if it was already being landed in one of our ports. The building of expensive vessels calculated for speed in carrying would be an undoubted good under ordinary circumstances; but _it is not a paying speculation_. Moreover, other countries are rivalling us in this effort to improve our position; and in the mean time we are adding to a mercantile marine, which is unprofitable enough at its present extent.
I shall not trouble your readers by referring to the condition of more than one of the great internal trades of the kingdom--THE IRON TRADE--the manufacture of which employs a vast amount of labour both in England, Wales, and Scotland. On this article I find the following remarks in the Circular, dated January 17th, of an eminent Liverpool house, whose means of acquiring information are very great, and their care in compiling it acknowledged. You will perhaps be inclined to suspect, from the commencing paragraph, and you will be right in doing so, that they are Free-Traders.
"Whilst the year 1851 has been one of peculiar misfortune to a large section of the mercantile community, it has been generally one of prosperity to the manufacturing interests of the country. The low prices of produce of all kinds, which have entailed such serious losses upon importers, have highly advantaged the manufacturer's department, and contributed to the comfort of the operative classes, whose condition was never better than at present. _The iron manufacturing interest has not participated in the prosperity referred to, the trade having been depressed throughout the year, and totally unremunerative to those engaged in it._ The anticipations of improvement which were indulged in at the beginning of the year have been disappointed, and prices have declined to the low rates stated in our accompanying quotations. It will be found that, as compared with the rates current at this period last year, the fall upon Welsh bars is about 10s. per ton; upon the inferior makes of Staffordshire iron, 7s. 6d. to 10s. per ton; on Scotch pig-iron, 5s. to 6s. per ton; and on tin plates about 4s. per box. _The depression must mainly be attributed to the excessive production, which the demand has not yet overtaken._"
I append the make of the year, and the number of furnaces in blast, with the prices opposite, as given above, to show the total amount of the decline during the year:--
Estimated Furnaces make per Rate of Amount of in blast. annum. decline. decline.
Scotland, 114 800,000 tons. 5s. 6d. per ton. £220,000 North and South Wales, 147 805,000 " 10s. 0d. " 402,500 Staffordshire, 127 720,000 " 8s. 9d. " 315,000 Other counties, 83 385,000 " say 7s. 6d. " 144,375 --------- ----------- 2,710,000 " Total decline in the year, £1,181,875
Of this amount, probably fully one-half would be the actual loss sustained by makers and holders during the year. I am content, however, to set it down at £500,000. Something ought to be added for the deterioration of stocks throughout the country, the precise amount of which it is very difficult to ascertain. As, however, there are on hand, in Scotland alone, 350,000 tons of pig-iron, with no prospect of any serious decrease in the quantity, or improvement in price, for some time to come, unless the make is very materially reduced, I may very safely set down in this account an additional £200,000 for the depreciation throughout the kingdom--making thus _a total loss upon iron of_ £700,000.
It must be perfectly obvious that the _cheapness_ of all the necessaries and the luxuries of life, so much boasted of by the Manchester school of political economists, is not a healthy cheapness, or one which can coexist with the well-being of the mercantile classes. The consumer has, during the past year, been fed and clothed, to a considerable extent, at the expense of that class. The importer of foreign produce, like the farmer, has been living upon his capital; and, even under the most favourable circumstances, must for years to come feel the consequences. The inquiry, then, becomes an important one--what has been the cause, or the combination of causes, which has brought about this disastrous state of things? And another equally important inquiry follows this--What interest in the country has been in fault? The Free-Trader will, no doubt, tell us that the cause of our market for imports being glutted, has been over-importations. Yet the very increase of these importations is relied upon as the surest sign of the nation's advancing prosperity! In part, I admit that the mercantile classes have imported too largely; but, then, it was in anticipation of an increased power of the people to consume, which has not manifested itself to the extent required. For example, we imported, upon an already ample stock, 70,000 tons of sugar in 1851, more than in 1850. We consumed, however, only 15,600 tons more; and, as the result, we had on the 31st December last a stock on hand of 57,000 tons, or 50 per cent in excess of the stock of the preceding year. In coffee we had no increase; but the stock with which we commenced the year was equal to nine months' consumption, which ought to have deterred importations. Of tea we increased our imports by 23,700,000 lb. We only increased the deliveries, however, for export and home consumption 2,600,000 lb. Yet we had to commence the year with a stock equal to seven months' consumption, which we have increased by 13,500,000 lb. It will be said that our merchants have bought abroad at too high prices. I admit this too. Under the circumstances, as they have turned out on actual experience, we have paid as much too high as we have bought in excess of our requirements. This, however, is only a natural result of our boasted new system. We have increased our exports to nearly £69,000,000 sterling in 1851, against £65,750,000 in 1850; £59,000,000 in 1849, and £49,000,000 in 1848, regardless of the known fact that, in the long run, the whole of these vast sums would have to find their way back to this country in the shape of imported produce, which we had not, to anything like the required extent, increased our power to consume. We have paid high prices for produce abroad, from the very fact of our having so enormously increased our exports; for the effect of every arrival of a cargo in any foreign port is to create a demand for a remittance of some kind in return. If money is generally preferred, the rate of exchange rises against the parties remitting; and a demand is created for produce, as offering at least a chance of a profitable result. If, on the other hand, produce is recklessly competed for, the money remittance to the exporter is lessened, and the purchases of the importer are bought high, and arrive at a ruinously losing market. Messrs Littledale and Co., in their last annual circular, very lucidly and briefly illustrate this, when referring to the business of 1849 and 1850. "These years," they remark, "were confessedly prosperous to the merchant; and why? Simply because the disasters of '47, and the long pending disturbances of '48, had so effectually checked operations, that _supply and demand were fairly equalised_, both at home and abroad; the foreign market, not being deluged with exports, gave a fair profit on the outward goods, while _reduced competition for returns enabled produce to be purchased at rates which again left a remunerating profit to the importer_, and secured a ready sale." In another way, increased exports, aided by the privileges which we have given to foreign shipping, contribute to bring about a glut of imports. We have had proofs of this fact during the past year, in which shipments have been made to Great Britain from the East Indies, China, the Brazils, &c., at high prices, in consequence of the inducements to speculation in produce held out by a superabundance of vessels, both British and foreign, competing for freights at the most ruinously low rates.
But I must expressly guard myself against admitting that the disasters of the past year can be attributed to the misconduct of the British merchant, properly so termed. Our old-established houses, both in the home and foreign markets, have been elbowed at every turn by a new class of men who have rushed into extensive operations with very little discretion, and many of whom, during the past year, have paid the penalty of their want of prudence and mercantile knowledge. Nor have the manufacturing body themselves been guiltless in the matter. The home consumption of the past few years has been unequal to the office of taking off a fair portion of the increased products of our looms and our forges; and hence the accumulation of stocks of every kind has been poured without judgment, and far beyond their wants, into the markets of the foreigner. This has been especially the case with manufactured cotton goods, the quantity of which, exported in 1850, with fair boweds averaging 7½d. per lb. was 1,472,324,000 yards, against 1,169,000,000 yards in 1848 when the same cotton was only 4⅜d. per lb. During the past year, whilst a decline has been going on, which has reached nearly 3d. per lb., the exports have been 1,344,000,000 yards. Such a business as this could only be productive of one result; and I have not the slightest doubt that, if those who have been engaged in it would admit the truth, it would be found that their export operations during the past year have been the most unsuccessful on record. And not only to themselves has this been the case, but to every merchant carrying on a legitimate export business to foreign countries. Such merchants during the past year have been unable to discover a single article capable of being introduced into foreign markets with any reasonable hope of profit. Their shipments, however well purchased, and however well assorted to suit the wants of those markets, have arrived there when they were glutted with unsuitable trash of all descriptions, which the manufacturer had got rid of at any sacrifice to enable him to keep his machinery going, and which the adventurer has bought to enable him to keep his floating credit up, until a favourable turn in the price of the raw material should enable both to reap a fair reward for their enterprise. There is not a single market of importance--if, indeed, there be one at all--to which I can point as having returned cost price at home for the shipments of the year, taking them in the mass. If a few cases of individual profit have taken place, it has been when some favourable fluctuation in the rate of exchange has occurred to make up for the loss which would have accrued under an ordinary condition of the foreign money market. Such was the case last year with a small portion of our East India trade in particular. This market, however, and that of China, have been unremunerating generally during the whole of the year. The American market has only been saved from being disastrous by the impetus given to consumption by the Californian gold discoveries, and their effect upon the American banking system. The Brazilian trade, and that of the west coast of South America, have been losing ones, and would have been worse, but for the same stimulus, which, combined with that arising from the discoveries of gold in Australia, may be said to have affected favourably the trade of the eastern and western continents, and to have protected Europe and this country from--what must inevitably have occurred--a widely-spread monetary convulsion.
It would be a task utterly impossible, to ascertain precisely the amount of loss sustained upon our gross exports of the year, amounting to £68,490,659; but it is not difficult to perceive that it has been a very heavy one. In any case it must have been so, as far as regards our exports of manufactured cotton goods, which have amounted to £30,078,996; of metals, which have amounted to £8,905,894; of woollen manufactures, which have amounted to £9,856,259; and of silk goods, linens, &c., the export of which has confessedly been excessive, and with respect to the bulk of which, there has been a decline in the price of the raw material. The excess of our entire exports, however, over the legitimate wants of the foreigner, will account for a more considerable margin of loss--and that, too, upon all articles--than that which would have taken place under a decline in one or two raw materials alone. There has been a heavy loss sustained upon the labour and skill engaged in the composition of manufactured products; and I feel satisfied that I am not at all exceeding bounds in putting down the aggregate, from all the circumstances named, at fully 7½ per cent upon the total quantity shipped. This will make a loss to exporters of £5,250,000. It would not be fair, however, to treat the whole of this sum as the loss to the British merchant. I put down, therefore, the least I can do, viz., £2,500,000 _as his share of his loss_. In doing this, I know that _I am much below the truth_. There are secrets, however, fast locked up in the safes of too many of our importing merchants, to which I have not the key; and of many articles, such as metal of all kinds, coals, &c., so much is sent out on ship's account, the result of which is mixed up in the freight balance-sheet, that I am not disposed to run the risk of being accused of exaggeration, when no data are within my reach to appeal to in proof of my statements.
I think it will be admitted that I have pretty nearly substantiated the assertion with which I set out, viz., that the mercantile and trading interests were left poorer at the close of the year 1851, than they were at its commencement, by twenty millions sterling, and upwards. Let me recapitulate the items:--
Loss to British importers on Cotton, £4,000,000 " " Sugar, 2,150,000 " " Coffee, 371,000 " " Tea, 1,066,600 " " Corn and Flour, 500,000 " " Dye-stuffs, Molasses, Silk, and } other miscellaneous articles, } 1,912,400 " " Manufacturers of goods in } course of perfection, and } dealers and retailers of stocks } 2,000,000 of produce, &c., depreciated, } " " Shipowners, 4,700,000 " " Iron manufacture, 700,000 " " by Exporters, 2,500,000 ---------- Total, £19,900,000 ===========
It would have been perfectly easy for me to have performed more than the whole of my promise, had I not strictly guarded myself in every case against assuming anything which could call forth denial which I am not fully prepared to meet. My own conviction is--and there are many who will _feelingly_ confirm it--that I have understated rather than overstated the disasters of the year.
Where, in the face of these facts, can be the "_prosperity_" of which the Free-Trader has been drawing such glowing pictures? It is not gladdening the eyes of the merchant and importer. It has not rewarded the enterprise of the shipowner. It has not filled the pockets of the small trader or the shopkeeper. The millowner and the manufacturer have not only not felt it, but I am confident that the majority of this class have suffered severely, as the result of the year's operations. The labourer and the artisan, with the men of fixed money incomes, have been the only parties benefited by the cheapness of the past year. But it will be said these losses have been exceptional, and will not occur again. The importer has been taught to confine his operations within the limits of legitimate demand; the manufacturer will produce no more than he can sell to a profit; and the exporter will cease to glut every foreign market. Prudence, indeed, suggests this course; but then, what will become of the statistical proofs, furnished us every month, of the nation's progress in well-doing? Our exports will no more be triumphantly pointed to as affording such proof; and our imports will cease to show that sort of prosperity, derived from the circumstance of a portion of the nation being enabled to live in abundance upon the losses of the remainder. If our exports and imports are reduced to the level of our power to sell at a fair profit, and to consume without the importer having to resort to sacrifice, the British shipowner, under our present system of competition with the foreigner, may lay up the larger portion of his ships in dock, and discharge his seamen to starve in our streets. It is idle, however, to talk now of confining our business within reasonable and profitable limits under our present system; and the Free-Trader durst not at this moment even contemplate such a course; for what would be its first results? If production of manufactured goods is to be checked; if a portion of our looms and spindles are to be stopped; if one-fourth of our iron furnaces are to be blown out, the first result must be to destroy the boasted elysium at present existing amongst our labouring classes engaged in manufacturing processes. This should have been done last year to produce a really healthy and remunerative trade; but then the operative classes would not have been enabled to benefit by the ruinous cheapness of imported food and other necessaries, which was existing around them. If imports are to be checked, as they must be checked in a corresponding ratio with exports; if the importing merchant is, by this course, to be enabled to sell at a profit, we must have comparative dearness coexisting with decreased means on the part of the labouring classes to purchase and consume. This important view of our position is well worthy of the serious consideration, not only of those who jump to the conclusion that the mercantile interest has been over-trading, but also of those who profess to see nothing but ruin and confusion as the result of the slightest enhancement of the price of any commodity which enters largely into the consumption of the people. Prudent trading during the past year would clearly have checked the productions of manufactures and other commodities, and with these the employment of labour. On the other hand, imports restricted to a prudent limit would as clearly have tended to raise prices against the home consumer.
We cannot, however, check our imports, for we have proclaimed that Great Britain, with her mighty capital and resources, shall become the depot of the merchandise of the world, and the foreign producers of that merchandise will hold us to our contract. So long as our ports are not closed against its admission; so long as the selfishness of capital prompts its possessor to seek gain; so long as shipowners, foreign as well as British, are under the necessity of earning freights, and merchants and brokers throughout the world are eager to secure commissions, the surplus produce of every clime will seek a resting-place, though it may be only a temporary one, in the granaries and warehouses of Great Britain. We had a proof of this fact last year in the arrival here of several cargoes of tea, the surplus imports of the United States, which were brought in American shipping, and thrown upon our already depressed markets, to be sold at any sacrifice; and this very transaction, by the way, exhibits in a very striking manner the suicidal folly which we have committed with respect to the Navigation Laws. The tea in question, brought from an American port, was admitted into our markets upon the same terms as if it had been direct from the country of its growth. If the same operation was to take place from any port in Great Britain, an additional duty of 20 per cent would be levied on the cargo in America, because of its having been imported in a British bottom. It is, in fact, the very principle of Free Trade to invite imports, and to bring about their cheapness. A low cost of the raw materials of life and of labour is the great end and aim of their policy. Every possible increase of our import of foreign productions, they have proclaimed again and again, was good, inasmuch as it cheapened those productions to the home consumer, and at the same time enabled the foreigner to take more of the manufactures of this country. But these men failed to perceive that they have not in themselves the control of the tyrannous machinery which they have set in motion; that, whilst seeking only their own selfish aggrandisement, they have placed in the hands of a giant power a rod of iron to scourge their backs; that Ixion was never bound more inextricably to his wheel, or Mazeppa to his wild steed, than they are bound to the incontrollable workings of that arbitrary power. These babes in political science omitted to consider the overriding influence of an inflexible money system in counteracting their short-sighted schemes of ambition and greed. The world, they designed, was to throw its treasures--its products of necessity and of luxury--at their feet, to be gathered by them at their own convenience, and at their own price. But the system, which they had overlooked, said, "No, you shall not do this: I must have _my bond!_" If, in exchange for the increased imports poured in upon us, and which we have no power to turn aside from our shores, we fall behind one step in the task of producing and exporting an equivalent in the shape of manufactured goods or British products, our entire monetary system collapses, and brings down devastation and ruin upon our heads. The producer of British commodities, heavily weighted as he is with responsibilities--holding large stocks, or having his capital invested in fixed property--can no more resist the tyranny of this system than he can turn back the tide or arrest an avalanche. He must go on producing and exporting--or his class, at all events, must--whatever be the price of the raw material upon which he works, or the certainty that its sale must result in heavy loss. He must go on, because a monetary crisis is infinitely more disastrous in its results than the most disastrous losses arising from glut in the foreign or the British markets.
There is gross indecency, and, indeed, impudence, displayed by those parties who proclaim that a policy, which has produced such results as I have detailed, is not even to be examined with a view to its possible modification. All other monuments of the wisdom of mere man are found to require occasionally the improving hand; but the policy dictated by the Manchester school of economists is pronounced to be irrevocable, and not to be reviewed by the light of experience. Although it has inflicted ruin upon the great mass of our agricultural community; although it has been pregnant with commercial and industrial disaster; although it has falsified in its operations all the predictions of its authors; yet it has produced "a cheap loaf" and "cheap imports;" and upon these it is deemed sacrilegious for the statesman to impose his amending hand. But the common sense of the community, I venture to predict, will not submit to an imposture and injustice so gross. For the intelligent mercantile classes, I can answer that they will not. These men know, from the lessons taught by their every-day transactions, that the existing miscalled system of Free Trade cannot be much longer persevered in without producing widespread ruin, and ultimate disaffection and anarchy. To enable us to increase our imports profitably, we must first have a corresponding increase of the ability of our own people to consume. To enable us to carry on a profitable trade in exports, we must first render the home producer of manufactures and other products less dependent than at present upon the foreign market; and this can only be done by enabling the masses of our own population, whether employed in agriculture or in other industrial pursuits, to consume more largely. To enable us to hold the position of being the merchants and brokers of the world, and the holders of its accumulated stores of wealth, we must first have provided for us a more expansive monetary system. The Free-Trader cannot, or will not, see the existence of these wants, obvious as they are, and necessary to be supplied, if his favourite policy is to be rendered a practicable one. The experience of the past six years of continually recurring disaster, from a share in which he has not been preserved harmless himself, appears to be entirely lost upon him. But it has not been lost upon the intelligent masses of the community; and I feel perfectly convinced that any attempt on the part of the manufacturing interest to raise an ignorant clamour of opposition to the efforts of the Earl of Derby's administration to snatch the country, by sound and patriotic legislation, from its present disorganised and suffering condition, will prove a ludicrous failure, and very justly draw down upon its authors the indignation and disgust of their fellow-countrymen.
Before concluding, I may be pardoned for addressing to the Public, and to the Legislature, a word or two of caution against placing the slightest dependence upon Board of Trade Returns, as affording evidence of the real condition of the nation. It has long been known that the principle upon which they are compiled is a most fallacious one; and they have been rendered more so by our recent policy. Had these elaborate statistical documents afforded anything like an index to our condition, we ought, during the past ten years, to have been advancing in prosperity at a rate more rapid than was ever achieved by any people. They do not, however, form such an index, and, for all useful purposes, are as valueless as the paper upon which they are printed. But this is not all. Not only is the evidence afforded by them fallacious, but the figures contained in them are incorrect and often fraudulent. The entries at the Custom-Houses of merchandise shipped for foreign countries, may be valued at anything that the exporter pleases. There is no check whatever against such entries being falsified. It is the same with our imports, those brought in duty free being now no longer weighed by Government officers at the ship's side. A few dishonest men may at any time combine to increase or to decrease the amount of the next month's or year's return; and to exhibit growing prosperity, or the reverse. It is only necessary, in order to effect their object, to add fifty or a hundred per cent to the declared value of their shipments, or to undervalue them to the extent wished to be shown. We have continually been witnessing, during the past few years, the _extraordinary luck_ of the late Whig Ministry in being always able, at seasons of emergency, when pressed by their opponents, to produce some favourable return from the Board of Trade; and it is not very improbable that, whilst in opposition, they may be indulged by their Free-Trade allies throughout the country with the figures required to prove decreasing exports under a Conservative Government. But independently of such malpractices, committed from party motives, there are other causes in operation which render these returns utterly unworthy of credit. In a vast number of cases it is certain that goods exported are _not entered at all_. A few months ago it was discovered that an extensive forwarding merchant in this port had been systematically omitting entries at the Custom House for years past--no duty being chargeable--merely with a view to save the payment of the Liverpool dock and town dues; and the extent of such evasions may be conceived from the fact that--small as these dues are--the dock estate is considered to have suffered to the extent of at least £20,000 from the practice. During the past week, another case of the same description has been discovered; and there is too much reason to believe that this practice has become very prevalent on the part of the inferior clerks of our merchants.
Under these circumstances, a complete change in the mode of conducting the statistical department of the Board of Trade is imperatively called for; and, until this is effected, the sooner that Board suspends the issue of its delusive compilations, the better for the cause of truth.
LIVERPOOL, _12th March 1852_.
[The revelations contained in the foregoing article are of a nature eminently calculated to excite the astonishment of those who put faith in the representations of the Free-Traders. Although fully convinced of the accuracy of our esteemed correspondent, and the extensive means of knowledge which he possesses with regard to mercantile affairs, we considered it our duty, before publishing this article, to institute inquiries of our own in other quarters, and we are satisfied that it states the plain truth, without any feature of exaggeration. Indeed, it is in entire accordance with the tenor of the Trade Circulars, one of which, now lying before us, dated so late as the 22d of March, and emanating from a well-known Free-trading Manchester firm, refers to "the enormous losses sustained upon the exports made in the early part of last year, and the still greater losses on imports, many of which have been sustained by the same parties." In Glasgow, during the last year, the commercial disasters have been frightful; and we are not aware that, up to the present time, there has been a symptom of the turning of the tide.
We observe that Mr Cardwell, in a late speech delivered by him in the House of Commons, reasserts, in pretty strong terms, his belief in the prosperity of the country, and dwells especially upon the cheering fact that the exports and imports have increased. Now, as he is one of the representatives of Liverpool, and ought to know something about mercantile matters, we beg to call his attention to the foregoing article, which surely is specific enough to admit of refutation, if it is not consistent with the truth. There has been, of late, a great deal of babble about prosperity, but no proof of its existence. This is an easy way, no doubt, of disposing of the question; and it may succeed with people who are not accustomed to watch the flux of public events, and the rise and fall of commerce. It is not difficult to deal in general terms and rounded periods, or to make broad averments, without substantiating them, in a parliamentary speech; but it is full time that the public should be led to discriminate between what is matter of fact and what is matter of opinion. We submit a statement from Liverpool to the notice of the member for Liverpool. It contains allegations which, if true, show that the large and important mercantile constituency which he represents is very far from sharing in that general prosperity which he believes to exist somewhere. In the language of a late eminent statesman, three courses are open to Mr Cardwell. He can either deny the statement of our correspondent, in which case we shall be glad to be furnished with a refutation; or, he may admit the statement, in which case nothing more need be said on the subject; or he may maintain a dignified silence, in which case he must pardon us if we arrive at the conclusion that, in reality, he knows very little about the matter--and so we commend him to his constituents.]
THE MOTHER'S LEGACY TO HER UNBORN CHILD.
_The Mothers Legacie to her Vnborne Childe._ By ELIZABETH IOCELINE. Reprinted from the edition of 1625; with a Biographical and Historical Introduction. William Blackwood and Sons.
When we first saw this curious and deeply-interesting little volume, we were disposed to turn from it as one of those fantastic pseudo-antiques which came into vogue a few years ago, apparently, too, under high auspices. We regretted to see an indication of the continuance of so bad a fashion--namely, a professed reproduction of a work written one or two centuries before, but, in reality, a spurious performance, with no other recommendation than the very questionable one of a little petty cleverness in assuming the tone of antique language, and the cast of sentiment and observation belonging to a day gone by. And this, moreover, in flagrant disregard of the maxim, _fiat experimentum in corpore vili_, was applied to religious subjects! We were, however, quickly undeceived as to the little volume before us, which we were assured was a veritable reprint, "a fac-simile impression," of a small work which had _bonâ fide_ made its appearance, under most affecting circumstances, exactly two centuries and a quarter ago; and to that reprint it seems that we are indebted to no less a personage than the Very Reverend Dr Lee, the Principal, and the pious and learned head, of the University of Edinburgh. We cordially thank the very reverend gentleman for the great gratification which he has afforded us, and the service which he has rendered the public, by bringing under its notice once more, with every mark of genuineness and authenticity, and after no small pains bestowed upon the task, an exquisite memento of tenderness, piety, and love, in the _Mothers Legacie to her Vnborne Childe_. It is exactly what it professes to be: in a word, a lovely young gentlewoman, newly married, conscious of being likely to become a mother, and also persuaded that, in giving birth to her infant, she herself would be called away, set to work--sweet soul! now and long since happy in eternity!--to frame a little manual of religious counsel for the guidance of that infant as it grew up. Listen to her own words--"_It may seem strange to thee to receive these lines from a mother that died when thou wert borne_." If these few words are not full of moving tenderness to the reader, he is made of different stuff from ourselves.
The "Mother," as we learn from the elaborate and learned "Introduction" of Principal Lee, was Elizabeth Brooke, the granddaughter of Bishop Chaderton, whose only daughter had married Sir Richard Brooke of Norton. The exemplary old bishop survived his own daughter several years, and
"Bestowed the utmost pains to train up his only grandchild in the most solid and serious, as well as the most elegant, branches of learning in which, during the greater part of the sixteenth century, no inconsiderable proportion of ladies of rank in England attained high proficiency. Dr Goad's enumeration of the female accomplishments in which she was nurtured includes languages and other liberal arts; but, above all, that pious discipline of the mind, which is both the beginning and the consummation of the wisdom which is from above."[N]
[N] Introduction, p. 6.
The Dr Goad here mentioned was Dr Thomas Goad, of whom Fuller, in his _Worthies_ of England, makes mention as "a great and general scholar, exact critic, historian, schoolman, divine." He was chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and in that capacity possessed the power of licensing books. He knew both Bishop Chaderton and his granddaughter; and we shall now let him speak for himself in the matter; for he it was whose official _imprimatur_ is impressed on this little book, which he introduces to the reader in the following quaint but beautiful "_Approbation_:"--
"Ovr lawes disable those that are vnder _Couertbaron_, from disposing by Will and Testament any temporall estate. But no law prohibiteth any possessor of morall and spirituall riches, to impart them vnto others, either in life by communicating, or in death by bequeathing. The reason is, for that corruptible riches, euen to those who haue capacity of alienating them, bring onely a ciuil propriety, but no morall and vertuous influence for the wel dispensing, or bestowing them: whereas vertue and grace haue power beyond al empeachment of sex or other debility, to enable and instruct the possessor to employ the same vnquestionably for the inward inriching of others.
"This truly rich bequeather, taking that care for the prouiding an euerlasting portion for her hoped issue, which too many parents bend wholly vpon earthly inheritance, by her death already hath giuen vnto her Testament that life and strength, whereof the Scripture speaketh, _A Testament is of force after death_--[Heb. ix. 17]--Now remained the other validitie & priuilege of a Testament, that it bee enacted in perpetual and inuiolable Record. Which in this was necessary not so much for the security of the chiefe and immediate Legatary, as for the benefit of all those, who, by the common kindred of Christianity, may claime their portion in this Legacy, left _in pios vsus_; whereout, whosoeuer taketh, yet leaueth no whit the lesse for others in remainder.
"Wherefore vpon the very first view, I willingly not onely subscribed my _Approbat_ for the registring this _Will_, among the most publique Monuments, (the rather worthy, because proceeding from the weaker sex) but also, as bound to do right vnto knowne vertue, vndertooke the care of the publication thereof, my selfe hauing heretofore been no stranger to the Testators education and eminent vertues. Whereof, I here beheld reflection cleere enough, though perhaps not so particularly euident to those that take knowledge of them onely by this Abstract.
"In her zealous affection to the holy Ministry, thereto dedicating, (if by sex capable) her yet scarce budding first fruits, I saw the lineaments of her owne parentage: Shee being the onely offspring deriued from a reuerend Grandfather, Doctor _Chaderton_, sometime Master of _Queens Colledge_ in _Cambridge_, and publique _Professor_ of _Diuinity_ in that _Vniuersitie_, afterward Lord _Bishop_, first of _Chester_, and thence of _Lincolne_: by and vnder whom shee was from her tender yeeres carefully nurtured, as in those accomplishments of knowledge in Languages, History, and some Arts, so principally in studies of piety. And thus _hauing from a childe knowne the holy Scriptures_, _which made her wise vnto saluation through faith in Christ_, _how well shee continued in those things_, _which shee had learned_,--[2 Tim. iii. 15, 16]--appeareth, as otherwise to those that knew her, so here to all by the frequent and pertinent application of them in these instructions.
"In her prosecution of the duty of obedience vnto Parents, I view the deepe impression, long since, when shee was not aboue six yeeres old, made in her minde by the last words of her owne Mother, charging her vpon her blessing to shew all obedience and reuerence to her Father (Sir _Richard Brooke_) and to her reuerend Grandfather.
"In the whole course of her pen, I obserue her piety and humility: these her lines scarce shewing one sparke of the elementary fire of her secular learning: this her candle being rather lighted from the lampe of the Sanctuary.
"In her commission of the office of an _Ouerseer_ to her husband, what eies cannot behold the flames of her true and vnspoted loue toward her dearest, who enioyed her about the space of six yeeres and a halfe, being all that while both an impartiall witnesse of her vertues, and an happy partner of those blessings both transitory and spirituall, wherewith shee was endowed.
"Beside the domestique cares pertaining to a wife, the former part of those yeeres were imployed by her in the studies of morality and history, the better by the helpe of forreigne languages, not without a taste and facultie in Poetrie: Wherein some essay shee hath left, ingenious, but chaste and modest like the Authour. Of all which knowledge shee was very sparing in her discourses, as possessing it rather to hide, than to boast of.
"Among those her eminencies deseruing our memory, was her owne most ready memory, enabling her vpon the first rehersall to repeat aboue forty lines in English or Latine: a gift the more happy by her imployment of it in carrying away an entire Sermon, so that she could (almost following the steps of the words, or phrase) write it downe in her Chamber.
"The latter yeeres of her life shee addicted to no other studies than Diuinity, whereof some imperfect notes remaine, but principally this small Treatise found in her Deske vnfinished, by reason either of some troubles befalling her about a moneth before her end, or of preuention by mis-reckoning the time of her going with this her first (now also last) Childe: which Treatise, intended for her childe, shee so leauing, recommended the same to her husband by her letter to him, written and subscribed by her owne hand, as hereafter followeth.
"The many blessings, shee enioyed, were not without some seasoning of afflictions, which by the good vse shee made of them, bred in her a constant temper of patience and more than womanly fortitude: especially in her latter time, when as the course of her life was a perpetuall meditation of death, amounting almost to a propheticall sense of her dissolution, euen then when she had not finished the 27. yeere of her age, nor was oppressed by any disease, or danger, other than the common lot of child-birth, within some moneths approaching. Accordingly when she first felt herselfe quicke with childe (as then trauelling with death itselfe) shee secretly tooke order for the buying a new winding sheet: thus preparing and consecrating herselfe to him, who rested in a _new Sepulcher wherein was neuer man yet layd_. And about that time vndauntedly looking death in the face, priuatly in her Closet betweene God and her, she wrote these pious Meditations; whereof her selfe strangely speaketh to her owne bowels in this manner, _It may seeme strange to thee to receive these lines from a mother, that died when thou wert borne_.
"_October 12. 1622._ In Cambridgeshire shee was made a mother of a daughter, whom shortly after, being baptized and brought vnto her, shee blessed, and gaue God thankes that her selfe had liued to see it a Christian: and then instantly called for her winding sheet to bee brought forth and laied vpon her.
"So hauing patiently borne for some nine daies a violent fever, and giuing a comfortable testimony of her godly resolution, she ended her prayers, speech, and life together, rendring her soule into the hand of her Redeemer, and leauing behinde her vnto the world a sweet perfume of good name, and to her onely childe (besides a competent inheritance) this Manuell, being a deputed Mother for instruction, and for solace a twinne-like sister, issuing from the same Parent, and seeing the light about the same time.
"Which composure because it commeth forth imperfect from the pen, doth the more expect to be supplied and made vp by practise and execution.
Let us frankly own that we came to the close of this simple and touching narration with tears in our eyes; and those tears fell on reading the first few lines of the death-doomed expectant mother, which follow. Let who can read them unmoved; we know of nothing in print that is more melting to a heart of even but ordinary sensibility.
"TO MY TRVLY louing, and most dearly loued Husband, _Tourell Iocelin_.
"Mine owne deare loue, I no sooner conceiued an hope, that I should bee made a mother by thee, but with it entred the consideration of a mothers duty, and shortly after followed the apprehension of danger that might preuent mee from executing that care I so exceedingly desired, I meane in religious training our Childe. And in truth death appearing in this shape, was doubly terrible vnto mee. First, in respect of the painfulnesse of that kinde of death, and next of the losse my little one should haue in wanting mee.
"But I thank God, these feares were cured with the remembrance that all things work together for the best to those that loue God, and a certain assurance that he will give me patience according to my pain.
"Yet still I thought there was some good office I might do for my Childe more than onely to bring it forth (tho' it should please God to take me) when I considered our frailty, our apt inclinations to sin, the Devil's subtility, and the world's deceitfulness; against these how much desired I to admonish it! But still it came into my mind that death might depriue me of time, if I should neglect the present; I knew not what to do; I thought of writing; but then mine owne weakness appeared so manifestly, that I was ashamed and durst not undertake it. But when I could find no other means to expresse my motherly zeale, I encouraged my selfe with these reasons.
"First, that I wrote to a Childe, and though I were but a woman, yet to a childes iudgement, what I vnderstood might serue for a foundation to a better learning.
"Againe, I considered it was to my owne, and in priuate sort, and my loue to my owne might excuse my errours.
"And lastly, but chiefly, I comforted my selfe, that my intent was good, and that I was well assured God is the prosperer of good purposes.
"Thus resolued, I writ this ensuing Letter to our little one, to whom I could not finde a fitter hand to conuey it than thine owne, which maist with authority see the performance of this my little legacy, of which my Childe is Executor.
"And (deare loue) as thou must be the ouerseer, for Gods sake, whō it shal faile in duty to God, or to the world, let not thy indulgence winke at such folly, but seuerely correct it: and that thy trouble may bee little when it comes to yeeres, take the more care when it is young. First, in prouiding it a nurse: O make choise, not so much for her complexion, as for her milde and honest disposition. Likewise if the child be to remain long abroad after waining, as neere as may be chuse a house where it may not learne to sweare, or speak scurrilous words.
"I know I may be thought too scrupulous in this: but I am sure thou shalt finde it a hard matter to breake a childe of that it learnes so young. It will be a great while, ere it will bee thought old enough to be beatten for euill words, and by that time it will bee so perfect in imperfections that blows will not mend it. And when some charitable body reproues or corrects it for these faults, let no body pitty it with the losse of the mother.
"Next; good sweet heart, keepe it not from schoole, but let it learne betimes: if it be a son, I doubt not but thou wilt dedicate it to the Lord as his Minister, if he wil please of his mercy to giue him grace and capacity for that great work. If it be a daughter, I hope my mother _Brook_ (if thou desirest her) will take it among hers, & let them all learne one lesson.
"I desire her bringing vp may bee learning the Bible, as my sisters doe, good housewifery, writing, and good workes: other learning a woman needs not: though I admire it in those whom God hath blest with discretion, yet I desired not much in my owne, hauing seene that sometimes women haue greater portions of learning than wisdome, which is of no better vse to them than a main saile to a flye-boat, which runs it vnder water. But where learning and wisdome meet in a vertuous disposed woman, she is the fittest closet for all goodnesse. She is like a well-balanced ship that may beare all her saile. She is, Indeed, I should but shame my selfe, if I should goe about to praise her more.
"But, my deare, though she haue all this in her, she will hardly make a poore mans wife: Yet I leaue it to thy will. If thou desirest a learned daughter, I pray God giue her a wise and religious heart, that she may vse it to his glory, thy comfort, and her owne saluation.
"But howsoeuer thou disposest of her education, I pray thee labour by all meanes to teach her true humility: though I much desire it may be as humble if it be a son as a daughter; yet in a daughter I more feare that vice; Pride being now rather accounted a vertue in our sex worthy praise, than a vice fit for reproofe.
"Many Parents reade lectures of it to their children how necessary it is, and they haue principles that must not be disputed against. As first, looke how much you esteeme your selfe, others wil esteeme of you. Again, what you giue to others, you derogate from your selfe. And many more of these kindes. I haue heard men accounted wise that haue maintained this kind of pride vnder the name of generous knowing or vnderstanding themselues. But I am sure that hee that truly knowes himself shall know so much euill by himselfe, that hee shall haue small reason to think himselfe better than another man.
"Dearest, I am so feareful to bring thee a proud high minded child, that, though I know thy care will need no spur, yet I cannot but desire thee to double thy watchfulnesse ouer this vice, it is such a crafty insinuating deuill, it will enter little children in the likenesse of wit, with which their parents are delighted, and that is sweet nourishment to it.
"I pray thee, deare heart, delight not to haue a bold childe: modesty humilitie are the sweetest ground-works of all vertue. Let not thy seruants giue it any other title thā the Christen name, till it haue discretion to vnderstand how to respect others.
"And I pray thee be not profuse in the expence of clothes upon it. Mee thinkes it is a vaine delight in parents to bestow that cost vpon one childe which would serue two or three. If they haue not children enow of their owne to imploy so much cost upon, _Pauper vbique iacet_.--[There wants not poore at euery doore.]
"Thus, Deare, thou seest my beleefe, if thou canst teach thy little one humility, it must needs make thee a glad father.
"But I know thou wonderest by this time what the cause should bee that we two continually vnclasping our hearts one to the other, I should reserue this to writing. Whē thou thinkest thus deare, remember how grieuous it was to thee but to heare mee say, I may die, and thou wilt confesse this would haue beene an vnpleasant discourse to thee, and thou knowest I neuer durst displease thee willingly, so much I loue thee. All I now desire is, that the vnexpectednesse of it make it not more grieuous to thee. But I know thou art a Christian, and therefore will not doubt of thy patience.
"And though I thus write to thee, as heartily desiring to be religiously prepared to die, yet, my deare, I despaire not of life, nay, I hope and daily pray for it, if so God will be pleased.
"Nor shall I thinke this labour lost, though I doe liue: for I will make it my owne looking glasse wherein to see when I am too seuere, when too remisse, and in my childes fault through this glasse to discerne mine owne errors. And I hope God will so giue me his grace, that I shall more skilfully act than apprehend a mothers duty.
"My deare, thou knowest me so well, I shall not need to tell thee I haue written honest thoughts in a disordered fashion, not obseruing method. For thou knowest how short I am of learning and naturall indowments to take such a course in writing. Or if that strong affection of thine haue hid my weaknesse from thy sight, I now professe seriously my owne ignorance: and though I did not, this following Treatise would bewray it: But I send it onely to the eies of a most louing Husband, and of a childe exceedingly beloued, to whom I hope it wil not be altogether vnprofitable.
"Thus humbly desiring God to giue thee all comfort in this life, and happinesse in the life to come, I leue thee and thine to his most gracious protection.
"_Thine inuiolable_, "Eliza Iocelin."
Is there a mother, is there a woman living, who can read this heart-subduing passage without lively emotion and sympathy? What must have been the feelings of the lovely writer,--who, in the homely language of worthy Dr Goad, "when she first felt herselfe quicke with childe, (as then trauelling with death it selfe) secretly tooke order for the buying a new winding sheet, ... and vndauntedly looking death in the face, priuatly in her Closet betweene God and her, wrote these pious meditations!"
Of her husband, Mr Tourell Joceline, to whom she was married in her twentieth year, little more seems to be known, than that he was a gentleman, probably a relation of the learned John Joceline, chaplain of Archbishop Parker; and it is indeed, as Principal Lee informs us,
"Most satisfactory to know that he possessed the unbounded confidence and affection of his amiable wife, whose letter, addressed to him in the immediate prospect of death, is so tender and touching, and so replete with practical wisdom and hallowed principles, that no human being who is not past feeling can read it without deep emotion. Of the maternal counsels bequeathed to the unborn child, it is unnecessary to anticipate the judgment of the reader. We are told by Dr Goad, that 'this small treatise was found in her desk unfinished;' and it is affecting to know that the serenity of her mind, in looking forward to the eternal world, was not unclouded by occasional visitations of sadness. But these seasons of affliction were happily instrumental in weaning her from the deceitful allurements of things temporal, and establishing her soul in the perfect work of patience, and in the blessed hope of an eternal weight of glory."[O]
[O] Introduction, p. 11.
_The Mothers Legacie_, which, as we have seen, is "a small treatise found in her desk unfinished," consists of fourteen little sections, applicable to a "child" of either sex; every one of these sections breathing a spirit of solemn and exalted piety, and evidencing a writer whose brief life had been spent in profound meditations upon religious subjects. Its perfectly orthodox character is sufficiently guaranteed by the responsible editorship of the Reverend Principal; but in addition to that circumstance, we have no hesitation in adding our own humble testimony, that every line is redolent of _religion pure and undefiled_. _The Mothers Legacie_ also affords decisive evidence of its accomplished writer's having received an education far higher than falls to the lot of women of our day. Several delicate and appropriate classical allusions here and there present themselves, as from a mind imbued with such subjects; the composition is pure and nervous, and the tone uniformly grave and earnest. The following is the Introductory Section, and affords an excellent specimen of the character and tendency of the whole:--
"Hauing long,[P] often and earnestly, desired of God that I might be a mother to one of his children, and the time now drawing on, which I hope hee hath appointed to giue thee vnto mee: It drew me into a consideration both wherefore I so earnestly desired thee, and (hauing found that the true cause was to make thee happy) how I might compasse this happinesse for thee.
[P] Her first and only child was not born till she had nearly completed her twenty-seventh year, and consequently after she had been married seven years.
"I knew it consisted not in honour wealth, strength of body or friends (though all these are great blessings) therfore it had beene a weake request to desire thee onely for an heire to my fortune. No, I neuer aimed at so poore, an inheritance for thee, as the whole world: Neither would I haue begged of God so much paine, as I know I must endure, to haue only possest thee with earthly riches, of which to day thou maist bee a great man, to morrow a poore beggar. Nor did an hope to dandle thy infancy moue mee to desire thee. For I know all the delight a Parent can take in a childe is hony mingled with gall.
"But the true reason that I haue so often kneeled to God for thee, is, that thou mightest bee an inheritour of the Kingdome of Heaven. To which end I humbly beseech Almightie God thou maist bend all thy actions, and (if it bee his blessed will) giue thee so plentifull a measure of his grace, that thou maist serue him as his Minister, if he make thee a man.
"It is true that this age holds it a most contemptible office, fit only for poore mens children, younger brothers, and such as haue no other means to liue. But for Gods sake bee not discouraged with these vaine speeches; but fortifie, your self with remembring of how great worth the winning of one soule is in Gods sight, and you shal quickly finde how great a place it is to be a Priest vnto the liuing God. If it will please him to moue your heart with his holy Spirit, it will glow and burne with zeale to doe him seruice. The Lord open thy lips, that thy mouth may shew forth his praise.
"If I had skill to write, I would write all I apprehend of the happy estate of true labouring Ministers: but I may plainly say that of all men they by their calling are the most truly happy; they are familiar with God, they labour in his Vineyard, and they are so beloued of him, that hee giues them abundance of knowledge. Oh bee one of them, let not the scorne of euil men hinder thee. Look how God hath prouided for thee sufficient means; thou needest not hinder thy study to look out for liuing, as the Israelites hindred their worke to looke for straw: If thou beest not content with this, thou wilt not be with more; God deliuer thee from couetousnesse.
"I desire thee that though thou takest a spirituall calling, thou wilt not seeke after the liuings of the Church, nor promotions, though I honour them as I haue great cause, but I would haue thee so truly an humble and zealous Minister, that thy onely end should bee to doe God seruice, without desire of any thing to thy selfe, saue the Kingdome of Heauen. Yet as I would not haue thee seeke these things, so I would haue thee as carefull not to neglect Gods blessings, but with all thankfulnesse to receiue what hee bestowes, and to bee a carefull steward, distributing it to those that haue need.
"I could not chuse but manifest this desire in writing, lest it should please God to depriue me of time to speake.
"And if thou beest a daughter, thou maist perhaps think I haue lost my labour; but read on, and thou shalt see my loue and care of thee and thy saluation is as great, as if thou wert a sonne, and my feare greater.
"It may peraduenture when thou comest to some discretion, appeare strange to thee to receiue these lines from a Mother that died when thou wert borne; but when thou seest men purchase land, and store vp treasure for their vnborne babes, wonder not at mee that I am carefull for thy saluation, being such an eternall portion: and not knowing whether I shall liue to instruct thee when thou art borne, let me not be blamed though I write to thee before. Who would not condemne mee if I should bee carelesse of thy body while it is within me? Sure a farre greater care belongs to thy soule; to both these cares I will endeauour my selfe so long as I liue.
"Againe, I may perhaps bee wondred at for writing in this kind, considering there are so many excellent bookes, whose least note is worth all my meditations. I confesse it, and thus excuse my selfe. I write not to the world, but to mine own child, who, it may be, will more profit by a few weake instructions comming from a dead mother (who cannot euery day praise or reproue it as it deserues) than by farre better from much more learned. These things considered, neither the true knowledge of mine owne weaknesse, nor the feare this may come to the worlds eie, and bring scorne vpon my graue, can stay my hand from expressing how much I covet thy saluation.
"Therefore deare childe, reade here my loue, and if God take mee from thee be obedient to these instructions, as thou oughtest to bee vnto mee. I haue learnt them out of Gods Word, I beseech him that they may be profitable to thee."
The Principal informs us in his "Introduction," addressed to the Marchioness of Bute, that the present is "a fac-simile impression of an early and _genuine_ edition" of the work, which he had lent to her ladyship; and with equal justice and sternness, he reprobates certain spurious impressions, containing several unwarrantable deviations from the original text--to an extent which, in several instances, materially alters the author's meaning; alluding especially to a recent republication, twelve years ago, at Oxford, of one of these spurious editions, as an appendix to a volume of Sermons." These are matters unsuited for detailed notice in our columns; but the Principal amply vindicates the propriety of his censures, and entitles himself to our gratitude for the pious care with which he has presented this beautiful and instructive little performance, one quite unique, to the notice of the public.
THE APPEAL TO THE COUNTRY.
Not thoughtlessly, nor in a spirit of vaunting triumph, do we hail the accession of Lord Derby's Ministry to power. It is an event of by far too great importance to be classed with other Ministerial changes: it is not, in any point of view, to be regarded as a party victory. The Whig Free-Trade Cabinet has fallen from its own inherent weakness and the consummate folly of its chief. With the country it never was popular. Whiggery, in the abstract, is not an enticing creed. It is founded upon pure negations: it neither seeks nor receives the sympathy of mankind. With a selfishness that would appear surprising, if Whig history did not afford us so many instances of its recurrence, the members of the late Cabinet, though ever ready, in obedience to popular clamour, to sanction any innovation, studiously kept themselves aloof, in their official character, from the great bulk of the men whom they counted as their regular supporters. The whole affairs of the State were lodged in the hands of a family alliance. Each Cabinet Council resembled rather a meeting of relatives than an assemblage of statesmen. Fathers, sons, and brothers-in-law, with other near kinsmen and connections, met to arrange the affairs of State, and to settle among themselves the succession to important offices. In their instance nature had not been bountiful in her gifts beyond the average. There was no plethora of talent among them--not a single vestige of genius. They were simply officials, so made by fortune rather than desert--some of them glib and adroit, as the better class of officials are--some of them singularly and preternaturally dull. And so, with hunger in their hearts, from quarter-day to quarter-day, they tried to rule the colossal empire of Britain and her colonies.
Of course, this arrangement, though convenient to the monopolisers, gave vast disgust to the men who were actually the props of the Government. The veteran Joseph, with an appetite unimpaired by age, querulously complained of his exclusion from every kind of Board. The Manchester men desired, not only an extension, of the suffrage, but an extension of patronage, which might conveniently take them in. All the Radicals grew sulky at being called upon to give their votes gratuitously. No one can be surprised at this. Patriotism, in its highest form, is not a common virtue, and very often is found combined with self-interest--just as the gold of California usually appears in combination with worthless quartz. Although anxious to avoid anything like illiberality in estimating our opponents, we cannot conscientiously state it as our opinion that the bulk of the Radical party are actuated by pure patriotism. Even if it were otherwise, it is evident that they had ground for complaint; and we all know how soon action follows upon a sense of injury or neglect. Therefore, in the House of Commons, there was little enthusiasm displayed in favour of the Whig Cabinet by the ultra-liberal faction.
Out of doors Lord John Russell had contrived, in one way or another, to disgust almost everybody. We are informed, on good authority, that up to the present moment he is wholly ignorant of the view which is entertained of his conduct by men of all parties--believing, in his own mind, that he is rather popular than otherwise, and wondering why the people have not petitioned _en masse_ for his immediate restoration to office. We should be sorry to dispel any such agreeable impression; but truth compels us to say, that a grosser delusion never occupied the mind of any man. Lord John Russell's career, during the last seven years, has ruined him in the public estimation. He has not attempted to govern by principle, but by expediency. He has never risen to the proud elevation of a British statesman--he has simply shown himself to be an unscrupulous party leader. Whether in office or out of it, his measures have uniformly been based upon considerations of Whig supremacy--not upon those higher views of public policy which a Premier of Great Britain should entertain. He issued his famous letter from Edinburgh propounding the abolition of the Corn Laws, not because he considered such a measure necessary for the welfare of the nation, but because he thought he had discovered an admirable opportunity of ousting the Government of Sir Robert Peel. He roused the Protestant feeling in 1850, although he was the man of all others directly chargeable with the measures which invited the Papal Aggression. And finally, at the last hour of his official existence, he produces a Reform Bill, which he had no expectation of carrying, simply that it may be made, at some future period, the instrument of party strife. These things are patent to all men, and are in every mouth; and therefore it is no wonder if Lord John Russell has lost all hold of the affections, and forfeited the confidence, of the country. Expediency may be tolerated, though we doubt the propriety of its ever being adopted in lieu of broad principle, but in cases only where expediency can be shown to conduce to the immediate public welfare. But that is not the sort of expediency which Lord John Russell affects. The public interest has been to him as nothing in comparison with the maintenance of party. Whig ascendency has been, and is, the leading object of his life. So strong is that feeling in him, that he cannot even comport himself with a show of ordinary forbearance towards his political opponents. His Cabinet falls to pieces, almost without any external violence. He is compelled to resign; and, in resigning, takes the opportunity of flinging down, like the ill-favoured Ate, an apple of discord. Hardly is the new Ministry formed, before we find him actually engaged in the work of faction, and in direct communication with the acknowledged chiefs of the democracy.
This is not conduct which will find favour in the eyes of the British public. We do not regret, except for the character of public men, that Lord John Russell has thought fit to adopt this course; on the contrary, we rejoice that he has indicated the policy which he intends hereafter to pursue. He cannot hope, and he does not expect, again to govern with the old Whig party. The history of the last two years has demonstrated that to be impossible. He has entered into a new compact, not more scandalous, but decidedly more dangerous, than that of Lichfield House. He has thrown himself into the arms of Cobden and the men of Manchester, as he did before into those of O'Connell and his tail. He has taken sweet council with them already, and the terms of the union are sealed. If he should return to power, he can only return, not as a Whig, but as a Democrat.
Let no one be deceived in this matter. The coming strife is not as to the mere nature of the commercial policy which this country ought to pursue--it is not a simple question of import duties, or of direct or indirect taxation--it is a grand struggle between constitutional principle and that innovation whereof no man can foresee the end. Already it is so felt and acknowledged. The Roman Catholic clergy believe, and with reason, that the hour is now come when they can make their most vigorous assault upon Protestantism. Already the Irish priests have cursed and excommunicated from the altar those of their flock who had presumed to exercise their political privilege, by pledging themselves to support a member of Lord Derby's ministry. The Protestant champion of 1850 is now in league with the minions of the Pope. Radical and Papist go arm in arm together; for it is through the triumph of democracy that the apostate Church of Rome now seeks to accomplish her ends. Upon the ruins of the Protestant churches she hopes to establish her dominion.
Already are we told by Sir James Graham, the Spartacus of the present Parliament, that the voice of the country at next election, should it pronounce in favour of Lord Derby's Administration, will not be accepted as a clear indication of the public opinion. If in favour of Russell, Cobden, and Graham, all will be right; if otherwise, it will only be a proof that a farther extension of the suffrage is required. Can faction go farther than this? We scarce believe it possible. Already, without waiting for an explanation of Lord Derby's intended policy, the old Anti-Corn-Law League has been resuscitated, and the old hocus-pocus of paper subscriptions has been renewed, on the understanding that only ten pounds shall be exacted for every hundred pounds nominally subscribed! Already has Mr Cobden, like Mars in the _Iliad_,[Q] yelled from the tops of the factories, exerting himself to the utmost to prevent the formation of any kind of Government. Already have attempts been made to excite the prejudices and to rouse the passions of the populace. If we had been at all apprehensive as to the results of these combinations, the experience of the last three weeks would have quieted our minds, by exhibiting the harmlessness of the movement. But, in truth, we never did entertain the slightest apprehension. Not courting office--not having used any Parliamentary means to attain to it, by defeating the Russell ministry--Lord Derby could not refuse to comply with the wishes of his Sovereign, when directed to undertake the task of forming a new Administration. Nay, more, it was _at the suggestion of Lord John Russell himself_, that Lord Derby was sent for, and honoured with her Majesty's commands. The position of parties in the House of Commons was such that no other arrangement was practicable, if the Government was to be carried on at all. The Whigs need not have resigned on account of their Palmerstonian defeat; nor do we believe they would have resigned, but for the certainty that, in the following week, at latest, they were doomed to ignominious exposure and total overthrow. It was Lord Derby's duty, as the leader of the only compact body of politicians in the Legislature--a duty which he owed alike to his Sovereign and his country--to form a new Ministry, and to undertake the conduct of the public affairs. Lord Derby did so; and has expressly and unequivocally declared his intention of abstaining, during the existence of the present Parliament, from introducing any measure which shall tend to unsettle that system of commercial policy which is at present in operation. Without concealing his opinions as to the effect of that system, he is willing--nay, desirous--to wait for the deliberate judgment of the people of Great Britain, expressed in the only constitutional method, before attempting to modify or to change it. But he refuses, with equal wisdom and fairness, to explain to the present Parliament the nature of that policy which he may consider it his duty to submit for the consideration of another body. How was it possible to suppose that, in the face of so clear and distinct a declaration as this, any kind of agitation directed against the existence of the present Ministry could succeed? What pretext was there for agitation, seeing that the decision which must ultimately regulate the nature of our commercial policy depends upon the will of the constituencies?
[Q] The passage to which we allude is certainly remarkable. It occurs in the twentieth book of the Iliad, and is as follows:--
"Αὖε δ' Ἄρης ἑτέρωθεν, ἐρεμνῇ λαίλαπι ἶσος, Ὀξὺ κατ' ἀκροτάτης πόλεως Τρώεσσι κελεύων, Ἄλλοτε πὰρ Σιμόεντι θέων ἐπὶ Καλλικολώνῃ."
Which is thus literally reduced into English:--"And Mars yelled aloud on the other side, like to a dark whirlwind, sharply animating the Trojans from the summit of the city, at other times running beside the Simois upon CALLICO-LONE." Great is the ingenuity which the commentators have displayed in their researches as to the nature of this place, Callico-lone, which appears to have puzzled them. The most learned of them, however, agree in this, that it was a building situated without the walls of Troy, and _decorated with a tall shaft_; in short, that it bore a striking resemblance to a modern cotton factory! The reader need not be surprised at finding such allusions in Homer, who was not only a great poet, but an enlightened political economist. He was decidedly against unrestricted imports, as appears from the following passage, which is put into the mouth of Hector:--
"Πρὶν μὲν γὰρ Πριάμοιο πόλιν μέροπες ἄνθρωποι Πάντες μυθέσκοντο πολύχρυσον πολύχαλκον· Νῦν δὲ δὴ ἐξαπόλωλε δόμων κειμήλια καλὰ, Πολλὰ δὲ δὴ Φρυγίην καὶ Μῃονίην ἐρατεινὴν Κτήματα περνάμεν' ἵκει, ἐπεὶ μέγας ὠδύσατο Ζεύς."
We believe that the following translation will be found to express the meaning of the original in its integrity:--
Once we were a wealthy city, and our fame abroad resounded As a place where gold and silver, and all precious things, abounded; BUT WE TOOK TO IMPORTATION, and the sad effect has been, That but little of our former wealth within the walls is seen. It has gone away to Phrygia, and Moeonia growing-grain, And we've eaten all they gave us--Jove has made our thrift in vain.
--_Iliad_, xviii. 288-292.
Really it is difficult to know what the Whigs would be at. They cannot keep office themselves--they cannot even agree among each other while in power--and yet they seem resolved that the functions of Government shall not be exercised by other hands. They insist, almost before Ministers have taken their seats, on Ministerial explanations; and, these explanations being given, they are extremely wroth and dissatisfied to find that they have no valid pretext for proceeding at once to extremities. They are furious at Lord Derby because he will not immediately propose a reversal of the existing commercial system! They even take up the cause of the farmers, insinuating that they have been desperately ill used by Lord Derby, and that the latter has been guilty of an entire abandonment of his principles!
We have no respect for the Whigs; but we really are sorry to see men who, a week or two ago, were engaged in the administration of public affairs, degrade themselves in so pitiable a manner. We have respect for the general character of public men; and, although of late years, that character has suffered considerably in the estimation of the country, we are very anxious that it should not be rated at too low an estimate. The appearance which Lord John Russell and his friends have made upon this occasion is purely lamentable. They have shown themselves able neither to rule respectably, nor to fall decently. The character which they have lost in power, they cannot redeem in Opposition. As for their attacks upon Lord Derby, they have greatly mistaken the nature of the men with whom they have to deal, if they suppose that, by any representations of theirs, they can shake the confidence, even of a single individual, in the integrity, honour, and prudence of that distinguished nobleman who is at the head of her Majesty's Government. There is not one supporter of the interests of British industry in the country, who is not willing, with the most perfect confidence, to leave the conduct of the cause in the hands of Lord Derby, and to accord to him, in the present crisis, his firm and unconditional support. Already the great Protection Associations, both in England and Scotland, have spoken out unequivocally on the subject; and here it may be worth while to quote one or two paragraphs from the address of the Council of the Scottish Protective Association, agreed to after Lord Derby had intimated, in the House of Lords, the line of policy which he intended to pursue during the sitting of the present Parliament:--
"In common with those who ardently desire that the Government of this great country should be conducted upon just, rational, and constitutional principles, we hail the recent accession of your Lordship and your colleagues to office, with the warmest gratitude towards our beloved Sovereign, who has thus graciously confided to you the Administration of the Empire. Your Lordship's high character, great experience, and commanding intellect, are to us so many guarantees that the condition of all classes of the community will receive your most earnest consideration, with the view to promote and re-establish that harmony of interests which is essential for the permanent welfare and tranquillity of the nation.
"Since the establishment of our Association, we have seen no reason to modify the views we originally entertained. We still continue to think that, under the pressure of the existing and necessary taxation, it is impossible for the great classes of British producers to maintain their ground in the home market against open and invited competition on the part of foreign nations. We believe that the effect of this system has been to depreciate invested capital, to lower incomes, and to depress the retail trade generally throughout the country; whilst its grievous operation upon the interests dependent on shipping, on the sugar-producing colonies, and on those interested in the produce of land, is too evident to require illustration.
"In these circumstances, we desire to express to your Lordship our hearty and implicit confidence in your Lordship's justice and wisdom, being satisfied that the course which you may think fit to follow, cannot fail to be dictated by honour and tempered by prudence, and that the interests of all classes of the community cannot be lodged more safely than in your hands. We, therefore, take this opportunity of assuring your Lordship, that no effort of ours, collectively or individually, shall be spared, whereby we may contribute, in any degree, towards the stability of the present Government, as, by so doing, we are satisfied that we shall best promote the true interests of the country."
We have no manner of doubt that the sentiments so well expressed in this address will be responded to generally throughout the kingdom; and, in spite of all the efforts and misrepresentations of our enemies, we feel assured that a course so wisely and temperately begun, cannot but prove acceptable to the great body of the nation. Here are Lord Derby's own words explanatory of the course which he intends to follow; and it is most important, at the present moment, that these words should be thoroughly understood. Of their eloquence we need say nothing.
"My Lords, I go to the country when I think it is consistent with my duty to my Sovereign and my country that I should go there, not on any narrow view of whether a duty be imposed on corn or not--that question I leave to the deliberate judgment of the country, and to the general concurrence of the country, without which I will not bring forward that proposition. (Cheers.) I will not shrink from performing my duty for fear of any noisy agitation, if the general consent of Parliament and the country shall be with me in supporting a measure which I believe to be a useful measure for the country; but I will not strain the influence which may belong to the Government--I will not abuse the trust confided to me by my Sovereign--I will not coerce the consciences of the constituencies--I will not, by a mere majority in Parliament, force on the country a measure to which a great portion of the country should be adverse. (Cheers.) There may be those who will unite with us on general principles, and who, agreeing with us as to the distress which various interests in the country suffer, may be ready to join in the endeavour to afford them relief, though there may be a difference as to the specific mode of affording that relief. But there are higher interests at stake. We are threatened with far more serious consequences than the result of the imposition or the non-imposition of a 4s., a 5s., or a 7s. duty on foreign corn. It is a question whether the Government of this country can be carried on, and on what principles it is to be carried on; and when I appeal to the country I appeal on this ground. Will you--Protectionist or Free-Trader--you who desire the advance of all the interests of the country--will you place your confidence and give your support to a Government which, in the hour of peril and danger, did not hesitate to take the post of danger when the helmsman had left the helm? (Loud cheers.) Will you support a Government which is exerting itself to protect this country against hostile attack, to maintain the peace of the world, to maintain and uphold the Protestant institutions of this country--(cheers)--to support, to the utmost of its power, religious and moral education throughout the land, and which will exert itself, moreover, I do not hesitate to say, to afford some opposition, to oppose some barrier against the recurrence of that continually encroaching democratic influence in this country--(cheers)--which is bent on throwing the whole power and authority of the country nominally into the hands of the masses, practically into the hands of demagogues and republicans, who exercise an influence over those unthinking masses? Will you support a Government which is determined to resist that dangerous and obnoxious influence, to preserve the influence and prerogative of the Crown, the rights of your Lordships' House, and the liberties of a freely-elected House of Parliament? (Loud cheers.) These are the questions on which, when I go to the country to make my appeal on behalf of myself and my colleagues, I claim--to use the words which the worst felon who stands in the prisoner's dock has a right to employ, but which I do not deem unworthy of the first minister of the crown of the first nation in the world, and to say--I elect to be tried by God and my country." (Loud cheers.)
We have, of course, no reason to complain of any efforts which may be made to give the Revolutionary party a majority in the next Parliament. That is all fair and natural. It will be for the constituencies to decide whether they will return men pledged to the maintenance of the Constitution as it exists, and desirous to adopt such measures only as shall remedy injustice, and promote the harmony of interests throughout the country, or whether they will pronounce decidedly in favour of downright democracy. The question of Free Trade or Protection is undoubtedly one of immense importance, but it is not the only question which is now before the country. By bringing forward his mischievous Reform Bill, and, still more, by indicating his intention that, when brought forward again, that measure shall appear in a more extended shape, Lord John Russell has appealed, _as a democrat_, to the whole constituencies of Great Britain. If he returns to power, it can only be on the shoulders of the Radical party, with whose proceedings, indeed, he is now and for ever identified. The frail barrier of sentiment or opinion which separated the Ministerial Whig from the more sturdy Liberal, has been broken down by the hand of the late Premier. There is no room now for any distinction. He cannot retract what he has said, or retrieve what he has done. Of his own free will he has espoused the cause of revolution.
Therefore it is the more necessary that, at the coming election, men should distinctly understand what principle they virtually adopt in voting for particular candidates. The most strenuous efforts will be made to sink all other questions in that of the Corn Laws. We shall again hear the rhetorical commonplaces about taxing the bread of the people; and no doubt some ingenious gentlemen will illustrate their arguments, by reference to a couple of fabricated loaves of grossly unequal dimensions. For all this we are quite prepared. It has been the policy of our opponents for years back, both in their speeches and in their writings, to represent Free Trade as nothing more than the free importation of corn. In this way they get rid of the ugly circumstance, that many important branches of manufacture are still protected by large duties, and owe their present existence in this country simply to the retention of these. In this way, too, they try to persuade the other classes of the community, who are suffering under the operation of a cruel and unnational system, that they are compensated for diminished profits by the reduced price of bread, and that what they lose in wages they gain in the baker's account. A very favourite question of theirs is this--"You say that your wages are low--admitted. That is owing to the badness of the times, and circumstances over which we have no control; but we ask you to consider what your situation would be now, had the price of bread been kept up by an artificial Corn Law?" Of course, while putting such questions, they take especial care to conceal the fact, that the admitted "badness of the times" arises simply from the pernicious operation of Free Trade in another quarter; and thus they attempt to set the artisan against the agriculturist--to maintain the discord of interests, instead of promoting their harmony.
The evils which this wretched commercial system has brought both upon Great Britain and her Colonies, cannot be cured by a remedy applied solely to one injured interest. No such selfish cry has ever been raised on the part of the agriculturists; on the contrary, we have all along maintained that it is only by a deliberate revision of the whole system, with due consideration to the circumstances, of each particular interest, that the proper measure of justice to British industry can be ascertained. Lord Derby does not propose in any way to favour the agriculturist at the expense of the artisan. His object and his desire is to place British labour on its proper footing, and to secure it against being crushed by the weight of foreign competition. We are of those who firmly believe in the reciprocity of interests in this great country. We cannot understand how one large interest can be unduly prostrated for the benefit of another. We are convinced that partial legislation ever has been, and ever must be, disastrous; and we agree entirely in the sentiment expressed by an eminent orator, in a speech delivered in the House of Commons--"Let them but once diminish the consumption of British-grown corn, and from that moment the consumption of iron, of hardware, of cotton, and of woollens must decline. There would come a fresh displacement of labour, and a fresh lowering of wages; and discontent, disturbance, and misery, would prove its inevitable consequences." Now, although it may be rather out of place, in this part of our paper, to state any facts relating to the present condition of the country, we are tempted to give one instance, which fully corroborates the views of the said orator, and proves the justness of his remark. The wages of the iron miners and colliers in the west of Scotland, a numerous and important class, seeing that upwards of fifteen thousand persons are directly engaged in that branch of industry in the two counties of Lanark and Ayr, were in 1845, and previous years, from 5s. to 6s. per day--on the average _five and sixpence_. But now that the duty has been taken off foreign corn, and British agriculture has been depressed, their wages have fallen to 2s. 6d. or 3s. per day--on the average, _two and ninepence_. Now let us see what the miners have gained in exchange. The average price of wheat for the years 1842, 1843, 1844, and 1845, was 48s. 5½d. per quarter. If we assume the present price to be 38s., there is a diminution of about _one-fifth_. To that extent, therefore, we may presume that the miners have profited by the reduction of the price of bread; but we apprehend it would be difficult to persuade them that the benefit is at all commensurate to the loss. They may save a fifth upon one article of consumption, but their wages are reduced to _one-half_.
If it should be said that this is not a fair illustration, and that the depression in the iron districts arises from peculiar circumstances unconnected with the question of Free Trade, we reply, that to the iron trade, more perhaps than to any other in the kingdom, the most extravagant representations were made of the increased consumption which must follow on the opening of the ports. Not only have those promises utterly failed, but this most important branch of industry has been brought down to a point only short of absolute annihilation. The masters are not only realising no profit, but they are large annual losers by carrying on their works. The men, as we have already seen, are on half wages.
But who was the orator that, in 1839, predicted with such exceeding accuracy the decline of the iron and other trades as a necessary consequence of a diminution in the consumption of British corn? Hansard gives us the name: it is that of SIR JAMES GRAHAM.
In truth, unless an early and thorough revision of our whole commercial system is made, the mercantile interests of Great Britain will be placed in the greatest jeopardy. This may appear incredible to that portion of the public who are gulled by the political economists, and who are content to receive the Board of Trade returns of exports and imports as satisfactory proofs of prosperity. But there is not a merchant in one of our large towns who does not know that the case is otherwise. The present number of the Magazine contains a paper from a valued correspondent in Liverpool, giving a fearful account of the losses which have been sustained during the bygone year of prosperity and Free Trade; and we are enabled, on the very best authority, to state that Glasgow is at this moment suffering under the effects of extreme mercantile depression. This may, and undoubtedly does, conduce to cheapen commodities; but such cheapness will be dearly purchased by the sacrifice of capital, and the wholesale ruin of thousands. It is the knowledge of these facts, and, in many cases, the bitter experience of them, which has wrought such a change in the mercantile mind of the country. No one has profited--all have lost by Free Trade; and therefore it is no wonder if the resuscitated Anti-Corn-Law League should receive little countenance beyond its own particular domain. What the country most urgently requires, and what we expect to receive from the Government of Lord Derby, are measures calculated to secure the prosperity--not fictitious but real--of all the great interests of Britain; and it is to prevent the introduction of such measures that faction is exerting itself to the utmost. The Whigs cannot deny the fact that there has been a strong reaction throughout the country. They can assign that reaction to no other cause than a general conviction that the interests of the country have suffered, instead of being promoted, by the practical working of Free Trade; and the existence of that conviction is of itself a clear proof that Free Trade has not fulfilled the anticipations of those who promoted it. It has long ceased to be a theory. It has been presented in a practical shape to the people of Great Britain, who, moreover, had experience of the older system of legislation; and every individual has had the opportunity of testing its effects, and feeling its operation upon his own circumstances. Can any man believe that, if Free Trade had tended to promote the prosperity of the country, or even to maintain it in its former position, there could have been any reaction at all? In that case the opponents of Free Trade might have as well attempted to overthrow Atlas, as to assail any portion of the policy inaugurated by the late Sir Robert Peel. The educated classes of England are still what they were described by Milton--"a nation not slow nor dull, but of a quick, ingenious, and piercing spirit; acute to invent, subtile and sinewy to discourse, not beneath the reach of any point that human capacity can soar to." What effect could any arguments against Free Trade have had on their minds, if the system was daily and yearly vindicating itself by promoting the general prosperity? If the facts had been favourable to their side, our friends of the press, who, in the exuberance of their humour, were wont to accuse us of entertaining a scheme for the restoration of the Heptarchy, would have been fully justified in their banter. As it was, we managed to live on, even under the load of their ridicule, being fully convinced that the day must ere long arrive when stern experience would open the eyes of the public to the real posture of the country, in spite of every delusion which interest and ingenuity could devise.
That such delusions have been practised, and that very largely, we have had frequent occasion to show. Dull statists like Mr Porter, shallow political pretenders like Mr Cardwell, and unscrupulous compilers like the Editor of the _Economist_, have done their utmost to persuade the public that the proofs of national prosperity are to be found in certain tables emanating periodically from the Board of Trade. For some time we are inclined to believe that their efforts were rather successful than otherwise. Most men have an antipathy to figures, and a fondness for general results; and when they were joyously told that both the exports and the imports of the nation were on the increase, they concluded that all was right, and that the mercantile interest was advancing. We are almost inclined to give the Whig Ministry credit for the same sincere belief, at least up to the commencement of the Session of 1850. We do this the more readily, because we feel convinced that none of them were at all conversant with the real practical working of the commerce of Great Britain. If we were to make an exception at all, it would be in the case of Mr Labouchere; but this we shall not do, as ignorance is his best excuse for the statement he made regarding the position of the shipping interest in February of that year. After that period, however, it is not uncharitable to suppose that the Whigs must have lost confidence in the accuracy of their oracles. It might, undoubtedly, be too much to expect that they should have denounced oracles so perpetually delphic and comfortable to their cause, or that they should not have availed themselves of their aid in repeating to the very last the cuckoo cry of prosperity; but we must conclude that the Trade Circulars were brought, occasionally at least, under the notice of Sir Charles Wood; and surely no man, holding the office of Chancellor of Her Majesty's Exchequer, could fail to perceive that there was something manifestly inconsistent with the deductions which hitherto had been drawn from the trade tables, in the uniformly lugubrious, and frequently despairing tone of these valuable publications. The fact is that these Trade Circulars are by far the most authentic documents we have for ascertaining the real state of the country. They give us, from month to month, an accurate account of our commercial position. They emanate alike from Free-Trader and Protectionist--reveal the actual state of the market, and the amount of demand and supply--and admit of no party colouring, except as regards anticipation of the future--rather a perilous commercial vaticination, as the result of each succeeding month is expected to justify the prediction of the previous issue. For nearly three years we have been unable to glean from these circulars a word of actual comfort. They are uniform in their accounts of depression and absolute want of profit in manufactures, and all of them confess that the home trade is most miserably contracted. This being the case, of what value are the tables of export? They are valuable simply as showing that the manufacturers _must_ export what cannot be used at home, unless they choose at once to shut up their mills, and square their accounts with the banking establishments which have given them credit--a process which, in nine cases out of ten, would lead to most unpleasant results. As to the imports upon which so much stress has been laid, let the importers of Liverpool, Glasgow, and Bristol, tell us what they have made of their speculations for the last couple of years. We sympathise, most deeply, with the valuable class of men who have so suffered. They were not the originators of the system which has proved so fearfully hostile to their interests; and we firmly believe that, in giving their support and countenance to it, they were not actuated by any selfish motive. Their mistake was this--that they believed the effect of the Free-Trade measures would be to extend the foreign market of Britain, and greatly to increase its value. They contemplated a reciprocity which has not taken place, and which never can be established, unless the governments of other states fail in their duty to their own people. And here we may remark that nothing can be more odious than the spite and rancour exhibited by the Free-Traders towards the states which have not reciprocated. If the views of some of their organs were to be carried into effect, this miserable lack of liberality would be made a _casus belli_, and we are not quite certain that some members of the Peace Congress would object to such a declaration. These gentlemen have no idea that any kind of manufacture, which can at all interfere with their own, ought to be permitted abroad. Since America has established her own cotton-factories, and applied herself to the working of her own mines, she has lost an amazing hold of the affections of Manchester. Sorry are we to say that Mr Cobden now seldom wafts his sighs across the Atlantic, and that apparently he has abandoned his scheme of rivetting together the valley of the Mississippi and Manchester "with hooks of steel." The smoke of an American factory is excessively nauseous to his nostrils. John Bright has ceased to take any active interest in Pennsylvania. He opines that it has denied the faith according to _his_ principles of brotherhood; and it may be that the charge is well founded. We hope our Transatlantic friends are prepared to stand the fearful consequences. Terrible as has been the denunciation of the Manchester men, launched against Russia, Austria, and every other non-reciprocating state of Europe which has made head against British calico, the Americans must expect a fuller volley of tenfold wrath for their unprincipled tergiversation. According to the views of Manchester, a Free-trading despotism is to be preferred to a Protectionist republic. Liberty is estimated according to the return which it brings, not to the children of the soil, but to the cottonocracy of Great Britain.
Even if it could be shown that the commercial policy at present in operation had tended to the prosperity of particular interests, and the realisation of individual fortunes, it would by no means follow, as a necessary consequence, that it is a desirable one for the nation at large. What are the symptoms which we find coincident with the increase of exports and imports? First, there is the wholesale depopulation of Ireland, and the great abandonment of tillage in that country, to the amount, we believe, of many millions of quarters of grain. Secondly, there is the ruin of the colonies, not in a metaphorical, but in the literal sense of the term. We have lying before us a copy of a Jamaica paper, _The Daily Advertiser_, of date 19th January last, containing a full report of a meeting in the parish of Saint George, convened for the purpose of taking into consideration the present deplorable state of the colony. We regret much that we are precluded from commenting in this article upon the statements made by the several able speakers; but we may give, as a proof of the decline of the produce of the island, the following statement by Mr Hosack:--"The past history of Jamaica shows a crop and export of 150,000 hhds. of sugar, and 34,000,000 lb. of coffee. The present shows a crop and export of 36,000 hhds. of sugar, and 5,000,000 lb. of coffee." Another gentleman, Mr Dunbar, thus described the appearance of the island:--
"The present crisis of affairs is fearfully appalling, and cannot be viewed by those immediately concerned without the greatest dismay. Within the recollection of the youngest among us, but a few years ago, our fields wore the garb of luxuriant culture; our population was active and cheerful; our homes were easy, comfortable, and hospitable; and our towns and villages presented the appearance of busy lives. Now the scene is all changed. There is a widespread desolation; the din of industry is no longer heard; we have been driven by distress from our long-cherished homes; the jungle has taken possession of the fields where, but lately, the waving canes met the eyes; our costly buildings are mouldering into decay; and we ourselves are now suspended on the brink of a precipice, created by the unwise and heartless policy of the mother country, in the lowest abyss of which we must ere long be engulfed, unless some kind protecting angel should come to the rescue."
Still more significant, perhaps, of the state of the colony is the account given by the collecting constable of the parish. We insert it here in order to show the effect of Liberal legislation upon British capital invested in a British colony:--
"I will show that properties which formerly paid £1400 taxes are now, if not entirely abandoned, very nearly so. Let the most favourable supporter of Free Trade policy ride over the Buff Bay River district, and at one glance he will see the awful, lamentable, miserably fallen state of our once valuable and flourishing coffee properties. Let him continue his ride through the sugar district, and I envy not the heart of that man who can look on approvingly when he beholds so many valuable estates grown up in common brushwood; the residences of many falling into decay, and scarce affording shelter to the watchman. Let him ask how long has all this been brought about, and I will tell him--that by the list I now hold in my hand, and about to submit to you, sir, it will be found that twenty-six of these coffee properties were valued in 1841 by the assessors of the parish, appointed by the House of Assembly, at a total of £53,060; that these properties paid £619 public and parish taxes; that fourteen of these sugar estates, now nearly all abandoned, were then valued for £83,600, and they then paid £782 taxes; that in 1850 the whole of the taxes of the twenty-six coffee properties amounted to, and were reduced to £147!--and of the fourteen sugar estates, £144. Are these not damning evidences of the destructive policy? Mr Sollas then laid before the meeting the following statement, which he had prepared for the occasion:--
+------------------+-----------+-------------+-------------+ | -Sugar Estates.- | Assessor's| Public and | Public and | | | Value, |Parish Taxes,|Parish Taxes,| | | 1841. | 1841. | 1850. | +------------------+-----------+-------------+-------------+ |Eden,[R] | £4,500 | £45 14 9 | £5 0 1 | |Paradise,[S] | 7,000 | 60 18 9 | 12 3 11 | |Lenox,[R] | 10,000 | 94 8 9 | 13 19 0 | |Hart Hill,[R] | 6,000 | 59 16 0 | 12 13 10 | |By Brook,[R] | 1,000 | 18 19 6 | 2 14 6 | |Hope,[R] | 1,600 | 22 4 0 | 3 5 11 | |Spring Garden,[S] | 20,000 | 181 3 1 | 36 5 8 | |Cainwood,[R] | 6,000 | 56 10 0 | 8 1 10 | |Buff-Bay River,[R]| 3,000 | 33 2 6 | 6 13 4 | |Elysium,[R] | 8,000 | 72 4 0 | 15 16 7 | |Craigmill,[R] | 3,500 | 35 14 0 | 4 9 10 | |Skibo,[R] | 3,000 | 32 13 1 | 6 11 5 | |Chepstow,[R] | 8,000 | 39 4 0 | 9 13 4 | |White River,[R] | 2,000 | 29 15 9 | 7 8 8 | | +-----------+-------------+-------------+ | | £83,600 | £782 8 2 | £144 17 11 | +------------------+-----------+-------------+-------------+
[S] In partial cultivation.
| |Assessor's| Public and | Public and | | COFFEE PROPERTIES. | value, |Parish Taxes,|Parish Taxes,| | | 1841. | 1841. | 1850. | | +----------+-------------+-------------+ |Wallenford, [S] | £2,500| £23 16 0| £55 77 11| |Ashcott, [R] | 300| 6 15 0| 2 1 8| |Glengyle, [S] | 1,500| 16 0 0| 4 3 3| |Cascade, [S] | 2,500| 23 4 1| 7 5 6| |Birnamwood, [R] | 5,000| 51 0 0| 8 17 9| |Spring Hill, [R] | 5,000| 45 4 0| 8 14 4| |Smithfield, [R] | 1,500| 15 11 6| 4 3 11| |Orange Vale, [R] | 2,500| 39 15 0| 11 18 5| |Wakefield, [S] | 1,500| 15 0 0| 2 10 4| |Ellerslie, [S] | 1,500| 14 5 0| 1 3 1| |Middleton, [R] | 1,500| 23 3 0| 6 3 9| |Corsham, [R] | 1,000| 12 3 0| 4 5 3| |Green Hills, [R] | 800| 8 19 6| 1 3 11| |Galloway, [R] | 1,000| 12 15 6| 3 12 7| |Leighfield, [R] | 2,500| 27 15 0| 7 3 6| |Silver Hill, [R] | 3,000| 37 1 3| 9 1 4| |New Haven, [R] | 1,500| 23 5 3| 4 2 6| |Mount Pleasant, [R] | 3,500| 25 1 4| 6 11 6| |Cherry Hill, [R] | 360| 5 3 11| 2 3 6| |Pleasant Mount, [R] | 3,000| 27 19 0| 7 15 10| |Balcarres, [R] | 5,000| 50 1 0| 9 19 7| |Prior Park, [S] | 1,500| 38 3 0| 7 0 1| |Trafalgar, [S] | 2,000| 41 0 0| 11 10 4| |Dry River Retreat, [R] | 1,600| 22 10 0| 5 13 6| |Rectory, [R] | 500| 7 4 11| 1 0 11| |Mount St Bernard, | 500| 6 16 0| 3 13 6| | +----------+-------------+-------------+ | | £53,060| £619 12 3| £147 16 11|
[S] In partial cultivation.
--I feel, Sir, that I assert the truth when I add, that my predecessors in office collected these heavy sums within the walls of their office, and the proprietors were then in a position to pay sufficiently early, to avail themselves of the ten per cent discount allowed by law for prompt payment. How different is it with me, sir? I am necessitated not only to keep my hands constantly at the pump, but in too many cases I have been obliged to give the finishing stroke of destruction by levying upon the stock of these properties; and but for much forbearance on my part, heaven knows if others might not be hurried as quickly to ruin. These are truths patent to all; and I assert that this very fact of the taxes being so much reduced, so insignificant by comparison, and yet unable to be met, or met with the greatest difficulty, is an undeniable evidence of the total prostration of the island."
The third symptom to which we would refer is one of marked importance. We mean the enormous increase of emigrants from the British islands. The emigration from the United Kingdom, which, in 1843, amounted only to 57,212, rose in 1849 to the astounding number of 299,498, _being 22,000 more than the entire combined population of the large counties of Perth and Fife_, according to the census of 1841! How is that fact reconcilable with the professed prosperity of the country? Fourth, and last, because we need not here multiply examples, we have the returns of the Income-tax, which must be accepted, if anything is to be accepted, as a sure index of the state of the nation, and regarding which there can be no delusion, as in the case of export and import tables. Well, then, what do we find from these? Why, that in 1843 the amount of property assessed for trades and professions amounted to £63,021,904. That was under a protective policy. But in 1850, with Free Trade in full operation, that property, which, be it remarked, includes the entire profits arising from the commerce and manufactures of Great Britain, was estimated only at £54,977,566. Where, then, are the increased profits? Let the oracles of Free Trade explain.
Surely these are no wholesome symptoms of the state of the country. Taken singly, each of them implies an enormous amount of misery and decline; taken together, they furnish clear evidence of general national decay. They show us that trade, commerce, and manufactures are far less profitable than before. They show us that emigration from the mother country has multiplied five or six fold, and that the great stream of it is directed to America, a country which is flourishing under protective laws. They show us that agriculture, the only great staple of Irish industry, is largely on the decline. They show us that some of our once richest colonies--because the case of Jamaica is precisely that of several others--are prostrated, and the capital invested in them lost. And all this has taken place under the new commercial system!
Is this a policy to be pursued? Is it one which we are justified in pursuing? Is it one which can afford the slightest pretext for agitation? The answer to these questions must ere long be given by the country on the occasion of the general election. In the mean time, we would entreat the constituencies to consider what interests are at stake, and how much of the national welfare depends upon the nature of their decision. The symptoms of general decadence which we have just referred to cannot be gainsayed nor denied. They are clear ascertained facts, which we have, over and over again, defied the Free-Traders to account for or explain, consistently with their prosperity theories; but in no one instance yet has the challenge been accepted. We are not surprised at this backwardness. Reckless as are the champions of the League--unscrupulous as are their advocates--cunning and sophistical as are the compilers of returns--slippery as are the Whig officials--it would require more courage, craft, and ingenuity than belong to the whole body, to account satisfactorily for the one fact of the diminution of the value of the property assessed for trades and professions. While this fact remains unimpeached--and we have it on Parliamentary authority--it is absolute trash and childish babble to tell us about increased exports and imports. Here are the detailed returns. They comprise, as we have already said, the whole commercial profits of the kingdom; and if we should seem to insist, more strongly than is our wont, upon this point, our apology lies in its paramount importance.
PROPERTY ASSESSED FOR TRADES AND PROFESSIONS.
1843, £63,021,904 1848, 60,068,090 1850, 54,977,566
Can there be a more bitter commentary on the working of Free Trade--a more decisive summary of its effects--than is contained in the above three simple lines?
These are the results of that policy, to secure the adoption of which Sir Robert Peel broke up the great Conservative party, leaving the government of Great Britain, and the welfare of so many millions of human beings, in the hands of an incompetent faction, powerless of themselves, and depending mainly for support on the capricious votes of the democracy. What wonder if that democracy took due advantage of their position? Without them the Russell Cabinet was nothing; and each successive month the tone of the Minister became less firm and determined. Radicalism, in our day, has assumed an entirely new form. It affects a community of interest with the prosperity of British manufactures, though rather abroad than at home. Its focus is Manchester; its apostles are the men of the League. Brimful of hate and envy towards the aristocracy of Great Britain, these men are determined to leave no stone unturned whereby they may scramble upwards into power; and they calculate on the possible reconstruction of a Russell Cabinet as their most probable means of ascent. Their actual ulterior objects, after they have attained power, are best known to themselves: we hope never to see them placed in such a situation as shall admit of their broad development. In the mean time they are vociferously demanding an enlargement of the suffrage, and a reconstruction of the whole electoral system, by means of which additional power may be given to the large manufacturing towns, and a huge mass of urban ignorance added to the constituencies. It is full time that their progress should be checked. Unless a stand be now made--unless the country shall rally around Lord Derby, and give him the means of stopping those perpetual inroads on the Constitution, it is by no means impossible that the revolutionary party may soon achieve a triumph. Henceforward, in any Liberal Administration, Lord John Russell can be little better than a cipher. Already there has been talk of deposing him--of electing new leaders for the conduct of the Opposition--of putting forward to the van men who are beset with less scruple, and unencumbered with aristocratic connection. The private history of Liberalism affords more than one instance of such depositions. Lord John must abdicate, or march onward at the head of the progressive democracy.
We are glad to perceive that this position of affairs is appreciated, not only at home but abroad. The advance of Radicalism, under the cover of Free-Trade opinions, has not escaped the notice of the French journalists: indeed it would be strange if it were otherwise, seeing that no long time has elapsed since the same movement was made in France by the acknowledged friends of Mr Cobden. The result of that movement is matter of common notoriety. We copy from the _Standard_ of 20th March the following extract:--
"The _Assemblée Nationale_, in its remarks upon the new English Administration, makes the following just observations:--'Lord Derby, with that elevation of sentiment, and that boldness of language, which give him a patrician superiority among English statesmen and orators, throws down a challenge to his adversaries upon the _ensemble_ of Conservative policy. In this point of view we look on Lord Derby's speech as the inauguration of a new phase in English policy. For several years back the agitators, Radicals, and English statesmen, have too much materialised the policy of England. Lord Derby is right in reacting against this tendency, which has caused the English constitution to lean too much to the side of democracy. It was by subordinating his policy to economical questions that Sir Robert Peel threw parties into that state of mobility and confusion, which now raises such serious difficulties in the way of parliamentary government. The evil reached its extreme limits under Lord John Russell. For the honour and safety of the British Constitution, it is time to put an end to it. Thus Lord Derby does not accept the battle on the sole ground of Free Trade. He promises to disembarrass the political life of England of that struggle of economical interests which has for ten years absorbed it. He aims at reconstituting in the country and the Parliament a Conservative majority, to defend traditional interests, old national institutions, and social and political principles, against disquietude and revolutionary tendencies. The English people, endowed with admirable good sense, will comprehend that power ought to be in the hands of a united and disciplined party, and of a compact and homogeneous majority; and not at the mercy of two or three factions, which can neither govern or allow others to govern; and will feel that, in the actual situation of Europe, England ought to have at its head a Ministry firmly and loyally Conservative.'"
Mr Cobden, in his speeches both at Manchester and Leeds, has thought fit to be quite explicit as to the avowed connection of the impending contest with ulterior political objects. At Leeds, he made use of the following language:--
"You feel, as all will now feel, that this is the critical time of this question. _Other questions are not so ripe as this._ You feel that this must be settled now and for ever, and therefore you come forward in all your strength, in order that you may put the finishing stroke upon it. But it is not merely the Corn-Law question which is involved in what we are now doing. If you settle the Corn question now, once and for ever, _it leaves the field open for other questions_."
And again more enigmatically, but perhaps not less significantly--
"I have said that it is for the interest of the people that this one thing should be done, though, in saying this, I do not say that it is to be carried on to the exclusion of other important questions--_as reform in Parliament_, OR WHAT OTHER MOVEMENT MAY BE BEFORE YOU--but I say you will be better able to do those things when you have obtained this charter of the bread of life. When you have received abundant food, with its chances of abundant labour, _you will be better able_ TO ENTER UPON THAT NEW CAMPAIGN YOU HAVE CONCEDED _well drilled_; and, having beaten your opponents in one thing, you will find it is just the same party you have to beat in the other; for the monopolists in corn are, after all, the monopolists in political power. We may have in our ranks men who go various lengths in political reform and the question of the suffrage, but, at all events, I scarcely know anybody who voted in favour of the total repeal of the Corn Laws that is not willing to go onward also in the path of reform; whilst, on the other hand, they who would deprive you of the privilege of eating an untaxed loaf, they are the very men who will keep you out of the pale of the Constitution, and who will take advantage of their power to tax you in other things pretty roundly as well as the loaf. By settling this question, and securing for the working classes freedom for their industry, and the greatest abundance, under the laws of nature, in the supplies of food, we are placing them in the best possible position to fight any other battle."
We quote these passages simply for the purpose of showing that Mr Cobden considers the defeat of Lord Derby's Ministry as a necessary preliminary to ulterior objects, the nature of which may be interpreted according to the will of the reader. We have no leisure to make remarks upon the alteration of tone visible in these speeches, from that exhibited in others delivered in former years. Mr Cobden now admits that the question is not settled; and that is undoubtedly a very considerable concession. Also, he is not quite so minatory or threatening in his language as he used to be, which possibly may arise from a prudent conviction that certain acts, relating to sedition, which are contained in the statute-book, are not yet altogether in abeyance. He wisely confines himself to inuendo, trusting to the intelligence of his audience to supply the lack of direct speech. Only on one occasion does he transgress the limits of prudence; and we quote it, as reported in the _Times_, as an instance of that kind of suggestive oratory, of which the late Mr Hunt was esteemed a consummate master.
"I don't like to see a London newspaper saying we have not the working classes with us on this question, because it is a great libel on the working classes to say so. And another thing too; it is trying to discredit the working classes with those who have at present political power, in order that, by-and-by, it may be turned against them, and enable them to say they did not, by their petitions, contribute to the repeal of the Corn Laws. Now, when the Corn Law was laid on in its most unmitigated severity in 1815, the loudest protests against it were made by the working classes. The working men of London made the loudest protests against it, though rather rudely I admit, for they tore the members' coats from their backs. (Cries of 'They did right.') They pulled them out of their carriages, soldiers had to be called up to protect the members of parliament, and the Houses of Parliament were surrounded by infantry and cavalry to enable them to pass this infamous corn law. The middle classes and the working classes then thoroughly co-operated in opposing this law; but the middle classes had not then the political power they have now. The working people _did their duty then, and I hope they will do it again_. (Shouts of 'We will, we will,' and loud cheers.) I hope they will do it not only in Yorkshire, where it is well said 'we are safe,' but elsewhere."
Far be it from us to put strained interpretations on the language of Mr Cobden. We do not care one rush what he says, considering the blatant absurdities of his speech on more than fifty occasions. No jack-pudding alive has exhibited himself to greater disadvantage, although jack-pudding exhibitions can always command an audience. But what we wish to bring out is this--that Mr Cobden, _the individual expressly consulted by_ LORD JOHN RUSSELL _before the Chesham Place meeting was held_, refers uniformly to "ulterior objects" as the consequence of the defeat of Lord Derby's Ministry, and does not hesitate to express his hope that, in the event of the parliamentary majority being returned hostile to his notions, the working classes may proceed to acts of overt violence, similar to those which were committed on a previous occasion. If we misconstrue Mr Cobden's meaning, we ask his pardon; and, on a disclaimer of such being his intention, we shall make ready reparation. But we judge of words according to their ordinary significance, and we can gather no other meaning from his language.
We have lived too long in the world to attach much importance to an agitation of so exceedingly equivocal a kind. Even Mr Cobden, who has had more experience in the agitating trade than any other man alive, and who has materially profited thereby, admitted the other day at Manchester that it would be no easy matter to maintain a popular ferment. "Leave this question," said he, "in suspense during a whole session of Parliament, and what will be the result? In the first place, we all know from experience that it will not be very easy to keep popular enthusiasm in that high and fervid state to which you can probably bring it in the course of a few weeks. You cannot keep the same enthusiasm alive for a number of months;" and, accordingly, he counselled immediate action. From what we can gather of the opinions of the working classes, we believe that he is right to this extent, that it would be impossible to keep up a prolonged agitation: we question much whether it is in his power to get up an agitation at all. The real objects of the League are as well known to the working classes as the characters of the men who compose it. One of the speakers at a late meeting of the "National Reform Association" in London, expressed the sentiments of the great majority of the operatives when he stated, "that they should not seek for the mere advancement of the manufacturing capitalist. He (the speaker) was a Chartist, but he would not support a mere manufacturing aristocracy, (cheers); he would never consent to turn the woolsack into a cotton bag, (cheers); and he thought there were now arising daily questions deeply affecting the working man, which should be left to some one to decide not quite so deeply interested as his master." Another speaker at the same meeting observed that, "for his own part, he did not see what great good it would do the people if the Financial Reformers were in power. The people would not be in power, but the manufacturing capitalists; and, as to that, he believed many of the aristocracy had more chivalry, love of country, and fine generous feeling about them, than most of your mercantile classes." (Loud cheers.) It is only by separating the question of free importation of corn from that of a revision of our whole commercial system, and by addressing himself exclusively to the former, that Mr Cobden hopes to succeed. The truth is, that he dare not go into the question of a revision of the commercial system. There is nothing which the members of the League dread more than the broaching of that subject; for the fact is, that a large number of our manufacturers depend for their existence upon the continuance of that Protection which has been withdrawn from other kinds of industry. Let every branch of manufacture which is at present protected by a duty, varying from 15 to 10 per cent, be subjected to the operation of Free Trade, or even protected only to the extent of 2½ per cent--as is the case with wheat, if we assume its average price to be 40s. per quarter--and six months will not elapse before a howl for manufacturing protection will be heard from one end of the country to the other. With this before them, it is not surprising if the members of the League should sedulously abstain from touching upon the question of a general commercial revision. More than two years ago, when we first drew the attention of the public to this subject, a letter, purporting to be written by Mr Cobden, went the round of the newspapers, in which it was averred that, with the exception of a small duty upon silks, there were no duties levied on foreign manufactures. In answer to that we gave a list of no less than sixty-six different kinds of manufactures upon which import duties of 10 per cent and upwards are levied. If our memory serves us right, Mr Cobden afterwards declared that he, for one, had no objection whatever that those import duties should be taken off; and we have, since then, more than once both requested and defied him to make such a proposition in the House of Commons. If those duties really are so trifling as some maintain them to be--if the remission of them would cause but little loss to the revenue, and not affect the manufacturers at all, why are they not removed? If we belonged to the Free-trading camp, and really were of opinion that the continuance of these "fragments of protection," as we once heard them termed, were intrinsically of no importance, certainly we should make an effort to strengthen our position, and prevent the possibility of hostile attack or retort, by getting rid of them at once. We happen, however, to know that the manufacturers dare not make any such proposition. Let Mr Cobden go down to Paisley or Sheffield and try it, and we answer for it he will not be anxious to repeat the experiment again.
We rejoice to find that the "ulterior objects" of the Manchester men are well understood by the intelligent classes throughout the country, and that their insolent attitude and attempts at dictation have excited general and profound disgust. To do Mr Cobden justice, he has materially contributed towards this feeling. His conduct in the House of Commons on the 19th of March, and his coarse and vulgar contradiction of the statement of the Earl of March, deserved and received the unqualified disapprobation of every gentleman in the House; and we doubt not that, at the moment, Lord John Russell cursed the fatality which brought him into contact with such a counsellor. Bitter must have been the humiliation of the aristocratic Whigs to find themselves incorporated with a squadron under the command of so polished a leader! But, even without the able assistance of Mr Cobden, the League is likely to be obnoxious enough, especially among the mercantile community. A week or two ago a meeting of Leaguers was announced to be held in Liverpool, for the purpose, doubtless, of aiding the ten per cent subscription so auspiciously begun in Manchester. But, somehow or other, nobody thought proper to attend; or, at all events, the number of the self-sacrificers was so small that it was not deemed expedient to admit those dangerous gentlemen, the reporters, to their confidence and privacy. Accordingly, the meeting was "postponed"--_sine die_, we presume--but, in place of it, a numerous meeting of the Conservatives of Liverpool was held. The object of that meeting was essentially practical. A large number of the electors of Liverpool, being convinced of the inefficiency of Sir T. B. Birch, and sick of the flippancy of Mr Cardwell, the present members for the borough, met together for the purpose of adopting a formal requisition to Mr Forbes Mackenzie, M.P., and Mr Charles Turner, chairman of the Dock Committee, to stand for Liverpool at next election. The following extract from the newspapers will show the tone which was adopted at that meeting, and the estimation in which the efforts of the League are held by the mercantile portion of the community:--
"Mr Samuel Holme, who moved the adoption of the requisition, in the course of his remarks, said he would not occupy time by going into any of those great questions which were agitating the public mind at this moment--questions which must be definitively settled, not so much mere fiscal questions--or whether there should be a duty of a few shillings imposed upon wheat. The question at issue was a more extended one, and must be treated at a larger meeting. The question was--Are the men of Manchester to be the rulers of England? (Loud cheers, and cries of 'No, never!') Are they, a number of them, to shake their purses in the faces of the aristocracy of England--(hear, hear)--in the faces of the commercial men of England--(hear, hear, and prolonged cheers)--in the faces of the agriculturists of England, and then to say, 'With a subscription of £47,000 at our back'--how much of it is paid I know not or care not--'we will become the dictators of England; we will destroy the balance of the British Constitution; and we will dictate to you the principles upon which England shall be governed; and you shall do as we bid you, but shall have no voice in the matter.' (Laughter, and loud cheering.) A gentleman recently stood up at a public meeting, and threatened the aristocracy of England 'to look to their order,' but he (the speaker) asked any gentleman who had read the debates in the House of Lords, whether there was not a larger amount of talent and ability displayed there upon commercial questions than in the House of Commons? (Cheers.) He said with Cobbett, 'Thank God, we have a House of Lords;' and he trusted the people of England looked upon the Peers as a component part of the British Constitution--that Constitution which had been a blessing to mankind at large, and which had given strength and security to England when the thrones of Europe were tumbling. He asked, were they to barter these invaluable privileges away? Were they longer, by their unhappy divisions, which at the last election they had such reason to regret--(hear, hear)--to suffer two gentlemen (Mr Cardwell and Sir T. Birch) to represent a great commercial community in Parliament, gentlemen both of them amiable in private life, but utterly unfit to have placed in their hands so great a trust? (Cheers.)
"Mr Adam Hodgson said that he was present there to a great extent as a Free-Trader, but that he would throw Free Trade and everything else to the winds when the Constitution of the country was endangered. Referring to the recent meeting at Lord John Russell's, Mr Hodgson said that he gathered, from what there took place, that Lord John Russell was prepared to bid higher now, and to give a more indefinite extension to that franchise which many of them thought had been already carried quite far enough. (Loud cheers.) This was one reason why he deemed the present a most important crisis. The fundamental principles of our Constitution were, however, safe in the keeping of Lord Derby. What, again, he asked, was Free Trade, compared with a resolute determination that Protestant England should be Protestant England still?--(Loud cheers, and the 'Kentish fire;')--and that, whether she carried on her traffic under what was called a restrictive or a free system, she should carry to the remotest nations of the world, with whom she had intercourse, her Scriptural principles and attachments?
"Many other speeches were delivered, and the requisition to Mr Mackenzie and Mr Turner was most heartily and most unanimously agreed to; after which three cheers were given for Lord Derby, three cheers for the Queen, and three for the Church."
This is in the right spirit; and we trust that the example so well set by Liverpool will be followed generally throughout the country.
Is it not time that the ascendency of mere faction should be brought to a close? Is it consistent with the honour and dignity of Great Britain, and with the welfare of the many millions of men who owe allegiance to the British Crown, that the government of the nation should be scrambled for, on account of the perquisites of office, as ignobly as a prize exposed for competition at a village fair? Is it seemly that the interests of the Empire should be put up to auction, to be knocked down to the largest bidder for popular support, with the most expansive conscience?--or that compacts for a prospective division of the spoil should be entered into by the leaders of factions hitherto irreconcilable on principle? Why is it that Mr Cobden, since the Whigs resigned, has become the confidant of Lord John Russell? He has not, we are well assured, abandoned one iota of his opinions. He is of the same mind as when he proposed the reduction of the army and navy, and the abandonment of national defences. He is the same Cobden who threatened the aristocracy with overthrow if they dared to oppose his will in a fiscal question. He is the identical senator who at Covent Garden, in December 1845, talked of "the Noodles and Doodles of the aristocracy," and stated that, "before we have done with them, they shall be as insignificant and more contemptible than the round-frocked peasantry on his Grace's estate." He remains the unvarnished democrat. And yet this is the man from whom the ex-Premier of Britain craves counsel in preference to all others, within a fortnight of his abdication of office! What new tie was between them? None. Why should this scion of the house of Bedford have condescended to court so extraordinary an alliance, which Whigs of other and better days would have shunned with instinctive shuddering? What imaginable reason can be assigned, except that frightful craving for office, which sometimes is a positive disease?
We write strongly, because we feel strongly. Far be it from us to decry that noble ambition which, for hundreds of years, has inspired the most gifted men of the nation to take part in public affairs, and to act for the public benefit. Often has the occupancy of office been to those who filled the highest and most influential situations a burden rather than a benefit; often, but for the sake of their country and their sovereign, would they have been disposed to resign their trust, and resume their simple habits and congenial pursuits in that private sphere which they were so well calculated to adorn. But the sense of duty prevailed over inclination, and they remained as STATESMEN, not as precarious politicians. Principle was to them all in all. Their pole-star was honour. They guided the vessel of the State with a firm hand, conscious of their great responsibility, and of the magnitude of their trust. They were no blundering navigators. They did not run the ship upon the reef and forsake her; and then, when better and bolder men were engaged in extricating her from the danger, attempt to embarrass their efforts for the sake of regaining their position. But we live in different times. One eye of Palinurus may be directed to the stars, but the other is gloating on his perquisites. The great question is not the safety of the ship, but the permanency of the appointed helmsman.
Setting aside those who are directly interested in his success--the members of the family compact, the officials, and those who expected to become officials--who are the uncompromising vindicators of Lord John Russell's past policy? We can find them nowhere. One short month ago, the Radicals had no confidence in him. To the Chartists--if we except Mr Feargus O'Connor, who lately manifested some unrequited marks of affection--he was peculiarly obnoxious. The Country party were in direct opposition to him. The Peelites rejected his overtures. The Church regarded him with dislike. The Protestant Dissenters put no faith in him. The Irish Roman Catholics denounced him with more than usual fervour. The colonists abhorred him. The shipping interest stood afar off. Even the Jews mistrusted the genuineness of his efforts in their behalf. Such was the situation of "the child of expediency," towards the end of his official career; and can he now make it better? Only in one way. By carrying into full effect the alliance which he has already commenced, and by becoming, as we said before, a bold and uncompromising democrat.
He may do so, undoubtedly. He may, in order to regain power, and to maintain his hold when he has regained it, tamper with the Constitution of the country. As the intelligence of the nation refuses to go with him, he may ask assistance from the mass of ignorance which lies beneath. He may, as the author of another Reform Bill, "upon an extended scale," try to reduce the political arrangements of Great Britain to the level of those of France, and create in the country a dissatisfaction which, but for his efforts to recover his forfeited place, would never have existence. He may become the leader of an attack upon the national churches; and even, following the example of some younger brothers of the French noblesse, against the order from which he is descended. But in this he will not succeed. It would seem to be a rule of Providence, that the man who deserts the straight and beaten path cannot conduct himself aright. He loses his power of calculation. By his alliance with the Radicals, Lord John has forfeited the support of many of his best adherents. Such men as the Marquis of Lansdowne and Earl Fitzwilliam are not absolutely tied to party. They are hereditary Whigs, and would remain Whigs within the pale of the Constitution; but we mistake them greatly, and have formed a false estimate both of their character and their loyalty, if they are disposed, at the bidding of any man, to go a step beyond it. We believe they feel that, of late years, the reputation of their party has been soiled by so frequent and close a contact with the baser material. We believe that they would far rather occupy a respectable and sometimes useful place in Opposition, than submit to be dragged, against their will, to the verge of the democratic precipice. To them a Radical gain would be an incalculable loss: they can, assuredly, have little sympathy with Cobden and his crew.
In conclusion, we would entreat every man in the country who is opposed to democratic innovation, and who values the blessings of that Constitution which we now enjoy, to reflect that unless due support be given now to Lord Derby's Ministry, there may be no possibility of erecting another bulwark against the tide of organic change--in other words, of Revolution. Men lived as calmly as we do, during the earlier days of the French commotions. They saw the waters rising gradually at their feet; but they would not believe that they could be overwhelmed, until the current became too strong for resistance. So is it always. We do not profit by the lessons of history, because we do not realise our own situation. We make light of things trivial in themselves, but which are, nevertheless, the necessary harbingers of greater things to come. No event which has occurred for the last twenty years is so significant as the movement of Lord John Russell _towards_ Mr Cobden. It shows us what we must expect if the constituencies do not give their hearty support to Lord Derby and his Administration. We are not ashamed to confess that we greatly dread organic changes; but we dread them upon no narrow grounds. We do not advocate, and never have advocated, any class interests. What we wish to see is, a happy and contented people, united by that harmony of interest which cannot be attained if one class is to be unduly favoured at the expense of another, or if jealousies are to be sedulously promoted between natives of the same island, brothers in blood, subjects of the same sovereign, professing the same religion, and distinguishable only by a difference of craft and livelihood. What is there wanting but an equitable adjustment of interests, to restore peace and concord throughout the whole nation? Who stand in the way of that adjustment but the agitators who derive their fortune from their trade, and the trading politicians who, incapable of holding office themselves, will not allow others, with better and purer motives, to occupy it unmolested? If, as all concerned with trade and manufactures allow, the history of the last three years has been one of almost unmitigated disaster, why not allow some remedy to be tried? We do not fear the people--if by that word is meant the bulk of the operative masses--at all. Why should we? For their cause we have ever strenuously contended. We wish to see the rights of British labour most thoroughly recognised and defended. If, in bygone years, our treasure was spent, and the labour of unborn generations mortgaged, most thanklessly, for the subsidy of Continental nations, who even failed to fulfil their part of the contract, it is the more reason that we should take care that no undue advantage is given to those nations over the people of our own soil; and that Englishmen should not be forced to emigrate, for the sake of carrying out a vain and impracticable theory.
We have looked over these pages, with much anxiety, to see if there is one word which we ought to alter or modify. We cannot find any. The approaching political struggle--however it may be disguised by local influences, whatever complexion it may assume in districts more or less interested in the solution of particular questions--is a national one, and upon its issue the destinies of the country must depend. If there are any who look with complacency on the expatriation of the British labourer, on the decline of the colonial empire, on the depression of once thriving branches of industry at home, and an unsettled trade abroad--if there are any who think that a democratic form of government is the safest and the best which can be devised by the wit of man; who agree with Mr Cobden, "that the instinct of the million is wiser than the wisdom of the wisest"--let them by all means cast the weight of their influence into the opposite scale. But let those who wish to see the harmony of interests restored, and the conflict of classes ended; who desire that labour should be justly dealt with, and native industry encouraged; who deprecate all rash innovations on the Constitution; who uphold the cause of Protestantism, and appreciate the value of sound government--let them rally around Lord Derby in answer to his noble appeal; and the triumph of the cause of truth, justice, humanity, and religion is secure.
_Printed by William Blackwood & Sons, Edinburgh._
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