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Title: Nuts and Nutcrackers
Author: Lever, Charles James, 1806-1872
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                         NUTS AND NUTCRACKERS.

    “The world’s my filbert which with my crackers I will open.”


    “The priest calls the lawyer a cheat,
      And the lawyer beknaves the divine;
    And the statesman, because he’s so great,
      Thinks his trade’s as honest as mine.”

                                      BEGGAR’S OPERA.

    “Hard texts are _nuts_ (I will not call them cheaters,)
    Whose shells do keep their kernels from the eaters;
    Open the shells, and you shall have the meat:
    They here are brought for you to crack and eat.”

                                      JOHN BUNYAN.

                        ILLUSTRATED BY “PHIZ.”

                            Second Edition.

                 WM. S. ORR AND CO., PATERNOSTER ROW;
                 WILLIAM CURRY, JUN., AND CO., DUBLIN.





AN OPENING NUT                                          vii

A NUT FOR MEN OF GENIUS                                   1

A NUT FOR CORONERS                                       15

A NUT FOR “TOURISTS”                                     19

A NUT FOR LEGAL FUNCTIONARIES                            22

A NUT FOR “ENDURING AFFECTION”                           31

A NUT FOR THE POLICE AND SIR PETER                       37

A NUT FOR THE BUDGET                                     44

A NUT FOR REPEAL                                         49

A NUT FOR NATIONAL PRIDE                                 55

A NUT FOR DIPLOMATISTS                                   64

A NUT FOR FOREIGN TRAVEL                                 71

A NUT FOR DOMESTIC HAPPINESS                             77

A NUT FOR LADIES BOUNTIFUL                               82

A NUT FOR THE PRIESTS                                    85

A NUT FOR LEARNED SOCIETIES                              87

A NUT FOR THE LAWYERS                                    92

A NUT FOR THE IRISH                                      99

A NUT FOR VICEREGAL PRIVILEGES                          102

RICH AND POOR--POUR ET CONTRE                           109

A NUT FOR ST. PATRICK’S NIGHT                           114

A NUT FOR “GENTLEMAN JOCKS”                             119

A NUT FOR YOUNGER SONS                                  123

A NUT FOR THE PENAL CODE                                128

A NUT FOR THE OLD                                       131

A NUT FOR THE ART UNION                                 133

A NUT FOR THE KINGSTOWN RAILWAY                         137

A NUT FOR THE DOCTORS                                   141

A NUT FOR THE ARCHITECTS                                145

A NUT FOR A NEW COLONY                                  148

A “SWEET” NUT FOR THE YANKEES                           153


A NUT FOR “ALL IRELAND”                                 163

A NUT FOR “A NEW COMPANY”                               168

A NUT FOR “THE POLITICAL ECONOMISTS”                    175

A NUT FOR “GRAND DUKES”                                 180

A NUT FOR THE EAST INDIA DIRECTORS                      183

A FILBERT FOR SIR ROBERT PEEL                           185

“THE INCOME TAX”                                        186

A NUT FOR THE “BELGES”                                  189

A NUT FOR WORKHOUSE CHAPLAINS                           192

A NUT FOR THE “HOUSE”                                   197

A NUT FOR “LAW REFORM”                                  200

A NUT FOR “CLIMBING BOYS”                               203

A NUT FOR “THE SUBDIVISION OF LABOUR”                   206

A NUT FOR A “NEW VERDICT”                               212

A NUT FOR THE REAL “LIBERATOR”                          216

A NUT FOR “HER MAJESTY’S SERVANTS”                      221


A NUT FOR THE HUMANE SOCIETY                            228



If Providence, instead of a vagabond, had made me a justice of the
peace, there is no species of penalty I would not have enforced
against a class of offenders, upon whom it is the perverted taste of
the day to bestow wealth, praise, honour, and reputation; in a word,
upon that portion of the writers for our periodical literature whose
pastime it is by high-flown and exaggerated pictures of society,
places, and amusements, to mislead the too credulous and believing
world; who, in the search for information and instruction, are but
reaping a barren harvest of deceit and illusion.

Every one is loud and energetic in his condemnation of a bubble
speculation; every one is severe upon the dishonest features of
bankruptcy, and the demerits of un-trusty guardianship; but while the
law visits these with its pains and penalties, and while heavy
inflictions follow on those breaches of trust, which affect our
pocket, yet can he “walk scatheless,” with port erect and visage high
who, for mere amusement--for the passing pleasure of the moment--or,
baser still, for certain pounds per sheet, can, present us with the
air-drawn daggers of a dyspeptic imagination for the real woes of
life, or paint the most common-place and tiresome subjects with
colours so vivid and so glowing as to persuade the unwary reader that
a paradise of pleasure and enjoyment, hitherto unknown, is open before
him. The treadmill and the ducking-stool, “_me judice_,” would no
longer be tenanted by rambling gipsies or convivial rioters, but would
display to the admiring gaze of an assembled multitude the
aristocratic features of Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, the dark whiskers
of D’Israeli, the long and graceful proportions of Hamilton Maxwell,
or the portly paunch and melo-dramatic frown of that right pleasant
fellow, Henry Addison himself.

You cannot open a newspaper without meeting some narrative of what, in
the phrase of the day, is denominated an “attempted imposition.” Count
Skryznyzk, with black moustachoes and a beard to match, after being
the lion of Lord Dudley Stuart’s parties, and the delight of a certain
set of people in the West-end--who, when they give a tea-party, call
it a _soirée_, and deem it necessary to have either a Hindoo or a
Hottentot, a Pole, or a Piano-player, to interest their guests--was
lately brought up before Sir Peter Laurie, charged by 964 with
obtaining money under false pretences, and sentenced to three months’
imprisonment and hard labour at the treadmill.

The charge looks a grave one, good reader, and perhaps already some
notion is trotting through your head about forgery or embezzlement;
you think of widows rendered desolate, or orphans defrauded; you
lament over the hard-earned pittance of persevering industry lost to
its possessor; and, in your heart, you acknowledge that there may have
been some cause for the partition of Poland, and that the Emperor of
the Russias, like another monarch, may not be half so black as he is
painted. But spare your honest indignation; our unpronounceable friend
did none of these. No; the head and front of his offending was simply
exciting the sympathies of a feeling world for his own deep wrongs;
for the fate of his father, beheaded in the Grand Place at Warsaw; for
his four brothers, doomed never to see the sun in the dark mines of
Tobolsk; for his beautiful sister, reared in the lap of luxury and
wealth, wandering houseless and an outcast around the palaces of St.
Petersburg, wearying heaven itself with cries for mercy on her
banished brethren; and last of all, for himself--he, who at the battle
of Pultowa led heaven-knows how many and how terrific charges of
cavalry,--whose breast was a galaxy of orders only outnumbered by his
wounds--that he should be an exile, without friends, and without home!
In a word, by a beautiful and highly-wrought narrative, that drew
tears from the lady and ten shillings from the gentleman of the house,
he became amenable to our law as a swindler and an impostor, simply
because his narrative was a fiction.

In the name of all justice, in the name of truth, of honesty, and fair
dealing, I ask you, is this right? or, if the treadmill be the fit
reward for such powers as his, what shall we say, what shall we do,
with all the popular writers of the day? How many of Bulwer’s stories
are facts? What truth is there in James? Is that beautiful creation of
Dickens, “Poor Nell,” a real or a fictitious character? And is the
offence, after all, merely in the manner, and not the matter, of the
transgression? Is it that, instead of coming before the world printed,
puffed, and hot-pressed by the gentlemen of the Row, he ventured to
edite himself, and, instead of the trade, make his tongue the medium
of publication? And yet, if speech be the crime, what say you to
Macready, and with what punishment are you prepared to visit him who
makes your heart-strings vibrate to the sorrows of _Virginius_, or
thrills your very blood with the malignant vengeance of _Iago_? Is
what is permissible in Covent Garden, criminal in the city? or,
stranger still, is there a punishment at the one place, and praise at
the other? Or is it the costume, the foot-lights, the orange-peel, and
the sawdust--are they the terms of the immunity? Alas, and alas! I
believe they are.

Burke said, “The age of chivalry is o’er;” and I believe the age of
poetry has gone with it; and if Homer himself were to chant an Iliad
down Fleet Street, I’d wager a crown that 964 would take him up for a

But a late case occurs to me. A countryman of mine, one Bernard
Cavanagh, doubtless, a gentleman of very good connections, announced
some time ago that he had adopted a new system of diet, which was
neither more nor less than going without any food. Now, Mr. Cavanagh
was a stout gentleman, comely and plump to look at, who conversed
pleasantly on the common topics of the day, and seemed, on the whole,
to enjoy life pretty much like other people. He was to be seen for a
shilling--children half-price; and although Englishmen have read of
our starving countrymen for the last century and a-half, yet their
curiosity to see one, to look at him, to prod him with their
umbrellas, punch him with their knuckles, and otherwise test his
vitality, was such, that they seemed just as much alive as though the
phenomenon was new to them. The consequence was, Mr. Cavanagh, whose
cook was on board wages, and whose establishment was of the least
expensive character, began to wax rich. Several large towns and
cities, in different parts of the empire, requested him to visit them;
and Joe Hume suggested that the corporation of London should offer him
ten thousand pounds for his secret, merely for the use of the livery.
In fact, Cavanagh was now the cry, and as Barney appeared to grow fat
on fasting, his popularity knew no bounds. Unfortunately, however,
ambition, the bane of so many other great men, numbered him also among
its victims. Had he been content with London as the sphere of his
triumphs and teetotalism, there is no saying how long he might have
gone on starving with satisfaction. Whether it is that the people are
less observant there, or more accustomed to see similar exhibitions,
I cannot tell; but true it is they paid their shillings, felt his
ribs, walked home, and pronounced Barney a most exemplary Irishman.
But not content with the capital, he must make a tour in the
provinces, and accordingly went starring it about through Leeds,
Birmingham, Manchester, and all the other manufacturing towns, as if
in mockery of the poor people who did not know the secret how to live
without food.

Mr. Cavanagh was now living--if life it can be called--in one of the
best hotels, when, actuated by that spirit of inquiry that
characterises the age, a respectable lady, who kept a boarding-house,
paid him a visit, to ascertain, if possible, how far his system might
be made applicable to her guests, who, whatever their afflictions,
laboured under no such symptoms as his.

She was pleased with Barney,--she patted him with her hand; he was
round, and plump, and fat, much more so, indeed, than many of her
daily dinner-party; and had, withal, that kind of joyous, rollicking,
devil-may-care look, that seems to bespeak good condition;--but this
the poor lady, of course, did not know to be an inherent property in
Pat, however poor his situation.

After an interview of an hour long she took her leave, not exhibiting
the usual satisfaction of other visitors, but with a dubious look and
meditative expression, that betokened a mind not made up, and a heart
not at ease; she was clearly not content, perhaps the abortive effort
to extract a confession from Mr. Cavanagh might be the cause, or
perhaps she felt like many respectable people whose curiosity is only
the advanced guard to their repentance, and who never think that in
any exhibition they get the worth of their money. This might be the
case, for as fasting is a negative process, there is really little to
see in the performer. Had it been the man that eats a sheep; “_à la
bonne heure!_” you have something for your money there: and I can even
sympathize with the French gentleman who follows Van Amburgh to this
day, in the agreeable hope, to use his own words, of “assisting at the
_soirée_, when the lions shall eat Mr. Van Amburgh.” This, if not
laudable is at least intelligible. But to return, the lady went her
way, not indeed on hospitable thoughts intent, but turning over in her
mind various theories about abstinence, and only wishing she had the
whole of the Cavanagh family for boarders at a guinea a-week.

Late in the evening of the same day this estimable lady, whose
inquiries into the properties of gastric juice, if not as scientific,
were to the full as enthusiastic as those of Bostock or Tiedeman
himself, was returning from an early tea, through an unfrequented
suburb of Manchester, when suddenly her eye fell upon Bernard
Cavanagh, seated in a little shop--a dish of sausages and a plate of
ham before him, while a frothing cup of porter ornamented his right
hand. It was true, he wore a patch above his eye, a large beard, and
various other disguises, but they served him not: she knew him at
once. The result is soon told: the police were informed; Mr. Cavanagh
was captured; the lady gave her testimony in a crowded court, and he
who lately was rolling on the wheel of fortune, was now condemned to
foot it on a very different wheel, and all for no other cause than
that he could not live without food.

The magistrate, who was eloquent on the occasion, called him an
impostor; designating by this odious epithet, a highly-wrought and
well-conceived work of imagination. Unhappy Defoe, your Robinson
Crusoe might have cost you a voyage across the seas; your man Friday
might have been a black Monday to you had you lived in our days. 964
is a severer critic than _The Quarterly_, and his judgment more

[Illustration: The Man of Genius.]

We have never heard of any one who, discovering the fictitious
character of a novel he had believed as a fact, waited on the
publisher with a modest request that his money might be returned to
him, being obtained under false pretences; much less of his applying
to his worship for a warrant against G. P. R. James, Esq., or Harrison
Ainsworth, for certain imaginary woes and unreal sorrows depicted in
their writings: yet the conduct of the lady towards Mr. Cavanagh was
exactly of this nature. How did his appetite do her any possible
disservice? what sins against her soul were contained in his sausages?
and yet she must appeal to the justice as an injured woman: Cavanagh
had imposed upon her--she was wronged because he was hungry. All his
narrative, beautifully constructed and artfully put together, went for
nothing; his look, his manner, his entertaining anecdotes, his
fascinating conversation, his time--from ten in the morning till eight
in the evening--went all for nothing: this really is too bad. Do we
ask of every author to be the hero he describes? Is Bulwer, Pelham,
and Paul Clifford, Eugene Aram, and the Lady of Lyons? Is James, Mary
of Burgundy, Darnley, the Gipsy, and Corse de Leon? Is Dickens, Sam
Weller, Quilp, and Barnaby Rudge?--to what absurdities will this lead
us! and yet Bernard Cavanagh was no more guilty than any of these
gentlemen. He was, if I may so express it, a pictorial--an ideal
representation of a man that fasted: he narrated all the sensations
want of food suggests; its dreamy debility, its languid stupor, its
painful suffering, its stage of struggle and suspense, ending in a
victory, where the mind, the conqueror over the baser nature, asserts
its proud and glorious supremacy in the triumph of volition; and for
this beautiful creation of his brain he is sent to the treadmill, as
though, instead of a poet, he had been a pickpocket.

If Bulwer be a baronet; if Dickens’ bed-room be papered with
bank-debentures; then do I proclaim it loudly before the world,
Bernard Cavanagh is an injured man: you are either absurd in one case,
or unjust in the other; take your choice. Ship off Sir Edward to the
colonies; send James to Swan River; let Lady Blessington card wool, or
Mrs. Norton pound oyster-shells; or else we call upon you, give Mr.
Cavanagh freedom of the guild; call him the author of “The Hungry
One;” let him be courted and _fêted_--you may ask him to dinner with
an easy conscience, and invite him to tea without remorse. Let a
Whig-radical borough solicit him to represent it; place him at the
right hand of Lord John; let his picture be exhibited in the
print-shops, and let the cut of his coat and the tie of his cravat be
so much in vogue, that bang-ups _à la_ Barney shall be the only things
seen in Bond-street: one course or the other you must take. If the
mountain will not go to Mahomet, Mahomet must go to the mountain: or
in other words, if Bulwer descend not to Barney, Barney must mount up
to Bulwer. It is absurd, it is worse than absurd, to pretend that he
who so thoroughly sympathises with his hero, as to embody him in his
own thoughts and acts, his look, his dress, and his demeanour, that
he, I say, who so penetrated with the impersonation of a part, finds
the pen too weak, and the press too slow, to picture forth his vivid
creations, should be less an object of praise, of honour, and
distinction, than the indolent denizen of some drawing-room, who, in
slippered ease, dictates his shadowy and imperfect conceptions--visions
of what he never felt, dreamy representations of unreality.

“The poet,” as the word implies, is the maker or the creator; and
however little of the higher attributes of what the world esteems as
poetry the character would seem to possess, he who invents a
personage, the conformity of whose traits to the rule of life is
acknowledged for its truth, he, I say, is a poet. Thus, there is
poetry in Sancho Panza, Falstaff, Dugald Dalgetty, and a hundred other
similar impersonations; and why not in Bernard Cavanagh?

Look for a moment at the effects of your system. The Caraccis, we are
told, spent their boyish years drawing rude figures with chalk on the
doors and even the walls of the palaces of Rome: here the first germs
of their early talent displayed themselves; and in those bold
conceptions of youthful genius were seen the first dawnings of a power
that gave glory to the age they lived in. Had Sir Peter Laurie been
their cotemporary, had 964 been loose in those days, they would have
been treated with a trip to the mill, and their taste for design
cultivated by the low diet of a penitentiary. You know not what
budding genius you have nipped with this abominable system: you think
not of the early indications of mind and intellect you may be
consigning to prison: or is it after all, that the matter-of-fact
spirit of the age has sapped the very vitals of our law-code, and that
in your utilitarian zeal you have doomed to death all that bears the
stamp of imagination? if this be indeed your object, have a good
heart, encourage 964, and you’ll not leave a novelist in the land.

Good reader, I ask your pardon for all this honest indignation; I know
it is in vain: I cannot reform our jurisprudence; and our laws, like
the Belgian revolution, must be regarded “_comme un fait accompli_;”
in other words, what can’t be cured must be endured. Let us leave then
our friend the Pole to perform his penance; let us say adieu to
Barney, who is at this moment occupying a suite of apartments in the
Penitentiary, and let us turn to the reverse of the medal, I mean to
those who would wile us away by false promises and flattering speeches
to entertain such views of life as are not only impossible but
inconsistent, thus rendering our path here devoid of interest and of
pleasure, while compared with the extravagant creations of their own
erring fancies. Yes, princes may be trusted, but put not your faith in
periodicals. Let no pictorial representations of Alpine scenery, under
the auspices of Colburn or Bentley, seduce you from the comforts of
your hearth and home: let no enthusiastic accounts of military
greatness, no peninsular pleasures, no charms of campaigning life,
induce you to change your garb of country gentleman for the livery of
the Horse-Guards,--“making the green one red.”

Be not mystified by Maxwell, nor lured by Lorrequer; let no panegyrics
of pipe-clay and the brevet seduce you from the peaceful path in life;
let not Marryat mar your happiness by the glories of those who dwell
in the deep waters; let not Wilson persuade you that the “Lights and
Shadows of Scottish Life” have any reference to that romantic people,
who betake themselves to their native mountains with a little oatmeal
for food and a little sulphur for friction; do not believe one
syllable about the girls of the west; trust not in the representations
of their blue eyes, nor of their trim ankles peering beneath a jupe of
scarlet--we can vouch it is true, for the red petticoat, but the rest
is apocryphal. Fly, we warn you, from Summers in Germany, Evenings in
Brittany, Weeks on the Rhine; away with tours, guide-books, and all
the John Murrayisms of travels. A plague upon Egypt! travellers have a
proverbial liberty of conscience, and the farther they go, the more
does it seem to stretch; not that near home matters are much better,
for our “Wild Sports” in Achill are as romantic as those in Africa,
and the Complete Angler is a complete humbug.

There is no faith--no principle in any of these men. The grave writer,
the stern moralist, the uncompromising advocate of the inflexible rule
of right, is a dandy with essenced locks, loose trousers, and looser
morals, who breakfasts at four in the afternoon, and spends his
evenings among the side scenes of the opera; the merry writer of whims
and oddities, who shakes his puns about like pepper from a
pepper-castor, is a misanthropic, melancholy gentleman, of mournful
look and unhappy aspect: the advocate of field-sports, of all the
joyous excitement of the hunting-field, and the bold dangers of the
chase, is an asthmatic sexagenarian, with care in his heart and gout
in his ankles; and lastly, he who lives but in the horrors of a
charnel-house, whose gloomy mind finds no pleasure save in the dark
and dismal pictures of crime and suffering, of lingering agony, or
cruel death, is a fat, round, portly, comely gentleman, with a laugh
like Falstaff, and a face whose every lineament and feature seems to
exhale the merriment of a jocose and happy temperament. I speak not of
the softer sex, many of whose productions would seem to have but
little sympathy with themselves; but once for all, I would ask you
what reliance, what faith can you place in any of them? Is it to the
denizen of a coal mine you apply for information about the Nassau
balloon? Do you refer a disputed point in dress to an Englishman, in
climate to a Laplander, in politeness to a Frenchman, or in
hospitality to a Belgian? or do you not rather feel that these are not
exactly their attributes, and that you are moving the equity for a
case at common law? exactly in the same way, and for the same reason,
we repeat it, put not your faith in periodicals, nor in the writers

How ridiculous would it appear if the surgeon-general were to open a
pleading, or charge a jury in the Queen’s Bench, while the
solicitor-general was engaged in taking up the femoral artery! What
would you say if the Archbishop of Canterbury were to preside over the
artillery-practice at Woolwich, while the Commander of the Forces
delivered a charge to the clergy of the diocese? How would you look if
Justice Pennefather were to speak at a repeal meeting, and Daniel
O’Connell to conduct himself like a loyal and discreet citizen? Would
you not at once say the whole world is in masquerade? and would you
not be justified in the remark? And yet this it is which is exactly
taking place before your eyes in the wide world of letters. The
illiterate and unreflecting man of under-bred habits and degenerate
tastes will write nothing but a philosophic novel; the denizen of the
Fleet, or the Queen’s Bench, publishes an ascent of Mont Blanc, with
a glowing description of the delights of liberty; the nobleman writes
slang; the starving author, with broken boots and patched
continuations, will not indite a name undignified by a title; and
after all this, will you venture to tell me that these men are not
indictable by the statute for obtaining money under false pretences?

I have run myself out of breath; and now, if you will allow me a few
moments, I will tell you what, perhaps, I ought to have done earlier
in this article, namely, its object.

It is a remarkable feature in the complex and difficult machinery of
our society, that while crime and the law code keep steadily on the
increase, moving in parallel lines one beside the other, certain
prejudices, popular fallacies--nuts, as we have called them at the
head of this paper--should still disgrace our social system; and that,
however justice maybe administered in our courts of law, in the
private judicature of our own dwellings we observe an especial system
of jurisprudence, marked by injustice and by wrong. To endeavour to
depict some instances of this, I have set about my present
undertaking. To disabuse the public mind as to the error, that what is
punishable in one can be praiseworthy in another; and what is
excellent in the court can be execrable in the city. Such is my
object, such my hope. Under this title I shall endeavour to touch upon
the undue estimation in which we hold certain people and places--the
unfair depreciation of certain sects and callings. Not confining
myself to home, I shall take the habits of my countrymen on the
Continent, whether in their search for climate, economy, education, or
enjoyment; and, as far as my ability lies, hold the mirror up to
nature, while I extend the war-cry of my distinguished countrymen,
not asking “justice for Ireland” alone, but “justice for the whole
human race.” For the gaoler as for the guardsman, for the steward of
the Holyhead as for him of the household; from the Munster
king-at-arms to the monarch of the Cannibal Island--“_nihil à me
alienum puto_;” from the priest to the plenipotentiary; from Mr.
Arkins to Abd-el-Kader: my sympathy extends to all.



I had nearly attained to man’s estate before I understood the nature
of a coroner. I remember, when a child, to have seen a coloured print
from a well-known picture of the day, representing the night-mare. It
was a horrible representation of a goblin shape of hideous aspect,
that sat cowering upon the bosom of a sleeping figure, on whose white
features a look of painful suffering was depicted, while the clenched
hands and drawn-up feet seemed to struggle with convulsive agony.
Heaven knows how or when the thought occurred to me, but I clearly
recollect my impression that this goblin was a coroner. Some confused
notion about sitting on a corpse as one of his attributes had,
doubtless, suggested the idea; and certainly nothing contributed to
increase the horror of suicide in my eyes so much as the reflection,
that the grim demon already mentioned had some function to discharge
on the occasion.

When, after the lapse of years, I heard that the eloquent and gifted
member for Finsbury was a being of this order, although I knew by that
time the injustice of my original prejudices, yet, I confess I could
not look at him in the house, without a thought of my childish
fancies, and an endeavour to trace in his comely features some faint
resemblance to the figure of the night-mare.

This strange impression of my infancy recurred strongly to my mind a
few days since, on reading a newspaper account of a sudden death.--The
case was simply that of a gentleman who, in the bosom of his family,
became suddenly seized with illness, and after a few hours expired.
What was their surprise! what their horror! to find, that no sooner
was the circumstance known, than the house was surrounded by a mob,
policemen were stationed at the doors, and twelve of the great
unwashed, with a coroner at their head, forced their entry into the
house of mourning, to deliberate on the cause of death. I can
perfectly understand the value of this practice in cases where either
suspicion has attached, or where the circumstances of the decease, as
to time and place, would indicate a violent death; but where a person,
surrounded by his children, living in all the quiet enjoyment of an
easy and undisturbed existence, drops off by some one of the ills that
flesh is heir to, only a little more rapidly than his neighbour at
next door, why this should be a case for a coroner and his gang, I
cannot, for the life of me, conceive. In the instance I allude to, the
family offered the fullest information: they explained that the
deceased had been liable for years to an infirmity likely to terminate
in this way. The physician who attended him corroborated the
statement; and, in fact, it was clear the case was one of those almost
every-day occurrences where the thread of life is snapped, not
unravelled. This, however, did not satisfy the coroner, who had, as he
expressed it, a “duty to perform,” and, who, certainly had five
guineas for his fee: he was a “medical coroner,” too, and therefore he
would examine for himself. Thus, in the midst of the affliction and
bereavement of a desolate family, the frightful detail of an inquest,
with all its attendant train of harrowing and heart-rending inquiries,
is carried on, simply because it is permissible by the law, and the
coroner may enter where the king cannot.

We are taught in the litany to pray against sudden death; but up to
this moment I never knew it was illegal. Dreadful afflictions as
apoplexy and aneurism are, it remained for our present civilisation to
make them punishable by a statute. The march of intellect, not
satisfied with directing us in life, must go a step farther and teach
us how to die. Fashionable diseases the world has been long acquainted
with, but an “illegal inflammation,” and a “criminal hemorrhage” have
been reserved for the enlightened age we live in.

Newspapers will no longer inform us, in the habitual phrase, that Mr.
Simpkins died suddenly at his house at Hampstead; but, under the head
of “Shocking outrage,” we shall read, “that after a long life of great
respectability and the exhibition of many virtues, this unfortunate
gentleman, it is hoped in a moment of mental alienation, went off with
a disease of the heart. The affliction of his surviving relatives at
this frightful act may be conceived, but cannot be described. His
effects, according to the statute, have been confiscated to the crown,
and a deodand of fifty shillings awarded on the apothecary who
attended him. It is hoped, that the universal execration which attends
cases of this nature may deter others from the same course; and, we
confess, our observations are directed with a painful, but we trust, a
powerful interest to certain elderly gentlemen in the neighbourhood of
Islington.” _Verb. sat._

Under these sad circumstances it behoves us to look a little about,
and provide against such a contingency. It is then earnestly
recommended to heads of families, that when registering the birth of a
child, they should also include some probable or possible malady of
which he may, could, would, should, or ought to die, in the course of
time. This will show, by incontestable evidence, that the event was at
least anticipated, and being done at the earliest period of life, no
reproach can possibly lie for want of premeditation. The register
might run thus:--

Giles Tims, son of Thomas and Mary Tims, born on the 9th of June, Kent
street, Southwark--dropsy, typhus, or gout in the stomach.

It by no means follows, that he must wait for one or other of these
maladies to carry him off. Not at all; he may range at will through
the whole practice of physic, and adopt his choice. The registry only
goes to show, that he does not mean to sneak out of the world in any
under-bred way, nor bolt out of life with the abrupt precipitation of
a Frenchman after a dinner party. I have merely thrown out this hint
here as a warning to my many friends, and shall now proceed to other
and more pleasing topics.


Among the many incongruities of that composite piece of architecture,
called John Bull, there is nothing more striking than the contrast
between his thorough nationality and his unbounded admiration for
foreigners. Now, although we may not entirely sympathize with, we can
understand and appreciate this feature of his character, and see how
he gratifies his very pride itself, in the attentions and civilities
he bestows upon strangers. The feeling is intelligible too, because
Frenchmen, Germans, and even Italians, notwithstanding the many points
of disparity between us, have always certain qualities well worthy of
respect, if not of imitation. France has a great literature, a name
glorious in history, a people abounding in intelligence, skill, and
invention; in fact, all the attributes that make up a great nation.
Germany has many of these, and though she lack the brilliant fancy,
the sparkling wit of her neighbour, has still a compensating fund in
the rich resources of her judgment, and the profound depths of her
scholarship. Indeed, every continental country has its lesson for our
benefit, and we would do well to cultivate the acquaintance of
strangers, not only to disseminate more just views of ourselves and
our institutions, but also for the adoption of such customs as seem
worthy of imitation, and such habits as may suit our condition in
life; while such is the case as regards those countries high in the
scale of civilisation, we would, by no means, extend the rule to
others less happily constituted, less benignly gifted. The Carinthian
boor with his garment of sheep-wool, or the Laplander with his snow
shoes and his hood of deerskin, may be both very natural objects of
curiosity, but by no means subjects of imitation. This point will
doubtless be conceded at once; and now, will any one tell me for what
cause, under what pretence, and with what pretext are we civil to the
Yankees?--not for their politeness, not for their literature, not for
any fascination of their manner, nor any charm of their address, not
for any historic association, not for any halo that the glorious past
has thrown around the common-place monotony of the present, still less
for any romantic curiosity as to their lives and habits--for in this
respect all other savage nations far surpass them. What then is, or
what can be the cause?

Of all the lions that caprice and the whimsical absurdity of a
second-rate set in fashion ever courted and entertained, never had any
one less pretensions to the civility he received than the author of
‘Pencillings by the Way’--poor in thought, still poorer in expression,
without a spark of wit, without a gleam of imagination--a fourth-rate
looking man, and a fifth-rate talker, he continued to receive the
homage we were wont to bestow upon a Scott, and even charily extended
to a Dickens. His writings the very slip-slop of “commerage,” the
tittle-tattle of a Sunday paper, dressed up in the cant of Kentucky;
the very titles, the contemptible affectation of unredeemed twaddle,
‘Pencillings by the Way!’ ‘Letters from under a Bridge!’ Good lack!
how the latter name is suggestive of eaves-dropping and listening; and
how involuntarily we call to mind those chance expressions of his
partners in the dance, or his companions at the table, faithfully
recorded for the edification of the free-born Americans, who, while
they ridicule our institutions, endeavour to pantomime our manners.

For many years past a number of persons have driven a thriving trade
in a singular branch of commerce, no less than buying up cast court
dresses and second-hand uniforms for exportation to the colonies. The
negroes, it is said, are far prouder of figuring in the tattered and
tarnished fragments of former greatness, than of wearing the less
gaudy, but more useful garb, befitting their condition. So it would
seem our trans-Atlantic friends prefer importing through their agents,
for that purpose, the abandoned finery of courtly gossip, to the more
useful but less pretentious apparel, of common-place information. Mr.
Willis was invaluable for this purpose; he told his friends every
thing that he heard, and he heard every thing that he could; and, like
mercy, he enjoyed a duplicate of blessings--for while he was delighted
in by his own countrymen, he was dined by ours. He scattered his
autographs, as Feargus O’Connor did franks; he smiled; he ogled; he
read his own poetry, and went the whole lion with all his might; and
yet, in the midst of this, a rival starts up equally desirous of court
secrets, and fifty times as enterprising in their search; he risks his
liberty, perhaps his life, in the pursuit, and what is his reward? I
need only tell you his name, and you are answered--I mean the boy
Jones; not under a bridge, but under a sofa; not in Almacks, obtaining
it at second-hand, but in Buckingham Palace--into the very apartment
of the Queen--the adventurous youth has dared to insinuate himself. No
lady however sends her album to him for some memento of his genius.
His temple is not defrauded of its curls to grace a locket or a
medallion; and his reward, instead of a supper at Lady Blessington’s,
is a voyage to Swan River. For my part, I prefer the boy Jones: I like
his singleness of purpose: I admire his steady perseverance; still,
however, he had the misfortune to be born in England--his father lived
near Wapping, and he was ineligible for a lion.

To what other reason than his English growth can be attributed the
different treatment he has experienced at the hands of the world. The
similarity between the two characters is most striking. Willis had a
craving appetite for court gossip, and the tittle-tattle of a palace:
so had the boy Jones. Willis established himself as a listener in
society: so did the boy Jones. Willis obtruded himself into places,
and among people where he had no possible pretension to be seen: so
did the boy Jones. Willis wrote letters from under a bridge: the boy
Jones eat mutton chops under a sofa.


The pet profession of England is the bar, and I see many reasons why
this should be the case. Our law of primogeniture necessitates the
existence of certain provisions for younger children independently of
the pittance bestowed on them by their families. The army and the
navy, the church and the bar, form then the only avenues to fortune
for the highly born; and one or other of these four roads must be
adopted by him who would carve out his own career. The bar, for
many reasons, is the favourite--at least among those who place
reliance in their intellect. Its estimation is high. It is not
incompatible but actually favourable to the pursuits of parliament.
Its rewards are manifold and great; and while there is a sufficiency
of private ease and personal retirement in its practice, there is also
enough of publicity for the most ambitiously-minded seeker of the
world’s applause and the world’s admiration. Were we only to look back
upon our history, we should find perhaps that the profession of the
law would include almost two-thirds of our very greatest men. Astute
thinkers, deep politicians, eloquent debaters, profound scholars, men
of wit, as well as men of wisdom, have abounded in its ranks, and
there is every reason why it should be, as I have called it, the pet

[Illustration: Legal Functionaries.]

Having conceded so much, may I now be permitted to take a nearer view
of those men so highly distinguished: and for this purpose let me turn
my reader’s attention to the practice of a criminal trial. The first
duty of a good citizen, it will not be disputed, is, as far as in him
lies, to promote obedience to the law, to repress crime, and bring
outrage to punishment. No walk in life--no professional career--no
uniform of scarlet or of black--no freemasonry of craft or calling can
absolve him from this allegiance to his country. Yet, what do we see?
The wretch stained with crime--polluted with iniquity--for which,
perhaps, the statute-book contains neither name nor indictment--whose
trembling lips are eager to avow that guilt which, by confessing, he
hopes may alleviate the penalty--this man, I say, is checked in his
intentions--he is warned not, by any chance expression, to hazard a
conviction of his crime, and told in the language of the law not to
criminate himself. But the matter stops not here--justice is an
inveterate gambler--she is not satisfied when her antagonist throws
his card upon the table confessing that he has not a trump nor a trick
in his hand--no, like the most accomplished swindler of Baden or
Boulogne, she assumes a smile of easy and courteous benignity, and
says, pooh, pooh! nonsense, my dear friend; you don’t know what may
turn up; your cards are better than you think; don’t be faint-hearted;
don’t you see you have the knave of trumps, _i. e._, the cleverest
lawyer for your defender; a thousand things may happen; I may revoke,
that is, the indictment may break down; there are innumerable chances
in your favour, so pluck up your courage and play the game out.

He takes the advice, and however faint-hearted before, he now assumes
a look of stern courage, or dogged indifference, and resolves to play
for the stake. He remembers, however, that he is no adept in the game,
and he addresses himself in consequence to some astute and subtle
gambler, to whom he commits his cards and his chances. The trepidation
or the indifference that he manifested before, now gradually gives
way; and however hopeless he had deemed his case at first, he now
begins to think that all is not lost. The very way his friend, the
lawyer, shuffles and cuts the cards, imposes on his credulity and
suggests a hope. He sees at once that he is a practised hand, and
almost unconsciously he becomes deeply interested in the changes and
vacillations of the game he believed could have presented but one
aspect of fortune.

But the prisoner is not my object: I turn rather to the lawyer. Here
then do we not see the accomplished gentleman--the finished
scholar--the man of refinement and of learning, of character and
station--standing forth the very embodiment of the individual in the
dock? possessed of all his secrets--animated by the same
hopes--penetrated by the same fears--he endeavours by all the subtle
ingenuity, with which craft and habit have gifted him, to confound the
testimony--to disparage the truth--to pervert the inferences of all
the witnesses. In fact, he employs all the stratagems of his calling,
all the ingenuity of his mind, all the subtlety of his wit for the one
end--that the man he believes in his own heart guilty, may, on the
oaths of twelve honest men, be pronounced innocent.

From the opening of the trial to its close, this mental gladiator is
an object of wonder and dread. Scarcely a quality of the human mind is
not exhibited by him in the brilliant panorama of his intellect. At
first, the patient perusal of a complex and wordy indictment occupies him
exclusively: he then proceeds to cross-examine the witnesses--flattering
this one--brow-beating that--suggesting--insinuating--amplifying, or
retrenching, as the evidence would seem to favour or be adverse to his
client. He is alternately confident and doubtful, headlong and
hesitating--now hurried away on the full tide of his eloquence he
expatiates in beautiful generalities on the glorious institution of
trial by jury, and apostrophizes justice; or now, with broken
utterance and plaintive voice, he supplicates the jury to be patient,
and be careful in the decision they may come to. He implores them to
remember that when they leave that court, and return to the happy
comforts of their home, conscience will follow them, and the
everlasting question crave for answer within them--were they sure of
this man’s guilt? He teaches them how fallacious are all human tests;
he magnifies the slightest discrepancy of evidence into a broad and
sweeping contradiction; and while, with a prophetic menace, he
pictures forth the undying remorse that pursues him who sheds innocent
blood, he dismisses them with an affecting picture of mental agony so
great--of suffering so heart-rending, that, as they retire to the
jury-room, there is not a man of the twelve that has not more or less
of a _personal_ interest in the acquittal of the prisoner.

However bad, however depraved the human mind, it still leans to mercy:
the power to dispose of another man’s life is generally sufficient for
the most malignant spirit in its thirst for vengeance. What then are
the feelings of twelve calm, and perhaps, benevolent men, at a moment
like this? The last words of the advocate have thrown a new element
into the whole case, for independent of their verdict upon the
prisoner comes now the direct appeal to their own hearts. How will
they feel when they reflect on this hereafter? I do not wish to pursue
this further. It is enough for my present purpose that, by the
ingenuity of the lawyer, criminals have escaped, do escape, and are
escaping, the just sentence on their crimes. What then is the result?
the advocate, who up to this moment has maintained a familiar, even a
friendly, intimacy with his client in the dock, now shrinks from the
very contamination of his look. He cannot bear that the blood-stained
fingers should grasp the hem of his garment, and he turns with a sense
of shame from the expressions of a gratitude that criminate him in his
own heart. However, this is but a passing sensation; he divests
himself of his wig and gown, and overwhelmed with congratulations for
his brilliant success, he springs into his carriage and goes home to
dress for dinner--for on that day he is engaged to the Chancellor, the
Bishop of London, or some other great and revered functionary--the
guardian of the church, or the custodian of conscience.

Now, there is only one thing in all this I would wish to bring
strikingly before the mind of my readers, and that is, that the
lawyer, throughout the entire proceeding, was a free and a willing
agent. There was neither legal nor moral compulsion to urge him on.
No; it was no intrepid defence against the tyranny of a government or
the usurpation of power--it was the assertion of no broad and
immutable principle of truth or justice--it was simply a matter of
legal acumen and persuasive eloquence, to the amount of fifty pounds

This being admitted, let me now proceed to consider another
functionary, and observe how far the rule of right is consulted in the
treatment _he_ meets with--I mean the hangman. You start, good reader,
and your gesture of impatience denotes the very proposition I would
come to. I need scarcely remind you, that in our country this
individual has a kind of prerogative of detestation. All other ranks
and conditions of men may find a sympathy, or at least a pity,
somewhere, but for him there is none. No one is sufficiently debased
to be his companion,--no one so low as to be his associate! Like a
being of another sphere, he appears but at some frightful moments of
life, and then only for a few seconds. For the rest he drags on
existence unseen and unheard of, his very name a thing to tremble at.
Yet this man, in the duties of his calling, has neither will nor
choice. The stern agent of the law, he has but one course to follow;
his path, a narrow one, has no turning to the right or to the left,
and, save that his ministry is more proximate, is less accessory to
the death of the criminal than he who signs the warrant for execution.
In fact, he but answers the responses of the law, and in the loud amen
of his calling, he only consummates its recorded assertion. How then
can you reconcile yourself to the fact, that while you overwhelm the
advocate who converts right into wrong and wrong into right, who
shrouds the guilty man, and conceals the murderer, with honour, and
praise, and rank, and riches, and who does this for a brief marked
fifty pounds, yet have nothing but abhorrence and detestation for the
impassive agent whose fee is but one. One can help what he does--the
other cannot. One is an amateur--the other practices in spite of
himself. One employs every energy of his mind and every faculty of his
intellect--the other only devotes the ingenuity of his fingers. One
strains every nerve to let loose a criminal upon the world--the other
but closes the grave over guilt and crime!

The king’s counsel is courted. His society sought for. He is held in
high esteem, and while his present career is a brilliant one in the
vista before him, his eyes are fixed upon the ermine. Jack Ketch, on
the other hand, is shunned. His companionship avoided, and the only
futurity he can look to, is a life of ignominy, and after it an
unknown grave. Let him be a man of fascinating manners, highly gifted,
and agreeable; let him be able to recount with the most melting pathos
the anecdotes and incidents of his professional career, throwing light
upon the history of his own period--such as none but himself could
throw;--let him speak of the various characters that have _passed
through his hands_, and so to say, “dropped off before him”--yet the
prejudice of the world is an obstacle not to be overcome; his calling
is in disrepute, and no personal efforts of his own, no individual
pre-eminence he may arrive at in his walk, will ever redeem it. Other
men’s estimation increases as they distinguish themselves in life;
each fresh display of their abilities, each new occasion for the
exercise of their powers, is hailed with renewed favour and increasing
flattery; not so he,--every time he appears on his peculiar stage, the
disgust and detestation is but augmented,--_vires acquirit
eundo_,--his countenance, as it becomes known, is a signal for the
yelling execrations of a mob, and the very dexterity with which he
performs his functions, is made matter of loathing and horror. Were
his duties such as might be carried on in secret, he might do good by
stealth and blush to find it fame; but no, his attributes demand the
noon-day and the multitude--the tragedy he performs in, must be played
before tens of thousands, by whom his every look is scowled at, his
every gesture scrutinized. But to conclude,--this man is a necessity
of our social system. We want him--we require him, and we can’t do
without him. Much of the machinery of a trial might be dispensed with
or retrenched. His office, however, has nothing superfluous. He is
part of the machinery of our civilisation, and on what principle do we
hunt him down like a wild beast to his lair?

Men of rank and title are daily to be found in association, and even
intimacy with black legs and bruisers, grooms, jockeys, and swindlers;
yet we never heard that even the Whigs paid any attention to a
hangman, nor is his name to be found even in the list of a Radical
viceroy’s levee. However, we do not despair. Many prejudices of this
nature have already given way, and many absurd notions have been
knocked on the head by a wag of great Daniel’s tail. And if our friend
of Newgate, who is certainly anti-union in his functions, will only
cry out for Repeal, the justice that is entreated for all Ireland may
include him in the general distribution of its favours. Poor Theodore
Hook used to say, that marriage was like hanging, there being only the
difference of an aspirate between halter and altar.




My dear reader, if it does not insult your understanding by the
self-evidence of the query, will you allow me to ask you a
question--which of the two is more culpable, the man who, finding
himself in a path of dereliction, arrests himself in his downward
career, and, by a wonderful effort of self-restraint, stops dead
short, and will suffer no inducement, no seduction, to lead him one
step further; or he, who, floating down the stream of his own vicious
passions, takes the flood-tide of iniquity, and, indifferent to every
consequence, deaf to all remonstrance, seeks but the indulgence of his
own egotistical pleasure with a stern determination to pursue it to
the last? Of course you will say, that he who repents is better than
he who persists; there is hope for the one, there is none for the
other. Yet would you believe it, our common law asserts directly the
reverse, pronouncing the culpability of the former as meriting heavy
punishment, while the latter is not assailable even by implication.

That I may make myself more clear, I shall give an instance of my
meaning. Scarcely a week passes over without a trial for breach of
promise of marriage. Sometimes the gay Lothario, to use the phrase of
the newspapers, is nineteen, sometimes ninety. In either case his
conduct is a frightful tissue of perjured vows and base deception. His
innumerable letters breathing all the tenderness of affectionate
solicitude, intended but for the eyes of her he loves, are read in
open court; attested copies are shown to the judge, or handed up to
the jury-box. The course of his true love is traced from the bubbling
fountain of first acquaintance to the broad river of his passionate
devotion. Its rapids and its whirlpools, its placid lakes, its frothy
torrents, its windings and its turnings, its ebbs and flows, are
discussed, detailed, and descanted on with all the hacknied precision
of the craft, as though his heart was a bill of exchange, or the
current of his affection a disputed mill-stream. And what, after all,
is this man’s crime? knowing that love is the great humanizer of our
race, and feeling probably how much he stands in need of some
civilizing process, he attaches himself to some lovely and attractive
girl, who, in the reciprocity of her affection, is herself benefited
in a degree equal to him. If the soft solicitude of the tender
passion, if its ennobling self-respect, if its purifying influence on
the heart, be good for the man, how much more so is it for the woman.
If _he_ be taught to feel how the refined enjoyments of an attractive
girl’s mind are superior to the base and degenerate pursuits of
every-day pleasure, how much more will _she_ learn to prize and
cultivate those gifts which form the charm of her nature, and breathe
an incense of fascination around her steps. Here is a compact where
both parties benefit, but that they may do so to the fullest extent,
it is necessary that no self-interest, no mean prospect of individual
advantage, should interfere: all must be pure and confiding.
Love-making should not be like a game of _écarté_ with a black leg,
where you must not rise from the table, till you are ruined. No! it
should rather resemble a party at picquet with your pretty cousin,
when the moment either party is tired, you may throw down the cards
and abandon the game.


This, then, is the case of the man; he either discovers that on
further acquaintance the qualities he believed in were not so palpable
as he thought, or, if there, marred in their exercise by opposing and
antagonist forces, of whose existence he knew not, he thinks he
detects discrepancies of temperament, disparities of taste; he
foresees that in the channel where he looked for deep water there are
so many rocks, and shoals, and quicksands, that he fears the bark of
conjugal happiness may be shipwrecked upon them; and, like a prudent
mariner, he resolves to lighten the craft by “throwing over the lady.”
Had this man married with all these impending suspicions on his mind,
there is little doubt he would have made a most execrable husband; not
to mention the danger that his wife should not be all amiable as she
ought. He stops short--that is, he explains in one, perhaps in a
series of letters, the reasons of his new course. He expects in return
the admiration and esteem of her, for whose happiness he is
legislating, as well as for his own; and oh, base ingratitude! he
receives a letter from her attorney. The gentlemen of the long
robe--newspaper again--are in ecstasies. Like devils on the arrival of
a new soul, they brighten up, rub their hands, and congratulate each
other on a glorious case. The damages are laid at five thousand
pounds; and, as the lady is pretty, and can be seen from the jury-box,
being fathers themselves, they award every sixpence of the money.

I can picture to myself the feeling of the defendant at such a moment
as this. As he stands alone in conscious honesty, ruminating on his
fate--alone, I say, for, like Mahomet’s coffin, he has no
resting-place; laughed at by the men, sneered at by the women, mulcted
of perhaps half his fortune, merely because for the last three years
of his life he represented himself in every amiable and attractive
trait that can grace and adorn human nature. Who would wonder, if,
like the man in the farce, he would register a vow never to do a
good-natured thing again as long as he lives; or what respect can he
have for a government or a country, where the church tells him to love
his neighbour, and the chief justice makes him pay five thousand for
his obedience.

I now come to the other case, and I shall be very brief in my
observations. I mean that of him, who equally fond of flirting as the
former, has yet a lively fear of an action at law. Love-making with
him is a necessity of his existence--he is an Irishman, perhaps, and
it is as indispensable to his temperament as train-oil to a Russian.
He likes sporting, he likes billiards, he likes his club, and he likes
the ladies; but he has just as much intention of turning a huntsman at
the one, or a marker at the other, as he has of matrimony. He knows
life is a chequered table, and that there could be no game if all the
squares were of one colour. He alternates, therefore, between love and
sporting, between cards and courtship, and as the pursuit is a
pleasant one, he resolves never to give up. He waxes old, therefore,
with young habits, adapting his tastes to his time of life; he does
not kneel so often at forty as he did at twenty, but he ogles the
more, and is twice as good-tempered. Not perhaps as ready to fight for
the lady, but ten times more disposed to flatter her. She may love
him, or she may not; she may receive him as of old, or she may marry
another. What matters it to him? All his care is that _he_ shouldn’t
change. All his anxiety is, to let the rupture, if there must be one,
proceed from _her_ side. He knows in his heart the penalty of breach
of promise, but he also knows that the Chancellor can issue no
injunction compelling a man to marry, and that in the courts of love
the bills are payable at convenience.

Here, then, are the two cases, which, in conformity with the world’s
opinion, I have dignified with every possible term of horror and
reproach. In the one, the measure of iniquity is but half filled; in
the other, the cup is overflowing at the brim. For the lesser offence,
the law awards damages and defamation: for the greater, society
pronounces an eulogy upon the enduring fidelity of the man thus
faithful to a first love.

If a person about to buy a horse should, on trying him for an hour or
two, discover that his temper did not suit him, or that his paces were
not pleasant, and should in consequence restore him to the owner: and
if another, on the same errand, should come day after day for weeks,
or months, or even years, cantering him about over the pavement, and
scouring over the whole country; his answer being, when asked if he
intended to purchase, that he liked the horse exceedingly, but that he
hadn’t got a stable, or a saddle, or a curb-chain, or, in fact, some
one or other of the little necessaries of horse gear; but that when he
had, that was exactly the animal to suit him--he never was better
carried in his life. Which of these two, do you esteem the more honest
and more honourable?

When you make up your mind, please also to make the application.




When the Belgians, by their most insane revolution, separated from the
Dutch, they assumed for their national motto the phrase “_L’union fait
la force_.” It is difficult to say whether their rebellion towards the
sovereign, or this happy employment of a bull, it was, that so
completely captivated our illustrious countryman, Dan, and excited so
warmly his sympathies for that beer-drinking population. After all,
why should one quarrel with them? Nations, like individuals, have
their coats-of-arms, their heraldic insignia, their blazons, and their
garters, frequently containing the sharpest sarcasm and most poignant
satire upon those who bear them; and in this respect Belgium is only
as ridiculous as the attorney who assumed for his motto “_Fiat
justitia_.” Time was when the chivalrous line of our own garter,
“_Honi soit qui mal y pense_,” brought with it, its bright
associations of kingly courtesy and maiden bashfulness: but what
sympathy can such a sentiment find in these degenerate days of
railroads and rack-rents, canals, collieries, and chain-bridges? No,
were we now to select an inscription, much rather would we take it
from the prevailing passion of the age, and write beneath the arms of
our land the emphatic phrase, “Push along, keep moving.”

If Englishmen have failed to exhibit in machinery that triumphant El
Dorado called perpetual motion, in revenge for their failure, they
resolved to exemplify it in themselves. The whole nation, from John o’
Groat to Land’s End, from Westport to Dover, are playing
cross-corners. Every body and every thing is on the move. A
dwelling-house, like an umbrella, is only a thing used on an
emergency; and the inhabitants of Great Britain pass their lives amid
the smoke of steam-boats, or the din and thunder of the
Grand-Junction. From the highest to the lowest, from the peer to the
peasant, from the lord of the treasury to the Irish haymaker, it is
one universal “_chassée croissée_.” Not only is this fashionable--for
we are told by the newspapers how the Queen walks daily with Prince
Albert on “the slopes”--but stranger still, locomotion is a law of the
land, and standing still is a statutable offence. The hackney
coachman, with wearied horses, blown and broken-winded, dares not
breathe his jaded beasts by a momentary pull-up, for the implacable
policeman has his eye upon him, and he must simulate a trot, though
his pace but resemble a stage procession, where the legs are lifted
without progressing, and some fifty Roman soldiers, in Wellington
boots, are seen vainly endeavouring to push forward. The
foot-passenger is no better off--tired perhaps with walking or
attracted by the fascinations of a print-shop, he stops for an
instant: alas, that luxury may cost him dear, and for the momentary
pleasure he may yet have to perform a quick step on the mill. “Move
on, sir. Keep moving, if you please,” sayeth the gentleman in blue;
and there is something in his manner that won’t be denied. It is
useless to explain that you have nowhere particular to go to, that you
are an idler and a lounger. The confession is a fatal one; and however
respectable your appearance, the idea of shoplifting is at once
associated with your pursuits. Into what inconsistencies do we fall
while multiplying our laws, for while we insist upon progression, we
announce a penalty for vagrancy. The first principle of the British
constitution, however, is “keep moving,” and “I would recommend you to
go with the tide.”

Thank heaven, I have reached to man’s estate--although with a heavy
heart I acknowledge it is the only estate I have or ever shall attain
to; for if I were a child I don’t think I should close my eyes at
night from the fear of one frightful and terrific image. As it is, I
am by no means over courageous, and it requires all the energy I can
summon to combat my terrors. You ask me, in all likelihood, what this
fearful thing can be? Is it the plague or the cholera? is it the dread
of poverty and the new poor-law? is it that I may be impressed as a
seaman, or mistaken for a Yankee? or is it some unknown and visionary
terror, unseen, unheard of, but foreshadowed by a diseased
imagination; No; nothing of the kind. It is a palpable, sentient,
existent thing--neither more nor less than the worshipful Sir Peter

Every newspaper you take up announces that Sir Peter, with a hearty
contempt for the brevity of the fifty folio volumes that contain the
laws of our land, in the plenitude of his power and the fulness of his
imagination, keeps adding to the number; so that if length of years be
only accorded to that amiable individual in proportion to his merits,
we shall find at length that not only will every contingency of our
lives be provided for by the legislature, but that some standard for
personal appearance will also be adopted, to which we must conform as
rigidly as to our oath of allegiance.


A few days ago a miserable creature, a tailor we believe, some decimal
fraction of humanity, was brought up before Sir Peter on a trifling
charge of some kind or other. I forget his offence, but whatever it
was, the penalty annexed to it was but a fine of half-a-crown. The
prisoner, however, who behaved with propriety and decorum, happened to
have long black hair, which he wore somewhat “_en jeune France_” upon
his neck and shoulders; his locks, if not ambrosial, were tastefully
curled, and bespoke the fostering hand of care and attention. The
Rhadamanthus of the police-office, however, liked them not: whether it
was that he wore a Brutus himself, or that his learned cranium had
resisted all the efficacy of Macassar, I cannot say; but certain it
is, that the tailor’s ringlets gave him the greatest offence, and he
apostrophised the wearer in the most solemn manner:

“I have sat,” said he, “for ----,” as I quote from memory I sha’n’t
say how many, “years upon the bench, and I never yet met an honest man
with long hair. The worst feature in your case is your ringlets. There
is something so disgusting to me in the odious and abominable vice you
have indulged in, that I feel myself warranted in applying to you the
heaviest penalty of the law.”

The miserable man, we are told, fell upon his knees, confessed his
delinquency, and, being shorn of his locks in the presence of a
crowded court, his fine was remitted, and he was liberated.

Now, perhaps, you will suppose that all this is a mere matter of
invention. On the faith of an honest man I assure you it is not. I
have retrenched considerably the pathetic eloquence of the magistrate,
and I have left altogether untouched the poor tailor’s struggle
between pride and poverty--whether, on the one hand, to suffer the
loss of his _half_-crown, or, on the other, to submit to the
desecration of his _entire_ head. We hear a great deal about a law for
the rich, and another for the poor; and certainly in this case I am
disposed to think the complaint might not seem without foundation.
Suppose for a moment that the prisoner in this case had been the
Honourable Augustus Somebody, who appeared before his worship
fashionably attired, and with hair, beard, and moustache far
surpassing in extravagance the poor tailor’s; should we then have
heard this beautiful apostrophe to “the croppies,” this thundering
denunciation of ringlets? I half fear not. And yet, under what pretext
does a magistrate address to one man, the insulting language he would
not dare apply to another? Or let us suppose the rule of justice to be
inflexible, and look at the result. What havoc would Sir Peter make
among the Guards? ay, even in the household of her Majesty how many
delinquents would he find? what a scene would not the clubs present,
on the police authorities dropping suddenly down amongst them with
rule and line to determine the statute length of their whiskers, or
the legal cut of their eye-brows? Happy King of Hanover, were you
still amongst us, not even the Alliance would insure your mustachoes.
As for Lord Ellenborough, it is now clear enough why he accepted the
government of India, and made such haste to get out of the country.


Now we will suppose that as Sir Peter Laurie’s antipathy is long hair,
Sir Frederick Roe may also have his dislikes. It is but fair, you will
allow, that the privileges of the bench should be equal. Well, for
argument’s sake, I will imagine that Sir Frederick Roe has not the
same horror of long hair as his learned brother, but has the most
unconquerable aversion to long noses. What are we to do here? Heaven
help half our acquaintance if this should strike him! What is to be
done with Lord Allen if he beat a watchman! In what a position will he
stand if he fracture a lamp? One’s hair may be cut to any length,--it
may be even shaved clean off; but your nose.--And then a few weeks,--a
few months at farthest, and your hair has grown again: but your nose,
like your reputation, can only stand one assault. This is really a
serious view of the subject; and it is a somewhat hard thing that the
face you have shown to your acquaintances for years past, with
pleasure to yourself and satisfaction to them, should be pronounced
illegal, or curtailed in its proportions. They have a practice in
banks if a forged note be presented for payment, to mark it in a
peculiar manner before restoring it to the owner. This is technically
called “raddling.” Something similar, I suppose, will be adopted at
the police-office, and in case of refusal to conform your features to
the rule of Roe, you will be raddled by an officer appointed for the
purpose, and sent forth upon the world the mere counterfeit of

What a glorious thing it would be for this great country, if, having
equalized throughout the kingdom the weights, the measures, the miles,
and the currency, we should, at length attain to an equalization in
appearance. The “facial angle” will then have its application in
reality, and, instead of the tiresome detail of an Old Bailey trial,
we shall hear a judge sum up on the externals of a prisoner, merely
directing the attention of the jury to the atrocious irregularity of
his teeth, or the assassin-like sharpness of his under-jaw. Honour to
you, Sir Peter, should this great improvement grow out of your
innovation; and proud may the country well be, that acknowledges you
among its lawgivers!


Let men no longer indulge in that absurd fiction which represents
justice as blind. On the contrary, with an eye like Canova’s, and a
glance quick, sharp, and penetrating as Flaxman’s, she traces every
lineament and every feature; and Landseer will confess himself
vanquished by Laurie. “The pictorial school of judicial investigation”
will now become fashionable, and if Sir Peter’s practice be but
transmitted, surgeons will not be the only professional men who will
commence their education with the barbers.



I remember once coming into Matlock, on the top of the “Peveril of the
Peak,” when the coachman who drove our four spanking thorough-breds
contrived, in something less than five minutes, to excite his whole
team to the very top of their temper, lifting the wheelers almost off
the ground with his heavy lash, and, thrashing his leaders till they
smoked with passion, he brought them up to the inn door trembling with
rage, and snorting with anger. What the devil is all this for, thought
I. He guessed at once what was passing in my mind, and, with a knowing
touch of his elbow, whispered:--

“There’s a new coachman a-going to try ’em, and I’ll leave him a
precious legacy.”

This is precisely what the Whigs did in their surrender of power to
the Tories. They, indeed, left them a precious legacy:--without an
ally abroad, with discontent and starvation at home, distant and
expensive wars, depressed trade, and bankrupt speculation, form some
portion of the valuable heritage they bequeathed to their heirs in
power. The most sanguine saw matter of difficulty, and the greater
number of men were tempted to despair at the prospects of the
Conservative party; for, however happily all other questions may have
terminated, they still see, in the corn-law, a point whose subtle
difficulty would seem inaccessible to legislation. Ah! could the two
great parties, that divide the state, only lay their heads together
for a short time, and carry out that beautiful principle that Scribe
announces in one of his vaudevilles:--

    “Que le blé se vend chèr, et le pain bon marché.”

And why, after all, should not the collective wisdom of England be
able to equal in ingenuity the conceptions of a farce-writer?
Meanwhile, it is plain that political dissensions, and the rivalries
of party, will prevent that mutual good understanding which might
prove so beneficial to all. Reconciliations are but flimsy things at
best; and whether the attempt be made to conciliate two rival
churches, two opposite factions, or two separate interests of any kind
whatever, it is usually a failure. It, therefore, becomes the duty of
every good subject, and, _à fortiori_, of every good Conservative, to
bestir himself at the present moment, and see what can be done to
retrieve the sinking fortune of the state. Taxation, like flogging in
the army, never comes on the right part of the back. Sometimes too
high, sometimes too low. There is no knowing where to lay it on.
Besides that, we have by this time got such a general raw all over us,
there isn’t a square inch of sound flesh that presents itself for a
new infliction. Since the first French Revolution, the ingenuity of
man has been tortured on the subject of finance; and had Dionysius
lived in our days, instead of offering a bounty for the discovery of a
new pleasure, he would have proposed a reward to the man who devised a
new tax.

Without entering at any length into this subject, the consideration of
which would lead me into all the details of our every-day habits, I
pass on at once to the question which has induced this inquiry, while
I proclaim to the world loudly, fearlessly, and resolutely,
“Eureka!”--I’ve found it. Yes, my fellow-countrymen, I have found a
remedy to supply the deficient income of the nation, not only without
imposing a new tax, or inflicting a new burden upon the suffering
community, but also without injuring vested rights, or thwarting the
activity of commercial enterprise. I neither mulct cotton or corn; I
meddle not with parson or publican, nor do I make any portion of the
state, by its own privations, support the well-being of the rest. On
the contrary, the only individual concerned in my plan, will not be
alone benefited in a pecuniary point of view, but the best feelings of
the heart will be cultivated and strengthened, and the love of home,
so characteristically English, fostered in their bosoms. I could
almost grow eloquent upon the benefits of my discovery; but I fear,
that were I to give way to this impulse, I should become so fascinated
with myself, I could scarcely turn to the less seductive path of
simple explanation. Therefore, ere it be too late, let me open my mind
and unfold my system:

    “What great effects from little causes spring.”

Any one who ever heard of Sir Isaac Newton and his apple will
acknowledge this, and something of the same kind led me to the very
remarkable fact I am about to speak of.

One of the Bonaparte family--as well as I remember, Jerome--was one
night playing whist at the same table with Talleyrand, and having
dropped a crown piece upon the floor, he interrupted the game, and
deranged the whole party to search for his money. Not a little
provoked by a meanness which he saw excited the ridicule of many
persons about, Talleyrand deliberately folded up a bank-note which lay
before him, and, lighting it at the candle, begged, with much
courtesy, that he might be permitted to assist in the search. This
story, which is authentic, would seem an admirable parody on a portion
of our criminal law. A poor man robs the community, or some member of
it (for that comes to the same thing) to the amount of one penny. He
is arrested by a policeman, whose salary is perhaps half-a-crown
a-day, and conveyed to a police-office, that cost at least five
hundred pounds to build it. Here are found three or four more
officials, all salaried--all fed, and clothed by the State. In due
course of time he is brought up before a magistrate, also well paid,
by whom the affair is investigated, and by him he is afterwards
transmitted to the sessions, where a new army of stipendiaries all
await him. But his journey is not ended. Convicted of his offence, he
is sentenced to seven years’ transportation to one of the most remote
quarters of the globe. To convey him thither the government have
provided a ship and a crew, a supercargo and a surgeon; and, to sum up
in one word, before he has commenced the expiation of his crime, that
penny has cost the country something about three hundred pounds. Is
not this, I ask you, very like Talleyrand and the Prince?--the only
difference being, that we perform in sober earnest, what he merely
exhibited in sarcasm.

Now, my plan is, and I prefer to develop it in a single word, instead
of weakening its force by circumlocution. In lieu of letting a poor
man be reduced to his theft of one penny--give him two pence. _He_
will be a gainer by double the amount--not to speak of the
inappreciable value of his honesty--and _you_ the richer by 71,998
pence, under your present system expended upon policemen, magistrates,
judges, gaolers, turnkeys, and transports. Examine for a moment the
benefits of this system. Look at the incalculable advantages it
presents--the enormous revenue, the pecuniary profit, and the
patriotism, all preserved to the State, not to mention the additional
pleasure of disseminating happiness while you transport men’s hearts,
not their bodies.

Here is a plan based upon the soundest philanthropy, the most rigid
economy, and the strictest common sense. Instead of training up a race
of men in some distant quarter of the globe, who may yet turn your
bitterest enemies, you will preserve to the country so many true-born
Britons, bound to you by a debt of gratitude. Upon what ground--on
what pretext--can you oppose the system? Do you openly confess that
you prefer vice to poverty, and punishment to prevention? Or is it
your pleasure to manufacture roguery for exportation, as the French do
politeness, and the Irish linen?

I offer the suggestion generously, freely, and spontaneously. If the
heads of the government choose to profit by the hint, I only ask in
return, that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer announces in his
place the immense reduction of expenditure, that he will also give
notice of a motion for a bill to reward me by a government
appointment. I am not particular as to where, or what: I only bargain
against being Secretary for Ireland, or Chief Justice at Cape Coast


When the cholera first broke out in France, a worthy prefect in a
district of the south published an edict to the people, recommending
them by all means to eat well-cooked and nutritious food, and drink
nothing but _vin de Bourdeaux_, Anglice, claret. The advice was
excellent, and I take it upon me to say, would have found very few
opponents in fact, as it certainly did in principle. When the world,
however, began to consider that _filets de bœuf à la Marengo_, and
“_dindes truffées_,” washed down with _Chateau Lafitte_ or _Larose_,
were not exactly within the reach of every class of the community,
they deemed the prefect’s counsel more humane than practicable, and as
they do at every thing in France when the tide of public opinion
changes, they laughed at him heartily, and wrote pasquinades upon his
folly. At the same time the ridicule was unjust, the advice was good,
sound, and based on true principles, the only mistake was, the
difficulty of its practice. Had he recommended as an antiseptic to
disease, that the people should play short whist, wear red night-caps,
or pelt stones at each other, there might have been good ground for
the disfavour he fell into; such acts, however practicable and easy of
execution, having manifestly no tendency to avert the cholera. Now
this is precisely the state of matters in Ireland at this moment:
distress prevails more or less in every province and in every county.
The people want employment, and they want food. Had you recommended
them to eat strawberries and cream in the morning, to drink lemonade
during the day, take a little chicken salad for dinner, with a light
bread pudding and a glass of negus afterwards, avoiding all stimulant
and exciting food--for your Irishman is a feverish subject--you might
be laughed at perhaps for your dietary, but certes it would bear, and
bear strongly too, upon the case in question. But what do you do in
reality? The local papers teem with cases of distress: families are
starving; the poor, unhoused and unfed, are seen upon the road sides
exposed to every vicissitude of the season, surrounded by children who
cry in vain for bread. What, I ask, is the measure of relief you
propose? not a public subscription; no general outburst of national
charity--no public work upon a grand scale to give employment to the
idle, food to the hungry, health to the sick, and hope to all. None of
these. Your panacea is the Repeal of the Union; you purpose to
substitute for those amiable jobbers in College-green, who call
themselves Directors of the Bank of Ireland, another set of jobbers
infinitely more pernicious and really dishonest, who will call
themselves Directors of Ireland itself; you talk of the advantage to
the country, and particularly of the immense benefits that must accrue
to the capital. Let us examine them a little.

Dublin, you say, will be a flourishing city, inhabited by lords and
ladies: wealth, rank, and influence will dwell in its houses and
parade its streets. The glare of lamps, the crash of carriages, all
the pride, pomp, and circumstances of fashion, will flow back upon the
long-deserted land, and Paris and London will find a rival to compete
with them, in this small city of the west. Would that this were so;
would that it could be! This, however, is the extent of what you
promise yourselves: you may ring the changes as you please, but the
“refrain” of your song is, that Dublin shall “have its own again.”
Well, for argument’s sake, I say, be it so. The now silenced squares
shall wake to the echoes of thundering equipages, peers and prelates
shall again inhabit the dwellings long since the residence of
hotel-keepers, or still worse, those little democracies of social
life, called boarding-houses. Your theatre shall be crowded, your
shops frequented, and every advantage of wealth diffused through all
the channels of society, shall be yours. As far as Dublin is
concerned, I say--for, mark me, I keep you to this original point, in
the land of your promise you have strictly limited the diffusion of
your blessings by the boundary of the Circular road; even the people
at Ringsend and Ballybough bridge are not to be included, unless a
special bill be brought in for their benefit. Still the picture is a
brilliant one: it would be a fine thing to see all the pomp and
ceremony of proud popery walk the land at noon-day, with its saints in
gold, and its relics in silver; for of course this is included in the
plan. Prosperous Ireland must be Catholic Ireland, and even Spain and
Belgium will hide their diminished heads when compared with the
gorgeous homage rendered to popery at home. The “gentlemen of
Liffey-street chapel,” far better-looking fellows than any foreign
priest you’ll meet with from Trolhatten to Tivoli, will walk about _in
pontificalibus_; and all the exciting enthusiasm that Romanism so
artfully diffuses through every feature of life, will introduce itself
among a people who have all the warm temper and hot blood of the
south, with the stern determination and headlong impulse of the north
of Europe. By all of which I mean to say, that in points of strong
popery, Dublin will beat the world, and that before a year of such
prosperity be past, she will have the finest altars, the fattest
priests, and the longest catalogue of miracles in Europe. Lord
Shrewsbury need not then go to the Tyrol for an “estatica,” he’ll find
one nearer home worth twice the money. The shin-bone of St. Januarius,
that jumped out of a wooden box in a hackney coach, because a
gentleman swore, will be nothing to the scenes we’ll witness; and if
St. Patrick should sport his tibia at an evening party of Daniel
O’Connell’s, it would not in the least surprise me. These are great
blessings, and I am fully sensible of them. Now let me pass on to
another, which perhaps I have kept last as it is the chief of all, or
as the late Lord Castlereagh would have said, the “fundamental feature
upon which my argument hinges.”

A very common topic of Irish eloquence is, to lament over the enormous
exportation of cattle, fowl, and fish, that continually goes forward
from Ireland into England. I acknowledge the justness of the
complaint--I see its force, and appreciate its value. It is exactly as
though a grocer should exclaim against his misery, in being compelled
to part with his high-flavoured bohea, his sparkling lump sugar, and
his Smyrna figs, or our publisher his books, for the base lucre of
gain. It is humiliating, I confess; and I can well see how a
warm-hearted and intelligent creature, who feels the hardship of an
export trade in matters of food, must suffer when the principle is
extended to a matter of genius; for, not content with our mutton from
Meath, our salmon from Limerick, and our chickens from Carlow; but the
Saxon must even be gratified with the soul-stirring eloquence of the
Great Liberator himself, with only the trouble of going near St.
Stephen’s to hear him. I say near--for among the other tyrannies of
the land, he is compelled to shout loud enough to be heard in all the
adjacent streets. Now this is too bad. Take our prog--take even our
poteen, if you will; but leave us our Penates; this theft, which
embodies the antithesis of Shakspeare, is not only “trash,” but
“naught enriches them, and makes us poor indeed.”

Repeal the union, and you remedy this. You’ll have him at home with
you--not masquerading about in the disguise of a gentleman--not
restricted by the habits of cultivated and civilised life--not tamed
down into the semblance and mockery of good conduct--no longer the
chained-up animal of the menagerie, but the roaring, rampant lion,
roaming at large in his native forest--not performing antics before
some political Van Amburgh--not opening his huge jaws, as though he
would devour the Whigs, and shutting them again at the command of his
keeper--but howling in all the freedom of his passion, and lashing his
brawny sides with his vigorous “tail.” Haydn, the composer, had an
enormous appetite; to gratify which, when dining at a tavern, he
ordered a dinner for three. The waiter delayed in serving, as he said
the company hadn’t yet arrived, but Haydn told him to bring it up at
once, remarking, as he patted complacently his paunch, “I am de
compagnie myself.” Such will you have the case in your domestic
parliament--Dan will be the company himself. No longer fighting in the
ranks of opposition, or among the supporters of a government--no more
the mere character of a piece, he will then be the Jack Johnson of the
political world, taking the money at the door--in which he has had
some practice already--he will speak the prologue, lead the
orchestra, prompt the performers, and announce a repetition of the
farce every night of the week for his own benefit. Only think what he
is in England with his “forty thieves” at his back, and imagine what
he will be in Ireland without one honest man to oppose him. He will
indeed then be well worth seeing, and if Ireland had no other
attraction, foreigners might visit us for a look at the Liberator.

He is a droll fellow, is Dan, and there is a strong dash of native
humour in his notion of repeal. What strange scenes, to be sure, it
would conjure up. Only think for a moment of the absentee lord, an
exiled peer, coming back to Dublin after an absence of half his
lifetime, vainly endeavouring to seem pleased with his condition, and
appear happy with his home. Like an insolvent debtor affecting to joke
with the jailer, watch him simulating so much as he can of habits he
has long forgotten, while his ignorance of his country is such, that
he cannot direct his coachman to a street in the capital. What a
ludicrous view of life would this open to our view! While all these
men, who have been satisfied hitherto to send their sympathies from
Switzerland, and their best wishes for Ireland by an ambassador’s bag,
should now come back to writhe beneath the scourge of a demagogue, and
the tyranny of a man who wields irresponsible power.

All Ireland would present the features of a general election--every
one would be fascinating, courteous, affable, and dishonest. The
unpopular debater in England might have his windows smashed. With us,
it would be his neck would be broken. The excitement of the people
will be felt within the Parliament; and then, fostered by all the
rancour of party hate, will be returned to them with interest. The
measure discussed out of doors by the Liberator, will find no one
hardy enough to oppose it within the House, and the opinions of the
Corn Exchange will be the programme for a committee. A notice of a
motion will issue from Merrion-square, and not from a seat in
Parliament; and wherever he moves through the country, great Daniel,
like a snail, will carry “his house” on his back. “Rob me the
Exchequer, Hal!” will be the cry of the priesthood, and no men are
better deserving of their hire; and thus, wielding every implement of
power, if Ireland be not happy, he can only have himself to blame for



National Pride must be a strong feeling, and one of the very few
sentiments which are not exhausted by the drain upon them; and it is a
strange thing, how the very fact upon which one man plumes himself,
another would regard as a terrible reproach. A thorough John Bull, as
he would call himself, thinks he has summed up, in those few emphatic
words, a brief description of all that is excellent in humanity. And
as he throws out his chest, and sticks his hand with energy in his
breeches pocket, seems to say, “I am not one of your frog-eating
fellows, half-monkey, half-tiger, but a true Briton.” The Frenchman,
as he proclaims his nation, saying, “_Je suis F-r-r-r-rançais_,” would
indicate that he is a very different order of being, from his blunt
untutored neighbour, “_outre mer_;” and so on to the end of the
chapter. Germans, Italians, and Spaniards, and even Americans, think
there is some magic in the name of their fatherland--some inherent
nobility in the soil: and it was only lately I read in a French paper
an eloquent appeal from a general to his soldiers, which concluded by
his telling them, to remember, that they were “Mexicans.” I devoutly
trust that they understood the meaning of his phrase, and were able,
without difficulty, to call to mind the bright prerogative alluded to;
for upon my conscience, as an honest man, it would puzzle me sorely to
say what constitutes a Mexican.

But the absurdity goes further still: for, not satisfied with the
bounties of Providence in making us what we are, we must indulge a
rancorous disposition towards our neighbours for their less-favoured
destiny. “He behaved like a Turk,” is an every-day phrase to indicate
a full measure of moral baseness and turpidity. A Frenchman’s abuse
can go no further than calling a man a Chinese, and when he says, “_tu
es un Pekin_,” a duel is generally the consequence. I doubt not that
the Turks and the Chinese make use of retributive justice, and treat
us no better than we behave to them.

Civilisation would seem rather to have fostered than opposed this
prejudice. In the feudal ages, the strength of a brawny right arm, the
strong hand that could wield a mace, the firm seat in a saddle, were
the qualities most in request; and were physical strength more
estimated than the gifts of a higher order, the fine distinctions of
national character either did not exist, or were not attended to. Now,
however, the tournament is not held on a cloth of gold, but on a broad
sheet of paper; the arms are not the lance and the dagger, but the
printing-press. No longer a herald in all the splendour of his tabard
proclaims the lists, but a fashionable publisher, through the medium
of the morning papers, whose cry for largess is to the full as loud.
The result is, nations are better known to each other, and, by the
unhappy law of humanity, are consequently less esteemed. What
signifies the dislike our ancestors bore the French at Cressy or
Agincourt compared to the feeling we entertain for them after nigh
thirty years of peace? Then, indeed, it was the strong rivalry between
two manly natures: now, the accumulated hate of ages is sharpened and
embittered by a thousand petty jealousies that have their origin in
politics, military glory, society, or literature; and we detest each
other like quarterly reviewers. The Frenchman visits England as a Whig
commissioner would a Tory institution--only anxious to discover abuses
and defects--with an obliquity of vision that sees everything
distorted, or a fecundity of imagination that can conjure up the ills
he seeks for. He finds us rude, inhospitable, and illiterate; our
habits are vulgar, our tastes depraved; our House of Commons is a
riotous mob of under-bred debaters; our army an aristocratic _lounge_,
where merit has no chance against money; and our literature--God
wot!--a plagiarism from the French. The Englishman is nearly as
complimentary. The coarseness of French habits is to him a theme of
eternal reprobation; the insolence of the men, the indelicacy of the
women, the immorality of all, overwhelm him with shame and disgust:
the Chamber of Deputies he despises, as a contemptible parody on a
representative body, and a speech from the tribune a most absurd
substitute for the freedom of unpremeditated eloquence: the army he
discovers to be officered by men, to whom the new police are
accomplished gentlemen; and, in fact, he sums up by thinking that if
we had no other competitors in the race of civilisation than the
French, our supremacy on land, is to the full as safe, as our
sovereignty over the ocean. Here lie two countries, separated by a
slip of sea not much broader than an American river, who have gone on
for ages repeating these and similar puerilities, without the most
remote prospect of mutual explanation and mutual good-will.

“I hate prejudice, I hate the French,” said poor Charles Matthews, in
one of his inimitable representations, and really the expression was
no bad summary of an Englishman’s faith. On the other hand, to hate
and detest the English is the _sine quâ non_ of French nationality,
and to concede to them any rank in literature, morals, or military
greatness, is to derogate from the claims of his own country. Now the
question is, are the reproaches on either side absolutely just? They
are not. Secondly, if they be unfair, how comes it that two people
pre-eminently gifted with intelligence and information, should not
have come to a better understanding, and that many a long year ago?
Simply from this plain fact, that the opinions of the press have
weighed against those of individuals, and that the published satires
on both sides have had a greater currency and a greater credit than
the calm judgment of the few. The leading journals in Paris and in
London have pelted each other mercilessly for many a year. One might
forgive this, were the attacks suggested by such topics as stimulate
and strengthen national feeling; but no, the controversy extends to
every thing, and, worse than all, is carried on with more bitterness
of spirit, than depth of information. The reviewer “par excellence” of
our own country makes a yearly incursion into French literature, as an
Indian would do into his hunting-ground. Resolved to carry death and
carnage on every side, he arms himself for the chase, and whets his
appetite for slaughter by the last “_bonne bouche_” of the day. We
then have some half introductory pages of eloquent exordium on the
evil tendency of French literature, and the contamination of those
unsettled opinions in politics, religion, and morals, so copiously
spread through the pages of every French writer. The revolution of
1797 is adduced for the hundredth time as the origin of these evils;
and all the crime and bloodshed of that frightful period is denounced
as but the first step of the iniquity which has reached its pinnacle,
in the novels of Paul de Kock. To believe the reviewer, French
literature consists in the productions of this writer, the works of
George Sand, Balzac, Frédéric Soulié, and a few others of equal note
and mark. According to him, intrigue, seduction, and adultery, are the
staple of French romance: the whole interest of every novel turning on
the undiscovered turpitude of domestic life; and the great rivalry
between writers, being, to try which can invent a new future of
depravity and a new fashion of sin. Were this true, it were indeed a
sad picture of national degradation; was it the fact that such books,
and such there are in abundance, composed the light literature of the
day--were to be found in every drawing-room--to be seen in every
hand--to be read with interest and discussed with eagerness--to have
that wide-spread circulation which must ever carry with it a strong
influence upon the habits of those who read. Were all this so, I say
it would be, indeed, a deplorable evidence of the low standard of
civilisation among the French. What is the fact, however? Simply that
these books have but a limited circulation, and that, only among an
inferior class of readers. The _modiste_ and the _grisette_ are,
doubtless, well read in the mysteries of Paul de Kock and Madame du
Deffant; but in the cultivated classes of the capital, such books have
no more currency than the scandalous memoirs of our own country have
in the drawing-rooms of Grosvenor-square or St. James’s. Balzac has,
it is true, a wide-spread reputation; but many of his books are no
less marked by a powerful interest than a touching appeal to the fine
feelings of our nature. Alfred de Vigny, Eugéne Sue, Victor Hugo, Leon
Gozlan, Paul de Muset, Alexandre Dumas, and a host of others, are all
popular, and, with the exception of a few works, unexceptionable on
every ground of morality; but these, after all, are but the
skirmishers before the army. What shall we say of Guizot, Thiers,
Augustin Thierry, Toqueville, Mignet, and many more, whose
contributions to history have formed an era in the literature of the

The strictures of the reviewers are not very unlike the opinions of
the French prisoner, who maintained that in England every one eat with
his knife, and the ladies drank gin, which important and veracious
facts he himself ascertained, while residing in that fashionable
quarter of the town called St. Martin’s-lane. This sweeping mode of
argument, _à particulari_, is fatal when applied to nations. Even the
Americans have suffered in the hands of Mrs. Trollope and others; and
gin twist, bowie knives, tobacco chewing, and many similarly amiable
habits, are not universal. Once for all, then, be it known, there is
no more fallacious way of forming an opinion regarding France and
Frenchmen, than through the pages of our periodical press, except by a
_short_ residence in Paris--I say short, for if a little learning be a
dangerous thing, a little travelling is more so; and it requires long
experience of the world, and daily habit of observation, to enable any
man to detect in the ordinary routine of life the finer and more
distinctive traits that have escaped his neighbour; besides, however
palpable and self-evident the proposition, it demands both tact and
time to see that no general standard of taste can be erected for all
nations, and, that to judge of others by your own prejudices and
habits, is both unfair and absurd. To give an instance. No English
traveller has commented on the French Chamber of Deputies, without
expending much eloquence and a great deal of honest indignation on the
practice of speaking from a tribune, written orations being in their
opinion a ludicrous travestie on the freedom of debate. Now what is
the fact; in the whole French Chamber there are not ten, there are not
five men who could address the house extempore; not from any
deficiency of ability--not from any want of information, logical
force, and fluency--the names of Thiers, Guizot, Lamartine, Dupin,
Arago, &c. &c. are quite sufficient to demonstrate this--but simply
from the intricacy and difficulty of the French language. A worthy
alderman gets up, as the phrase is, and addresses a speech of some
three quarters of an hour to the collective wisdom of the livery; and
although he may be frequently interrupted by thunders of applause, he
is never checked for any solecisms in his grammar: he may drive a
coach and six through Lindley Murray; he may inflict heaven knows how
many fractures on poor Priscian’s head, yet to criticise him on so
mean a score as that of mere diction, would not be thought of for a
moment. Not so in France: the language is one of equivoque and
subtlety; the misplacement of a particle, the change of a gender, the
employment of any phrase but the exact one, might be at any moment
fatal to the sense of the speaker, and would inevitably be so to his
success. It was not very long since, that a worthy deputy interrupted
M. Thiers by alleging the non-sequitur of some assertion, “_Vous n’est
pas consequent_,” cried the indignant member, using a phrase not only
a vulgarism in itself, but inapplicable at the time. A roar of
laughter followed his interruption. In all the journals of the next
day, he was styled the deputy _consequent_; and when he returned to
his constituency the ridicule attached to his blunder still traced his
steps, and finally lost him his election.

“Thank God I am a Briton,” said Nelson; a phrase, doubtless, many more
of us will re-echo with equal energy; but while we are expressing our
gratitude let our thankfulness extend to this gratifying fact, that
the liberty of our laws is even surpassed by the licence of our
language. No obscure recess of our tongue is so deep that we cannot by
_habeas corpus_ right bring up a long-forgotten phrase, and provided
the speaker have a meaning and be able to convey it to the minds of
his hearers, we are seldom disposed to be critical on the manner, if
the matter be there. Besides this, there are styles of eloquence so
imbued with the spirit of certain eras in French history, that the
discussion of any subject of ancient or modern days, will always have
its own peculiar character of diction. Thus, there is the rounded
period and flowing sententiousness of Louis XIV., the more polished
but less forcible phraseology of the regency itself, succeeded by the
epigrammatic taste and pointed brevity introduced by Voltaire. The
empire left its impress on the language, and all the literature of the
period wore the _esprit soldatesque_; and so on down to the very days
of the barricades, each changing phase of political life had its
appropriate expression. To assume these with effect, was not of course
the gift of every man, and yet to have erred in their adoption, would
have been palpable to all; here then is one important difference
between us, and on this subject alone I might cite at least twenty
more. The excitable Frenchman scarcely uses any action while speaking,
and that, of the most simple and subdued kind. The phlegmatic
Englishman stamps and gesticulates with all the energy of a madman. We
esteem humour; they prefer wit: we like the long consecutive chain of
proof that leads us step by step to inevitable conviction; they like
better some brief but happy illustration that, dispensing with the
tedium of argument, presents a question at one glance before them.
They have that general knowledge of their country and its changes,
that an illustration from the past is ever an effective weapon of the
orator; while with us the force would be entirely lost from the
necessity of recounting the incident to which reference was made.


Man is the most imitative of all animals: nothing can surpass the
facility he possesses of simulating his neighbour; and I question much
if the press, in all the plentitude of its power, has done as much for
the spread of good or evil, as the spirit of mimicry so inherent in
mankind. The habits of high life are transmitted through every grade
of society: and the cheesemonger keeps his hunters, and damns his
valet, like my lord; while his wife rolls in her equipage, and affects
the graces of my lady. So long as wealth is present, the assumption of
the tastes and habitudes of a different class, can merely be looked
upon as one of those outbreaks of vanity in which rich but vulgar
people have a right, if they like, to indulge. Why shouldn’t they have
a villa at Twickenham--why not a box at the opera--a white bait dinner
at Blackwall--a yacht at Southampton? They have the money to indulge
their caprice, and it is no one’s affair but their own. They make
themselves ridiculous, it is true; but the pleasure they experience
counterbalances the ridicule, and they are the best judges on which
side lies the profit. Wealth is power: and although the one may be
squandered, and the other abused, yet in their very profusion, there
is something that demands a kind of reverence from the world; and we
have only to look to France to see, that when once you abolish an
hereditary _noblesse_, your banker is then your great man.

We may smile, if we please, at the absurd pretensions of the wealthy
alderman and his lady, whose pompous mansion and splendid equipage
affect a princely grandeur; yet, after all, the knowledge that he is
worth half a million of money, that his name alone can raise the
credit of a new colony, or call into existence the dormant energy of a
new region of the globe, will always prevent our sarcasm degenerating
into contempt. Not so, however, when poverty unites itself to these
aspirings, you feel in a moment that the poor man has nothing to do
with such vanities; his poverty is a scanty garment, that, dispose it
as he will, he can never make it hang like a toga; and we have no
compassion for him, who, while hunger gnaws his vitals, affects a sway
and dominion his state has denied him. Such a line of conduct will
often be offensive--it will always be absurd--and the only relief
presented by its display, is in the ludicrous exhibition of trick and
stratagem by which it is supported. Jeremy Diddler, after all, is an
amusing person; but the greater part of the pleasure he affords us is
derived from the fact, that, cunning as he is in all his efforts to
deceive us, we are still more so, for we have found him out.

Were I to characterise the leading feature of the age, I should
certainly say it is this pretension. Like the monkeys at Exeter
’Change, who could never bear to eat out of their own dish, but must
stretch their paws into that of their neighbour, so every man
now-a-days wishes to be in that place most unsuitable to him by all
his tastes, habits, and associations, and where once having attained
to, his life is one of misery and constraint. The hypocrisy of
simulating manners he is not used to, is not more subversive of his
self-respect, than his imitation is poor, vulgar, and unmeaning.

Curran said that a corporation was, a “thing that had neither a body
to be kicked, nor a soul to be damned.” And, verily, I begin to think
that masses of men are even more contemptible than individuals. A
nation is a great household; and if it have not all the _prestige_ of
rank, wealth, and power, it is a poor and miserable thing. England and
France, Germany and Russia, are the great of the earth; and we look up
to them in the political world, as in society we do to those whose
rank and station are the guarantees of their power. Many other
countries of Europe have also their claims upon us, but still smaller
in degree. Italy, with all its association of classical
elegance--Spain, whose history shines with the solemn splendour of an
illuminated missal, where gold and purple are seen blending their
hues, scarce dimmed by time; but what shall we say of those
newly-created powers, which springing up like mushroom families, give
themselves all the airs of true nobility, and endeavour by a strange
mockery of institutions and customs of their greater neighbours, to
appear of weight and consequence before the world. Look, for instance,
to Belgium the _bourgeois gentilhomme_ of politics, which, having
retired from its partnership with Holland, sets up for a gentleman on
its private means. What can be more ludicrous than its attempts at
high-life, its senate, its ministry, its diplomacy; for strange enough
the ridicule of the individual can be traced extending to a nation,
and when your city lady launched into the world, displays upon her
mantelpiece the visiting cards of her high neighbours, so the first
act of a new people is, to open a visiting acquaintance with their
rich neighbours, and for this purpose the first thing they do is to
establish a corps of diplomacy.

Now your city knight may have a fat and rosy coachman, he may have a
tall and portly footman, a grave and a respectable butler; but
whatever his wealth, whatever his pretension, there is one functionary
of a great household he can never attain to--he can never have a groom
of the chambers. This, like the “chasseur” abroad, is the appendage of
but one class, by constant association with whom its habits are
acquired, its tastes engendered, and it would be equally absurd to see
the tall Hungarian in all the glitter of his hussar costume, behind
the caleche of a pastrycook, as to hear the low-voiced and courteous
minion of Devonshire House announce the uncouth, unsyllabled names,
that come east of St. Dunstan’s.

So, in the same way, your new nations may get up a king and a court, a
senate, an army, and a ministry, but let them not meddle with
diplomacy--the moment they do this they burn their fingers: your
diplomate is like your chasseur, and your groom of the chambers; if he
be not well done, he is a miserable failure. The world has so many
types to refer to on this head, there can be no mistake. Talleyrand,
Nesselrode, Metternich, Lord Whitworth, and several more, have too
long given the tone to this peculiar walk to admit of any error
concerning it; however, your little folk will not be denied the
pleasures of their great acquaintance. They will have their diplomacy,
and they will be laughed at: look at the Yankees. There is not a
country in Europe, there is not a state however small, there is not a
Coburgism with three thousand inhabitants and three companies of
soldiers, where _they_ haven’t a minister resident with
plenipotentiary powers extending to every relation political and
commercial, although all the while the Yankees would be sorely
puzzled to point out on the map the _locale_ of their illustrious
ally, and the Germans no less so to find out a reason for their
embassy. Happily on this score, the very bone and marrow of diplomacy
is consulted, and secrecy is inviolable; for, as your American knows
no other tongue save that spoken on the Alleghanies, he keeps his own
counsel and theirs also.

Have you never in the hall of some large country house, cast your eye,
on leave-taking, at the strange and motley crew of servants awaiting
their masters--some well fed and handsomely clothed, with that look of
reflected importance my lord’s gentleman so justly wears; others, in
graver, but not less respectable raiment, have that quiet and
observant demeanour so characteristic of a well-managed household.
While a third class, strikingly unlike the other two, wear their
livery with an air of awkwardness and constraint, blushing at
themselves even a deeper colour than the scarlet of their breeches.
They feel themselves in masquerade--they were at the plough but
yesterday, though they are in powder now. With the innate
consciousness of their absurdity, they become fidgetty and uneasy, and
would give the world for “a row” to conceal the defaults of their
breeding. Just so, your petty “diplomate” suffers agony in all the
quiet intercourse of life. The limited opportunities of small states
have circumscribed his information. He is not a man of the world, nor
is he a political character, for he represents nothing; nothing,
therefore, can save him from oblivion or contempt, save some political
convulsion where any meddler may become prominent; he has thus a bonus
on disturbance: so long as the company behave discreetly, he must stay
in his corner, but the moment they smash the lamps and shy the
decanters, he emerges from his obscurity and becomes as great as his
neighbour. For my part, I am convinced that the peace and quietness of
Europe as much depends on the exclusion of such persons from the
councils of diplomacy, as the happiness of every-day life does upon
the breeding and good manners of our associates.

And what straits, to be sure, are they reduced to, to maintain this
absurd intercourse, screwing the last shilling from the budget to pay
a _Chargé d’affaires_, with an embroidered coat, and a decoration in
his button-hole.

The most amusing incidents might be culled from such histories, if one
were but disposed to relate them.

Balzac mentions, in one of his novels, the story of a physician who
obtained great practice, merely by sending throughout Paris a
gaudily-dressed footman, who rang at every door, as it were, in search
of his master; so quick were the fellow’s movements, so rapid his
transitions, from one part of the city to the other, nobody believed
that a single individual could ever have sufficed for so many calls;
and thus, the impression was, not only that the doctor was greatly
sought after, but that his household was on a splendid footing. The
Emperor of the Brazils seems to have read the story, and profited by
the hint, for while other nations are wasting their thousands in
maintaining a whole corps of diplomacy, he would appear like the
doctor to have only one footman, whom he keeps moving about Europe
without ceasing: thus _The Globe_ tells us one day that the Chevalier
de L----, the Brazilian ambassador, has arrived in London to resume
his diplomatic functions; _The Handelsbad of the Hague_ mentions his
departure from the Dutch Court; _The Allgemeine Zeitung_ announces
the prospect of his arrival at Vienna, and _The Moniteur Parisien_ has
a beautiful article on the prosperity of their relations with Mexico,
under the auspices of the indefatigable Chevalier: “_non regio
terræ_,” exempt from his labours. Unlike Sir Boyle Roche, he has
managed to be not only in two, but twenty places at once, and I should
not be in the least surprised to hear of his negotiations for sulphur
at Naples, at the same moment that he was pelting snowballs in Norway.
Whether he travels in a balloon or on the back of a pelican, he is a
wonderful man, and a treasure to his government.

The multiplicity of his duties, and the pressing nature of his
functions, may impart an appearance of haste to his manner, but it
looks diplomatic to be peremptory, and he has no time for trifling.

Truly, Chevalier de L----, thou art a great man--the wandering Jew was
but a type of thee.



Of all the popular delusions that we labour under in England, I
scarcely know of one more widely circulated, and less founded in fact,
than the advantages of foreign travel. Far be it from me to undervalue
the benefits men of education receive by intercourse with strangers,
and the opportunities of correcting by personal observation the
impressions already received by study. No one sets a higher price on
this than I do; no one estimates more fully the advantages of
tempering one’s nationality by the candid comparison of our own
institutions with those of other countries; no one values more highly
the unbiassed frame of mind produced by extending the field of our
observation, and, instead of limiting our experience by the details of
a book, reading from the wide-spread page of human nature itself. So
conscious, indeed, am I of the importance of this, that I look upon
his education as but very partial indeed who has not travelled. It is
not, therefore, against the benefits of seeing the world I would
inveigh--it is rather against the general application of the practice
to the whole class of our countrymen and countrywomen who swarm on the
continent. Unsuited by their tastes--unprepared by previous
information--deeming a passport and a letter of credit all-sufficient
for their purpose--they set out upon their travels. From their
ignorance of a foreign language, their journey is one of difficulty
and embarrassment at every step. They understand little of what they
see, nothing of what they hear. The discomforts of foreign life have
no palliation, by their being enabled to reason on, and draw
inferences from them. All the sources of information are hermetically
sealed against them, and their tour has nothing to compensate for its
fatigue, and expense, save the absurd detail of adventure to which
their ignorance has exposed them.

It is not my intention to rail in this place against the injury done
to the moral feeling of our nation, by intimate association with the
habits of the Continent. Reserving this for a more fitting time, I
shall merely remark at present, that, so far as the habits of virtue
are concerned, more mischief is done among the middle class of our
countrymen, than those of a more exalted sphere.

Scarcely does the month of May commence, when the whole tide of
British population sets in upon the coast of France and Flanders. To
watch the crowded steamers as they arrive in Antwerp, or Boulogne, you
would say that some great and devastating plague had broken out in
London, and driven the affrighted inhabitants from their homes. Not
so, however: they have come abroad for pleasure. With a credit on
Coutts, and the inestimable John Murray for a guide, they have devoted
six weeks to France, Belgium, and the Rhine, in which ample time they
are not only to learn two languages, but visit three nations,
exploring into cookery, customs, scenery, literature, and the arts,
with the same certainty of success that they would pay a visit to
Astley’s. Scarcely are they launched upon their travels when they
unite into parties for personal protection and assistance. The
“_morgue Britannique_,” so much spoken of by foreigners, they appear
to have left behind them; and sudden friendships, and intimacies,
spring up between persons whose only feeling in common is that of
their own absurd position. Away they go sight-seeking in clusters.
They visit cathedrals, monuments, and galleries; they record in their
journals the vulgar tirades of a hired _commissionaire_; they eat food
they detest, and they lie down to sleep discontented and unhappy. The
courteous civility of foreigners, the theme of so much eulogy in
England, they now find out to be little more than selfishness,
libertinism, and impertinence. They see the country from the window
of a diligence, and society from a place at the _table d’hôte_, and
truly both one and the other are but the vulgar high roads of life.
Their ignorance of the language alone protects them from feeling
insulted at the impertinences directed at themselves and their
country; and the untutored simplicity of their nature saves them the
mortification of knowing that the ostentatious politeness of some
moustached acquaintance is an exhibition got up by him for the
entertainment of his friends.

Poor John Bull, you have made great sacrifices for this tour. You have
cut the city, and the counting-house, that your wife may become
enamoured of dress, and your daughter of a dancing-master--that your
son may learn to play roulette and smoke cigars, and that you yourself
may ramble some thousand miles over paved roads, without an object to
amuse, without an incident to attract you. While this is a gloomy
picture enough, there is another side to the medal still worse. John
Bull goes home generally sick of what he has seen, and much more
ignorant of the Continent than when he set out. His tour, however, has
laid in its stock of foreign affectation, that renders his home
uncomfortable; his daughters pine after the flattering familiarities
of their whiskered acquaintances at Ems, or Wiesbaden; and his sons
lose all zest for the slow pursuit of competence, by reflecting on the
more decisive changes of fortune, that await on _rouge et noir_. Yet
even this is not the worst. What I deplore most of all, is the false
and erroneous notions continental nations procure of our country, and
its habits, from such specimens as these. The Englishman who, seen at
home, at the head of his counting-house, or in the management of his
farm, presents a fine example of those national traits we are so
justly proud of--honest, frank, straightforward in all his dealings,
kind and charitable in his affections; yet see him abroad, the sphere
of his occupations exists no longer--there is no exercise for the
manly habits of his nature: his honesty but exposes him to be duped;
his frankness degenerates into credulity; the unsuspecting openness of
his character makes him the butt of every artful knave he meets with;
and he is laughed at from Rotterdam to Rome for qualities which,
exercised in their fitting sphere, have made England the greatest
country of the universe. Hence we have the tone of disparagement now
so universally maintained about England, and Englishmen, from one end
of the Continent to the other. It is not that our country does not
send forth a number of men well qualified to induce different
impressions of their nation; but unfortunately, such persons move only
in that rank of foreign society where these prejudices do not exist;
and it is among a different class, and unhappily a more numerous one
also, that these undervaluing opinions find currency and belief.

There is nothing more offensive than the continual appeal made by
Frenchmen, Germans, and others, to English habits, as seen among this
class of our countrymen. It is in vain that you explain to them that
these people are neither among the more educated nor the better ranks
of our country. They cannot comprehend your distinction. The habits of
the Continent have produced a kind of table-land of good-breeding,
upon which all men are equals. Thus, if you rarely meet a foreigner
ignorant of the every-day _convenances_ of the world, you still more
rarely meet with one unexceptionably well-bred. The _table d’hôte_,
like the mess in our army, has the effect of introducing a certain
amount of decorum that is felt through every relation of life; and,
although the count abroad is immeasurably beneath the gentleman at
home, here, I must confess, that the foreign cobbler is a more
civilized person than his type in England. This is easily understood:
foreign breeding is not the outward exhibition of an inward
principle--it is not the manifestation of a sense of mingled kindness,
good taste, and self-respect--it is merely the rigid observance of a
certain code of behaviour that has no reference whatever to any thing
felt within; it is the mere popery of politeness, with its
saint-worship, its penances, and its privations. An Englishman makes
way for you to accommodate your passage; a foreigner--a Frenchman I
should say--does so for an opportunity to flourish his hat or to
exhibit an attitude. The same spirit pervades every act of both; duty
in one case, display in the other, are the ruling principles of life;
and, where persons are so diametrically different, there is little
likelihood of much mutual understanding or mutual esteem. To come
back, however, the great evil of this universal passion for travelling
lies in the opportunity afforded to foreigners, of sneering at our
country, and ridiculing our habits. It is in vain that our
institutions are models of imitation for the world--in vain that our
national character stands pre-eminent for good-faith and fidelity--in
vain the boast that the sun never sets upon a territory that girths
the very globe itself, so long as we send annually our tens of
thousands out upon the Continent, with no other failing than mere
unfitness for foreign travel, to bring down upon us the sneer, and the
ridicule, of every ignorant and unlettered Frenchman, or Belgian, they
meet with.



Our law code would, were its injunctions only carried out in private
life, effect most extraordinary reformations in our customs and
habits. The most singular innovations in our tastes and opinions would
spring out of the statutes. It was only a few days ago where a man
sought reparation for the greatest injury one could inflict on
another, the great argument of the defendant’s counsel was based on
the circumstance that the plaintiff and his wife had not been proved
to have lived happily together, except on the testimony of their
servants. Great stress was laid upon this fact by the advocate; and
such an impression did it make on the minds of the jury, that the
damages awarded were a mere trifle. Now, only reflect for a moment on
the absurdity of such a plea, and think how many persons there are
whose quiet and unobtrusive lives are unnoticed beyond the precincts
of their own door--nay, how many estimable and excellent people who
live less for the world than for themselves, and although, probably
for this very reason, but little exposed to the casualty in question,
would yet deem the injustice great that placed them beyond the pale of
reparation because they had been homely and domestic.

Civilisation and the march of mind are fine things, and doubtless it
is a great improvement that the criminal is better lodged, and fed, in
the prison, than the hungry labourer in the workhouse. It is an
admirable code that makes the debt of honour, the perhaps swindled
losses of the card-table, an imperative obligation, while the money
due to toiling, working industry, may be evaded or escaped from.
Still, it is a bold step to invade the privacy of domestic life, to
subvert the happiness we deem most national, and to suggest that the
world has no respect for, nor the law no belief in, that peaceful
course in life, which, content with its own blessings, seeks neither
the gaze of the crowd, nor the stare of fashion. Under the present
system, a man must appear in society like a candidate on the
hustings--profuse in protestations of his happiness and redolent of
smiles; he must lead forth his wife like a blooming _debutante_, and,
while he presents her to his friends, must display, by every endeavour
in his power, the angelic happiness of their state. The _coram
publico_ endearments, so much sneered at by certain fastidious people,
are now imperative; and, however secluded your habits, however
retiring your tastes, it is absolutely necessary you should appear a
certain number of times every year before the world, to assure that
kind-hearted and considerate thing, how much conjugal felicity you are
possessed of.

It is to no purpose that your man-servant and your maid-servant, and
even the stranger within your gates, have seen you in the apparent
enjoyment of domestic happiness: it is the crowd of a ball-room must
testify in your favour--it is the pit of a theatre--it is the company
of a steam-boat, or the party on a railroad, you must adduce in
evidence. They are the best--they are the only judges of what you, in
the ignorance of your heart, have believed a secret for your own

Your conduct within-doors is of little moment, so that your bearing
without satisfy the world. What a delightful picture of universal
happiness will England then present to the foreigner who visits our
salons! With what ecstasy will he contemplate the angelic felicity of
conjugal life! Instead of the indignant coldness of a husband,
offended by some casual levity of his wife, he will now redouble his
attentions, and take an opportunity of calling the company to witness
that they live together like turtle-doves. He knows not how soon, if
he mix much in fashionable life, their testimony may avail him; and
the loving smile he throws his spouse across the supper-table is
worth three thousand pounds before any jury in Middlesex.

Romance writers will now lose one stronghold of sentiment. Love in a
cottage will possess as little respect as it ever did attraction for
the world. The pier at Brighton, a Gravesend steamer, Hyde Park on a
Sunday, will be the appropriate spheres for the interchange of
conjugal vows. No absurd notions of solitude will then hold sway.
Alas! how little prophetic spirit is there in poetry! But a few years
ago, and one of our sirens of song said,

    “When should lovers breathe their vows?
      When should ladies hear them?
    When the dew is on the boughs--
      When none else is near them.”

Not a word of it! The appropriate place is amid the glitter of jewels,
the glare of lamps, the crush of fashion, and the din of conversation.
The private boxes of the opera are even too secluded, and your
happiness is no more genuine, until recognised by society, than is an
exchequer bill with the mere signature of Lord Monteagle.

The benefits of this system will be great. No longer will men be
reduced to the cultivation of those meeker virtues that grace and
adorn life; no more will they study those accomplishments that make
home happy and their hearth cheerful. A winter at Paris and a box at
the Varietés will be more to the purpose. Scribe’s farces will teach
them more important lessons, and they will obtain an instructive
example in the last line of a vaudeville, where an injured husband
presents himself at the fall of the curtain, and, as he bows to the
audience, embraces both his wife and her lover, exclaiming,
“_Maintenant je suis heureux--ma femme--mon meilleur ami!_” He then
may snap his fingers at Charles Phillips and Adolphus: he has not only
proved his affection to his wife, but his confidence in his friend.
Let him lay the damages at ten thousand, and, with a counsel that can
cry, he’ll get every shilling of the money.



Jean Jacques tells us, that when his wife died every farmer in the
neighbourhood offered to console him by one of their daughters; but
that a few weeks afterwards his cow having shared the same fate, no
one ever thought of replacing his loss by the offer of another;
thereby proving the different value people set upon their cows and
children--this seems absurd enough, but is it a bit more so, than what
is every day taking place in professional life? How many parsons are
there who would not lend you five pounds, would willingly lend you
their pulpit, and the commonest courtesy from a hospital surgeon is,
to present his visitor with a knife and entreat him to carve a
patient. He has never seen the individual before, he doesn’t know
whether he be short-sighted, or nervous, or ignorant, or rash, all he
thinks of, is doing the honours of the institution; and although like
a hostess, who sees the best dish at her table mangled by an unskilful
carver, he suffers in secret, yet is she far too well-bred to evince
her displeasure, but blandly smiles at her friend, and says “No
matter, pray go on.” This, doubtless, is highly conducive to science;
and as medicine is declared to be a science of experiment, great
results occasionally arise from the practice. Now that I am talking of
doctors--what a strange set they are, and what a singular position do
they hold in society; admitted to the fullest confidence of the world,
yet by a strange perversion, while they are the depositaries of
secrets that hold together the whole fabric of society, their
influence is neither fully recognised, nor their power acknowledged.
The doctor is now what the monk once was, with this additional
advantage, that from the nature of his studies and the research of his
art, he reads more deeply in the human heart, and penetrates into its
most inmost recesses. For him, life has little romance; the grosser
agency of the body re-acting ever on the operations of the mind,
destroy many a poetic daydream and many a high-wrought illusion. To
him alone does a man speak “_son dernier mot_:” while to the lawyer
the leanings of self-respect will make him always impart a favourable
view of his case. To the physician he will be candid, and even more
than candid--yes, these are the men who, watching the secret workings
of human passion, can trace the progress of mankind in virtue and in
vice; while ministering to the body they are exploring the mind, and
yet, scarcely is the hour of danger passed, scarcely the shadow of
fear dissipated, when they fall back to their humble position in life,
bearing with them but little gratitude, and, strange to say, no fear!

The world expects them to be learned, well-bred, kind, considerate,
and attentive, patient to their querulousness, and enduring under
their caprice; and, after all this, the humbug of homœopathy, the
preposterous absurdity of the water cure, or the more reprehensible
mischief of Mesmerism, will find more favour in their sight than the
highest order of ability accompanied by great natural advantages.

Every man--and still more, every woman--imagine themselves to be
doctors. The taste for physic, like that for politics, is born with
us, and nothing seems easier than to repair the injuries of the
constitution, whether of the state or the individual. Who has not
seen, over and over again, physicians of the first eminence put aside,
that the nostrum of some ignorant pretender, or the suggestion of some
twaddling old woman, should be, as it is termed, tried? No one is too
stupid, no one too old, no one too ignorant, too obstinate, or too
silly, not to be superior to Brodie and Chambers, Crampton and Marsh;
and where science, with anxious eye and cautious hand, would scarcely
venture to interfere, heroic ignorance would dash boldly forward and
cut the Gordian difficulty by snapping the thread of life. How comes
it that these old ladies, of either sex, never meddle with the law? Is
the game beneath them, where the stake is only property, and not life?
or is there less difficulty in the knowledge of an art whose
principles rest on so many branches of science, than in a study
founded on the basis of precedent? Would to heaven the “Ladies
Bountiful” would take to the quarter-sessions and the assizes, in lieu
of the infirmaries and dispensaries, and make Blackstone their
aid-de-camp--_vice_ Buchan retired.




There would be no going through this world if one had not an
India-rubber conscience, and one could no more exist in life without
what watch-makers call accommodation, in the machinery of one’s heart,
than a blue-bottle fly could grow fat in the shop of an apothecary.
Every man’s conscience has, like Janus, two faces--one looks most
plausibly to the world, with a smile of courteous benevolence, the
other with a droll leer seems to say, I think we are doing them. In
fact, not only would the world be impossible, and its business
impracticable, but society itself would be a bear-garden without

Now, the professional classes have a kind of licence on this subject;
just as a poet is permitted to invent sunsets, and a painter to
improvise clouds and cataracts, so a lawyer dilates upon the virtues
or attractions of his client, and a physician will weep you good round
substantial tears, at a guinea a drop, for the woes of his patient;
but the church, I certainly thought, was exempt from this practice. A
paragraph in a morning paper, however, disabused my ignorance in the
most remarkable manner. The Roman Catholic hierarchy have unanimously
decided that all persons following the profession of the stage, are
to be considered without the pale of the church, they are neither to
be baptized nor confirmed, married nor buried; they may get a name in
the streets, and a wife there also, but the church will neither bless
the one, nor confirm the other; in fact, the sock and the buskin are
proclaimed in opposition to Christianity, and Madame Lafarge is not a
bit more culpable than Robert Macaire. A few days since, one of the
most fashionable churches in Paris was crowded to suffocation by the
attraction of high mass, celebrated with the assistance of the whole
opera choir, with Duprez at their head. The sum contributed by the
faithful was enormous, and the music of Mozart was heard to great
effect through the vaulted aisles of Notre Dame, yet the very morning
after, not an individual of the choir could receive the benediction of
the church--the _rationale_ of all which is, that the Dean of Notre
Dame, like the Director of the Odeon, likes a good house and a heavy
benefit. He gets the most attractive company he can secure, and
although he makes no scruple to say they are the most disreputable
acquaintances, still they fill the benches, and it will be time enough
to damn them when the performance is over!

Whenever the respectable Whigs are attacked for their alliance with
O’Connell, they make the same reply the priest would probably do in
this circumstance--How can we help it? We want a mob; if he sings, we
have it--we know his character as well as you; so only let us fill our
pockets, and then ---- I do not blame them in the least, if the popery
of their politics has palled upon the appetite; if they can work no
more miracles of reform and revolution, I do not see how they can help
calling in aid from without.

Dan, however, will not consent, like Duprez, to be damned when he is
done with; he insists on a share of the profits, and, moreover, to be
treated with some respect too. He knows he is the star of the company,
and can make his own terms; and, even now, when the house is broken
up, and the manager beggared, and the actors dismissed, like Matthews,
he can get up a representation all to himself, and make a handsome
thing of it besides.

If one could see it brought about something in the fashion of Sancho’s
government of Barrataria, I should certainly like to see O’Connell on
the throne of Ireland for about twenty-four hours, and to salute King
Dan, _par la grace de diable_, king of Erin, just for the joke’s sake!



We laugh at the middle ages for their trials by ordeal, their jousts,
their tournaments, their fat monasteries, and their meagre people; but
I am strongly disposed to think, that before a century pass over,
posterity will give us as broad a grin for our learned societies. Of
all the features that characterise the age, I know of none so
pre-eminently ridiculous, as nine-tenths of these associations would
prove; supported by great names, aided by large sums, with a fine
house, a library and a librarian, they do the honours of science
pretty much as the yeomen of the guard do those of a court on a levee
day, and they bear about the same relation to literature and art, that
do the excellent functionaries I have mentioned, to the proceedings
around the throne.

An old gentleman, hipped by celibacy, and too sour for society, has
contracted a habit of looking out of his window every morning, to
observe the weather: he sees a cloud very like a whale, or he fancies
that when the wind blows in a particular direction, and it happens to
rain at the same time, that the drops fall in a peculiarly slanting
manner. He notes down the facts for a month or two, and then
establishes a meteorological society, of which he is the perpetual
president, with a grant from Parliament to extend its utility. Another
takes to old volumes on a book-stall; and becoming, as most men are
who have little knowledge of life, fascinated with his own
discoveries, thinks he has ascertained some curious details of ancient
history, and communicating his results to others as stupid and old as
himself, they dub themselves antiquarians, or archæologists, and
obtain a grant also.

Now, one half of these societies are neither more nor less than most
impertinent sarcasms on the land we live in. The man who sets himself
down deliberately to chronicle the clouds in our atmosphere, and jot
down the rainy days in our calendar, is, to my thinking, performing
about as grateful a task, as though he were to count the carbuncles on
his friend’s nose. We have, it is true, a most abominable climate: the
sun rarely shows himself, and, when he does, it is through a tattered
garment of clouds, dim and disagreeable; but why throw it in our
teeth? and, still more, why pay a body of men to publish the slander?
Then again, as to history, all the world knows that since the Flood
the Irish have never done any thing else than make love, illicit
whiskey, and beat each other. What nonsense, then, to talk about the
ancient cultivation of the land, of its high rank in literature, and
its excellence in art. A stone bishop, with a nose like a negro, and a
crosier like a garden-rake, are the only evidences of our ancestors’
taste in sculpture; and some doggrel verses in Irish, explaining how
King Phelim O’Toole cheated a brother monarch out of his
small-clothes, are about the extent of our historic treasures. But,
for argument’s sake, suppose it otherwise; imagine for a moment that
our ancestors were all that Sir William Betham and Mr. Petrie would
make them--I do not know how other people may feel, but I myself deem
it no pleasant reflection to think of _their_ times and look at _our
own_. What! we were poets and painters, architects, historians, and
musicians! What have we now among us to represent these great and
mighty gifts? I am afraid, except our Big Beggarman, we have not a
single living celebrity; and is this a comfortable reflection, is this
a pleasing thought, that while, fourteen hundred years ago, some Irish
Raphael and some Galway Grisi were the delight of our illustrious
ancestors--that while the splendour of King Malachi, with his collar
of gold, astonished the ladies in the neighbourhood of Trim--we have
nothing to boast of, save Dan for Lord Mayor, and Burton Bindon’s
oysters? Once more, I say, if what these people tell us be facts, they
are the most unpalatable facts could be told to a nation; and I see no
manner of propriety or good-breeding in replying to a gipsy who begs
for a penny, by the information, that “his ancestors built the

Again, if our days are dark, our nights are worse; and what, in
Heaven’s name, have we to do with an observatory and a telescope as
long as the _Great Western_? The planets are the most expensive
vagabonds to the Budget, and the fixed stars are a fixed imposition.
Were I Chancellor of the Exchequer, I’d pension the Moon, and give the
Great Bear a sum of money as compensation. Do not tell me of the
distresses of the people, arising from cotton, or corn, China, or
Chartists--it is our scientific institutions are eating into the
national resources. There is not an egg-saucepan of antiquity that
does not cost the country a plum, and every wag of a comet’s tail may
be set down at half-a-million. I warrant me the people in the Moon
take us a deuced deal more easily, and give themselves very little
trouble to make out the size of Ireland’s eye or the height of
Croaghpatrick. No, no; let the Chancellor of the Exchequer come down
with a slapping measure of retrenchment, and make a clear stage of all
of them. Every man with money to buy a cotton umbrella is his own
meteorologist; and a pocket telescope, price eight-and-fourpence, is
long enough, in all conscience, for any man in a climate like ours;
or, if such a course seem too peremptory, call on these people for
their bill, and let there be a stated sum for each item. At Dolly’s
chop-house, you know to the exact farthing how much your beefsteak and
glass of ale will cost you; and if you wish, in addition, a slice of
Stilton with your XX, you consult your pocket before you speak. Let
not the nation be treated worse than the individual: let us first look
about us, and see if a year of prosperity and cheap potatoes will
permit us the indulgence of obtaining a new luminary or an old
chronicle; then, when we know the cost, we may calculate with safety.
Suppose a fixed star, for instance, be set down at ten pounds; a
planet at five; Saturn has so many belts, I would not give more than
half-a-crown for a new one; and, as for an eclipse of the sun, I had
rather propose a reward for the man who could tell us when we could
see him palpably.

For the present I merely throw out these suggestions in a brief,
incomplete manner, intending, however, to return to the subject on
another occasion.




Authors have long got the credit of being the most accomplished
persons going--thoroughly conversant not only with the features of
every walk and class in life, but also with their intimate sentiments,
habits of thought, and modes of expression. Now, I have long been of
opinion, that in all these respects, lawyers are infinitely their
superiors. The author chooses his characters as you choose your dish,
or your wine at dinner--he takes what suits, and leaves what is not
available to his purpose. He then fashions them to his hand--finishing
off this portrait, sketching that one--now bringing certain figures
into strong light, anon throwing them into shadow: they are his
creatures, who must obey him while living, and even die at his
command. Now, the lawyer is called on for all the narrative and
descriptive powers of his art, at a moment’s notice, without time for
reading or preparation; and worse than all, his business frequently
lies among the very arts and callings his taste is most repugnant to.
One day he is to be found creeping, with a tortoise slowness through
all the wearisome intricacy of an equity case--the next he is borne
along in a torrent of indignant eloquence, in defence of some Orange
processionist or some Ribbon associate: now he describes, with the
gravity of a landscape gardener, the tortuous windings of a
mill-stream; now expatiating in Lytton Bulwerisms over the desolate
hearth and broken fortunes of some deserted husband. In one court he
attempts to prove that the elderly gentleman whose life was insured
for a thousand at the Phœnix, was instrumental to his own decease, for
not eating Cayenne with his oysters; in another, he shows, with
palpable clearness, that being stabbed in the body, and having the
head fractured, is a venial offence, and merely the result of
“political excitement” in a high-spirited and warm-hearted people.



These are all clever efforts, and demand consummate powers, at the
hand of him who makes them; but what are they to that deep and
critical research with which he seems, instinctively, to sound the
depths of every scientific walk in life, and every learned profession.
Hear him in a lunacy case--listen to the deep and subtle distinctions
he draws between the symptoms of mere eccentricity and erring
intellect--remark how insignificant the physician appears in the case,
who has made these things the study of a life long--hear how the
barrister confounds him with a hail-storm of technicals--talking of
the pineal gland as if it was an officer of the court, and of atrophy
of the cerebral lobes, as if he was speaking of an attorney’s clerk.
Listen to him in a trial of supposed death by poison; what a triumph
he has there, particularly if he be a junior barrister--how he walks
undismayed among all the tests for arsenic--how little he cares for
Marsh’s apparatus and Scheele’s discoveries--hydro-sulphates,
peroxydes, iodurates, and proto-chlorides are familiar to him as
household words. You would swear that he was nursed at a glass
retort, and sipped his first milk through a blow-pipe. Like a child
who thumps the keys of a pianoforte, and imagines himself a Liszt or
Moschelles, so does your barrister revel amid the phraseology of a
difficult science--pelting the witnesses with his insane blunders, and
assuring the jury that their astonishment means ignorance. Nothing in
anatomy is too deep--nothing in chemistry too subtle--no fact in
botany too obscure--no point in metaphysics too difficult. Like
Dogberry, these things are to him but the gift of God; and he knows
them at his birth. Truly, the chancellor is a powerful magician; and
the mystic words by which he calls a gentleman to the bar, must have
some potent spell within them. The youth you remember as if it were
yesterday, the lounger at evening parties, or the chaperon of riding
damsels to the Phœnix, comes forth now a man of deep and consummate
acquirement--he whose chemistry went no further than the composition
of a “tumbler of punch,” can now perform the most difficult
experiments of Orfila or Davy, or explain the causes of failure in a
test that has puzzled the scientific world for half a century. He
knows the precise monetary value of a deserted maiden’s affections--he
can tell you the exact sum, in bank notes, that a widow will be
knocked down for, when her heart has been subject to but a feint
attack of Cupid. With what consummate skill, too, he can show that an
indictment is invalid, when stabbing is inserted for cutting; and when
the crown prosecutor has been deficient in his descriptive anatomy,
what a glorious field for display is opened to him. Then, to be sure,
what droll fellows they are!--how they do quiz the witness as he sits
trembling on the table--what funny allusions to his habits of
life--his age--his station--turning the whole battery of their powers
of ridicule against him--ready, if he venture to retort, to throw
themselves on the protection of the court. And truly, if a little
Latin suffice for a priest, a little wit goes very far in a law court.
A joke is a universal blessing: the judge, who, after all, is only “an
old lawyer,” loves it from habit: the jury, generally speaking, are
seldom in such good company, and they laugh from complaisance; and the
bar joins in the mirth, on that great reciprocity principle, which
enables them to bear each other’s dulness, and dine together
afterwards. People are insane enough to talk of absenteeism as one of
the evils of Ireland, and regret that we have no resident aristocracy
among us--rather let us rejoice that we have them not, so long as the
lawyers prove their legitimate successors.


How delightful in a land where civilization has still some little
progress before it, and where the state of crime is not quite
satisfactory--to know that we have those amongst us who know all
things, feel all things, explain all things, and reconcile all
things--who can throw such a Claude Lorraine light over right and
wrong, that they are both mellowed into a sweet and hallowed softness,
delightful to gaze on. How the secret of this universal acquirement is
accomplished I know not--perhaps it is the wig.

What set me first on this train of thought, was a trial I lately read,
where a cross action was sustained for damage at sea--the owners of
the brig Durham against the Aurora, a foreign vessel, and _vice
versâ_, for the result of a collision at noon, on the 14th of October.
It appeared that both vessels had taken shelter in the Humber from
stress of weather, nearly at the same time--that the Durham, which
preceded the Prussian vessel, “clewed up her top-sails, and dropped
her anchor _rather_ suddenly; and the Aurora being in the rear, the
vessels came in collision.” The question, therefore, was, whether the
Durham came to anchor too precipitately, and in an unseamanlike
manner; or, in other words, whether, when the “Durham clewed up
top-sails and let go her anchor, the Aurora should not have luffed up,
or got sternway on her,” &c. Nothing could possibly be more
instructive, nor anything scarcely more amusing, than the lucid
arguments employed by the counsel on both sides. The learned Thebans,
that would have been sick in a ferry-boat, spoke as if they had
circumnavigated the globe. Stay-sails, braces, top-gallants, clews,
and capstans they hurled at each other like _bon bons_ at a carnival;
and this naval engagement lasted from daylight to dark. Once only,
when the judge “made it noon,” for a little refection, did they cease
conflict, to renew the strife afterwards with more deadly daring, till
at last so confused were the witnesses--the plaintiff, defendant, and
all, that they half wished, they had gone to the bottom, before they
thought of settling the differences in the Admiralty Court. This was
no common occasion for the display of these powers so peculiarly the
instinctive gift of the bar, and certainly they used it with all the
enthusiasm of a _bonne bouche_.

How I trembled for the Aurora, when an elderly gentleman, with a wart
on his nose, assured the court that the Durham had her top-sail backed
ten minutes before the anchor fell; and then, how I feared again for
the Durham, as a thin man in spectacles worked the Prussian about in a
double-reefed mainsail, and stood round in stays so beautifully. I
thought myself at sea, so graphic was the whole description--the waves
splashed and foamed around the bulwarks, and broke in spray upon the
deck--the wind rattled amid the rigging--the bulkheads creaked, and
the good ship heaved heavily in the trough of the sea, like a mighty
monster in his agony. But my heart quailed not--I knew that Dr.
Lushington was at the helm, and Dr. Haggard had the look-out a-head--I
felt that Dr. Robinson stood by the lee braces, and Dr. Addison
waited, hatchet in hand, to cut away the mainmast. These were
comforting reflections, till I was once more enabled to believe myself
in her Majesty’s High Court of Admiralty.

Alas! ye Coopers--ye Marryats--ye Chamiers--ye historians of storm and
sea-fight, how inferior are your triumphs compared with the
descriptive eloquence of a law court. Who can pourtray the broken
heart of blighted affection, like Charles Phillips in a breach of
promise? What was Scott compared to Scarlett?--how inferior is Dickens
to Counsellor O’Driscoll?--here are the men, who, without the trickery
of trade, ungilt, unlettered, and unillustrated, can move the world to
laughter and to tears. They ask no aid from Colburn, nor from
Cruikshank--they need not “Brown” nor Longman. Heaven-born warriors,
doctors, chemists, and anatomists--deep in every art, learned in every
science--mankind is to them an open book, which they read at will, and
con over at leisure--happy country, where we have you in abundance,
and where your talents are so available, that they can be had for





We certainly are a very original people, and contrive to do everything
after a way of our own! Not content with cementing our friendships by
fighting, and making the death of a relative the occasion of a merry
evening, we even convert the habits we borrow from other lands into
something essentially different from their original intention, and
infuse into them a spirit quite national.

The echo which, when asked “How d’ye do, Paddy Blake?” replied,
“Mighty well, thank you,” could only have been an Irish echo. Any
other country would have sulkily responded, “Blake--ake--ake--ake,” in
_diminuendo_ to the end of the chapter. But there is a courtesy, an
attention, a native politeness on our side of the channel, it is in
vain to seek elsewhere. A very strong instance in point occurs in a
morning paper before me, and one so delightfully characteristic of our
habits and customs, it would be unpardonable to pass it without
commemoration. At an evening concert at the Rotundo, we are informed
that Mr. Knight--I believe his name is--enchanted his audience by the
charming manner he sung “Molly Astore.” Three distinct rounds of
applause followed, and an encore that actually shook the building, and
may--though we are not informed of the circumstance--have produced
very remarkable effects in the adjacent institution; upon which Mr.
Knight, with his habitual courtesy, came forward and sang--what, think
ye, good reader? Of course you will say, “Molly Astore,” the song he
was encored for. Alas! for your ignorance;--that might do very well in
Liverpool or Manchester, at Bath, Bristol, or Birmingham--the poor
benighted Saxons there might like to get what they asked so eagerly
for; but we are men of very different mould, and not accustomed to the
jog-trot subserviency of such common-sense notions; and accordingly,
Mr. Knight sang “The Soldier Tired”--a piece of politeness on his part
that actually convulsed the house with acclamations; and so on to the
end of the entertainment, “the gentleman, when encored, invariably
sang a new song”--I quote the paper _verbatim_--“which testimony of
his anxiety to meet the wishes of the audience afforded universal

Now, I ask--and I ask it in all the tranquillity of triumph--show me
the country on a map where such a studied piece of courteous civility
could have been practised, or which, if attempted, could have been so
thoroughly, so instantaneously appreciated. And what an insight does
it give us into some of the most difficult features of our national
character. May not this Irish encore explain the success with which
Mr. O’Connell consoles our “poverty” by attacks on the clergy, and
relieves our years of scarcity by creating forty-shilling freeholders.
We ask for bread; and he tells us we are a great people--we beg for
work, and he replies, that we must have repeal of the union--we
complain of our poverty, and his remedy is--subscribe to the rent.
Your heavy-headed Englishman--your clod-hopper from Yorkshire--or
your boor from Northumberland, would never understand this, if you
gave him a life-long to con over it. Norfolk pudding to his gross and
sensual nature would seem better than the new registration bill; and
he’d rather hear the simmering music of the boiled beef for his
dinner, than all the rabid ruffianism of a repeal meeting.

But to come back to ourselves. What bold and ample views of life do
our free-and-easy habits disclose to us, not to speak of the very
servant at table, who will often help you to soup, when you ask for
sherry, and give you preserves, when you beg for pepper. What amiable
cross-purposes are we always playing at--not bigotedly adhering to our
own narrow notions, and following out our own petty views of life, but
eagerly doing what we have no concern in, and meritoriously performing
for our friends, what they had been well pleased, we’d have let alone.

This amiable waywardness--this pleasing uncertainty of
purpose--characterises our very climate; and the day that breaks in
sunshine becomes stormy at noon, calm towards evening, and blows a
hurricane all night. So the Irishman that quits his home brimful of
philanthropy is not unlikely to rob a church before his return. But so
it is, there is nobody like us in any respect. We commemorate the
advent of a sovereign by erecting a testimonial to the last spot he
stood on at his departure; and we are enthusiastic in our gratitude
when, having asked for one favour, we receive something as unlike it
as possible.

Our friends at the other side are beginning to legislate for us in the
true spirit of our prejudices; and when we have complained of “a
beggared proprietary and a ruined gentry,” they have bolstered up our
weakness with the new poor law. So much for an Irish encore.


     “The sixth of Anne, chap. seventeen, makes it unlawful to
     keep gaming-houses in any part of the city except the
     ‘Castle,’ and prohibits any game being played even there
     except during the residence of the Lord Lieutenant. This act
     is still on the statute book.”--_Dublin Paper._

One might puzzle himself for a very long time for an explanation of
this strange _morceau_ of legislation, without any hope of arriving at
a shadow of a reason for it.

That gaming should be suppressed by a government is in no wise
unnatural; nor should we feel any surprise at our legislature having
been a century in advance of France, in the due restriction of this
demoralizing practice. But that the exercise of a vice should be
limited to the highest offices of the state is, indeed, singular, and
demands no little reflection on our part to investigate the cause.

Had the functions of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland been of that drowsy,
tiresome, uninteresting nature, that it was only deemed fair by the
legislature to afford him some amusing pastime to distract his
“_ennui_” and dispel his melancholy, there might seem to have been
then some reason for this extraordinary enactment. On the contrary,
however, every one knows that from the remotest times to the present,
every viceroy of Ireland has had quite enough on his hands. Some have
been saving money to pay off old mortgages, others were farming the
Phœnix; some took to the King Cambyses’ vein, like poor dear Lord
Normanby--raked up all the old properties and faded finery of the
Castle, and with such material as they could collect, made a kind of
Drury-lane representation of a court. And very lately, and with an
originality so truly characteristic of true genius, Lord Ebrington
struck out a line of his own, and slept away his time with such a
persevering intensity of purpose, that “the least wide-awake” persons
of his government became actually ashamed of themselves. But to go
back. What, I would ask, was the intention of this act? I know you
give it up. Well, now, I have made the matter the subject of long and
serious thought, and I think I have discovered it.

Have you ever read, in the laws of the smaller German states, the
singular rules and regulations regarding the gaming-table? If so, you
will have found how the entire property of the “_rouge et noir_” and
“_roulette_” is vested in certain individuals in return for very
considerable sums of money, paid by them to the government, for the
privilege of robbing the public. These honourable and estimable people
farm out iniquity as you would do your demesne, selling the cheatable
features of mankind, like the new corn law, on the principle of “a
general average.” The government of these states, finding--no uncommon
thing in Germany--a deficiency in their exchequer, have hit upon this
ready method of supplying the gap, by a system which has all the
regularity of a tax, with the advantage of a voluntary contribution.
These little kingdoms, therefore, of some half-dozen miles in
circumference, are nothing more than _rouge et noir_ tables, where the
grand duke performs the part of croupier, and gathers in the gold.
Now, I am convinced that something of this kind was intended by our
lawgivers in the act of parliament to which I have alluded, and that
its programme might run thus--that “as the office of Lord Lieutenant
in Ireland is one of great responsibility, high trust, and necessarily
demanding profuse expenditure; and that, as it may so happen that the
same should, in the course of events, be filled by some Whig-Radical
viceroy of great pretension and little property; and that as the
ordinary sum for maintaining his dignity may be deemed insufficient,
we hereby give him the exclusive liberty and privilege of all games of
chance, skill, or address, in the kingdom of Ireland, whether the same
may be chicken-hazard, blind hookey, head and tail, &c.--thimble-rigging
was only known later--to be enjoyed by himself only, or by persons
deputed by him; such privilege in nowise to extend to the lords
justices, but only to exist during the actual residence and presence
of the Lord Lieutenant himself.”--_See the Act._

I cannot but admire the admirable tact that dictated this portion of
legislation; at the same time, it does seem a little hard that the
chancellor, the archbishop, and the other high functionaries, who
administer the law in the absence of the viceroy, should not have been
permitted the small privilege of a little unlimited loo, or even
beggar-my-neighbour, particularly as the latter game is the popular
one in Ireland.

There would seem, too, something like an appreciation of our national
character in the spirit of this law, which, unhappily for England, and
Ireland, too, has not always dictated her enactments concerning us.
It is well known that we hate and abhor anything in the shape of a
legal debt. Few Irishmen will refuse you the loan of five pounds;
still fewer can persuade themselves to pay five shillings. The kingdom
of Galway has long been celebrated for its enlightened notions on this
subject, showing how much more conducive it is to personal
independence and domestic economy, to spend five hundred pounds in
resisting a claim, than to satisfy it by the payment of twenty.
Accordingly, had any direct taxation of considerable amount been
proposed for the support of viceregal dignity, the chances are--much
as we like show and glitter, ardently as we admire all that gives us
the semblance of a state--we should have buttoned up our pockets, and
upon the principle of those economical little tracts, that teach us to
do so much for ourselves, every man would have resolved to be “his own
Lord Lieutenant;” coming, however, in the shape of an indirect
taxation, a voluntary contribution to be withheld at pleasure, the
thing was unobjectionable.

You might not like cards, still less the company--a very possible
circumstance, the latter, in some times we wot of not long
since--Well, then, you saved your cash and your character by staying
at home; on the other hand, it was a comfort to know that you could
have your rubber of “shorts” or your game at _écarté_, while at the
same time you were contributing to the maintenance of the crown, and
discharging the _devoirs_ of a loyal subject. It is useless, however,
to speculate upon an obsolete institution; the law has fallen into
disuse, and the more is the pity. How one would like to have seen Lord
Normanby, with that one curl of infantine simplicity that played upon
his forehead, with that eternal leer of self-satisfied loveliness that
rested on his features, playing banker at _rouge et noir_, or calling
the throws at hazard. I am not quite so sure that the concern would
have been so profitable as picturesque. The principal frequenters of
his court were “York too;” Lord Plunket was a “downy cove;” and if
Anthony Blaek took the box, most assuredly “I’d back the caster.” Now
and then, to be sure, a stray, misguided country gentleman--a kind of
“wet Tory”--used to be found at that court; just as one sees some
respectable matronly woman at Ems or Baden, seated in a happy
unconsciousness that all the company about her are rogues and
swindlers, so _he_ might afford some good sport, and assist to
replenish the famished exchequer. Generally speaking, however, the
play would not have kept the tables; and his lordship would have been
_in_ for the wax-lights, without the slightest chance of return.

As for his successor, “patience” would have been his only game; and
indeed it was one he had to practise whilst he remained amongst us.
Better days have now come: let us, therefore, inquire if a slight
modification of the act might not be effected with benefit, and an
amendment, somewhat thus, be introduced into the bill:--“That the
words ‘Lord Mayor’ be substituted for the words ‘Lord Lieutenant;’ and
that all the privileges, rights, immunities, &c., aforesaid, be
enjoyed by him to his sole use and benefit; and also that, in place of
the word ‘Castle,’ the word ‘Mansion-house’ stand part of this
bill”--thus reserving to his lordship all monopoly in games of chance
and address, without in anywise interfering with such practices of the
like nature exercised by him elsewhere, and always permitted and
conceded by whatever government in power.

Here, my dear countrymen, is no common suggestion. I am no prophet,
like Sir Harcourt Lees; but still I venture to predict, that this
system once legalised at the Mayoralty, the tribute is totally
unnecessary. The little town of Spa, with scarce 10,000 inhabitants,
pays the Belgian government 200,000 francs per annum for the liberty:
what would Dublin--a city so populous and so idle? only think of the
tail!--how admirably they could employ their little talent as
“bonnets,” and the various other functionaries so essential to the
well-being of a gambling-house; and, lastly, think of great Dan
himself, with his burly look, seated in civic dignity at the green
cloth, with a rake instead of a mace before him, calling out, “Make
your game, gentlemen, make your game”--“Never venture, never
win”--“Faint heart,” &c., &c.

How suitable would the eloquence that has now grown tiresome, even at
the Corn Exchange, be at the head of a gaming-table; and how well
would the Liberator conduct a business whose motto is so admirably
expressed by the phrase, “Heads, _I_ win; tails, _you_ lose.” Besides,
after all, nothing could form so efficient a bond of union between the
two contending parties in the country as some little mutual territory
of wickedness, where both might forget their virtues and their
grievances together. Here you’d soon have the violent party-man of
either side, oblivious of everything but his chance of gain; and what
an energy would it give to the great Daniel to think that, while
filling his pockets, he was also spoiling the Egyptians! Instead,
therefore, of making the poor man contribute his penny, and the
ragged man two-pence, you’d have the Rent supplied without the trouble
of collection; and all from the affluent and the easy, or at least the
idle, portion of the community.

This is the second time I have thrown out a suggestion--and all for
nothing, remember--on the subject of afinance; and little reflection
will show that both my schemes are undeniable in their benefits. Here
you have one of the most expensive pleasures a poor country has ever
ventured to afford itself--a hired agitator, pensioned, without any
burden on the productive industry of the land; and he himself, so far
from having anything to complain of, will find that his revenue is
more than quadrupled.

Look at the question, besides, in another point of view, and see what
possible advantages may arise from it. Nothing is so admirable an
antidote to all political excitement as gambling: where it flourishes,
men become so inextricably involved in its fascinations and
attractions that they forget everything else. Now, was ever a country
so urgently in want of a little repose as ours? and would it not be
well to purchase it, and pension off our great disturbers, at any
price whatever? Cards are better than carding any day; short whist is
an admirable substitute for insurrection; and the rattle of a dice-box
is surely as pleasant music as the ruffian shout for repeal.



If I was a king upon a throne this minute, an’ I wanted to have a
smoke for myself by the fireside--why, if I was to do my best, what
could I smoke but one pen’orth of tobacco, in the night, after
all?--but can’t I have that just as asy?

“If I was to have a bed with down feathers, what could I do but sleep
there?--and sure I can do that in the settle-bed above.”

Such is the very just and philosophical reflection of one of Griffin’s
most amusing characters, in his inimitable story of “The
Collegians”--a reflection that naturally sets us a thinking, that if
riches and wealth cannot really increase a man’s capacity for
enjoyment with the enjoyments themselves, their pursuit is, after all,
but a poor and barren object of even worldly happiness.

As it is perfectly evident that, so far as mere sensual gratifications
are concerned, the peer and the peasant stand pretty much on a level,
let us inquire for a moment in what the great superiority consists
which exalts and elevates one above the other? Now, without entering
upon that wild field for speculation that power (and what power equals
that conferred by wealth?) confers, and the train of ennobling
sentiment suggested by extended views of philanthropy and
benevolence--for, in this respect, it is perfectly possible the poor
man has as amiable a thrill at his heart in sharing his potato with a
wandering beggar, as the rich one has in contributing his thousand
pounds’ donation to some great national charity--let us turn rather to
the consideration of those more tangible differences that leave their
impress upon character, and mould men’s minds into a fashion so
perfectly and thoroughly distinct.

To our thinking, then, the great superiority wealth confers lies in
the seclusion the rich man lives in from all the grosser agency of
every-day life--its make-shifts, its contrivances, its continued
warfare of petty provision and continual care, its unceasing effort to
seem what it is not, and to appear to the world in a garb, and after a
manner, to which it has no just pretension. The rich man knows nothing
of all this: life, to him, rolls on in measured tread; and the world,
albeit the changes of season and politics may affect him, has nothing
to call forth any unusual effort of his temper or his intellect; his
life, like his drawing-room, is arranged for him; he never sees it
otherwise than in trim order; with an internal consciousness that
people must be engaged in providing for his comforts at seasons when
he is in bed or asleep, or otherwise occupied, he gives himself no
farther trouble about them; and, in the monotony of his pleasures,
attains to a tranquillity of mind the most enviable and most happy.

Hence that perfect composure so conspicuous in the higher ranks, among
whom wealth is so generally diffused--hence that delightful simplicity
of manner, so captivating from its total absence of pretension and
affectation--hence that unbroken serenity that no chances or
disappointments would seem to interfere with; the knowledge that he is
of far too much consequence to be neglected or forgotten, supports him
on every occasion, and teaches that, when anything happens to his
inconvenience or discomfort, that it could not but be unavoidable.

Not so the poor man: his poverty is a shoe that pinches every hour of
the twenty-four; he may bear up from habit, from philosophy, against
his restricted means of enjoyment; he may accustom himself to limited
and narrow bounds of pleasure; he may teach himself that, when wetting
his lips with the cup of happiness, that he is not to drink to his
liking of it: but what he cannot acquire is that total absence of all
forethought for the minor cares of life, its provisions for the
future, its changes and contingencies--hence he does not possess that
easy and tranquil temperament so captivating to all within its
influence; he has none of the careless _abandon_ of happiness, because
even when happy he feels how short-lived must be his pleasure, and
what a price he must pay for it. The thought of the future poisons the
present, just as the dark cloud that gathers round the mountain-top
makes the sunlight upon the plain seem cold and sickly.

All the poor man’s pleasures have taken such time and care in their
preparation that they have lost their freshness ere they are tasted.
The cook has sipped so frequently at the pottage, he will not eat of
it when at table. The poor man sees life “_en papillotes_” before he
sees it “dressed.” The rich man sees it only in the resplendent blaze
of its beauty, glowing with all the attraction that art can lend it,
and wearing smiles put on for his own enjoyment. But if such be the
case, and if the rich man, from the very circumstance of his position,
imbibe habits and acquire a temperament possessing such charm and
fascination, does he surrender nothing for all this? Alas! and alas!
how many of the charities of life lie buried in the still waters of
his apathetic nature! How many of the warm feelings of his heart are
chilled for ever, for want of ground for their exercise! How can he
sympathise who has never suffered? how can he console who has never
grieved? There is nothing healthy in the placid mirror of that glassy
lake; uncurled by a breeze, unruffled by a breath of passion, it wants
the wholesome agitation of the breaking wave--the health-giving,
bracing power of the conflicting element that stirs the heart within,
and nerves it for a noble effort.

All that he has of good within him is cramped by _convenance_ and
fashion; for he who never feared the chance of fortune, trembles, with
a coward’s dread, before the sneer of the world. The poor man,
however, only appeals to this test on a very different score. The
“world” may prescribe to him the fashion of his hat, or the colour of
his coat--it may dictate the _locale_ of his residence, and the style
of his household, and he may, so far as in him lies, comply with a
tyranny so absurd; but with the free sentiments of his nature--his
honest pride, his feeling sympathy--with the open current of his warm
affection he suffers no interference: of this no man shall be the
arbiter. If, then, the shoals and quicksands of the world deprive him
of that tranquil guise and placid look--the enviable gift of richer
men--he has, in requital, the unrestricted use of those greater gifts
that God has given him, untrammelled by man’s opinion, uncurbed by
the control of “the world.”

Each supports a tyranny after his own kind:--

The rich man--above the dictates of fashion--subjects the thoughts of
his mind and the meditations of his heart to the world’s rule.

The poor man--below it--keeps these for his prerogative, and has no
slavery save in form.

Happy the man who, amid all the seductions of wealth, and all the
blandishments of fortune, can keep his heart and mind in the healthy
exercise of its warm affections and its generous impulses. But still
happier he, whose wealth, the native purity of his heart--can limit
his desires to his means, and untrammelled by ambition, undeterred by
fear of failure, treads the lowly but peaceful path in life, neither
aspiring to be great, nor fearing to be humble.



There is no cant offends me more than the oft-repeated criticisms on
the changed condition of Ireland. How very much worse or how very much
better we have become since this ministry, or that measure--what a
deplorable falling off!--what a gratifying prospect! how poor! how
prosperous! &c. &c. Now, we are exactly what and where we used to be:
not a whit wiser nor better, poorer nor prouder. The union, the relief
bill, the reform and corporation acts, have passed over us, like the
summer breeze upon the calm water of a lake, ruffling the surface for
a moment, but leaving all still and stagnant as before. Making new
laws for the use of a people who would not obey the old ones, is much
like the policy of altering the collar or the cuffs of a coat for a
savage, who insists all the while on going naked. However, it amuses
the gentlemen of St. Stephen’s; and, I’m sure I’m not the man to
quarrel with innocent pleasures.

To me, looking back, as my Lord Brougham would say, from the period of
a long life, I cannot perceive even the slightest difference in the
appearance of the land, or the looks of its inhabitants. Dublin is the
same dirty, ill-cared-for, broken-windowed, tumble-down concern it
used to be--the country the same untilled, weed-grown, unfenced thing
I remember it fifty years ago--the society pretty much the same
mixture of shrewd lawyers, suave doctors, raw subalterns, and fat,
old, greasy country gentlemen, waiting in town for remittances to
carry them on to Cheltenham--that paradise of Paddies, and elysium of
Galway _belles_. Our table-talk the old story, of who was killed last
in Tipperary or Limerick, with the accustomed seasoning of the
oft-repeated alibi that figures at every assizes, and is successful
with every jury. These pleasant topics, tinted with the party colour
of the speaker’s politics, form the staple of conversation; and,
“barring the wit,” we are pretty much what our fathers were some half
century earlier. Father Mathew, to be sure, has innovated somewhat on
our ancient prejudices; but I find that what are called “the upper
classes” are far too cultivated and too well-informed to follow a
priest. A few weeks ago, I had a striking illustration of this fact
brought before me, which I am disposed to quote the more willingly as
it also serves to display the admirable constancy with which we adhere
to our old and time-honoured habits. The morning of St. Patrick’s day
was celebrated in Dublin by an immense procession of teetotallers,
who, with white banners, and whiter cheeks, paraded the city,
evidencing in their cleanly but care-worn countenances, the benefits
of temperance. On the same evening a gentleman--so speak the morning
papers--got immoderately drunk at the ball in the Castle, and was
carried out in a state of insensibility. Now, it is not for the sake
of contrast I have mentioned this fact--my present speculation has
another and very different object, and is simply this:--How comes it,
that since time out of mind the same event has recurred on the
anniversary of St. Patrick at the Irish court? When I was a boy I
remember well “the gentleman who became so awfully drunk,” &c. Every
administration, from the Duke of Rutland downwards, has had its
drunken gentleman on “St. Patrick’s night.” Where do they keep him all
the year long?--what do they do with him?--are questions I continually
am asking myself. Under what name and designation does he figure in
the pension list? for of course I am not silly enough to suppose that
a well-ordered government would depend on chance for functionaries
like these. One might as well suppose they would calculate on some one
improvising Sir William Betham, or extemporaneously performing “God
save the Queen,” on the state trumpet, in lieu of that amiable
individual who distends his loyal cheeks on our great anniversaries.
No, no. I am well aware he is a member of the household, or at least
in the pay of the government. When the pope converts his Jew on Holy
Thursday, the Catholic church have had ample time for preparation: the
cardinals are on the look-out for weeks before, to catch one for his
holiness--a good respectable hirsute Israelite, with a strong Judas
expression to magnify the miracle. But then the Jew is passive in the
affair, and has only to be converted patiently--whereas “the
gentleman” has an active duty to discharge; he must imbibe sherry,
iced punch, and champagne, at such a rate that he can be able to shock
the company, before the rooms thin, with his intemperate excess.
Besides, to give the devil--the pope, I mean--his Jew, they snare a
fresh one every Easter. Now, I am fully persuaded that, at our Irish
court, the same gentleman has performed the part for upwards of fifty

At the ancient banquets it was always looked upon as a triumph of
Amphitryonism when a guest or two died the day after of indigestion,
from over eating. Now, is it not possible that our classic origin may
have imparted to us the trait I am speaking of, and that “the
gentleman” is retained as typical of our exceeding hilarity and
consummate conviviality--an evidence to the “great unasked” that the
festivities within doors are conducted on a scale of boundless
profusion and extravagance--that the fountains from which honour
flows, run also with champagne, and that punch and the peerage are to
be seen bubbling from the same source.

It is a sad thing to think that the gifted man, who has served his
country so faithfully in this capacity for so long a period, must now
be stricken in years. Time and rum must be telling upon him; and yet,
what should we do were we to lose him?

In the chapel of Maria Zell, in Styria, there is a portly figure of
St. Somebody, with more consonants than I find it prudent to venture
on from mere memory; the priest is rolling his eyes very benignly on
the frequenters of the chapel, as they pass by the shrine he resides
in. The story goes, that when the saint ceases winking, some great
calamity will occur to the commune and its inhabitants. Now, the last
time I saw him, he was in great vigour, ogled away with his accustomed
energy, and even, I thought--perhaps it was a suspicion on my
part--had actually strained his eyeballs into something like a squint,
from actual eagerness to oblige his votaries--a circumstance happily
of the less moment in our days, as a gifted countryman of ours could
have remedied the defect in no time. But to return; my theory is, that
when we lose our tipsy friend it’s all up with us; “Birnam wood will
then have come to Dunsinane;” and what misfortunes may befal us, Sir
Harcourt Lees may foresee, but I confess myself totally unable to

Were I the viceroy, I’d not sleep another night in the island. I’d
pack up the regalia, send for Anthony Blake to take charge of the
country, and start for Liverpool in the mail-packet.

Happily, however, such an event may be still distant; and although the
Austrians have but one Metternich, we may find a successor to our
“Knight of St. Patrick.”


“The Honourable Fitzroy Shuffleton,” I quote _The Morning Post_, “who
rode Bees-wing, came in a winner amid deafening cheers. Never was a
race better contested; and although, when passing the distance-post,
the Langar colt seemed to have the best of it, yet such was Mr.
Shuffleton’s tact and jockeyship, that he shot a-head in advance of
his adversary, and came in first.” I omit the passages descriptive of
the peculiar cleverness displayed by this gifted gentleman. I omit
also that glorious outbreak of newspaper eloquence, in which the
delight of his friends is expressed--the tears of joy from his
sisters--the cambric handkerchiefs that floated in the air--the
innumerable and reiterated cries of “Well done!--he’s a trump!--the
right sort!” &c. &c., so profusely employed by the crowd, because I am
fully satisfied with what general approbation such proofs of ability
are witnessed.

[Illustration: Gentlemen Jocks.]

We are a great nation, and nowhere is our greatness more conspicuous
than in the education of our youth. The young Frenchman seems to
fulfil his destiny, when, having drawn on a pair of the most
tight-fitting kid gloves, of that precise shade of colour so approved
of by Madame Laffarge, he saunters forth on the Boulevard de Gand, or
lounges in the _coulisse_ of the opera.

The German, whose contempt not only extends to glove-leather, but
clean hands, betakes himself early in life to the way he should go,
and from which, to do him justice, he never shows any inclination to
depart. A meerschaum some three feet long, and a tobacco bag like a
school-boy’s satchel, supply his wants in life. The dreamy visions of
the unreal woes, and the still more unreal greatness of his country,
form the pabulum for his thoughts; and he has no other ambition, for
some half dozen years of his life, than to boast his utter
indifference to kings and clean water.

Now, we manage matters somewhat better. Our young men, from the very
outset of their career, are admirable jockeys; and if by any fatality,
like the dreadful revolution of France, our nobles should be compelled
to emigrate from their native land, instead of teaching mathematics
and music, the small sword and quadrilles, we shall have the
satisfaction of knowing that we supply stable-boys to the whole of

Whatever other people may say or think, I put a great value on this
equestrian taste. I speak not here of the manly nature of horse
exercise--of the noble and vigorous pursuits of the hunting field. No;
I direct my observations solely to the heroes of Ascot and Epsom--of
Doncaster and Goodwood. I only speak of those whose pleasure it is to
read no book save the Racing Calendar, and frequent no lounge but
Tattersall’s; who esteem the stripes of a racing-jacket more
honourable than the ribbon of the Bath, and look to a well-timed
“hustle” or “a shake” as the climax of human ability. These are fine
fellows, and I prize them. But if it be not only praiseworthy, but
pleasant, to ride for the Duke’s cup at Goodwood, or the Corinthian’s
at the Curragh, why not extend the sphere of the utility, and become
as amiable in private as they are conspicuous in public life?

We have seen them in silk jackets of various hues, with leathers and
tops of most accurate fitting, turn out amid the pelting of a most
pitiless storm, to ride some three miles of spongy turf, at the hazard
of their necks, and the almost certainty of a rheumatic fever; and
why, donning the same or some similar costume, will they not perform
the office of postillion, when their fathers, or mayhap, some
venerated aunt, is returning by the north road to an antiquated
mansion in Yorkshire? The pace, to be sure, is not so fast--but it
compensates in safety what it loses in speed--the assemblage around is
not so numerous, or the excitement so great; but filial tenderness is
a nobler motive than the acclamations of a mob. In fact, the parallel
presents all the advantages on one side: and the jockey is as inferior
to the postillion as the fitful glare of an _ignis-fatuus_ is to the
steady brilliancy of a gas-lamp.

An Englishman has a natural pride in the navy of his country--our
wooden walls are a glorious boast; but, perhaps, after all, there is
nothing more captivating in the whole detail of the service, than the
fact that even the highest and the noblest in the land has no royal
road to its promotion, but, beginning at the very humblest step, he
must work his way through every grade and every rank, like his
comrades around him. Many there are now living who remember Prince
William, as he was called--late William the Fourth, of glorious
memory--sitting in the stern seats of a gig, his worn jacket and
weather-beaten hat attesting that even the son of a king had no
immunity from the hardships of the sea. This is a proud thought for
Englishmen, and well suited to gratify their inherent loyalty and
their sturdy independence. Now, might we not advantageously extend the
influence of such examples, by the suggestion I have thrown out above?
If a foreigner be now struck by hearing, as he walks through the
dockyard at Plymouth, that the little middy who touches his hat with
such obsequious politeness, is the Marquis of ----, or the Earl of
----, with some fifty thousand per annum, how much more astonished
will he be on learning that he owes the rapidity with which he
traversed the last stage to his having been driven by Lord Wilton--or
that the lengthy proportions, so dexterously gathered up in the
saddle, belong to an ex-ambassador from St. Petersburgh. How surprised
would he feel, too, that instead of the low habits and coarse tastes
he would look for in that condition in life, he would now see elegant
and accomplished gentlemen, sipping a glass of curaçoa at the end of a
stage; or, mayhap, offering a pinch of snuff from a box worth five
hundred guineas. What a fascinating conception would he form of our
country from such examples as this! and how insensibly would not only
the polished taste and the high-bred depravity of the better classes
be disseminated through the country; but, by an admirable reciprocity,
the coarsest vices of the lowest would be introduced among the highest
in the land. The race-course has done much for this, but the road
would do far more. Slang is now but the language of the _élite_--it
would then become the vulgar tongue; and, in fact, there is no
predicting the amount of national benefit likely to arise from an
amalgamation of all ranks in society, where the bond of union is so
honourable in its nature. Cultivate, then, ye youth of England--ye
scions of the Tudors and the Plantagenets--with all the blood of all
the Howards in your veins--cultivate the race-course--study the
stable--read the Racing Calendar. What are the precepts of Bacon or
the learning of Boyle compared to the pedigree of Grey Momus, or the
reason that Tramp “is wrong?” “A dark horse” is a far more interesting
subject of inquiry than an eclipse of the moon, and a judge of pace a
much more exalted individual than a judge of assize.



Douglas Jerrold, in his amusing book, “Cakes and Ale,” quotes an
exquisite essay written to prove the sufficiency of thirty pounds
a-year for all a man’s daily wants and comforts--allowing at least
five shillings a quarter for the conversion of the Jews--and in which
every outlay is so nicely calculated, that it must be wilful
eccentricity if the pauper gentleman, at the end of the year, either
owes a shilling or has one. To say the least of it, this is close
shaving; and, as I detest experimental philosophy, I’d rather not try
it. At the same time, in this age of general glut, when all
professions are overstocked--when you might pave the Strand with
parsons’ skulls, and thatch your barn with the surplus of the college
of physicians; when there are neither waste lands to till and give us
ague and typhus, nor war to thin us--what are we to do? The
subdivision of labour in every walk in life has been carried to its
utmost limits: if it takes nine tailors to make a man, it takes nine
men to make a needle. Even in the learned professions, as they are
called, this system is carried out; and as you have a lawyer for
equity, another for the Common Pleas, a third for the Old Bailey, &c.,
so your doctor, now-a-days, has split up his art, and one man takes
charge of your teeth, another has the eye department, another the ear,
a fourth looks after your corns; so that, in fact, the complex
machinery of your structure strikes you as admirably adapted to give
employment to an ingenious and anxious population, who, until our
present civilization, never dreamed of morselling out mankind for
their benefit.

As to commerce, our late experiences have chiefly pointed to the
pleasure of trading with nations who will not pay their debts,--like
the Yankees. There is, then, little encouragement in that quarter.
What then remains I scarcely know. The United Services are pleasant,
but poor things by way of a provision for life. Coach-driving, that
admirable refuge for the destitute, has been smashed by the railroads;
and there is a kind of prejudice against a man of family sweeping the
crossings. For my own part, I lean to something dignified and
respectable--something that does not compromise “the cloth,” and
which, without being absolutely a sinecure, never exacts any undue or
extraordinary exertion,--driving a hearse, for instance: even this,
however, is greatly run upon; and the cholera, at its departure, threw
very many out of employment. However, the question is, what can a man
of small means do with his son? Short whist is a very snug thing--if a
man have natural gifts,--that happy conformation of the fingers, that
ample range of vision, that takes in everything around. But I must
not suppose these by any means general--and I legislate for the mass.
The turf has also the same difficulties,--so has toad-eating; indeed
these three walks might be included among the learned professions.

As to railroads, I’m sick of hearing of them for the last three years.
Every family in the empire has at least one civil engineer within its
precincts; and I’m confident, if their sides were as hard as their
skulls, you could make sleepers for the whole Grand Junction by merely
decimating the unemployed.

Tax-collecting does, to be sure, offer some little prospect; but that
won’t last. Indeed, the very working of the process will limit the
advantages of this opening,--gradually converting all the payers into
paupers. Now I have meditated long and anxiously on the subject,
conversing with others whose opportunities of knowing the world were
considerable, but never could I find that ingenuity opened any new
path, without its being so instantaneously overstocked that
competition alone denied every chance of success.

One man of original genius I did, indeed, come upon, and his career
had been eminently successful. He was a Belgian physician, who, having
in vain attempted all the ordinary modes of obtaining practice,
collected together the little residue of his fortune, and sailed for
Barbadoes, where he struck out for himself the following singularly
new and original plan:--He purchased all the disabled, sick, and
ailing negroes that he could find; every poor fellow whose case seemed
past hope, but yet to his critical eye was still curable, these he
bought up; they were, of course, dead bargains. The masters were
delighted to get rid of them--they were actually “eating their heads
off;” but the doctor knew, that though they looked somewhat “groggy,”
still there was a “go” in them yet.

By care, skill, and good management, they recovered under his hands,
and frequently were re-sold to the original proprietor, who was
totally unconscious that the sleek and shining nigger before him had
been the poor, decrepid, sickly creature of some weeks before.

The humanity of this proceeding is self-evident: a word need not be
said more on that subject. But it was no less profitable than
merciful. The originator of the plan retired from business with a
large fortune, amassed, too, in an inconceivably short space of time.
The shrewdest proprietor of a fast coach never could throw a more
critical eye over a new wheeler or a broken-down leader, than did he
on the object of his professional skill; detecting at a glance the
extent of his ailments, and calculating, with a Babbage-like accuracy,
the cost of keep, physic, and attendance, and setting them off, in his
mind, against the probable price of the sound man. What consummate
skill was here! Not merely, like Brodie or Crampton, anticipating the
possible recovery of the patient, but estimating the extent of the
restoration--the time it would take--ay, the very number of basins of
chicken-broth and barley-gruel that he would devour, _ad interim_.
This was the cleverest physician I ever knew. The present altered
condition of West Indian property has, however, closed this opening to
fortune, in which, after all, nothing short of first-rate ability
could have ensured success.

I have just read over the preceding “nut” to my old friend, Mr.
Synnet, of Mulloglass, whose deep knowledge of the world makes him no
mean critic on such a subject. His words are these:--

“There is some truth in what you remark--the world is too full of us.
There is, however, a very nice walk in life much neglected.”

“And what may that be?” said I, eagerly.

“The mortgagee,” replied he, sententiously.

“I don’t perfectly comprehend.”

“Well, well! what I mean is this: suppose, now, you have only a couple
of thousand pounds to leave your son--maybe, you have not more than a
single thousand--now, my advice is, not to squander your fortune in
any such absurdity as a learned profession, a commission in the Line,
or any other miserable existence, but just look about you, in the west
of Ireland, for the fellow that has the best house, the best cellar,
the best cook, and the best stable. He is sure to want money, and will
be delighted to get a loan. Lend it to him: make hard terms, of
course. For this--as you are never to be paid--the obligation of your
forbearance will be the greater. Now, mark me, from the day the deed
is signed, you have snug quarters in Galway, not only in your friend’s
house, but among all his relations--Blakes, Burkes, Bodkins, Kirwans,
&c., to no end; you have the run of the whole concern--the best of
living, great drink, and hunting in abundance. You must talk of the
loan now and then, just to jog their memory; but be always ‘too much
the gentleman’ to ask for your money; and it will even go hard, but
from sheer popularity, they will make you member for the county. This
is the only new thing, in the way of a career, I know of, and I have
great pleasure in throwing out the suggestion for the benefit of
younger sons.”


It has often struck me that the monotony of occupation is a heavier
infliction than the monotony of reflection. The same dull round of
duty, which while it demands a certain amount of labour, excludes all
opportunity of thought, making man no better than the piston of a
steam-engine, is a very frightful and debasing process. Whereas,
however much there may be of suffering in solitude, our minds are not
imprisoned; our thoughts, unchained and unfettered, stroll far away to
pleasant pasturages; we cross the broad blue sea, and tread the ferny
mountain-side, and live once more the sunny hours of boyhood; or we
build up in imagination a peaceful and happy future.

That the power of fancy and the play of genius are not interrupted by
the still solitude of the prison, I need only quote Cervantes, whose
immortal work was accomplished during the tedious hours of a
captivity, unrelieved by one office of friendship, uncheered by one
solitary ray of hope.

Taking this view of the matter, it will be at once perceived how much
more severe a penalty solitary confinement must be, to the man of
narrow mind and limited resources of thought, than to him of
cultivated understanding and wider range of mental exercise. In the
one case, it is a punishment of the most terrific kind--and nothing
can equal that awful lethargy of the soul, that wraps a man as in a
garment, shrouding him from the bright world without, and leaving him
nought save the darkness of his gloomy nature to brood over. In the
other, there is something soothing amid all the melancholy of the
state, in the unbroken soaring of thought, that, lifting man above the
cares and collisions of daily life, bear him far away to the rich
paradise of his mind-made treasures--peopling space with images of
beauty--and leave him to dream away existence amid the scenes and
features he loved to gaze on.

Now, to turn for the moment from this picture, let us consider whether
our government is wise in this universal application of a punishment,
which, while it operates so severely in one case, may really be
regarded as a boon in the other.

The healthy peasant, who rises with the sun, and breathes the free air
of his native hills, may and will feel all the infliction of
confinement, which, while it chains his limbs, stagnates his
faculties. Not so the sedentary and solitary man of letters. Your cell
becomes _his_ study: the window may be somewhat narrower--the lattice,
that was wont to open to the climbing honeysuckle, may now be barred
with its iron stanchions; but he soon forgets this. “His mind to him a
palace is,” wherein he dwells at peace. Now, to put them on something
of a par, I have a suggestion to make to the legislature, which I
shall condense as briefly as possible. Never sentence your man of
education, whatever his offence, to solitary confinement; but condemn
him to dine out, in Dublin, for seven or fourteen years--or, in murder
cases, for the term of his natural life. For slight offences, a week’s
dinners, and a few evening parties might be sufficient--while old
offenders and bad cases, might be sent to the north side of the city.

It may be objected to this--that insanity, which so often occurs in
the one case, would supervene in the other; but I rather think not. My
own experience could show many elderly people of both sexes, long
inured to this state, who have only fallen into a sullen and apathetic
fatuity; but who, bating deafness and a look of dogged stupidity, are
still reasoning beings--what they once were, it is hard to say.

But I take the man who, for some infraction of the law, is suddenly
carried away from his home and friends--the man of mind, of reading,
and reflection. Imagine him, day after day, beholding the everlasting
saddle of mutton--the eternal three chickens, with the tongue in the
midst of them; the same travesty of French cookery that pervades the
side-dishes--the hot sherry, the sour Moselle: think of him, eating
out his days through these, unchanged, unchangeable--with the same
_cortège_ of lawyers and lawyers’ wives--doctors, male and
female--surgeons, subalterns, and, mayhap, attorneys: think of the old
jokes he has been hearing from childhood still ringing in his ears,
accompanied by the same laugh which he has tracked from its burst in
boyhood to its last cackle in dotage: behold him, as he sits amid the
same young ladies, in pink and blue, and the same elderly ones, in
scarlet and purple; see him, as he watches every sign and pass-word
that have marked these dinners for the long term of his sentence, and
say if his punishment be not indeed severe.

Then think how edifying the very example of his suffering, as, with
pale cheek and lustreless eye--silent, sad, and lonely--he sits there!
How powerfully such a warning must speak to others, who, from accident
or misfortune, may be momentarily thrown in his society.

The suggestion, I own, will demand a much more ample detail, and
considerable modification. Among other precautions, for instance, more
than one convict should not be admitted to any table, lest they might
fraternize together, and become independent of the company in mutual
intercourse, &c.

These may all, however, be carefully considered hereafter: the
principle is the only thing I would insist on for the present, and now
leave the matter in the hands of our rulers.


Of all the virtues which grace and adorn the inhabitants of these
islands, I know of none which can in anywise be compared with the deep
and profound veneration we show to old age. Not content with paying it
that deference and respect so essentially its due, we go even further,
and by a courteous adulation would impose upon it the notion, that
years have not detracted from the gifts which were so conspicuous in
youth, and that the winter of life is as full of promise and
performance, as the most budding hours of spring-time.

Walk through the halls of Greenwich and Chelsea--or, if the excursion
be too far for you, as a Dubliner, stroll down to the Old Man’s
Hospital, and cast your eyes on those venerable “fogies,” as they are
sometimes irreverently called, and look with what a critical and
studious politeness the state has invested every detail of their daily
life. Not fed, housed, or clothed like the “debris” of humanity, to
whom the mere necessaries of existence were meted out, but actually a
species of flattering illusion is woven around them. They are dressed
in a uniform; wear a strange, quaint military costume; are officered
and inspected like soldiers; mount guard; answer roll-call, and mess
as of yore.

They are permitted, from time to time, to clean and burnish pieces of
ordnance, old, time-worn, and useless as themselves, and are marched
certain short and suitable distances to and from their dining-hall,
with all the “pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war.” I like
all this. There is something of good and kindly feeling in
perpetuating the delusion that has lasted for so many years of life,
and making the very resting-place of their meritorious services recall
to them the details of those duties, for the performance of which they
have reaped their country’s gratitude.

The same amiable feeling, the same grateful spirit of respect, would
seem, from time to time, to actuate the different governments that
wield our destinies, in their promotions to the upper house.

Some old, feeble, partizan of the ministry, who has worn himself to a
skeleton by late sittings; dried, like a potted herring, by committee
labour; hoarse with fifty years’ cheering of his party, and deaf from
the cries of “divide” and “adjourn” that have been ringing in his ears
for the last cycle of his existence, is selected for promotion to the
peerage. He was eloquent in his day, too, perhaps; but that day is
gone by. His speech upon a great question was once a momentous event,
but now his vote is mumbled in tones scarce audible.--Gratefully
mindful of his “has been,” his party provide him with an asylum,
where the residue of his days may be passed in peace and pleasantness.

Careful not to break the spell that has bound him to life, they
surround him with some semblance of his former state, suited in all
respects to his age, his decrepitude, and his debility; they pour
water upon the leaves of his politics, and give him a weak and
pleasant beverage, that can never irritate his nerves, nor destroy his
slumbers. Some insignificant bills--some unimportant appeals--some
stray fragments that fall from the tables of sturdier politicians, are
his daily diet; and he dozes away the remainder of life, happy and
contented in the simple and beautiful delusion that he is legislating
and ruling--just as warrantable the while, as his compeer of Chelsea,
in deeming his mock parades the forced marches of the Peninsula, and
his Sunday guards the dispositions for a Toulouse or a Waterloo.


The battle between the “big and little-endians” in Gulliver, was
nothing to the fight between the Destructives and Conservatives of the
Irish Art Union. A few months since the former party deciding that the
engraved plate of Mr. Burton’s picture should be broken up; the latter
protesting against the Vandalism of destroying a first-rate work of
art, and preventing the full triumph of the artist’s genius, in the
circulation of a print so creditable to himself and to his country.

The great argument of the Destructives was this:--We are the devoted
friends of art--we love it--we glory in it--we cherish it: yea, we
even give a guinea a-year a-piece for the encouragement of a society
established for its protection and promotion;--this society pledging
themselves that we shall have in return--what think ye?--the immortal
honour of raising a school of painting in our native country?--the
conscientious sense of a high-souled patriotism?--the prospect of
future estimation at the hands of a posterity who are to benefit by
our labours? Not at all: nothing of all this. We are far too great
materialists for such shadowy pleasures; we are to receive a plate,
whose value is in the direct ratio of its rarity, “which shall
certainly be of more than the amount of our subscription,” and, maybe,
of five times that sum. The fewer the copies issued, the rarer (_i.
e._, the dearer) each impression. We are the friends of
art--therefore, we say, smash the copper-plate, destroy every vestige
of the graver’s art, we are supplied, and heaven knows to what price
these engravings may not subsequently rise!

[Illustration: “This is a Rembrandt.”]

Now, I like these people. There is something bold, something masterly,
something decided, in their coming forward and fighting the battle on
its true grounds. There is no absurd affectation about the circulation
of a clever picture disseminating in remote and scarce-visited
districts the knowledge of a great man and a great work; there is no
prosy nonsense about encouraging the genius of our own country, and
showing with pride to her prouder sister, that we are not unworthy to
contend in the race with her. Nothing of this.--They resolve
themselves, by an open and candid admission, into a committee of
printsellers, and they cry with one voice--“No free trade in ‘The
Blind Girl’--no sliding scale--no fixed duty--nothing save absolute,
actual prohibition!” It is with pride I confess myself of this party:
perish art! down with painting! to the ground with every effort of
native genius! but keep up the price of our engraving, which, with the
rapid development of Mr. Burton’s talent, may yet reach ten, nay,
twenty guineas for an impression. But in the midst of my enthusiasm, a
still small voice of fear is whispering ever:--Mayhap this gifted man
may live to eclipse the triumphs of his youthful genius: it may be,
that, as he advances in life, his talents, matured by study and
cultivation, may ascend to still higher flights, and this, his early
work, be merely the beacon-light that attracted men in the outset of
his career, and only be esteemed as the first throes of his intellect.
What is to be done in this case? It is true we have suppressed “The
Blind Girl;” we have smashed _that_ plate; but how shall we prevent
him from prosecuting those studies that already are leading him to the
first rank of his profession? Disgust at our treatment may do much;
but yet, his mission may suggest higher thoughts than are assailable
by us and our measures. I fear, now, that but one course is open; and
it is with sorrow I confess, that, however indisposed to the shedding
of blood, however unsuited by my nature and habits to murderous deeds,
I see nothing for us but--to smash Mr. Burton.

By accepting this suggestion, not only will the engravings, but the
picture itself, attain an increased value. If dead men are not
novelists, neither are they painters; and Mr. Burton, it is expected,
will prove no exception to the rule. Get rid of him, then, at once,
and by all means. Let this resolution be brought forward at the next
general meeting, by any leader of the Destructive party, and I pledge
myself to second and defend it, by every argument, used with such
force and eloquence for the destruction of the copper-plate. I am sure
the talented gentleman himself will, when he is put in possession of
our motives, offer no opposition to so natural a desire on our part,
but will afford every facility in his power for being, as the war-cry
of the party has it, “broken up and destroyed.”



If the wise Calif who studied mankind by sitting on the bridge at
Bagdad, had lived in our country, and in our times, he doubtless would
have become a subscriber to the Kingstown railway. There, for the
moderate sum of some ten or twelve pounds per annum, he might have
indulged his peculiar vein, while wafted pleasantly through the air,
and obtained a greater insight into character and individuality,
inasmuch as the objects of his investigation would be all sitting
shots, at least for half an hour. Segur’s “Quâtre Ages de la Vie”
never marked out mankind like the half-hour trains. To the uninitiated
and careless observer, the company would appear a mixed and
heterogeneous mass of old and young, of both sexes--some sickly, some
sulky, some solemn, and some shy. Classification of them would be
deemed impossible. Not so, however; for, as to the ignorant the
section of a mountain would only present some confused heap of stone
and gravel, clay and marl; to the geologist, strata of divers kinds,
layers of various ages, would appear, all indicative of features, and
teeming with interests, of which the other knew nothing: so, to the
studious observer, this seeming commixture of men, this tangled web of
humanity, unravels itself before him, and he reads them with pleasure
and with profit.

So thoroughly distinctive are the classes, as marked out by the hour
of the day, that very little experience would enable the student to
pronounce upon the travellers--while so striking are the features of
each class, that “given one second-class traveller, to find out the
contents of a train,” would be the simplest problem in algebra. As for
myself, I never work the equation: the same instinct that enabled
Cuvier, when looking at a broken molar tooth, to pronounce upon the
habits, the size, the mode of life and private opinions of some
antediluvian mammoth, enables me at a glance to say--“This is the
apothecaries’ train--here we are with the Sandycoves.”

You are an early riser--some pleasant proverb about getting a worm for
breakfast, instilled into you in childhood, doubtless inciting you:
and you hasten down to the station, just in time to be too late for
the eight o’clock train to Dublin. This is provoking; inasmuch as no
scrutiny has ever enabled any traveller to pry into the habits and
peculiarities of the early voyager. Well, you lounge about till the
half-after, and then the _conveniency_ snorts by, whisks round at the
end, takes a breathing canter alone for a few hundred yards, and comes
back with a grunt, to resume its old drudgery. A general scramble for
places ensues--doors bang--windows are shut and opened--a bell
rings--and, snort! snort! ugh, ugh, away you go. Now--would you
believe it?--every man about you, whatever be his age, his size, his
features, or complexion, has a little dirty blue bag upon his knees,
filled with something. They all know each other--grin, smile, smirk,
but don’t shake hands--a polite reciprocity--as they are none of the
cleanest: cut little dry jokes about places and people unknown, and
mix strange phrases here and there through the dialogue, about
“_demurrers_ and _declarations_, traversing _in prox_ and _quo
warranto_.” You perceive it at once--it is very dreadful; but they are
all attorneys. The ways of Providence are, however, inscrutable; and
you arrive in safety in Dublin.

Now, I am not about to take you back; for at this hour of the morning
you have nothing to reward your curiosity. But, with your leave, we’ll
start from Kingstown again at nine. Here comes a fresh, jovial-looking
set of fellows. They have bushy whiskers, and geraniums in the
button-hole of their coats. They are traders of various sorts--men of
sugar, soap, and sassafras--Macintoshes, molasses, mouse-traps--train-oil
and tabinets. They have, however, half an acre of agricultural
absurdity, divided into meadow and tillage, near the harbour, and they
talk bucolic all the way. Blindfold them all, and set them loose, and
you will catch them groping their way down Dame-street in half an

9½.--The housekeepers’ train. Fat, middle-aged women, with cotton
umbrellas--black stockings with blue _fuz_ on them; meek-looking men,
officiating as husbands, and an occasional small child, in plaid and
the small-pox.

10.--The lawyers’ train. Fierce-looking, dictatorial, categorical
faces look out of the window at the weather, with the stern glance
they are accustomed to bestow on the jury, and stare at the sun in the
face, as though to say--“None of your prevarication with _me_; answer
me, on your oath, is it to rain or not?”

10½.--The return of the doctors. They have been out on a morning beat,
and are going home merry or mournful, as the case may be. Generally
the former, as the sad ones take to the third class. These are jocose,
droll dogs; the restraint of physic over, they unbend, and chat
pleasantly, unless there happen to be a sickly gentleman present, when
the instinct of the craft is too strong for them; and they talk of
their wonderful cures of Mr. Popkins’s knee, or Mr. Murphy’s elbow, in
a manner very edifying.

11.--The men of wit and pleasure. These are, I confess, difficult of
detection; but the external signs are very flash waistcoats, and
guard-chains, black canes, black whiskers, and strong Dublin accents.
A stray governess or two will be found in this train. They travel in
pairs, and speak a singular tongue, which a native of Paris might
suppose to be Irish.



Should you ask, Who is the greatest tyrant of modern days? Mr.
O’Connell will tell you--Nicholas, or Espartero. An Irish Whig member
will reply, Dan himself. An _attaché_ at an embassy would say, Lord
Palmerston,--“’Tis Cupid ever makes us slaves!” A French _deputé_ of
the Thiers party will swear it is Louis Philippe. Count D’Orsay will
say, his tailor. But I will tell you it is none of these: the most
pitiless autocrat of the nineteenth century is--the President of the
College of Physicians.

Of all the unlimited powers possessed by irresponsible man, I know of
nothing at all equal to his, who, _mero motu_, of his own free will
and caprice, can at any moment call a meeting of the dread body at
whose head he stands, assemble the highest dignitaries of the
land--archbishops and bishops, chancellors, chief barons, and chief
remembrancers--to listen to the minute anatomy of a periwinkle’s
mustachios, or some singular provision in the physiology of a crab’s
breeches-pocket: all of whom, _luto non obstante_, must leave their
peaceful homes and warm hearths to “assist” at a meeting in which,
nine cases out of ten, they take as much interest as a Laplander does
in the health of the Grand Lama; or Mehemet Ali in the proceedings of
Father Mathew.

By nine o’clock the curtain rises, displaying a goodly mob of medical
celebrities: the old ones characterised by the astute look and
searching glance, long and shrewd practice in the world’s little
failings ever confers; the young ones, anxious, wide awake, and
fidgetty, not quite satisfied with what services they may be called on
to render in candle-snuffing and crucible work; while between both is
your transition M.D.--your medical tadpole, with some practice and
more pretension, his game being to separate from the great unfeed, and
rub his shoulders among the “dons” of the art, from whose rich board
certain crumbs are ever falling, in the shape of country jaunts, small
operations, and smaller consultings. Through these promiscuously walk
the “_gros bonnets_” of the church and the bar, with now and then--if
the scene be Ireland--a humane Viceroy, and a sleepy commander of the
forces. Round the room are glass cases filled with what at first blush
you might be tempted to believe were the _ci-devant_ professors of the
college, embalmed, or in spirits; but on nearer inspection you detect
to be a legion of apes, monkeys, and ourangoutangs, standing or
sitting in grotesque attitudes. Among them, pleasingly diversified,
you discover murderers’ heads, parricides’ busts in plaster,
bicephalous babies, and shapeless monsters with two rows of teeth.
Here you are regaled with refreshments “with what appetite you may,”
and chat away the time, until the tinkle of a small bell announces the
approach of the lecture.

For the most part, this is a good, drowsy, sleep-disposing affair of
an hour long, written to show, that from some peculiarity lately
discovered in the cerebral vessels, man’s natural attitude was to
stand on his head; or that, from chemical analysis just invented, it
was clear, if we live to the age of four hundred years and upwards,
part of our duodenum will be coated with a delicate aponeurosis of
sheet iron.

Now, with propositions of this kind I never find fault. I am satisfied
to play my part as a biped in this breathing world, and to go out of
it too, without any rivalry with Methuselah. But I’ll tell you with
what I am by no means satisfied,--nor shall I ever feel satisfied--nor
do I entertain any sentiment within a thousand miles of gratitude to
the man who tells me, that food--beef and mutton, veal, lamb, &c.--are
nothing but gas and glue. The wretch who found out the animalculæ in
clean water was bad enough. There are simple-minded people who
actually take this as a beverage: what must be their feelings now, if
they reflect on the myriads of small things like lobsters; with claws
and tails, all fighting and swallowing each other, that are disporting
in their stomachs? But only think of him who converts your cutlet into
charcoal, and your steak into starch! It may stick to your ribs after
that, to be sure; but will it not stick harder to your conscience?
With what pleasure do you help yourself to your haunch, when the
conviction is staring you in the face, that what seems venison is but
adipose matter and azote? That you are only making a great Nassau
balloon of yourself when you are dreaming of hard condition, and
preparing yourself for the fossil state when blowing the froth off
your porter.

Of latter years the great object of science would appear to be an
earnest desire to disenchant us from all the agreeable and pleasant
dreams we have formed of life, and to make man insignificant without
making him humble. Thus, one class of philosophers labour hard to
prove that manhood is but monkeyhood--that a slight adaptation of the
tail to the customs of civilized life has enabled us to be seated;
while the invention of looking-glasses, bear’s grease, cold cream, and
macassar, have cultivated our looks into the present fashion.

Another, having felt over our skulls, gravely asserts, “There is a
_vis à tergo_ of wickedness implanted in us, that must find vent in
murder and bloodshed.” While the magnetic folk would make us believe
that we are merely a kind of ambulating electric-machine, to be
charged at will by the first M. Lafontaine we meet with, and mayhap
explode from over-pressure.

While such liberties are taken with us without, the case is worse
within. Our circulation is a hydraulic problem; our stomach is a
mill--a brewing vat--a tanner’s yard--a crucible, or a retort. You
yourself, in all the resplendent glory of your braided frock, and your
decoration of the Guelph, are nothing but an aggregate of mechanical
and chemical inventions, as often going wrong as right; and your wife,
in the pride of her Parisian bonnet, and robe _à la Victorine_, is
only gelatine and adipose substance, phosphate of lime, and a little

Now, let me ask, what remains to us of life, if we are to be robbed of
every fascination and charm of existence in this fashion? And
again--has medical science so exhausted all the details of practical
benefit to mankind, that it is justified in these far-west
explorations into the realms of soaring fancy, or the gloomy depths of
chemical analysis? Hydrophobia, consumption, and tetanus are not so
curable that we can afford to waste our sympathies on chimpanzees:
nor is this world so pleasant that we must deny ourselves the
advantage of all its illusions, and throw away the garment in which
Nature has clothed her nakedness. No, no. There was sound philosophy
in Peter, in the “Tale of a Tub,” who assured his guests that whatever
their frail senses might think to the contrary, the hard crusts were
excellent and tender mutton; but I see neither rhyme nor reason in
convincing us, that amid all the triumphs of turtle and white bait,
Ardennes ham and _pâté de Strasbourg_, our food is merely coke and
glue, roach, lime, starch, and magnesia.



“God made the country,” said the poet: but in my heart I believe he
might have added--“The devil made architects.” Few cities--I scarcely
know of one--can boast of such environs as Dublin. The scenery,
diversified in its character, possesses attraction for almost every
taste: the woody glade--the romantic river--the wild and barren
mountain--the cultivated valley--the waving upland--the bold and
rocky coast, broken with promontory and island--are all to be found,
even within a few miles of the capital; while, in addition, the nature
of our climate confers a verdure and a freshness unequalled, imparting
a depth and colour to the landscape equal to the beauty of its

Whether you travel inland or coastwise, the country presents a
succession of sites for building, there being no style of house for
which a suitable spot cannot readily be found; and yet, with all this,
the perverse taste of man has contrived, by incongruous and
ill-conceived architecture, to mar almost every point of view, and
destroy every picturesque feature of the landscape.

The liberty of the subject is a bright and glorious prerogative; and
nowhere should its exercise be more freely conceded than in those
arrangements an individual makes for his own domestic comfort, and the
happiness of his home.

That one man likes a room in which three people form a crowd, and that
another prefers an apartment spacious as Exeter Hall, is a matter of
individual taste, with which the world has nothing whatever to do.
Your neighbour in the valley may like a cottage not larger than a
sugar-hogshead, with rats for company and beetles for bed-fellows;
your friend on the hill-side may build himself an imaginary castle,
with armour for furniture, and antique weapons for ornaments;--with
all this you have no concern--no more than with his banker’s book, or
the thoughts of his bosom: but should the one or the other, either by
a thing like a piggery, or an incongruous mass like a jail, destroy
all the beauty and mar all the effect of the scenery for miles round,
far beyond the precincts of his own small tenure--should he outrage
all the principles of taste, and violate every sentiment of landscape
beauty, by some poor and contemptible, or some pretentious and vulgar
edifice--then, do I say, you are really aggrieved; and against such a
man you have a just and equitable complaint, as one interfering with
the natural pleasures and just enjoyments to which, as a free citizen
of a free state, you have an indubitable, undeniable right.

That waving, undulating meadow, hemmed in with its dark woods, and
mirrored in the fair stream that flows peacefully beneath it, was
never, surely, intended to be disfigured with a square house like a
salt-box, and a verandah like a register-grate: the far-stretching
line of yellow coast that you see yonder, where the calm sea is
sleeping, land-locked by those jutting headlands, was never meant to
be pock-marked with those vile bathing lodges, with green baize
draperies drying before them.

Was that bold and granite-sided mountain made thus to be hewed out
into parterres for polyanthuses, and stable-lanes for Cockneys’
carmen?--or is the margin of our glorious bay, the deep frame-work of
the bright picture, to be carved into little terraces, with some
half-dozen slated cabins, or a row of stiff-looking, Leeson-street-like
houses, with brass knockers and a balcony? Forbid it, heaven! We have
a board of wide and inconvenient streets, who watch over all the
irregularities of municipal architecture, and a man is no more
permitted to violate the laws of good taste, than he is suffered to
transgress those of good morals. Why not have a similar body to
protect the fairer part of the created globe? Is Pill-lane more sacred
than Bray-head? Has Copper-alley stronger claims than the
Glen-of-the-Downs? Is the Cross-poddle more classic ground than


If you happen to pass by Dodd’s auction-room, on any Wednesday,
towards the hour of three in the afternoon, the chances are about
seven to one that you hear a sharp, smart voice articulating, somewhat
in this fashion:--“A very handsome tea-service, ladies. What shall I
say for this remarkably neat pattern? One tea-pot, one sugar-bowl, one
slop-basin, and twelve cups and saucers.--Show them round, Tim,” &c.

Now it is with no intention of directing the public eye to the “willow
pattern,” that I have alluded to this circumstance. It is simply,
because that thereby hangs an association, and I have never heard the
eloquent expatiator on china, without thinking of the Belgian navy,
which consists of--“One gun-boat, one pinnace, one pilot, one
commodore, and twelve little sailors.” Unquestionably, there never was
a cheaper piece of national extravagance than this, nor do I believe
that any public functionary enjoys a more tranquil and undisturbed
existence than the worthy “_ministre de la marine_,” whose duty it is
to preside over the fleet I have mentioned. Once, and once only do I
remember that his quiet life was shaken by the rude assault of
political events: it was when the imposing force under his sway
undertook a voyage of discovery some miles down the Scheldt, which
they did alike to the surprise and admiration of the whole land.

After a day’s peaceful drifting with the river’s current, they reached
the fort of Lillo, where, _more majorum_, as night was falling, they
prudently dropped anchor, having a due sense of the danger that might
accrue “from running down a continent in the dark.” There was,
besides, a feeling of high-souled pride in anchoring within sight,
under the guns, as it were, of the Dutch fort--the insolent Dutch,
whom they, with some aid from France--as the Irishman said of his
marriage, for love, and a trifle of money--had driven from their
country; and, although the fog rendered everything invisible, and the
guns were spiked, still the act of courage was not disparaged; and
they fell to, and sang the Brabançon, and drank Flemish beer till

Happy and patriotic souls! little did you know, that amid your dreams
of national greatness, some half-dozen imps of Dutch middies were
painting out the magnificent tricolor streaks that adorned your good
craft, and making the whole one mass of dirty black.

Such was the case, however; and when day broke, those brilliant
emblems of Belgian independence had vanished, and in their place a
murky line of pitch now stood.

Homeward they bent their course, sadder and wiser men; and, to their
credit be it spoken, having told their sorrows to their sage minister,
they have lived a life of happy retirement, and never strayed beyond
the peaceful limits of the Antwerp basin.

Far be from me the unworthy object of drawing before the public gaze
the blissful and unpretending service, that shuns the noontide glitter
of the world’s applause, and better loves the quiet solitude of their
own unobtrusive waters; and had they thus remained, nothing would have
tempted me to draw them from their obscurity. But alas! national
ambition has visited even the seclusion of this service. Not content
with coasting voyages, some twelve miles down their muddy river--not
satisfied with lording it over fishing smacks and herring wherries,
this great people have resolved on becoming a maritime power in blue
water, and running a race of rivalry with England, France, and Russia;
and to it they have set in right earnest.

They began by purchasing a steam-vessel, which happens to turn out on
such a scale of size, as to be inadmissible into any harbour they
possess. By dint of labour, time, cost, and great outlay, they
succeeded, after four months, in getting her into dock. But alas! if
it took that time to admit her, it takes six months to let her out
again; and, when out, what are they to do with her?

When Admiral Dalrymple turned farmer, he mentions in one of his
letters, the sufferings his unhappy ignorance of all agricultural
pursuits involved him in, and feelingly tells us: “I have given ten
pounds for a dunghill, and would now willingly give any man twenty, to
tell me what to do with it.” This was exactly the case with the
Belgians. They had bought a steam-ship, they put coals in her, and a
crew; and then, for the life and soul of them, they did not know what
to do with them.

They desired an export trade--a _débouché_ for their Namur cutlery and
Verviers’ frieze. But where could they go? They had no colonies.
Holland had, to be sure: but then, they had quarrelled with Holland,
and there was no use repining. “What can’t be cured,” &c. Besides, if
they had lost a colony, they had gained a cardinal; and if they had no
merchantmen, they had at least high-mass; and if they were excluded
from Batavia, why they had free access to the “Abbé Boon.”

There were, however, some impracticable people engaged in traffic,
who would not listen to these great advantages, and who were obstinate
enough to suppose that the country was as prosperous when it had a
market for its productions, as it was when it had none. And although
the priests, who have multiplied some hundredfold since the
revolution, were willing “to consume” to any extent, yet, unhappily,
they were not as profitable customers as their _ci-devant_ friends
beyond sea.

Nothing then remained but to have a colony, and after much
consideration, long thought, and anxious deliberation, it was
announced to the chamber that the Belgians had a colony, and that the
colony was called “Guatemala.”

When Sancho Panza appealed to Don Quixote, to realise his promised
dream of greatness, you may remember, he always asked for an island:
“Make me governor of an island!” There was something defined,
accurate, and tangible, as it were, in the sea-girt possession, that
suggested to the honest squire’s mind the idea of perfect, independent
rule. And in the same way, the Belgians desired to have an island.

Some few, less imaginative, suspected, however, that an island must
always have its limit to importation quicker attained than a
continent, and they preferred some vast, unexplored tract, like India,
or Central America, where the consumption of corduroy and cast-iron
might have an unexhausted traffic for centuries.

Now, it is a difficult condition to find out that spot on a map which
should realise both expectations. Happily, however, M. Van de Weyer
had to deal with a kind and confiding people, whose knowledge of
geography is about equal to a blind man’s appreciation of scarlet or
sky-blue. Not only, therefore, did he represent to one party, the
newly-acquired possession as an island, and to the other as a vast
continent, but he actually shifted its _locale_ about the globe, from
the tropics to the north-pole, with such admirable dexterity, that not
only is all cavil silenced about its commercial advantages, but its
very climate has an advocate in every taste, and an admirer in every
household. Steam-engines, therefore, are fabricated; cannon are cast;
railroads are in preparation; broadcloth is weaving; flax is growing;
lace is in progress, all through the kingdom, for the new colony of
Guatemala,--whose only inhabitants are little grateful for the
profound solicitude they are exciting, inasmuch as, being but rats and
sea-gulls, their modes of living and thinking give them a happy
indifference about steam-travelling, and the use of fine linen.

No matter;--the country is prospering--shares are rising--speculations
are rife--loans are effected every day in the week, and M. Van de
Weyer sleeps in the peaceful composure of a man who knows in his
heart, that even if they get their unwieldy craft to sea, there is not
a man in the kingdom who could, by any ingenuity, discover the
whereabout of the far-famed Guatemala.



Lord Chesterfield once remarked that a thoroughly vulgar man could not
speak the most common-place word, nor perform the most ordinary act,
without imparting to the one and the other a portion of his own inborn
vulgarity. And exactly so is it with the Yankees; not a question can
arise, no matter how great its importance, nor how trivial its
bearings, upon which, the moment they express an opinion, they do not
completely invest with their own native coarseness, insolence, and
vulgarity. The boundary question was made a matter of violent
invective and ruffian abuse; the right of search was treated with the
same powers of ribaldry towards England; and now we have these amiable
and enlightened citizens defending the wholesale piracy of British
authors, not on the plausible but unjust pretext of the benefit to be
derived from an extended acquaintance with English literature; but,
only conceive! because, if “English authors were invested with any
control over the republication of their own books, it would be no
longer possible for American editors to alter and adapt them as they
do now to the American taste.” However incredible this may seem, the
passage formed part of a document actually submitted to congress, and
favourably received by that body. This is not the place for me to
dwell on the unprincipled usurpation by which men who have contributed
nothing to the production of a work, assume the power of reaping its
benefits, and profiting by its success. The wholesale robbery of
English authors has been of late well and ably exposed. The gifted
and accomplished author of “Darnley” and “The Gipsy” has devoted his
time and his talents to the subject; and although the world at large
have few sympathies with the wrongs of those who live to please them,
yet the day is not distant when the rights of a large and influential
body, who stamp the age with the image of their own minds, can be no
longer neglected, and the security of literary property must become at
least as great as of mining scrip, or the shares in a railroad.

My present business is with the Yankee declaration, that English
authors to be readable in America must be passed through the ordeal of
re-writing. I scarcely think that the annals of impertinence and
ignorance could equal this. What! is it seriously meant that Scott and
Byron, Wordsworth, Southey, Rogers, Bulwer, James, Dickens, and a host
of others, must be converted into the garbage of St. Giles, or the
fœtid slang of Wapping, before they can pass muster before an American
public? Must the book reek of “gin twist,” “cock tail,” and fifty
other abominations, ere it reach an American drawing-room? Must the
“bowie-knife and the whittling-stick” mark its pages; and the coarse
jest of some tobacco-chewing, wild-cat-whipping penny-a-liner
disfigure and sully the passages impressed with the glowing brilliancy
of Scott, or the impetuous torrent of Byron’s genius? Is this a true
picture of America? Is her reading public indeed degraded to this
pass? I certainly have few sympathies with brother Jonathan. I like
not his spirit of boastful insolence, his rude speech, or his
uncultivated habits; but I confess I am unwilling to credit this. I
hesitate to believe in such an amount of intellectual depravity as can
turn from the cultivated writings of Scott and Bulwer to revel in the
coarseness and vulgarity of a Yankee editor, vamping up his stolen
wares with oaths from the far west, or vapid jests from life in the
Prairies. Again, what shall I say of those who follow this traffic? Is
it not enough to steal that which is not theirs, to possess themselves
of what they have no right or claim to? Must they mangle the corpse
when they have extinguished life? Must they, while they cheat the
author of his gain, rob him also of his fair fame? “He who steals my
purse steals trash,” but how shall I characterise that extent of
baseness that dares to step in between an author and his
reputation--inserting between him and posterity their own illiterate
degeneracy and insufferable stupidity?

Would not the ghost of Sir Walter shudder in his grave at the thought
of the fair creations of his mind--Jeanie Deans and Rebecca--Yankeefied
into women of Long Island, or damsels from Connecticut? Is Childe
Harold to be a Kentucky-man? and are the vivid pictures of life
Bulwer’s novels abound in, to be converted into the prison-discipline
school of manners, that prevail in New York and Boston, where, as
Hamilton remarks, “the men are about as like gentlemen, as are our new
police?” What should we say of the person who having stolen a
Rembrandt or a Vandyke from its owner, would seek to legalise his
theft by daubing over the picture with his own colours--obliterating
every trace of the great master, and exulting that every stroke of his
brush defaced some touch of genius, and that beneath the savage
vandalism of his act, every lineament of the artist was obliterated? I
ask you, would not mere robbery be a virtue beside such a deed as
this? Who could compare the sinful promptings to which want and
starvation give birth to, to the ruffian profligacy of such
barbarity? And now, when I tell you, that not content with this, not
satisfied to desecrate the work, the wretch goes a step farther and
stabs its author--what shall I say of him now, who, when he had
defaced the picture, marred every effect, distorted all drawing, and
rendered the whole a chaotic mass of indistinguishable nonsense, goes
forth to the world, and announces, “This is a Rembrandt, this is a
Vandyke: ay, look at it and wonder: but with all its faults, and all
its demerits, it is cried up above our native artists; it has got the
seal of the old world’s approval upon it, and in vain we of younger
origin shall dare to dissent from its judgments.” Now, once more, I
say, can you show the equal of this moral turpitude? and such I pledge
myself is the conduct of your transatlantic pirates with respect to
British literature. Mr. Dickens, no mean authority, asserts that in
the same sheet in which they boast the sale of many thousand copies of
an English reprint, they coarsely attack the author of that very book,
and heap scurrility and slander on his head.

Yes, such is the fact; not satisfied with robbery, they murder
reputation also. And then we find them expatiating in most moving
terms over the superiority of their own neglected genius!



A very curious paper might be made by any one who, after an absence of
some years from Ireland, should chronicle his new impressions of the
country, and compare them with his old ones. The changes time works
everywhere, even in a brief space, are remarkable, but particularly so
in a land where everything is in a state of transition--where the
violence with which all subjects are treated, the excited tone people
are wont to assume on every topic, are continually producing their
effects on society--dismembering old alliances--begetting new
combinations. Such is the case with us here; and every year evidences
by the strange anomalies it presents in politics, parties, public
feeling, and private habits, how little chance there is for a prophet
to make a character by his predictions regarding Ireland. He would,
indeed, be a skilful chemist who would attempt the analysis of our
complex nature; but far greater and more gifted must he be, who, from
any consideration of the elements, would venture to pronounce on the
probable results of their action and re-action, and declare what we
shall be some twenty years hence.

Oh, for a good Irish “Rip van Winkle,” who would at least let us look
on the two pictures--what we were, and what we are. He should be a
Clare man--none others have the same shrewd insight into character,
the same intuitive knowledge of life; none others detect, like them,
the flaws and fractures in human nature. There may be more
mathematical genius in Cork, and more classic lore in Kerry; there may
be, I know there is, a more astute and patient pains-taking spirit of
calculation in the northern counties; but for the man who is only to
have one rapid glance at the game, and say how it fares--to throw a
quick _coup-d’œil_ on the board, and declare the winner, Clare for

Were I a lawgiver, I would admit any attorney to practise who should
produce sufficient evidence of his having served half the usual time
of apprenticeship in Ennis. The Pontine marshes are not so prolific of
fever, as the air of that country of ready-witted intelligence and
smartness; and now, ere I return from my digression, let me solemnly
declare, that, for the opinion here expressed, I have not received any
money or moneys, nor do I expect to receive such, or any place,
pension, or other reward, from Tom Steele or any one else concerned.

Well, we have not got this same western “Rip van Winkle,” nor do I
think we are likely to do so, for this simple reason, that if he were
a Clare man, he’d never have been caught “napping;” so, now, let us
look about us and see if, on the very surface of events, we shall not
find something to our purpose. But where to begin, that’s the
question: no clue is left to the absentee of a few years by which to
guide his path. He may look in vain even for the old landmarks which
he remembered in boyhood; for somehow he finds them all in
masquerade. The goodly King William he had left in all the effulgence
of his Orange livery, is now a cross between a river-god and one of
Dan’s footmen. Let him turn to the Mansion-house to revive his memory
of the glorious hip, hip, hurra’s he has shouted in the exuberance of
his loyalty, and straightway he comes plump against Lord Mayor
O’Connell, proceeding in state to Marlborough-street chapel. He asks
who are these plump gentlemen with light blue silk collars, and
well-rounded calves, whose haughty bearing seems to awe the beholders,
and he is told that he knew them of old, as wearing dusky black coats
and leather shorts; pleasant fellows in those days, and well versed in
punch and polemics. The hackney-coaches have been cut down into
covered cars, and the “bulky” watchmen reduced to new police. Let him
turn which way he will--let it be his pleasure to hear the popular
preacher, the eloquent lawyer, or the scientific lecturer, and if his
memory be only as accurate as his hearing, he will confess “time’s
changes;” and when he learns who are deemed the fashionable
entertainers of the day--at whose boards sit lords and baronets most
frequently, he will exclaim with the poet--

    “Pritchard’s genteel, and Garrick’s six feet high.”

Well, well, it’s bad philosophy, and bad temper, too, to quarrel with
what is; nowhere is the wisdom of Providence more seen than in the
universal law, by which everything has its place somewhere; the
gnarled and bent sapling that would be rejected by the builder, is
exactly the piece adapted for the knee timber of a frigate; the
jagged, ill-formed rock that would ill suit the polished portico, is
invaluable in a rustic arch; and, perhaps, on the same principle,
dull lawyers make excellent judges, and the people who cannot speak
within the limits of Lindley Murray, are admirable public writers and
excellent critics; and as Doctor Pangloss was a good man “because he
knew what wickedness was,” so nothing contributes to the detection of
faults in others, like the daily practice of their commission by
ourselves; and never can any man predict failure to another with such
eloquence and impressiveness, as when he himself has experienced what
it is to “be damned.”

Here I am in another digression, and sorry am I not to follow it out
further; but for the present I must not--so now, to try back: I will
suppose my absentee friend to have passed his “day in town,” amazed
and surprised at the various changes about him; I will not bewilder
him with any glance at our politics, nor puzzle him with that game of
cross corners by which every one seems to have changed his place; nor
attempt any explanation of the mysterious doctrine by which the party
which affects the strongest attachment to the sovereign should exult
in any defeat to her armies; nor how the supporters of the government
contribute to its stability, by rabid attacks on its members, and
absurd comparisons of their own fitness for affairs, with the heads of
our best and wisest. These things he must have remembered long ago,
and with respect to them, we are pretty much as we were; but I will
introduce him to an evening party--a society where the _élite_ of
Dublin are assembled; where, amid the glare of wax lights, and the
more brilliant blaze of beauty, our fairest women and most gifted and
exalted men are met together for enjoyment. At first blush there will
appear to him to have been no alteration nor change here. Even the
very faces he will remember are the same he saw a dozen years ago:
some pursy gentlemen with bald foreheads or grey whiskers who danced
before, are now grown whisters; a few of the ladies, who then figured
in the quadrille, have assumed the turban, and occupy an ottoman; the
gay, laughing, light-hearted youth he formerly hobnobbed with at
supper, is become a rising barrister, and has got up a look of learned
pre-occupation, much more imposing to his sister than to Sir Edward
Sugden; the wild, reckless collegeman, whose name was a talisman in
the “Shades,” is now a soft-voiced young physician, vibrating in his
imitation of the two great leaders in his art, and alternately
assuming the “Epic or the Lake” school of physic. All this may amuse,
but cannot amaze him: such is the natural current of events, and he
ought to be prepared for it. The evening wears on, however; the frigid
politeness and ceremonious distance which we have for some years back
been borrowing from our neighbours, and which seem to suit our warmer
natures pretty much as a suit of plate armour would a _danseuse_ in a
ballet--this begins to wear off, and melt away before the genial heat
of Irish temperament; “the mirth and fun grow fast and furious;” and a
new dance is called for. What, then, is the amazement, shall I say the
horror, of our friend to hear the band strike up a tune which he only
remembered as associated with everything base, low, and disgraceful;
which, in the days of his “libertine youth,” he only heard at riotous
carousals and roistering festivals; whose every bar is associated with
words--ay, there’s the rub--which, in his maturer years, he blushes to
have listened to! he stares about him in wonderment; for a moment he
forgets that the young lady who dances with such evident enjoyment of
the air, is ignorant of its history; he watches her sparkling eye and
animated gesture, without remembering that _she_ knows nothing of the
associations at which her partner is, perhaps, smirking; he sees her
_vis-à-vis_ exchanging looks with his friend, that denote _their_
estimation of the music; and in very truth, so puzzled is he, he
begins to distrust his senses. The air ceases, and is succeeded by
another no less known, no less steeped in the same class of
associations, and so to the conclusion. These remembrances of past
wickedness go on “crescendo,” till the _finale_ caps the whole with a
melody, to which even the restraints of society are scarcely able to
prevent a humming accompaniment of concurring voices, and--these are
the Irish Quadrilles! What can account for this? What special pleading
will find an argument in its favour? When Wesley objected to all the
good music being given to the devil, he only excused his adoption of
certain airs which, in their popular form, had never been connected
with religious words and feelings; and in his selection of them, was
rigidly mindful to take such only as in their character became easily
convertible to his purpose: he never enlisted those to which, by an
unhappy destiny, vulgarising and indelicate associations have been so
connected as to become inseparably identified; and although the object
is widely different, I cannot see how, for the purposes of social
enjoyment, we should have diverged from his example. If we wished a
set of Irish quadrilles, how many good and suitable airs had we not
ready at our hands? Is not our national music proverbially rich, and
in the very character of music that would suit us? Are there not airs
in hundreds, whose very names are linked with pleasing and poetic
memories, admirably adapted to the purpose? Why commit the choice, as
in this case, to a foreigner who knew nothing of them, nor of us? And
why permit him to introduce into our drawing-rooms, through the means
of a quadrille band, a class of reminiscences which suggest levity in
young men, and shame in old ones? No, no; if the Irish quadrilles are
to be fashionable, let it be in those classic precincts where their
merits are best appreciated, and let Monsieur Jullien’s popularity be
great in Barrack-street!


From Carrickfergus to Cape Clear, the whole island is on the “_qui
vive_” as to whether her gracious majesty the queen will vouchsafe to
visit us in the ensuing summer. The hospitable and magnificent
reception which awaited her in Scotland has given a more than ordinary
impulse to every plan by which we might evince our loyalty, and
exhibit ourselves to our sovereign in a point of view not less
favourable than our worthy neighbours across the sea.

At first blush, nothing would seem more easy to accomplish than this.
A very cursory glance at Mr. O’Connell’s speeches will convince any
one that a land more favourably endowed by nature, or blessed with a
finer peasantry, never existed: with features of picturesque beauty
dividing the attention of the traveller, with the fertility of the
soil; and, in fact, presenting such a panorama of loveliness, peace,
plenty, and tranquillity, that a very natural doubt might occur to Sir
Robert Peel’s mind in recommending this excursion to her majesty,
lest the charms of such an Arcadia should supersede the more homely
attractions of England, and “our ladye the queene” preferring the
lodge in the Phœnix to the ancient towers of Windsor, fix her
residence amongst us, and thus at once repeal the Union.

It were difficult to say if some vision of this kind did not float
across the exalted imagination of the illustrious Daniel, amid that
shower of fortune’s favours such a visit would inevitably bring
down--baronetcies, knighthood, deputy-lieutenancies would rain upon
the land, and a general epidemic of feasting and festivity raise every
heart in the island, and nearly break Father Mathew’s.

If the Scotch be warm in their attachment, our affections stand at a
white heat; if they be enthusiastic, we can go clean mad; and for that
one bepraised individual who boasted he would never wash the hand
which had the honour to touch that of the queen, we could produce a
round ten thousand whose loyalty, looking both ways, would enable
them, under such circumstances, to claim superiority, as they had
never washed theirs since the hour of their birth.

Notwithstanding all these elements of hospitality, a more mature
consideration of the question would show how very difficult it would
be to compete successfully with the visit to Scotland. Clanship, the
remains of feudalism, and historical associations, whose dark colours
have been brought out into glowing brightness under the magic pencil
of Scott--national costume and national customs--the wild sports of
the wilder regions--all conspired to give a peculiar interest to this
royal progress; and from the lordly Baron of Breadalbane to the kilted
Highlander upon the hills, there was something of ancient splendour
and by-gone homeliness mixed up together that may well have evoked the
exclamation of our queen, who, standing on the terrace at Drummond,
and gazing on the scene below her, uttered--“HOW GRAND!”

Now, unfortunately in many, if not in all these advantages, we have no
participation. Clanship is unknown amongst us,--only one Irishman has
a tail, and even that is as ragged an appendage as need be. Our
national costume is nakedness; and of our national customs, we may
answer as the sailor did, who, being asked what he had to say in his
defence against a charge of stealing a quadrant, sagely replied--“Your
worship, it’s a damn’d ugly business, and the less that’s said about
it the better.”

Two doubts press upon us--who is to receive her Majesty; and how are
they to do it? They who have large houses generally happen to have
small fortunes, and among the few who have adequate means, there is
scarcely one who could accommodate one half of the royal suite. In
Scotland, everything worthy of being seen lies in a ring-fence. The
Highlands comprise all that is remarkable in the country; and thus the
tour of them presents a quick succession of picturesque beauty without
the interval of even half a day’s journey devoid of interest. Now, how
many weary miles must her Majesty travel in Ireland from one
remarkable spot to another--what scenes of misery and want must she
wade through from the south to the west. Would any charms of
scenery--would any warmth of hospitality--repay her for the anguish
such misery must inflict upon her, as her eye would range over the
wild tract of country where want and disease seem to have fixed their
dwelling, and where the only edifice that rises above the mud-cabin
of the way-side presents the red brick front of a union poor-house?
These, however, are sad topics--what are we to do with the Prince? His
Royal Highness loves sporting: we have scarcely a pheasant--we have
not one capercailzie in the island; but then we have our national
pastimes. If we cannot turn out a stag to amuse him, why we can
enlarge a tithe-proctor; and, instead of coming home proud that he has
bagged a roe, he shall exult in having brought down a rector. How poor
and insignificant would any _battue_ be in comparison with a good
midnight burning--how contemptible the pursuit of rabbits and hares,
when compared with a “tithe affray,” or the last collision with the
military in Tipperary. I have said that the Scotch have a national
costume; but if _semi_-nakedness be a charm in them, what shall be
said of us, who go the “whole hog?” The details of their ancient
dress--their tartan, their kilt, their philabeg, that offered so much
interest to the royal suite--how shall they vie with the
million-coloured patches of an Irishman’s garment? or what bonnet that
ever flaunted in the breeze is fit to compare with the easy jauntiness
of Paddy’s _caubeen_, through which, in lieu of a feather, a lock of
his hair is floating?

    “Nor clasp nor nodding plume was there;
    But for feather he wore one lock of hair.”


Then, again, how will the watch-fires that blazed upon the mountains
pale before the glare of a burning haggard; and what cheer that ever
rose from Highland throats will vie with the wild yell of ten thousand
Black-feet on the march of a midnight marauding? No, no; it is quite
clear the Scotch have no chance with us. Her Majesty may not have all
her expectations fulfilled by a visit to Ireland; but most assuredly a
“touch of our quality” will show her many things no near country could
present, and the probability is, she will neither have time nor
leisure for a trip to New Zealand.

Everything that indicates nationality will then have its reward. Grave
dignitaries of the Church will practise the bagpipes, and
prothonotaries will refresh their jig-dancing; whatever is Irish, will
be _la vogue_; and, instead of reading that her Majesty wore a shawl
of the Gordon tartan, manufactured at Paisley, we shall find that the
Queen appeared in a novel pattern of rags, devised at Mud Island;
while his Royal Highness will compliment the mildness of our climate
by adopting our national dress. What a day for Ireland that will
be!--we shall indeed be “great, glorious, and free;” and if the
evening only concludes with the Irish Quadrilles, I have little doubt
that her Majesty will repeat her exclamation of “How grand!” as she
beholds the members of the royal suite moving gracefully to the air of

Let us, then, begin in time. Let there be an order of council to
preserve all the parsons, agents, tithe-proctors, and landlords till
June; let there be no more shooting in Tipperary for the rest of the
season; let us “burke” Father Mathew, and endeavour to make our heads
for the approaching festivities; and what between the new poor-law and
the tariff, I think we shall be by that time in as picturesque a state
of poverty as the most critical stickler for nationality would


By no one circumstance in our social condition is a foreigner more
struck than by the fact that there is not a want, an ailing, an
incapacity for which British philanthropy has not supplied its remedy
of some sort or other. A very cursory glance at the advertising
columns of the _Times_ will be all-sufficient to establish this
assertion. Mental and bodily infirmities, pecuniary difficulties,
family afflictions, natural defects, have all their separate _corps_
of comforters; and there is no suffering condition in life that has
not a benevolent paragraph specially addressed to its consolation. To
the “afflicted with gout;” to “all with corns and bunions;” to “the
friends of a nervous invalid”--who is, by the bye, invariably a
vicious madman; to “the childless;” to “those about to marry.” Such
are the headings of various little crumbs of comfort by which the
active philanthropy of England sustains its reputation, and fills its
pocket. From tooth-powder to tea-trays--from spring-mattrasses to
fictitious mineral waters--from French blacking to the Widow Welch’s
Pills--all have their separate votaries; and it would be difficult to
conceive any real or imaginary want unsupplied in this prolific age of

A gentleman might descend from the moon, like our clever friend, “The
Commissioner,” and, by a little attention to these plausible
paragraphs, become as thoroughly John Bull in all his habits and
observances as though he were born within St. Pancras. “A widow lady
with two daughters would take a gentleman to board, where all the
advantages and comforts of a private family might be found, within ten
minutes’ walk from Greenwich. Unexceptionable references will be given
and expected on either side.” Here, without a moment’s delay, he might
be domiciled in an English family; here he might retire from all the
cares and troubles of life, enjoying the tranquil pleasures of the
widow’s society, with no other risk or danger, save that of falling in
love with one or both of the fair daughters, who have “a taste for
music,” and “speak French.”

It is said that few countries offer less resources to the stranger
than England; which I stoutly deny, and assert that no land has set up
so many sign-posts by which to guide the traveller--so many directions
by which to advise his course. With us there is no risk of doing
anything inappropriate, or incompatible with your station, if you will
only suffer yourself to be borne along on the current. Your tailor
knows not only the precise shade of colour which suits your
complexion, but, as if by intuition, he divines the exact cut that
suits your condition in life. Your coachmaker, in the same way, augurs
from the tone of your voice, and the _contour_ of your features, the
shade of colour for your carriage; and should you, by any misfortune,
happen to be knighted, the Herald’s-office deduce, from the very
consonants of your name, the _quantum_ of emblazonry they can bestow
on you, and from how far back among the burglars and highwaymen of
antiquity they can venture to trace you. Should you, however, still
more unfortunately, through any ignorance of etiquette, or any
inattention to those minor forms of breeding with which every native
is conversant, offer umbrage, however slight and unintentional, to
those dread functionaries, the “new police;” were you by chance to
gaze longer into a jeweller’s window than is deemed decorous; were you
to fall into any reverie which should induce you to slacken your pace,
perchance to hum a tune, and thus be brought before the awful “Sir
Peter,” charged by “G 743” with having impeded the passengers--collected
a crowd--being of suspicious appearance, and having refused “to tell
who your friends were”--the odds are strongly against you that you
perform a hornpipe upon the treadmill, or be employed in that very
elegant chemical analysis, which consists in the extraction of
magnesia from oyster-shells.

Now, let any man consider for a moment what a large, interesting, and
annually-increasing portion of our population there is, who, from
certain peculiarities attending their early condition, have never been
blessed with relatives or kindred--who, having no available father and
mother, have consequently no uncles, aunts, or cousins, nor any good
friends. Here the law presses with a fearful severity upon the
suffering and the afflicted, not upon the guilty and offending. The
state has provided no possible contingencies by which such persons are
to escape. A man can no more create a paternity than he can make a new
planet. I have already said that with wealth at his disposal, ancestry
and forefathers are easily procured. He can have them of any age, of
any country, of any condition in life--churchmen or laymen--dignitaries
of the law or violators of it;--’tis all one, they are made to order.
But let him be in ever such urgent want of a near relative; let it be
a kind and affectionate father, an attached and doting mother, that he
stands in need of--he may study _The Times_ and _The Herald_--he may
read _The Chronicle_ and _The Globe_, in vain! No benevolent society
has directed its philanthropy in this channel; and not even a
cross-grained uncle or a penurious aunt can be had for love or money.

Now this subject presents itself in two distinct views--one as regards
its humanity, the other its expediency. As the latter, in the year of
our Lord, 1844, would seem to offer a stronger claim on our attention,
let us examine it first. Consider them how you will, these people form
the most dangerous class of our population--these are the “waifs and
strays” of mankind. Like snags and sawyers in the Mississippi, having
no voyage to perform in life, their whole aim and destiny seems to be
the shipwreck of others. With one end embedded in the mud of uncertain
parentage, with the other they keep bobbing above the waves of life;
but let them rise ever so high, they feel they cannot be extricated.

If rich, their happiness is crossed by their sense of isolation; for
them there are no plum-pudding festivals at Christmas, no family
goose-devourings at Michaelmas. They have none of those hundred little
ties and torments which weary and diversify life. They have acres, but
they have no uncles--they have gardens and graperies, but they cannot
raise a grandfather--they may have a future, but they have scarcely a
present; and they have no past.

Should they be poor, their solitary state suggests recklessness and
vice. It is the restraint of early years that begets submission to the
law later on, and he who has not learned the lesson of obedience when
a child, is not an apt scholar when he becomes a man. This, however,
is a part of the moral and humane consideration of the question, and
like most other humane considerations, involves expense. With that we
have nothing to do; our present business is with the rich; for their
comfort and convenience our hint is intended, and our object to
supply, on the shortest notice, and the most reasonable terms, such
relatives of either sex as the applicant shall stand in need of.

Let there be, therefore, established a new joint stock company to be
SOCIETY”--capital any number of pounds sterling. Actuaries--Messrs.
Oliver Twist and Jacob Faithful.

Only think of the benefits of such a company! Reflect upon the numbers
who leave their homes every morning without parentage, and who might
now possess any amount of relatives they desire before night. Every
one knows that a respectable livelihood is made by a set of persons
whose occupation it is to become bails at the different police
offices, for any class of offence, and to any amount. They exercise
their calling somewhat like bill-brokers, taking special pains always
to secure themselves against loss, and make a trifle of money, while
displaying an unbounded philanthropy. Here then is a class of persons
most appropriate for our purpose: fathers, uncles, first cousins, even
grandfathers, might be made out of these at a moment’s notice. What
affecting scenes, too, might be got up at Bow-street, under such
circumstances, of penitent sons, and pardoning parents, of unforgiving
uncles and imploring nephews. How would the eloquence of the
worshipful bench revel, on such occasions, for its display. What
admonitions would it not pour forth, what warnings, what
commiseration, and what condolings. Then what a satisfaction to the
culprit to know that all these things were managed by a respectable
company, who were “responsible in every case for the good conduct of
its servants.” No extortion permitted--no bribery allowed; a regular
rate of charges being printed, which every individual was bound, like
a cab-man, to show if required.

So much for a father, if respectable; so much more, if professional;
or in private life, increased premium. An angry parent, we’ll say two
and sixpence; sorrowful, three shillings; “deeply afflicted and bound
to weep,” five shillings.

A widowed mother, in good weeds, one and sixpence; do, do, in a cab,
half a crown; and so on.

How many are there besides who, not actually in the condition we speak
of, would be delighted to avail themselves of the benefits of this
institution. How many moving in the society of the west end, with a
father a tobacconist or a cheesemonger in the city, would gladly pay
well for a fashionable parent supposed to live upon his estate in
Yorkshire, or entertaining, as the _Morning Post_ has it, a
“distinguished party at his shooting lodge in the Highlands.” What a
luxury, when dining his friends at the Clarendon, to be able to talk
of his “Old Governor” hunting his hounds twice a week, while, at the
same moment, the real individual was engaged in the manufacture of
soap and short sixes. What happiness to recommend the game-pie, when
the grouse was sent by his Uncle, while he felt that the only
individual who stood in that capacity respecting him, had three gilt
balls over his door, and was more conversant with duplicates than
double barrels.

But why pursue a theme whose benefits are self-evident, and come home
to every bosom in the vast community. It is one of “the wants of our
age,” and we hope ere long to see the “fathers” as much respected in
Clerkenwell or College-street, as ever they were in Clongowes or




This is the age of political economists and their nostrums. Every
newspaper teems with projects for the amelioration of our working
classes, and the land is full of farming societies, temperance unions,
and a hundred other Peter Purcellisms, to improve its social
condition; the charge to make us

    “Great, glorious, and free,”

remaining with that estimable and irreproachable individual who
tumbles in Lower Abbey-street.

The Frenchman’s horse would, it is said, have inevitably finished his
education, and accomplished the faculty of existing without food, had
he only survived another twenty-four hours. Now, the condition of
Ireland is not very dissimilar, and I only hope that we may have
sufficient tenacity of life to outlive the numerous schemes for our
prosperity and advancement.

Nothing, indeed, can be more singular than the manner of every
endeavour to benefit his country. We are poor--every man of us is only
struggling; therefore, we are recommended to build expensive
poorhouses, and fill them with some of ourselves. We have scarcely
wherewithal to meet the ordinary demands of life, and straightway are
told to subscribe to various new societies--repeal funds--agricultural
clubs--O’Connell tributes--and Mathew testimonials. This, to any
short-sighted person, might appear a very novel mode of filling our
own pockets. There are one-idea’d people in the world, who can only
take up the impression which, at first blush, any subject suggests;
they, I say, might fancy that a continued system of donation,
unattended by anything like receipt, is not exactly the surest element
of individual prosperity. I hope to be able to controvert this
plausible, but shallow theory, and to show--and what a happy thing it
is for us--to show that, not only is our poverty the source of our
greatest prosperity, but that if by any accident we should become
rich, we must inevitably be ruined; and to begin--

Absenteeism is agreed on all hands to be the bane of Ireland. No one,
whatever be his party prejudices, will venture to deny this. The
high-principled and well-informed country gentleman professes this
opinion in common with the illiterate and rabid follower of
O’Connell; I need not, therefore, insist further on a proposition so
universally acknowledged. To proceed--of all people, none are so
naturally absentees as the Irish; in fact, it would seem that one
great feature of our patriotism consists in the desire to display, in
other lands, the ardent attachment we bear our own. How can we tell
Frenchmen, Italians, Germans, Russians, Swedes, and Swiss, how devoted
we are to the country of our birth, if we do not go abroad to do so?
How can we shed tears as exiles, unless we become so? How can we rail
about the wrongs of Ireland and English tyranny, if we do not go among
people, who, being perfectly ignorant of both, may chance to believe
us? These are the patriotic arguments for absenteeism; then come
others, which may be classed under the head of “expediency reasons,”
such as debts, duns, outlawries, &c. Thirdly, the temptations of the
Continent, which, to a certain class of our countrymen, are of the
very strongest description--Corn Exchange politics, vulgar associates,
an air of bully, and a voice of brogue, will not form such obstacles
to success in Paris, as in Dublin. A man can scarcely introduce an
Irish provincialism into his French, and he would be a clever fellow
who could accomplish a bull under a twelvemonth. These, then, form the
social reasons; and from a short revision of all three, it will be
seen that they include a very large proportion of the land--Mr.
O’Connell talks of them as seven millions.


It being now proved, I hope, to my reader’s satisfaction, that the
bent of an Irishman is to go abroad, let us briefly inquire, what is
it that ever prevents him so doing? The answer is an easy one. When
Paddy was told by his priest that whenever he went into a
public-house to drink, his guardian angel stood weeping at the door,
his ready reply was, “that if he had a tester he’d have been in too;”
so it is exactly with absenteeism; it is only poverty that checks it.
The man with five pounds in his pocket starts to spend it in England;
make it _ten_, and he goes to Paris; _fifteen_, and he’s up the Rhine;
_twenty_, and Constantinople is not far enough for him! Whereas, if
the sum of his wealth had been a matter of shillings, he’d have been
satisfied with a trip to Kingstown, a chop at Jude’s, a place in the
pit, and a penny to the repeal fund; all of which would redound to his
patriotism, and the “prosperity of Ireland.”

The same line of argument applies to every feature of expense. If we
patronise “Irish manufacture,” it is because we cannot afford English.
If we like Dublin society, it is upon the same principle; and, in
fact, the cheap pleasures of home, form the sheet-anchor of our
patriotism, and we are only “guardian angels,” because “we haven’t a

Away then with any flimsy endeavours to introduce English capital or
Scotch industry. Let us persevere in our present habits of mutual
dislike, attack, and recrimination; let us interfere with the projects
of English civilisation, and forward, by every means in our power, the
enlightened doctrines of popery, and the patriotic pastime of
parson-shooting, for even in sporting we dispense with a “game
license;” let no influx of wealth offer to us the seduction of
quitting home, and never let us feel with our national poet that
“Ireland is a beautiful country to live out of.”




God help me but I have always looked upon a “grand duke” pretty much
in the same light that I have regarded the “Great Lama,” that is to
say, a very singular and curious object of worship in its native
country. How any thing totally destitute of sovereign attributes could
ever be an idol, either for religious or political adoration, is
somewhat singular, and after much pains and reflections on the
subject, I came to the opinion, that German princes were valued by
their subjects pretty much on the principle the Indians select their
idols, and knowing men admire thorough-bred Scotch terriers--viz., not
their beauty.

Of all the cant this most canting age abounds in, nothing is more
repulsive and disgusting than the absurd laudation which travellers
pour forth concerning these people, by the very ludicrous blunder of
comparing a foreign aristocracy with our own. Now, what is a German
grand duke? Picture to yourself a very corpulent, moustached, and
befrogged individual, who has a territory about the size of the Phœnix
Park, and a city as big and as flourishing as the Blackrock; the
expenses of his civil list are defrayed by a chalybeate spring, and
the budget of his army by the license of a gambling-house, and then
read the following passage from “Howitt’s Life in Germany,” which,
with that admirable appreciation of excellence so eminently their
characteristic, the newspapers have been copying this week past--

“You may sometimes see a grand duke come into a country inn, call for
his glass of ale, drink it, pay for it, and go away as unceremoniously
as yourself. The consequence of this easy familiarity is, that princes
are everywhere popular, and the daily occurrence of their presence
amongst the people, prevents that absurd crush and stare at them,
which prevails in more luxurious and exclusive countries.”

That princes do go into country inns, call for ale, and drink it, I
firmly believe; a circumstance, however, which I put the less value
upon, inasmuch as the inn is pretty much like the prince’s own house,
the ale very like what he has at home, and the innkeeper as near as
possible, in breeding, manner, and appearance, his equal. That he
_pays_ for the drink, which our author takes pains to mention, excites
all my admiration; but I confess I have no words to express my
pleasure on reading that “he goes away again,” and, as Mr. Howitt has
it, “as unceremoniously as yourself,” neither stopping to crack the
landlord’s crown, smash the pewter, break the till, nor even put a
star in the looking-glass over the fire-place, a condescension on his
part which leads to the fact, that “princes are everywhere popular.”

Now, considering that Mr. Howitt is a Quaker, it is somewhat
remarkable the high estimate he entertains of this “grand ducal”
forbearance. What he expected his highness to have done when he had
finished his drink, I am as much at a loss to conjecture, as what
trait we are called upon to admire in the entire circumstance; when
the German prince went into the inn, and knocking three times with a
copper kreutzer on the counter, called for his choppin of beer, he was
exactly acting up to the ordinary habits of his station, as when the
Duke of Northumberland, on his arriving with four carriages at the
“Clarendon,” occupied a complete suite of apartments, and partook of a
most sumptuous dinner. Neither more nor less. His Grace of Alnwick
might as well be lauded for his ducal urbanity as the German prince
for his, each was fulfilling his destiny in his own way, and there was
not anything a whit more worthy of admiration in the one case, than in
the other.

But three hundred pounds per annum, even in a cheap country, afford
few luxuries; and if the Germans are indifferent to cholic, there
might be, after all, something praiseworthy in the beer-drinking, and
here I leave it.




When the East India Directors recalled Lord Ellenborough, and replaced
him by Sir Henry Harding, the impression upon the public mind was, as
was natural it should be, that the course of policy adopted by the
former, was such as met not their approval, and should not be
persisted in by his successor.

To supersede one man by another, that he might perform the very same
acts in the same way, would be something too ludicrous and absurd.
When John Bull chassées the Tories, and takes to the Whigs, it is
because he has had enough of Peel, and wants to try a stage with Lord
John, who handles the ribbons differently, and drives another sort of
a team; a piebald set of screws they are, to be sure, but they can go
the pace when they are at it; and, as the road generally lies
downhill, they get along right merrily. But John would never think of
a change, if the pace were to be always the same. No; he’d just put up
with the set he had, and take his chance. Not so your India Directors.
They are quite satisfied with everything; all is right, orderly, and
proper; but still they would rather that another man were at the head
of affairs, to do exactly what had been done before. “What are you
doing, Peter?”--“Nothing, sir.” “And you, Jem, what are you
about?”--“Helping Peter, sir.” That is precisely the case, and Sir
Henry is gone out to help Lord Ellenborough.

Such a line of proceeding is doubtless singular enough, and many
sensible people there are, who cannot comprehend the object and
intention of the wise Directors; while, by the press, severe
imputations have been thrown upon their consistency and intelligence,
and some have gone so far as to call their conduct unparalleled.

This, however, is unjust. The Old Almanack, as Lord Brougham would
call it, has registered a not inapplicable precedent; and, in the
anxious hope of being remembered by the “Old Lady,” I hasten to
mention it:--

When Louis XIV. grew tired of Madame la Vallière, and desired to
replace her by another in his favour, he committed the difficult task
of explanation on the subject, to his faithful friend and confessor,
Bossuet. The worthy Bishop undertook his delicate mission with
diffidence; but he executed it with tact. The gentle La Vallière wept
bitterly; she knew nothing of the misfortune that menaced her. She
believed that her star still stood in the ascendant, and fancied (like
Lord Ellenborough) that her blandishments were never more
acknowledged. “Whence, then, this change?” cried she, in the agony of
her grief. “How have I offended him?”

“You mistake me, my daughter,” said Mons. de Méaux. “His Majesty is
most tenderly attached to you; but religious scruples--qualms of
conscience--have come upon him. ‘C’est par la peur du diable,’ that he
consents to this separation.”

[Illustration: Honorable Members.]

Poor Louise dried her tears; the case was bad enough, but there was
one consolation--it was religion, and not a rival, had cost her a
lover; and so she began her preparations for departure with a heart
somewhat less heavy. On the day, however, of her leave-taking, a
carriage, splashed and travel-stained, arrived at the “petite porte”
of the Palace; and as instantaneously ran the rumour through the
household that his Majesty’s new mistress had arrived: and true it
was, Madame de Maintenon had taken her place beside the fauteuil of
the King.

“So, Mons. de Bossuet,” said La Vallière, as he handed her to her
carriage--“so, then, his Majesty has exiled me, ‘par la peur du

The Bishop bowed in tacit submission and acquiescence.

“In that case,” resumed she, “c’est par complaisance au diable, that
he accepts Madame de Maintenon.”



Sir Robert Peel was never more triumphant than when, in the last
session of Parliament, he rebuked his followers for a casual defection
in the support of Government, by asking them what they had to complain
of. Are _we_ not on the Treasury benches? said the Right Honourable
Baronet. Do not my friend Graham and myself guide and direct you?--do
we not distribute the patronage and the honours of the government,--take
the pay--and rule the kingdom--what more would you have? Ungrateful
bucolics, you know not what you want! The apostrophe was bold, but not
original. I remember hearing of a West country farmer having ridden a
long day’s journey on a poor, ill-fed hack, which, as evening drew
near, showed many symptoms of a fatal knock-up. The rider himself was
well tired, too, and stopped at an ale-house for a moment’s
refreshment, while he left the jaded beast standing at the door. As he
remounted his saddle, a few minutes after, he seized his reins
briskly, flourished his whip (both like Sir Robert), and
exclaimed:--“I’ve had two glasses of spirits.--Let us see if you won’t
go after that.”



Among the many singular objections which have been made to the new
property tax, I find Mr. C. Buller stating in the House, that his
greatest dislike to the project lay in the exceedingly small amount of
the impost.

    “My wound is great because it is so small,”

might have been the text of the honourable and learned gentleman’s
oration. After setting forth most eloquently the varied distresses of
the country--its accumulating debt and heavy taxation--he turns the
whole weight of his honest indignation against the new imposition,
because, forsooth, it is so “little burdensome, and will inflict so
slight an additional load upon the tax-payer.” There is an attempt at
argument, however, on the subject, which is somewhat amusing; for he
continues not only to lament the smallness of the new tax, but the
“slight necessity that exists” even for that. Had we some great
national loss to make up, the deficiency of which rendered a call on
the united people necessary, then, quoth he, how happily we should
stand forward in support of the Constitution. In fact, he deplores, in
the most moving terms, that ill off as the country is, yet it is not
one-half so bad as it might be, or as he should like to see it. Ah!
had we only some disastrous Continental war, devastating our
commerce--ruining our Colonies, and eating into the very heart of our
national resources--how gladly I should pay this Income Tax; but to
remedy a curable evil--to restore, by prompt and energetic measures,
the growing disease of the State--is a poor, pettifogging practice,
that has neither heroism nor fame to recommend it. I remember hearing
that at one of those excellent institutions, so appropriately
denominated Magdalen Asylums, a poor, but innocent girl, presented
herself for admission, pleading her lonely and deserted condition, as
a plea for her reception. The patroness, an amiable and excellent
person--but somewhat of the complexion of the honourable and learned
Member for Liskeard--asked at once, whether she had resolved on a
total reformation of her mode of life. The other replied, that her
habits had been always chaste and virtuous, and that her character had
been invariably above reproach. “Ah, in that case,” rejoined the lady,
“we can’t admit you; this institution is expressly for the reception
of penitents. If you could only qualify for a week or so, there is no
objection to your admission.”

Is not this exactly Mr. Buller’s proposition? “Let us have the Whigs
back for a few years longer; let us return to our admirable foreign
policy; and when we have successfully embroiled ourselves with
America, lost Canada, been beaten in China, driven out of our Eastern
possessions, and provoked a war with France, then I’m your man for an
Income Tax; lay it on only heavily; let the nation, already bowed down
under the heavy burden of its calamities, receive in addition the
gracious boon of enormous taxation.” Homœopathy teaches us that
nothing is so curative in its agency, as the very cause of our present
suffering, or something as analogous to it as possible; and, like
Hahnemann, Mr. Buller administers what the vulgar call “a hair of the
dog that bit us,” as the most sovereign remedy for all our evils.

The country is like a sick man with a whitlow, for the cure of which
his physician prescribes a slight, but clearly necessary, operation.
Another medical Dr. Buller is, however, standing by. He at once
insinuates his veto; remarks upon the trivial nature of the
disease--the unpainful character of the remedy; “but wait,” adds
he--“wait till the inflammation extends higher; have patience till the
hand becomes swollen and the arm affected; and then, when your agony
is beyond endurance, and your life endangered, then we’ll amputate the
limb high up, and mayhap you may recover, after all.”

As for me, it is the only occasion I’m aware of, where a successful
comparison can be instituted between honour and the Whigs; for
assuredly neither have “any skill in surgery.”



Every one knows that men in masses, whether the same be called boards,
committees, aggregate, or repeal meetings, will be capable of
atrocities and iniquities, to which, as individuals, their natures
would be firmly repugnant. The irresponsibility of a number is felt by
every member, and Curran was not far wrong when he said, a
“corporation was a thing that had neither a body to be kicked, nor a
soul to be damned.”

It is, indeed, a melancholy fact, that nations partake much more
frequently of the bad than the good features of the individuals
composing them, and it requires no small amount of virtue to flavour
the great caldron of a people, and make its incense rise gratefully to
heaven. For this reason, we are ever ready to accept with enthusiasm
anything like a national tribute to high principle and honour. Such
glorious bursts are a source of pride to human nature itself, and we
hail with acclamation these evidences of exalted feeling, which make
men “come nearer to the gods.” The greater the sacrifice to selfish
interests and prejudices, the more do we prize the effort. Think for a
moment what a sensation of surprise and admiration, wonderment, awe,
and approbation it would excite throughout Europe, if, by the next
arrival from Boston, came the news that “the Americans had determined
to pay their debts!” That at some great congress of the States,
resolutions were carried to the effect, “that roguery and cheating
will occasionally lower a people in the estimation of others, and that
the indulgences of such national practices may be, in the end,
prejudicial to national honour;” “that honesty, if not the best, may
be good policy, even in a go-a-head state of society;” “that smart
men, however a source of well-founded pride to a people, are now and
then inconvenient from the very excess of their smartness;” “that
seeing these things, and feeling all the unhappy results which
mistrust and suspicion by foreign countries must bring upon their
commerce, they have determined to pay something in the pound, and go
a-head once more.” I am sure that such an announcement would be hailed
with illuminations from Hamburg to Leghorn. American citizens would be
cheered wherever they were found; pumpkin pie would figure at royal
tables, and twist and cocktail be handed round with the coffee; our
exquisites would take to chewing and its consequences; and our belles,
banishing Rossini and Donizetti, would make the air vocal with the
sweet sounds of Yankee Doodle. One cannot at a moment contemplate what
excesses our enthusiasm might not carry us to; and I should not wonder
in the least if some great publisher of respectable standing might not
start a pirated reprint of the _New York Herald_.

Let me now go back and explain, if my excitement will permit me, how
I have been led into such extravagant imaginings. I have already
remarked, that nations seldom gave evidence of noble bursts of
feeling; still more rarely, I regret to say, do they evince any sorrow
for past misconduct--any penitence for by-gone evil.

This would be, indeed, the severest ordeal of a people’s greatness;
this, the brightest evidence of national purity. Happy am I to say
such an instance is before us; proud am I to be the man to direct
public attention to the fact. The following paragraph I copy verbatim
from the _Times_.

     “On the 18th of June, the anniversary of the battle of
     Waterloo, a black flag was hoisted by the Belgians at the
     top of the monument erected on the field where the battle
     was fought.”

A black flag, the emblem of mourning, the device of sorrow and regret,
waves over the field of Waterloo! Not placed there by vanquished
France, whose legions fought with all their chivalry; not hoisted by
the proud Gaul, on the plain where, in defeat, he bit the dust; but in
penitence of heart, in deep sorrow and contrition, by the Belgians who
ran--by the people who fled--by the soldiers who broke their ranks and
escaped in terror.

What a noble self-abasement is this; how beautifully touching such an
instance of a people’s sorrow, and how affecting to think, that while
in the halls of Apsley House the heroes were met together to
commemorate the glorious day when they so nobly sustained their
country’s honour, another nation should be in sackcloth and ashes, in
all the trappings of woe, mourning over the era of their shame, and
sorrowing over their degradation. Oh, if a great people in all the
majesty of their power, in all their might of intellect, strength, and
riches, be an object of solemn awe and wonder, what shall we say of
one whose virtues partake of the humble features of every-day life,
whose sacrifice is the tearful offering of their own regrets?

Mr. O’Connell may declaim, and pronounce his eight millions the finest
peasantry in the world--he may extol their virtues from Cork to
Carrickfergus--he may ring the changes over their loyalty, their
bravery, and their patriotism; but when eulogising the men who assure
him “they are ready to die for their country,” let him blush to think
of the people who can “cry” for theirs.



The bane and antidote of England is her immense manufacturing
power--the faculty that enables her to inundate the whole habitable
globe with the products of her industry, is at once the source of her
prosperity and poverty--her millionnaire mill-owners and her
impoverished thousands. Never was the skill of machinery pushed to the
same wonderful extent--never the results of mechanical invention so
astoundingly developed. Men are but the presiding genii over the
wonder-working slaves of their creative powers, and the child, is the
volition that gives impulse to the giant force of a mighty engine.
Subdivision of labour, carried to an extent almost incredible, has
facilitated despatch, and induced a higher degree of excellence in
every branch of mechanism--human ingenuity is racked, chemical
analysis investigated, mathematical research explored--and all, that
Mr. Binns, of Birmingham, may make thirteen minikin pins--while Mr.
Sims, of Stockport, has been making but twelve. Let him but succeed in
this, and straightway his income is quadrupled--his eldest son is
member for a manufacturing borough, his second is a cornet in the Life
Guards--his daughter, with a fortune of one hundred thousand pounds,
is married to the heir of a marquisate--and his wife, soaring above
the murky atmosphere of the factory, breathes the purer air of western
London, and advertises her _soirées_ in the _Morning Post_. The
pursuit of wealth is now the grand characteristic of our age and
country; and the headlong race of money-getting seems the great
feature of the day. To this end the thundering steamer ploughs the
white-crested wave of the broad Atlantic--to this end the clattering
locomotive darts through the air at sixty miles the hour--for this,
the thousand hammers of the foundry, the ten thousand wheels of the
factory are at work--and man, toiling like a galley-slave, scarce
takes time to breathe in his mad career, as with straining eyeballs
and outstretched hands, he follows in the pursuit of lucre.


Now, men are imitative creatures; and strange enough, too, they are
oftentimes disposed from the indulgence of the faculty to copy things,
and adapt them to purposes very foreign to their original destination.
This manufacturing speed, this steeple-chase of printed calico and
Paisley wear, is all very well while it is limited to the districts
where it began. That two hundred and seventy thousand white cotton
night-caps, with a blue tassel on every one of them, can be made in
twenty-four hours at Messrs. Twist and Tredlem’s factory, is a very
gratifying fact, particularly to all who indulge in ornamental
head-gear--but we see no reason for carrying this dispatch into the
Court of Chancery, and insisting that every nod of the woolsack is to
decide a suit at law. Yet have the lawyer and the physician both
adopted the impetuous practices of the manufacturing world, and
Haste, red haste! is now the cry.

Lord Brougham’s Chancery practice was only to be equalled by one of
Lord Waterford’s steeple-chases. He took all before him in a fly--he
rode straight, plenty of neck, baulked nothing--up leap or down leap,
sunk fence or double ditch, post and rail, or quickset, stone wall, or
clay bank, all one to him--go it he would. Others might deny his
judgment; he wanted to get over the ground, and _that_ he did do.

The West-end physician, in the same way, visits his fifty patients
daily, walks his hospital, delivers a lecture to old ladies about some
“curious provision” of nature in the palm of the human hand (for
fee-taking); and devoting something like three minutes and twelve
seconds to each sick man’s case, pockets some twenty thousand per
annum by his dispatch.

Speed is now the _El Dorado_. Jelly is advertised to be made in a
minute, butter in five, soup seasoned and salted in three seconds of
time. Even the Quakers--bless their quiet hearts!--couldn’t escape the
contagion, and actually began to walk and talk with some faint
resemblance to ordinary mortals. The church alone maintained the even
tenor of its way, and moved not in the wild career of the whirlwind
world about it. Such was my gratulation, when my eye fell upon the
following passage of the _Times_. Need I say with what a heavy heart I
read it? It is Mr. Rushton who speaks:--

     “In the month of December, 1841, he heard that a man had
     been found dead in the streets of Liverpool; that all the
     property he possessed had been taken from his person, and
     that an attempt to trace his identity had been made in
     vain. He was taken to the usual repository for the dead,
     where an inquest had been held upon him, and from the ‘dead
     house,’ as it was called, he was removed to the workhouse
     burial-ground. The man who drove the hearse on the occasion
     was very old, and not very capable of giving evidence. His
     attendant was an idiot. It had been represented to Mr.
     Hodgson and himself that the dead man had been taken in the
     clothes in which he died and put into a coffin which was too
     small for him; that a shroud was put over him; that the lid
     of the coffin would not go down; and that he was taken from
     the dead-house and buried in the parochial ground, no
     funeral rites having been performed on the occasion. It had
     also been communicated to Mr. Hodgson and himself that,
     after two days, the clergyman who was instructed to perform
     those rites over the paupers, came and performed one service
     for the dead over all the paupers who had been buried in the
     intermediate time.”

Now, without stopping to criticise the workhouse equipage, which
appears to be driven by a man too old to speak, with an idiot for his
companion; nor even to advert to the scant ceremony of burying a man
in his daily dress, and in a coffin that would not close on him--what
shall we say of the “patent parson power” that buries paupers in
detachments, and reads the service over platoons of dead? The reverend
chaplain feeling the uncertainty of human life, and knowing how frail
is our tie to existence, waits in the perfect conviction of a large
party before he condescends to appear. Knowing that dead men tell no
tales, he surmises also that they don’t run away, and so he says to
himself--these people are not pressed for time, they’ll be here when I
come again--it is a sickly season, and we’ll have a field-day on
Saturday. Cheap soup for the poor, says Mrs. Fry. Cheap justice, says
O’Connell. Cheap clothing, says a tailor who makes new clothes from
old, with a machine called a devil--but cheap burial is the boast of
the Liverpool chaplain, and he is the most original among them.


I have long been of opinion that a man may attain to a very
respectable knowledge of Chinese ceremonies and etiquette before he
can learn one half the usages of the honourable house. Seldom does a
debate go forward without some absurd interruption taking place in a
mere matter of form. Now it is a cry of “Order, order,” to some
gentleman who is subsequently discovered not to have been in the least
disorderly, but whom the attack has so completely dumfounded, that he
loses his speech and his self-possession, and sits down in confusion,
to be sneered at in the morning papers, and hooted by his constituents
when he goes home.

Now some gifted scion of aristocracy makes an essay in braying and
cock-crowing, both permitted by privilege, and overwhelms the speaker
with the uproar. Now it is that intolerable nuisance, old Hume,
shouting out “divide,” or “adjourn;” or it is Colonel Sibthorpe who
counts the house. These ridiculous privileges of members to interfere
with the current of public business because they may be sleepy or
stupid themselves, are really intolerable, besides being so numerous
that the first dozen years of a parliamentary life will scarcely teach
a man a tithe of them. But of all these “rules of the house,” the
most unjust and tyrannical is that which compels a man to put up with
any impertinence because he has already spoken. It would seem as if
each honourable member “went down” with a single ball cartridge in his
pouch, which, when fired, the best thing he could do was to go home
and wait for another distribution of ammunition; for by remaining he
only ran the risk of being riddled without any power to return the

A case of this kind happened a few evenings since:--A Mr. Blewitt--I
suppose the composer--made a very absurd motion, the object of which
was to inquire “What office the Duke of Wellington held in the present
government, and whether he was or was not a member of the cabinet.”
Without referring the learned gentleman to a certain erudite volume
called the Yearly Almanack and Directory, Sir Robert Peel proceeded to
explain the duke’s position. He eulogised, as who would not? his
grace’s sagacity and his wisdom; the importance of his public
services, and the great value the ministers, his _confrères_, set upon
a judgment which, in a long life, had so seldom been found mistaken;
and then he concluded by quoting from one of the duke’s recent replies
to some secretary or other who addressed him on a matter foreign to
his department--“That he was one of the few men in the present day who
did not meddle in affairs over which they have no control.” “A piece
of counsel,” quoth Sir Robert, “I would strenuously advise the
honourable member to apply to his own case.”

Now we have already said that we think Blewitt--though an admirable
musician--seems to be a very silly man. Still, if he really did not
know what the duke represented in her Majesty’s government--if he
really were ignorant of what functions he exercised, the information
might have been bestowed upon him without a retort like this. In the
first place, his query, if a foolish, was at least a civil one; and in
the second, it was his duty to understand a matter of this nature: it
therefore came under his control, and Sir Robert’s application of the
quotation was perfectly uncalled-for. Well; what followed? Mr. Blewitt
rose in wrath to reply, when the house called out, “Spoke, spoke!” and
Blewitt was muzzled; the moral of which is simply this--you ask a
question in the house, and the individual addressed has a right to
insult you, you having no power of rejoinder, under the etiquette of
“spoke.” Any flippancy may overturn a man at this rate; and the words
“loud laughter,” printed in italics in the _Chronicle_, is sure to
renew the emotion at every breakfast table the morning after.

Now I am sorry for Blewitt, and think he was badly treated.



Of all the institutions of England there is scarcely one more lauded,
and more misunderstood, than trial by jury. At first blush, nothing
can seem fairer and less objectionable than the unbiassed decision of
twelve honest men, sworn to do justice. They hear patiently the
evidence on both sides; and in addition to the light derivable from
their own intelligence, they have the directing charge of the judge,
who tells them wherein the question for their decision lies, what are
the circumstances of which they are to take cognizance, and by what
features of the case their verdict is to be guided. Yet look at the
working of this much-boasted privilege. One jury brings in a verdict
so contrary to all reason and justice, that they are sent back to
reconsider it by the judge; another, more refractory still, won’t come
to any decision at all, and get carted to the verge of the county for
their pains; and a third, improving on all former modes of proceeding,
has adopted a newer and certainly most impartial manner of deciding a
legal question. “Court of Common Pleas, London, July 6.--The Chief
Justice (Tindal) asked the ground of objection, and ten of the jurymen
answered that in the last case one of their colleagues had suggested
that the verdict should be decided by tossing up!” Here is certainly a
very important suggestion, and one which, recognising justice as a
blind goddess, is strictly in conformity with the impersonation.
Nothing could possibly be farther removed from the dangers of undue
influence than decisions obtained in this manner. Not only are all the
prejudices and party bearings of individual jurors avoided, but an
honest and manly oblivion of all the evidence which might bias men if
left to the guidance of their poor and erring faculties, is thus
secured. It is human to err, says the poet moralist; and so the
jurymen in question discovered, and would therefore rather refer a
knotty question to another deity than Justice, whom men call Fortune.
How much would it simplify our complex and gnarled code, the
introduction of this system? In the next place, juries need not be any
longer empannelled, the judge could “sky the copper” himself. The only
question would be, to have a fair halfpenny. See with what rapidity
the much-cavilled court would dispatch public business! I think I see
our handsome Chief of the Common Pleas at home here, with his knowing
eye watching the vibrations of the coin, and calling out in his
sonorous tone, “Head--the plaintiff has it. Call another case.” I peep
into the Court of Chancery, and behold Sir Edward twirling the penny
with more cautious fingers, and then with his sharp look and sharper
voice, say, “Tail! Take a rule for the defendant.”


No longer shall we hear objections as to the sufficiency of legal
knowledge possessed by those in the judgment-seat. There will be no
petty likings for this, and dislikings for that court; no changes of
venue; no challenges of the jury; even Lord Brougham himself, of whom
Sir Edward remarked, “What a pity it was he did not know a little law,
for then he would have known a little of everything”--even he might be
a chancellor once more. What a power of patronage it would give each
succeeding ministry to know that capacity was of no consequence; and
that the barrister of six years’ standing could turn his penny as well
as the leader in Chancery. Public business need never be delayed a
moment; and if the Chief Baron were occupied in chamber, the crier of
the court could perform his functions till he came back again.



One man may lead a horse to the water, but ten cannot make him drink,
sayeth the adage; and so it might be said, any one might devise an act
of parliament--but who can explain all its intentions and
provisions--define its powers--and illustrate its meanings? One clause
will occasionally vitiate another; one section completely contradict
the preceding one; the very objects of the legislature are often so
pared away in committee, that a mere shadowy outline remains of what
the original framer intended; and were it not for the bold hand of
executive justice, the whole might be inoperative. The judge, happily,
supplies the deficiency of the lawmaker--and the thing were perfect,
if judges were not, like doctors, given to differ--and thus,
occasionally, disseminate somewhat opposite notions of the statutes of
the land.

Such being the case, it will not be deemed impertinent of one, who
desires to conform in all respects to the law, to ask, from time to
time, of our rulers and governors, certain questions, the answers to
which, should he happily receive them, will be regarded by him as
though written on tables of brass.

Now, in a late session of parliament, some humane member brought in a
bill to interdict the sweeping of chimneys by all persons small enough
for the purpose, and ingeniously suggested supplying their place by
others, whose size would have inevitably condemned them to perish in a
flue. Never had philanthropist a greater share of popularity. Little
sweeps sang his praises along the streets--penny periodicals had
verses in his honour--the “song of the soot” was set to music--and
people, in the frenzy of their enthusiasm, so far forgot their
chimneys, that scarcely a street in town had not, at least, one fire
every night in the week. Meanwhile, the tender sweeplings had lost
their occupation, they had pronounced their farewell to the
brush--what was to become of them? Alas, the legislature had not
thought of that point; for, they were not influential enough to claim
compensation. I grieve to think, but there is too much reason to fear,
that many of them betook themselves to the ancient vocation of
pickpockets. Yes, as Dr. Watts has it--

    “Satan finds some mischief still
    For idle hands to do.”

The divisional police-offices were filled each morning with small
“suttees”--whose researches after handkerchiefs and snuff-boxes were
of the most active kind; while their full-grown brethren, first
impacted in a funnel of ten inches by eight, were cursing the Commons,
and consigning to all manner of misfortune the benevolent framer of
the bill.

Now, I cannot help asking myself, was this the intention of the
legislature--did they really mean that big people should try to
penetrate where little ones were not small enough to pass?--or was it
some piece of conciliation to the climbing boys, that they should see
their masters grilled and wasted, in revenge for “the disabilities
they had so long laboured under?” This point of great difficulty--and
after much thought and deliberation, I have come to one solution of
the whole question, and I only hope it may prove the right one. It is
this. The bill is a parable--the climbing boy, and the full-grown
sweep--and the chimney, and the householder, and the machine, are mere
types which I would interpret thus:--the householder is John Bull, a
good-natured, easy fellow, liking his ease, and studying his
comfort--caring for his dinner, and detesting smoke above all things;
he wishes to have his house neat and orderly, neither confusion nor
disturbance--but his great dread is fire; the very thought of it sets
him a-trembling all over. Now, for years past, he has remarked that
the small sweeps, who mount so glibly to the top of the flue, rarely
do anything but make a noise--they scream and shout for ten minutes,
or so, and then come down, with their eyes red, and their noses
bloody, and cry themselves sick, till they get bread-and-butter. John
is worried and fretted at all this; he remembers the time a good-sized
sweep used to go up and rake down all the soot in no time. These were
the old Tory ministers, who took such wise and safe precautions
against fire, that an insurance-office was never needed. “Not so now,”
quoth John; “’od! rabbit it, they’ve got their climbing boys, who are
always bleating and bawling, for the neighbourhood to look at
them--and yet, devil a bit of good they do the whole time.”

And now, who are these? you would ask. I’ll tell you--the “Climbing
Boys” are the Howicks, and the Clements--the Smith O’Briens and the
D’Israelis, and a host of others, scraping their way upwards, through
soot and smoke, that they may put out their heads in high places, and
cry “’weep! ’weep!” and well may they--they’ve had a dirty
journey--and black enough their hands are, I warrant you, before they
got there.

To get rid of these, without offending them, John brings in his
philanthropic bill, making it penal to employ them, or to have any
other than the old legitimate sweeps, that know every turn of the
flue, and have gone up and down any time these twenty years. No new
machine for him--no Whig contrivance, to scrape the bricks and burn
the house--but the responsible full-grown sweeps--who, if the passage
be narrow, have strength to force their way, and take good care not to
get dust in their eyes in the process.

Such is my interpretation of the bill, and I only trust a discerning
public may agree with me.


I forget the place, and the occasion also, but I have a kind of misty
recollection of having once, in these nutting excursions of mine, been
excessively eloquent on the subject of the advantages derivable from
division of labour.

Not a walk or condition in life is there to which it has not
penetrated; and while natural talents have become cultivated from
finding their most congenial sphere of operation, immense results have
accrued in every art and science where a higher degree of perfection
has been thus attained. Your doctor and your lawyer now-a-days select
the precise portion of your person or property they intend to operate
on. The oculist and the aurist, and the odontalgist and the
pedicurist, all are suggestive of various local sufferings, by which
they bound their skill; and so, the equity lawyer and the common-law
lawyer, the special pleader and the bar orator, have subdivided
knavery, without diminishing its amount. Even in literature, there are
the heavy men who “do” the politics, and the quiet men who do the
statistics, and the rough-and-ready men, who are a kind of
servants-of-all-work, and so on. In universities, there is the science
man and the classical man, the man of simple equations and the man of
spondees. Painting has its bright colourists and its more
sombre-loving artists, and so on--the great camps of party would seem
to have given the impulse to every condition of life, and “speciality”
is the order of the day.

No sooner is a new discovery made, no matter whether in the skies
above, or the dark bowels of the earth, than an opportunity of
disagreement is sure to arise. Two, mayhap three, gentlemen, profess
diversity of opinion; followers are never lacking, let any one be fool
enough to turn leader--and straightway there comes out a new sect,
with a Greek name for a title.

It is only the other day, men began to find out that primitive rocks,
and basalt, ochre, and sandstone, had lived a long time, and must
surely know something of antiquity--if they only could tell it. The
stones, from that hour, had an unhappy time of it--men went about in
gangs with hammers and crowbars, shivering this and shattering
that--picking holes in respectable old rocks, that never had a word
said against them, and peeping into “quarts,”[1] like a policeman.

    [1] Query “quartz.”--_Devil._

Men must be quarrelsome, you’d say, if they could fight about
paving-stones--but so they did. One set would have it that the world
was all cinders, and another set insisted it was only slack--and so,
they called themselves Plutonians and Neptunians, and made great
converts to their respective opinions.

Gulliver tells us of “Big-endians” and “Little-endians,” who hated
each other like poison; and thus it is, our social condition is like a
row in an Irish fair, where one strikes somebody, and nobody thinks
the other right.

Oh! for the happy days of heretofore, when the two kings of Brentford
smelled at one nosegay. It couldn’t happen now, I promise you.

One of their majesties would have insisted on the petals, and the
other been equally imperative regarding the stamina: they’d have
pushed their claims with all the weight of their influence, and there
would have been soon little vestige of a nosegay between them.


But to come back, for all this is digression. The subdivision of
labour, with all its advantages, has its reverse to the medal. You are
ill, for instance. You have been dining with the Lord Mayor, and
hip-hipping to the health of her Majesty’s ministers; or drinking,
mayhap, nine times nine to the independence of Poland, or civil and
religious liberty all over the globe--or any other fiction of large
dinners. You go home, with your head aching from bad wine, bad
speeches, and bad music; your wife sees you look excessively flushed;
your eyes have got an odd kind of expression, far too much of the
white being visible; a half shut-up look, like a pastry-cook’s shop on
Sunday; there are evident signs, from blackness of the lips, that in
your English ardour for the navy you have made a “port-hole” of your
mouth; in fact, you have a species of semi-apoplectic threatening,
that bodes ill for the insurance company.

A doctor is sent for--he lives near, and comes at once--with a glance
he recognises your state, and suggests the immediate remedy--the

“Fetch a basin,” says somebody, with more presence of mind than the

“Not so fast,” quoth the medico. “I am a pure physician--I don’t
bleed: that’s the surgeon’s affair. I should be delighted to save the
gentleman’s life--but we have a bye-law against it in the college.
Nothing could give me more pleasure than to cure you, if it wasn’t for
the charter. What a pity it is! I’m sure I wish, with all my heart,
the cook would take courage to open a vein, or even give you a bloody
nose with the cleaver.”

Do you think I exaggerate here? Try the experiment--I only ask that.

Sending for the surgeon does not solve the difficulty; he may be a man
who cuts corns and cataracts--who only operates for strabismus, or
makes new noses for Peninsular heroes. In fact, if you don’t hit the
right number--and it’s a large lottery--you may go out of the world
without even the benefit of physic.

This great system, however, does not end with human life. The
coroners--resolved not to be behind their age--have made a great
movement, and shown themselves men worthy of the enlightened era they
live in. Read this:--

     “On Friday morning last, a man named Patrick Knowlan, a
     private in the 3rd Buffs, was discovered lying dead close
     beneath the platform of a wharf at the bottom of
     Holborn-lane, Chatham. It would appear that deceased had
     mistaken his way, and fallen from the wharf, which is used
     for landing coals from the river, a depth of about eight
     feet, upon the muddy beach below, which was then strewn with
     refuse coal. There was a large and severe wound upon the
     left temple, and a piece of coal was sticking in the left
     cheek, close below the eye. The whole left side of the face
     was much contracted. He had evidently, from the state of his
     clothes, been covered with water, which overflows this spot
     at the period of spring tides. Although nothing certain is
     known, it is generally supposed that he mistook Holborn-lane
     for the West-lane, which leads to the barracks, and that
     walking forward in the darkness he fell from the wharf. Mr.
     Lewis, the coroner for the city of Rochester, claims
     jurisdiction over all bodies found in the water at this
     spot; and as the unfortunate man had evidently been
     immersed, he thought this a proper case for the exercise of
     his office, and accordingly summoned a jury to sit upon the
     body at ten o’clock on Friday morning--but on his going to
     view the deceased, he found that it was at the King’s Arms,
     Chatham, in the hands of Bines, the Chatham constable, as
     the representative of Mr. Hinde, one of the coroners for the
     eastern division of the county of Kent, who refused to give
     up the key of the room, but allowed Mr. Lewis and his jury
     to view the body. They then returned to the Nag’s Head,
     Rochester, and having heard the evidence of John Shepherd, a
     fisherman, who deposed that a carter, going on to the beach
     for coals, at half-past seven o’clock on Friday morning,
     found the body as already described, the jury returned a
     verdict of ‘Found dead.’ Mr. Hinde, the county coroner, held
     another inquest upon the deceased, at the King’s Arms; and
     after taking the evidence of William Whittingham, the
     carter who found the body, and Frederick Collins, a corporal
     of the 3rd Buffs, who stated that he saw the deceased on the
     evening preceding his death, and he was then sober, the jury
     returned a verdict of ‘Accidental death;’ each of the
     coroners issued a warrant for the interment of the body. The
     disputed jurisdiction, it is believed, will now be submitted
     to the decision of a higher court, in order to settle what
     is here considered a _vexata quæstio_.”--_Maidstone

Is not this perfect? Only think of land coroners and water
coroners--imagine the law defining the jurisdiction of the Tellurian
as far forth into the sea as he could sit on a corpse without danger,
and the Neptunian ruling the waves beyond in absolute sway--conceive
the “solidist” revelling in all the accidents that befall life upon
the world’s highways, and the “fluidist” seeking his prey like a pearl
diver, five fathoms low, beneath “the deep, deep sea.” What a rivalry
theirs, who divide the elements between them, and have nature’s
everlasting boundaries to define the limits of their empire.

I hope to see the time when these great functionaries of law shall be
provided with a suitable costume. I should glory to think of Mr. Hinde
accoutred in emblems suggestive of earth and its habits--a wreath of
oak leaves round his brows; and to behold Mr. Lewis in a garment of
marine plants and sea shells sit upon his corpse, with a trident in
his right hand. What a comfort for the man about to take French leave
of life, that he could know precisely the individual he should
benefit, and be able to go “by land” or “water,” as his taste inclined

I have no time here to dwell upon the admirable distinctions of the
two verdicts given in the case I allude to. When the great change I
suggest is fully carried out, the difficulty of a verdict will at
once be avoided, for the jury, like boys at play, will only have to
cry out at each case--“wet or dry.”

There would be probably too much expense incurred in poor localities
by maintaining two officials; and I should suggest, in such cases, an
amphibious coroner--a kind of merman, who should enjoy a double
jurisdiction, and, as they say of half-bred pointers, be able “to take
the water when required.”


Money-getting and cotton-spinning have left us little time for fun of
any kind in England--no one has a moment to spare, let him be ever so
droll, and a joke seems now to be esteemed a _bonâ fide_ expenditure;
and as “a pin a day” is said to be “a groat a year,” there is no
calculating what an inroad any manner of pleasantry might not make
into a man’s income. Book-writers have ceased to be laughter-moving--the
stage has given it up altogether, except now and then in a new
tragedy--society prefers gravity to gaiety--and, in fact, the spirit
of comic fun and drollery would seem to have died out in the land--if
it were not for that inimitable institution called trial by jury.
Bless their honest hearts! jurymen do indeed relieve the drab-coloured
look of every-day life--they come out in strong colour from the sombre
tints of common-place events and people. Queer dogs! nothing can damp
the warm ardour of their comic vein--all the solemnity of a court of
justice--the look of the bar and the bench--the voice of the crier--the
blue bags of briefs--the “terrible show,” has no effect on their
minds--“ruat cœlum,” they will have their joke.

It is in vain for the judge, let him be ever so rigid in his charge,
to tell them that their province is simply with certain facts, on
which they have to pronounce an opinion of yea or nay. They must be
jurymen, and “something more.” It’s not every day Mr. Sniggins, of
Pimlico, is called upon to keep company with a chief-justice and
sergeant learned in the law--Popkins don’t leave his shop once a week
to discuss Coke upon Littleton with an attorney-general. No: the event
to them is a great one--there they sit, fawned on, and flattered by
counsel on both sides--called impartial and intelligent, and all
that--and while every impertinence the law encourages has been bandied
about the body of the court, _they_ remain to be lauded and praised by
all parties, for they have a verdict in their power, and when it
comes--what a thing it is!

There is a well-known story of an English nobleman, desiring to remain
_incog._ in Calais, telling his negro servant--“If any one ask who I
am, Sambo, mind you say, ‘a Frenchman.’” Sambo carried out the
instruction by saying--“My massa a Frenchman, and so am I.” This
anecdote exactly exemplifies a verdict of a jury--it cannot stop short
at sense, but must, by one fatal plunge, involve its decision in

Hear what lately happened in the north of Ireland. A man was tried and
found guilty of murder--the case admitted no doubt--the act was a
cold-blooded, deliberate assassination, committed by a soldier on his
sergeant, in the presence of many witnesses. The trial proceeded; the
facts were proved; and--I quote the local newspaper--

     “The jury retired, and were shut up when the judge left the
     court, at half-past seven. At nine, his lordship returned to
     court, when the foreman of the jury intimated that they had
     agreed. They were then called into court, and having
     answered to their names, returned a verdict of guilty, but
     recommended the prisoner to mercy upon account of the close
     intimacy that existed between the parties at the time of the

Now, what ever equalled this? When the jury who tried Madame Laffarge
for the murder of her husband, returned a verdict of guilty, with that
recommendation to mercy which is implied by the words “des
circonstances attenuantes,” Alphonse Karr pronounced the “extenuating
circumstances,” to be the fact, that she always mixed gum with the
arsenic, and never gave him his poison “neat.”

But even _they_ never thought of carrying out their humanity farther
by employing the Belfast plea, that she had been “intimate with him”
before she killed him. No, it was reserved for our canny northerns to
find out this new secret of criminal jurisprudence, and to show the
world that there is a deep philosophy in the vulgar expression, a
blood relation--meaning thereby that degree of allianceship which
admits of butchery, and makes killing no murder; for if intimacy be a
ground of mercy, what must be friendship, what brotherhood, or

Were this plea to become general, how cautious would men become about
their acquaintances--what a dread they would entertain of becoming
intimate with gentlemen from Tipperary!

I scarcely think the Whigs would throw out such lures for Dan and his
followers, if they could consider these consequences; and I doubt
much--taking everything into consideration, that the “Duke” would see
so much of Lord Brougham as he has latterly.

“Whom can a man make free with, if not with his friends?” saith
Figaro; and the Belfast men have studied Beaumarchais, and only
“carried out his principle,” as the Whigs say, when they speak of
establishing popery in Ireland, to complete the intention of

Lawyers must have been prodigiously sick of all the usual arguments in
defence of prisoners in criminal cases many a year ago. One of the
cleverest lawyers and the cleverest men I ever knew, says he would
hang any man who was defended on an _alibi_, and backed by a good
character. Insanity is worn out; but here comes Belfast to the rescue,
with its plea of intimacy. Show that your client was no common
acquaintance--prove clearly habits of meeting and dining
together--display a degree of friendship between the parties that
bordered on brotherhood, and all is safe. Let your witness satisfy the
jury that they never had an altercation or angry word in their lives,
and depend upon it, killing will seem merely a little freak of
eccentricity, that may be indulged with Norfolk Island, but not
punished with the gallows.

“Guilty, my lord, but very intimate with the deceased,” is a new
discovery in law, and will hereafter be known as “the Belfast



When Solomon said there was nothing new under the sun, he never knew
Lord Normanby. That’s a fact, and now to show cause.

No attribute of regal, and consequently it may be inferred of
viceregal personages, have met such universal praise from the world,
as the wondrous tact they would seem to possess, regarding the most
suitable modes of flattering the pride and gratifying the passions of
those they govern.

It happens not unfrequently, that they leave this blessed privilege
unused, and give themselves slight pains in its exercise; but should
the time come when its exhibition may be deemed fit or necessary,
their instinctive appreciation is said never to fail them, and they
invariably hit off the great trait of a people at once.

Perhaps it may be the elevated standard on which they are placed,
gives them this wondrous _coup-d’œil_, and enables them to take wider
views than mortals less eminently situated; perhaps it is some old
leaven of privileges derivable from right divine. But no matter, the
thing is so.

Napoleon well knew the temper of Frenchmen in his day, and how certain
short words, emblematic of their country’s greatness and glory, could
fascinate their minds and bend them to his purpose. In Russia, the
czar is the head of the church, as of the state, and a mere word from
him to one of his people is a treasure above all price. In Holland, a
popular monarch taps some forty puncheons of schnapps, and makes the
people drunk. In Belgium, he gets up a high mass, and a procession of
virgins. In the States, a rabid diatribe against England, and a spice
of Lynch Law, are clap-trap. But every land has its own peculiar
leaning--to be gratified by some one concession or compliment in
preference to every other.

Now, when Lord Normanby came to Ireland, he must have been somewhat
puzzled by the very multiplicity of these expectations. It was a
regular “embarras de richesses.” There was so much to give, and he so
willing to give it!

First, there was discouragement to be dealt out against
Protestants--an easy and a pleasant path; then the priests were to be
brought into fashion--a somewhat harder task; country gentlemen were
to be snubbed and affronted; petty attorneys were to be petted and
promoted; all claimants with an “O” to their names were to have
something--it looked national; men of position and true influence were
to be pulled down and degraded, and so on. In fact, there was a good
two years of smart practice in the rupture of all the ties of society,
and in the overthrow of whatever was respectable in the land, before
he need cry halt.

Away he went then, cheered by the sweet voices of the mob he loved,
and quick work he made of it. I need not stop to say, how pleasant
Dublin became when deserted of all who could afford to quit it; nor
how peaceful were the streets which no one traversed--_ubi solitudinem
faciunt pacem appellant_. The people, like Oliver, “asked for more;”
ungrateful people! not content with Father Glynn at the viceroy’s
table, and the Bishop of “Mesopotamia” in the council, they cried,
like the horseleech’s daughters, “Give! give!”

“What would they have, the spalpeens?” said Pierce Mahony; “sure ain’t
we destroying the place entirely, and nobody will be able to live here
after us.”

“What do they want?” quoth Anthony Blake; “can’t they have patience?
Isn’t the church trembling, and property not worth two years’

“Upon my life!” whispered Lord Morpeth, “I can’t comprehend them. I
fear we have been only but too good-natured!--don’t you think so?”

And so they pondered over their difficulties, but never a man among
them could suggest a remedy for their new demand, nor make out a
concession which had not been already made.

“Did you butter Dan?” said Anthony.

“Ay, and offered him the ‘rolls’ too,” said Sheil.

“It’s no use,” interposed Pierce; “he’s not to be caught.”

“Couldn’t ye make Tom Steele Bishop of Cashel?”

“He wouldn’t take it,” groaned the viceroy.

“Is Mr. Arkins a privy councillor?”

“No; but he might if he liked. There’s no use in these trifles.”

“_Eureka_, gents, I have it!” cried my lord; “order post-horses for me
this instant--I have it!”

And so he had, and by that act alone he stamped himself as the first
man of his party.

Swift philosophised on the satiric touch of building a madhouse, as
the most appropriate charity to Ireland; but what would he have said
had he heard that the greatest favour its rulers could bestow--the
most flattering compliment to national feeling--was to open the gaols,
to let loose robbers and housebreakers, highwaymen and cutthroats--to
return burglars to their afflicted homes, and bring back felons to
their weeping families. Some sneering critic will object to it, as
scarcely complimentary to a country to say--“these gentlemen are only
thieves--murderers; they cannot hurt _your_ morals. They were
sentenced to transportation, but why should we spread vice among
innocent bushmen, and disseminate wickedness through Norfolk Island?
Let them loose where they are, they know the ways of the place,
they’ll not murder the ‘wrong man;’ depend upon it, too, the rent
won’t suffer by their remaining.” And so my lord took off the
hand-cuffs, and filed the fetters; and the bondsmen, albeit not all
“hereditary,” went free. Who should be called the Liberator, I ask,
after this? Is it your Daniel, who promises year after year, and never
performs; or you, my lord, who strikes off real chains, not
metaphorical ones, and liberates real captives, not figurative slaves?

It was, indeed, a “great day for Ireland” when the villains got loose;
and must have been a strong lesson on the score of domestic duty to
many a roving blade, who preferred spending that evening at home, to
venturing out after dark. My lord covered himself with laurels, and
albeit they were gathered, as Lord Wellesley said, in the “Groves of
Blarney,” they well became the brow they ornamented.

I should scarcely have thought necessary to ring a pæan of praise on
this great governor, if it were not for a most unaccountable attack
his magnanimous and stupendous mercy, as Tom Steele would call it,
has called forth from some organ of the press.

This print, calling itself _The Cork Constitution_, thus

     “Why, of 16 whom he pardoned, and of 41 whose sentences he
     commuted in the gaol of our own city, 13 were re-committed,
     and of these no fewer than 10 were in due time transported.
     One of the latter, Mary Lynch, was subsequently five times
     committed, and at last transported; Jeremiah Twomey, _alias_
     Old Lock, was subsequently six times committed, and finally
     transported, while two others were twice committed. These
     are a specimen of the persons whom his lordship delighted to
     honour. Of the whole 57 (who were liberated between January,
     1835, and April, 1839), there were, at the time of their
     sentences being commuted, or themselves discharged, 34 under
     sentence of transportation, and two under sentence of death.
     In the county gaol, 47 prisoners experienced the benefit of
     viceregal liberality. Of these 18 had been under sentence of
     transportation, 11 of them for life; but how many of them it
     became the duty of the government to introduce a second or
     third time to the notice of the judge, or what was their
     ultimate destiny, we are, unfortunately, not informed. The
     recorder, we observe, passed sentence of transportation
     yesterday on a fellow named Corkery, who had some years ago
     been similarly sentenced by one of the judges, but for whose
     release his worship was unable to account. The explanation,
     however, is easy. Corkery was one of the scoundrels
     liberated by Lord Normanby, and he has since been living on
     the plunder of the citizens, on whom that vain and visionary
     viceroy so inconsiderately let him loose.”

Now I detest figures, and, therefore, I won’t venture to dispute the
man’s arithmetic about the “ten in due time transported,” nor Corkery,
nor Mary Lynch, nor any of them.

I take the facts on his own showing, and I ground upon them the most
triumphant defence of the calumniated viceroy. What was it, I ask, but
the very prescience of the lord lieutenant we praise in the act? He
liberated a gaol full of ruffians, not to inundate the world with a
host of felons and vagabonds, but, simply, to give them a kind of

“Let them loose,” cried my lord; “take the irons off--devil a long
they’ll be free. Mark my words, that fellow will murder some one else
before long. Thank you, Mary Lynch, it is a real pleasure to me to
restore you to liberty;” and then, _sotto_, “you’ll have a voyage out,
nevertheless, I see that. Open the gates--pass out, gentlemen
highwaymen. Don’t be afraid, good people of Cork, these are infernal
ruffians, they’ll all be back again before six months. It’s no
consequence to me to see you at large, for I have the heartfelt
conviction that most of you must be hanged yet.”


Here is the true defence of the viceroy, here the real and
well-grounded explanation of his conduct; and I hope when Lord
Brougham attacks his noble friend--which of course he will--that the
marquis will hurl back on him, with proud triumph, this irresistible
mark of his united foresight and benevolence.


If a fair estimate were at any moment to be taken of the time employed
in the real business of the country, and that consumed by public
characters in vindicating their conduct, recapitulating their good
intentions, and glossing over their bad acts, it would be found that
the former was to the latter as the ratio of Falstaff’s bread to the

A British House of Commons is in fact nineteen out of every twenty
hours employed in the pleasant personalities of attack and defence. It
is something that the “noble baron” said last session, or the “right
hon. baronet” didn’t say in the present one, engrosses all their
attention; and the most animated debates are about certain expressions
of some “honourable and learned gentleman,” who always uses his words
in a sense different from the rest of the nation.

If this satisfies the public and stuffs the newspapers, perhaps I
should not repine at it; but certainly it is very fatiguing and
tiresome to any man with a moderately good memory to preserve the
excellent traditions each ministry retains of their own virtues, and
how eloquently the opposition can hold forth upon the various good
things they would have done, had they been left quietly on the
treasury benches. Now how much better and more business-like would it
be if, instead of leaving these gentlemen to dilate and expatiate on
their own excellent qualities, some public standards were to be
established, by which at a glance the world at large could decide on
their merits and examine into their fitness for office at a future
period. Your butler and your coachman, when leaving your service, do
not present themselves to a new master with characters of their own
inditing, or if they did they would unquestionably require a very
rigid scrutiny. What would you say if a cook who professes herself a
perfect treasure of economy and excellence, warrants herself sober,
amiable, and cleanly--who, without other vouchers for her fitness than
her own, would dilate on her many virtues and accomplishments, and
demand to be taken into your service because she has higher taste for
self-panegyric than her rival. Such a thing would be preposterous in
the kitchen, but it is exactly what takes place in parliament, and
there is but one remedy for it. Let her majesty’s servants, when they
leave their places, receive written characters, like those of less
exalted persons. These documents would then be on record when the
applicants sought other situations, and could be referred to with more
confidence by the nation than if given by the individuals themselves.

How easily would the high-flown sentiments of any of the “outs” be
tested by a simple comparison with his last character--how clearly
would pretension be measured by what he had done in his last place. No
long speeches, no four-hour addresses would be required at the
hustings then. Show us your character, would be the cry--why did he
leave his mistress? the question.

The petty subterfuges of party would not stand such a test as this;
all the little miserable explanations--that it was a quarrel in the
kitchen, that the cook said this and the footman said that, would go
for nothing. You were turned out, and why?--that’s the bone and sinew
of the matter.

To little purpose would my Lord John remind his party that he was
going to do every thing for every body--to plunder the parsons and
pay the priests--to swamp the constitution and upset the
church--respectable people would take time to look at his papers; they
would see that he was an active little busy man, accustomed to do the
whole work of a family single-handed; that he was in many respects
attentive and industrious, but had a following of low Irish
acquaintances whom he let into the house on every occasion, and that
then nothing escaped them--they smashed the furniture, broke the
looking-glasses, and kicked up a regular row: for this he was
discharged, receiving all wages due.

And then, instead of suffering long-winded panegyrics from the member
for Tiverton, how easily would the matter be comprehended in one
line--“a good servant, lively, and intelligent, but self-sufficient,
and apt to take airs. Turned off for quarrelling with the French valet
next door, and causing a difference between the families.”

Then again, how decisively the merits of a certain ex-chancellor might
be measured in reading--“hired as butler, but insisted on cleaning the
carriage, and scratched the panels; would dress the dinner, and
spoiled the soup and burned the sauce; never attended to his own
duties, but spent his time fighting with the other servants, and is in
fact a most troublesome member of a household. He is, however, both
smart and intelligent, and is allowed a small pension to wait on
company days.”

Trust me, this plan, if acted on--and I feel it cannot be long
neglected--will do more to put pretension on a par with desert, than
all the adjourned debates that waste the sessions; it would save a
world of unblushing self-praise and laudation, and protect the country
from the pushing impertinence of a set of turned-off servants.


Every one knows the story of the man who, at the penalty of losing his
head in the event of failure, promised the caliph of Bagdad that he
would teach his ass to read in the space of ten years, trusting that,
ere the time elapsed, either the caliph, or the ass, or he himself,
would die, and the compact be at an end. Now, it occurs to me that the
wise policy of this shrewd charlatan is the very essence of all
parliamentary commissions. First, there is a grievance--then comes a
debate--a very warm one occasionally, with plenty of invective and
accusation on both sides--and then they agree to make a drawn game of
it, and appoint “a Commission.”

Nothing can be more plausible in appearance than such a measure; nor
could any man, short of Hume himself, object to so reasonable a
proceeding as a patient and searching inquiry into the circumstances
and bearings of any disputed question. The Commission goes to work: if
a Tory one, consisting usually of some dumb country gentlemen, who
like committee work;--if Whig, the suckling “barristers of six years’
standing:” and at it they go. The newspapers announce that they are
“sitting to examine witnesses”--a brief correspondence appears at
intervals, to show that they have a secretary and a correspondent, a
cloud then wraps the whole concern in its dark embrace, and not the
most prying curiosity is ever able afterwards to detect any one fact
concerning the commission or its labours, nor could you hear in any
society the slightest allusion ever made to their whereabouts.

It is, in fact, the polite mode of interment applied to the question
at issue--the Commissioners performing the solemn duties of
undertakers, and not even the most reckless resurrectionist being
found to disturb the remains. Before the report should issue, the
Commissioners die off, or the question has taken a new form; new
interests have changed all its bearings; a new ministry is in power,
or some more interesting matter has occupied the place it should fill
in public attention; and if the Report was even a volume of “Punch,”
it might pass undetected.

Now and then, however, a Commission will issue for the real object of
gleaning facts and conveying information; and then the duties are most
uncomfortable, and but one course is open, which is, to protract the
inquiry, like the man with the ass, and leave the result to time.

In a country like ours, conflicting interests and opposing currents
are ever changing the landmarks of party; and the commissioners feel
that with years something will happen to make their labours of little
consequence, and that they have only to prolong the period, and all is

At this moment, we have what is called a “Landlord and Tenant
Commission” sitting, or sleeping, as it may be. They have to
investigate diverse, knotty, and puzzling points, about people who
want too much for their land, and others who prefer paying nothing for
it. They are to report, in some fashion, respecting the prospects of
estated gentlemen burdened with rent-charges and mortgages, and who
won’t improve properties they can scarcely live on--and a peasantry,
who must nominally pay an exaggerated rent, depending upon the chance
of shooting the agent before the gale-day, and thus obtaining easier
terms for the future.

They are to investigate the capabilities of waste lands, while
cultivated lands lie waste beside them; they must find out why
land-owners like money, and tenants hate paying it; and why a people
hold life very cheap when they possess little means to sustain it.

Now these, take them how you will, are not so easy of solution as you
may think. The landlord, for his own sake, would like a thriving,
well-to-do, contented tenantry; the tenants, for their sakes, would
like a fair-dealing, reasonable landlord, not over griping and
grabbing, but satisfied with a suitable value for his property. They
both have no common share of intelligence and acuteness--they have a
soil unquestionably fruitful, a climate propitious, little taxation,
good roads, abundant markets; and yet the one is half ruined in his
house and the other wholly beggared in his hovel--each averring that
the cause lies in the tithes, the tariff, the poor-rate, or popery,
the agent or the agitation: in fact, it is something or other which
one favours and the other opposes--some system or sect, some party or
measure, which one advocates and the other denounces; and no matter
though its influence should not, in the remotest way, enter into the
main question, there is a grievance--that’s something; and as Sir
Lucius says, “it’s a mighty pretty quarrel as it stands”--not the
less, that certain partizans on either side assist in the _mêlée_, and
the House of Commons or the Association Hall interfere with their

If, then, the Commissioners can see their way here, they are smart
fellows, and no small praise is due to them. There are difficulties
enough to puzzle long heads; and I only hope they may be equal to the
task. Meanwhile, depopulation goes on briskly--landlords are shot
every week in Tipperary; and if the report be but delayed for some few
months longer, a new element will appear in the question--for however
there may remain some pretenders to perpetuity of tenure, the
landlords will not be there to grant the leases. Let the
Commissioners, then, keep a look-out a-head--much of the embarrassment
of the inquiry will be obviated by only biding their time; and if they
but delay their report till next November, there will be but one party
to legislate for in the island.


If my reader will permit me to refer to my own labours, I would wish
to remind him of an old “Nut” of mine, in which I endeavoured to
demonstrate the defective morality and economy of our penal code--a
system, by which the smallest delinquent is made to cost the state
several hundreds of pounds, for an offence frequently of some few
pennies in value; and a theft of a loaf is, by the geometrical scale
of progressive aggrandisement, gradually swelled into a most expensive
process, in which policemen, station-houses, inspectors, magistrates,
sessions, assizes, judges, crown prosecutors, gaols, turnkeys, and
transports, all figure; and the nation is left to pay the cost of this
terrible array, for the punishment of a crime the prevention of which
might, perhaps, have been effected for two-pence.

I do not now intend to go over the beaten track of this argument; my
intention is simply to refer to it, and adduce another instance of
this strange and short-sighted policy, which prefers waiting to
acting, and despises cheap, though timely interference with evil, and
indulges in the somewhat late, but more expensive process of

And to begin. Imagine--unhappily you need exercise no great stretch of
the faculty, the papers teem with too many instances--imagine a poor,
woe-begone, miserable creature, destitute and friendless, without a
home, without a meal; his tattered clothing displaying through every
rent the shrunken form and wasted limbs to which hunger and want have
reduced him. See him as night falls, plodding onwards through the
crowded thoroughfares of the great city; his lack-lustre eye glazed
and filmy; his pale face and blue lip actually corpse-like in their
ghastliness. He gazes at the passers-by with the vacant stare of
idiotcy. Starvation has sapped the very intellect, and he is like one
in some frightful vision; a vague desire for rest--a dreamy belief
that death will release him--lives in the place of hope; and as he
leans over the battlements of the tall bridge, the plash of the dark
river murmurs softly to his ear. His despair has conjured up a
thousand strange and flitting fancies, and voices seem to call to him
from the dull stream, and invite him to lie down and be at peace.
Meanwhile the crowd passes on. Men in all the worldliness of their
hopes and fears, their wishes, their expectations, and their dreads,
pour by. None regard _him_, who at that moment stands on the very
brink of an eternity, whither his thoughts have gone before him. As he
gazes, his eye is attracted by the star-like spangle of lights in the
water. It is the reflection of those in the house of the Humane
Society; and he suddenly remembers that there is such an institution;
and he bethinks him, as well as his poor brain will let him, that some
benevolent people have called this association by this pleasing title,
and the very word is a balm to his broken heart.

“Humane Society!” Muttering the words, he staggers onwards; a feeling
too faint for hope still survives; and he bends his wearied steps
towards the building. It is indeed a goodly edifice; Portland stone
and granite, massive columns and a portico, are all there; and
Humanity herself is emblematised in the figures which decorate the
pedestal. The man of misery stands without and looks up at this
stately pile; the dying embers emit one spark, and for a second, hope
brightens into a brief flicker. He enters the spacious hall, on one
side of which a marble group is seen representing the “good
Samaritan;” the appeal comes home to his heart, and he could cry, but
hunger has dried up his tears.

I will not follow him in his weary pilgrimage among the liveried
menials of the institution, nor shall I harass my reader by the cold
sarcasm of those who tell him that he has mistaken the object of the
association: that their care is not with life, but death; that the
breathing man, alive, but on the verge of dissolution, has no interest
for _them_; for _their_ humanity waits patiently for his corpse. It
is true, one pennyworth of bread--a meal your dog would turn
from--would rescue this man from death and self-murder. But what of
that--how could such humble, unobtrusive charity inhabit a palace? How
could it pretend to porters and waiting-men, to scores of officials,
visiting doctors, and physicians in ordinary? By what trickery could a
royal patron be brought to head the list of benefactors to a scheme so
unassuming? Where would be the stomach-pumps and the galvanic
batteries for science?--where the newspaper reports of a miraculous
recovery?--where the magazine records of suspended animation?--or
where that pride and pomp and circumstance of enlightened humanity
which calls in chemistry to aid charity, and makes electricity the
test of benevolence? No, no; the hungry man might be fed, and go his
way unseen, untrumpeted--there would be no need of this specious
plausibility of humanity which proclaims aloud--Go and drown yourself;
stand self-accused and condemned before your Creator; and if there be
but a spark of vitality yet remaining, we’ll call you back to life
again--a starving suicide! No effort shall be spared--messengers shall
fly in every direction for assistance--the most distinguished
physician--processes the most costly--experiments the most
difficult--care unremitting--zeal untiring, are all yours. Cordials,
the cost of which had sustained you in life for weeks long, are now
poured down your unconscious throat--the limbs that knew no other bed
than straw, are wrapped in heated blankets--the hand stretched out in
vain for alms, is now rubbed by the jewelled fingers of a west-end

Men, men, is this charity?--is the fellow-creature nought?--is the
corpse everything?--is a penny too much to sustain life?--is a hundred
pounds too little to restore it? Away with your stuccoed walls and
pillared corridors--support the starving, and you will need but little
science to reanimate the suicide.



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